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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

River Bed_Ellery Creek Big Hole_Central Australia

Leica M6 camera and Leica 21mm Elmarit f2.8 lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

My first site of Ellery Creek Big Hole told me I was in for a treat. Alighting from the car and breathing deeply of the eucalypt-tainted air, the impact of the place was immediate and profound. I felt a deep sense of calm and wellbeing.

After a few minutes of bliss I grabbed my camera gear and began to explore the area. Walking slowing, not wanting to disturb the pervading sense of quiet, I wandered around mesmerized by the light and its interplay with rock face, tree and leaf.

After some time I entered an almost dry riverbed to make the above image. I photographed the tree trunk up close, employing an ultra wide-angle lens to place further emphasis onto it and extend the sense of 3 dimensional space between the tree and the background.

The original 35mm 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_Sunrise_Ormiston Gorge_Central Australia

Leica M6 camera and Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit lens with Kodak Ektachrome 100 Extra Color film

Ormiston Gorge, a major stop on the West MacDonnell Ranges, is situated 135 km west of Alice Springs. Offering photographer and walker alike a range of great opportunities the gorge is best visited in the cooler months (May to August) when the 7 km Ormiston Pound walk can be undertaken without too much physical stress.

The above image came about as much through persistence as through technique. I awoke early and walked down to the dry waterhole in the pre-dawn light. The morning was cold and windy and the light flat. It looked like the sunrise was going to be a fizzer. But my experience is that, once you’re out of bed, it’s worth making the most of the situation and either sitting it out and waiting for the light or, alternatively, moving around the location to discover alternative angles or subject matter.

As the sun rose the cold, bleak dawn light gave way to the warm, luminous light hitting the distant cliff tops and reflecting down into the water in the middle of the frame. The magenta blue light from the overhead sky washed over the foreground rocks and provided a great contrast with the more dynamic sunlight. And, while I wouldn’t recommend drinking from the pool in the bottom right corner of the frame, it did provide me with an added visual element. As well as illustrating that the water is stagnant the green slime leads the eye from the foreground through to the reflection in the middle of the frame and, from there, onto the sunlit cliff tops in the background. As green is the opposite or complimentary color to magenta the slime, in the absence of direct sunlight, acts to separate and emphasize the color of the foreground rocks.

I’m very interested in dualities and the exploration of opposites is a constant theme in my photographs. While the color of the rocks was interesting, the lack of dramatic light in the foreground was initially a concern. This photo is not so much about the sunrise but about the variation in light and color throughout the frame. I employed a 21mm wide-angle lens on my beautiful Leica M6 camera and walked in close to place extra emphasis on the foreground rocks. The idea is to explore the relationship between shaded foreground and illuminated background and encourage examination of the similarities and differences within the frame.

The original slide has been in storage for some time. After scanning it was great fun to bring the image back to life with Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

If ever you have the chance an extended stay in Central Australia is great for both your photography portfolio and your soul. It is an ancient landscape embedded with Aboriginal Dreamtime mythology where ancestor beings both walked through and shaped the landscape. Their presence remains evident in that most inspiring landscape.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Balancing the Rational and the Intuitive Mind

Leica M6 camera and Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

“The rational mind is the servant and the intuitive mind is the gift. We honor the servant and have forgotten the gift.”

Albert Einstein

I believe this quote is of paramount importance to aspiring photographers. More and more technique seems to dominate our education and equipment our photographic practice. Software companies release so-called major upgrades to their product around every 18 months. Likewise camera manufactures launch new feature-heavy and megapixel-laden cameras on a similar timeline. Some folks barely get their head around these new products before new ones are released onto the market.

In the case of the camera most are so overcome by complex interfaces and a plethora of options that they set their camera to one of the auto settings and use it, pretty much, like a point and shoot camera. Photoshop is no easier for the novice to comprehend than was the case with previous versions. Thank goodness for products like Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture which, unlike Photoshop, are designed primarily for photographers, both professional or enthusiast. After a little quality tuition the user is well on the way to producing excellent results without too much trouble.

But is it necessary to buy new software, computers and cameras and, for that matter, mobile phones every 18-24 months? The manufacturers want us to believe it is. And their marketing program uses the old features/benefits approach to convincing us that we’d be much better off with the new product. Despite the obvious financial implications of buying into this philosophy, is it the right action to take? I live in Melbourne, Australia where it’s said that inner city apartments are now in line with New York prices. Many aspiring homeowners may actually be better off putting their money into their deposit/home loan. The alternative might be to upgrade 1 or 2 items every 2 years, rather than trying to replace the lot within the same time frame. While not feasible for most professional photographers, amateurs and enthusiasts may find it worth considering.

Frequent followers to this blog would be aware that I’ve been posting photos from my new Apple 3Gs iPhone, more of which will follow tomorrow. But what you don’t know is that I had my last mobile phone for around 5 years. It was a top of the line model and well built. I bought it to last and looked after it. I only upgraded when the old phone died, quite a radical behavior in our contemporary throw away culture. You could never hold me up as being a slave to fashion.

I have, however, bought and sold cameras much more frequently than I should have. I’m writing a follow up article, which I’II publish next week listing all the cameras and lenses I’ve owned and my reasons for purchasing them. There are no world-records or bragging involved, but I hope the article will help folks make sense of the psychology behind their own purchasing habits. Who knows it might even save you some money.

The theme of this article underpins much of my own philosophy towards photography. We have to balance our rational mind, which is associated with logic, technique and equipment with our intuitive mind, which is free, creative and experience driven. The most boring photographs are often well exposed, sharp and made with great equipment. The most beautiful photographs often have little to do with the equipment or any traditional photographic techniques. They are not about the subject photographed, but about the photographer’s experience of the photographic event and about how, through the process of making or looking at the image, new possibilities or realities are experienced.

This may all seem like fluff to some of you. But it is a key difference that separates the act of photography, as a relatively poor 2-dimensional form of documenting our 3-dimensional world with photography as an art form.

I like to read Einstein’s comment that to be able to understand, quantify and explain (science, the rational mind) the beauty of existence you first need to learn to perceive it beyond the usual 5 sensory organs (sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing). Intuition should be trusted for I believe that to understand something, you first need to experience it. Only then should thinking be employed, and then only in moderation.

The above image was made from the car park at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) in the Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park, Central Australia. After scanning the original 35mm color transparency was processing in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

The Photo Essay – A Recipe for Success

The photo essay provides the photojournalist or documentary photographer with a way to tell a story in a series of images, sometimes alongside captions and/or a more substantial article.

The ability to successfully create a photo essay allows you to tell the story in a more comprehensive way than would be the case with a single image. This provides the viewer with more information, the editor with more choice and more confidence in your ability to explore possible future assignments better than many of your competition.

The photo essay recipe that I’ve tried to follow over the years contains images that can be described as follows:

Canon 5D camera and Canon 70-210mm f2.8 IS lens with Canon 2X Extender

Canon 5D camera and Canon 70-210mm f2.8 IS lens with Canon 2X Extender

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A Sunburnt Country

 

Leica M7 camera and Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit Aspherical lens with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100VS film

Leica M7 camera and Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit Aspherical lens with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100VS film

Our environment is under siege. Most of Australia has experienced a prolonged drought over the last 10 years. The water supply to the city where I live, Melbourne, is down to around 1/3 capacity. The landscape throughout most of the country is parched and the heat wave that has affected South Eastern states over the last few weeks has resulted in fatalities, bush fires and loss of substantial fruit crops.

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Low Light Photography

Under low light conditions (eg. at the edges of the day, indoors or under heavy shade) it’s often best to shoot with a wide Aperture (eg. f4). This will provide a faster shutter speed than would otherwise be the case. As a result you have more chance of being able to freeze action, reduce camera movement and the need for a tripod or flash. A wider aperture may also concentrate the viewer’s attention on the subject by de-emphasising their surroundings.

For more contemplative work (eg. Landscape, Environmental Portraiture, etc) the use of narrower apertures (eg. f11) to increase Depth Of Field and display more detail throughout the scene may be appropriate. Of course narrower Apertures allow less light to reach the film and the resulting slower Shutter Speeds may require the use of a tripod to prevent camera movement.

It’s important to note that the quality of light produced under low light conditions can provide a beautiful soft, wrap-around type of illumination. It’s often the most flattering light under which to make photographs.

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