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Posts tagged ‘landscape’

Influencing Me – J.M.W. Turner

In my own art practice lately I’ve noticed that I have been doing a lot more landscape images than ever before.  Landscape images were something I detested doing, I wouldn’t plan trips where that is what I would have to take, but slowly over time that has changed.  I think one of the greatest landscape artists of all time was Joseph Mallord William Turner. He was a painter that did the most amazing landscapes. I have seen a couple of his paintings and the thing that I remember the most about them was the incredible detail in some of them, but also the emotion that came from them.  His work was hard to walk about from.

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Turner was born in 1775, but the date of his birth is unknown, and this is what Wikipedia had to say about him:

Joseph Mallord William Turner (baptised 14 May 1775 – 19 December 1851) was a British Romantic landscape painter water-colourist printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as “the painter of light” and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism. Some of his works are cited as examples of abstract art prior to its recognition in the early twentieth century.

 

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He was such a major influence on landscape painting of the day.  I don’t know all the reasons, why he changed landscape painting, though I suspect it was because of his style, he was very different to anyone else painting at that time.

Turner’s talent was recognised early in his life. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely; his mature work is characterised by a chromatic palette and broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint. According to David Piper’s The Illustrated History of Art, his later pictures were called “fantastic puzzles.” However, Turner was recognised as an artistic genius: the influential English art critic John Ruskin described him as the artist who could most “stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature.”

 Fonthill_Abbey_from_the_southwest_William_Turner_1799

There are paintings that Turner did that resemble what many of the artists of that time were doing, though I think he will always be remembered for others scenes.

Rain_Steam_and_Speed_the_Great_Western_Railway

His use of colour was extraordinary.  When I think of painters of that time, a dark palette comes to mind.  They often painted dark scenes, but Turner changed so much of that.  He used so much yellow, with touches of oranges and reds.  It is like he wanted to include the sunset in many of his paintings.

Wreckers_Coast_of_Northumberland_Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner

I can certainly understand why he is considered a major influence for the Impression movement and there is a lot of that impressionist style in his work.

Most of us have heard of Turner and I am sure many of you have seen his paintings.  I love the drama in them and the emotions that you feel when you look at them.  They aren’t just pretty pictures.  It is something I would dearly love to get into my photographs.  We can learn so much looking at paintings.  There is something in them that image makers today can appreciate.  I was listening to Nature Photographer Art Wolfe the other day and he was talking about how important it is to look at the masters, and to see what they did.

If you want to read more about Turner Wikipedia have a good page on him, J.M.W. Turner, and to see more of his paintings, then Wikipedia Commons has a great page of his paintings. I have more to show you and will put them into a gallery for you.

 

Up for Discussion – The Golden Ratio

Today’s post is from Sarah Vercoe, I saw a post she had written on the Golden Ratio and I asked her if she would be interested in doing a post here to explain it to you.  I first heard about this at art school, though it was a little different, but the idea of the Golden Mean, and how some faces are considered more beautiful than others, and how the Golden Mean can be used to demonstrate it.  What Sarah is talking about is a little different and a lot more relevant to photography.

Composition with impact: Using the Golden Ratio in Photography

By Sarah Vercoe

Barn, Grand Teton NP

Composition is one of the most important aspects of photography, one that can make or break a photograph. A strong composition can give an ordinary subject appeal, just as poor composition can leave an otherwise appealing subject with no impact at all. The variety of composition guidelines available to photographers is seemingly endless, with some argued as being better than others. The Golden Ratio is one of those composition guidelines that is said to be just that little bit better for creating a photograph with impact.

The Golden Ratio, a ratio of 1:1.618, is said to have been ‘discovered’ by a mathematician named Leonardo Fibonacci in the 12th century A.D. when he devised a series of numbers to create a composition that is pleasing to the eye. Also known as the Golden Mean, Phi, and Divine Proportion, among others, the Golden Ratio has been used for centuries as a design principle in everything from graphic design, painting, architecture and photography. Regardless of the name attached, or where the idea of using the ratio originated, the Golden Ratio as a composition tool in photography can help us produce photographs with impact.

It is said that humans are naturally drawn to the ratio due to the perfect division of space that is pleasing to the eye, which is perfect for photography. This may be due to the fact that the ratio can be found throughout nature, in flowers, shells, plants, even the human ear is said to be shaped in a way that the Golden Ratio can be seen. Attracting viewers to a photograph through a composition that is based on nature, and naturally drawn to, seems like perfect logic. Creating a photograph that will attract viewers is something almost all photographers strive for in their work. So, how can we compose a photograph using the Golden Ratio to naturally attract viewers? There are a variety of ways in which the Golden Ratio can be applied to photography. Following are just two of the most commonly favoured compositions among photographers who are in-the-know.

The Fibonacci Spiral

The Fibonacci Spiral is formed from a series of squares based on a complex formula using Fibonacci’s numbers. This is achieved by adding together pairs of numbers to create squares, starting at 1×1, repeating 1×1, then 2×2, 3×3, 5×5, 8×8, 13×13, etc., the series of numbers can go on forever. When a point is placed strategically at the diagonal corners of each square and connected by a line, a spiral shape is formed throughout the frame itself as per the diagram below.

Fibonnaci Spiral

These points are considered points of interest in the frame and key focal points in a scene can be positioned to fall on or near them. As you will notice, the most important points of focus fall around a small rectangular area at one of the corners in the frame. This is what I like to call the ‘sweet spot’ and where I like to place the most important elements of a scene. The remaining points on the spiral can then be used as complementing focal points to incorporate other elements into the overall scene. The sweet spot acts as a starting point to lead the eye around the photograph along the spiral.

This version of the Golden Ratio is perhaps the most favoured composition in photography. I like to think this is due to the way the spiral leads the viewer around multiple complementing points in the frame, causing them to linger on the photograph.

Robson Square, Vancouver

The Phi Grid

The Phi Grid is formed when the Golden Ratio is applied so that the frame is divided into sections that are 1:1.618:1 as per the diagram below. The intersecting lines of the grid are concentrated in the centre of the frame resulting in more weight being given to the four outer corners of the frame. Placing key focal points at the intersecting lines of the Phi Grid, the Golden Ratio’s sweet spots, will allow for maximum impact in the photograph. This is due largely to the fact that the intersecting lines are at that point that is considered the perfect division of space in the frame.

Phi Grid

Another way that composing a photograph using the Phi Grid can be beneficial is to use it as a guide for the placement of a horizon line. By using the Phi Grid as a guide for where to place the horizon line will allow the horizon line to be less apparent and offer a good separation of space. You might notice that the Phi Grid looks quite similar to the Rule of Thirds. Although no one knows for sure, and there are a variety of fables that address the history of the Rule of Thirds, one suggestion is that the Rule of Thirds was devised as a simpler version of Golden Ratio.

Sunrise Kailua, Hawaii

The Golden Ratio in my own work

The Golden Ratio is often my go-to guideline when composing a photograph, particularly the Fibonacci Spiral. When I compose for the Golden Ratio I will envision a rectangle in the corner of the frame that places my main subject near the sweet spot. When I can utilise the Fibonacci Spiral I will also look for complementing points of interest that I can try to incorporate in the scene along the other points of interest. This is the reason I prefer to use the Fibonacci Spiral. I am of the belief that incorporating complementary points of interest to the main focal point where possible will draw the viewer in and lead them around the photograph.

As with everything in photography there are no fixed rules and composition choices are unique to both the scene you are photographing and the photographer. The Golden Ratio is a good technique to keep in your mind as a guideline when considering the composition options for a scene, and you may just end up with a photograph that has that little bit more impact.

Following are a series of photographs where I have applied the Golden Ratio in my own work. See if you can pick out which of the Golden Ratio compositions I have used as a guide.

Eagle, Alaska

Granville Island, Vancouver

Lower Falls, Yellowstone NP

Mountain view, Alaska

Surf Festival, Noosa

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Science World, Vancouver

A big thank you to Leanne for allowing me to discuss the Golden Ratio in today’s Up for Discussion.

Please feel free to reach out to me at sarahvercoeimages@gmail.com if you have any questions about the Golden Ratio. You can view more of my landscape and travel photography on my blog Sarah Vercoe Images www.sarahvercoeimages.wordpress.com.

I would also like to thank Sarah for taking the time to write this for us.  Please take a look at her blog, she has some amazing work there.  

Introductions – Laura Macky

Laura Macky and I haven’t known each other for long, but during that time she has become a great friend.  Now we do the Monochrome Madness Challenge together and that has been great too. Emails are always going backwards and forwards.  I know you know her, but I thought you might like to get to know her a little better.  You might say I thought it was time to do one of my introductions posts on her.

cockpit2-webMost of you are aware of her monochrome work.  She picks some great images to do in black and white.  She has a great eye for photographs and it is a joy to look at her work and see what she does.

I asked Laura why she takes photos.

I take photos because my original hobby of being a pianist went by the wayside when I developed nerve damage in my hands and had problems with my right leg which made it hard to pedal the piano.  I missed expressing myself artistically, so I thought perhaps taking pictures might be a good outlet.  I started about four years ago on my first DSLR but in the last year I’ve been more serious about it.  After all, in order to express a myriad of human emotions through the lens of a camera, it takes technical and artistic effort which I’m enjoying trying to improve upon.  I love a challenge!

organ-webPhotographing architecture is something I have a real passion for and I think Laura does too.  I like the way she sees things,  the angles she chooses to photograph things.  It is great seeing all her architectural images.

I asked Laura about inspiration.

One inspiration is my drive to always be better.  I’m that way in general and I try to translate that into developing my skills in photography.  It’s also inspiring when I make a connection with someone else through one of my images in that they are seeing and feeling the same thing I do.  Lastly, there is a lot inspiration gained from the incredible images I see every day here on Word Press. I look at them and wonder how they process their images and try to pay attention to how they see things.  That really helps to open my mind a lot more creatively.

lighthouse3-printLandscape and the natural environment are not something that I am very good at doing, I don’t think, I do love seeing other people photographing this.  I find a lot of inspiration in seeing what other people do, and Laura is no different here.  I love seeing how she photographs the landscape, but also how she processes it.  That is important to me as well.

I asked about her gear and if there was anything special about the way she worked.

I usually try to think of the emotion I feel when I see something through the lens and then I try to convey and enhance that in post processing.  I’m a huge fan of Nik Efex plugins, so I usually use those to fine tune my images.  As for gear, I have a Nikon D7100, three filters, and a few lenses.  I love my little 35mm 1.8 lens and my wide angle as well as my telephoto.

moon2-webI loved seeing the moon images as well.  You know know that it is something I want to do more of, so I was really happy when I was going through her blog and seeing some images with the moon in it.  They are great.

I want to thank Laura for letting me do my introduction post on her.  I would love it if you could visit her blog, Laura Macky, and see how wonderful her work is.  I have a gallery of images for you to look at now. Please enjoy.  I have you have had a great break.

Introductions – Stephen G Hipperson

Stephen G Hipperson is a British based photographer and one that admire quite a bit.  I have been following him for a while and I always enjoy the images that he puts up.  There is something very British about them.  I don’t know how to explain it, but I like the colours and the subject matter.  He covers lots of aspects of that life, you see the old, the new and the country.  I am not quite sure how to explain it, maybe I should just try showing you what I mean.

barns_mg_6206When I see images like this, they always remind me of England, or the UK.  Mind you I have never been there, but it is what I think the British countryside would look like.  There is not any one image, but when they are put together it is how I imagine the UK would be like.

I did ask Stephen why he takes photos and the response from him was one I hadn’t had before.

I am passionate about the photographic process. Look. See. Frame. Pick the moment. Fire the shutter.  For example, in my photography, the act of seeing is about getting out there to explore my local countryside and buildings; it’s researching before I go and researching when I return.  Seeing is about assessing and understanding what’s there and looking for subjects pertinent to my purpose. Framing is about getting into the place that will give me the best picture.  Picking the moment, e.g. when clouds are moving across the sky it can have so much impact on how the light works.  Fire the shutter – the decision point.  What isn’t there to be passionate about – I would engage in photography all the time if I could.

South AisleA sense of history and time is something that I am always attracted to.  With my own country only being just over two hundred years old, in terms of British colonisation, it is hard for Australians to get our heads around buildings that are centuries old.  So the above building is steeped in history, and look at how it was made.  I love the ceilings in them.

The next question was about inspiration.

In the first instance, I have always been inspired by light and the lack of it – the way the substance of a thing can be changed, the mystery in the shadows, etc.

I am inspired by the work of others – photographic or not – I’m not going to single anyone out.  My mind often goes off on its own when I see a particularly novel idea – like a seed that bursts into life.   I would encourage everyone to read, look at paintings, photographs, sculpture, architecture, craftwork of all sorts – input, input, input.

I am inspired by the past – after all, photography is about imaging the past – once the shutter is pressed the moment has gone.  Of course, once that image is captured, we then bring our memory and imagination into play when we produce the image we want to present.

bowbuilding_mg_6117Then there is the new on his blog as well.  I can see that he photographs what is around him, and that doesn’t exclude new modern architecture and the continual growth of what is happening in Britain right now.  It really makes sense that a country that has existed for hundreds of years would be continuing to grow.

I did ask Stephen if there was anything special about the way he works.

No, I don’t think there is anything special about the way I work – except that when I am doing my thing, that’s all I do, I very much like to ‘zone out’, concentrate or let my mind wander.  Sometimes, when I’m doing my work with churches, I will just sit in one of the pews and assess how the light is falling and how it might change, or look for particular architectural features I want to capture, etc.?  And I nearly always use a tripod because of the length of shutter speeds I tend to use. But I don’t think it’s any different to how others work.

jugcandle_mg_5580Sometimes it is there in the details as well.  I do like the way he has captured the details as well.  You all know that this is something I really want to do more of.  I like the way the details look like still life images.  I must start looking for that sort of thing too.

As most of us are photographers, we always want to know what gear we all use, so I asked Stephen.

My main tool is my dslr which is a Canon 30D with a suite of lenses consisting of 17-40mm f/4, 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS and a 300mm f/4 IS – I believe all have now been superseded in Canon’s catalogue. As it happens, all 4 lenses share the same filter size, which makes it convenient for filters.

I also use a Canon EOS 30 film camera, which my Canon lenses fit. For medium format I use a Rollei SL66 with just the standard 80mm f2.8 lens, and a couple of old folders.

I have an old Manfrotto tripod with screw fitting leg adjustment fitted with an old 029 three way head – (yes, the legs do suffer that sinking feeling if I don’t do the catches up and the head has almost drawn blood on more than one occasion, it takes no prisoners).

crocusp1110518I am not going to lie, I was surprised with this image, very pleasantly, but it was so different to everything else Stephen has on his blog.  The colour is so different and it stands out so much.  It is a stunning image, but not the usual greens, grays and browns that I associate with his work.  I do like the detail in it.

I am going to put the rest of the images in a gallery now.  I would encourage to go and visit Stephen on his blog, “Stephen G Hipperson My photography and other stuff”.  I was having a hard time not picking every image, and I am sure you will find it a feast for your eyes.  Again, please go and take a look, if you like it then follow, but it isn’t a requirement, it would be great if you can just visit. I would like to thank Stephen for allowing me to show you his work here on my blog.

Influencing Me – Johannes Vermeer

Painters to me are very important, we can learn a lot looking at ones from the past.  I also wonder if photography had been available would they have been photographers as well, here is one painter that I think might have been.  I don’t know that Jan Vermeer would have been a photographer exclusively, but I could imagine he would have taken many photos for his painting.  We know that he used new things like the camera obscura, so I don’t think it is implausible to think he would have used a camera.

love_letterI know people will disagree with me, I find there is something very photographic about his images.  He is described as a Dutch Baroque Painter from that period, he was born in 1632 and died 1675.  He lived a short life.

913px-Johannes_Vermeer_-_Het_melkmeisje_-_Google_Art_ProjectThere is something about the ordinary in his work. The way he tried to capture everyday life and the people around him.  In the movie “Girl with a Pearl Earring” they depict him as setting up scenes and putting models in them while he did a lot of the background painting, and looking at his perspective and attention to detail, I suspect that part was very true.  It is believed he used the camera obscura to get the perspective correct.

866px-Girl_with_a_Pearl_EarringIn the movie they say this is the maid, but I don’t think they actually know who it is. We do know that it is one of his most recognisable paintings.  Whether because of the movie or not.  Most people know of this painting.

I think his style is quite unique and there is something about how he paints that really grabs my attention.  I love his subject matter, the ordinary, in so many ways, and it is great for us that someone like him has given that to us, a glimpse into everyday life of the 17th century.

view_of_delftThis sort of scene is something I go out with my camera to try and capture.  The town with the river, and the beautiful light.I don’t know if it is morning or evening, but have always assumed it is meaning.

It is easy for us to sit back and wonder what he would have been had he been born a century or two later, but I feel confident saying, he would have loved photography.  Of course, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t still have painted, there are many painters now that also enjoy photography as well.

I found a great website with lots of information about Vermeer, it is Essential Vermeer.  Now here is a gallery for you to look at.

Photographing the Landscape When It Really Isn’t Your Thing

LeanneCole-mallee-20140126-8286Today’s post on Photographers.com.au is about how I find doing landscape photography when it isn’t something that I normally do.  I have written the post on how I do it, or how I approach it.  It would be great if you could take a look, the post is Photographing the Landscape When It Really Isn’t Your Thing.

I have also included a follow up on the post I did When Does it Belong to Me.

Once again, I would really appreciate it if you can leave your comments there.  Thank you.  Not sure I will be writing anymore for them there, but I might do the same sort of posts here.

The post link again, Photographing the Landscape When It Really Isn’t Your Thing.

Weekend Wanderings – Taking a Look Back at the Mallee

It has been another one of those weeks, and not helped by the fact that I stayed up all night the last two nights to watch something on CreativeLive.  It was great to actually watch it live, but I am not functioning properly right now so I thought for this weekend’s post we might just take a look at photos I took of the Mallee in 2011.

I went up a few times that year, and it helped me fall in love with the place again.  Some of the images have been done with different processing, some very simply, but I hope you don’t mind if I show you a gallery of those images.  I do enjoy going back.

I hope you don’t mind these looking back posts.  It is good seeing where I have come from as an artist and a photographer.  Some of them make me cringe, some make me proud.

I need to find someone to do a post on on Monday, so please I would love you help, can you make some suggestions?

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