A Classical Documentary

It’s time to present another of the participant’s work from last year’s online workshop. Pat Callahan made a classical, visual documentary story for his personal photo project when participating in the online workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice» last year. And he did it with conviction and through a entrancing narration. In his portrayal of the Irish village Courtmacsherry, Pat captures the daily life of its villagers, whether kids and youngsters having fun in the harbour, a quiet moment of in the local pub, a burial or the bliss of a wedding.

The strength of Pat’s visual portrayal of Courtmacsherry is his well-developed talent both to perceive good composition and finding those smaller or bigger moments that bring the story together. He is a master of the decisive moment as articulated by Henri Cartier-Bresson. His eye is sharp and his technical skills foster the stories each of the photos tells so well, as it does the overall narrative of the photo essay.

What really impresses me with the essay is Pat’s ability to get close to the people he photographs. I mean both literally and on an emotional level. The people he photographs aren’t even noticing Pat, they go about doing there things as if he is not present with a camera. People clearly trust him. They let him into their sphere and into their lives, as if he is one of them. From that standpoint, he quietly and gently goes about photographing whatever they are doing, seemingly unnoticed and without interrupting the proceedings.

The black and white format fits perfectly the story of a village where time seems to have stood still and life goes about as it has done for decades. The photos become a glimpse into time long forgotten in most other places, where the community and care for each other is still the important factor in life.

If you like to see more of his work, look up the website and blog of Pat Callahan.

Later in the spring I will start up another round of the online workshop, more specifically May 22nd. If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops. Furthermore, if you sign up before the end of April you will get the workshop for a discounted price. Only this week left for the reduced price!

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A Distinct Photographic Signature

Do you want to develop yourself as a photographer? Do you want to develop your distinctive signature as a photographer? Let me help you on the way. If you join the online photo workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice», you will be in for a journey that will take your photography steps further.

Finding your own and distinctive voice as a photographer is a never-ending path. Your photographic voice develops all the time as you grow as a photographer. There well never be a time when you say to yourself: this is how I am as a photographer, this is me and this is how it will be. Two years later, yes, your photos are still expressing this voice of yours, but it not quite the same. You have developed as a human being, your vision has developed, your skills have developed and this all reflect in the photos you take and this expressive signature that is yours. Your start to develop your photographic voice as soon as you pick up a camera. It will take some time before it is clearly and distinctive yours, but even then it will keep developing.

You can’t really force a signature. It comes to you organically and unconsciously. And it takes time. You cannot sit down and plan how you photographic voice is going to be. However, by learning the craft, giving yourself time to develop as a photographer and by photographing you will slowly begin to see your way of perceiving the world will become more and more embedded in your photos.

In many ways, you just need to walk the walk, photograph what photographs you capture, immerse yourself in the process, and your photographic voice will come to you. Gain confidence as you head down the path; learn to create by creating, become skilled as a photographer by photographing. If you trust the process, if you trust yourself and your inherent creativity—which we all have—in time you will master what needs to be mastered. The path will open up for you, if you become susceptible to it. And your signature will materialize at some point—and then keep developing.

Doing it all on your own is easier said than done, though, and a guiding hand may often be of great help. It is like undertaking a spiritual journey. You can become spiritually enlightened by work of your own mind, but a master by your side may help you not lose track of the path. So it is with photography; a guiding hand can be very helpful pointing you in a direction that is a good path for you.

That is what I intend with my online photographic workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice». In this eight weeks workshop I will guide you to become more clear about your vision, give you insight so that you understand what kind of photos speak from you heart, and finally guide you to express your vision through you photos. The strength of this workshop is the individual follow-up, guidance and feedback on assignment I give you every week. You will get a booklet every week with thoughts and ideas and tips—which ends up becoming and nice little book by the end of the workshop, but the big value of this workshop is really my individual picture critique you get every week.

The start up of the workshop is May 22nd.

If you sign up for «Finding Your Photographic Voice» by the end of April you get a 30 percent discount on the normal workshop fee. That is only one week left, so you need to make a quick decision.

To give you a chance to see what it’s like I will send you the first week’s booklet to you for free. Just click here to get it.

If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops.

Posted in Creativity | 11 Comments

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week (this photo is actually more than a week old, but I haven’t posted any new material the last week). It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. Except for the technical details beneath the pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Facts about the photo: The photo was taken with a Panasonic Lumix LX-100 with the lens set at 30.4 mm (the equivalent of a 67 mm for a full frame camera). Shutter speed: 1/1000 of a second. Aperture: f/5.6. The photo was first processed in Lightroom then transferred to my cell phone and futher processed with first the Pixlr-o-matic and then the Snapseed app.

Posted in Personal Work, Photography | Tagged , | 32 Comments

Joy- and Colourful

Vigdis Askjem participated in my last year’s online workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice». For her personal project at the second half of the workshop, she chose two approaches, one was photographing details and light, and one was shooting people in various activities, such as during a festival or kayaking along the coast of Norway.

I have had the pleasure of having Vigdis attending one of my regular workshops (in Villajoyosa in Spain) and then last year the online workshop. Over time she has developed her vision and her photographic voice, and has a distinctive way of capturing whatever she is aiming her camera towards. Colour and light seems to be very important in her approach. And then Vigdis has a refined ability to capture the decisive moment when photographing people or movements.

Despite the two very different approaches for her personal project during «Finding Your Photographic Voice» her photos still have a very characteristic expression. Her way of shooting is the way she sees the world, whether it’s joy, people or close-ups we find in her photos. There is a certain vividness no matter what. There is exhilaration even when she captures something as mundane as a tower. It’s not only what we see, but layers of added details that brings forth a deeper story or a deeper understanding.

I really like the surprise factor in her images. They are—in one way or another—unique in that she shows me a worldview I don’t usually see. They convey her curiosity and her thrill in exploring the landscape around her. If you like to see more of her work, look up the website and blog of Vigdis Askjem (unfortunately only in Norwergian).

Later in the spring I will start up another round of the online workshop, more specifically May 22nd. If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops. Furthermore, if you sign up before the end of April you will get the workshop for a discounted price.

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The Inherent Property of Photography

This post will actually be about technique, more specifically the aperture. Most photographers know that a combination of shutter speed and aperture together ensure a correct exposure whether it’s on a digital sensor or on film. But the aperture has a much more profound role to play in terms of visual language. It determines the depth of field of any photograph. It can make everything from close-up to infinity seem sharp or it can make the focus only a couple of inches wide and knock everything else out of focus. How can we use that creatively? Fundamentally in two ways. By reducing the depth of field we can make the viewer focus on the main subject or we can create an illusion of three-dimensional depth in the photograph.

The fact that a picture in itself is two-dimensional gives rise to special challenges in order to transform the perception of three-dimensional depth onto the flat surface. Depth is simply missing in any picture. It’s not a new challenge and it’s something painters through time have dealt with in various ways. Among other means they have used perspective to bring out a feeling of depth. The ancient Egyptions rendered a man at the far end of a row of marching soldiers as large as the man closest to the observer, and thus really didn’t create much feeling of depth. The old Chinese did the same on their rice paper paintings, but they were still able to create a feeling of depth. They always placed near object down in the left corner and faraway objects in the upper right corner of the frame. So even if a mountain in the foreground and a mountain in the background were rendered at the same size, the painting would still be perceived as being three-dimensional. Eventually painters, particularly in Europe, started to utilized convergence of parallel lines and diminution of object size to create a feeling of depth. And during the Renaissance they even went to extremes, by exaggerating the effects of convergence and diminution.

With the use of limited depth of field it’s possible to create another sensation of depth. The eye can only focus on one plane at a time. Objects in front of or behind this plane appear more blurred the farther away they are from it. As a result, contrasts between sharpness and blur, creates an impression of depth. This is something we can use creatively in our photographic language. A shallow depth of field will at the same time make the eye stay on whatever is focused and this it’s a great way to clean up an otherwise messy or chaotic background.

Most people know that the use of a wide angel lens results in more depth of field than the use of a telephoto lens. But it’s not quite true. What really matters is the scale of the object rendered. If you move in with a wide angel lens so that the object is rendered at the same scale on the image sensor as with a longer lens, the depth of field will be the same with the same aperture, albeit the perspective will be completely different. With this in mind it should also make sense that a camera with a small sensor, give rise to more depth field compared to one with a larger picture frame. As a matter of fact most point-and-shoot cameras have so small sensors that it’s virtually impossible to effectively limit the depth of field. That is why so many photographers chose a so-called full-framed camera, simply to have more options to play with (among other qualities). So to summarize: The only two factors that affect the depth of field are scale and size of the aperture. Use it wisely in your visual expression!

Posted in Creativity, Photographic Reflections, Photography, Properties of Photography | Tagged , , | 56 Comments

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week (this photo is actually more than a week old, but I haven’t posted any new material the last week). It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. Except for the technical details beneath the pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Facts about the photo: The photo was taken with a Panasonic Lumix LX-100 with the lens set at 24.5 mm (the equivalent of a 54 mm for a full frame camera). Shutter speed: 1/160 of a second. Aperture: f/5.6. The photo was first processed in Lightroom then transferred to my cell phone and futher processed with the Snapseed app with the Drama filter, the Vintage filter and the Vignette tool—tweaking all parameters quite extensively.

Posted in Personal Work, Photography | Tagged , | 34 Comments

The Magic Pond

© Lee Cleland

© Lee Cleland

© Lee Cleland

© Lee Cleland

© Lee Cleland

Over the next couple of weeks, I will present the work of participants of last year’s online photo workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice». First out is Lee Cleland. During the last four weeks of the workshop each participants work on their own personal project, and Lee chose to photograph a small and elusive pond, surrounded by an open cluster of trees. The pond is situated in a large and lush landscape, and provided Lee with amble opportunities to convey its magic trough a gentle and distinct vision.

Lee approached the project from a variety of angles, capturing the open landscape, details in and around the pond, the small animals living of the pond, its plants and the different ambiences that occurred over time. Her photos have a quiet aesthetics, using a subtle and secluded colour palette. They clearly show she has a refined eye which radiates through her sensitive and unique voice.

What I really like about Lee’s work is that she constantly tried out new approaches over the four weeks she was working on her personal project. In the beginning, she came back with some beautiful landscape pictures, one that can be seen in this little selection above, and she also quickly started to shoot the small inhabitants of the pond. Soon she started to experiment with various techniques, such as using flash, using long handheld exposure time, and using different aperture.

The final product is a beautiful series of quiet landscape and nature photos. They convey the magic of the intriguing pond—they are magic in and of themselves. For more of her photography, please look up Lee’s blog Beyond Purgatory ~ A Photographer’s Paradise.

Later in the spring I will start up another round of the online workshop, more specifically May 22nd. If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops. Furthermore, if you sign up before the end of April you will get the workshop for a discounted price.

Posted in Photo Workshop, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 50 Comments