March 14, 2013 § 3 Comments
My priorities in life must most definitely be askew, since I seem to have less time for photography than ever before… But even if I have to take a photo of the same thing every week, I will finish this project
As I was driving along the seawall, I noticed the white-capped waves as they rushed to shore and thought to just stop and catch a few. It was a bright afternoon, but lacking any fancy filters or gadgetry I thought that I’d just bring out the focus of my intent in post-processing.
I used an orange filter in Post-processing to deepen the hue of the sky and emphasize the white caps of the waves.
Click on the image to see it in the Gallery.
March 7, 2013 § 2 Comments
I had never been into the Indian Monument Gardens before, and it seems that the one time I did venture in was when they were doing some new construction on a stage to the western end and had not done any recent cleaning near the monument itself, yet I still think I got a few usable photographs (if you ignore the weeds on growing near the monument and the stains on the base itself)
The monument itself commemorates the arrival of the East Indians to Guyana as indentured labourers, the first arrival being on May 5th, 1838, the first ship being the SS Whitby (symbolically represented in the monument). The monument was erected in 1988 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of their arrival, a portion of the Merriman’s Mall was appropriated for the Monument Gardens. (the area bordered by Church Street, Camp Street, North Road and Alexander Street.)
I found very little information in my short research, but it appears that a nationwide competition was held for the design, and after choosing the winning entry the design was made real by an “Builder” from India, the Gardens itself was laid out by two architects, one from India and one from Guyana (Albert Rodrigues).
I chose this angle because it shows some of the supporting structure of the Ship itself.
As always, click on the image to see it in the Gallery.
February 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
Maybe it’s because I am a coast-lander that I feel the draw of the sea, but I keep going to the seawalls, if not for a photograph then just to feel the breeze, and hear the sounds of the waves.
This photo was taken at Ebb Tide, when the tide was beginning to recede from the shores, and as I stood there I could feel the wind around me, hear the sound of the waves as the crashed upon this rock and smell the salt in the air (which was probably not good for the camera)
As always, click on the image to see it in the Gallery
January 23, 2013 § 2 Comments
Although I like to think of myself as a photographer who likes to take Landscape photos, there is not a lot of scope for that living in the city, but I’ve always had an interest in capturing images of buildings, especially old ones that may not survive due to neglect or just continued development (or any number of other reasons)
During the third week of the year, I had an inexplicable desire to take some photos of St Rose’s High School, just before attending a presentation by Hew Locke (an artist with some amazing work), Nikhil and I took a walk around the block, and I got my chance to take a few images.
To emphasize the building more, I used an “orange filter” setting whilst processing, this darkened the sky and made the building more pronounced. Although I did not intend to combine “street photography” into it these two boys strolled past just as we were there.
As always, click on the image to see it in the Gallery
January 17, 2013 § 2 Comments
OK, maybe the title isn’t accurate, the photo I will use was taken a little distance from the street, but it’s also about a point I made recently.
On the Guyana Photographers Facebook page, we had a Challenge for “Street Photography”, and one of the points we made was that it did not have to be literally on the street; the genre encompasses images that capture aspects of “Life”, it will always have a human figure in it, because that’s what the genre is about, human’s and their actions . It can be a shot of a vendor on the street, or a vendor in a market stall; a woman riding a cycle down the road, or hanging out her laundry in the yard; a man on the corner reading the morning newspaper, or at his desk writing a memo. The best street photographers usually manage to tell quite a story in one image, there is often irony, or action; discourse or solitude and regardless of what story you get from it, it’s a story that you the viewer can understand whether or not its the story being told.
I am NOT a Street Photographer, I fail dismally at my attempts, but mostly because I am not into taking those types of images, except by happenstance. If you want to see good Street Photography by Guyanese photographers, check out the works of Nikhil Ramkarran and Avinash Richard, while neither do the genre exclusively, they both capture moments of time in the life of Guyanese that can be spellbinding.
This one is one of my better ones to date… but only because of the irony
Click on the image to see it in the Gallery.
My Tamron 18-275 lens has some dust inside it, by pointing towards the sun two spots showed up in the image which were later emphasized by the BW processing, those were cloned out
January 15, 2013 § 6 Comments
For my Deck Photo last week I used a black and white image of a bird walking across a wet expanse, one of my friends and fellow photographers told me that she didn’t like the photo, because it made her feel sad and lonely
When she told me that she didn’t like the photo, I was a little disappointed to tell the truth, but when she told me that it was because it made her feel sad and lonely, I was elated.
One of the things that makes a good photograph is the conveyance of some sort of emotion to the viewer. For most photos, we look at them and move on, it was a photo of a sunset, or a flower, or an insect, or a door, or a building, or a bird, or any other subject you can think of, but when someone can say that a photo of mine made them reminisce or feel happy or sad, of any other emotion, then I feel that the photo was not only good, but better than I’d hoped for.
Each photo has the potential to reach past the optics of the viewer and into their emotions, when it does, then the photo was worth taking, it was worth the pixels that were spent on it, and the time it took to take and process.
None of these photos are new, but each one has had an emotive response from a viewer, it may not do it to everyone, but to me, that is what makes photography a challenge, to reach into as many of the viewer’s hearts as possible, but to even reach one, is usually enough for me.
As usual, click on the images to see them in their respective Galleries in the Collection.
January 11, 2013 § 12 Comments
Well, I wanted to say “Playing with a Wide-angle Lens”, but I couldn’t resist the alliteration.
The word wide is relative, so I’ll describe how I use the terms, these are probably not industry accepted descriptions, so don’t quote me Your basic entry-level DSLR usually comes with a kit lens that has a range of focal lengths from 18mm to 55mm, this I consider to be a wide telephoto lens, at the widest end (18mm) you get a nice wide view and at 55mm you get closer to close up of the subject, I consider somewhere around 33mm (on the crop-sensors) to be somewhere around “normal” (mind you, I’ll be talking from the stand-point of an APS-C sensor or crop sensor, a full frame or micro-four-thirds is an entirely different scenario)
Since this is the standard kit lens that most people get, we don’t often see it as wide, so that’s when we go Ultra-wide.
My favourite wide-angle lens (OK, the only one I have in the Ultra-wide category) is the Sigma 10-20mm, this produces pleasing images for me, and I love working with it. You get some amount of distortion at the wider end (understandable) but this tends to be good in certain circumstances.
Often, in architectural photography, you can use wides and ultra-wides to capture more of the interior, and convey more of the sense of space and more of what encompasses the room.
At other times, you can use them closer to the subject to give an increased sense of distance, even accentuate the distortion by being close (do this with people’s faces, and you’ll get some weird effects)
I used the ultra-wide to capture the corner of this building (New Building Society), along with parts of the sidewalk and sky (and a pedestrian)
There are many things you can do with a wide, many of which I don’t do, I don’t normally put it right up to people’s faces and click, but I’ve seen those photos, and it’s a neat effect
What I did in this next image was to use the ultra-wide to adjust the sense of scale, I used a fire-hydrant in the foreground to dwarf a three-story building in the background. One thing that I liked about this shot was that I didn’t have to worry about electricity wires!
The best way to see what your wide-angle lens or your ultra-wide angle lens can do is to put it on the camera and go have fun. Sometimes it makes compositions tricky as it tends to include everything, even things you may not want, but like working with any focal-length, it’s up to the photographer to adjust framing and composition for these things.
I mentioned using wide-angle lenses for interior architecture, well I doubt if a tent falls under the category of architecture, but I suspect the engineers who came up with the idea for this tent would appreciate the use of the wide-angle for impact And would you look at the view!
All images above were shot with the Sigma 10-20mm on a Canon body, Click on the images to see them in the Collection along with others in their respective Galleries.
January 10, 2013 § 10 Comments
Twice in recent times, I’ve been accused of being a “Pro”, as in a Professional Photographer, and both times I’ve been taken aback by it. Me? a Pro? Surely they don’t think so!
The first time was on a public discussion on the Guyana Tourism Authority’s Facebook page where we were discussing their Photography Competition, the unfairness of one of the “rules” and the general direction of the competition, the individual calling me a Pro thought that because I was a known name in Photography in Guyana I should not be questioning the rules of the competition (open only to amateur photographers), and stay out of it. I humbly submit that I am not a known name… stop ten people on the street and ask them if they know Michael Lam, and they’ll all probably ask “Who?” In the small, but growing, Photography world locally, yes, my name is known alongside those of Nikhil Ramkarran, Dwayne Hackett, Fidal Bassier, Ryan Dos Santos, Amanda Richards, Roshanna Mahadeo, Compton Sarabo, Vishnu Persaud, Philip Williams, Avinash Richard and countless others (sorry if I missed anyone).
The second time was in a newspaper article that covered the recently concluded Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition, in which I gained the Bronze Medal in the Photography category, the reporter referred to me as “Pro photographer Michael Lam”, again I felt that it was a distinction I could not accept or live up to.
Who is a Professional? Generally you need to meet certain criteria to be a Professional:
“Expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally” I don’t possess that knowledge, certainly not to a degree to be teaching it or express an “expert” opinion on it, so that one is out.
“Excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession”, same as the first, not me!
“High quality work in Photography”, OK, if it’s good enough for the National Art Gallery at Castellani House to exhibit, then I suppose I have to acquiesce to this one
“A professional is an expert who is a master in a specific field”, definitely not me, oh no!
Let’s get specific to a Professional Photographer: A professional photographer uses photography to earn money; amateur photographers take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, or person. I have a day job, I’ve always described myself as a Photo-hobbyist, and I still see myself that way. Photography isn’t my primary income, if it were I’d be starving. Have I made money off of photography? No, I spent more than I made. I’ve been fortunate to have some of my images licensed for use in a few calendars, I’ve also had a few images sold for display, does this make me a Professional? Simply because I’ve had some income from my hobby?
I have to admit, that this view was the one I had originally taken of Professional Photographers, those who have sold their services or products, so now I fall into that category, but I still can’t see myself as a Professional.
I look at Robert (Bobby) Fernandes, whose years of experience and his natural Photographer’s Eye, can capture a scene with a certain “Je ne sais quoi” that tells you its a great photo, and I think that’s a Professional!
I look at Delano Williams, who has been doing portrait and wedding photography in Guyana for many years, and I think that’s a Professional!
I remember Mark Yhap, who took portrait photos on Camp Street, he used SLR film cameras and light meters, and had everyone wanting their photos looking ethereal because of a “soft lens” that he used, and I think that’s a Professional!
I look at Dwayne Hackett, one of the only trained photographers that I know of, who does spectacular work for everyone from Corporations down to studio portraits, and I think that’s a Professional! He knows more about lighting, depth of field, and most everything else, than I ever will.
I look at Fidal Bassier, who has taken wedding photography and portrait photography to a level Guyana has not seen before, and I think that’s a Professional!
I look at John Greene, who in a short space of time has carved out for himself a space in the Portrait photography world and is steadily expanding his repertoire, and I think that’s a Professional! I certainly don’t have that business sense or attitude.
I look at my friend Nikhil Ramkarran, Gold Medal winner in the Photography Category of the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition, whom I always thought “never had an artistic bone in his body”, but who read and looked at every single thing he could find about Photography and Photographers, and tutored himself (and me along the way) in the art of photography, and I think to myself that’s a Professional! You could ask him almost anything on the subject, and you’ll not only get expert knowledge, but an expert opinion.
Do I rank with these people, or with so many others in the field now? I am not sure, I’m happy to call them my peers, my fellow Photographers, and I am proud to be among the talented people of The Guyana Photographers. Can you book my time for a portrait shoot? No. Can you book my time for a wedding shoot? No. Will I ever do that? I don’t know, it’s just not my thing right now, and I have a day job
Why do people think I am a professional? I don’t know and it really does not matter in the long run. I know a few things about photography, and I’m willing to share what I know, and learn from others in the process, but in the end, I merely shoot what I see, and sometimes people like what I shoot.
To the Photographs in this post…. both photos were taken during the first week of the year, and both were shortlisted along with two others for the first photo for the Deck Project, but I chose another, just because I felt like it. The ;little icon of the Newspaper is the article which I mentioned, clicking on it will give you the full PDF version from the Newspaper’s website (Sunday Times Magazine).
Both of the photos are technically composites, that is they are High Dynamic Range (HDR) images each using three exposures. Of the two, the seascape that I titles “The Lonely Sea” is my favourite. HDRs are one of my favourite photographic techniques, but as with all techniques it can be misused. Click on the images for a better view in the Gallery, along with other HDR images in my Scenic Experiments Gallery on my site.
Definitions highlighted in bold taken from Wikipedia.org
January 8, 2013 § 8 Comments
As an exercise to keep my photography going, I’m continuing my Deck Project, hopefully in 2013 I will be able to expand more on my photography.
I almost started off with a photo of the inside of a tent, then I changed my mind and began on a seascape, but for some reason neither felt right; although I prefer to start with a coloured image, I think that this image felt better to me, it’s a Black and White processed in Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex, those of you who have followed me know that when I say processed I don’t mean “Edit”, nothing has been added or taken away from this image.
Let the New Year of Photography continue!
December 30, 2012 § 2 Comments
As the year draws to a close, I think that while we’re celebrating the end of a year, be it a successful one or just surviving one with our sanity intact, we should reflect on what we have, what we should be thankful for and what we have accomplished, whilst still looking forward to what is to come in the new year.
We should also remember those who are not as fortunate as we are, who have lost loved ones, those who have lost their jobs, those who have lost their homes, those who have lost their sanity (I often joke about coming close to doing that myself, but thankfully, it’s just a joke). If you want to give to those who are in need, give selflessly, give anonymously, give generously.
A photo from 2010. Taken on High Street, opposite the Parliament Buildings.