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Detail_Mungo National Park_NSW

Detail_Mungo National Park_NSW

Leica M7 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome E100VS film

Mungo National Park in far Southwest NSW, Australia is a fascinating location for exploring and photography. It’s an ancient, arid landscape that many thousands of years ago was part of a huge inland lake system that supported a range of flora and fauna and, as a consequence, the regions indigenous people.

This image was made at the end of a long day’s exploration. I’d photographed the sunset, which rendered naturally sculptured elements on the dunes into surreal, vividly colored forms. The light lingered for at least 20 minutes after sunset and produced a soft, warm glow to the landscape. Noticing the tuft of grass, on the top of a mound of sand, I moved in for a close up. It’s a straightforward image that relies on the color contrast between the grass and sand, the repetitive pattern of the lines and the bizarre relationship between the seemingly disparate elements of grass and sand.

This small tuft of grass, isolated by the surrounding sand, acts as a metaphor that could suggest a range of thoughts including the following:

  • The risk to our way of life posed by a changing environment
  • The ability to survive, despite your environment
  • Your ability to grow, despite hardship
  • People that seem to have nothing in common, co-existing peacefully

The vivid color saturation associated with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100Vs film did a great job of portraying the strength of color in this image. I’ve employed Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4 (I processed this image prior to upgrading to CS5) to process the scanned transparency to reproduce, as accurately as possible, the colors recorded by the film. A strong vignette was added to help draw the eye towards the key foreground elements.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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From Reality and on Towards Abstraction

There are many forms of abstraction open to photographers. Creative Blur, Black and White and Close-Up photography are popular examples. All the images in this post were all made with the camera very close to the subject.

I’d like to suggest that there are three ways of representing a subject, which can be outlined as follows:

Realism

A relatively straight rendering of the subject or scene, often made as a way to share and help remember important moments associated with the person, place, event or day in question.

Realistic photographs try to record what the photographer sees at the time of making the image.

Suggestion

A more creative approach where the photographer works to expand the representation of the subject or scene to include how they felt it. Successful examples often exhibit a mysterious quality and elicit an emotive response from the viewer.

In this case the subject matter is still recognisable, but photographed in such a way to cause the viewer to think about issues, memories and possibilities beyond that which is immediately evident.

Abstraction

Perhaps the most artistic form of expression, abstraction allows the photographer to take the viewer into a world somehow outside of their normal experience.

With the subject matter no longer recognisable the viewer is free to respond to the image as they fit. Responses vary depending on mood, age, gender, religion, cultural background, life experiences, etc.

Its important to understand that, while the photographer may have a particular message or theme that they want to communicate, the more an image moves towards abstraction the more open to interpretation it becomes. So, while I want to encourage experimentation, I also have to emphasize the point that, just like love, meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Making Something Out Of Nothing

Canon 5D camera and Canon 180mm f3.5 L series lens

The images in today’s post were made during a workshop in Central Victoria. The weather was inclement and the participants, while keen for information, were less than enthusiastic about photographing outside.

You can’t really teach enthusiasm, but you can inspire through example. When teaching on location its important to be out there, in the trenches, regardless of the conditions. Participants are expecting to come away with great images and a tutor must do their best to help them achieve their expectations.

On the day in question the light was flat and uninspiring. There was little hope of classic landscape imagery, so a different approach was in order. Out came the macro lens and a quick demonstration followed. The above image features a close-up of a portion of an olive oil bottle, surrounded by aluminum foil, photographed on the kitchen table at our workshop base. The tip for participants, without such a specialized lens, was to set their own lens to manual focus, walk up close to their subject and move and then rock the camera back and forth until sharpness is achieved. While not macro, the average kit lens will allow you to produce interesting close-ups when used in this manner. So, with a new way of seeing the world and a more physical approach to their photography, bad weather was forgotten and the group got on with having fun and making great images.

Canon 5D camera and Canon 180mm f3.5 L series lens

The image of the kangaroo skull was taken mid afternoon, when a sudden blaze of sunlight caused us to head into the shade for more controlled lighting conditions. I found the kangaroo skull nearby and photographed it on an old sheet of rusted iron, which I placed on top of my car bonnet for some on location tabletop photography.

Canon 5D camera and Canon 180mm f3.5 L series lens

The final photograph emphasizes the texture qualities of a wild flower near the shores of a reservoir. While the poor weather prevented the opportunity for our planned sunset, matching alternative subject matter with appropriate technique produced a worthwhile image.

All images were processed in Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Pic of the Week_Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves_MG_9117

Canon 5D camera and Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro L series USM lens. Exposure Details: 1/8 second @ f16 ISO 100

This image of fallen leaves was made with early morning light on a frosty morning in Central Victoria. It was a simple image to make. I used a telephoto macro lens from an elevated (birds eye) viewpoint and moved in close to isolate the key elements of the image from their surroundings.

The dewdrops and tonal changes throughout the image provide the viewer with visual stimuli. The diagonal lye of the central leaf adds a subtle sense of dynamic movement within an otherwise static scene.

I employed Adobe Lightroom 2 for initial processing and conversion of the original color image into black-and-white. The yellow and green tones (colors) were applied in Adobe Photoshop CS4. So we now have a split toned (colored) black-and-white image.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

River Ice_Jiuzhaigou_China

River Ice_Jiuzhaigou_China

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color

Situated in the north of Sichuan Province, Jiuzhaigou is a national park of truly stunning beauty. Crystal clear turquoise lakes, steep, forested hillsides and clean, mountain air makes the park an outstanding natural beauty and one of the very best locations for landscape photography in China.

The above image was made in the middle of winter (January) at around -10 degrees. A nearby waterfall was mostly frozen, as was the area of the stream depicted. I remember being fascinated by the frozen stream with running water visible underneath. Having spent the vast majority of my life in the mild to warm climate of southeastern Victoria, this was the first time I’d photographed such a scene.

The contrast and textural elements within the image made it a strong candidate for rendering in black and white. The original color transparency was scanned prior to processing in Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Pic of the Week_Close-Up_Yarra Valley

Canon 5D camera and Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro lens

Canon 5D camera and Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro L series USM lens

This image was made on a workshop to the fine wine-growing region of the Yarra Valley, north of Melbourne, Australia.

Actually the original image came about, at least in part, by accident. I was setting up a shot with a Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro L  series USM lens. I remember fitting the lens to my Canon 5D body, firmly attached to a Gitzo tripod. I reached into my bag for a lens hood, which I always employ, on every, single shot. But I brought out the wrong one. I decided to have a bit of fun and use the opportunity as an extra demo for workshop participants. The lens hood in question was too narrow to fit onto my 180mm lens. So I held it in front of the lens to produce the very strong vignette evident in the above image.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 was employed to render the original color image into black-and-white and to apply the lovely warm tone result you see above.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Photographing Graffiti_Why?

Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 50mm f1.2 L series USM lens

Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 50mm f1.2 L series lens

What is the purpose of photographing graffiti? As man-made subject matter it’s more like photographing statues or architecture than the natural landscape. Is the idea to document someone else’s work, whether you consider it to be art or otherwise? If so, fine, make it a sharp accurate rendering.

But if you want to make art from art, then a different approach is required. Depict the graffiti in a way other than it appears. Try a close-up and concentrate on the design elements (line, shape, color, etc) within the larger scene; shoot from an extreme angle of view (side on, rather than straight-on; birds eye or worms eye); or photograph the graffiti in relation to its environment or in relation to a human element (child, tourist, artist, senior citizen, etc). There are so many possibilities to incorporate this kind of public art into your own art and build your own creativity in the process.

In the case of the above image I wanted to concentrate attention on the face in a way that highlighted its expressive nature. All colors in the above image were de-saturated, except for green. The area surrounding the centre of the frame was then darkened to place extra emphasis on the face. Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS4 were utilized for processing and image enhancement.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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