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Photo-Vember Begins – Day 1

The first of November has arrived and so my challenge of trying to post at least one photo a day also begins.  It is going to be an interesting challenge.  I like to post lots of photos so I will have to be careful or I won’t have enough for the whole month.

So the first photo, it is going to be from one of my favourite subjects, the Mallee.  I have just been up there, again, to see my mum, though it was a very quick visit.  I didn’t have a lot of time to take any photos, it was a very quick trip, though I did go out on Sunday night.

I decided on this trip I would try and photograph some things that I hadn’t photographed before.  Well, some I hadn’t photographed for a long time.  I did take some photos of the shearing shed, but from the back, and tried to do some photos at different angles.

I thought for the first photos in this challenge, that I might put some up of the entrance sign of the old drive-in movie theatre at Birchip.  I have been driving past this sign for many years, every time I go to visit my mum.  We actually lived in Birchip for a couple of years when I was child and we did go to the Drive-In, I remember seeing Dumbo there and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  At least I think I did, you never know, my memory could be playing tricks.

The Drive-In closed many years ago, at least, it has been closed for as many years as my mother has lived up in that area, and she has been there for around 18 years.

I like how the drive-in is no longer used, but everything seems to still be there for it.  The structure for the screen, though the white boards have all fallen off.  The building for the projectors and snack bar are still there.  The gates with the signs saying what it is are there, and the board over the gate that would have once said the movie that was showing and but now says “Closed” and has for many years.  There is no denying what it is.

If you look carefully in the distance, you can see the gates.  Unfortunately a tree is hiding the closed sign.

I am not always going to show this many photos, but as this is all on the same topic, I thought it best to show it all at once.

Someone suggested that I should ask you to vote for your favourite photos and at the end of the month we can look at which photos you liked best.

Getting Some New Software

I love getting parcels in the mail.  Makes it seem almost like Christmas every day.  I don’t get parcels every day, rarely actually, but one did arrive yesterday.  Inside was some software I purchased the other day.  It is Adobe Lightroom 3.

I have never used anything like this before.  To be honest I don’t really know how to use it.  I keep seeing it in magazines about digital imaging.  Better Photography, and Better Photoshop Techniques are always showing stuff with it.  It frustrated me a bit because I didn’t have it.

This is what dpreview.com said about it:

In essence, Lightroom allows photographers to do three things, very quickly: organize batches of images, adjust them, and output them. This view shows the ‘Develop’ window. On the left are Lightroom’s various preset adjustments, along the bottom is the filmstrip file browser, and on the right is the adjustment window, which contains numerous tools, from the fairly standard white balance and exposure sliders to lens corrections, cropping, cloning and neutral gradient filter options.

Sounds like it is exactly what I need for processing my cycling photos.  At the moment I don’t edit them before they go up on my website because there are too many, but this software could mean I can do it now and do it quickly.  Time will tell.  Will be good if I can.

Here is a list of features from dpreview.com.

Lightroom 3 key features

  • New RAW conversion engine (same as ACR 6 for Photoshop)*
  • Non-destructive editing
  • 64-bit compatibility*
  • Lens corrections*
  • Flickr integration*
  • Image watermarking*
  • Improved curves tool*
  • Tethered shooting (currently limited to selected Canon and Nikon DSLRs)*
  • Support for video files (organization and tagging only – not editing)*
  • Perspective correction adjustments*
  • Film grain simulation filter*
  • Comprehensive importing, organization and exporting, with multiple output options (DNG, TIFF, JPEG)
  • Easy synchronization of adjustments across multiple images
  • Offline library management (i.e. if your images are stored on an offline external drive)
  • Photoshop integration

So all that is left now is to figure out how to use it.  I hope it wasn’t a waste of money.  I will keep you informed.

I have had someone who is going to take up my Photo-Vember challenge, Suburban Tomato,  anyone else want to join the challenge?

Photo-Vember, Setting New Challenges the link in case you missed the post.

One of My Favourite Reads

I have never done this before, but I feel if I am sharing my photography with you then maybe I should also share other stuff.  One of the things I thought I would share is one of my favourite magazines.

I have read “Better Photography” on and off since it was first published.  I have always found it to have really helpful articles and the publication and printing is superb,  It is only printed quarterly, so it is good value for your money.

The editor, Peter Eastway, is an amazing photographer and I have admired his work for many years.  I love his landscapes and can’t help seeing that what he does in his work is influencing what I am doing myself.  I also appreciate that his magazine represents what is happening now in photography, but also teaches lessons from the past.  You can still find articles in it about using film and processing images in the darkroom.

I have found in the past, with other publications, that once you have been through a yearly subscription that you have pretty much seen everything they have to offer and from then on it is just repeated.  I have never found that with “Better Photography”, or if it is then it is cleverly disguised.

In the current issue there are articles about many things, you can see them on the cover above.  There is a mixture of articles about equipment, interviews with famous photographers, and information on how to improve your photography from other photographers,.

I was especially interested in this article as creating fine art photography is what I am also trying to do.  The author of the article, Nick Melidonis, is ” Master of Photography and a triple recipient of the AIPP ‘Australian Professional Landscape Photographer of the Year’ award.”  It says a lot more about him, but generally it sounds like he knows what he is talking about.  He has credibility, which is good.

His article  gives “10 Tips For Creating  A Masterpiece”.  He gives quotes from other photographers and philosophers, and his article was good.  I really enjoyed reading it and I did get quite a bit out it.  I find the concept of what is a fine art photograph to a normal image somewhat strange.  I know that the people who were studying photography at uni would come up with some very strange things, and I always wondered how what they did was fine art, when I thought it was crap, but that is just my opinion.  I had started to think that perhaps the world of fine art was one that I couldn’t fit into, however when Nick started explaining his tips, I started to realise that I do understand what it is and I can produce that type of work.  Thanks for that Nick.

It is not my intention here to give you what the article says, I think if you are interested you should see about getting the magazine yourself.  I will give you a link to it at the end of this post, but I did want to copy one small section, something Nick said about Ansel Adams, we all know who he is, one of the most famous landscape photographers ever.  So a direct quote:

Express What You See and Feel

When I’m ready to make a photograph, I see in my mind’s eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word.  I’m interested in expressing something that is built up from within rather than extracted from without. – Ansel Adams

Interpretation of an image often involves pre-visualisation in the sense that the artist is seeing the end result or a variation of the potential of the final image while the initial capture is taking place.  The great landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, expressed the fact that he rarely depicted a documentary record of the image he say in a literal sense, rather he had a vision of where he wanted to take the image that was quite different from the scene in from of him.  As a master darkroom printer, he manipulated his image with creative dodging and burning, Farmer’s Reducer and so on, to create images that never existed in nature, and yet, even today, ‘traditional’ photographers scoff at digital enhancement and accuse the authors of ‘cheating’ if any digital enhancement is evident.

I really liked that part.  I hate the way photographers who use Photoshop or other digital imaging software are called cheaters.  Manipulation of images has been done since photographs were first taken and printed in darkrooms.  Now images are made digitally, so why shouldn’t they be manipulated digitally?  I have to say too, as someone who has been trying to use Photoshop for quite a few years, it is a new skill in itself, and it should be rewarded, not penalised.   Great article Nick.

I haven’t completely read this article yet.  I do tend to take my time reading this magazine.  I like to be able to concentrate on what I’m reading, and I can take the full 3 months to devour it.  I do like photographing architecture and having taken a quick look through, I knew this was an article that I would have to read.

The other night I was at a friends house and she wanted to watch “Australia’s Next Top Model”, I don’t mind the show, as it about taken photos, I find it is great.  I love watching the set-up for the photographers.  My excuse anyway.  The episode featured the last three standing, and they went to Dubai.

I had seen the article in “Better Photography” and I knew that some of the photos were from Dubai, so when the models went there, I wanted to watch and see the architecture.  I have decided that on my list of places to go, I really want to go there.   I think you will be seeing more architecture in my shots from now on.

The article tells us about how the photographer, Tim Griffith, captures his images and how he works.  It also talks about the equipment that he uses and how he uses it.  I’m looking forward to finishing it.

Now I promised some links, well just one, the one for the magazine.  You can get a hard copy subscription, or you can get PDF files of the magazine.  I can’t recommend it enough.

Better Photography – Check it out.

Grey Cards – What are they, and do we need them?

I have heard of them, but I have never really felt the need to have one or use one.  I am still  not convinced they are necessary.  I have to admit, I did buy one.  I got it from ebay and have let it sit around for ages.  I wasn’t totally sure what to do with it.  Do I still know, well, I know more, but is that going to help?

So what is it used for, let’s see what Wikipedia has to say:

  • gray card is a middle gray reference, typically used together with a reflective light meter, as a way to produce consistent image exposure and/or color in film and photography.
  • A major use of gray cards is to provide a standard reference object for exposure determination in photography. A gray card is an (approximate) realisation of a Lambertian scatterer; its apparent brightness (and exposure determination) therefore does not depend on its orientation relative to the light source. By placing a gray card in the scene to be photographed, oriented at a defined angle relative to the direction of the incident light, and taking a reading from it with a reflected light meter, the photographer can be assured of consistent exposures across their photographs. This technique is similar to using an incident meter, as it depends on the illuminance but not the reflectivity of the subject.

Do you understand that?  Do you really want to be taking a grey card with you everytime you go to take photos?  I know I don’t.  I just want to take photos

I found this video on youtube

I found their website as well, and they have some videos, PhotographyCourses.biz So you should take a look.

So what did I learn about about grey cards, well according to “Mike”, probably not really necessay unless you are shooting in extreme lighting.

So does this mean anything to me, will I start using it?  Probably not.  I might play around with it, but I don’t think it is going to change the way I take photos.  I think photography is all about memory, not necessarily about the colours being correct.  If you get the images onto your computer and they look right, then you are probably OK.  For most of us it isn’t going to be an issue.

Though, having said that, I can think of situations where it would have been good to use a grey card, and given the situation again, will pull out the grey card.

I suppose I think it is more important to worry about white balance and how that affects your images.

Photo-Vember, Setting New Challenges

I like a challenge.  Not always, but sometimes you just need one, so I have set myself one.  I am going to try and post a photo everyday for the month of November.  I am not going to make it a new photo every day, but just a photo.  So there might be some from the past, or some from recent expeditions, and some will be new.

When I go away I tend to take a few hundred photos, but then only work on a small amount and that is it, then I forget about the rest.  This will be good to make me go through some of my older stuff and see if I can do anything with it.

I also have photos from many many years ago,  It might be nice to see if I can scan some and put them up.  Might be good to see how much I have improved, or not, and to be able to see if I can now do the things that I used to want to do to them but couldn’t manage it in the darkroom.

Screen shots from the computer, but they are like the old proof sheets we used to do in the darkroom.  Only it is nicer to be be able to enlarge them on screen and see if they did actually work.  I can remember how annoying it was to see a image on the proof sheet then you go to all the trouble to enlarge it, only to discover that is was out of focus.

I also don’t think the challenge should be limited to any particular theme, just photos.  I need to work on making more photos.  So are you up for the challenge as well?  If you want to do it too, send me a link so I can follow your challenge as well.

Making an Exhibition of Myself

Well, not quite as the name would suggest, but still, I’m very happy to report that I put in some images to Brunswick Street Gallery and was accepted for  a Photographic Show.  My work will be on display at the end of January.  It is a group show and we all get so much wall space, either 3m or 6m.  I went for 3m.  Don’t want to get too carried away.

Here are the images I submitted.

Silos

The Shearing Shed

The Church

Railway

They are all images that you have seen before, well if you follow my blog.  Tessa at the gallery thought they would look good printed large.  I thought I might see about getting them printed with archival inks and on rag paper.  I have never done that before, but it sounds like it would be perfect for this subject material.  I will have to find out how much it is going to cost.

It is good to be exhibiting again and I hope this is the start of a lot of it.

More From Ballarat

It has been a very busy time.  After photographing the Masters in Ballarat, I spent 4 days photographing the Honda Hybrid Women’s Tour.  I went to Ballarat, again, for one day, then to Geelong, and then to Drysdale, had a day off for the road race and then into Lygon Street for the final crit.

While I was in Ballarat the first time, I had planned on doing more blogs on the photos that I had been taking, but I with all the cycling time has been short.  I did take some photos during the Masters Road Races.

Canola Fields with Cyclists

When I was up at my mum’s place a few weeks ago the Canola crops had just about finished flowering and weren’t looking so good.  So, it was a surprise to see that the crops around Lake Learmonth were still flowering still looking fantastic.

It was also good to see some cloudy skies, though the rain that came with it wasn’t so great.

Canola

I liked how the dark skies made the Canola stand out even more.  They are so rich in colour.  It is such a beautiful crop.

Wind Turbines

I have to stay that the wind turbines were wonderful to watch.  I know a lot of people don’t like them, but I love them.  I think they are so graceful.  Such a better way to see energy being produced than the coal fired generators that you see around.

This last photo I couldn’t resist.  This is the bike I get to ride around on the back off when I am photographing the road races for cycling.

Bruce's Bike

Bruce is great to sit behind.  He is very skilled at riding the bike and it really is the best way to photograph the racing.  When I do the Women’s Tour next year, I will have to see if he is available for the road stages.

The weekend away is coming up, to the Mornington Peninsula, I will have to start working out exactly where we will be going.  I know I want to go back to Cape Schanck, and I want to try out my new filters.  Only about 3 weeks to go.

As an aside, I also took some photos of Bruce with his sons and the Harleys.  I have put some of the photos up on my portrait website if you would like to have a look, go here.

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