Archive for June 2009

Fine Art Photography awards

June 24, 2009

Last week was the Master Photographers’ Association (MPA) Regional Fine Art Photography awards, held near Bristol.   The competition, for creative and artistic images, was judged by Peter Ellis, an ex-chairman of the MPA, and a respected international photography judge. 

Peter awarded two of my images prizes.  The first of these was a view of a couple on the beach at Rhossili on Gower.  I chose a very narrow crop for this image as it really lifted the composition, and helped to show the romantic isolation of the couple.  The image is effectively in three sections; the breaking waves, the receding waves, and the sand with the couple.  The small dark triangle in the top-right corner stops your eye from going right out of the frame.  We cover this sort of composition in our photography training courses.

FA-111-9551 for blog

The other image was one of my “Bokeh” series.  Taken with a long telephoto lens, it’s of a leafless weeping silver birch tree covered in water droplets after the frost that was on it had melted in the sun.  The sunlight shining through the droplets caused a myriad of colours due to diffraction.  The branches made a lovely pattern across these highlights, and gave the image some “compositional energy”. 

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 These “Bokeh” images are really beautiful and I’m looking forward to doing even more.

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Less is more…

June 22, 2009

Some days it all just comes together nicely.   I need to take my small, green, Italian classic car for a spin, and we noticed that there was a classic car show, and open gardens day, at a village about 10 miles away.  So it was out with the polish and off to the show – and the gardens.   There were about 170 cars there ranging from 1920’s stuff up to new Aston Martins.  It was a real treat to see such a mixture of machinery.  I was very surprised to see that my Pininfarina was the only Italian car there!  No Alfas, Lancias, Fiats or even Ferraris. 

I had taken along my Panasonic FX-500 compact digital camera and tried to capture the atmosphere.  If I took images of whole cars I  found that it was hard to get “clean” compositions.  There was usually a person (or lots of people) in the background, and the other cars, whilst giving context, confused things photographically.  Here’s an example of a small, green, Italian car…

small spider for blog

It’s an OK image, with a good colour contrast between the green Pininfarina and the red TVR behind it, but the roofs of the other cars in the background do break up the lines a bit too much.  The FX-500, like so many compact digital cameras, will focus to within a few centimeters of the subject, so I decided to experiment with clean, simple, close up images of the cars’ badges instead trying to get the  whole car; “Less is more”.  Chrome radiators and shiny bonnets are very reflective, so you do need to be careful that your own reflection isn’t in the pictures! 

Car designers spend a lot of time getting the badges just right, and they are often small works of art in themselves.  Triumph’s badge shows them ruling the world…

triumph for blog

Bentley’s badge on the other hand, is a model of simplicity and elegance.  The red B with wings either side echoes Bentley’s older “Flying B” bonnet mascot.

bentley for blog

Here I think that the sunny highlight on the badge really lifts the image. 

Hope this has given you some food for thought, and that you will enjoy taking this sort of image on your own compact digital cameras in future. 

 

You can never stop learning!

June 11, 2009

I spent last weekend on an advanced portrait photography course in Fairford.  You may ask why I, as a person who offers photographic training, needed to go on a training course.  Well, in a field as large and as varied as photography there’s always something new to learn, and with this course I had the chance to try out some lighting equipment that I don’t have.  This included an Elinchrom Octa.  The Octa is a huge softbox, and I mean HUGE, that gives an incredibly soft and flattering light similar to that coming from a large window.  It’s so big it wouldn’t actually fit into our studio!

We were lucky enough to have great models to work with, ranging from Charlotte Thomson to Dave’s Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter 1500 motorbike.  The image shows both and is lit with five lights including the Octa.

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I’m really looking forward to developing some of the ideas from the weekend into the photography we offer our clients.

“Bokeh” and the RPS

June 4, 2009

Every now and then I have a “creative photography” day, where I try and push my limits and keep myself fresh.  This week, on a really hot, sunny day with very strongly directional light, I took time to shoot some “Bokeh” images in the garden.  “Bokeh” is derived from a Japanese word meaning fuzzy, and refers to the out of focus areas of an image.  I often shoot portraits with lenses at large apertures to give nicely out of focus backgrounds; this gives good separation from the sharp foreground subject.  The images I shot this week don’t have a sharp foreground subject!  

Shooting “Bokeh” is a very interesting thing to do, as you can’t really see through the camera’s viewfinder what you’re going to get by way of a final image.  The structure of the viewfinder screen can split highlights into spectral colours which don’t get recorded. 

I’ve developed a technique that gives beautiful, abstract images with swirling shapes and colours.  They are clearly not sharp in the traditional sense, but also don’t just look out of focus.  The only manipulation this image has had is a bit of Auto Contrast in Photoshop.

 broad brush bokeh small for blog C symbol

This week also saw an excellent development regarding our photographic training courses.  We are now running “The Creative Eye” as a workshop under the aegis (good word!) of the Royal Photographic Society on August 15th.   Take a look at the relevant page on the RPS’s website here http://www.rps.org/workshops/view/1509