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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

Shrubs on Dune_Mungo National Park_NSW

Photographing shrubs on a sand dune_backlit by the rising sun_Mungo National Park_NSW

Leica M7 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 film. Exposure Details:

Mungo National Park in far southwest NSW is a great place for the intrepid traveler and landscape photographer. The harsh, arid environment and the park’s formidable distance from capital cities, around an 8-hour drive from Melbourne where I currently reside, ensure it doesn’t receive the quantity of tourists it deserves. And that’s one of its charms. I travelled around the park for several days and only saw one other independent traveler and a bunch of retirees on a tour. But the very best times to photograph, early morning and early evening, I was alone. And that’s heaven for a landscape photographer.

The above image was made just after sunrise with the shrubs backlit by the fast rising sun. I decided to render the original color transparency into black-and-white to better achieve the starkness I needed to convey the sense of eerie silence I experienced at the time the image was made.

It seemed to me that this relatively banal subject matter, somehow surviving in a most inhospitable environment, offered me an opportunity to explore notions of survival, hope and growth, despite adversity.

Such notions provide powerful metaphors for the photographic artist that can help take your photos up to the next level. So remember, your photographs should not just be about what you see, but how you feel about what you see. And that is as important for landscape, portrait, architecture and documentary photographers as it is for the painter, sculpture or writer.

Image processing was conducted in Adobe Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5.

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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

From My Window_Old Delhi_India

Canon New F1 camera and Canon 24mm lens with Agfachrome 100 film

Over recent weeks I’ve very much enjoyed re-visiting some very old images from my first overseas trip in 1998. The above image was made from the upstairs dorm window of a backpacker hotel in Old Delhi, India. It was a relatively cheap place to stay that proved to be a great place to meet other backpackers. The food downstairs was good and, other than the usual problems associated with theft and illness, I enjoyed my time there.

Of course Delhi is madness. Yet, amidst the chaos there is serenity. The wealthy locals and diplomats find it in their palatial compounds, the up class tourist and business person in top of the range hotels and the masses through patience, a devote spirituality and a belief system that defines their place in the cosmos.

I remember making this image. I’d been looking out the window at the rain, a habit I’ve enjoyed since childhood. Rather than causing folks to hurry and seek shelter, the average man seemed to continue on at a steady gate from one task to another. There’s certainly a metaphor and message here for the lazy, overly pampered, hair and fashion obsessed individual – a little of which resides in most of us.

These workers have no time for appearance. They live their life from day to day doing their best to provide their families with the most basic needs. So with pay TV, holidays, ballet lessons for the girls, car payments and a mortgage not an issue, what’s a little rain when you’re trying to feed your family?

While the above image isn’t going to win any awards it does help focus my attention on some of the more important aspects of life. From an image making point of view I was standing where I was with the viewpoint I had. I only had one lens with me at the time. The light and colors were, pretty much, as you see. All I could control was the moment at which I pressed the shutter. I simply waited until the figure carrying the pack above his head moved into the space between the overhead power lines, thereby creating a frame within a frame, before I tripped the shutter. Having the Brahman cow in the foreground added another interesting element that helps identify the scene with India.

The original 35mm transparency was scanned then brought back to life with Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Dead Dolly

Canon 5D Mark II with Canon 24-105mm f4 L series USM lens @ 105mm. Exposure Details 1/40 second @ f11 ISO 400.

Hi folks. I hope the current festive season has been an enjoyable and peaceful experience for you all. While I was brought up a Christian I have an interest in all of the worlds great religions. This interest goes back to childhood, but has been stimulated through my travels and living in Melbourne, a very multicultural city.

I spent Christmas Eve at my oldest sister’s (Maree) house in suburban Melbourne. Her partner Trevor, Maree’s 3 kids, their partners and children joined us for the celebrations. It was a great night with good food and cheer for all. Christmas day I spent with my younger sister’s (Gabrielle) family (husband Ross and kids Daniel, Anna and Jessica) at their home in Sale, around 2¾ hours drive from my place in Melbourne. My mum and brother, Brian, who had made the long trip from Hamilton the day before were also present. Wonderful food and great company made for a great day. We were joined on Boxing day my Maree and Trevor, who’d driven up for the day, and my oldest brother Michael and his youngest daughter, Ali. With my mum and all my siblings present it was a wonderful day. Thanks to all her made the big trip, especially my momma, who’s 82 years of age, and to my sisters Eddie (Maree) and Gabs (Gabrielle) for all their hard work.

The following day when all the guests, bar me, had departed proved to be a lovely, warm day that just called out for a day trip. So I accompanied Gabs, Ross and family to Seaspray, a nearby seaside village where I was to photograph an up and coming young band, Saida, the results of which will feature in tomorrow’s post. The beach there is just beautiful and the waves were rolling in from Bass Strait. It can be quite a wild beach, but the day blessed us with very pleasant conditions.

While the above image contrasts somewhat with the majority of this posts text I wanted to use the pic, made while exploring an abandoned house in Seaspray, to comment on our consumer society. The doll depicted looked very old indeed yet, with this years Christmas memories still fresh in our minds, we all know that by now thousands of such toys, games and the like have been broken and thrown away, just a few days after being purchased. Many of these items don’t work well, some are unsafe for little children and others are just unwanted.  So much of what we buy today is not made to last. And yet they remain in rubbish tips, fields, streams and oceans for many years to come. We all bare responsibility for this outrage!

I made the original pic much the way I always do. I work intuitively employing light, color and design elements to explore the inherent nature of the scene or subject depicted.  I was drawn to photograph the doll, lying in a stagnant pool of vivid green slime. I simply knew that a creative treatment was required to connect that half submerged piece of plastic with larger issues. So, the image is not just about a broken discarded doll, but also about all the similarly broken, discarded dolls and the society that creates and discards such things. The power is not in the individual doll, but in the metaphor the image explores.

Of course, just like beauty, meaning is also in the eyes of the beholder. When it comes to beauty I hope you’ll all find this a beautiful image of an ugly reality. I very much like the duality (juxtaposition of opposites) such images evoke. Of course the doll can also be a metaphor for human kind and the way we treat each other and our own bodies in this busy, consumer-driven society. We seem to spend most of our time treading water when, in the end, we’re bound to be swallowed by the mire.

The thing is there is a way out. The wise aren’t concerned with how strong a swimmer they are, or will be tomorrow. Some are brave enough to get out of the pool, while the really smart ones never actually got in in the first place. I guess they swim in the ocean, just off the beach at Seaspray.

While its fine to wonder about why one is draw to particular subject matter, you don’t want to do so during the process of actually making the picture. Such considerations, which are an important part of the editing process, are best left to later. Throw out poor quality and boring images, spend time looking at what you do well and you’ll be sure to do more of the same into the future.

The original color pic was processed and rendered into a warm toned black-and-white in Adobe Lightroom 2, prior to employing Adobe Photoshop CS4 to enhance image depth and detail.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Water and Rock_Chewton

Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series USM lens @ 105mm. Exposure Details: 1/10 second @ f8 ISO 400

Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series USM lens @ 40mm. Exposure Details: 1/8 second @ f8 ISO 400

Here’s another image from last weekend’s workshop in and around Chewton in Central Victoria. This is a very straightforward image that depicts water running, along a diagonal course, over a rock face. It’s a detail from a much larger landscape.

When setting up and composing this image I was intuitively drawn in close to the subject in a way that both separated it from its surroundings and, at the same time, acted to stand for the larger landscape. Less really is more, so by moving in close I was able to distil the elements of that landscape down into the detail we see above. Furthermore with less information to deal with the metaphors associated with the image (e.g. hard and soft, immovable and moving, rigid and fluid) are expressed through the juxtaposition of opposites (rock and water) within the frame.

Adobe Lightroom 2 was used to render the image into black-and-white. Adobe Photoshop CS4 was then employed for final tonal adjustments and to enhance the image with a lovely warm color balance.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Making Metaphors from Metamorphous

Leica R8 camera and Leica 90mm f2 Summicron lens with Fuji Velvia 100F film

Leica R8 camera and Leica 90mm f2 Summicron R-series lens with Fuji Velvia 100F film

There’s a long tradition in fine art black-and-white photography where nature and still life genres come together. It’s the photography of dead things, whether located in the natural environment or after mummification. While somewhat morbid the best of these images, to my mind, are those that deal with the reality of life and death.

It was sad to see this little penguin lying dead on the rocks, just a few meters away from the sea. I know not whether its demise was due to natural causes or otherwise. Perhaps it died at sea and was washed up onto the rocks at high tide. In any case sadness gave way to a deeper inquiry as to the nature of things, which lead to the making of the above image.

I’ve long believed in the power of duality. The juxtaposition of two opposites: life and death, beauty and horror, evoke powerful associates and metaphors for the fine artist. As long as the subject is dealt with in a respectable manner, I believe such images deserve their place within the fine art tradition. In the process of making metaphors from metamorphous such images cause us to think about the bigger picture. And the more time we give to such pursuits the richer our lives will become.

The original 35mm color transparency was scanned and rendered into black-and-white with Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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