Category Archives: Photos

Objects that find other Objects

Whilst I’ve been busy upgrading my kit (ah ha you say), there hasn’t been much output photographically. There’s a big project looming, slowly the bits and pieces are falling together and that’s kept me busy. But sometimes, out on the bike doing this and that, I come across something that looks like something that I’ve photographed before, and so out comes the camera from the saddlebag (or a zippy ride back home to pick up said gear) and ‘snap’! Now an old picture has a friend and makes it nicer to view, just a bit anyway.  
How often does one see so many trucks (or buses) parked together?

  

Reaching up or floating away?

  

Loneliness

An exercise in surprise

How do we view ourselves? How do we think others see us? Maybe we all think in terms of how we’d like to see ourselves/others to see us, and we get the two confused.

I took a series of about 60 self portraits and learned that I utterly hated nearly all of them. This was a real surprise, I squirmed upon loading them on the screen. Who’s this guy? So there’s only one thing to it….take more…..and more and more. Why? It’s novel and unnerving, uncomfortable, and I’d rather be taking pics of lovely people or scenery. If it’s to be ugly, what about some graffiti even dirty shoes found on the street, but not me!  I don’t think anyone want’s to see these pics; and consequently the correct thing to do is what feels least natural, most polar opposite of the instinctive behaviour; to hide behind the viewfinder, or even to not take photographs at all. So I’m going to take more.

The anticipation is actually strangely exciting, both in the sense that I think the outcome will be novel, and because it’s challenging in an unexpected way. I’m expecting to find this to continue being outside of the ‘comfort zone’ and I don’t know why, it’s not like I have a poor self image or am abashed for some physical extra or missing bits. But through the lens is different to in a mirror, so much so that it felt as a rude awaking of the fact – pictures do distort reality, some realities more than others. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself! What a hoot!

Where there’s petrol, there’s fire

It’s not immediately apparent, but if you look carefully it can be seen that the ‘fire rotation thing’ in these pics we took is right smack in the middle of a diesel storage facility…..well a little to the left of smack in the middle, bit kind of close. I’d loosely group these sorts of images in a ‘contrasts’ category of pictures.

But that’s not the real purpose of this visual exercise….

I like contrast, and aside from the visual impact of such an image, I wanted to litmus test what would happen if I ‘lit a fire’ in the (sort of) middle of a fuel depot. Would security arrive? We hadn’t actually broken through any fences, or performed anything illegal as such, and there wasn’t any real danger. But I like challenging my own private notion of ‘an over regulated country’, where some uniform somehow appears right when one’s at the apogee of fun and adventure. The fire trail was clearly visible from the main road. Security cameras recorded our arrival (remember we hadn’t actually broken any laws or trespassed per se). I’m pleased to report that my feelings of said ‘over-regulation’ is slowly diminishing, and I’m warming to the feeling of fear-free-photography. This is the real reward of such an exercise.

The stormy shallows at sunset

Hmmm, thousands of misspent dollars of photographic gear, a crappy trolley, some bungee straps, a beautiful model and lots of sticky sulphurous mud made for a pleasant evening at the old oyster farm. Sadly a vicious storm prevented us from taking the necessary time to enjoy the place to its fullest….for example the thousands, no; hundreds of thousands of blue soldier crabs that seemed almost curious about their bipedal overlords doing silly things with light boxes. But there’s always a next time if, that is, we’d risk the mud, sand, and salt that can turn a nice bit of gear into something nasty very quickly…..

Wee bit contemplative: what drew us to the location was, well… the location. Also a desire to show something pretty in a place where prettiness doesn’t usually belong. That’s one of my minor inspirations for shooting, to show contrasts, sometimes even quite pronounced contrasts. The model was quite exploratory which suited the feel I was looking for. Shallows remind me of my favourite  times as a child; being left to explore rock pools away from the blabbering adults. The hermit crabs, squishy squirmy things are a glorious delight for children, and exploratory people. Perhaps if we didn’t have the pressure of an impending storm I would have loved to focus a bit more on ground level where all the delights are. Sometimes we learn more about story telling by realising what we missed telling!

Wee bit technical: I was a bit surprised at how underexposed the outcome was, almost a bit perplexed. Personally I don’t like to fix exposure too much in post, my camera although sensitive, is quite prone to blowing out highlights. It’s a downside of a limited dynamic range sensor (though it does force one to think about these things, consequently and hopefully become a better photographer). I’m not sure if it was the feeling of overcast weather or some technical trick (like forgetting to rely on the histogram under changing lighting conditions), but the result was a bit darker and more sinister than planned. There was a storm however, a killer that dumped half an oceans worth of water in a few minutes. So it kind of fits.

A place to sit and watch the petroleum flow

There’s I place I keep coming to, not only for the photographic privacy, but also because one never knows what the ‘tide’ washes in each day. Like a near new chair to sit on and keep dry as you watch the trains go by.

Under the Bridges

Sir Leo Hielscher lived for the sole purpose of having lovely models photographed under his bridges. We just missed the Sun Princess as she steamed under the bridge. I kicking the sand for having missed a big ship, and waited for the sunset to used a 43-inch shoot-through umbrella to create another lovely rendition of my favourite model. A second speedlight was used from the rear left as a rim-light, and a third provided much-needed fill on the grass in the ‘foreground’.

The two bridges are so high and expansive, I found that a 14mm lens was a lot more pleasing than 35mm, though as I often find with this focal length, several shots distorted the models face. 14mm (on full-frame) is challenging to use just for that fact that it distorts so much in the edges of the frame. As a developing photographer, the hardest lesson I learnt was that people don’t like having their body parts (or wholes) distorted. What looks novel and artistic to the photographer can look disturbing to the subject! So the lesson with ultra wide is; distort objects not people so place models close to the centre if they’re close, and point body bits inward. Then just enjoy the lovely results your models give.