Tuesday, 29 January 2013

More WA Wildflowers

Photographing flowers involves a bit of time spent on your knees, adjusting cameras and foliage.  Something you notice quite quickly is the abundance of living things crawling all over the flowers.  It takes a bit of patience to wait for one of then to pose properly but well worth the effort.  To save my knees I use very solid plastic pads, they keep you dry also.

Monday, 28 January 2013

WA Wildflowers

Western Australia has a bewildering number of wild  flower which, in practical terms, means you never run out of new subjects.  They range in size from quite large to so small that high magnification is required to make out the detail.  Flowers can be found all over the state if you feel like travelling but Kings Park also has a broad variety on our doorstep.  For the last two years I have intended to drive up and down the state but have yet to get beyond Kings Park; maybe next year?

The flowers in the following examples are quite small and all where shot in the park.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Omega Watch Macro

When I restarted photography in the digital age my principal interest was macro work.  Traditional subjects for macro are flowers and insects; I have done my fair share of those.  Looking for something a bit different, I opened the back of a 1943 Omega pilots watch and took some shots at various magnifications.  The results are interesting and I would like to do some more horological pics but will have to buy some subjects.

The first picture shows the watch face to give an idea of what we are looking at.  For scale the face is about 28mm diameter.

With the back removed, this is the view of the whole mechanism.

The rest of the pictures show details of the watch at higher magnifications.  Higher magnifications needed focus stacking to get a useful depth of field.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Portrait or Landscape?

When composing a picture we are told that we should have some idea of the outcome we seek, it's called visualisation.  I have to admit that visualisation is not one of my strengths and though I have an idea of what I want, the framing of the picture is done with the camera.  If  I don't like what I see, I will change focal length, my position or both.  The other variable is the orientation of the camera hence the title of the post.  The naming convention gives a clue when we should use one or the other but these are not rules.  Often rotating the camera will produce an unexpected result and it is often worth a try.

In this case both orientations produced a pleasing result but with a different feel.  In the portrait version the converging lines of the glass bricks are more dramatic and the narrow space left on the left hand side gives the feeling of being squeezed.

The landscape version still has strong leading lines but with less drama.  The space on the left hand side seems generous in comparison to the portrait version.  Which is the better version?  You make the call!

Friday, 25 January 2013

No Parking Revisited

Had the chance to go to the city today for a quick walk around so I went back to the car park, the subject of the last post.  I made several compositions, discovering that there was a fourth arrow painted on the ground.  The shot below was made with a 35mm lens giving a much different feel to the picture.  The first arrow in the bottom left corner anchors the picture.

Coincidentally, around the corner was another similar scene.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

No Parking

I like to think that every time I go out with my camera, I compose my pictures carefully.  The reality is that this only happens part of the time, especially when wondering around the city.  Something may catch the eye and, before the scene has been assessed properly, the camera is up to the face the shot taken and away we go.  This picture is a case in point.

I was attracted by the variety of shapes and colours but in my haste missed the most important elements, the three left turn arrows and double yellow lines.  A much stronger composition would have resulted if I had used a wider lens and framed to capture those elements.  The shot was made with a telephoto (100mm) but it really needed a broader perspective.  Reluctance to change lens is another lazy habit that reduces the quality of the shot.  Now that I have seen the picture on the screen I will go back to the same spot and see what kind of improvement I can make by exerting myself a little more!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Urban Details

When shooting in the city I am always looking out for interesting details; my tendency is to frame my pictures very tight.  For this reason most of my pictures end up as Urban Details rather than Landscape as so often the 'land' is not to be seen!

Perth has a mixture of old and new buildings mixed together; playing with this relationship is fun, producing a contrast in styles.  Mostly, the new towers over the old, but the camera can even things up a bit.

Though there is little vacant land in the CBD, occasionally a building, or in this case part of a building, is torn down to make way for a new structure.  The remains of the old will soon be covered by a shiny new tower, another piece of history obscured.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Macro At Higher Magnifications

Years ago, when I was using film, I always wanted to buy a macro lens but could never afford one.  Around 1990 I gave up on film and photography in general, instead buying a video camera to film my children growing up.  Years later I bought my first digital pocket camera and was immediately impressed with the ability to shoot closeup.  When I finally got a DSLR the macro lens was the first addition.  Once I got started shooting macro I was amazed how much detail was present in bugs and flowers and could see that with a bit more magnification more could be revealed.

The pictures here where made using bench mounted setup using bellows, some strange lenses and a microscope stage to adjust focus.  At this magnification the depth of field is very small and focus stacking is essential.  Each of these examples consists of between 100 and 300 frames assembled in software to get an in focus shot.

The first picture is of a match head, it looks so very different from what we see with the naked eye.

Insects are difficult to set up for photography but also rewarding.  This next shot is of an earwig antenna and you can just see it's eye in the corner.

Finally we have the corner of a beetle's head and pretty unfriendly it looks too!

I would be happy to explain more about technique and equipment if anyone is curious.

Industrial Photography

The stretch of coast between Perth and Rockingham contains most of the heavy industry and port facilities of the area.  Some people regard industry as ugly, something to be hidden away from view.  Not all industrial facilities are very pretty but some of them have interesting and complex shapes.  Unless you are very fortunate and have access to the inside of these sites, you are forced to shoot from public land.  Long lenses come in handy here and often a tripod also.

This first shot is of a piece of plant at the nickel refinery on the outskirts of Rockingham.  There a few interesting scenes here, but this is the most striking.  This shot needed an effective focal length of 200mm, it's a big piece of equipment and the road runs quite close by.

The second shot is of the grain loading facility also on the outskirts of Rockingham.  In this case the focal length was closer to 300mm, the installation is enormous and it was shot from the beach.

This is all just straight photography with little special to look out for but as usual good light always helps.  It's always worth looking at your subject from every available angle, there is usually a sweet spot that hopefully isn't in the ocean!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Abstract Photographs

At what point does a photograph become abstract?  There is no fixed answer to this question, it is rather a matter of degrees.  It could be said that all photos are abstract because they only show a part of the scene in front of us and are two dimensional.  For our purposes we would want to take things a little further and remove enough information from a scene so that it is either ambiguous or unrecognisable.  We can do this by composition and the removal or modification of colour.

It is a matter of our personal taste how far we push the process of abstraction.  For instance I like to remove colour or reduce it's saturation.  On the other hand modifying colour, by switching colours or increasing saturation rarely produces a pleasing effect to my eye,

Composition is the strongest means of producing abstraction.  We take a scene and isolate elements that are of interest to us paying particular attention to how those elements relate to each other.  This isolation removes context; when there is no context it is often difficult to judge at what we are looking.

Here are a couple of example shots.  The first is the face of a building with no reference to the ground on which it stands.  The profile of the building against the sky is interesting as is the texture of the building.  In this case the picture is monochrome but in reality the only colour was that of the sky, the building is grey.

The next example is of the same building but this time the composition excluded the sky and the camera was rotated to remove vertical reference.  Now the object becomes more difficult to identify and if you look at it for a while the face on which the windows are located can be switched from one plane to another by our perception of the scene.

I find this process enormously entertaining; the wealth of such subject all around is is staggering.

City Reflections

Modern buildings have lots of glass, making mirrors that reflect their surroundings with varying quality.  The flattest of glass is just like a mirror whereas some types of glass produce very distorted reflections.  Reflections lend themselves to abstract pictures and sometimes puzzling ambiguity. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Steel Abstracts

I have a thing about structural steel work and am always on the lookout for repeating patterns.  Both these pictures have a similar theme and where shot in Fremantle Docks.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A Favourite Photo Spot

I don't often make pictures of the broader scene preferring pieces cut out from the whole.  In this case I made an exception just to give an idea of the appearance of one of my favourite spots.  This is the Fremantle Maritime Museum shot from South Mole.  There is a mixture of subjects, old and new, large and small, shining and quietly rusting.  Having a background in engineering, I am a fan of industry, architecture and machinery; this place has it all!

Every time I walk around here I see something new and different, nearby coffee houses add to the attraction.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A Beginning

Photography has technical and artistic elements; for the past four years I have obsessed over the technical trivia and acquired equipment.  Now is the time for me to concentrate on the content of my pictures and hopefully inject some art along the way.

As a reluctant traveller my pictures are all taken not far from Perth.  I love taking long walks looking for the less obvious views of our pretty city and surrounding towns.  Interesting details can be found in the most unlikely locations and on every scale from the microscopic upwards.

This picture was made with the intention of highlighting the textures and colours.

For those curious, the picture shows part of the support structure for the submarine at Fremantle Maritime Museum.