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Looking Seaward_Whisky Bay_Wilsons Promontory National Park

Leica MP camera and Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit Aspherical lens with Fuji Velvia 100F film

Quite light at days end provided a great opportunity to explore the relationship between the various elements within this scene. There’s a lot of information within the foreground shrubs and rocks. Their inherent color, shapes and textures provided a fairly complicated foreground. I had to be careful to position myself so that I could find the best arrangement by which I could do the following:

  • Illustrate each individual foreground element
  • Contrast the softness of the scrubs against the hardness of the rocks
  • Ensure there was sufficient space by which the viewer can navigate their way, from element to element, and then pass through to the island in the background. The small patch of sand at the bottom left of the frame provided a nice pathway into the image.

I’ve employed Adobe Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 for image processing. The vivid color saturation associated with Fuji Velvia 100F film helped lift the otherwise subdued color palette. I’ve increased that saturation further during image processing. If I were to make a fine print for display I’d work to reduce the degree of saturation, particularly in the aqua/blue and magenta colors. But this is a small image, viewed on the web, and I doubt the extra punchy color will upset too many people.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Afterglow_Harcourt Reservoir_Central Victoria

Canon 5D camera and Canon 85mm f1.2 L series USM lens. Exposure Details: 1/250 second @ f8 ISO 100.

For 12 years I regularly ran photography workshops in and around the small town of Chewton in Central Victoria. A short drive further north, towards the regional centre Bendigo, will bring you to the small town of Harcourt. Famous for its apples Harcourt also has wineries, a great pub and rolling rocky landscapes. I’ve photographed the Harcourt Reservoir a number of times, always around sunset. The light has always been interesting and, on occasions, spectacular.

The above image was made after a beautiful, but brief sunset. I couldn’t believe how quickly the sun seemed to set and how the sky above remained bright for around 20 minutes after sunset. I made this photo after the sun had sunk below the horizon. The conditions were such that its rays illuminating the low-lying cloud formation above and reflected that light back down into the reservoir. White clouds and water are, after all, highly reflective.

The color and shape of the clouds are major design elements within the image. The color of the clouds is reflected in the water, while their shape is somewhat repeated in the reeds springing up through the surface of the water. This reminds me of a saying I learned during my days as a photography student: “As Above, So Below”. If you think about it it’s a very powerful and thought provoking saying. This may suggest a relationship between heaven and earth, sky and ground, spirit and body.

Symbolism and metaphors aside it’s rare when, during daylight hours, the ground is as bright as the sky. From my experience photographing under these conditions is a quite magical experience.

Processing was conducted in Adobe Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Running Color

An photo that's primary subject matter is light and color has produced an impressionistic result.

Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens @ 93mm. Exposure Details: 1/60 second @ f 11 ISO 100

The primary subject matter of this photo is light and color.

People will determine for themselves the relevance of the running/dripping text that had been applied to the front of the window. By photographing from the other side of the glass I was able to abstract the text and further enhance the sense of mystery. Most folks, looking for understanding, will no doubt try to make sense of the text by trying to read it. Perhaps there’s some hidden message that can be found by reversing the characters? Other folks will see the text as I did when I made the image: as design elements within the frame. Either approach is fine by me. As long as you can hold the viewers attention, and prompt them to explore and think about what they’re seeing, you’re doing well.

To further enhance their importance within the frame I was careful to compose the image in such a way to frame each character between the green vertical bars.

I love the muted colors, largely due to the frosted nature of the glass, and their complimentary (warm/cool) relationships.

Next time you’re out and about photographing you might like to set yourself an assignment. Try finding interesting subject matter that you can abstract. One of the ways of doing this is to base your image on the inherent design elements within the object you’re photographing. So instead of making a photograph that becomes a relatively accurate representation of a flower, which is unlikely to be as beautiful as the flower itself, concentrate your composition on the lines, shapes, textures and color present within the flower. These elements may well have drawn your attention to the flower in the first place. So why not explore your relationship with the subject by photographing what focused your attention in the first place? A rose is a rose is a rose. But the fun is in portraying your relationship with and your response to that rose. And that’s something worth sharing with the world through your photography.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

iPhone Photography_Moving into Abstraction

Apple 3Gs iPhone photograph of Stairway Detail

For my third installment of pics from the Apple 3Gs iPhone I thought I’d venture into the world of abstraction.

The way the human brain works is that it looks for the familiar in what it sees. For the sake of this discussion we can refer to the familiar as the subject. The eyes move quickly over a photograph so as to locate a familiar point of reference that enables the viewer to identify the subject of the photograph and then to understand the context into which that subject has been placed. Let’s look at how changing one element in a picture can produce a very different context.

Little Johnny is standing alone on the beach on a beautiful sunny day. This image might suggest the joy of youth and a long and positive life ahead. An alternative scenario might feature Little Johnny standing alone on the beach with dark storm clouds approaching from behind. You could easily read this image, possibly influenced by the day’s doom and gloom in the media, as a metaphor for dark days ahead. But what happens to the viewing experience when there’s no recognizable subject?

Apple 3Gs iPhone Abstract Fence Detail Photograph

From my point of view abstraction simply means presenting elements of the world in such a way that the viewer sees the abstraction before they begin to identify what has actually been photographed. In effect the abstraction becomes the subject of the photograph. One way to move towards abstraction, and produce a more visually interesting image, is to move in closer and base your composition upon the design elements inherent to the subject. In this case the viewer will notice the design (e.g. line, shape, texture, color, balance or shadow) before they think to identify the subject (e.g. interesting pattern on a fence), thereby breaking there usual way of seeing, processing and understanding visual stimuli. As a consequence the photographer has allowed them to think less literally and provided them with a heightened visual experience.

Each of the images that illustrate this article was made by emphasizing particular elements, within larger scenes, that attracted my attention while scouting for locations with my photographer friend, Bill Poon. The vibrant green of a stone staircase, the textured patterns of paint forming in bubbles on a metal fence and the circular anti-slip dots, laid our in a series of straight lines, on a staircase.

Apple 3Gs iPhone Abstract Photograph of a Hardening Covering on a Stairway

Photography is a wonderful activity and there’s no reason why the production of art can’t be fun. The journey into abstraction is one way by which photography becomes art.

All images in this article have undergone fairly significant processing in Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS4. I don’t plan to process all my iPhone images in this way, but the nature of these images indicated to me that their journey would not be complete without a little hocus pocus. What can I tell you, it was fun.

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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

What Color is Green?

What color is Green? A strange question to be sure, but nevertheless worthy of some explanation. As a way to help describe color we can break it up into the following 3 separate categories:

Hue

A technical term for color, Hue is the actual name of the color. So a red apple has a red hue, while a yellow banana displays a yellow hue.

Saturation

Also called chroma or intensity, Saturation refers to the vividness or purity of a particular hue (color).

The higher the saturation, the cleaner or purer the resulting hue. A de-saturated hue, sometimes referred to as a pastel, is lower in saturation due to it having grey mixed into it. The more grey present, the lower the saturation.

Images featuring hues that are relatively high in saturation will likely produce a more visually dynamic result. So, if you’re looking for high impact, saturated hues are well worth considering. Conversely, if you’re trying to communicate a more tranquil or peaceful mood then de-saturated hues may be the way to go. 

Luminance

Also called brightness or value, Luminance describes the overall lightness or darkness of a particular hue. The actual luminance of an object’s hue is relative to the conditions under which it is encountered or displayed.

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Detail_Uluru_Central Australia

 

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

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

The making of this photo was a surreal experience. I was photographing Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the Uluru / Kata Tjuta National Park in Central Australia. Famous for its ability to change color in response to the changing weather and light conditions, this magnificent sandstone monolith is a wonder to behold and provides a range of opportunities for the landscape photographer.

While I’ve very much enjoyed photographing the rock in a range of ways and at various times of day, this particular image is one of my more abstract interpretations. I’ve long been fascinated by how the color of light can influence the color of the subject being depicted. After photographing a more expansive scene I noticed that light was reflecting various parts of the rock and surrounding landscape into a small puddle near my feet. In the resulting image the orange to yellow hue of the sunlit rock is evident, as is the cooler color of the heavily shaded monolith on the left side of the image. On the right we have the clump of grass, the reddish reflection of a shaded part of the rock and the reflected light from the blue sky mixed with the red earth below.

This was actually quite a difficult image to make. The hot, bright sun was beating down on the back of my neck and the clear reflections present in the puddle were constantly being disturbed by hordes of group tourists, many of whom found the need to tap me on the shoulder and point upwards to suggest that it was the rock and not the puddle that I should be photographing.

 

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

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

 

For fun I’ve included a black-and-white version of the image for the purposes of comparison. One image explores variations in color, the other in tonality.

The image was made with a Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography 

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