2012 Deck – Week 52

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think this is the way to spend the last weekend of the year, with family and family friends, relaxing near a pool, sleeping under the stars (in a tent), far away from town, and I have my camera, spare batteries and spare memory cards  🙂



Click on the image above to see it in the Gallery along with all the other images for the 2012 Deck Project.

Reflecting on the year, it’s been great in some areas, specifically Photography.  Even though my personal photography has not been great this year, and by that I mean I am not happy with the overall amount and scope of the photos that I have taken this year, it’s been a great year for my photography in the following ways;

Neil Marks lobbied and secured for Nikhil and myself the opportunity to exhibit some of our work in a joint exhibition at the National Art Gallery (Castellani House) early this year; our involvement in the Guyana Photographer’s group has brought us into contact with many many talented local photographers, and we have seen the group blossom and grow under the guidance of the Admins and our fearless leader Fidal; the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport revived the biennial art competition (after a 20 year absence) and included Photography as one of the new categories, in which Nikhil won Gold, Sharon won Silver and I won the Bronze medal, I had a photo of mine selected to be used as the Cover Image for Caribbean Beat, the official magazine of Caribbean Airlines (an MEP Publication), and three local firms are using a few of my images in their 2013 Calendars.

If my count is correct this is my 300th Blog post, also an achievement, since I never thought I’d have anything to write that anyone would want to read…of course, the photos help!  🙂  Now, I just have to make 2013 count!  🙂

Have a great Old Year’s Night, and a very happy and prosperous New Year in 2013.

2012 Deck – Week 42

Sometimes, in any art form, you have to break away from the norm, step away from the straight and narrow line that you’ve followed all along, and try something different.

I’ve broken the rule about shooting into the sun before, so this is not new…. but trying to get the palm tree and horse as the focus while doing so was different for me, and even then I was not ecstatic about it, when processing, I went for a duotone processing that I don’t do, and I though that the result was pleasing.

Although the original duotone processing had much more colour to it, I toned it down a bit to bring the focus back to the photo rather than the duotone, and the result; “sunset Liliendaal” 🙂

sunset Liliendaal

Click on the image for a better view in the Gallery!

2012 Deck – Week 37

I have a few rules or guidelines that I try to abide by in my photography, and I’m not referring to the Rule of thirds or Rules of composition, I’m referring to ones that will guide me as a photographer and help me to get those photos that I want.

Rule #2:  STOP and take the shot

Many times we regret not stopping, for one reason or another, to take the “shot” that we could see in our mind; we saw it, we thought of how to compose it, maybe even how to process it afterwards, but unless we actually stopped and took the shot, everything else is supposition and a wasted opportunity.

I was driving down the Railway Embankment heading home and saw the colours in the sky developing into what could be a lovely sunset, I saw the clouds low on the horizon and the sun dipping towards them and I knew I had to take a photo of it.

A photo of a sunset, is a photo of a sunset, unless you have something else in the photo that adds interest, then its just a photo of a sunset, and there’s a million of those.  As I was driving down, looking for something to use in the foreground, I remembered the Chimney at Chateau Margot, and quickly diverted towards the main Public Road.  As chance would have it, I ended up behind some slow moving traffic and could not get to the spot as quickly as I’d have liked, but I got there, didn’t try to change lenses, but grabbed what was there and just shot a few exposures to get it.

Although I could have gotten the sky as I saw it earlier, from the road with houses around and utility wires all over the frame, I spent a few precious minutes to get to a spot I felt better about, and I think I can live with that  🙂

Click on the image above for a better view in the Gallery.

Dump

I can’t remember where we were going this day, but I do remember wanting to get the photograph, although we were quite a distance away, so I used the long telephoto to quickly snap this.

This is where the City’s garbage dump meets the Body Dump, or more respectfully called the Le Repentir Cemetery.

The smoke was drifting across from the burning garbage (it apparently spontaneously combusts periodically), the excavator was clearing some paths and moving some garbage, and the birds were just hanging around for the “disturbed” earth and garbage.  🙂

Click on the image for a better view in the Gallery!

Worth Saving

Some things are worth saving.

A friendship of many years is certainly worth saving, after a while you get to the point where an argument is just an argument, not a reason for “falling out”.

A job is worth saving, especially when there are fewer to find and when you have more to think about than just yourself,

Memories, as in letters and photos, video-clips and newspaper clippings, are worth saving, it is a record of the things we’ve done, things we’ve seen, and it becomes a story to tell our children and grand-children.

In this century (and the end of the last) there’s a great movement to save our forests, certainly worth saving if we intend to continue to breathe.

Endangered species are worth saving, why let a species go extinct because of the actions (or inaction) of another species, especially when we (humans) may be the main cause of their dwindling numbers.

Recently, there’s been a movement (championed by Annette Arjoon-Martins) to save the mangroves that form part of our sea-defence, I certainly don’t want my house washed away because people burn garbage in the mangrove areas, destroying our first line of sea-defence, so that is certainly worth saving.

I think most people may agree with much of what I’ve mentioned, many more will have other things to add to this list, but is a building worth saving?  Is a building that is older than any of us, that has seen more mayors than we have fingers, that is one of the few remaining structures of its kind, that is a reminder of our colonial history worth saving?

Should we let the markers of our heritage, the work of the hands of our ancestors, the beauty of a golden age, fall into disrepair,slowly disappear and be forgotten?

Clink on the photo above to see it in the Gallery, along with other photos from around Georgetown, Guyana.

Exposures on the Beach

Most times when I experiment with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, it is usually a static scene, with very little chance of movement between exposures, in as little of the scene as possible, like my recent Bamboo Grove image, this is to reduce ghosting and blurring in the final image, however, I do sometimes go for some scenes where there is movement, but these don’t always work out.

Last year I tried one and liked the results enough to use it for my Deck Project for the 19th Week, and whilst in Barbados I tried one down at the beach.  At the beach there was more movement that I’d have liked, with “everyone” in the water moving about.  As usual, I don’t try to be too ambitious, so I stuck with my usual three exposures for an HDR, each at about 2ev difference.

Using Nik HDR Efex Pro, I manipulated the ghost reduction feature until I had as little ghosting from the bobbing heads in the water that was possible  🙂  There’s really only one reason I chose this scene to try an HDR, the clouds!  🙂

Click on the image for a better view in the Gallery.

You can follow me on Facebook as well, I won’t refuse any “Likes” on my page  🙂

https://www.facebook.com/TheMichaelLamCollection

A hunt for Photos

By the fourth day of the reunion I had gotten so far into the Family mode that as I was hunting through the photos from that day I noticed that I had only taken three photos that were not of the family at the reunion  🙂   So that’s what you’ll see today, those three photographs.

There’s a bridge that crosses a pool area between the “entertainment” section of the hotel and the “dining “ area of the hotel, it’s a Genuine Rope bridge, but with wide wooden planks for the base to walk on, many of the children (yes, and some adults too) quite enjoyed bouncing across the bridge to have it sway a bit  🙂

For some reason I took a photograph of a portion of a Palm Tree’s trunk, with the rock formations in the background, I blame Nikhil, he does this kind of stuff all the time, juxtaposing one thing in front of the other!

That evening we were sitting near the poolside and I took a photo just “to take a photo”, This area photographed is the general area where we sat and ate most of our meals, it is part of the buffet dining area, where every meal was a spread!

Chaos to Calm

Third day of the full reunion, we visited the famous Dunn’s River Falls, and the tour guides split us up into two groups (we were apparently too large a number to keep together, especially with other tourists there too  🙂  )  In their introduction the guides said that there were two famous waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls and Dunn’s River Falls, ALL the Guyanese in the group said without hesitation “KAIETEUR FALLS”, after giving us a look that could curdle milk in the goat, he ignored us and carried on with his “talk”  🙂

I didn’t mind a talk about safety on the falls, but when I have to start chanting “hot hot hot” and “wet wet wet”, and have to answer tour guides questions on camera, when all I want to do is enjoy the climb, I can get testy, I didn’t go for the Kumbaya and to make the guides look good on camera, especially when all the notices going down had a number of warnings for climbers and at the very top was “Anyone climbing the Falls to so at their own risk”, so kept thinking to myself “back off Rasta, and let me climb”

The guides were only interested in getting photos and video of their groups to “sell” to you after the climb, safety was the last thing on their mind.  Our group got separated numerous times, members fell, and even had slight injuries.

At the beginning of the climb, from the bottom of the falls, there were at least five groups of people trying to climb the same section, simultaneously…  The first stop they made was at a “pool” in the falls where they got small groups (families etc) to get in (it was fun!) and smile and wave for the camera  🙂  It was all for their camera, this was the photo they’d try to sell you when you reached the top!  Yes I’m complaining, and I’m a photographer!  Here’s one Andre took at that point  🙂

An Andre Lam photo

I prefer his photo, not because it is better (which it is), but because he didn’t twist my arm to take it, and he didn’t twist my other arm to buy it  🙂

Remember I mentioned the groups of people trying to climb simultaneously?  Here’s a photo of a (relatively) calm spot, now go pick out the groups, remember that each group has two “guides”, one has on a blue shirt (he’s the official guide) and the other has on a yellow shirt (he’s the one with the video camera, who will disappear halfway up to go make the DVD)  🙂

Somewhere before this point (after my daughter had fallen and was saved by my cousin Nyuk-Lan in true action hero fashion, and my father had fallen twice, a few of us departed the falls, and I took over Andre’s camera to get some shots in, I really have to get more experience on strange cameras, I got fewer good ones than I’d hoped  🙂

Being totally fed-up with the guides, Nyuk-Lan led a team of rebels on their own merry way up the falls, including a section that was obviously being avoided by the guides and their groups, and it made for a few lovely photos  🙂

After all that, getting back to the hotel and it’s pools was relaxing  🙂   Joan had made reservations at La Diva Italian Restaurant, while waiting for dinner we noticed what was going to be a lovely sunset, both Andre and I headed out (while the servers were serving the appetizers) to take a few photos.  The sight of the two of us taking photos seemed to have spurred numerous diners in other restaurants to do the same, and heading back to the restaurant, Andre noticed numerous people on their room balconies with their cameras too  🙂

From my seat in the restaurant, I noticed the colour of the sky contrasting nicely with the lighting in the restaurant area  🙂

Tourist Shoppers

Most of my photography from this day (18th July) was of a family gathering in the evening (those photos I’ll save for the family rather than subjecting everyone to them)  🙂  Earlier, I had accompanied the ladies (my wife, my cousin and my sister) into a shopping area not far from the hotel where we were staying, I think the Jamaican vendors on this side of the coast are the most persistent and persuasive vendors I’ve come across, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be walking by a stall and suddenly be inside it without knowing what happened  🙂

I didn’t do much photography in the shops/arcades, but I stepped away from the shopping every once in a while to snag a few shots. The first one I’m not too happy with but I couldn’t let that Schwinn bicycle pass  🙂

This one I believe is of the old Fire Station in Ocho Rios.

Here’s a bunch of thinkers 🙂

A Tourist trap (a more appealing shopping area)

And on the way back I tried a photo of the hotel before entering the gates  🙂

South to North

Before departing from the Kingston Area to begin the Family Reunion in Ocho Rios, my dad thought that getting a photograph of everyone who were in the Kingston area would be a good idea, so after everyone had eaten some breakfast, packed their bags and were ready to go, we all got together for the group photo.

I was hoping to do some photography whilst on the drive over, but the high grasses after the recent rains and a few other adverse conditions made that a bit impractical  🙂  I did manage to snag a photo of a vendor’s stand with some of the fruits out front during a brief stop.

One of the areas we drove through was Fern Gulley, but photographs can’t tell that story, you have to take the drive through yourself, but I took one of the curving road and the enclosing ferns to give the general idea, this spot had a nice window in the canopy above for extra light, many other sections did not, the ferns would enclose the road and create a lovely rainforest feel.

Once at the hotel, we checked in, went for lunch, then to find our rooms, We had chosen the mountain view option rather than the ocean view rooms, just to save a few dollars  🙂  This is part of the view from our room, not too bad  🙂

After some afternoon swimming (or more like wading in the pool), we were taking a walk to see the Gazebo at the ocean’s edge and I snagged a few more photos, after that it was dinner and bed 🙂  Not a bad day overall.