Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week

As finals fever grips the football faithful, my thoughts are on writing off 2017 to experience and making plans for 2018. I was never one to wait for New Year’s day to make resolutions…

One thing I resolved to do is look at all the old stuff I have saved to Feedly and cull some of it. I did rediscover some things though. like Maria Svarbova and Robin de Puy

Listening to Larkin Poe

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Tiny obsession

Tiny obsession

My ongoing quest to get closer and closer continues and I recently added more gadgets that have really proved themselves, a pair of focus rails and a magic arm.

The focus rails took me back to when I owned a set of macro bellows and let me move the camera forward or back and side to side very precisely. Getting the magic arm was inspired by this video and lets me place a flash exactly where I need it to be.

Here it is all setup.

IMG_1855Looks extremely complex and there is a bit more weight but that is offset by increased control of focus and light. Using a tripod makes it easier to manage but I will try this handheld outside and see what happens.

This setup gets me close but I can get even closer. that involves a step down ring to connect an old 50mm to the front of the 90mm macro shown in use. Here is an example with me just holding this all together by hand.

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This image provides an idea of just how close I’m getting.

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Hokusai

Hokusai

I got to the Hokusai show at NGV on a rainy Friday afternoon and the collection of work did not disappoint. Viewing the great wave off Kanagawa, I could understand what Van Gogh meant when he said;

these waves are claws, the boat is caught in them, you can feel it”

The fishermen and their boats are dwarfed by this almost tsunami like force of water bearing down on them. It’s not something you get to appreciate until you see the original up close, as so many re interpretations of this iconic image leave them out.

It also made me think about the two other artisans involved and that relationship. To produce the woodblock prints, Hokusai’s illustrations were stuck to wooden blocks that were then carved into the different colour separations for printing. The final work shows their skills as much as the artists.

In a photographic context, Annie Leibovitz or Albert Watson work with teams who create sets, do costumes, makeup, lighting and post production. That’s important to consider when you try setting your goals to match their output but don’t have access to that team. It’s easy to be disheartened if you get sucked into comparisons.

Don’t view that lack of resources just as a limitation, rather it’s an opportunity to learn those aspects and having a hands on understanding of what those people do will develop your understanding of what is possible. It’s also an opportunity to seek out people in those fields for creative collaboration.

It’s also good to look at the work produced without the cadre of assistants and see that the fundamentals of what makes a good image are still present. No amount of additional people will save you from trying to work on a bad idea and subsequently producing a bad image.

 

Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week

Feeling like the coffee is not enough this week.

Looking at Some contemporary Japanese photography as a prelude for attending Hokusai at NGV this weekend. Portraits by Hideaki Hamada and Irwin Wong. Two contrasting approaches to portraiture, one light, the other darker, more moody…

Listening to Monoral

A tiny studio

A tiny studio

– doesn’t require a lot of gear or effort to set up. Here’s what I use for photographing most small objects, including the pocket knife image used for this post.

  • A window with diffuse light, in my case I built a shelf under this one, as it has a day night blind.
  • Timber offcuts  assembled into a upside down “T” with a small bulldog clip to hold the background paper.
  • Some plain A3 paper for the background
  • A small reflector to get some detail back in the shadows
  • A camera and for me that will usually be a digital SLR on a tripod but this setup should work with a phone or compact camera.

Here is a hasty image of it in action. It’s a great way way to work when the outside is uninviting and takes up very little space so you can leave it up.

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