Friday Inspiration: Peter Eastway

Peter Eastway

I wanted to continue the Friday Inspiration series looking at the work of the Ninety Degrees Five photographers. Up this week is Peter Eastway.

My introduction to the ND5 group was actually through Peter Eastway. I’ve been a subscriber of Better Photography, the magazine that he edits and publishes, for a very long time now and have enjoyed his various online tutorials. In fact as I was thinking over the summer about the options we have as photographers to express our voice Peter’s work came immediately to mind. I essentially decided that there were two places in which your voice can shine through – in the subjects you choose to photograph and then how you choose to process those images. Peter has a really unique style that, to my mind at least, is largely achieved through his post-processing work. In particular I feel that he has developed a a distinct and unifying color palette, perhaps not intentionally, through the consistent use of a particular set of tools in photoshop. The masterclass tutorials show you his process in detail and are worth a look. For single image processing check out his photo atelier series which give a behind the scenes look at Peter’s thought process.

I found the interview below to be a fascinating look at how Peter thinks and works. Check it out:

Autumnal Wanderings

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I’m sure that there must be really good uses for the various film emulation software that is available, matching the look of a project that was started in film and transitioned to digital might be one, but for me they are not much more than very expensive presets that let me try out various looks very quickly.

I can’t say that I’m overly sold on the ‘film look’ either but it’s fun to play and occasionally I stumble into something that I like. I think the more that you play with these kinds of tools the more that you’re able to imagine what the possibilities are for processing after the fact.

While I would like to think that I know what a particular lens will do, I’m a long way from this kind of fluency with the myriad of options available for post-processing. Knowing what draws you and and what repels you certainly is one way of narrowing the available options. Restricting your options to a distinct palette of tools is one way to create a signature style. This is something that I’m in the very early stages of working on but I’m having fun thinking about how it all fits together.

Friday Inspiration: Wynn Bullock

831.624.2801 c. 1960

I’ve been working through how to give meaningful feedback to other photographers about their work and in the course of that I realize that our reaction to work tells us more about ourselves and less about the photographer. That was certainly the case with my initial intersection with Wynn Bullock. Bullock is generally regarded as one of the most significant photographers of the mid-twentieth century. He was a close friend of West Coast photographers Ansel Adams and Edward Weston and a peer of Minor White, Aaron Siskind and Frederick Sommer. I remember seeing his famous photograph Child in the Forest from the 1955 Family of Man exhibition curated by Edward Steichen and dismissed him as not doing something that I was interested in.

I was recently given a copy of ‘Wynn Bullock: Revelations‘, a comprehensive look at his entire body of work that was produced to support the exhibition now showing at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. Of course there are a good number of nudes included in the book which was where he was as a photographer early in his career but then there are a large number of images such as the one above that reflect his interest in how to represent time in a still image. There are a large number of abstract color images that I also find very interesting.

In listening to the interviews with Bullock below much of what he has to say about his photographic explorations resonated with me. Well worth a look.

Conversations With The Masters, rare interview with Wynn Bullock. This interview was conducted by Steve James of the Eikon Gallery

This video highlights excerpts from the 1975 film by Thom Tyson, Wynn Bullock: Photographer.

Into the Film Vortex Once More

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I almost jumped off into the world of film photography recently. I was at a skate park when my Canon (it’s hardly inconspicuous) drew the attention of one of the teenage skaters. He told me that he’s just sold his DSLR to fund the purchase of a Hasselblad 500 series camera and then went on to extoll the virtues of film over digital. It did make me stop and think.

There is a mystique surrounding film for me – I came late to photography, never owning an SLR camera until the digital system that I got in 2005 – and so I feel as though I’ve missed out on something special.

It is quite possible to emulate the look of film using software packages such as those made by VSCO. While I’ve played with these software packages quite extensively never having shot film to any great extent I don’t have a good point of reference to know how close they get. If these emulations are good representations of the film that was/is available I’m glad that I didn’t have to deal with the imperfect color rendering – it would have driven me insane.

If you take the camera body out of the equation the only other piece that could have an impact on the particular look from a given film camera is the lens. While it’s not possible to use the exact lens same Hasselblad lens on my Canon cameras it is possible to get Zeiss lenses that are compatible. This was the path that I decided to pursue.

The image above is taken using a 18mm Zeiss ZE lens. I’ve had some fun learning to use this lens. The biggest challenge for me has been the fact that it requires manual focusing, so my reliance on autofocusing was out of the window, I do still get the reassuring ‘beep’ when the image is in focus by holding down the shutter release button. The other trick that I’ve been relying on is the ‘live view’ function and zooming in to check on my focus.

I’m not sure that I can tell the difference in quality in images made using this Zeiss lens and the Canon equivalent but they do feel better.

Friday Inspiration: Albert Watson

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I was poking around on the Phase One website recently (more about that in an upcoming post) when I came across a pair of videos (here and here) of Albert Watson working with a Phase One camera system to make landscape images. I felt as though I knew the name but it wasn’t until video 2 that it dawned on me from where. Albert Watson, as I’m sure you’re well aware, is perhaps best know for his fashion and celebrity portraiture. The photograph that kicked his career into high gear was of Alfred Hitchcock holding a plucked goose and the photograph that I was most familiar with was the photograph of Steve Jobs. It was surprising then for me to see this icon of celebrity portraiture out in the wilds of Scotland taking landscape photographs and a reminder of how important it is to sustain a long a fruitful career to find the things that are out of your everyday, that energize and push you and make the time for these things.

I also found an additional documentary that features Albert Watson’s landscape work that was shown on BBC4. I must admit to scratching my head a little about that one – I can remember when there were only 3 tv channels in the UK and BBC2 was a little out there. The documentary has lots of take aways including: “Always have two assistants, that way if one falls off the mountain you have a spare” more seriously was his way of having a series of words that he uses as an intellectual framework for what he’s trying to achieve with the project. Something that we all can use right now. Check out the documentary below:

Friday Inspiration: Carl Chiarenza

chiarenzaI’ve been looking at work by Aaron Siskind over the last few weeks and as part of that reading came across Carl Chiarenza who wrote ‘Aaron Siskind: Pleasures and Treasures’. Chiarenza is a splendid photographer in his own right in addition to being a great teacher. Check out the video below to get an introduction to Chiarenza. Check out the additional conversations between Chiarenza and Brooks Jensen that can be found here.

A Conversation with Carl Chiarenza from Rochester Contemporary (RoCo) on Vimeo.

Friday Inspiration: Pentti Sammallahti

Sammallahti White Sea

I stumbled across Pentti Sammallahti’s photography again this week. Sammallahti, born in Finland in the 1950’s, has travelled widely as a photographer – Russia, Asia, Europe and Africa, including stops in Siberia, Japan, India, Nepal, Morocco, Turkey, Europe, Great Britain and South Africa. His photographs of the White Sea in Russia are regarded as his best work, with Sammallahti himself selecting the image above as his best photograph. He describes the making of this image here.

Photographs from both his native Scandinavia as well as from his travels can be found in the retrospective of his work ‘Here Far Away‘ and the book is reviewed by Sean O’Hagan in The Guardian here.

While Sammallahti’s sense of humor comes through in many of his photographs, I must admit that I enjoyed looking at his photographs of the ocean the most. One example is shown below.

Sammallahti 1

Friday Inspiration: Martin Henson

Dales Wind

Unless my skills with the google are failing me, there are surprisingly few interviews (I couldn’t find any!) with British photographer Martin Henson. Spend some time reviewing his galleries by clicking on the link here and you, like me, will wonder how that can be.

Martin is based in Leeds in the North of England and, from what I can tell, much of his photography is essentially local. Excursions to the nearby coast and the Yorkshire dales – places that I’m reasonably familiar with – result in photographs that really do give a sense of what raw and wild these places can be.

I hope that you enjoy exploring the work of Martin Henson and I’ll leave you with another favorite of his images below.

Scales Moor 2

Friday Inspiration: Eoghan Kavanagh

Tree-Lake-Eoghan-Kavanagh-1024x787I wish I could remember how I came across the work of Eoghan Kavanagh. Most likely an extended wandering from some other Ireland based photographers.

Eoghan is based in Kenmare, Co. Kerry which gives him easy access to many of Ireland’s great locations. Check out more of Eoghan’s work here and in the videos below.

Evergreen Forest from Evan Payne on Vimeo.

Reenagross from Evan Payne on Vimeo.

Barley Lake from Evan Payne on Vimeo.

Playing with Presets Redux: Black & White Preset Download

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When I originally wrote about using presets to explore the potential in my images I had intended on providing the final black and white preset that I made as a downloadable file. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it. Should be easy enough right?

I continued to use the preset and have used it on all of my black and white images that I’ve posted here over the last few weeks, including the one above. Then finally I figured out how to provide the file.

Click here to download the preset and instructions on how to install it.

Installation of the preset is quite easy:

1. Open Lightroom

2. Navigate to the ‘Develop’ module

3. Find ‘User Presets’ in the presets panel on the left hand side.

4. Right click or control click on ‘User Presets’ to open a menu.

5. The menu has 2 options – New Folder and Import. Click import.

6. A file browser will open that will allow you to navigate to the preset you downloaded. Click on the preset you wish to import and then click ‘Import’.

7. That’s it! The preset should now be loaded into the ‘User Presets’ section of the Lightroom develop module.

To use the preset is easy enough. Select the image you want to work with, open the develop module (I usually just hit the ‘d’ key), under the user presets click on the B&W Preset. Done!

Of course sometimes you might be done, other times you might want to work the image a little more. The most common additional edits that I do are: apply lens correction, change the vignette – which is found under the effects panel on the right hand side, and to change the grain characteristics – also found under the effects panel.

You might want to do other things but I hope that this serves as a solid jumping off point. Let me know if you like this, how you’re using it, what works, what doesn’t. I’d appreciate the feedback.