Calendars

I had mentioned in a previous blog (or two) that at the end of last year, some of my images had found their way into three Calendars for 2013.  I recently blogged about the one from Banks DIH, today I turn to the other two, I don’t want them to feel left out.

As someone who has worked in the Computer Graphic Design field for a number of years, I can tell you that some Calendars are in themselves works of art.  The standard multi-page calendar normally carried a photo at the top and the date pad at the bottom, this is nice for us photographers who don’t like people “troubling/editing” our images, it leaves the image alone at the top, simply as what it is… a photograph.

Other calendars are designed to incorporate the photograph into the design of the Calendar and these tend to be more conceptual or themed, and can be surprisingly pleasing to the eye.

Having a photograph used in a Calendar is a big deal for us, especially since most of the ones we see use “foreign” images.

The Banks DIH Calendar was designed and produced by Xc!aim Media, the one that featured photos on each page that were mine was from Maggie’s Snackette and Catering Service, it was designs and produced by F&H Printing Establishment and the last one (but not least) was one that featured images from myself and Nikhil Ramkarran, and it was from NT Computeac, designed and produced by Duane Ton-Chung at Micropoint Graphics.

Below you’ll find the images for the flats that contained our images (the artwork remains the copyright of the companies and individuals as listed above, the photographs in the Calendars are copyright to the photographers, namely myself and Nikhil)   🙂



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Pro – defining and refining

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

2012 Deck – Week 19

This week almost passed without me having taken any photos.  I had some slim pickings, but I think I got a nice one.

Nikhil has often used the word “Grok” especially as relating to “grokking the scene”.  It has become more important to grok the scene if you want to capture and express through the photograph what it is the scene says to you.

Even though I thought I had heard the word before, no one lese I know has ever used it as often as he does.

I check it up on Wikipedia and then thought to myself, “that’s where it came from!”, apparently coined by the author Robert Heinlein in his novel “Stranger in a Strange Land”.  I love the definition given for it in the novel (keep inmind that it is a Science Fiction novel set on Mars)

Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man.

Can we understand a scene so completely that we become as one with it?  That is probably something to aim for, to achieve it would be great,

Here’s a photo of Nikhil, Grokking the scene  🙂

Click on the image for a better view in the Gallery, and if you haven’t seen the other entries for the Deck project they’re all over there in the Gallery.

Award

Last week, Bob Zeller, was kind enough to pass along an award that he received, and although it is very reminiscent of a chain letter (which I dislike very much) I thought it different enough that I would “pass it along” myself, It is a recognition of our peers, of the people who we enjoy reading, who influence us, or simply blog about something that interests us enough to keep going back.

I’ve linked to Bob’s site at least once that I can remember, but if you’ve never checked his stuff out, you should.  He mostly has bird photographs and writings about them, but who doesn’t like birds, and Bird Photography is hard!!!  He has some amazing captures and sometimes even more interesting stories about the birds.  Bob is an amazing fellow, a musician, a photographer, a bird watcher who lives with a very serious illness, but his blogs make me feel like just going out there, and enjoy life, as free as a bird. Thanks Bob.

Although the award says “Versatile Blogger”, I don’t read enough blogs with that much versatility, in the content, my blog is about my photography (mainly) and I read blogs mainly about photography, or photography related… well, mostly.  So don’t expect a lot of Versatile bloggers being mentioned, but know that every one that I do mention will be ones I read and appreciate for various reasons, and they will be in no particular order.

Apparently there are rules, so here they are:

1) Thank the person who honored you and give a link to their blog.

2) Tell 7 random facts about yourself.

3) Pass the award to 15 new-found bloggers.

4) Contact each blogger onto whom you pass the award and let them know.

5) Let the giver of the award know you accept it or not.

Random Facts:

(1) Because of my spectacles I got the nickname “Professor” as an altarboy, although I hated it at the time, I eventually adopted it into my online moniker ProfessorMC,

(2) Last year marked ten years of marriage for me, our courtship before marriage also lasted ten years.

(3) I love to play the musical keyboard, I’m terrible at it, but I still like to do it, and I have absolutely no musical training or knowledge

(4) I think I sing better than I play, I do a mean version of “La Bamba” at Karaoke

(5) I like Rum, I think it has a great flavour, so of course, I prefer the best, El Dorado! But that doesn’t mean I snob the rest, after all, how else can I do a comparison?

(6) I work in Computer Graphics at a Sign Company, for which I have no academic qualifications whatsoever

(7) What are my qualifications?  I have a degree in Biology, seriously!

Now for those I want to pass this along to (many of whom may simply ignore it as they have better things to do, like actually taking photographs) 🙂  And if you have received one of these before, just consider it a double award.

(1) Nikhil Ramkarran – Yes, I mention him all the time in my blog, he’s my photo-buddy and a great friend, but the reason he’s here is that he IS a versatile blogger, if it matters to him, he’ll blog about it, and he’s even blogged some of his published articles from Apsara magazine.  The one problem with his blog… he doesn’t blog enough. He has over a hundred images in the Petax Gallery which is Pentax’s showcase (and I don’t think it’s that easy to get images in there)

(2) Steve Thomas – from photographyfree4all, a gifted photographer whom I’ve followed for the last seven months, and see his photography go from good to great, and from simple photography to artistic expression and even Photoshop Art from his photography.  Keep an eye on this one!

(3) Journey Photographic – JP has almost covered the globe it seems, has been to places I could only dream about, and has an astounding collection of Travel photographs (and recently Travel Photography Tips!)  It’s sad that I only know them as JP.

(4) Sasi Suruli – his blog My 3rd Eye has some truly amazing photos, he excels at food photography, makes me hungry every single time, it’s a wonder he isn’t working for some magazine or even the Food network.

(5) Tracy Zhang – has a blog called Just In Time, not only is she travelling and sharing some amazing photos, but she has a unique perspective on the places she visits and her photographic style is unusual bit immensely captivating

(6) Simon – aka Dark Halide, although I am not a Street Photographer, there is something about his photos that has kept me intrigued, I just keep going back to see what he has next.

(7) Michael Bonocore – an amazing diversity in his photography, but what I really liked was what he said: “If my clothes, camera and tripod aren’t dirty, then I’m not trying hard enough”, I’m obviously not trying hard enough, but this guy is inspirational.

(8) Roberto Vega Peralta – a combination of photos and thoughts that really works on my very imaginative brain

(9) Sheila Creighton – A persistence in photography that is admirable, Sheila sees things that I would miss, and makes art out of it  🙂

(10) David Sobik – Hands down, some of the best wedding photography I’ve seen, innovative and unusual, don’t even begin to cover it, but even forgetting the wedding stuff, his perspective on photography begs you to look twice.

(11) Brian Stevenson – Funky Slug, a photographer with a great sense of humour, but his images are awesome, sometimes inspiring, sometimes daunting, but always captivating!

(12) David Williams – Quite an impressive array of images, everything from studio type images to outdoor HDRs (which I really like, I have a weakness there), and now even his daughter is into it with her own blog, aptly titled Cait’s POV

(13) Mike – Tau Zero.  If I ever wanted proof that I need to get out more, this was it, other than the amazing scenery, he has a habit of getting birds to do exactly what he wants.

(14) Laura Tinker – Tinkerbelle.  Light-hearted and usually nothing to do with photography, but all about putting a smile on your face.  I only recently started following, but enjoying all of it so far.

(15) Sarah and James Broscombe – I’m sorry to group them but I only have 15 slots, Sarah currently writes the “Six Word Story” telling a story in 6 words, difficult, but Sarah has a way with words, although I must admit I preferred when she wrote 600 (almost) in her blog “Sarah in South America”.  James is an amazing photographer who makes it look so very easy, he currently writes (if he gets a chance) in “Making Pictures Pay”, but I was introduced to him through hi older blog (when he and Sarah were in South America) A picture each day 2009 – 2010, an amazing look at Guyana and it’s remote areas.

(16) Cindy – Like Bob, I can’t just stick to the 15, I had to add one more and then some… Cindy is last but certainly not least…  her photos and writings have to be experienced, I can’t even begin to describe them please check her out.

Although I only had 15 spots, I hope that others won’t feel left out, I have found that each blog I follow and comment on has something to show me, something to teach me, and something that makes me think to myself “that’s interesting, now I wonder…”   There are those who I am new to, those who don’t blog as often, and those who didn’t make the list simply because I’d need to go for another 15 people  🙂  I think that if you check some of these out you’ll see others popping up as commentors, who should have been mentioned, like Nigel, Cheryl, Martina, Christos, Kim, Jolene, Sandra, Jonathon and many others.  I’d have loved to include Tricia in that list of 15, since her blog inspired me to start my own, but she is one who is very guilty of not posting 🙂

Now since this is my blog and since it’s about my photography I can’t conclude without including a photograph 🙂  Enjoy, and I hope you continue to appreciate the other bloggers and readers who make all of this fun!

This one was taken with the Sigma 10-20 Ultra-wide lens, processed to monochrome using Nik HDR Efex to retain that trunk detail, it’s a single image, so not what I truly consider an HDR, just tone-mapped slightly.

Scotiabank Guyana 2011 Calendar

Well, it’s not the first time I’ve had a photo used in a project, but this is the first time since I started a blog  🙂  I had two photographs printed in the 2010 Calendar for the Guyana National Trust.

Scotiabank (Guyana) did their 2011 Calendars through a firm called KRITI, who approached a number of photographers who had some local scenes with a slight emphasis on the skies above, be it dramatic skies, overcast skies or just beautifully clouded skies.  Of the six photographs featured, there were five “local” photographers and one foreign photographer (who lived here for two years, so he’s as local as foreigners get).

Below are some snapshots of the calendar with links to the photographer’s pages that I could get. (Click on the photos to go to the photographer’s pages)

Starting of was Nikhil’s image along the LBI (La Bonne Intention) shore,

 

Nikhil Ramkarran: LBI Foreshore

Then Dwayne Hackette’s Sunset along the Berbice River,

 

Dwayne Hackette: Sunset on the Berbice River

Phillip William’s Earth Station photograph,

 

Philip Williams: Earth Station, Carifesta Avenue, Georgetown, Guyana

Rustom Seegopaul’s Georgetown from the Harbour Bridge crossing the Demerara River

 

Rustom Seegopaul: Georgetown in the Horizon, view from the Demerara Harbour Bridge, Demerara River

My Lonesome Tree photograph from the Hamburg (Tiger Island) in the Essequibo River (taken when I shot with a Canon S5 Bridge Camera

 

Michael Lam: Lonesome Tree, Tiger Island, Essequibo River

and to top it all off with James Broscombe’s Great Balls of Fire, from the Rupununi

 

James Broscombe: Great Balls of Fire

To be absolutely frank, the image of James’ Great Balls of Fire in the calendar does not do the original photo Justice, definitely click on the image above for a good look at the photo on his blog.

It should be noted that these cover all three major rivers of Guyana, the Georgetown Coastline and the Interior.  If you are a Scotiabank Guyana customer, make sure to collect your copy  🙂

Thanks to Scotiabank and a special thanks to Sita at KRITI.

An Exhibition

 

From the gtvibes.com website

I seriously doubt that I should classify it as an exhibition, but failing to find another name for it, that’s what it was in essence.  There are a series of events held under the patronage of the local tobacco company, the Demerara Tobacco Company, where they associate their premium brand of cigarettes, Dunhill, with various forms of art, featuring local artists.  I understand that prior to the event at which I was involved, there was one where they showcased a local painter, some of his finished work as well as one he was working on at the event itself.

The event planners had shortlisted a few up-coming local photographers, you know, the ones who aren’t famous locally as yet, and we were invited to a meeting to discuss the event.  At the end of the meeting they had decided that this would most likely be the first photographic exhibition event they were doing and since both Nikhil and I had a “portfolio” each to choose from, they would like it if we did the event.  Our portfolios were originally sent to the event planners by another photographer (he’s the Professional one) Dwayne Hackett, so a big thanks to him.

At first we were flattered, and then we were panicked, as we had to choose (together with a representative from the sponsors) and print the images by the next day.

Amazingly we managed to do it all, and even helped to mount the images, with LOTS of help from the guys who work with me at the sign company (DD Signs), without their help it would not have come off, definitely not!

The event itself was….  not too bad.  It was held in the Blue Lagoon Bar at the Hotel Tower, we had to contend with lots of music from a separate event outside, the portable AC units were not doing the job of cooling the room, and we were asked to wear formal attire (I think the last time I wore a suit before that was to my sister’s wedding).  The attendance was poor, but that might have been a good thing for two very nervous photographers, we had less chance of embarrassing ourselves  🙂

We had our cameras, but they were mostly there to identify us as “The Photographers”, and I don’t think either of us took much more than a few token photographs.

For our regular readers, we decided that since we didn’t bother to actually take photographs of our photographs on display, we’d link a few here on the blog post 🙂

Nikhil’s Set

My Set

And here’s one taken by another up-and-coming photographer on the scene, Troy Parboo, in it we are graced by the presence of Ms.  Shannon de Haas, another of the short-listed photographers.

Michael, Shannon and Nikhil

It may not have been the ideal coming out party for a photographer, but it was exposure, none-the-less  🙂

Thanks for all the encouragement and well wishes folks.

The camera that took the picture. (via Bad Light, Good Light)

I agree with NIkhil on this post, so I thought it a great idea to Repost it.

I often read commentary from a photographer called Ken Rockwell, he’s considered a bit of a nut sometimes, but in this I agree with him, The Camera Doesn’t Matter. That statement may be a bit far-fetched, but when you take it in context you’ll see what he means.

The camera is a tool, just a tool in your arsenal. The photographer has to see the intended shot, set the camera to their desired settings, and compose the final image. Final image may be a bit off the mark since it still has to be processed (whether in a conventional lab or a digital setting), and in this there are “tools” as well at work.

In the old context, guns don’t shoot people, people shoot people, it’s the same with photography, cameras don’t take the photographs, the photographer does.

As for Ken’s bold statement, “The Camera Doesn’t Matter”, it’s like this; since the camera is a tool, the photographer needs to know the limitations of the tool, what it can or can’t do and work within those parameters. You can’t expect to take a point-and-shoot camera made in 2004 and shoot a perfect photo of a moving subject in low light as you probably can now with something like the Nikon D300, but if you know what type of light you get the best photos from with the camera, or if you know the type of images you’ll get with that same camera in lower light then you will know what to expect from the camera and what type of photographs you can expect to produce under those circumstances.
If I know that this old camera will produce a grainy image at night, then I’ll pick a suitable subject and use the grainyness to advantage, maybe by using a sepia type conversion for an “old look” to it.

Again, you can use the old saying, a good workman doesn’t blame his tools, know your tools and what they can do and work within the parameters.

A better camera will not necessarily give you a “better” photograph, but it will be different, it may be clearer, larger, more details maybe, but not necessarily better. You will never see the same scene exactly the same way twice, so you need to make the best use of the tools at your disposal to get the best photo at that time.

The camera that took the picture. Quite often someone sees a photograph of mine and the comment that follows is some variation on; “Hey that is a great photo, what camera do you use?” Different photographers take this question differently, some take great offense, others are more pragmatic. The reason some take offense is because this is the equivalent of asking Michelangelo what brush he used to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. The analogy is exaggerated, of course, for effec … Read More

via Bad Light, Good Light