Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Photography of the First World War

I have just noticed that this has made it to no.2 in Flickr Explore which is my highest ranking photo ever! I work a lot with WW1 poetry and images and I took this photo of a toy soldier reconstruction of a trench in the Flanders Fields Museum. The stretcher instantly made me think of Isaac Rosenberg's poem "Dead Man's Dump", a poem that I consider to be one of the most brilliant poems produced during the First World War.

I think the photography of this particular war is a very interesting topic. Of all the arts it was photography that failed to capture the battlefields of 1914-18. But I think of the subject - the sprawling mess stripped of colour and shape, literally nothing. Photography can not visualise emtyness. What was left was empty or perhaps it is more accurate to say what was left was full of emptyness. As Nash said "the void of war". Painters like Nash captured it better with thick paint, pigment heavily saturated with ocre and umber, a modernist representation of the swelling turbulent mass of the battlefield. May be this was because a more abstract medium was needed to try and capture the almost uncapturable nature of the war.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Photographing babies

I had visions of taking photos of my friends' 5 week old little mite, her fingers clasped around dad's finger, gazing intently into the camera, tiny little toes....twas not to be. Babies wiggle a lot, babies don't like flash (which is understandable seeing as she can't see much yet and then this big flashing light frightens her), babies need to be cuddled in comfortable positions. I came up with the idea of having dad wear black as he held her to give a good black background, and hiking up the ISO and exposure to capture her whilst she slept without a flash. I'm quite pleased with the results, but of course they can't capture how adorable she was really. I hope she'll like them when she's older.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Paris photography

I was in Paris at the weekend, and a bit depressed that I was so uninspired in terms of photography. A city of lovers and culture, but pictures...not for me. I don't know, may be it was the time of year, or that I went to the wrong places, or that Paris just kept her soul well hidden, but I didn't come up with much. I think I prefer to set up photos rather than take pictures of things that already exist, or have a kind of project in my head. I like to fall in love with the idea of a potential picture, love the subject, not sure that I liked Paris enough last weekend to do a portrait of her.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Red Shoes, White Stockings

Lately I've been really enjoying playing with photoshop and learning how to do things "properly" - like converting photos into black and white using the channel mixture and fade to colour commands and playing around with curves, saturation, sponge, burn, dodge, tools. I took this photo today and I'm quite pleased with the "retro" kind of fashion photography look however the original photo had items in it I didn't want so I "tried" to remove them. However my skills at replicating background colours and textures aren't quite there yet (you can see the texture of the wall change if you look closely). Please point me towards a decent tute if you know of one!

---UPDATE---Thank you so much to those at the digital photography school who actually downloaded my phots, weaved magic, gave me excellent instructions.... and voila!! All in the space of a few hours of me posting, fantastic!

Below you can see the original, my post-processed, and postprocessed with the help of the DPS-ers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Picture This (again)

A few months ago I wrote a blog about an a new flagship art series from channel 4 called Picture This, kind of like an X-Factor for photographers. Channel 4 advertised for participants, I applied, needless to say wasn't selected, and the show started airing last week. All in all I really enjoyed the show, I think the tips and advice I got from it were mostly creative rather than technical. I liked seeing the different ways the contestants approached the project brief (last week was 'portrait') and I am already routing for one of them to win (with the prize of their photography showcased in a dedicated book and exhibition of their work). However the guy who I consider took the best photo of the show (of two kids scoffing junk food in Brighton), Jay Mawson, got voted off which was a shame.

Of course there is a website that runs parallel to the show where Flickr users can upload their own photographs into their own portfolio under the categories of each project brief (here's mine!). Other users can comment on your photos and rate them for technical skill and creativity. It's sponsored by Flickr, but it doesn't work as well as Flickr. Of course the community isn't as big and the only time you get your photos featured is when you upload them (latest uploads), so needless to say you will probably not get as much exposure - the beauty of Flickr is that you can search for images and also browse through Explore. The site says that each week some of the pictures will be featured on the show which could be exciting, though I won't hold my breath! Definitely one to keep watching.

Picture This is on Sundays, Channel 4 at 7pm

Thursday, January 03, 2008