Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Magic Donkey

Nothing new in Flickr Explore for ages now, I don't understand how the Magic Donkey works. Trying not to take it personally that non of my recent attempts are considered "interesting", humpf.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Views from a boat

I spent three days on a canal boat and took pictures of stuff as it passed by!

Loving my wide-angle Sigma 10-20mm, it's constantly on my camera with a polarising filter permanently attached (which I have to thank for the beautiful depths and contrasts of the sky and water).

Actually not much done to this in photoshop (believe it or not), boosted the colour a little and added a slight blur to the bottom part of the photograph.

Orton-method applied to both the above.

Played with the shadows and highlights to get this effect, a bit like I did for "From the Sea". Also dodged the sheep on the ledge a bit to make him stand out, love that sheep!

--- 7.30pm 27th July 2008 ---
I see this post is the victim of another "'Instalanch" ( guys and thanks again Glenn for the reference! If you like or dislike what you see please do make a comment here on my flickr account, your feedback is really appreciated! I'm still just learning!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On Remembrance

I spent last week traipsing around the battlefields of the former Western Front. My task was to follow the movements of the First World War Poets (i.e. Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves…..) to take photographs and videos to add context to The First World War Poetry Digital Archive (a digitisation project that I’m managing which will be launched on November 11th this year). I’ve never really been one for military tactics and battle plans, being a literary kind of girl. I, like Owen, find the “pity in the poetry”, it is the words of experience that move me rather than the horrendous casualty statistics that resulted from this confilct. The Western Front is moving though, when you know what happened there the air takes on a sombre atmosphere. It is echoed by the bugal call at the Menin Gate every evening, felt when you put your hand into the earth and feel the metal of shrapnel and cases of bullets or run your finders across the etchings in the cool white stones of the graves. You start to hear the now silent voices of the millions who moved over that ground 90 years ago.

It was poppy season and as the flowers poked their heads out of the wheat fields which were once a sea of mud I could not help think of McCrae’s poem. You know the one that goes “In Flander’s Fields the poppies grow….” (all kids learn it at some point). It was quite moving seeing the landscape littered with their red heads, a constant reminder of what happened in those fields 90 years ago. I’ve recently learnt that the, poppy as a symbol of remembrance, is actually derived from classical literature. Homer, in The Iliad, likens the poppy to the bloody head of a fallen warrior:

As a garden poppy, burst into red bloom, bends,
drooping its head to one side, weighed down
by its full seeds and a sudden spring shower,
so Gorgythion's head fell limp over one shoulder
weighed down by his helmet.

(Homer, The Illiad, Tuecer vs. Hector - 8:342-352)

Remembrance, why do we remember this War? It no longer exists within living memory bar a few. The "Great" War has been mythologised continuously since the moment it ended until it existed as a memory for all of us, although we were not there. The TV documentaries, the films, the books, November 11th, have served us images of soldiers and mud and death in black and white. However, what we remember may not necessarily be true - that it was pointless, unnecessary, mass slaughter. Many men, of all different nationalities, cultures, and colours went to fight and die in a World War (not just confined to the Western Front) and went through that War believing that what they were doing was just and necessary. They also laughed and formed friendships and went home to live the rest of their lives with their loved ones in normal jobs and to see another War. Not every family lost a member, not every woman lost her beloved or her child. To see them simply as lambs led to the slaughter, or as lions led by donkies, is perhaps a falsity and an injustice. I do still find it difficult to come to terms with the view many revisionist historians iterate that is was needed and it was right, I can't put myself in that place, I'm a sensitive soul, but the more I learn, the more I see, the more I understand about the complexities of remembering and the complexities of history.

My photography didn’t amount to much on the trip, some nice landscape photos to be annotated with little arrows and squares - the German front line was here (red line), Owen fell here (blue box), machine post here (yellow cross). Really, the scenery is quite empty and peaceful and as I wrote in a previous post about the photography of the First World War, it’s difficult to take meaningful photographs of nothing. The poppies though, standing tall against the thousands and thousands of white grave stones that cover the landscape, left the lasting picture in my head, a picture that makes me think of certain words. Words and Pictures, Pictures and Words, for me they always come together.

A note on the above composition

I took a one of my Poppy photographs and in Photoshop created a duplicate layer. I then converted that layer to monochrome and erased the b&w poppy to reveal the red poppy underneath. Played with contrast and darkened it a bit. I then took a texture from AlexEde and overlayed this on top and decreased the opacity. I then merged the layers and played with the saturation, curves, and the usual.

The fields over which Wilfred Owen advanced to Ors in 1918

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Date

Didn't quite come out how I wanted it to. I wanted it to convey awkwardness and I couldn't quite get the angles and depth of colour. I wanted the girl at one end of the sofa and the guy the other, but couldn't get the right composition in the frame (so "awkwardness" is meant to be demonstrated by crossed legs in op direction)...but still, worth a post!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

In the morning

This is one of those pictures that I didn't really know what do with. The photo I ended up posting on Flickr was slightly chocolate tinged B&W, but it also looks kind of good in colour and with different crops, I really can't decide so I would appreciate your comments!

The photo was taken with a wide angled lens (Sigma 10-20mm), which basically make things closer to the camera seem bigger than they would normally look and things further away look smaller. I really like this kind of distortion effect, but it yeiled some funny results when I had my legs crossed towards the camera (my feet looked massive!!!!). It was post processed in photoshop using a slightly less orton effect than I have previously used. I also quite like the B&W portrait crop but I just can't figure out how to get rid of the empty curtain rail above the window which I think would improve the composition.

Version 1: Portrait

Version 2: Colour, Square Crop

Version 3: Portrait B&W (I like this one - but want to get rid of the rail!)

Version 4: Colour, Alternative Crop

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there!

I'm quite taken aback and flattered after receiving so many hits on my blog after the great comments published by Theo Boehm on the Althouse blog and the link from Instapundit (thank you!).

Over the past year I've watched the visits on my Blog and to my Flickr account rise, My blog (until yesterday!) averaged at 40 hits a day and my Flikr photostream has reached 70,000 unique visits. Right now the Blog is experiencing on average 12 hits a minute which is a bit awe inspiring.....blimey I should think of something profound to say to take advantage of the, "Give peace a chance", "End pollution now", "Vote for....." (no I can't really go that far!).

This is my simple photoblog about my trials and discoveries in photography, sometimes I write a little about myself too, but it's mostly pictures with words to describe them. Generally, you can get a good inkling of my mood and life situ through my pictures, it's kind of a cryptic-esque diary. When I find out how to do something new I post it here as I like to share, I really appreciate it when I find someone's photo that I love and they explain how they took it, it helps me learn, so I'd like to do the same, but also it's a good record for myself.

Do have a look at my Flickr Account and comment on my photos. I always appreciate feedback and constructive criticism,

Today has been a bit of of a weird one, I was on the radio and TV this morning to promote my dance troupe Soleil d'Egypte (not the day job!), then I had all this great feedback on my photos, then as I was walking to that great little Italian Restaurant where I can never a get a table a group of girls told me I had cool hair, then I got ushered into that little Italian Restaurant with no reservation and was given a free drink....what's going on! Could fame really be approaching? I don't think so, it's just one of those days where for once everything is good, but it's nice for a little bit!

Right, enough of the words and back to creating some pictures........