Friday, May 31, 2013

Finding the unusual in the usual.

As I go my daily routine I have found that I must be observant of the environment around me.  Like most people I have a full life with obligations that I must carry out.  If I was to scurry around and kept my blinders on, seeing only what is in front of me I would never notice the little nuances of the world.

It is one of the things I talk about in my History, Art and Culture of Photography classes.  That one must be observant at all times and look past the usual and see the unusual.  When you look at the photographs of those who produce extraordinary work, this is one of the hallmarks.  The keen eye of observation allows them to document the world as they see it and wish to express it.

Now this is where the controversy of what is a good photograph and what is a great photograph occurs.  If you look at the photo's that have achieved the highest purchase price you will no doubt wonder why some achieved that stature.  This area particularly underlines the subjectivity of our medium and gives raise to the question of who makes these decisions.  I wish I could give you an answer.  There are many scholars, curators, artists and collectors that can argue the merits of just about any image, both positive and negative.

What it comes down to in the long run is that as a creative individual, we ultimately decide what we want to portray of the events and environment around us.  When we see in an unique way, we open the possibilities to create those works of art.  Allow yourself to see the unusual in your every day.

May 21  A walk around the neighbourhood with Luke on his lunch break allowed me to see a variety of interesting views.  All three captured with the iPhone.
May 22  I seem to have a thing for reflections the last little while and here I was playing with my Studio lights and a glass of orange juice.  Canon 7D 24-70 mm lens.
May 23  An interesting evening with my class at SAIT.  We did some photo's on campus and used this wall that changed lights as a background.  Canon 7D, 24-70 mm lens, 100 ISO, f5.6 1/8 sec with Canon speedlight flash and lumiquest bounce card.
May 24  My boy's had a rehearsal for their dance recital that was coming up on Saturday.  A chance to photograph them in their outfits before the show.
May 25  I did a commercial job but am under a confidentiality agreement as it is a new product.  While I was on set at Hotel Arts, this lamp caught my eye as a potential creative subject. iPhone photo.
May 26  Please refer to my earlier blog on my marathon experience to learn about these shot's. The second is part of my photo a day challenge.

May 27  Cleaning up in the garage I found some rusty nuts that interested me.
May 28  Two iPhone photo at sunset from the upper levels of the Senator Patrick Burns building.

May 29  While demonstrating lighting positions to my basic studio class I saw this great shadow behind my associate Andrew Bolton.  It made for a dramatic portrait.
May 30  Another walk around the SAIT campus and I cam upon these bars with different quotes on them.  This one spoke to me. iPhone photo and processed with the apps Jazz, Noir and RealCamera+.
May 31  I saw this row of small plants with the rocks beside my boy's school and frlt they could look good in a panoramic composition.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why take photograph's?

With the new technology available to us there are so many photographs created every day that it can make one question the relevance of what is being created.  It begs to question, Why take photographs?

The simplest explanation is that one wants to document their lives and that which is around them.  Once George Eastman introduced the Brownie camera photography was available to everyone and digital cameras have only extended that reach.  In the hands of the general populace the idea of recording family and friends became common place. The snap shot was the record of many around the world. This is the greatest use of photography today.

Then there is the commercial use of the medium.  The idea of taking photo's for profit has been part of photography since it's inception.  Government's and corporations hired photographers to document and record their holdings.  People hired photographer's to immortalize their likeness. Newspapers and magazines had photographers document social conditions and world events. Advertisers used photographers to sell and promote their products. A large part of images today are used in these areas.

Another area is that of Fine Art photography.  This is the area where those use photography to express their ideas and thoughts.  It is one of the more subjective genres in the medium as a definition is hard to establish as tastes very across cultures and individuals.  This can be highly personal work to commercial in nature and thus makes it the most challenging.

So in this age of unlimited imagery again why do we take photographs?  I do so because it is an enjoyable pastime and it allows me to explore and express myself.  It is always a challenge and I feel that I explore all of three of these areas.  I suppose all those who love photography do so as well.

May 8  My son Cool had the day of his life as he auditioned for YTV's "The Next Star"  He had the chance to meet some of the celebrities from the program and to showcase his singing talent.  It was an incredible day and I was so proud of him as I took some snapshots with the iPhone.

May 9  Exploring with the extension tubes on the 24-70 mm lens on the Canon 7D.  Documenting the water drops on the Tulips in the front garden.

May 10  Performers from Kerala, India at the Archie Boyce theatre. Canon 7D, 70-200 mm lens.
May 11  Creating a shot for Mother's day with a Rose and Candy box.  Canon 7D.
May 12  Canadian Quarters using the extension tubes on the 24-70 again.
May 13  iPhone close up of a spring bloom.
May 14  Another iPhone capture of spring flowers.
May 15  McDougall Memorial Church about an hours drive west of Calgary was today's iPhone subject.

May 16  Downtown Calgary architecture proved to be interesting this day.  iPhone capture.

May 17  A walk around the neighbourhood yielded these two photo's. iPhone
May 18   I cleaned the living room carpets and Luke had fun jumping around the empty room.
May 19  The Tulips in front of the rock in our front yard made for an interesting study.

My family also had a chance to meet a very special Bishop from India who is a Vatican ambassador to the United Nations.
May 20  The cloudy sky provided and interesting background for this silhouette of my bike
and then provided this rainbow as seen from our backyard.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trying to stay on the positive side.

I have been around the photography scene for about 40 years now having picked up the bug at a young age.   During that time I have met, spoken to, worked with and taught many others who share this passion with me. Over this time I have been exposed to many ideas and thoughts about our industry/profession/hobby both positive and negative.

At the start I was somewhat naive about photography and took photo's for the shear joy of it. Then I started freelancing and eventually had a profession which I followed with passion.  I attended art school, graduated and opened a business which eventually lead to leading workshops and then teaching in a continuing education program.  I joined clubs, organizations and various groups going to conferences and seminars all in an effort to better myself and to meet my peers.

Along came the internet and I was an earlier adopter posting my first website in late 1995.  I followed on-line forums and progressed along to the present day being active in social media of all types.  In essence I immersed myself in everything photographic.

In doing so I have been inundated with work from photographers around the world as well as many different trains of thought.  This can make things interesting, especially as we see more and more people join our ranks.  It can be difficult not to get intimidated when you see the wonderful work of so many and wonder how your images stack up.  Then you hear the grumblings of those who complain about the proliferation of photographers who are said to be destroying the industry and ruining it for those who have been around for a long time.  It is easy to let this negative energy suck the life and passion from you.

I will be honest that I have struggled with this over the last few years, trying to figure my place in the photographic universe.  I have no grand illusions to my importance or my skill level.  I know I am a decent photographer and I try hard to support others in the field whether they be beginners taking my classes to some of the best shooters in the world who have graced my life. Like everyone I need the encouragement of my peers and friends and need to be able to keep a positive outlook.  I also need to rediscover what direction I am taking in this photographic journey.

I feel I have come full circle and am back to shooting for myself and back to experimenting and discovering the medium in all the aspects.  From a business stand point I maybe at a bit of a crossroad as I realize that I am a better photographer than a businessman.  Still I would like to make some income from my work and this is the challenge that many of us have.  At this stage of my life I have chosen to teach and be there for my family while I look at what I can do with the work I am producing.  I know I am not alone in this and that is why I try to maintain a positive outlook and share as such with those I encounter.

I will close here saying that I am on a journey of discovery and I invite you to join me by following me here and by sharing your stories with me and others.  Accept photography for the sheer joy of it, don't begrudge others for their successes or what they are doing, but find your own path.  This is what I choose to do and I will continue to grow even as I hit the big 50 this year.

Now some more images from the past month.

April 24  From my High Key class at SAIT.  Canon 7D 24-70mm, f8 at 1/125 sec.
April 25 - My boy's Cool and Luke's first night of soccer. Canon 7D on shutter priority and 1/500 sec., 70-200mm lens.

April 26 - A silly toy that caught my eye.  iPhone capture and processed.
April 27  Capturing water dripping from the tap. Canon 70, 24-70 with extension tubes, ISO 640, f2.8, 1/640 sec.
Cool being a bubble head.  iPhone shot.
April 28  On the road near Springbank, farmers field in the late afternoon sun. iPone capture.
The strings of a baby grande piano. iPhone.
April 29 From my advanced studio class using florescent tubes as a light source.  Canon 7D, ISO 800, f4, 1/125 sec.

April 30  Basketball net and sky.  iPhone capture and processed.
May 1 Lines and shadows.  iPhone capture and processed.
May 2  Lillies in our front yard.  Canon 7D, 24-70mm, processed in snapseed on the iPhone.
May 3 A walk through Sandy Beach by the Elbow river here in Calgary.  All images shot with the iPhone.

May 4  Fabric landscape. iPhone capture.
 Macro shot of the pistil of a flower.  Canon 7d, 24-70 with extension tubes.
May 5  Wagon wheel.  iPhone photo with the hipstamatic app and tintype filter.
May 6  Low Key with my advanced lighting class.  Canon 7D, 24-70, f8, 1/125 sec.
May 7  Motorbike in the parking lot.  iPhone capture and processed with snapseed.