500

The Art of Photography and Photography as Art


2015 – Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 10-20mm


This blog post is a milestone of sorts, it marks my five hundredth blog post.  It began on a sad note, with a photo from my maternal grandmother’s funeral, it has been more of a photo journey rather than a photo blog, more about myself and the photos than about the photos themselves I suppose, so it’s rather like a journal…almost… of sorts.

On this journey I’ve learnt a lot, with still much more to learn, I’ve met many other people with a passion for photography, and many who love to look at beautiful imagery.

I have learnt that there is a difference between the Art of Photography and Photography as Art, and I believe that it is a realization that comes to most of us who pursue it with an aim for creating “art”.


2010 – Canon T1i, Sigma 18-270mm


It sounds presumptuous even to my own ears to refer to anything that I produce with the camera as “art”, but people like my friend Nikhil would thump me behind the head for even saying that.  Not everything I take can be considered as art, so I humbly submit that I have a few that may be taken into consideration by those who are more knowledgeable than myself and more in-tune with the art world to be judged and pronounced as art.

Nikhil would also tell me that I have had work exhibited once at the National Gallery of Art (Castellani House) and have also been among the finalists in two of the recent Guyana Visual Arts Competitions, so I can’t get away with trying to play modest about being called an “artist”.


2011 – Canon Rebel T1i – Tamron 18-270mm


I began as most of us probably did with learning to use the camera and just snapping away at anything and everything that caught my eye.

After a while it began to be more important to learn and understand the art of photography, to understand how light plays an important part, where paying attention to composition results in a much better photo of the same subject.  The art of photography is to know your camera (whether it’s a mobile device such as cellphones or a larger DSLR) to learn what it can and cannot do, and to know how to use it to accomplish what you want.  Like any craftsman worth his salt, the art of the craft is the union of the person and the tools at hand.

It is good to learn different techniques, different approaches, different styles; that can be part of your arsenal, but it need not define the photograph you take.


2012 – Canon T1i, Tamron 18-270mm


The photograph is an extension of your self, it is a product of your own thoughts and skills, when the photograph stops being just a snapshot and becomes an expression of an idea, a concept, more than just a moment frozen in time, then it is possible that you have created a piece of art.

Photography as Art has to be more than just a pretty photo of a pretty scene or even a technically perfect photo of a dilapidated house, for a photograph to be Art it should have soul, it should convey an idea, elicit a reaction from the viewer, it has to be seen, talked about, appreciated or ridiculed even.


2013 – Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 18-270mm


Not many of us in Guyana can successfully claim to be original in our photographs, most of it has been done before and by better artists than ourselves, Photography as an Art has to overcome the fact that everyone now has access to a device that captures images, and in the maelstrom of images swirling around the internet we have to produce a piece that stands out, that makes people stop and look, but also to have them remember it afterwards, to recall it and speak about it.

Art is subjective, that’s basically saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it is not enough for the creator of the piece to want it to be art, the viewer has to appreciate the piece, not necessarily from the perspective of the creator but from how it affects them.


2014 – Canon EOS 6D, Canon 24-105mm


All the images in this post are “new to you”, they are from the six years than span this blog, 2010 to 2015, one from each calendar year.  I went through the files looking for images that I have overlooked, or just not processed,  not looking for any subject in particular, but for images I think worth processing, worth sharing and reflect what I would like to show others.

I hope that at least one strikes your fancy.

Click on each one to see them in their respective galleries in the Collection.  Thank you for being a part of my journey so far.


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Framed Flora

Taking time away from the images can be a good thing… but it’s important to actually go back to them, because if you don’t, it becomes a matter of “out of sight, out of mind”…

I was looking for a certain Mashramani photo this morning in my 2010 photo library… and I stumbled across this image…

This day was a good one, I really have to sort out a few more images from it 🙂


2010 | Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 18-270mm


Click on the image to see it in the Flora Gallery along with other photos in the Floral category 🙂


A place to rest

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.


2010 – Flood Waters at the Park – HDR

As coastal dwellers we are always mindful of the flooding of our properties, growing up it never seemed that much of a problem, but now it seems more frequent.

Six feet Under –  A phrased usually reserved for the dead and buried, is also the correct description of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.  The city is six feet below sea level, and all that protects us from the might of Neptune’s oceans is the famous Seawall, which was built by the Dutch when they colonized the area, back in the nineteenth century.  It’s a good thing the Dutch know how to build these things!

When rain falls heavily (sometimes it just has to drizzle) and the tides are high, areas within the city, and even along the coast, become flooded to various degrees, most times it may just be an over-topping of the drainage canals and trenches.  One good side effect of this is the lovely reflections of scenic places in the calm, still waters.

I’d shot multiple exposures for an intended HDR image, as these things turn out, I never got around to it until now.  I’ve gone into detail on what an HDR is and even twice detailed how I approach the processing, but since it has been a little while since those posts, I’ll just give a brief description on HDRs here.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, it is a technique used in imaging and photography to produce in the resulting image a wide (or high) range in the luminance of an image.  Simply put, it attempts to retain as much detail as possible in the lighter (brighter) areas as well as in the darker (shadow) areas.

These two images show (a) the underexposed image that is used to capture the detail in the lighter areas, notice that the rest of the image is very dark, and (b) the overexposed image that is used to capture the detail in the darker areas, notice that the sky and water in this are very bright and show little detail.

When these are combined with the neutral or “normal” exposure image, the dynamic range of the final image is increased.

After combining or layering the images in an HDR software, the process by which the photographer renders the final image is called tone-mapping.  In this process, various sliders are employed to adjust things like brightness, contrast, light, shadows, and, depending on the HDR software being used, a variety of “specialty” sliders.  The resulting image is usually to the photographer’s taste, some with a desire to approach realistic images with a higher dynamic range than a standard exposure, others go for a more surreal result, some can carry this as far as having a very high contrast, high saturated look that is more illustration than photography, but that’s a debate for others.  To the left is a small image processed for effect, very vibrant very “artsy”.  It is also possible to tone-map a single exposure to achieve some of the same HDR effect, although I do not personally call this an HDR, I refer to them as Tone-Mapped Images, another possibility is to use a single exposure to create the various over and under exposures in software, then combine them, this I refer to as a Pseudo-HDR, but these are only my terms and distinctions.

My preference lies in trying to produce an image that resembles the scene that I saw, but could not reproduce in a single exposure, for some scene this will result in a photo that may have people wondering whether or not it is an HDR, and in other cases it will leave no question that it’s not a standard exposure, but definitely and HDR, especially when I try to reproduce the great detail that is there in a cloudy sky (such as my “Doomed” from the Coastal Wanderings exhibition at the National Art Gallery).   The results of this particular HDR processing? I’ll let you decide.

Parliament Building

Almost two years ago, I was invited to accompany Nikhil into our Parliament Buildings to do some photography, this being the first time I had stepped foot onto these premises, I was very excited.

And I think, like my first time at the Falls at Kato, I may have been too excited, too excited to properly take in what I was seeing and translate it into photographs.

When I first started processing these two years ago I was very excited and began with my HDR image of the grand staircase which I showcased in my blog-post “Into the Halls of Power”.  After that the rest paled somewhat by comparison and I only went back to them recently.

I started off with my “Mail Drop Box” image that I had posted to my Facebook page, then a second HDR, of the Parliament Chamber, which I did a blog about.

After going through them all, I think that I’ve finally accepted what I had as better than I had thought, and I have processed my favourites from the set and uploaded them to a Gallery on my site.

I think I’d like to do a complete photo essay of this building one day, but for now I have a small selection to show; these include a few exterior shots, a few views of the famous Stabroek Market tower as seen from Parliament, a few corridor shots and even one that includes the St. Andrew’s Kirk.

If I had included a small version of each photo, this blog-post would be longer and have more space allocated to photographs then for words, so I’ve done a small graphical “film strip” with a few select images, and encourage you to click on the film strip to visit the Gallery and see the collection over on the site.

A Civilian’s View

When I visited the Guyana Parliament building for some photography, I took a photo of what would probably be the ideal Civilian’s View, that is, from the chairs (benches) available to members of the public.  I tried setting up in the centre (I think I was off by an inch or two)

I did this in HDR, and while I try to avoid too much high saturation images (especially in HDRs) this one showcases the beauty of the room to effect (I think)

I think I should try someday to get in here for an actual session.  Would they allow me to photograph in there during a session, I wonder…

Click on the image to see it better in the Gallery.

Evening Approaches – Panorama

It’s been a while since I touched a Panorama, or a stitched image  🙂  This one is old (last year) but I never got around to stitching and processing it until now.  Originally intended as a six image Panorama, it seems the last two in the sequence refused to be stitched in (I may try a different software later) so I ended up with a four image stitched together Panorama.

This is from the Roundhouse on the Kingston Promenade on the Georgetown Seawall, facing west, the sun isn’t quite setting but it the exposure gave it a little darkness and added to the mood.  At full size you can see that there are people on the Jetty (pier) in the distance. and even someone on the rocks in the foreground.

 

Evening Approaches - 18mm, 1/320s, f/10, ISO400 - 4 images

I encourage you to click on the image for a better view at the Gallery, but unless you have a very wide monitor, it won’t help too much  🙂  Try this link to see an 1100 pixel wide version.