Archive for still life photography

Inspirations – Jack Yong

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , on October 9, 2011 by sabrina

© Jack Yong

  1/250 secs f1.8 at ISO 200

Waking up in the morning with the sun’s ray streaming on my face, I was definitely an opportunity to look for something interesting to shoot. I found some green apples that my mum bought from the market and used it as my subject. As the kitchen window had a decent amount of sunlight, I’ve decided to use it as my light source. I used a wood plank for my background, and placed it on the kitchen table. Since the apple looks rather dull besides its interesting colour, I sprinkled some water over it to add some details and a bit of reflection on it. I used my prime lens, the 50mm f1.8 , with an exposure time of 1/250sec , and a wide aperture f1.8 . I set the ISO to 200 to avoid any harsh grains on the apple.

I processed the image to black and white and a little touch up to give a different perspective view on the apple and also to enhance the beauty of it. ~ Jack Yong

 

Photographer of the Month – Veronica and Alan Barrett

Posted in Art of Photography, Articles about Photography, Artistic Development, Inspirations, Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by Darwin

Anyone who follows this blog knows that Veronica and Alan Barrett came on two back-to-back winter tours with me. I was impressed not only by their wonderful attitudes and great company but also by their fine eye and the resulting images each of them made. They continually inspired me with the images they pulled from every location no matter what the light or conditions. What better photographers to feature this month than this wonderfully intrepid couple  who were always joy to hang out with.

Veronica’s Website

Veronica’s February Tour Results

Veronica’s March Tour Results

Alan’s Website

Alan’s February Tour Results

Alan’s March Tour Results

Interview with Veronica and Alan Barrett

Darwin: First of all congratulations on stunning portfolios and images on both of your websites. It was a real joy exploring your fine images. I noticed that both of you have some very specific themed galleries like Veronica’s Shells and Windows and Alan’s Slate and Shaky Trees portfolios. Are these portfolios accidental or purposeful in execution? By accidental, I mean have you over the years shot shells, slate, windows, and blurred trees and then grouped these images together? Or was the work more purposeful and you shot with the portfolio in mind keeping the look and feel of the images consistant within each category?

Alan: Both the slate and “shaky trees” were specific projects, undertaken with the hope of self-producing a book. The slate images were all made at an abandoned quarry in Wales which we stumbled upon when walking the Pembrokeshire coastline. The first images I made there were medium format capture – and a real struggle, as there was no firm footing for the tripod. When I saw the results though, I realised that the location had huge promise and I have been back there twice, photographing over six days, using a small digital camera with a flip out back. The “shaky trees” collection was inspired by an American photographer, William Neill – a couple of years ago I saw, and was captivated by, some of his images of movement in trees that he had included in one of his books. Never having had any problem taking an out-of-focus shot, I set out to photograph the woodlands of Surrey, the county in which we live, over the four seasons. In an eighteen month period I took close on 20,000 images – most, of course, were rubbish and went straight into the digital bin, but out of the morass I selected 160 shots that pleased me and which have formed the book. All that walking didn’t do me any harm either!

Veronica: The Windows portfolio grew when I decided to make it the theme for my application for an Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society. I enjoy photographing architecture and windows are particularly interesting because I’m a bit of a nosey parker and am always wondering what’s going on inside places I can’t get into! They can be very decorative, either structurally or because of personal touches, and I often see them as ‘frames’ for pictures in their own right. The Shells portfolio was accidental. I was washing my shell collection one summer and realised that the collection itself had some beautiful specimens in it that might be worth photographing and experimenting with in Photoshop during the winter. Then one of our daughters decided she would like some of them for her newly-decorated stairway, so I developed some of them into a set for her. I quite like photographing themes, though, and also have an on-going collection of fire hydrants and drains. I know they sound like odd themes, but I started both collections while in Chile because so many pipes and outlets, and fire hydrants, had been decorated. It’s a means of keeping my eyes open to photo opportunities!

Darwin: Based on your images, you seem to have travelled widely. Where are your favorite locations and why?

Alan: Since my retirement from business we have indeed been fortunate to travel widely. Without a doubt my favourite photographic region is the US, and within that country, the red rock areas of Utah and Arizona, and narrowing it down even further, the Paria Plateau. America has a diverse range of landscapes that as an overseas visitor we can never hope to do justice to photographically, but nevertheless it is almost impossible to make a trip to that country without coming back with some very rewarding images. The Coyote Buttes and White Pocket areas on the Paria Plateau boast some quite remarkable sandstone cliffs, the colours and patterns of which are almost unbelievable to someone who has not seen them for themselves.

Veronica: I love San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas and London, especially the last two which always give me a buzz. I enjoy photographing the modern architecture, especially reflections of old buildings in the glass of the new ones, in the case of San Francisco and NY in particular. London is so much fun to photograph on a Saturday, along the South Bank where there’s so much going on, and then walking along its length to the Tate Modern, and on to Tower Bridge and More Place where so many beautiful shiny office buildings are going up. I don’t get my best images from these places but just enjoy my surroundings. I also really enjoyed the two trips to India that I made, first with a friend to Rajasthan, then with Alan to Kerala. I would really like to go there again as the people are just so lovely.

Darwin: Both of you seem to be able to handle any subject matter from the grand landscape to intimate details to wildlife and more. Do you think photographers are better off shooting only one genre and mastering that specialty? Or do photographers grow more as artists being generalist shooters?

Alan: I suspect that most photographers start off with one main interest and then develop. In my case, I started photographing the “big” landscape – but as I developed my ability to “see” the image, I became aware of the smaller, intimate landscape. It was a small step to take that attribute to photographing details in cities or other manmade scenes. I think that dedicated photographers love the challenge of making an image in any situation, whether or not it is in circumstances alien to their normal environment – rising to that challenge undoubtedly enhances ones seeing ability which can only improve work in one’s core interest.

Veronica: I don’t see myself as a landscape photographer, really. I take them because I take photos wherever I am. Many people think that anybody can go out and shoot a landscape but, actually, it takes as much skill and patience as shooting nature. Light plays an enormous part in a stunning landscape, which involves being in the right place at the right time, or an awful lot of luck, and exposures and filters also have to be chosen and set correctly. I don’t have the patience for it at all, although I am trying to acquire some! I do, however, enjoy shooting the more intimate landscape where I can see the picture more easily than in big vistas. I also like to pick on subjects where I can make a close-up picture, either with a telephoto lens or my G11 set to macro mode.

My nature images are as opportunistic as my landscapes – if the creatures are there, then I’ll take the picture, but you won’t find me waiting for hours to get the right shot! We’ve been lucky enough to go on safari in Tanzania twice, which was really good fun and I got some animal images from those, and also to the Pantanal, in Brazil, where the caymans are fairly tame, so easy to shoot. I had to be quick for the bird shots, but was ready and set up for them – and was lucky! I think that if you like making pictures, then you will do so wherever you happen to be…keeping to one genre would restrict my creativity.

Darwin: You both have a fine eye for abstraction. Did this ability take long to develop or was it an innate skill? Who were your influences in the visual world?

Alan: In my case it was most definitely not an innate skill. Like most beginners, I suspect, I had great difficulty “seeing” the image – if I was with someone and they set up their camera then I could immediately see what to photograph, but left on my own I could not pick out the image from the general clutter of the landscape. As part of my self-teaching I started studying photographs – I have probably the largest collection of landscape books in private ownership, over 300 – and I gradually came to recognise that the intimate landscape could be just as captivating as the big picture. The slate portfolio was my first attempt at abstract work and its success led me to persevere until it is now almost second nature to notice the smaller scene.

Veronica: It might be innate for me – I’m not sure. I used to do a lot of dressmaking in another life and particularly enjoyed drawing and cutting patterns and choosing fabric – so already had an eye for shape, colour and texture. Well before I took up photography Alan was already in full-swing and his photographic friends, all cracking photographers, often came over so that they could ‘critique’ each others’ images. I often sat in and listened, and I think perhaps my eye for a composition developed from that, as did my understanding of light and colour. I love colour, texture, lines and shapes, the more graphic the better, and that is what I look for when I am out with my camera. I get a really good feeling from a simple, uncluttered picture that has a flow about it.

Darwin: Photographers are often most excited by whatever they are currently working on. What new projects or locations or types of images have got you all fired up lately?

Alan: You’re right, you always think that your latest work is your best, so it will be no surprise to you to learn that I am currently excited by the Canadian Rockies. As you know, our trip with you in February came out of the planning I was doing for an autumn trip later this year. Despite the challenging weather in February (and despite our frostbite problems), I was captivated by the magnificent mountain scenery and cannot wait for September to come around. The Canadian Rockies do not seem to feature much in UK photographic circles, partly I suppose because if we are going to cross the Atlantic then America offers more diverse opportunities, but that is short-sighted in my view. I definitely can feel another book coming on!

Veronica: I agree with Alan – I currently think that the Canadian Rockies have pulled some of my best images out of me. But then I thought that about Boston and the leaf close-ups which I shot in other places in New England! We are shortly going off to shoot some derelict buildings somewhere not far from Berlin, and I’m looking forward to that. I want to take the opportunity to experiment with some HDR as I really enjoyed Bruce’s images of dereliction which he showed us during your last photo tour. I think that if it’s done gently and not ‘over-egged’ with the saturation slider, as so many images are, it is a very effective treatment.

 

©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

 

 

 

 

 

Darwin: Based on your images, you seem to have travelled widely. Where are your favorite locations and why?
Alan: Since my retirement from business we have indeed been fortunate to travel widely.  Without a doubt my favourite photographic region is the US, and within that country, the red rock areas of Utah and Arizona, and narrowing it down even further, the Paria Plateau.  America has a diverse range of landscapes that as an overseas visitor we can never hope to do justice to photographically, but nevertheless it is almost impossible to make a trip to that country without coming back with some very rewarding images.  The Coyote Buttes and White Pocket areas on the Paria Plateau boast some quite remarkable sandstone cliffs, the colours and patterns of which are almost unbelievable to someone who has not seen them for themselves.
Veronica:  I love San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas and London, especially the last two which always give me a buzz.  I enjoy photographing the modern architecture, especially reflections of old buildings in the glass of the new ones, in the case of San Francisco and NY in particular.  London is so much fun to photograph on a Saturday, along the South Bank where there’s so much going on, and then walking along its length to the Tate Modern, and on to Tower Bridge and More Place where so many beautiful shiny office buildings are going up.  I don’t get my best images from these places but just enjoy my surroundings.  I also really enjoyed the two trips to India that I made, first with a friend to Rajasthan, then with Alan to Kerala.  I would really like to go there again as the people are just so lovely.

Fabulous Film Fridays – Jan 14, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Fabulous Film Fridays, Humor, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by Darwin

This week it’s Sam’s turn to show off an image she made using film. Her post is her very first image made with Tachihara Tim (her 4×5 view camera). Sam had quite an adventure learning how to use the 4×5 view camera (read about it here) and I helped her by donating a sweat-stained shirt to use as a dark cloth. What a nice guy eh? Anyway for posterity, here is Sam hard at work getting some fresh air and making her first 4×5 view camera photo.

Sam showing us how to use a 4×5 view camera

 

The Daily Snap – December 3

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , on December 3, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett

Samantha has this hand-me down cookbook that is obviously well used. As soon as I saw it on the kitchen table I had to make a photo of it! I used the Sigma DP1x to snap the photo.

 

The Daily Snap – October 27

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett

This is a close-up of the water drops on the roof of a car. I rested the Canon G11 on the roof and made a close-up of the patterns of drops and converted the photo to B+W in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

The Daily Snap – October 11

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2010 by Darwin

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. So… what better way to celebrate than to make a Daily Snap of food? Or at least the remains of food on my plate. The photo below shows the pattern of salad oil and beet juice on my plate after a yummy meal. See, there is beauty everywhere, you just gotta look…. Ok, maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Behold my dirty dish! Enjoy your day and give thanks for food and cameras.

©Darwin Wiggett

The Daily Snap – September 2

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett - Yukon Junk = Photographer's Gold

The Daily Snap – September 1

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , , , on September 1, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett - A Yukon sense of Humour!

The Daily Snap – August 29

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon G11

And they wonder why power in Dawson City, Yukon is not so reliable?? I saw this on the side of one of the old buildings and had to make a snapshot simply because I loved how it looked like an alien face.

Photographer of the Month – Cole Thompson

Posted in Artistic Development, Image Processing and Software, Inspirations, Photographer of the Month, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2010 by Darwin

I first became aware of Cole Thompson’s work from an image I saw published in Photo Life magazine in 2006 (the first image below). I was blown away by the creativity and mood in the photo. That image has stuck with my to this day. In the meantime I have seen Cole’s fine art B+W work in numerous publications including B+W magazine, American Photo and LensWork to name a few. I wanted to share with you Cole’s work just in case he is not known to you. I asked Cole a few questions about his work and here are his responses:

Darwin: Why do you think B+W captures “the feelings that lie beneath the surface” where colour photography can not?  Further to this why does fine art photography almost always take the form of B+W? Can colour photography ever seriously be considered art?

Cole: Why B&W? That’s a question I often ask myself and others. I think there a lot of “answers” but I only know what I “feel.”. Even as a boy, I would look at the b&w images of the great masters (Adams, Weston, Capinigro, Bullock, Cunningham and others) and I would experience a physical reaction. It’s something I don’t have the capability to put into words, but I’m not sure that’s important; I just love black and white.

I think that it’s simply a matter of preference with some appreciating black and white while others love color. Is color photography considered serious art? I would never judge what art is and what is not, I wouldn’t even try to define what art is!

Darwin: Can you talk about what project you are currently working on? Is it a portfolio with a theme? Do you enjoy working more as a grazer (your words) or under the constraints of producing themed work in a portfolio?

Cole: I’m currently working on two projects, Harbinger and The Fountainhead.

The Harbinger series was started by accident when I created Harbinger No. 1 in 2008. I had been photographing the hills in Utah and was heading back to the car when I saw this solitary cloud moving rapidly over the hills. I instantly knew that in a few seconds it was going to be perfectly placed over the hill I was just photographing. I ran back up the hill, quickly unpacked my gear and just barely had time to create this one perfect image. When I name a series the name is usually my instinctive first choice and for me this cloud was a harbinger.

Initially I never thought that I’d have much chance to find other Harbingers, but the more I became aware of them , the more I began to find. I have a small collection of them and am hoping to finish them in the short term.

I’m often asked what does Harbinger mean? I’m not one to tell others what my images mean and so simply give this definition:

Harbinger: \ˈhär-bən-jər\ noun

1. one that goes ahead and makes known the approach of another; herald.

2. anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign.

The other series I’m actively working on is The Fountainhead, the title inspired by the novel of the same name by Ayn Rand. It is the story of a rogue architect, an individualist named Howard Roarke who refuses to conform to the ideas of society. My favorite lines and currently my artist statement for the series is:

Ellsworth M. Tooey: My dear fellow, who will let you?

Howard Roarke: That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?

This series combines two of the loves in my life; architecture and photography. It is a modern and abstract interpretation of architecture with the affects created in-camera using “old school” techniques. For now my techniques are a closely guarded secret!

You asked if I still enjoyed “photographic grazing” which is the name I gave to my wanderings as I searched for “one-hit wonders.” No, I no longer create this way. Once I started working on portfolios or cohesive bodies of work, I find it difficult to work in any other manner. Portfolios give me purpose and focus.

I’ve also worked a great deal with long exposures, initially creating “fluid water” images and then moving onto people after seeing the work of Alexey Titarenko. His influence led me a once in a lifetime opportunity to photograph the death camps in a very different way that I had seen them portrayed before. The series “The Ghosts of Auschwitz and Birkenau” is perhaps the work I am most proud of.

Darwin: From a practical point-of view, how do you do your long exposures, with filters, waiting for dim light, a combination of both?

Cole: My long exposures are created using 13 stops of neutral density filters. I use a fixed 5 stop ND filter and then stack a second filter on that, a Singh-Ray Vari-ND variable filter which gives me up to an additional 8 stops of neutral density. Using these two filters I am able to obtain 30 second exposures in full daylight. Most all of my long exposures are created in daylight even though many have the appearance of being created at night.

I have used the long exposure most recently in my series “The Lone Man” which combines my love of water with people. It explores the contemplative nature that overcome people as they ponder the enormity of the sea and the smallness of self.

Darwin: Finally, do you shoot with a digital camera in colour and then change to B+W in post-production, or do you capture your images in monochrome in camera?

Cole: I create in digital using monochrome mode and in RAW. This does two things; first it displays the image on the preview screen in B&W and second it keeps the digital file in color so that I can convert it to B&W myself. I don’t want the camera converting the image for me and I use the Photoshop supplied B&W converter, often tweaking the color channels drastically.

My workflow is simple and my digital techniques often mimic my darkroom techniques, making extensive use of dodging and burning. My primary philosophy is to use simple procedures that do not distract from my primary purpose of creating a visual expression of my vision.

To see more of Cole Thompson’s work go to his website and also be sure to stop by his blog

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson