David's Blog

Tag: Photography

Deer in the Fog

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In a post last week I said I wasn’t a nature photography, pfft, here is a picture I took at Point Reyes, California. I could talk about how I went to the area in search for the Stags, or how I spent a while stalking it or in how I spent ages in Photoshop re-colouring it but that’s pompous tosh. Photography is often luck, trial and error. I took seventy photographs and this one came out well.

So go out with your cameras and get lucky! (erm…)

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Finding people in Photographs

Funerals are never fun; they are not designed to be so I suppose they probably are success to a brief – but I don’t like them. When I pass I want to be buried with my cameras (my first a blue two eye piece one with dinosaur stickers, my second a Canon T70, my third a canon A-1 and at present a very battered and well used Canon 600D) and a round said in my name.

When a family member dies you often find hundreds of small b/w photographs of people you don’t know and people you know but don’t recognise. Due to my interests and work people often give me the photographs to restore, digitise, or just keep as (like books) it seems somewhat wrong to throw them away. Often you re-find someone in these, see your old 90 year old grandmother in a different light – as a yummy mummy or a happy twenty something, both strangely familiar and alien to you. Often a person appears you never really knew, and you suddenly realise, you were far to self-absorbed to understand.

About 6 months ago I wrote a blog about finding lots of pictures of my Partners Grandmother (Still alive) and merging them in chronological order to have her growing old in one photograph. You can see that here.

I won’t be able to do that with my nan, all I have is fractures and fragments of a life. I wonder in our digital, online, photo world what will we leave behind? I doubt my future children and grandchildren will be able to find me the same way I can re-find my elderly family. That makes me slightly sad…

Whale Watching

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Above is a picture of what I saw when I went whale watching, next to it is the average picture I took. Call me Ishmael if you may, I saw the great white Devil but I never quite captured it in all its glory.

This is partly because we were 100m away, partly because (like an iceberg) you see so little of the fantastic mammal bust mostly because I am not a nature photographer.

I did take one worthwhile(ish) photograph, a blow hole and a tale of two Grey Whales (I like to think mother and Calf – although I have no proof of this -) That I intend to send to the marine biologist on the trip due to it’s distinctive and clear markings. I started to ponder about the worth of still and moving photography as documentation purposes.

Whale With this in mind BBC2’s fantastic nature programs, I have the complete Life Collection by David Attenborough, suddenly seems not just entertaining factual programs but crucial cataloguing for future peoples. “This was life on earth; this was how our co-inhabitants lived” future generations can say to further future generations while showing photographs and film we take now. This generation can only say “Sorry all you have left are photographs.”

So with the idea of photography as important time capsule for future generations to judge, perhaps we shouldn’t take so many selfies in club toilets?

Embrace Your Mistakes: Hummingbirds

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One of the real joys of my time in San Francisco was watching the hummingbirds. these little critters buzz around your head like little mechanical drones. Adorable to look at I was convinced I would take some pictures to show my Facebook followers.

More fool me, these birds are incredibly fast and only visited our balcony in low light. So All I produced were blurry, grainy silhouettes. If you have hummingbirds near you and want to photograph them, then follow the tutorials here and here. I hope you have better luck than I!

Growing Old: Photoshop Portrait

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Here are two images both produced by overlapping 88 different photographs and playing with the opacity. My original intention was to create a (now so fashionable) time-lapse of my partner’s now 87 year old grandmother growing up and ageing through childhood, teenage-hood, marriage, motherhood, grandparent hood and now enjoying her old age with biscuits and TV.

I rummaged around and scanning every photograph I could find (over 100) and whittling them down to the ones with the face looking in the same direction. In Photoshop I adjusted the opacity and began overlaying the images matching the eye-line. All this was intended only to simplify the After Effects process. What I ended up with was something rather beautiful instead.

Playing around with each layers opacity and slight colour enhancements I think brings out each individual image, I believe theres a real depth to the pictures. I then went back and recorded them to show of her younger self, her old age ghosted in the background. What’s interesting is not what has changed but what has stayed- while the Portuguese sun has added wrinkles her smile has never really changed, assaying the same while the rest is a blur.

And what about the original video that kicked all this off? Well, I will get around to that…. Eventually.

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Embrace Your Mistakes:

 

 

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Haven’t done one of these for a while.

Zoo photography is wildlife photography for those not wiling to wait. Alas this doesn’t mean you get the photographs you want. Out of 224 photographs taken I was happy with…1. this one above is, like so many, one I am almost happy with.

The mistakes first, for which I can see two:

1. The image is very grainy, This is down to a) Enlarging the focus point of the image. b) Overdoing the sharpening tool.

2. The face is still shy of focus. This is even after I cranked up the sharpening tool to 11. This is because unlike in the wild zoo animas are well kept behind glass. Your sensor is snapping a photograph not just behind the glass of your lens but also the glass of the enclosure.

While I may have listed only two mistakes they are both killers.

Primates themselves hold a fascination for me. The Orangutan is perhaps one of my favorite creatures (many a disappointing picture of them too) and the Chimp I find equally fascinating and rather creepy. In the end I gave up trying to get that ‘perfect shot’ taking instead huge amounts of pleasure in watching them. This toddler chimpanzee especially was a very delightful thing to watch, as it dug a hole and began throwing dirt over his nearest elder- to their obvious frustration.

When an argument broke out and the shrieking began I not only remembered my recent cinema trip to see the latest in the Planet of The Apes series but also a little seen but rather excellent documentary called Project Nim, about Nim Chimpsky (the name does make me titter each time) being taught sign language, and the debate around him.

With moments of pure escapism, such as watching a young chimp annoy his family, perhaps its best we all live that moment and not worry about how it looks through a lens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pond Dipping (Or DIY Underwater photography)

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While cleaning the pond at my parents house I decided to relive some childhood memories of pond dipping. For those of you who have never had the sheer pleasure of dipping a net into a small and muddy pond to see what you might find (often leaves), then the rules of Wittgenstein’s Language Game dictate you will find this blog rather dull. Apologies. For the rest of us it was like sifting for gold, with the reward of a small dazed amphibian easily as precious as a golden nugget (although not in monetary value)

Who doesn’t love our garden friend, the frog?! They eat our flies and slugs and ask for little in return, in south korea they were forced into extinction due to overconsumption (perhaps the greatest evil that Kim Jong-Il did) but here in my non french garden they live peaceful if short lives due to our local herons. Above and below are some pictures of them. My aim was to show the full body of the frog compared to the normal shot of their head. To do this you will need

1. A pond

2. A net

3. A large ja

4. A Frog

 

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After carefully catching the frog I put them into a jar half filled with water where they irritatedly swam around. Above is a picture of my mother modeling how I looked. It is important to note I was allays friendly to my green friends and after no more than five minuets I let them back into the pond to let them ponder on what just happened.

With the photographs taken it was just a matter of cropping them in post and hey presto you have an underwater shot of a frog without actually going underwater. Check out more of my photography here, if you have any questions or suggestions then post away!

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My ViewBug Spring Competition Entry

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I have recently joined ViewBug, it is much like flickr but with the added advantage of having competitions, many you have to pay for but some like the Spring Competition are free.

This picture was taken in my parents Scottish garden, there garden is so massive and so full up of stuff (woodland, lawn, rhubarb, grass, river) that I thought a photo stitch would be the best option. It was six pictures, 3 across and 3 to make a bit more “top and bottom.” I used Pixelmator, a budget-photoshop that can be bought for £10 in the mac app store.  I am, and always will be a Gimp admirer but for ac users Pixelmator is a thantastic program and I urge all of you to go try it if you have £10 to spare and no photoshop to use… intact I can feel a new blog coming along.

So wo else uses ViewBug? and what do people think of it overall? Theres a link to my profile here.

 

 

The Camera Doesn’t Lie?

Here’s an interesting story from the Guardian today. Narciso Contreras a Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist was fired from the Associated Press for photoshopping one of his images, the before and after are below. 

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What’s interesting is not that he has been released into the wild but rather the idea that photographs tell the truth in the first place. There are 100 ways of telling the same story and there are 100 more ways of showing it. What’s interesting here is not that the camera was digitally removed but rather that it wasn’t cropped out in the first place, in my mind there’s very little difference between the two. In Flat Earth News Nick Davies shows how journalists distort facts to fit their agenda- here’s looking at you Daily Mail. Photography is no different, there might be 100 photographs of me on facebook looking miserable and bearded but that doesn’t mean… oh ok bad example. Bad examples aside you get the picture (see what I did there?) a photograph is nothing more than a set of eyes that can only see what is deemed important, to me that is a very strange version of reality.

A photograph deemed expectable by the Associated Press (again read Davies’s book to read more about them) would have been one of a few hundred images taken that day, the lens would of been chosen that showed the subject in the best or worst way, the photographer might cut out any unwanted distractions, such as other cameras, a street lamp or an annoying passing car, if not while taking the shot then defiantly in post. The colours would be sharpened, perhaps drastically changed (blue sky for example) and finally eyes and lips might be sharped, surroundings might be blurred slightly. All this is deemed perfectly acceptable even though it is far more perfect than life could ever be.     

Photojournalists and Photojournalism are important and with the rise of camera phone amateurs we should all be sad they are going extinct, but that doesn’t mean you should trust the image, even if it hasn’t been photoshopped…   

3D Printing A Lens

With constant spam from Kickstarter and Indegogo about affordable (around $2,000) desktop 3D printers I took to twitter to vent my confusion in 128 characters:

“While I’m glad the future is now, what dos anyone need with a home 3D printer?” 

I got nothing. One could say this is due to my minor twitter following and my minuscule dent in the constant cesspit of twitter self gloats and 24h annoyance. However I would rather see it as proving my point: there really is no need for one. And then I came across this tumblr, where someone has actually printed his own 3D lens. A photograph of what it takes is below, and while nothing special I am deeply amazed by what you can now do in your own living room.

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The future really is now! And if you excuse me I am off to buy a 3D printer, you can get on for only $2,000 I here…