Not sure why I like this recent image so much but I do! From a recent wandering in one of the local forests.
Author Archives: nixonphoto
Looking at Pictures – Sea of Japan, Oki (307), 1987 Hiroshi Sugamoto
I am fascinated by the ocean, it’s ever changing moods and the possibilities that it offers. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy Hiroshi Sugamoto’s Seascape images so much.
I’ve been thinking about composition and how to use the psychology of how we see to make stronger images. This is something that I first came across in Vincent Versace’s Books (also see here).
Vincent teaches us that:
‘The unconscious eye “sees” in a predictable manner. It first recognizes light areas and then moves to dark ones, sees high before low contrast, records high before low sharpness, notices focus before blur, and focuses on high color saturation before low.’
I feel like the seascape images ignore the ‘rules’ of composition but still manages to hold a space for us to look deeply and remain engaged with the image. In the Sea of Japan image above I find that my eye is drawn immediately to the horizon line and then explores that dark shapes in the ocean surface before being drawn back to the horizon line. Then the whole process repeats.
I do wonder whether these images work better as stand alone images or as part of a series where you get to experience the ever changing moods of the sea.
How about you? How do you see this image? Do you prefer a stand-alone or the series?
A Belated Happy July 4th!
Any day that you get to shoot off some fireworks has to be a good one!
Friday Inspiration: Lori Vrba
Being ‘geographically restricted’ for the last 18 months or so has forced many of us to either stope making photographs or shift our thinking. For me that has been a deeper dive into subject matter that is close to home. What I have come to realize of course is that I would make the same photographs regardless of whether I had travelled 5 miles or 5,000. It’s just how I’m wired.
I’ve also been thinking about how people work close to home but make stunningly original work. One person I came across was Lori Vrba. Originally from Texas, Lori moved to North Carolina about 14 years ago. With that move came a shift in perspective and some really imaginative photographs.
I often think about the subject matter and process and how they inform one another. Does Lori make the images she makes because she uses film and traditional darkroom processes? Would she be off in a different direction if she were to switch to digital? I suspect we’re not likely to find out any time soon, the magic of film and the darkroom (her new darkroom!) pull too strongly.
Check out the flip through of Lori’s book ‘The Moth Wing Diaries’ below and see more of her work on her website here.
I’ve been off on a tangent this afternoon instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing.
I was thinking about how much fun it is to know more about things – whether it be how to read a picture or how to make and taste coffee. The more we know the richer our experience is. It reminded me of the Richard Feynman anecdote about the beauty of a flower. Check it out in the video below and in the link here.
School’s Out For Summer!
I’m shocked to find myself in the summer holidays. Where did the year go? My kids are now rattling around the house looking for things to do. If I were them I would want to spend my time in The Music Shed with David Morgan.
Instead I’m finding myself swamped with multifarious commitments and obligations making doing the things that I want to do a challenge.
Photography seems harder in the summer, trees are less interesting when they are fully clothed and blogging is taking a back seat.
How about you? Ready for a summer break?
Friday Inspiration: Peter Bohlin
When I get the feeling that I want to run away and join the circus, something that happens once or twice a year, I start looking at artist residency opportunities. My usual preference is for something in Japan. When I was looking at available residencies earlier this week I came across the program at Tusen Takk. Which in turn led me to the architect Peter Bohlin, who designed and built the house and studio space.
I have an appreciation for the ‘art’ in all disciplines and architecture is a particular love. Reading about Tusen Takk Peter Bohlin’s resume stood out – the architect behind the apple store and Pixar’s headquarters among many other projects.
Bohlin grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where his firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has it’s headquarters. He trained at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and Cranbook Academy of Art in Michigan before opening his architecture firm. He came to public prominence when he had the opportunity to partner with James Cutler on the design of Bill Gates Mansion.
To learn more about Peter’s approach check out the videos below – you will have to click on the link in the second one to be transported to YouTube.
Looking at Pictures: Orsa, Dalarna, April 12, 2013 – Jan Töve
I’m looking at Jan Töve’s ‘Faraway/Nearby’ book the image above stood out to me. I was surprised that this image wasn’t on his website as part of the portfolio for this work. Hence the wonky image above snapped from the appropriate page in the book.
What goes on in this building? At first glance I thought that it looked like a grain silo but then there seems to be more going on.
I’m still working on articulating why this caught my eye. Certainly the color palette – I like the muted red and especially the blue. I find that I’m drawn to blues like this more broadly. The graphic form is also something that appeals to me, both the shape of the building and also the negative space that it makes. The diagonal line to the upper right and lower left give the image a bit of movement. Finally the mix of textures is also appealing to me.
Why did Jan take this picture? What do you make of it?
Looking at Pictures
I was listening to an interview this morning with Paul Sanders of the website ‘Discover Still‘. Paul was formerly the picture editor for The Times newspaper in the UK. In his job he estimates that he was looking at at least 10-20,000 pictures a day and on the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding over 100,000 pictures. That is a lot of pictures!
As photographers looking at pictures, being able to read them and then talk about them is an important part of our development. It is important to be able to move beyond I like this and I don’t like that, even more so if we are to critique our own work or that of others with the intention of making stronger photographs.
I have been looking for a simple framework that will allow me to move further on my journey of looking at and reading photographs. I was excited to come across the workshop in the video below presented by Eileen Rafferty where she describes the system that she uses. Take a look at the video below and let’s talk about it. How do you look at pictures? Do you have a structured process? Is it useful for you to talk about what you’re seeing and feeling in images?
Is Something Better Than Nothing?
We’re rapidly heading towards the end of the school year here. With it will come celebrations and changes in routines.
One of the things the kids do in the local elementary school here is to have an end of year play. It was a remarkable effort – the kids were split into small groups, did their lines separately in front of a green screen and then the whole thing was cut together afterwards. I was impressed what the teachers were able to do.
Listening to my daughter though it sounded like there had been some grousing but parents that didn’t think it was up to standard. Putting my thoughts about that to one side, it made me think about whether producing something in challenging circumstances, if it’s not up to your usual standard, is worth it.
What do you think about that? I have mixed feelings and I think that there’s a place for it all – it’s about how you frame the conversation.
I think that we should ruthlessly curate our work to create a portfolio that we’re proud of. As we continue to work, rather than add and grow the body of work that we present to the world we should edit so that we are only showing our best work in our portfolio.
I think that there’s also plenty of room now to show work in progress, behind the scenes and other raw ideas. Personally this is something that I’m interested in and thing that it adds rather than detracts. Good fodder for blogs, posts/stories on instagram and other platforms. What about you? Do you share works in progress? Do you think it devalues the images in your portfolio?