The Last Blog of the Year

Well, that’s 2021 nearly over……  Just as I thought we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Omicron comes along and we take two steps backwards again.

Still, visiting the vaccination centre yesterday, it seemed that all was going well… lots of folks around to direct, in and out quick jab, and the 15 minute wait after, and I’m too far away to overhear any other conversations going on….. shame…….

I’ve tried to be true to my own photography, and though I admit to being influenced by many others, I’ve tried hard to make my images my own.

Oscar Wild said “A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is.  It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want.  Indeed, the moment an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman.  He has no further claim to be considered an artist.”

I like to create using all the tools I have to hand.  Tools from Adobe, plug-ins, and anything the camera will do too.  I am not a purist in the sense the some photographers are.

I create for me first, and everyone else second.  

It’s funny isn’t it – we see the difference between creative writers, fiction writers, and journalism – we can all appreciate the difference in their styles, and we weave a fantasy in the books we read that we know are just a story.  We can adjust our mental attitudes and realise the difference between fantasy and fact.

We need to do this with photography too. Some images we make are fact, and some are fantasy. Both have a part to play.  

Remember though that the more personal your images are, the fewer people they will please.

Be yourself, and your style will follow.

As we approach the end of 2021, I look back and think of all the things I’ve learned, all the people I’ve met, and all the photographs I’ve taken – (not as many as in previous years I see)….  but there are still many things that I love..

Friends to go walks with (cake walks?) oh yes…… the wonderful zoom meetings, sharing my work, and also seeing some marvellous pictures created by photographers who are so brilliant. Friends who have driven me around from place to place, learning new things, finding my own creative voice.

Getting out with the dogs, enjoying the company of my lovely husband, whose patience knows no boundaries.

Christmas, tinsel, crackers, and books. Strictly Come Dancing, and sunshine and snow. Blue skies, trees, rain, grass, nature at its best, and all the rest that I can’t possibly put down here.

Take care over Christmas, enjoy the break, and hopefully we will meet again in the new year…..

Buxton

Shooting in the Dark…

There comes a point in every photographers life, that skill and technique with the camera begin to take a back seat, in favour of artistic merit.  It’s a time when using the camera becomes so second nature, so instinctive that thought almost stops, and focus is entirely on the subject matter in front of the lens.

Time stands still, as we look at what is there.  The photographer knows intuitively that they need f16, and that at an ISO of 200 there will be a shutter speed of 1/60th, they have learned to read the light  – they will know they can hand hold this comfortably – but may choose to use a tripod.

Emotion is expressed over technical prowess, and the photographer slows down – there’s no rush any more.

I talk a lot about this in my ‘Odd Things’ presentation to camera clubs.  I talk about learning to use the camera in the dark.  

Try this exercise – pick up your camera, close your eyes.  Envisage the camera as being part of yourself. Change the f-stop, the ISO, the shutter speed.  Learn how many clicks it takes to move from 1/30th to 1/2000 second.  How many clicks from ISO 100 to 1600.  Imagine how changing each of these is going to affect the picture you take.  

Was it easy?

Learn how to use your bulb setting (if the camera has one) – and here’s a thing – why not look up exactly WHY it’s called Bulb….. (let me know when you know the answer – it’s more interesting than you might think)…

We need to understand the why and how of our cameras, whether they be phones or DSLR, and anything in between.  Whatever you shoot with, you need to know how it works.  

The thing about cameras, and how they feel in your hands, is important.  I remember buying my first DSLR – in the shop, I held a Nikon in one hand, and a Canon in the other.  Even then, I knew that there was not going to be much difference in how the images would look.  What was important to me then (and is still important to me now) is how it felt in my hands – the Canon won the day by the way……. It just ‘felt’ right.

I shoot Fuji nowadays – smaller and lighter than the Canon 1DX I used to have – it’s been 11 months since I sold it.  The Fuji, ‘feels’ right in my hands – it’s light, and the buttons / dials are easy to find and it was no time at all before I didn’t need to ‘remember’ which side the ISO was on, as opposed to the shutter speed dial.

Once mastered, you can think about composition without worrying about the camera.  You can look at how a scene looks, and think about how it feels.  Remember that some images are ‘about’ things, and some are ‘of’ things.  Some images ‘look’ like things, and some ‘feel’ like things.

Sometimes when I’m judging, I’ll say that I know how that scene felt, how cold it must have been, or how hot.  Sometimes I see images of animals, and so well taken that I know how that fur would have felt under my fingers.  Fruit smells, and and it can drift off the page of a print…..  abstracts can make me curious, and movement can give the thrill of speed….. 

It’s all up to you – the photographer, the creator of that image.

It’s December 1st as I write this, and Christmas is coming….. I hope I can capture the flavour of the month – with any luck I’ll see some snow this year.  We get very little in this part of the country.

So, felicitations of the season – keep shooting, and keep learning….. and think of all the things you love.

Winter in the Peak District

Well, what a year that was…

It’s been a horrid year in lots of ways, and I bet a lot of us will be glad to see the back of it.. I’ve tried to see the bright side, but sometimes it does get you down, and I worry very much about what 2021 will bring – at least in the first half of the year. Fingers crossed the vaccine will work, and that more will be on the way soon…..

The weather has turned a bit more wintery recently, and so getting out and about has been a bit more difficult – however, there have been some good days this month, and the colder weather has brought waders to our beaches.

Twice this week, I’ve been able to nip to the coast, and see what’s about as the tide recedes.

Dunlin


The problem, if you will, with this time of year, is that not only does it get dark early, but the light changes fast. It started off dark grey, I was focussed on the Dunlin. I kept shooting for quite some time, varying ISO and shutter speeds, and any other factors that I could. The penny slowly dropped that the light had changed completely, the sky was blue, the light was stronger, and warmer, and things were picking up …

Redshank

It looked like summer through the viewfinder……..

Bar-Tailed Godwit

The blues became incredibly intense, to the point that it didn’t seem realistic.

And, as suddenly as it came – it went……

Dunlin

It got a little later in the day – people were thinning out – fewer dogs on the beach, and just one chap with a metal detector. He was up and down the beach – moving the birds on in front of him….. waiting to be moved was a Little Egret, it hung on, and hung on, and suddenly was off, in a flurry of water and wings

Little Egret

I was just thinking to call it a day, when I spotted an Oystercatcher on the shore – there was a group of 4, and each time I got close, they either ran up the shoreline, or flew away – this time, one remained behind – and puttered around in the water…..

Oystercatcher

What made this attractive to me now, was the light, and the colour on the water…..

Fashion photographer Barbara Bordnick once said “we walk by wonders every day and don’t see them. We only stop at what shouts the loudest”.

I feel it is a photographers duty to stop and see things that don’t shout out. Everything has some beauty, even the simplest of things. We just need to learn to see them, and take time to collect the images. It’s at this time – we stop saying “but, there’s nothing here to shoot”.

I think this will be the last blog post of the year…… so I want to wish you all the Merriest Christmas you can have – take care of yourselves. Maintain that social distancing – it’s the best thing we can do for each other –

Keep shooting – stay safe…..

See you in the new year… may 2021 be a better one…..

Art or Content

Show a person who likes dogs, a picture of a dog, and they may love it – even if it’s not technically perfect, because it’s a picture they can understand, and relate to. Show them one of a subject they are not interested in, and no matter how artistic it is, they won’t necessarily like it.

It’s Christmas eve, and I was sitting here reviewing images taken over the last 12 months, and thinking how fortunate I’ve been to be able to work with some amazing people – both models and photographers.

Meeting new people, models, photographers, studio owners is always a good thing.  The more people you interact with, the more ideas you can get, and the better images you can produce.

I’ve been blessed with two particularly good shoots in the last months – both have been quite artistic, and well received in the competitions that I’ve been entering.

I did think that I might print some images off and give them as gifts, but I’m not altogether sure that friends would enjoy them in the same way that I do.

I think that as photographers – we are very much emotionally involved in our images, and that the general public often appreciate the content much more than the creativity that goes into the art we make.

Show a person who likes dogs, a picture of a dog, and they may love it – even if it’s not technically perfect, because it’s a picture they can understand, and relate to.  Show them one of a subject they are not interested in, and no matter how artistic it is, they won’t necessarily like it.

Pictures are appreciated by people more when it actually pertains to their life.  Other people’s photography generally appeals to photographers simply because we ARE photographers..  A month or two back, I went to hear a photographer speak, and although it wasn’t a genre of photography I was particularly interested in, I admired the images – so much so, that at the end of the talk, I bought his book.  Each picture is exquisite, but I’d never go out and shoot that subject; but that didn’t stop me admiring the composition, textures and story that each image told.

There is a particular image that I’ve used in a number of competitions this year – an abstract – it did the rounds locally, in camera club battles – it scored highly every time – not getting less than an 18 out of 20 – and mostly getting 20.

Thinking that I’d got a winner on my hands, I entered it into a national competition – waiting eagerly for the results, I was astounded to find that it scored the lowest mark I had ever had in a National.  So what did I do?  Well, I still loved the picture, and when the print was returned to me, I mounted it, framed it, and hung it on the wall;  …….. and here it is…….

dv7b4136

It’s a bit ‘marmite’ I understand that…..  but none the less…..

I doubt I’d offer it as a gift to anyone, but it does look great on my wall – or at least I think so.

And on that note, I’d like to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas, and an amazing, and artful 2017 – let’s make images to be proud of……….