Archive for March, 2009

Mundane views

Posted in Life, Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 by sojournerphoto

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Cambridge.

Colin on www.auspiciousdragon.net/ has a post on the non-luminous landscape that I really like.

Mike

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Practice

Posted in Art, Life, Uncategorized, Working on March 31, 2009 by sojournerphoto

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I was talking with a colleague today who plays the clarinet. He needed to leave work to practice with his orchetra and we started thinking about the need to practice photography in the same way as music.

My daughter plays piano and appears to be fairly able. Her practice regime consists of the bits that she doesn’t really like – the discipline of doing her scales and exercises as well as some (limited at this stage) music theory and most of all learning new pieces that are ‘too hard’ until they are learnt – and the bits that she does like. The practicing that she likes consists of playing music that she already knows, but uses to express her moods and feelings, together with all sorts of improvising.

I think there is a lesson for us photographers in here. The nature of our vocation is that we are often technically minded people who are very happy thinking and learning about the technical aspects of the craft – what we know and are comfortable with – but often fail to try new creative ideas or just get out and practice making pictures. Yet the best way to improve our seeing and picture making is simply doing it and looking at what we come up with.

I wonder if one of the barriers to this is that we feel the need to make worthwhile pictures every time we shoot, or to be able to bring home something wall, or at least print, worthy… But, if we can see being out with a camera as an enjoyable way of seeing – without pressure as when Hannah practices the way she likes – perhaps we’ll develop our photographic musicality more readily than all the planning and learning will ever allow. Much of what I photograph is basically mundane, the things that catch my eye as I walk through life, yet this lends itself to a no pressure approach. I can take pictures whenever anything interests me. It doesn’t matter what camera I am carrying and what other people think. If the picture pleases me I print it and put it in my box, otherwise I don’t. Provided I remember that I am doing this for fun then I can practice my musicality, my artistic vision if you must…, to my heart’s content. Actually thinking about it, I don’t even need a camera – I walk around without framing pictures in my mind as I pass:)

Mike

Edited to add – this sort of practice is really just playing:)

Jont and Yam

Posted in Uncategorized on March 29, 2009 by sojournerphoto

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Our friend Jont visited the other week on his bike. I grabbed this shot before he headed off on the long run home. I was pretty impressed that he rode up to see us through the snow that weekend and then headed off home again without a moment’s hesitation.

Leeds brewery

Posted in Life on March 25, 2009 by sojournerphoto

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Tonight I had to work, but we enjoyed sharing a couple of beers from Leeds Brewery, Leeds’ independent brewer. The Pale bitter is particularly good, with fine hopping and a long aftertaste. Leeds Brewery can be found on the web at http://www.leedsbrewery.co.uk/home.html or better still at The Midnight Bell and The Brewery Tap pubs in Leeds.

Mike

SciFi on Bamburgh Beach

Posted in Life on March 23, 2009 by sojournerphoto

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We visited Northumberland this weekend and spent Saturday afternooon on Bamburgh Beach (http://www.northumberland-coast.co.uk/bamburgh.php). The afternoon was wonderful and the light was really bright and airy – filling every shadow. As I watched the people on the beach I was reminded of the old sixties Quatermass film (and others of the genre) which had people milling about in small groups shortly before their destruction.

Mike

Autofocus accidents

Posted in Art, Life, Uncategorized, Working on March 19, 2009 by sojournerphoto

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I come across a lot of complaints about how autofocus doesn’t do what the photographer wants. Usually for me it does, but this time I missed and was left with this impressionistically soft picture that I really like. Happenstance is great sometimes…

Mike

And finally…

Posted in Art, Film, Workflow, Working on March 18, 2009 by sojournerphoto

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It’s strange how sometimes something that started out as a grab shot in passing takes on a life of it’s own. This shot followed that process exactly.

The chairs and their relation to the buckets caught my eye and so I quickly grabbed two frames in passing.

After scanning it was clear that this frame, which is slightly cropped, was more powerful an expression of what caught my eye than the other wider view. In other words the wider context wasn’t needed.

Then, there was still something missing so I tried a selective desaturation of everything but the read chair. This was an improvement, but left room for some more work. The next step was to add the colour back into the front bucket – balancing the chair and giving the picture more purpose .

Finally, I removed the distracting ‘clothes horse from behind the left chair and carreid out some selective sharpening, clarity reduction to limit other distracting elements added a masked overlay layer to increase colour and contrast in some areas and revisitied the vignette in Lightroom.

This all started out as ‘just a bit of fun’, but after a few nights has evolved in a print that I’m very pleased with. I’ve also gone further than has been my recent habit in processing the image, including cloning out a distracting element in the picture. For a lot of work I don’t tend to do this, but in this case it seemed appropriate – there is no story here that depends on factual accuracy and the image is all about expressing my vision of the world as I pass through.

One that went further and longer than I expected.

Mike