Communicating with Photography

Since last post I have been thinking more about how to communicate what I want to say with photography. This sounds simple but can be quite hard. There needs to be a vision of what I want to achieve through the communication otherwise I really have nothing to say.

On Sunday 25 February I attended a Fotografica “Communicating With Colour” workshop. This was very stimulating as we did all the practical work as a group. This enabled us to bounce ideas off each other and to develop the concepts we wanted to communicate. Colour can be such a powerful way to communicate in a photograph.

We worked with the colour red which is so powerful. A change in lighting can impact the colour and alter its meaning. By an adjustment to the hue, luminance or saturation of a colour can create quite profound effects and aid in getting the message just right in the image.

Here are some of my images from the workshop:

Progressing through the “Master Your Craft” course has also found me in the same territory – communication. A simple but key question is: “What do you want to say and how do you want to say it? How do you want the photograph to look and feel?” The challenge to me is that there is no right or wrong response to this question that others can judge me on. Instead, my reviewing the output tells me whether I achieved what I set out to achieve.

Creativity has also been a topic of interest while I was off work with the flu. It can be hard to concentrate when running a fever, and maybe I should have read a novel or two, but no – it was creativity. A few concepts that stuck in my mind include:

  • The biggest obstacle to creating is procrastination.
  • Inspiration doesn’t happen without doing the work.
  • Doing the work involves plenty of crap images for the one or two that are “inspired”.
  • Fear of succeeding is a major cause of resistance/procrastination.

The books I read were:

 

​​​​​​​Also, I posted some images on Instagram I had worked on recently. Here are a couple for your enjoyment.

 

 

Until next time,
Keep on creating images!

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Belated Happy New Year!

A belated happy new year to everyone! I hope your year has got off to a great start. I had to slow down and stop as I was hit with a chest infection that knocked me around for nearly four weeks. This gave me an opportunity to do more reading that I usually do.

I particularly enjoyed reading about the theory of light and how to use that knowledge to create compelling images. The book was “Light Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting” 5th Edition by Fil Hunter. Also, I am part way through “Visual Alchemy: The Fine Art of Digital Montage” by Catherine McIntyre. This book is providing some inspiration for my abstract or conceptual work.

It also gave me an opportunity to think about the way forward with my photography. In my December post I expressed a few ideas for my approach to 2018. This is still a work in progress.

I have posted some images on Instagram over the last few weeks. Here is a sampling of my more recent ones.

Glass House Mountains

Currimundi Beach/Lake

An abstract image


Another abstract image


Looking for iconic Australia – Gold Coast meter maid

At the moment, my plan for 2018 is to reignite my enthusiasm for photography through disciplined learning via courses that appeal to my interests. This includes taking more time to create images rather than taking images. I want to learn to practice the mindset of successful photographers so I can improve my images.

BCG Print Project Challenge – I am considering participating in this again this year. The first step is to develop an artist statement. My likely focus will be on a topic that requires conceptual photography so I can creatively challenge myself.

BCG Competition Topics and Process – I aim to compete as often as I have time. The higher priority will be the Print Project Challenge and Masters Homework. Also, I will focus on the course “Master Your Craft” which I have signed up for.

Masters Apprentices Homework – I plan to participate more in this as it is non-competitive and builds ability to talk about my images and to receive feedback in a safe environment.

As I mentioned above, I have signed up for the “Master Your Craft” Course taught by David duChemin. I have enjoyed a number of his books and find his style to my liking. I will share some of my progress images here just like I did when I did a course through the University of Tasmania a couple of years ago.

Before starting the “Master Your Craft” course, David duChemin recommends one answer these questions:

What do you love enough to spend your short life (or your limited free time) photographing?

I enjoy landscapes and seascapes. Travel photography is also very enjoyable when I can get into the moment and treat the image making as meditation or mindfulness. I also have an interest in images created using montage in Photoshop which tell a story or make people think.

What are you curious enough about to spend hours looking at it through your camera?

Curiosity is not one of my strong points. Fortunately Marie (my wife) has more curiosity then me and pushes me to explore and this often has positive results. This means we visit new locations to be able to make some fresh images.

Which photographs by other photographers most resonate with you? Why?

This is a really tough question to answer. I browse images on 500px.com and Instagram but rarely look through books. The books I do own are about “how to” photography and post production rather than books of photographs. So this means I need to review other photographs more critically so I can see what it is that appeals to me.

Looking through my work in 2017 reveals images associated with workshops I attended, camera club competition topics, some street photography (as Marie is more interested in that), as well as landscape and travel photography.

These questions are aimed at helping one to discover their own vision in photography. When I resumed my interest in photography, my aim was to improve my basic capability and create better images. I also wanted to be able to create stories out of my images potentially based on my poetry as inspiration.

This introduction to the course also has an assignment which is to create a body of work that explores one aspect of my vision over a period of 4 months. I need to make 12 images that work together to explore that one thing.

So, before I proceed any further I need to have at least a partial sense of my vision and to have made a start on this project. The best way for me to start is to use landscapes as my item to explore. Now I need to start taking some images.

So until next time,
Happy image making!

 

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Another Year Draws to a Close

Another year draws to a conclusion and it is time to reflect on what has been accomplished. Since my last post, Brisbane Camera Group has held its Annual Awards and Dinner. Neither Marie nor I received any awards this year because we didn’t submit any entries. There were many wonderful images so competition would have been tough.

Marie and I attended a conceptual (self) portrait workshop with fotografica which was a lot of fun. We had to bring props and have a starting concept to work with. I took along a hat, a tie and some bandages. Here are a couple of images showing the results:

We also attended the final meeting of the year for the Masters Apprentices Club. A number of their members participated in a project over the year and this was the night where they shared their work. There was a variety of work with members pushing themselves outside their comfort zones. I find it stimulates my own creativity to see their work.

Looking back over the year I did not participate as strongly as in previous years in the clubs that I am a member of. In BCG, I wanted to delay my upgrade to A Grade as I didn’t feel I was at that standard as yet. Also, I devoted a lot of my spare time to working on my Print Project Challenge entry. I found this work to be very beneficial.

Over the year, Marie and I attended a number of courses to further develop our skills. Not everything has been put into practice as yet but I am sure the knowledge will be used over the next year or two.

The highlight of the year would have to be the trip to Italy with a group of fellow photographers. This was my first visit to Europe and it was 19 years since my previous overseas trip which was to Boston, USA for a work conference. At a recent reunion of our Italy group, we each shared approx. 10 images from the trip. I found it amazing that only 2 or 3 images were similar. Also, the quality of the images was really high. Here are a few more of my images for your viewing pleasure.

It is now time to start to think about what I want to accomplish in photography in 2018. I plan to spend some time over the next 4 or so weeks to develop my thoughts and to make some plans. My initial thoughts are to participate in a project where I can expand my boundaries and move potentially from still images into a multimedia presentation. I am also thinking of entering the BCG monthly competitions more regularly this year. Another option I am tossing around in my mind is challenging myself to create and post an image on Instagram each day for 30 days or to do one where you are given a new topic each day for a 365 day challenge.

To those who have followed my posts over the year, thanks for your interest and support. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe holiday period. All the best for the New Year – may it be photographically prosperous.

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Print Project Exhibition

Last weekend Brisbane Camera Group exhibited all the entries in its Print Project Challenge at Maud Creative. The opening was very well attended and exceeded all expectations. Marie and I were proud to have our entries on display and we were very happy with their placement within the gallery. The range in subject matter on display was large and the quality was really good. I think all club members who participated can be proud of their work.

The entry the judges awarded as the winner was “Ode to Darkness” by Ray Shorter (BCG President). Ray’s entry was outstanding and a everyone I spoke to on the night agreed with the judge’s choice.

Ray Shorter Opening the Exhibition

Judges Melissa Anderson & Adam Finch announcing the “winner”

Some of the People attending the Opening

Marie (My wife) proudly showing her entry

 

While I have a competitive streak in me, I approached this as a process rather than anything else. I find it interesting how a project develops and progresses before it is “finalised” for printing and display. Back in March when I drew rough drawings of the content of my images, I thought the job was shooting the images and then put them together in Photoshop. The images printed and displayed at the Exhibition did not reflect the initial drawings with the exception of the characters and their costumes. It’s amazing what the constraint of time does to a project and how it can change the way concepts are presented.

23 October was the deadline for submitting images for the BCG annual competition. Unfortunately I did not submit any images this year. The best laid plans came undone due to unexpected family circumstances. However, Marie and I were able to attend the judging and were very impressed with the quality of images submitted. The annual awards are announced at our club dinner on Monday 4 December.

As promised in my last post, here are some images from our recent trip to Italy and the French Riviera.

Thanks for reading and happy snapping!

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Print Project Judging

Time flies so quickly and I can’t believe it is so long since I have posted my progress here. My main focus for the year has been the Brisbane Camera Group Print Project Challenge. The images were submitted early in September and were judged last Sunday. There were 16 entries submitted by club members which were a very good response. While I did not place in the competition, I am still proud of my final images and the story they told.

The club is holding an exhibition of the images entered at Maud Gallery here in Brisbane. The opening night is Friday 17 November starting at 6pm. The exhibition will be open on Saturday and Sunday for anyone to view the images.

Earlier in the year I published my Artist Statement. The images I submitted and the fine-tuned Artist Statement follow:

Each of us, as Whitman writes, does ‘..contain multitudes’. Contacting the jostling crowd of inner selves, giving them a chance to speak and to act, can greatly enrich our lives.” (Julia Cameron, “The Vein of Gold” page 87)

In Inner Selves I have created five characters – Performer Pete, Judgmental Jack, Nervous Ned, Furious Frank and Rebel Ray – to explore the “jostling crowd of inner selves” we all possess. I have used the genre of self-portraiture and deliberately chose characters I know are part of my personality but rarely seen by others. In the work I show each character in front of a crowd, a literal and metaphoric representation of the judgment we fear when we let these inner selves out.

I begin the series with an image that represents the jostling crowd of inner selves and my five characters are hiding within the crowd. The final image portrays a growing acceptance of these characters without the fear of judgement as their existence has been acknowledged. I want Inner Selves to invite the viewer to reflect on their own inner selves and to encourage the acknowledgement and acceptance of them.

Each image began as a photograph before being manipulated in Photoshop to produce prints reflecting the vision I held for each of the inner selves. The artistic challenge was in self-portrait making and using Photoshop to tell the story through combining multiple images. I used obvious layers and rough selections to indicate that inner selves can be poorly defined unless they are examined. I also wanted to reflect that as humans we all have imperfections.

An outcome of this project was further development of my artistic and storytelling skills in photography. Also, there was fun in creating the characters suggesting more work on this theme may be possible in the future.

 

I was fortunate enough to attend the judging and to hear first-hand the feedback they provided. Their comments were very helpful and highlighted the need to be attentive to detail at all levels of the image making. A key area highlighted was the harsh lighting used in the self-portraits. This is an area I have little experience in even though I did attend a couple of lighting workshops prior to finalising my images. They indicated that their eyes were drawn to my shoes in a couple of images which was a distraction to the story being told. I had noted the same thing myself but ran out of time to try to fix.

Overall the Print Project Challenge was a valuable learning experience I know will hold me in good stead on my photographic journey. The ability to put together a number of images that link to each other and tell a story is not as easy as it may seem. This project has opened my eyes to some of the techniques needed to achieve this.

Also, from mid-September to mid-October, Marie and I travelled to Italy for 3 weeks on a photography tour and to the French Riviera for a week to relax and prepare to return home. This was my first time to Europe and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The historical areas were an eye opener. I came back with over five thousand images that I need to work through. Below are some images I took with my phone. I will display more images later as I process them.

 

Brisbane Camera Group has an annual competition for members and the closing date for image submissions is 23 October. I am aiming to submit some images again this year.

Hopefully my next update will not be so long after the last one. Thanks for reading and happy snapping!

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Print Project Challenges

The last couple of weeks have been busy with working on my draft images for the Brisbane Camera Group Print Project Challenge. A test print was done today so I can study them to see where I need to make improvements to better convey the story being told. I am a little disappointed in how they look but that gives me a number of opportunities to improve. I suspect I may need to re-shoot some of the images to get the results that I want.

The compositing in Photoshop is proving to be a challenge. Selections that are clean are the most challenging. This is an area I will have to work hard on to ensure that I can get the images looking as I want them to. I think the next few weeks will be spent working on improving my technique with selections.

Marie and I were in Caloundra over the weekend to attend a friend’s birthday celebration and the Big Bang Burlesque show. I managed to get some images of people having fun at Moffat Beach. Here are a few of images I took on Saturday.

Fun On The Water

Wetting The Feet

Wetting The Feet 2

Can you believe it is winter in Queensland!

Until next time, happy image creating!

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Where has the Year Gone?

Since the last post, Marie and I have both had the dreaded lurgy which has interfered with getting out and about taking images. Also, I have used time around the house to catch on some chores and trip planning that I had allowed to slip. Procrastination is sometimes my too familiar friend.

It was also a useful time to reflect on my Print Project Challenge entry and the time remaining until submission. I was shocked to realise that so much of the year has flown by with not enough progress having been made. I thought about withdrawing but the more I thought about this option, the more I knew I couldn’t do it.

A few days ago, I had a moment of “inspiration”. I decided to keep my story line but to change the images representing each stage of the story. The images would be less complicated to produce and hopefully will be more “conceptual” in nature. I think this will help me achieve the deadline and maybe end up with a better entry than originally envisaged.

Yesterday was the deadline for submission of images to the Brisbane Camera Group monthly competition. I had not prepared anything so this month I am not competing. However, I did submit some images to the “image show” that was played at the start of our Presenters Meeting last night. The images were a mix of more recent and older but all from this year. They were as follows:

Blooming Garden

Coffee and Text

Follow the Leader

Let the Bells Ring

Rest After Shopping Done

Takeoff

With Marie attending a photography workshop on Saturday, I am hoping to use that time to take a number of images for my Print Project Challenge entry. All being well, the bulk of images will then have been taken leaving it up to me to do my compositing in Photoshop and working with various effects to tell my story. This hopefully leaves me time to do a test print to ensure that are working out as planned.

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Sometimes Judges Produce Surprises

Unfortunately Marie and I were unable to attend the Brisbane Camera Group’s Competition Judging evening last Monday. Therefore I have only received the results but not the feedback provided. This was one of the few months this year where I submitted four images for judging.

The set subject was “Self Portrait” and I only submitted one entry in this category. As my Print Project Challenge is based on a series of self portraits, I didn’t want to submit any work done to date. Instead I took one of my test shots and tried to be creative with it. This resulted in the image “Rock Solid” displayed below which received an acceptance.

Rock Solid – Acceptance

As I mentioned in the previous post, I submitted an image for judging that I also submitted for the image show. I must have experienced a “grey moment” for that to have occurred. In hindsight I was not very happy with the images I submitted in the Open section and was not expecting much at all. And that’s where sometimes the judges surprise!

I was very surprised when the image I least expected to do well received an honour. The other two images only received acceptances which was most probably all that they deserved.

Lions Guarding – Acceptance

Rusting – Acceptance

Peace Brother – Honour

Photoshop still remains largely a mystery to me. However, last Saturday I worked my way through Peter Eastway’s “How to Master Photoshop Layers” and found this to be a very useful resource. Just watching how he does his selections was a revelation and has made my workflow a lot easier. On Sunday I put my new found knowledge to work to do some proof of concepts for my Print Project Challenge.

The tutorial sections on Hayley Robert’s Photography website are also proving very useful for assisting my knowledge development. For example, she illustrates how she creates shadows in her images using Photoshop tools. So my learning journey continues.

 

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Continuing My Learning and Development

Since last post, Marie and I have been busy gaining new knowledge and developing our skills. In preparation for our upcoming Italy trip, we attended a Travel Photography Workshop through Fotografica with Lisa Kurtz as our Tutor. The Workshop covered planning for your trip, what equipment to take, what to do on arrival, what to shoot and how, and storing your files. Here are a couple of images I shot during the workshop:

Tough Decisions

I Love My Coffee

Last Friday I was very fortunate to attend the Peter Coulson workshop on Using Natural Light. It was conducted here in Brisbane and it was a great learning experience. Some of what I learned about included selecting the location to shoot, how to modify natural light using natural means, working with models and metering for highlights and shadows. The key message Peter imparted was that talking to the models you are working with is of greater importance to the end results you will achieve than any of the camera technical considerations. As Peter instructed us to set our cameras to black and white, the images I am sharing will be black and white too. Here are some images I shot during the workshop:

Tanja

Mary

Amy

On Saturday morning, Marie and I attended a follow up session to the colour workshop we had done recently through Fotografica. We put to practical use through number of exercises how to tell stories with colour. We learned which colours were advancing, which were retreating and which were muted. The importance of ensuring the colours support the intent of the story we want to convey was emphasised. For example, if you want to tell a story of despair, producing a “beautiful” colour image would not give congruence to the story in the image. Here are some images I took during the session:

Example of Discordant

Leo Watching

For the Brisbane Camera Group Focus Night image show on Monday 12 June, I submitted 4 images which in hindsight may not have been among my best. A couple of the images appeared a lot darker than I thought they would. Here are three of the images I submitted (the 4th images was “tough decisions” above):

Confusion

I Love My Ice Cream

Peace Brother

I also submitted images for the Brisbane Camera Group monthly competition on Monday 12 June. I only submitted one in the set subject being “Self Portrait” and three in the open section. I must have confused myself as I submitted at least one of the poorer images I had put in the image show. The results from the judges will be learned on Monday 26 June.

Work on my print project challenge entry continues. Brisbane Camera Group had a Photoshop workshop with Andy Cross which provided some new skills for selections which will benefit my project. On Sunday afternoon I shot some more images to work with and to see how the story is coming together. Progress is slow and hopefully I will get there.

Certainly a learning and development time for me.

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A Busy but Fun Couple of Weeks

Marie and I attended the workshop “Shoot to Print” and had a fun day learning heaps. Andrew Merefield was the instructor and he provided the model for the shoot part of the day. Andrea Rose was experienced as a model which made our shooting easier. We took a number of images that worked well thanks to the guidance Andrew provided both to Andrea as well as to us in terms of camera settings and technique. A couple of images taken at the workshop appear below.

Last weekend was busy as we attended a “communicating with colour” workshop with Lisa Kurtz as the instructor. I gained a number of insights that I am sure will help my Print Project Challenge images. Using colour to convey mood or emotion can be a great way to assist in telling the story one wants to convey.

On Sunday evening we attended a night shoot with Andrew Merefield. Louise was our lovely model and initially we photographed her with the city skyline behind her as the sun was setting. We worked on a number of techniques including flash photography, using available light and ramping up the ISO, fun images using glow sticks and sparklers. Here is a couple of images taken at the workshop:

Also, over the last couple of weeks I have been playing around in Photoshop trying out different tools so I am better prepared for the work I need to do for my Print Project Challenge entry. In my last post I included my abstract image “Accident 1”. Since then I have taken that base and worked on it further to create ‘Accident 2”. I put it up on Instagram and it has received some favourable comments including the suggestion I print it on metallic paper. I plan to do that soon. Here is the image:

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