Archive for September, 2008
Today I learnt something new and exciting from my PPSOP classmates which sent me into the “dim room”. Several people have been showcasing photographs that are both black and white and colour all in one image. They are very interesting photographs as they throw the emphasis on the subject in colour by neutralizing the background or any other elements that are in black and white. Sometimes this technique seems to have the effect of rendering a two-dimensional image in three dimensions which brings the subject matter to life. It also is a very forgiving technique in that it can hide some mistakes in the grey by drawing the viewer’s attention to what is in colour instead. Above is a picture I recently took at the Vancouver Aquarium where I applied this selective colouring technique with the hope of having the frog “leap” off the screen.
Excited by the result, I went back to some previous photos taken at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria in May of this year. The tulips were in full bloom and filled almost every corner of the gardens. The photo below was a tulip that appealed to me because it was all alone. I titled it “Touch” and I think that using this new technique makes the title even more appropriate.
When I first started taking photos late last year, one of my instructors told us to keep all our images as we will never know when or how we might bring them to life later on. He showed us a composite image of a sunset and a sillohuette of a man walking down the hill. The two were taken about 15 years apart and one in Holland and the other here in Richmond. It was good advice, given what I was able to do today with something I had captured almost five months ago. I wonder what I will be able to do 15 years from now? Stay tuned!
P.S. I submitted the frog photo for this week’s assignment and here is what Robert Lafollette had to say: Sabrina, LOVE this!!! I also like the fact that you are trying new things here, and this is a classic of using selective coloring to make a very dramatic image. That background is just amazing, for the little bit of light makes this very three dimensional. I would call this one of the finest frog photos I have ever seen, and looks like a fine piece of art. Great job Sabrina and a well deserved PERFECT PICTURE. Wow.-robert.
Frequent visitors to this blog will notice three new recently acquired books by Freeman Patterson on my bookshelf. Even though I am slowly making my way through Photography and the Art of Seeing, I was so impressed with both the style and content that I bought the whole set of his instructional books on photography and visual design. In the chapter on photography’s unique characteristics, the first difference he notes from virtually all other forms of visual media is that when one starts to create a photograph it is with something that already exists. He writes “In painting, you start with an empty canvas, and you put on it whatever you want. In photography, you can choose the subject matter you want, and you can vary your treatment of it tremendously, but you can’t escape the fact that you are always confronting some aspect of the physical world that has an existence and character independent of you and your interpretation of it.”
Tuesday, being the last day of good weather predicted for the rest of our vacation on the Oregon coast, proved to be an excellent example of Patterson’s contention. I wanted to make hay while the sun shone and after having seen the view from Ecola State Park in the morning, I was determined to return in the evening to take a photo of the sunset along the coast. The park ranger promised us a fantastic sunset from the viewpoint and with all day access to the park for only $3, we made plans to return around 6 pm. I was excited at the prospect of getting some more great images but from a different point of view from the one I took of the needles on Monday night (below).
Unfortunately the clouds rolled in early and by the time we made it back to the park there was almost no sign of the setting sun. That was not enough to stop me from setting up my tripod and firing off a few shots. The results were a very different set of images not just because I was further away and using a telephoto lens, and in the case of these two images, a magenta filter, but also because of the weather conditions. If truth be told, I think Monday’s images were far more pleasing than those I took without the sun. I am sure that there was excellent material to use on Tuesday to create images that were just as powerful and emotional but finding it felt like l was looking for a needle in a haystack. Having read Patterson’s observation I see now why this was the case. No matter how much we’d like to create an amazing image with our camera, we will always need to consider that which we cannot change. Then we maybe will find what we are seeking.
In July I bought a membership to the Vancouver Aquarium with the intention of spending time photographing the sea life that lives there. Last Saturday was the first chance I had in a couple of months to return and shoot pictures like the jellyfish on the left. They were mesmerizing to watch as they swam without a care in the world–or so it seemed to me. Aquariums are wonderful places to learn more about the aquatic world and without them many of us wouldn’t have a chance to view sea creatures even though it is not in their natural habitat.
Today I took a stroll along Cannon Beach during low tide hoping to take some macro shots of the tidal pools near Haystack Rock. Unfortunately I was a little too late so instead I decided to observe what treasures the ocean would give up as the tide went out. There were lots of feathers which made sense considering Haystack Rock is a protected sanctuary to a number of birds. I also saw seaweed, crushed mussels, minature crabs and believe it or not, jellyfish. Here is a photo of one that washed up on shore. Not as pretty as the ones in the Aquarium but just as good a photographic subject.
I believe there is no substitute for seeing animals in their natural world no matter how cruel or ugly. Once in a while though you can experience the thrill of seeing animals thriving in a protected environment and in my case, quite unexpectedly. This evening we were on our way to the viewpoint at Ecola State Park to take some photos of the sun setting on the Pacific Coast. Just as we entered the gates I saw three elk grazing in the open. I was so excited to see them as we had been to Ecola Park in the morning hoping to see whales and elk but had no luck. We had joked that although we saw evidence of elk, it might have been planted by rangers to lead visitors to think that there were animals in the park. I took a few photos from the car and I also stepped out to get a close up shot (apparently not recommended!). Here is my happy shot of the day
Vivian Ward (aka Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman) has many memorable lines one of which is when she steps into the elevator at the Beverley Hills Hotel–”Well colour me happy, there’s a sofa in here for two!“. She must have felt the way I do this week when I put my new magenta filter to good use on my trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. I’ve been dying to retake photos that I took when I was here in the spring now that I have finished up a couple of PPSOP courses and an in-person workshop with Bryan Peterson. It was actually at the Seattle workshop that Bryan advised us that if there was one filter to get, it was the Magenta FLW (not FLD). Naturally I took his advice and when my brother-in-law David was in Japan last month, he picked up the filter for me.
Last night we stayed in Astoria, Oregon at a neat hotel recommended by National Geographic magazine called The Cannery Pier Hotel. The hotel sits on 100 year-old pilings and has a wonderful view of the Astoria-Megler bridge that connects Oregon and Washington. The photo above was taken at sunrise a stone’s throw from the hotel. Birds love to sit on these piles all through the day but in the morning and evening the light from the sun makes for a very poignant picture. With the magenta filter the sun’s light takes on a reddish-purple hue and kicks the drama up a couple of notches.
This photo above was taken this evening in Cannon Beach, Oregon. I took over 130 shots in total and most of them with the magenta filter. The photos I took without the filter served as a good lesson as to why Bryan made this recommendation. While they are not bad, they are not as dramatic and compelling. I would even go so far as to say that my photos would be quite ordinary without this accessory. One other thing to note. There was a really great thread on the forum of my current class with Robert Lafollette. A classmate asked why so many photos he takes lack lustre even though he is using a very expensive D700. One of the things Robert discussed was removing the ubiquitous UV filter that we all use to protect our lens. What he said made sense so I decided today to shoot without this filter and I have to say that the pictures were much sharper proving him right. Try it out and let me know if you have the same results. Who knows, you might also be saying “Colour me happy!”.
The survey is all done and no-one picked “bottled water”! Yes that is the correct answer. This is a photo of bottled water taken in my hotel room after I read Freeman Patterson’s chapter on thinking sideways. Enough said.