I'm off!

Okay folks ... I'm off to Australia in a couple of hours. I'll be heading down south about as far as you can go on that continent, to Hobart in Tasmania, and then a bit further south. But not as far as the Antarctic, unfortunately.

I'll be spending a couple of weeks touring around Tasmania in a camper van ... and taking in a family wedding ... so there should be masses of opportunity for photography. I've bought myself a little 80GB portable drive, that fits in my pocket, to store all those images on as I expect to make a lot.

This means that I probably won't be able to post very frequently. I'll try to make internet connections as and when I can, but I don't know what they're like in that part of the world.

I'll be back on the 1st April with lots of images and experiences to share.

Have a great Easter and thanks for being with me this far.


Poetry in motion

Can you handle it?

Catherine Nelson-Pollard has sent me details of a photographic event to be held in the Geneva region this coming October.

It's called Les Rencontres Photographiques du Genevois which, loosely translated, means 'Genevan Photographic Encounters'. The object is, '... to encourage exchange between the various artistic currents in the world of photography today'. (Again, loosely translated - the website is all in French.)

There will be an open exhibition with the theme 'In Movement' (closing date for submissions 17th June) a photographic market, workshops and conferences.

Full details here.

I'm off to Australia tomorrow. That should give plenty of scope for 'movement' photos. I'm going to put together a portfolio for submission. Thanks for the information Catherine.

Anyone else game?

So, what'cha do ...

... over the weekend?

Did anyone pick up on my suggestion of taking photos of a familiar subject from a new viewpoint?

Would you care to share the results with the rest of us?

I tried it out for myself.

I got down on the floor with Jess ... no, new readers, don't get too excited. She's my dog ... a bowl of goodies and a wide angle lens.

Getting really, really close produced mildly bizarre results with a whole new perspective.

Cruelty to dogs, making them look weird?


Though Jess did get a bit fed up, she also got well fed up, if you get my drift. Dog biscuits and cheese. She was amply rewarded for her modelling. And she did give the front element of my lens a hard time. Several times I had to stop the session and wipe a noseprint off the glass.

But it was worth it. Though I only took the pictures on Saturday, several of them have been put online by Shutterstock and this one ...

... has already sold a few times in its first day.

Streets ahead

Another photo sent to my by Kirk Miller ... an intriguing landscape with street sign. The viewer wonders 'What's a road sign doing in the fields?' A great 'hook'.

I guess it's the name of his street. What an unusual way to show the place where you live. Much more interesting that a row of houses.

The composition is intriguing, too ... the way the diagonally-placed street sign leads the viewer’s eye towards the distant snow-capped mountains. And the clouds circle around the end of the sign. Then there are the crop lines in the field waving away to a distant clump of trees. The eye is kept quite busy. But there’s always the central subject, the street sign – urban contrasting with rural.

A couple of suggestions.

Kirk tells me that he took this with the aperture at f8, and I guess he was focusing on the street sign. This means that the distant mountains are slightly out of focus.

If he’d stopped his lens down to its minimum aperture (probably f22 ... which would lead to a slow, slow shutter speed so he’d almost certainly have to use a tripod) then he’d be able to use the increased depth of field to get both sharp.

Another thing I notice is a dust spot. You may not be able to see it on the web, but here is a section at 100% with the levels increased to make it stand out.

Looks like a UFO. But it isn't. Just grot (sorry Kirk). I’m finely attuned to the stuff as as it’s the surest way of getting your images rejected by an agency.

Do you suffer? I do. It’s a big problem with digital cameras that have interchangeable lenses. There’s not time to go into it now, but I will cover the topic in a later entry.

The main thing is not to stress about it. Like taxes, which many of us will be doing at this time of year, it’s inevitable.

Good news!

There's no longer need to worry if you're overweight. (Well, not so much, anyway.)

There's now a camera that takes off those pounds. Just get someone to take your photo with it, press a few other buttons, and you'll come out slim and sylph-like.

Your head may get a bit pointy if they overdo it. And it doesn't fix the diabetes and heart problems that go with obesity.

But you'll look good in the family album.

I'm not kidding. Check it out here.

Stuck for ideas?

Bored with taking the same old photos of the same old things?

And getting the same old results.

Try something new this weekend. Take some photos of the same old things from a completely new viewpoint.

I mean ... what could be more boring than some old guy (me actually) digging his garden?

It ain't boring if you're a worm ...

Let's face it.

It's not easy to point your camera at a stranger and take their photo.

Catherine makes this point in her comment to my last entry, and it's very true. I don't find it easy either. I'm not sufficiently thick-skinned to do that.

The trouble that I find is, if you ask someone, "May I take your photo", and they say, "Yes", then 9 times out of 10 they will start posing and putting on a false smile. Which is not what you want.

Here's one way round that problem ...

Saves the need for a model release, too.

If they can do it in darkrooms ...

Catherine Nelson-Pollard has sent me a second photo of her neighbour, the retired farmer:

To me this has a whole lot more potential, and character, than the previous image she sent. We can see his hands for a start. But ... and here comes the critical bit ...

Why put a border around it? And a great fat one at that.

Photographic magazines - at least, the ones I've seen - regularly carry articles on how to do this. Why bother? If the image is strong enough (and this one is) the border will do nothing for it. And if the image is weak no amount of fancy bordering will improve it.

The wire running across the top of his head is distracting, too. And ... small point this ... in portraits, try to avoid cutting people off at their joints. If Catherine had lowered the camera a fraction we would have seen this guy's elbows.

But, that said, this is a great portrait with masses of potential. Here it is again with a little bit of tweaking in an image editing program ..

What a character! (But, sorry, can't do anything about his elbows).

End note: Some people say, "Oi! ... You're cheating using an image editing program."


When I took photographs on film and developed them in the darkroom I'd spend hours in the dim glow of a red bulb, breathing in the hypo fumes, 'dodging' and 'burning' with funny-shaped bits of paper on wire, using different chemicals for different gradations of tint, or over-processing for high contrast.

Apart from the lack of chemical fumes, how's that so different from doing it on the computer?

Background material

Back in October, when they were harvesting the grapes around here, I went to a wine festival in a local village.

It was a small-scale affair - mostly the local villagers and a few motorists who'd stopped to see what was going on. There was a wonderfully friendly atmosphere. The village kids were trying to press the newly-picked grapes in an old-style hand-operated press, struggling to turn the massive handle (which they could only just reach with outstretched arms) and there was copious quantities of fresh-pressed grape juice and last year's wine to drink.

Then a hush fell on the crowd and the Mayor got up on a wooden crate to deliver an address through the village megaphone ...

I took a few photographs for 'insurance' purposes (in case he gave a very short speech and stopped), but I could see the background was a little distracting.

So, as he continued speaking I took just a couple of steps to one side ...

What a difference a couple of steps makes!