RSS & Email Feeds - The Easy Way To Keep Up To Date With The Blog
Please Support This Site and Podcast (Via Paypal):
Any amount.
$5USD a month. 


Tech Podcast Network

Photowalk 64 - Fort Brockhurst To Explosion!

Fort Brockhurst MoatWhat do you do if the the sky is grey and overcast, it's cold, wet and miserable? Grab your camera bag and go shooting of course!

This was not a good day for "pretty" photographs, everything was dull and flat, but that's interesting in itself and presents different challenges.

Fort Brockhurst Moat
Fort Brockhurst Moat

The first challenge is to motivate yourself to get out there and look for photographs. That's easy when the light is beautiful, but when it's drab it's much easier to stay in or take a trip to the shops.

I like dreary days - there's less people about, it's quiet, and sometimes ordinary places take on a spooky atmosphere.

Early Flowers, Fort Brockhurst
Early Flowers, Fort Brockhurst. 30 of 365.

Gosh, a splash of colour in my photostream! I was surprised to see these buds on a bush as I was walking around the moat at Fort Brockhurst. I switched to Super Macro Mode on my Fujifilm Finepix S5700 S700, opened up the aperture to f3.5 and got in close.

View Towards Fareham From Monks Walk
View Towards Fareham From Monks Walk

I converted all of the black and whites in this set using a variation on Victors Technique (I don't bother with the luminescence layer), in Photoshop, and I've been pleased with the results. I'm taking a lot more care with some of my adjustments so I don't blow out the highlights as often. (Apart from when I want a white sky).

Priddys Hard Walkway (East)
Priddys Hard Walkway (East)

A simple shot, but I like it a lot.

HMS Daring From Priddys Hard
HMS Daring From Priddys Hard

This was shot at almost full zoom, through haze, so I had to do a lot of post-processing, colour correction, levels, etc, so the full size is very dirty, but this size is just about OK.

Explosion Museum

Oh for some dramatic clouds in the background....

That's it for today, thanks for looking and I'll see you on Flickr!

Cheers, Rob.

BigStockPhoto Diary #4 - First Black And White Photo Accepted

bigstock4_title_250pxlsNow this is interesting. To be honest I'd never bothered submitting black and white shots from my Fujifilm S5700 / S700 to Istockphoto or Bigstockphoto, I just assumed the extra noise usually created when converting to b&w would lead to automatic rejections.

However, this morning I got an email saying that BigStock had accepted a black and white that I had submitted to test the waters. Let's take a look at that one, plus a couple of the rejections.

It's in: Bridge Railings With Strong Shadows

I took this photograph for the "Curves" assignment on the Fujifilm S5700 S700 Flickr User Group, and decided to submit it to BigStockPhoto along with a few other images that I'd done a lot of post-processing on, just to see if they'd get in.

I converted the photo in Photoshop, using the Black and White Adjustment Layer, then played with the levels. (I think I used a pass of Noise Ninja first, but I can't quite remember).

So why is this so exciting? Well, I should have submitted a b&w version and a colour version of the same image, to see if they'd both get in, and if that is the case then there's double the sales opportunities for most photographs: Just upload the original, and a black and white version!

What Didn't Get In:

Red Paving Bricks With Railing Shadow. Reason: Snapshot composition: This image is more of a snapshot than a marketable stock image. Overall problems can include poor lighting, poor composition, non-interesting subject matter, etc.

Seagull And Lamppost Abstract. Reason: Low interest subject: Probably little demand/selling potential for this image. Try for more marketable shots. thanks.

Some good learning points there, hope it gives you some pointers if, like me, you're dabbling in micro-stock photography.

Cheers, Rob.

"Nothing Personal" By Richard Avedon, Video Book Review

nothing_personalRichard Avedon, famous for his fashion and celebrity portrait photography, produced a darker, more personal book in 1964 - "Nothing Personal".

I've put together a short video to show you what the book is like, it's sheer size and it sheer quality.

So, a great book, but get it from your library, it's very expensive on Amazon.

Cheers, Rob.

SCL Photo Podcast 30 - Nothing Personal by Richard Avedon

SCL PodcastRichard Avedon, who changed the world of fashion and portrait photography, surprises with this dark and personal work.

Subscribe on Itunes. (Will open Itunes, then you need to click on the "subscribe" button.) (Free)

Subscribe with other Podcatchers. (Google Reader, etc) (For Free)

Download / listen to the mp3. (Right-click then "save target as" / "save link as".) (Did I say it was free?)

Download / listen to the LOW BANDWIDTH mp3. (Right-click then "save target as" / "save link as".) (Again, free!)

Show notes:

Featured Posts:

Video Review, If We Shadows, By David Bailey.

Photowalk 61 - Gosport Ferry Gardens.

Photowalk 62 - Brockhurst To Forton.

Photowalk 63 - Gosport Harbour Front.

One photo a day project.

Richard Avedon "Nothing Personal" Book Review

Richard Avedon's Official Website. Loads of stuff on here, excerpts from his books, lots of his photographs, all at reasonable sizes. This is how a photographers site should be, with loads of great images to look at. Sometimes the flash interface can be a bit fiddly, but stick with it.

Richard Avedon's Bio on Wikipedia.

Richard Avedon on PDN.

Richard Avedon interview with Charlie Rose from 1999.

My Notes:

“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” - Richard Avedon.

Richard Avedon, born 1923, and he passed away in 2004.

Richard Avedon changed the face of fashion photography and portrait photography forever. Ask any top portrait or fashion photographer about who they've been influenced by, and chances are Avedon's name will crop up. Richard Avedon also photographed the Civil Rights Movements in the USA during the '50s and '60s, the Vietnam War protests, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Richard Avedon photographed the rich and famous, in fact they would often seek him out to take their portraits, but also the ordinary and everyday. Although his name might not be familiar, if you're a fan of the Beatles, just think back to the psychedelic portraits of John, Paul, George and Ringo taken in '67, and the more restrained photographs for the White Album in 1968.

It's difficult to try and encapsulate and summarize the work of such a great photographer in words, so you've really got to check out and look through his images to truly appreciate the work and the art.

Born in New York, USA in 1923, Richard Avedon started his career as a photographer in 1942, working for the Merchant Navy taking identification photo's of Sailors. A couple of years later he got a job as an advertising photographer with a New York Department Store, and was quickly spotted by Alexey Brodovitch, who was the art director of Harpers Bazaar, the famous American Fashion Magazine, where he went on to be their Chief Photographer.

Making images for Vogue and Life, Avedon left Harper's Bazaar to become head photographer at Vogue, shooting most of their covers from 1973 to 1988.

Avedon came into the world of Fashion Photography when it was a very static medium. Models were treated like, and photographed as, shop-window dummies, usually expressionless and still. Avedon introduced movement and emotion, shooting on location or in his minimalist studio. He introduced character to this previously staid and stuffy world.

Avedon's work outside of the fashion arena is wide and varied, but his portraits are always marked with the personality of his subjects. Determined to produce the best, Avedon would talk with the people he wanted to photograph, soliciting reactions, so that he could capture, hopefully, a clearer view into the inner soul of the person.

Working into his '80s, Avedon died of a brain hemorrhage while on assignment for The New Yorker Magazine, a project called "On Democracy". A true master of photography to the last.

Today I'm looking at his book, "Nothing Personal", a collaboration with James Baldwin, who wrote the accompanying essay with weaves through the pages of the book.

Nothing Personal is a large photobook, the full-page prints are about 14" high and 10 and a half inches wide. It's a collection of portraits of ordinary people, politicians, artists, the famous, and mental asylum in-mates.

Produced at a time of great racial and political upheaval in the USA it's great to look at this book now, days after the inauguration of the first black president of the United States, to hopefully think about how much has changed in the 40 years since it was first published in 1964.

I've checked on Amazon, and although "Nothing Personal" is available to buy, it's very expensive, so I recommend you try and order it from your local library. It's also not what I expected from Avedon. I thought it would be a book full of fashion photos, and the rich and famous at their finest, but this is a much more personal, darker work.

On following pages we can gaze deep into the eyes of Dwight Eisenhower, former President of the USA and architect of the liberation of France, yet just before we have the sneering gaze of George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, a champion of the segregation of black and whites.

We can see a touching portrait of Marilyn Monroe, seemingly shot between poses as she looks vulnerable and alone. There is the blurred photo of Malcolm X, the larger than life image of Martin Luther Kings son, and the candid shots of people playing at the beach.

It is in his photographs of inmates of a mental asylum where we can find the most disturbing images. It's like looking into a version of hell, yet their are moments of tenderness between the patients, and at the time these must have been shocking images indeed.

The book finishes with an image of hope - remember that this was a time of riots, political murders and America was slipping into the Vietnam War, yet Avedon leaves us with a group portrait of the Members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, taken in Atlanta, Georgia. Its a mixed group, both of races and ages, all gazing confidently into the camera, saying, without words, that things will change, and here we are 40 years later, and they have.

So, when I ordered this book from the library I just assumed it would be a book of fashion and celebrity portraits, it's far from that, and show's that Richard Avedon is a Photographer who's work we should all study, enjoy and share.

I'll finish the review, as I started, with a couple of quotes from the man himself,

I often feel that people come to me to be photographed as they would go to a doctor or a fortune teller--to find out how they are. So they’re dependent on me. I have to engage them. Otherwise there’s nothing to photograph. The concentration has to come from me and involve them. Sometimes the force of it grows so strong that sounds in the studio go unheard. Time stops. We share a brief, intense intimacy. But it’s unearned. It has no future. And when the sitting is over—when the picture is done—there’s nothing left except the photograph...the photograph and a kind of embarrassment. They leave..and I don’t know them. I’ve hardly heard what they’ve said. If I meet them a week later in a room somewhere, I expect they won’t recognize me. Because I don’t feel I was really there. At least the part of me that was is now in the photograph. And the photographs have a reality for me that the people don’t. It’s through the photographs that I know them. - Richard Avedon.

If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it's as though I've neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible - Richard Avedon.

Photo Assignment For February - "The Third Dimension"

Right, time to announce February's assignment, go out and create a couple of photo's with the phrase "The Third Dimension" in mind. I'll start on a new thread on out Flickr group over the next couple of days, and it's the usual usual, two new photographs, with the theme "The Third Dimension", post them to the thread in medium size.

Just for fun, no prizes, but this assignment dovetails very nicely with,

Long Term Assignment - "Where I Live"

Here's the thread on Flickr.

Ok, the threads open over on our Flickr group, and quite a few people have expressed an interest to take part and some have even posted some photographs. I've gone off a bit quick and posted quite a few, but they're really just test shots to get a feel for the assignment, and I'll either re-shoot them or choose different subjects.

Just to go over again the assignment, for listeners new to the Podcast, what we're going to be doing, and everyone's welcome to join in, is over the next 12 months everybody is encouraged to take 12 photographs on the them "where I live" and post them to the thread in the flickr group. The subject can really be anything - landscapes, architecture, places, people, festivals, street parties, etc, but make it your best work, because in January 2010 we're going to put together a photobook of the images, available for everyone to buy if they want to.

Depending on how many photographs we end up with will effect how big the book is, and how many shots each photographer will get in the book, but we may end up doing several versions, or a couple of volumes. Each photographer will choose which photographs they want in from the ones they've shot - they'll be no voting, but for an independent view you may ask others for advice about which they think are the best photographs.

The journey is the thing here, there's going to be all sorts of different photographers taking part, from beginners to advanced, so you can post test shots and get advice, or perhaps ask for help with post processing, we'll all be improving along the way.

It's definitely not a competition, but just imagine around this time next year, you'll get a knock at the door and the post-man will deliver this beautiful book, not only with some of your own photographs in, but from everyone else too, with the memories of how we've all evolved as photographers over the last year, how we've improved our technical skills and artistic vision.

Technique challenges (No Time Limit):

No Sky Landscapes

Fill The Frame!

Dawn / Dusk shots

A Landscape Style Shot With Strong Foreground Interest

Remember to email me your photos if you'd like to me work on them for the Photo Workbench.

To contact me, just click on the link near the top of the page under the big picture.

Thanks for listening, see you on Flickr!

Join the Flickr Group!

Cheers, Rob.

Photowalk 63, Gosport Harbour-Front

Harbour View Flats. 23 of 365.I had the car yesterday afternoon, so I thought I'd return to the Gosport side of Portsmouth Harbour, to take some more photographs of the Spinnaker Tower, and maybe the tall flats that are there too.

As it turned out I wasn't really happy of any of the shots across the harbour, but I quite liked a few others, so here they are...

Harbour View Flats.
Harbour View Flats. 23 of 365.

Dominating the skyline on my side of the harbour are the tallest buildings in Gosport, I think they're called Harbour View Towers. I took quite a few different photographs with my Fujifilm S5700 / S700, up close, from a distance, abstracts, etc, but I wasn't very happy with most of them.

Being so tall, obviously there was lots of perspective distortion in the shots I took of the buildings, but I think I wasn't happy with them because of the extreme difference in light. The Sun was shinning directly on the light-coloured walls, making exposure tricky - perhaps I need to return earlier or later in the day.

The above was taken from as far away as I could get without other stuff getting in the way. I was standing at the far end of the board-walk than extends around the Marina. I zoomed in, to flatten the image, reduce destortion, and so that the buildings appeared closer together than they actually were, then braced myself against the wind to try and get a steady shot.

Marina Pier Board-Walk.
Marina Pier Board-Walk

Just a grab shot as I was walking along the board-walk, taken with the camera at hip level as I passed a young family braving the Winter cold.

Atomic Clock, Towards Holy Trinity Church
Atomic Clock, Towards Holy Trinity Church

Another test shot really - its an interesting location, but I need to take a bit more time and work out a better angle.

Thanks for looking, see you on Flickr!

Cheers, Rob.