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Posts tagged ‘still life’

Introductions: Margaret Preston

It has been a while since  I did a non photography introduction and while I was searching for someone for today I came across Margaret Preston’s work. She was a prolific painter and printmaker here in Australia. Most Australian artists know who she was and I thought maybe I could tell you about her as well.

Looking back on artists like Preston can help with our photography. They saw the world in a unique way and it is good to explore that when we are taking our own images. We can see the possibilities and how anything is possible.


I mainly know her because of her linocuts. Though, I didn’t really realize that she did a lot of landscape paintings and prints as well.

Here is a little information about her from Wikipedia:

Margaret Rose Preston (29 April 1875 – 28 May 1963) was an Australian artist. She was known during the 1920s to 1940s for her modernist works as a painter and printmaker and for introducing Aboriginal motifs into contemporary art.

If you click on the link you can read a lot more about her.


What I know her for mostly are the linocut flowers. She did a lot of these using flowers that we grow in our gardens here. They were very detailed, and considering how hard it is to do colours in printmaking it incredible to see how many she has done.

Here is some more information about her from the SAHistoryHub site.

In 1885 she moved to Sydney with her family, later studying painting there with William Lister Lister. In the 1890s she studied at the National Gallery’s school of painting in Melbourne under Bernard Hall before coming to Adelaide to study with H.P. Gill at the School of Design, Painting and Technical Arts. It was during the 1890s in Adelaide that she first exhibited professionally as an artist, showing paintings at the South Australian Society of Arts. From 1899 to 1904 and again from 1907 to 1912 Preston taught in Adelaide. Her concentration on tonalism in her early work influenced the art of her students, the most notable of whom were Bessie Davidson, Stella Bowen, May Grigg and Gladys Reynell. Her still-life The tea urn (c. 1909) is typical of this style of painting.


While she is known for her landscapes she is more commonly known as a still life artist and when you look her up you will find many more still life images.


She died in 1963, but is still remembered well here. She is one of Australia’s most talented artists and it is wonderful to see that a woman is also represented in the history of Australian art.

I have a gallery of her work for you now. Many of the images are from Sydney where she spent a great deal of time.  I hope you enjoy her work.

Introductions: Marian Drew

For a while I have been thinking about showcasing today’s artist and I have decided it is now time. Her name is Marian Drew and she is an Australian Artist who uses photography as her medium. I was very privileged in 2008 to have an exhibition in the same gallery as her. It was really amazing and she was a lovely person. I am sure you are going to love her work.

Moreton-island-webThis was one of the pieces that Marian was showing during that show. It was a new direction for her, well I thought so as her previous work had been quite different.

This is the exhibition information that went with the work.


Illuminated Landscapes is an exhibition of photographs that graph the light trajectories of human scale and duration in the landscape.

Drawing and photography, meet in the open air, a sketch of the hand with the process of camera obscura, working in concert to explore landscape as an exchange between culturally constructed ideas and the apparatus of perception .

Using two identical medium format film cameras I photograph a landscape by moving the cameras on an axis following the horizon or visual conduit of the landscape.

This super slow motion pan, films the action or event over several still frames and allows enough time for the photographer to abandon the camera, enter the landscape and immerse oneself, often literally, in the landscape during exposure. When one is in the landscape acting in this way one cannot see the landscape as a panorama in the distance. The image is formed as part of an exchange that occurs within the landscape and within the camera.

To make these photographs the body acts like a thread that sews drawing/ to landscape /to film. The film is then scanned and images joined using digital processes and printed onto large sheets of archival paper. Although the length of the final prints is determined during post-production, the form is shaped by duration of exposure and interaction.

In making this work, I start to learn about the landscape through the use of my own body.

Marian Drew

I think she is known for other work however.

Marian bird-1.tif

Most people who know Marian’s work think of images like the one above. They are soft and sensitive. They are reminiscent of still life paintings from times gone. You are looking at birds and animals that are dead, like they were in the paintings. There is a video on how they were created and I will include a link to it.

Here is a description of the work from the gallery that represents her.

Marian Drew’s photographic work explores native fauna and its preservation. Known for her contemporary Australian interpretations of 16th century still lives, Marian Drew’s photographs are a classical homage to native wildlife. Concerned with the value of deceased creatures, her subjects are the result of road kill, poisoned waters, and destruction of habitual animal and bird pathways replaced by human interventions. Her work presents wildlife that is dislocated from the idealized view of animals in their natural environs. The long lens of the wildlife photographer is replaced by the close up lens, painted light and the tabletop.

The historical framework of the European still life, the familiar rituals of table preparation, combined with road-kill reveals a new relationship between our own urbanity and the cohabitating animal species. These animals are clearly sacrificed within the context of our everyday lives. Marian Drew hopes to draw attention to the value and beauty of these animals and acknowledge the relationship these animals have with ourselves and the environment in which we share.

Marian_Drew_04There is Marian working on a piece. Her work is very conceptual in nature and must take a lot of thought to create it. Not to mention scouring the roads for her subjects.

Here the video link on how she creates the work.

I would like to thank Marian for giving me permission to showcase her work here for you. You can see more of her work on her website, Marian Drew. You can also see more at the page for the gallery Dianne Tanzer Gallery.  I also have a gallery with more images, I hope you enjoy looking at her work.

Introductions: View from a French Hillside

Today’s Introduction is new to me, but as soon as she was recommended to me I knew I had to introduce her to you. Her name is Jane Morley and is the person behind the blog View from a French Hillside. What a blog, I love still life photography and I think hers has so many great examples of it. It is also French and I think you will agree with me that a lot of the work has a definite French style to them.


Her work as a softness that goes with the composition and they remind me of beautiful old masters paintings.  How many of us search for the perfect flowers to photograph when one falling apart could also be beautiful in its deconstruction.

I asked Jane where in the world she was.

I live on top of a beautiful hill in South Western France, surrounded by fields and vineyards.


What we expect the French countryside to be like. It is beautiful with the colours of what looks like dew and mist. Hay bales left on the ground, it is reminiscent of paintings by Monet.

My next questions were about how long she had been taking photos for and why.

I started taking photos 5 years ago when we were asked to host the local theatre company’s summer spectacular. I thought it might be fun to take pictures at the rehearsals and I’d just bought a little camera. I loved it so much I’ve been taking pictures ever since. I still love portraiture but there is so much that’s beautiful in the world around us here and the more I look, the more I see, I think that’s the wonder of photography for me, my world just keeps getting richer!


I’m quite envious of work like this. It is something I would like to do, but I know I’m not very good at it. I can never seem to get the story right or the lighting. This work really inspires me, maybe I will try doing something with all the tea sets I have.

I asked Jane about her inspiration.

My inspiration comes firstly from painters.  I’ve been an art lover all my life and one of my favourite painters is Caravaggio and his extraordinary work with light. I’m always drawn to images which convey mood, atmosphere or drama, and I suppose I take the kind of pictures that I would paint if I were a painter.  I’m also inspired by the beauty to be found in the ordinary, everyday things around us. I believe everything has it’s own beauty if you look hard enough.


Trying to work out which image to choose is hard, I love them all and yet each is different in a unique way and I’m sure when you see them together you will feel the same way. The idea of baking, a French pastry perhaps, I don’t know, but images start coming to my head about what is about to happen.

Is there any special about the way you work was also asked.

Because my photos tend to be of small everyday things and details I don’t have to travel far to find subjects so a lot of my images are taken in my favourite corner of a courtyard space we have here. I only ever use natural light and the sidelight that comes in from the south in this spot is just perfect!

rose-garlic-knife-and-mortar-cropAnother great still life, all things that most of us have in our homes. The light, again, is just stunning. I am inspired after reading about how she works.  I also like the colours, they aren’t really strong, there is a kind of antiqueness to them, if that makes any sense.

My final question, as always was about gear.

My gear is fairly simple really, I use my trusty Nikon D90 which I bought 4 years ago with it’s kit lens and a 40mm prime lens which I always use for my still life photos. I don’t have any filters and I only use natural light so I don’t have any lighting equipment. I do use an excellent Cullman monopod – it came with a tripod but I rarely use the other bits, the monopod is more portable and practical. I also recently bought a little Sony RX100 so that I could always have a camera in my pocket, the image quality is amazing!

I would like to thank Jane for giving me permission to feature her work on my blog and to introduce you to her. I know many of you will go and visit her blog View from a French Hillside. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

I have a gallery now for you of a selection of her work. They are the images that I loved, though I could take them all, and if you want to see more take a look at her blog.

Influencing Me: Imogen Cunningham

For this week I’ve been searching the internet for some early female photographers. Last time I showed one many of you said that you would like me to do this again.  So the search began. I looked at a few photographers, but then I saw one photo of a still life plant and that was it.

The photographer for today is Imogen Cunningham, she was born in 1883 and died in 1976, a wife and mother, yet could still do photography.  An inspiration to me and to all women I think.  I like it when women do have those restrictions of children and a home that they push through it and find a way to pursue their passion. Especially for her, well in the times that she was doing photography. I am sure you all get what I mean.

Platinum Palladium

Platinum Palladium

Simply stunning, if you ask me. It is so much like what I like doing. I got a macro lens so I could start doing this sort of photography. She did this when her children were small and she had to be home with them.  The compositions are really good, and I have to wonder if Robert Mapplethorpe was influenced by her work?

Frida Kahlo, Painter and Wife of Diego Rivera, 1931

Frida Kahlo, Painter and Wife of Diego Rivera, 1931

She has some great portraits of some very famous artists of the time. It is really amazing to see who she got to photograph, like Frida Kahlo, who is more famous for her self portraits which she painted. Imogen also photographed others and I have included a couple more that will be included in the gallery.

Martha Graham 2, 1931

Martha Graham 2, 1931

Many photographers get into trouble these days for combining images, it is considered cheating, or they are told the images are no longer photos, but here is a photo, yet it is either two images or a double exposure.  It was done in a darkroom, so it can’t be digital art, but according to the definitions that many people use, it isn’t a photo either. It is an interesting conundrum and I know there are many more like this.

BOT26Some of the images have an abstract quality to them that I really enjoy. I know they are flowers, but there is something quite interesting. Makes me want to get into the garden and see if I can do some similar abstract images.

I know that many of you are going to be looking at the gallery and thinking wow, wow, and get a great deal of inspiration from looking at her images. I have included some links below if you would like to go and find out more about her. I hope you enjoy her work.


Quiet Thursdays: Eating Cupcakes

Isn’t that what you do after you photograph them?

I’ve been out all day, going to new places and taking photos.  Both places I went to were fantastic and I am looking forward to looking at the photos, hopefully I got some good ones.

The other day I tried some new things with the macro lens.  Something that I might try doing more of, and I have to admit, I really enjoyed doing it.  So today, I thought I might share with you some of the photos I was taking.  I tried photographing some jewellery that I had, see how I would go photographing it.  Then I saw a website for cupcakes and thought how bad the photos were for the wonderful cakes they were making, and thought I could do better, so I got my daughter to get me some cupcakes for me to photograph.

Here is a gallery with some of the jewellery imgaes and the cupcakes.  We did eat them after the photos and they were very nice.

Quiet Thursday – Story Prompt

Today I have another photo as a prompt for you, well for those of you that want to write that is.  I went for something different and I hope it makes sense.


I tried to set up something to photograph.  I used to do this sort of thing all the time, but I’m not sure I am very good at it, but I don’t mind this.

So the prompt, this is different to what I usually do, in that this time, I have instructions.

This photo is the end of the story, and you have to write what lead to this.

As usual leave links to your stories and poems in the comments section for other people to enjoy.  If you missed the last one and didn’t get to read what others wrote, here is the link to that post, Quiet Thursday – Up in the Air.

Introductions – Benjamin Rowe @ Aperture64

Today’s introduction is someone that has been a tremendous help to me over time and has often given me advice about some thing, especially macro photography, or more how to do it without a macro lens.  His name is Benjamin Rowe and his blog is Aperture64 Photography.

flay-away-2When you go to his blog it isn’t surprising to see a lot of macro images on it.  He has a great way of getting them and doing them without a macro lens and, as I said, I have learned a lot from him. I really like the softness of them.

As usual, I asked Ben why he takes photos.

I believe in a way I take photos because I am not very good at writing creatively. For me photography is a way to communicate feelings, emotions and ideas that I can’t communicate in other ways.
The other reason I take photos is because I actually find it quite relaxing. I predominantly take landscapes and still life photos and spend a lot of time doing this solo with my music plugged in and concentrating on the subject. Being in the zone my imagination can take flight forming the composition and the eventual image. I am always amazed how much time has passed when I look at my watch as I feel hardly anytime has gone by when in fact maybe an hour or so has.
Another reason I take photos I feel is because I hold quite a negative self-image of myself and the things that I do. With photography I can share my work and see from the response something positive.

stairs-to-narniaThere is something about the details that I really enjoy in Ben’s work, there is a lot of it.  I have said over and over how it is something that I need to start making a conscious effort to do.  The macro and still life has helped with that a lot and I am trying to get more of that.

Inspiration was the next question.

I get my inspiration from books, magazines blogs, but mostly from walking around wherever I am and simply observing the world. I live in Łódź in Poland; a city that a famous Polish writer called “Beautifully ugly”, yet just taking the time to look I can see the beauty as well as interesting aspects of the city. Many say you have to live somewhere interesting to have great shots, but by stopping and looking around you can see interesting things all around you.

lady-bird-red-1This always says to me Polaroid Extension Tubes, sorry Ben, but it does.  When I was trying to work out how to do close up photography without a macro Ben sent me this image and told me how he had done it with, I think, a 50mm and the extension tubes from Polaroid, which then spurred me on to get some to try for myself.

I asked Ben if there was anything special about the way he works.

I generally pre-visualize how I want the shot to look before I press the shutter. For example I will see the scene in black and white or I want to do a certain post production technique.  I also use a few “Photography Hacks” as I am still building up my kit after taking a 3 year hiatus from being serious about photography a few years ago.  There are so many ways of creating great images without a lot of specialised equipment, just a little imagination and creativity will help you work around what you don’t have.

church-wilanow-black-and-whiteI know I have gone on a lot about the macro and close up work that Ben does, but I should remember to tell you that he does other things as well.  There are quite a few landscapes on his blog and he does to great shots of buildings, like the one above.

The final question, as usual, was about gear.

I have a lot of gear kicking around my man cave although I mainly use, Canon 60D, Canon G10, Mamiya 135 with Canon 50mm, Canon 18-55mm, Canon 18-135mm, Sigma 28-300mm lenses. I also have Polaroid Extension tubes, and lots of filters and Canon EX flashes.
I have plans this year to buy a light tent and another flash and lights.
I edit my work in Lightroom and Photoshop and I have the Topaz and Niksoft suite of plugins as well as Alien Skin Exposure.

I will do the gallery now.  I would like to thank Ben for giving me permission to showcase his work here.  I would also like to thank him for all the help he has given me when I needed it.  It has been great having people you know you can email when you some help.  So thank you Ben.  I would also like all of you to go and take a look at his blog, there is lots of usual information over there at Aperture64 Photography.  Please direct your comments to Ben for this, I like it when the person I introduce responds to the comments, thank you.


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