alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘Thoughts’

Another year over – a time to reflect and consider.

My first post of 2019.

Another year over and a time to reflect on the past 12 months and consider what the next 12 months might bring.

2018 was not my most productive year from a photographic point of view. I had plenty of ideas but simply couldn’t settle on what it was I wanted to achieve. Projects came and went, although none have been discarded altogether. Perhaps other distractions in my life simply prevented me from being able to devote the time or concentrate my mind on any one particular line of thought.

I can’t be certain but I hope this year will be different. By the time December comes round again I would like to be able to look back and say that 2019 has been a good year and that 2018 was simply a quieter and less creative period. A passage of time when my internal batteries needed recharging, so filling me with fresh enthusiasm to make new photographs in the year which lies ahead.

The image which accompanies this post was taken in the past few days and is I believe, one which somehow metaphorically reflects the past year. A vacant plastic garden chair, out of place, overlooking a deserted creek at low tide. An empty space, ready to accept the incoming tide of fresh ideas coupled with renewed enthusiasm. A still, quiet place ideally suited to the mind being contemplative and receptive to whatever the future may hold.

Wherever you are in the world may I wish you a peaceful, healthy and happy New Year. With my thanks as always for reading my blog.

The Exhibition Expedition

Definitions

“Exhibition” a public display of works of art or items of interest, held in an art gallery or museum or at a trade.
“Expedition” a journey undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration and research.

These definitions are in my view an excellent summary of The Image Circle Exhibition which took place at The Oxmarket in Chichester last month.

A number of weeks have now passed and I have had time to look back on what was a very successful, albeit quite an exhausting experience.

Let me start at the beginning. The Image Circle is a group of six like minded photographers all with an interest in outdoor photography, whether that be landscapes or nature. None of us had exhibited before, so 15 months ago we booked our slot at The Oxmarket Centre of Arts and began our preparation. A logo for the group was devised, a website set up and then individually we went about deciding what to exhibit, and how the pictures should be presented and framed. We also had to divide the gallery space so that we were all happy with our allocated hanging area. Marketing the event was also a major consideration but I’ll come back to that later.

The six of us met regularly during the year and in the week before the exhibition final details were discussed and agreed. We arrived early on the first day to set everything up, hang and label our pictures. We had also arranged a private view for that evening having invited family, friends, other acquaintances and contacts.

Oxmarket Exhibition-2

Pictures packed and ready for transportation to the gallery

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The Road Ahead, Isle of Mull – and life in general

Roads, tracks or paths all lead somewhere, albeit some do reach a dead end. In many ways they can be symbolic of life in general. We are all on a path of some description, and none of us truly know where it might lead. If we knew what lay round every corner or over every hill, life would in fact be rather dull.

We often encounter junctions and therefore choices. Which direction do we take? Only the passage of time will prove to us whether or not it was the right decision. Many days, months or even years may have to be pass before we can look back and reflect, and by then it is often too late to retrace our steps. Is there light or darkness ahead? Are we excited or nervous to be on the path we now travel?

I know I am getting rather philosophical, but following early retirement from the property industry last year, I continued working as a consultant for just over a year. However this too comes to a natural end tomorrow, the 30th June. It is perhaps a little strange or ironic that on the following day, the 1st of July, I will be exhibiting my work for the first time.

None of this was planned, it is just how things have worked out; just like this image which I made recently. After a rather dull start to the day on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, this wet single track road was suddenly lit by a little brightness in the sky. The car had to be stopped and a photograph taken. The view on the other side of the hill was spectacular………….. and I will share that picture with you in another post, on another day.

For now though my life has taken a different direction, and I am very happy to be on this new path. Who knows where it might lead in the future? There can be no certainty, only guesswork to the answer; but one thing is for sure, I am looking forward to finding out.

Main Exit – dissecting the visual components of a photograph

Main Exit

Main Exit

I often ask myself the question – ‘Why does a photograph interest me and hold my attention for more than a few nano seconds? What are the various components of the image that make it visually appealing to me and maybe to others?’

In answer to these questions I thought I would try and dissect the key elements of this photograph which I have called – Main Exit. Do click on the image to view a larger version as this will help you see all the detail in the picture.

To begin, the image is monochrome; obvious I know, but a colour image of the same picture simply wouldn’t be as interesting. This shot is all about tone, texture, contrast and the overall composition. Colour would be a distraction. There is though a subtle tone which has been applied in post processing, which may not be immediately apparent.

The main focal point is the man in the top right hand corner walking into the building. We can’t see all of his body or his head, but we do see a reflection of his pale jacket and he stands out against the dark background. White on black will always draw the eye. He is framed within a dark square which ties in well with the square crop of the image itself. It’s virtually a picture within a picture.

A square crop doesn’t always work but in this example I think it enhances the overall composition. There is a strong diagonal lead in line from the bottom left hand corner which takes your eye to the main subject of the picture. There are paler lines in the ground which also lead the eye. These are in contrast to the vertical lines of the modern windows. The ground also slopes upwards, so that the metal base of the building narrows to a point where it meets the man. This aids perspective and adds to the sense of depth.

Reflections always provide visual interest because they distort reality. The older buildings are all askew, there is half a car and half a waste bin. Behind the glass there is a person sitting down  which begs the question as to what’s inside and the purpose of the building itself.

Top right there is a sign which says ‘Main Exit’ but the arrow points in the opposite direction to the man entering the building – has he gone through the wrong door?

As well as being a contrasty image there is also the visual contrast of the new and old buildings, the young person behind the window and the older person walking through the door. The contrast in texture between the ground and the mirror like surface of the windows.

Lastly a border has been added to provide a frame round the image.

For me it makes a visually appealing image, as the sum of all the component parts make for an intriguing story, complete with different textures and tones, all held together by strong compositional and geometric elements as well.

I have found this exercise beneficial and I hope you have enjoyed my ‘dissection’ of a photograph interesting. Arguably the approach could work just as well on images that you don’t like, as well as the ones that do. It’s worth a try.

 

 

 

 

My new camera – an iPhone 6S – a useful photographer’s sketchbook

Most photographers will be familiar with the saying – ‘The best camera is the one you have with you’. I can’t disagree with this adage but just how good are smartphones as a true photographic tool? Let me say rather swiftly that this is not intended to be a review of my recent upgrade from the iPhone5 to the iPhone 6S, but merely a selection of images and a few opinions of my own about the value of taking images with a mobile phone. I hope you will find my thoughts interesting.

 

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The iPhone 6S now boasts a 12mp sensor, so it’s no wonder that the use of smartphones have stolen a huge number of sales from the compact camera market in recent years. (Click on this link to a page on Flickr which only confirms what most of us already know about the use of camera-phones). However I am all too aware that more megapixels doesn’t necessarily equal better quality pictures. The biggest factor is always going to be the person taking the shot, not the equipment being used, but that’s a topic for another day!

The four images in this post were all taken in the past few weeks whilst out and about walking our dog. I have never found it easy to multi task and keep one eye on the subject being photographed and the other eye on the dog, just in case he gets bored and runs off out of sight. So a quick shot is really all the time I have. The pictures have been imported into Lightroom from the iPhone 6S and then converted to black and white. Some limited post processing has been used to enhance each image if only to prove to myself what is possible with the jpeg files.

 

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So what are my thoughts? Well the results are pretty remarkable all things considered. The iPhone 6S has coped well with some high contrast conditions and to a certain extent the files are flexible in post processing. There isn’t much detail in the shadows but it’s unquestionably a better performer than the iPhone 5. They are certainly good enough for posting on the web which is where the vast majority of images now end up. What I would say is that the quality deteriorates significantly when zooming in, so it’s arguably better to take a ‘full size’ image and then crop in post. Would I want to make an A4 or even an A3 size print? – I haven’t tried, it would be an interesting exercise but I doubt I would be happy with quality, however I might be pleasantly surprised.

 

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I enjoy taking pictures on my phone but for now it will never replace any of the cameras I take so much pleasure in using. For me the camera-phone is the equivalent of an artist’s sketchbook. Something which is very portable and convenient to have with me at all times. Something I can use to make a visual record of a particular location. Something to inspire me and to think about when considering a return visit. A photographer’s sketchbook – most definitely yes, and a very good one at that. A replacement for my cameras with interchangeable lenses and the ability to shoot in RAW – no way, but still worth having with me at all times – if only to make the odd phone call!