Monday, 31 March 2014

Master Photographer's

Though am using that title, a lot of people will think I am talking about the past masters whom I have mentioned before such as Aleksandr Rodchenko or Robert Doisneau, no I am talking about a little known photographer, whom I happened to have had the opportunity of viewing their work.

This photographer is all about playing with the shadows and the light, using the emphasis on shadow to exploit the light, much the same way as Lee Friedlander used everyday objects to frame his subject matter.

Ray K. Metzker is one of photography's greatest innovators he uses black & white photography to its greatest potential, okay admittedly we have spoken about those photographer's who used colour to exploit shapes, light, tones and composition to great effect. However when you look at the work of Ray Metzker, he certainly makes you think outside the box in much the same way as Rodchenko thought about geometry, shapes and composition.

After all photography was always thought of as an art form by those who had gone before (Edward Steichen) to put a name to one who vehemently always championed that cause for photography to be recognised as an art form.

When I first viewed the work of Ray Metzker, I then understood the lesser liked handle "street photography", as opposed to social documentary. Granted there are those who refuse to accept that term or classification of this photographic art form. Some feel it is not right, however look at the work of Ray K. Metzker then think otherwise.

metzker_main
©Ray K. Metzker
His work is not so much social documentary but an exercise in why we should all look at the world, from a different perspective; his framing is incredible. Yes, he is using multiple exposures, he is manipulating the negative, and he is creating art from several elements of his own works, to create another.

I found his work truly inspiring, then it struck me, where have I seen this style in composition before?

The answer lead me back to Henri Cartier-Bresson I was not in the least dumbstruck, in fact I could see why. The reason I could, was actually through another photographer, namely Harry Callahan another multiple exposure aficionado.

©Harry Callahan
That then got me thinking looking at his work and almost recognising the elements of a  Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph. I realised that studying photography was not just about reading techniques or how to do this or that, it is also about learning to see what is in the photograph. Here we can that the play on the double exposure is a truly unique aspect to Harry Callahan's photographic interpretation of a row of buildings.

I had seen this compositional imprint before as I had said earlier, which tells me something about myself, that is to say am beginning to recognise those key elements of composition from certain photographers, and were their inspiration comes from or who they draw their inspiration from in particular.


Reading the signs


So there it is for all to see, once we do see then we will begin to see it in everything day things, you look at the world from a new perspective, as though you were being born to a new world, where what had gone before was nothing as it seemed. You begin to see differently. 
Henri Cartier-Bresson
©Henri Cartier-Bresson
In this early photograph from Henri Cartier-Bresson, look at the centre of the frame, in fact all the way through the middle of the photograph we see the zig-zag cutting through the photograph in much the same way that Callahan has applied his double exposure in his work. 

Shapes and linear aspect in composition can really make your photography sing to the viewer. You can now get an idea of how to interpret these shapes or shadows into your own work. So I decided to shoot a roll of ISO 400 BW Film in my local city centre, keeping my eyes open for shadows or some kind of play on light that was available, I managed to find a few photographs that I may possibly use multiple exposure in creating a montage of photographs with multiple negatives. 

I will post them when I have collated enough images am happy with to post for such a post on this blog. 

©David Rothwell Photography 2014
©David Rothwell Photography
I find it really useful to ignore some social media sites in favour of a couple of books or exhibitions showcasing some very interesting and educational photographic work. Sometimes I swap and change my film moving from Ilford to Agfa film. I find Agfa film is great for pushing, the very fine grain film, which am sure is ADOX film repackaged (Don't quote me on that). Has a very tight grain structure, and so this makes for some great experimentation in camera. Of course when pushing or pulling film, then develop the whole roll as so. 

In this frame we can see I used the light reflected in the shop window to frame the figure or silhouette in the background, also the guy in the left of the frame with his leg angled towards the ground forces you to view the linear rays of light, he also acts as an anchor in the frame, with his shape seemingly breaking up this very linear composition. 

Another aspect to my photography is this, I enjoy watching videos on the subject, rather namely numerous videos on the art of photography. This show is born of the passion of one Ted Forbes a passionate photographer who enjoys shooting black & white, and incorporating the work of master photographers, such as Vivian Maier

Conclusion

So by viewing the work of master photographers, we begin to see hints to who inspired whom, and repitition in patterns, composition, linear, curves, shapes, tone etc.

May be you could try iimplementing some styles or influences of other photographers into your own work, not be a copycat but to give you some idea, of what it is like to photograph in a certain way. 

Until the next time, 

David 


Monday, 24 February 2014

Street Photography Techniques

Colour features in a lot street photography, since the colour medium began in the early 1930s, photographers were not quick to accept that quickly, however three main photographers began to use this medium and lead the way as pioneers of that format. 

©Saul Leiter
Photographers like of those pioneering the medium, William Eggleston, Fred Herzog and Saul Leiter. Yes, there were others too that would eventually follow in their footsteps. However these main three were pushing the envelope on composition, that would incorporate abstract, linear, shapes, texture and in the case of Eggleston the subject matter itself, would become his landmark identifier. 

In the case of Leiter, we see a lot of the subject matter being a singularity, a single colour influence such as his work ‘Pink Umbrella’ one of a series of works centred on an inanimate object sometimes within a pattern perspective or as a stand-alone piece. Leiter went on to produce some of his outstanding works from an abstract perspective, they really are inspiring works of art, that make you feel connected to the subject matter.

Looking at a person standing outside a steamy window during the rainfall, or a traffic signal or even a person sitting in a car, as Eggleston has also captured someone in that similar style.
All three photographers have created profound timeless pieces, one such piece I wanted to share with you was this incredible mass of colour created by Fred Herzog. 

The reason for this is simply because to me, the work is like no other photographer I have seen before, the colour and the layering involved really does make you think, laterally. The works are like puzzles, the reason for this during this era; 1950s, 60s most photographers who were shooting models were still using monochromatic film, for advertising purposes. 

Colour features in magazines were quite pricey, and if this was not in your budget then black and white photography was still the way to go unless, colour was called for. Hence the style of photography of Eggleston, the subjects may not have been composed in such a dramatic aspect like a typical model shoot. 

These were undoubtedly the reasons why these colour aficionados were truly inspiring, masters of colour photography, they quite literally saturated you in colour.
©Fred Herzog / Equinox Gallery
  
The layers of orange in this composition are resplendent of a sunburst that is so striking, the colour literally jumps out at you. The other aspect to the photograph is how Herzog leads your eye into the photograph, the anchor point is the orange store point and the triangle imposed using the windows, then your eyes move down and towards the fore of the photograph. 

The blue store front, forces your eyes to the left, incredible viewing but this is how Herzog wants you to view the photograph. 

Intelligent composition, I am sure you'll agree. Though the photograph does not depict every colour of the rainbow, it does cover a broad range, and this is what keeps your interest in the work. 

It takes me back to those early days of colour flip charts you remember as a child with the numbers, this is how I perceive the work. 

It is well worth remembering that point too, it is important to know how a photograph makes you or others feel. Eggleston is known taking or rather making photographs of the banal. Most of his photographs have a deep understanding of his origin, his place of being and his very existence. 

For an outsider such as myself or you who is not native to the area of Memphis, then the place may seem rather boring, that is obvious. However for someone who thrives on the unoriginal style of photography, then photographing the obvious is beautifully banal



What I mean by that statement is be mindful of your own style and technique, develop your own style; and do so with the utmost confidence. After all we are all on a learning curve, there are no rosettes for following someone elses' style, so work on your own, be influenced by these past masters and create something anew which is original in execution, as it is with the passion you have to create it. 

©David Rothwell Photography
The image here is something which has been photographed by myself and yet done with the passion, and influence of all three afore mentioned photographers. That is to say it has been captured with the belief that this is art.  The photograph shows a damp day, road works, vibrant colour of red, and amidst the dark and dank interior of the truck, we see the lush green colour of artificial turf and then the punctum in all of this is the yellow glow of the petals of the Daffodils placed atop the artificial turf. 

Why was this? I spotted this scene walking down towards another objective, and from the corner of my peripheral vision; I glanced this deep yellow of those petals. Whilst the empty fluid container mirrors the white graffiti signage in the deep red wall, this was a mass of beautiful colour. 

I had learned that when exclusively shooting in black and white, then when you begin to notice that certain colours, will make for a better monochromatic photograph, the colours begin to 'pop'.  I shot this on digital using my Canon EOS 60D not my usual camera for shooting street photography granted, though I was happy to get the shot by all accounts. 

I feel this photograph makes a bold statement to probably many critics out there, it looks like a boring photograph, yet it is quite banal, and by that definition it is original in its concept, I took one shot of this scene, no more was needed. 

That being said was there any other way of improving this photograph? Not from my perspective, the vehicle was about to move, I only had one chance to get this right, the photograph is very much in focus, the exposure is maybe half a stop under for what it should be. 

That works for me though, otherwise the dark and dank truck interior being too bright, may detract from the bright yellow petals, and thus the emphasis on those flowers is lost. 

So whenever you are out walking the street, keep your eyes open for the less exciting, banal shots. They may seem like a boring photograph, but you never know, that is what the art world may be crying out for. 

Until the next time...

David 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Street Photography Techniques

Layering


I posted a subject for street photographer's that all street photographer's should be implementing into their own work, the technique of layering. As the technique should suggest we are not talking photoshop here, we are talking about layering in the photograph, within the frame.

We use subjects at differing points within the frame to do this layering, so for example by using shapes too, such as circles, ovals, lines and triangles we can make points in the photograph 'pop'.

©Susan Sermoneta 2013
We want the viewer to have an interest in the photograph, and we want the photograph to be a photograph not just a picture. Here is a link to a couple of examples I have shot myself in the examples shown on my gallery page, we can see how shapes and lines play an important part in composition.

Here is another photograph which shows how shapes, lines etc can play an enormous part in street photography. In this shot we see how the NYC Photographer Susan Sermoneta has used the imposed constructed linear lines to frame and shape the photograph, with the subject matter being almost entirely in the lower third of the frame. The colour too has played an important part in the photograph the overhead lamp acting as an anchor point forces the viewer to see the person descending the stairwell in the photograph.

Colour

Colour or color depending on which side of the pond you are from, plays an important part in the layering technique street photographer's use today, however before colour was introduced circa early 1930s by Kodak Photographers used monochromatic film, so photographers were careful what they shot and became much more dependent on framing and compositing an image to be able to make a photograph. 

So here is another example of linear photography within street photography not too dissimilar from the  photograph shown above, I have used the linear technique that should make the photograph interesting. 

©David Rothwell Photography 2014
The lines take you the right of the frame, and that is were the main interest lies. This being a monochromatic shot, I have used the framed pictures on the left of the frame to lead you into and around the photograph, the people act as an anchor point to force your eyes back and out of the frame. 

The angle makes the photograph very interesting too, I am shooting from a higher perspective, rather than just a shot from eye level horizon. 

One photographer who I have mentioned before who shoots black & white photography, and uses a particular technique in layering that frames the subjects and makes them 'pop' more effectively. 


Lee Friedlander

A fantastic photographer who developed a very unique style of framing subjects to make his works much more interesting and abstract. His works inspired other photographers including Garry Winogrand

What Friedlander does is to make the photographer become open to suggestion; to interpret the subject and make it his own, and then transcend the medium to make it evolve. Abstract painting had been a movement in the 1930s with surrealist painters like Dali, Picasso and Man Ray.

Lee Friedlander makes the viewer not just look but listen, that is how I perceive his work. The tempo in the composition is often changing, forcing the viewer to move across the frame and learn what is being said, and force you to question what is being conveyed by the photographer.

An exceptional photographer who for the most part enjoyed shooting photographs from the hip, or the car or even a hotel room. Many lessons can be learned form the afore mentioned photographer's their individual styles differ, but the passion for life on the street far outweighs anything shot in the studio.

With Street photography comes the harsh reality that not everyone will like your work, not everyone will understand the message being conveyed or what the photographer wants you to see, so it is important to make your work interesting using various techniques or a combination of those techniques, to do that is view photographer's works at galleries or even better the books they have created themselves.

If you like certain photographer's then take a closer look at their work, how do they frame the works, how do they convey a message, do they use colour? Do they use colour, what shapes, tempo etc.

This is what you should be looking for when viewing other photographer's works, so if you follow photojournalism or street photography, take a closer look at the method they employ.

So if you live in a city have a look what's happening at your local museum or gallery to see what works are currently being exhibited. One thing I almost try to do when shooting street is to keep an eye out for other street photographer's; what are they shooting, etc. I tend to stay away from someone using a telephoto lens such as 55-200mm or 70-300mm this is not what street photography is about.

I have seen some photographer's just using a small compact camera, this I love because it forces you to get in closer. You have to concentrate on framing the subject matter, someone who uses a zoom/telephoto lens just wants to stay away from their subject matter, not get involved and to be honest using that focal length flattens the photograph.

©David Rothwell Photography 2013
It is a bit like being a stalker not very nice at all, using a wide angle forces you to engage with your subject matter, strike up conversation, get in close, they will warm to you.

The example left shows how warming, the subject was she had spotted me, I had actually smiled back and turned around as I passed through them in conversation, I just about face and captured this. The symmetry in the hands is almost identical to her friends in the foreground.

What I like about this photograph is the sudden burst of colour just left of centre, then we have guy just farther left of frame, this is what makes the photograph a little more interesting, he is asking what is going on? This is by all accounts a very tight composition, but that is what street photographers aim for.

Framing

So we have touched on briefly an American photographer who used framing to such an extent to make his work more abstract, more out there. Always be on the look out for the strange coincidences of gestures especially the hands. This sort of brings me on to another point, be mindful of your own hands too. 

When using primes it's easy to suddenly play with the aperture ring, or the focusing ring on the lens. Always be alert to sudden jerky movements for example a person passing by, or bumped into by a woman pushing a pram or a child running into your legs. 

I try to use linear objects to frame my subjects or you could try using people themselves for framing and that way you would also be implementing layering into your work.
©David Rothwell Photography 2014

In this example we can see how the person in the foreground forces your eyes to follow the line through the photograph, even the shopping trolleys in the far right of the frame offer the viewer the direction in which to go.

My only complaint about this is how the subjects are stretched across the frame, for myself personally I would have liked this a lot tighter.

So by that lesson we can focus on crowds to capture, post christmas shopping we don't see many crowds out there.

So be wise in what you capture.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Master Photographers

Saul Leiter was one of many early photographers who was also a painter, he learned his compositional craft at the easel with a brush and knife. Colleagues later urging him to get into photography, he was like William Eggleston a colourist.

He extensively used black & white film when he first got into photography and for most of his commercial work used that medium. However for much of his personal work, he shows an interest in colour. He uses the colour with such intellect that the photographs seemingly pop out like a montage, some offer a surreal view of the world, and give the viewer an abstract perspective.

Subtle nuances of red and yellow feature highly in his works, some of the works show shop fronts beings used as reflectors to create such pieces. Something of which inspired Lee Friedlander with his unique framing technique, though most of his works are extensively shot in monochrome.

Sadly this great past master of photography passed away, a week shy of his ninetieth birthday last November (2013). A year before his death though a film maker namely Tomas Leach created a warm and intimate view into this fascinating photographer, the film was titled In No Great Hurry and shows the aspiring artist how this photographer operated, his vision, and how his works inform and set a major bench mark for aspiring colourists using that medium of film.

I have read the reviews of the film, and I was very impressed in the way that the film has been received.

Reviews from New York Times and the Jewish Week online, so read the reviews of the film, I am sure you will be impressed by the films reception.

©Saul Leiter
For now though let's discuss more of his work, Leiter had his own unique perspective on Manhattan. It shows greatly how this photographer was thinking literally outside the box, one such photograph is that most people will relate to is that of the singular colour of red in the photograph 'Red Umbrella' Circa 1958.  It shows amazing skill with colour to be able to single out a scene and compose a truly inspirational piece which is timeless.

Leiter had learnt how to isolate colour in this medium and to frame the photograph with the colour. This piece is a fantastic example of his early colour works, however when you move forward the pieces became much more avant garde, and the framing much more abstract.

The works would feature much more complex compositional points of interest; working with linear, shapes, curves and depth of field. Something of which some street photographers try to imitate with people, not so much colour but certainly using people in interesting positions to anchor a part of the frame.

This is what every street photographer should be aiming for, I myself should be doing this to such a great extent. I like playing with shapes, and perhaps this is one project I should begin to work on. Playing with shapes is certainly one aspect of Saul Leiter, to learn from.

I have posted a link to the pages of interest, so that you too can investigate and hopefully learn from and inject that learning curve into your own interpretation of street photography. One thing I have learned is that everyone is different, we all have our own unique way of seeing the world.

Saul Leiter has his perspective, and created magnificent and intriguing timeless pieces for us all to enjoy for generations to come.

Until the next time, bye for now.

David


Saturday, 8 February 2014

500px Prime and the unacceptable 30% commission rate

Welcome once again to another interesting post on A Click A Day, many photographer's out there who may be starting out in this competitive but fickle world of art and reproduction, are wondering where best to upload my photographic works, what are the benefits of the sites out there?

I know some of you use Photoshelter to publish your work some of you use the site because of the SEO tools and their Beam platform. SEO tools are important for search engine optimisation to market your works out there by using certain key phrases, so that people such as illustrators or graphic designers who don't have the time to produce a photograph can search through a plethora of photographs that cover certain subject matter, and if that work has a certain working license such as creative commons, can be used for those purposes by another.

The other aspect about Photoshelter is they offer a secure cloud storage, in context this is a great idea however, in practice it is not. The reason why is how secure is their storage, are the servers they use always going to run okay? Are they backed up on a disc elsewhere thousands of miles away in a secret shed in an Antarctica? Probably not but you get the idea, I always use a back-up drive for my works, to be sure.

Redbubble

I have used Redbubble myself for some time, I have sold works through the site, have I seen any commission? No not at all, the reason for this is the item purchased, were bought as a small item rather than the photographic work itself. Which quite frankly pissed me off a bit, someone likes the work, but they do not want to commit to purchasing a bigger piece. One that could fill say a 16"x20" frame would be nice. The commission is like Getty Images fairly low roughly 20-30 percent commission.  

The Pros


What I do like about Redbubble is the fact that you can turn your work into illustration which can be placed upon other media, such as a T-shirt, a Hoodie great for this time of year. They also make stickers, which to be honest I couldn't see my street works being sold as a sticker. I like things big, in fact the bigger the better. That is why when I print my stuff I use proper photographic paper, it is the only way to make a work that is great become much better. 

Presentation is key in this business, so if the work is presented in such a style that I make an investment of $50 - $250 to get the work printed I want a greater return on my investment. My investment is key to my success, which brings me to another point of view and another website community. 

The Cons

A great photo community should be a creative hub, one that defines itself by sharing ideas, intellect and passion for the art. One that offers great advice to up and coming artists and one that should stick together and fight for what they believe in. 

The site I am referring to is 500px don't get me wrong it is a large hub of creativity featuring some of the worlds best unknown photographers, though some do very well from it. 
Recently 500px decided to launch a new way of purchasing / selling photographic works on the site, they opted to give this new service a title Prime. Not too sure if this in relation to priming the user for another service they could be launching at a later date or if this is transformer based, if you pardon the pun. 

In reality though it does seem the latter, and like some gargantuan mechanical fist, laden with the very negative news of the hypocritical rate of commission for selling your photographs of offering the user 30% commission just smacks of disrespect to the very users, for which the site should be truly thankful to its success. Have decided to throw down a gauntlet, that gauntlet though has been met with some very strong opposition (myself included). 

I have decided to post a link to the site and the comments, if you are a member you can get involved and post your comment too. Comment on this

If you would like to go farther you can get in touch with Dustin on the site: 500px/Prime 

Photographers are not here to only receive 30% commission of their work, this is wrong on so many levels. Which does lead me to the point of how and why Magnum Photos was set up by those past master photographers, who put up a fight against the editors who were cropping their works for publication. So the message in their respective photographs would be misconstrued, or the interpretation was wrong. 

Magnum photos was set up for that very purpose, by photographers for photographers, it may be once again, that we now find the 'digital set' perhaps taking stock of what they want from the photography world, and how the media should be used. 

Until the next time, 

David

Friday, 31 January 2014

The demise of the Photographer on Flickr

Well if you already know about the recent overhaul of the social media site Flickr, the article posted by Michael Stutz, points out how the long paying member (I am one of those) has been for intents and purpose been left out in the cold; literally.

It seems those in the ivory towers of Yahoo have decided not just to change the formatting of the site, but to actually replace it with the one Terabyte gimmick, to get the unknowing and certainly unwitting social media user to shift towards the 'new look' Flickr.

For the past twelve months or so I have received intermittent emails from BTYahoo of the changes being made, I actually purchase my broadband from these guys! Though the changes seemed to have locked me out of my account and suggested I set up another in favour of the spectacular new enforced changes.

Admittedly the only welcome change is the fact that this will do away with those who set up groups to post animated stickers that quite frankly are reminiscent of a refrigerator door in the kitchen. No use to anyone who posts photographic works seriously, though putting that point aside this is exactly what Flickr have done in redesigning the site, they have forced the hand of the photographer.

The site is now geared towards mobile users instead of someone who may actually be using a laptop or a macbook. The works you post are now generated along with others in this melee of a digital grid, no longer appealing and seemingly lost, amongst works which by all accounts although seem to be taken with a camera are not instead the mobile user has downloaded some filter and applied to a poorly composed happy snap, and called it arty.

In one way I am lucky that yes, I am using the site as back-up, for in reality that is all it is worth for myself, another on-line back-up service.

It seems now that gone are the days when Professional and amateurs alike used the site and received like for like appreciation,  and constructive criticism which I welcomed openly. So what about petitioning against these changes, well there is such a page, were by you can voice your opinion by clicking the link and getting your name down.

Of course if you are not really savvy with technology, and don't take an avid interest in reading the Huffington Post then this page is not for you either...No, no comeback! Oh okay you want to stay, well I tell you what for those who already pay, I will give you one Terabyte free...except if you want to post HD Video you will have to pay MORE.

This is what really smacks of disrespect in my book, the long standing devotees to Flickr who were in  fact already paying and are seemingly going to be forced to pay more, you track those necessary stats for feedback.

My advice is this set up your own page as I have and use the social media, to inform your friends and colleagues and followers, where you have gone. It's important to get your plans down and focus on your strengths in photography, what images have worked for example Landscape, Portraiture, Reportage etc.

You can then mould your page around your images, set up various pages, as I have done here and build on that success. Unless you're really going to post HD video then I would suggest looking at this site, were upon like minded individuals will give great critique, no ads, no clutter.

And guess what it's a social site were people chat to each other, and not get lost in the melee of non- descript, digital kaleidoscope of colour mess, and the odd hello! in what ever language, they choose.

Why oh why?

It's great to know what language you will never use in your life, I don't mind that except it seems really dumb to me, if I cannot speak the language, then why am I going to ever consider conversing in one word syllables like an over excited African Grey, why not opt for a twerking approach?

Only kidding...

Kujaja 

So what other social media sites are out there for photographers? Well if you're a regular follower of my page, you will know that I regularly post onto another fantastic photography site, namely Kujaja.com It is a superb photo-community, they post and give feedback and have regular updates and competitions for professionals and aspiring amateur photographers alike. 

The competitions range from landscape, to reportage, to natural history and anything else you can think that is an exciting way to get into photography, I have played a great part in being active on this site, the people are very welcoming, and will give great advice and feedback on the photographs you post. 

What better way to see the world than through the eyes of like minded photographers from around the globe, these images are from around the world, which brings me back to the post I made earlier regarding One Minute on Earth II okay this link will take you to the previous book, which is available on amazon and on Blurb 

What better way to get involved...

Sunday, 26 January 2014

One Minute on Earth II

Hello all

I have some great news for you! You may remember last April 6th,  2013 at 1:00 pm a plethora of photographers (140 to be exact) decided to capture the very minute on earth as a collective.  The book was a huge success and many photographers decided to join us all at Kujaja the online photography community, to create other books as well.

We really have been a busy lot, following the success of other books too, Night on Earth, Mystic Landscape, we wanted to build on that success and have proposed another book; One Minute on Earth II

So if your new to photography or are currently doing a 365 day project and looking for inspiration, or something else to focus on. Why not join us at Kujaja Online Photo Community The book focuses on landscapes so if you're in a part of the world that didn't get a look in, and want to get your country of origin, or even your country of residence featured. Then take a look from the link above and get involved.

See you there!

David