Big Sky

I wonder… when the old poets and song-writers wrote of the wide-open spaces in the Wild West if they resembled the savannahs and mountainous areas of our own Guyana in any way…

It’s probably hard to imagine, but I used a wide-angled lens on this, cropped slightly on the left for composition purposes.  I figure unless you’re standing there you wouldn’t feel it…

Those are two small trees on the hillside (mountaintop) and all around them are rocks of varying sizes and the tough mountain grass that grow between the rocks in the hard top-soil.  And just a large expansive sky above.  The scene was bathed in the after-noon sunlight.


Big Sky 16-1679  |  Canon EOS 60D. Sigma 10-20mm  |  2016


Meanwhile, in the opposite direction, looking more West, it was a bit more cloudy, but with the sun still glaring through the clouds, and the valleys and mountains rolling into the distance.  Same Camera, same lens.  🙂


Big Country 16-1677  |  Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 10-20mm  |  2016


Click on the images to see them in their respective Galleries.


2015 Deck – Week 31

I had mentioned somewhere (might have been Facebook) that as artists (photographer, artist… whatever) we find the strangest subjects to focus our attention upon.

This photo and the way I took it is nothing new, others have done it before, many others will do it again, but I like it!


Canon EOS 60D  |  Sigma 10-20mm  |  1/160s at f/9.0, ISO100

Annandale, East Coast Demerara, Guyana


Click on the image to see it in the Gallery along with other images from this year’s Deck Project

2015 Deck – Week 20

I’m using this blog-post to express some opinions.  No one has to agree with me, or even bother reading, you can skip to the photo 🙂

Guyana’s Sound  –  recently there has been talk about developing a unique sound for Guyana, someone was even telling me that there was talk about using the Ringbang name –  I say stop right there!!  For one thing, Ringbang is not Guyanese, it’s Caribbean, it’s more encompassing than what most Guyanese think and it is not “we own” (I know, Ringbang is Eddy Grant’s creation, and while he is “we own” the idea behind Ringbang was regional and not local).   Not many people might remember that Guyana actually had a sound, a unique style of music that died off as suddenly as it was born… and all before our time, it was called Shanto, and the man responsible for its popularity was Bill Rogers, while I don’t remember all the songs I do recall the Fifteen Cent Sweetheart and BG Baghee.  Another identifiable style was that of David Campbell, very folk oriented and probably unknown to most Guyanese living here…  Our world-famous artistes all sing or trade on existing genres, and they do it well.  Eddy Grant is arguably our most famous musician outside of our borders, I think most Guyanese can name at least two of his songs (which in itself is a tragedy, melodically the albums were very good; lyrically, let’s just say that Guyanese should really listen to more of his tracks than just Electric Avenue and Johanna).  Dave Martins is likely the most well-known and well liked, it is not uncommon that people know the lyrics of his popular songs perhaps even better than he does, his music speaks to us as a nation, we identify with it, is we own.  Is it a unique sound?  That is hard for me to say, it is calypso and folk, and a lot of Dave.  Our newer artistes like Natural Black, Timeka Marshall, Jomo, Adrian Dutchin and Slingshot all sing in the reggae, dancehall and soca genres (with some R&B influences), the ever popular Terry Gajraj and similar artistes of the Chutney field did very well for a period.   There was a period in the 1980s when there were a lot of Bands, and while many were mostly cover bands some were striving to get original songs on the airwaves and played publicly; these included the Yoruba Singers (out of which came Charmaine Blackman), Mingles Sound Machine and EC Connection, to my ear, EC Connection had a different sound to many other performing bands across the region, likely due to the compositions of Burchmore Simon.  Here’s my opinion on the Guyana Sound that we seem to be looking for, you can’t necessarily develop it, it has to be born then nurtured; encourage musicians to create, encourage them to be the drive that the industry needs, this is where the DJs come in, they simply play more to the imported music, understandable, but they need to be creative themselves and help make the sounds of Guyanese heard here.

I was going to try posing a “plan” for a weekly event for musicians, but that will have to be a different forum I think…

Another local blogger raised a question recently asking about where or when is Guyana’s Renaissance happening…   I think it is now.

We are living in a time of change, of relative hardship, of freedom of expression, of creativity.  Nothing is going to be handed to us, so stop expecting the government to give you something, or the corporations to want to give you contracts just because you say you’re an artist.  The arts collectively cannot have one plan to do this together, that is impractical, the needs and the development of each genre is different and diverse, but I also say we cannot each do it alone, we must be supportive of the other, to work together when possible, and to let creativity be the driving force as individuals, but the love for art be the driving force collectively.

Copyright and Intellectual Property rights are always touted as the factor that hinders the arts from progressing, while I agree that it forms a basis upon which the artists can earn from their work, the lack of proper legislation should not stop us from creating.  There is always a lot of talk about IP legislation, but little action, I have yet to see a group of advocates put forward the writings that may form the basis of any legislation, but I may be in error on this.  I think that now is the time for these advocates to act, to put forward the documents, the artists are eager to give voice.

This is the time of our Renaissance, we have musicians eager to perform with some breaking through, we have writers eager to be published, we have performance artists making headway on stage and on-screen, we have painters, sculptors, photographers and every type of visual artist expressing themselves daily through their work.  To everyone in the Visual arts, the performing arts and the literary arts, I say it is time to create, to get your work out there, we are the artists of Guyana’s Renaissance.


Geotube Groyne – Thomaslands, Georgetown.


If this photo has anything at all to do with what I’ve written is entirely up to each reader, if you are a member of the creative people of Guyana or simply like to see the works of the creatives, ask yourself what element would you be in this image…

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery along with the other photos for this year’s Deck Project.


2015 Deck – Week 16

I was wondering why I found this particular photo appealing… not great, just appealing… then realized my eyes kept following the branches all over the place like a maze, or one of those optical illusion drawings that keep looping back impossibly onto itself.

It’s just a tree, one that was uprooted on the seawalls, and even though the roots are above ground, it just refuses to die 🙂


Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 10-20mm  |  10mm, 1/160s, f/8.0, ISO 100


Click on the image to see it in the Gallery

Tree

Georgetown, the Garden City; our fair city, once replete with Victorian and Colonial architecture, dutch built and inspired drainage canals reminiscent of European cities, and tree-lined streets and avenues, now laughingly referred to by it’s denizens as the Garbage City, floods with the slightest rain, governed (I use that word as loosely as is possible) by a city council that was elected two decades ago (although faces have changed, but not through any democratic process that I know of), and, sadly, losing it’s trees through neglect, sabotage, and lack of foresight (or hindsight it seems).

Most of the trees lining our streets predate us, they were planted, nurtured and cared for by colonial masters (and slaves) before our independence, before the Republic came into being, before self-governance and the long road that led to where we are today.

As we have travelled that road through time, our leaders, our people, we ourselves have forgotten or ignored what it was, what it is that makes Georgetown a place we want to live in, to visit, to be proud of…  We as people, are not as welcoming as we should be, we as humans are not as caring of our environment as we should be.

Saving or replanting trees is not THE answer, but it’s a small part, one that is likely to go unnoticed or ignored.

Yesterday, Kamal Ramkarran wrote (on his own family’s place in our past and present):

As clichéd as it is, the lives of the six generations who followed them is the history of Guyana (from 1875 anyhow). All of us from here are, in a very real way, part of the history of this country. The history of Guyana is our own story, whether we know that story or not.

Since we are part of the story then, the story happening around us and through us, it ought to follow that we should make ourselves responsible for its present and future, just as we try to make ourselves responsible for the present and future of our own lives.

What part are we playing?  Will what we do stand the test of time as those trees still standing attest to the work and acre of our predecessors/ancestors?


2013 |  Tree in St Joseph Ursuline Convent compound, Camp and Church Streets.


Technically, the tree is in the portion of the compound now housing the St Angela’s primary school, the Ursuline compound also houses the St Rose’s Secondary School.  Schools once run by the Ursuline Sisters, but were “nationalised” under the PNC government.

On the Beach

When taken from a low perspective with an utra-wide-angle lens, scenes take on a different look 🙂

The bright whites at the top of the wood are harsh reflections from the one o’clock sun.

Canon EOS 60D  |  Sigma 10-20mm  |  1/125s, 10mm, f/8, ISO 100


Click on the image to see it in the Black and White Gallery, along with many others in my Black and White Collection.

2013 Deck – Week 02

During week two of this year, I actually used at least three of my lenses, including the ultra-wide Sigma 10-20mm.  On Friday, Fidal had arranged that we meet for a drink near Ogle, but before we went,  he and Rosh suggested we go to the seawall nearby to get in a few shots 🙂 (we were joined by Savita and TJ, if you must know)

As it turned out, that was a pretty good idea, there was a lovely sky above and some unusual streaming clouds (probably from the jets passing), and I got down into the grass to get a low perspective shot.



While processing it I remembered a song that I probably hadn’t heard since I was much younger, I had come across it on an LP my father had, it was called “Grazing in the Grass” by Friends of Distinction; it was one of those 70s songs, and I didn’t understand the lyrics then, and I don’t quite understand them now (yes I went and listened to it again), but then, I probably need to be high on something for those lyrics to make sense to me.  You can check the song out for yourself  🙂

As always, click on the image to see it in the Gallery.

Working With Wides

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.


Seascape

Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.

– Hiroshi Sugimoto

In 1980 Sugimoto began working on a series of Seascapes from around the world, he uses different exposure times (sometimes up to three hours) and he composes them with the horizon bisecting the photograph.  Oh, he uses an old-fashioned large format camera to do this, serious stuff!

Sugimoto I’m not, but his reflection on how the view of the sea affects him made me thing of all the times I’ve visited our own Seawall, and even when the tide is high and the waves are rough, there’s a sense of sereneness that permeates me, calms me and makes me forget my worries.  His last phrase there also reminds me of how we often stand (or sit) and face the waters and stare out to sea, as if in a daydream, “on a voyage of seeing”.

I won’t try to mimic his work, but the simplicity of his work made me wonder if I could try a simple seascape, something without the occasional boat or human element, or the rocks along a shore.

This image was taken in the afternoon, and I processed it using Nik Silver Efex, with an orange filter for effect.

Click on the image for a better view in the Gallery, along with others in the Black and White series.

2012 Deck – Week 32

I was driving up the East Coast Demerara Public Road and noticed the lovely blue skies, as I was alongside the seawall, I decided to stop and just take a look over the wall to see if there was anything that might catch my eye, that would make a good photo.  Although I thought that I already had a good photo for the week, I still wanted to see, and I think I was lucky, I was down on the other side looking at a very clear ocean, with just a few poles sticking out of the mud and thought that I had better jump back in the car, when I noticed the coconut,

I switched lenses to the ultra-wide Sigma 10-20, and tried out a few shots, and this one appealed to me.  I hope it pleases some of you too  🙂

For a better view, click on the image to see it in the Gallery, along with many other photos, this one is in the Seawall Gallery  🙂