Friday Inspiration: Victoria Sambunaris

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After running through a string a contemporary landscape photographers in recent weeks I could help but recognize that all of these were guys which made me wonder who were the women active in this genre. It was then that I remembered the fabulous book by Victoria Sambunaris, ‘Taxonomy of a Landscape‘ that I had recently came across. The book documents a decade long exploration of the American landscape and our place in it. In fact it’s two books, the companion volume collects the associated research materials and other bits and pieces that Sambunaris accumulated during the course of the project. A fascinating behind the scenes look into her process.

For more information on Sambunaris and her projects check out the video here and the embeded video below.

Victoria Sambunaris lecture, February 7, 2013 from MoCP, Columbia College Chicago on Vimeo.

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Friday Inspiration: Christian Fletcher

Fletcher

A section in a book that I’m reading at the moment provided a twist to the ‘you’re the average of the 5 people you spend most time with‘ idea that has been circling the internet for several years now. Specifically it said that if you’re the smartest person you know then you need to get to know some more people, if you’re the most creative person you know then you need to get to know some more people and went on like that for quite a bit. It’s funny that the Ninety Degrees Five group is five people – all are very talented and successful, if the alphabet soup of letters that they are able to append to their names is anything to go by – I wouldn’t mind being the average of this group by any means!

Of this group Christian Fletcher recently won Western Australian Landscape photographer of the year and International Landscape photographer of the year. He’s based in Dunsborough in South Western Australia, which looks like a fantastic part of the world if his photographs are anything to go by and is now on my list of places to visit. Christian seems to work predominantly with digital medium format cameras, which allows him to create large prints of his work, working with photoshop to fully extract the potential in each of his images. Check out the videos below to hear more from Christian himself.

Phase One – Christian Fletcher from Michael Fletcher on Vimeo.

A New Tilt on an Old Theme

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I thought that I’d share my first in the field experiment with a tilt shift lens. My first attempt with a tilt shift was this which of course taught me that in addition to manual focusing I needed to also be manual exposure. Probably not too much of a surprise for anyone whose used these lenses but it’s all new to me. I also was ready for the back end freak out where photoshop isn’t able to stitch my images together for me but that comes later.

So how did I get here? I’ve been worrying unnecessarily about depth of field. While you, like me, are setting the F stop to 22 (or some other high number) focusing a third into the scene and then firing away with the knowledge that you’re going to have good front to back focus. While this has served me well I realize that the only thing in your image that actual is in focus in the thing that you’ve focused upon and everything else in the same plane as that point of focus. Everything else is acceptably out of focus.

The medium and large focus photographers that have access to tilt and shift are able to angle the plane of focus and by doing so get more (all?) of the image in focus. Scheimpflug principle anyone? With a DSLR one way to achieve the same large depth of field is by taking multiple images with different points of focus and then blend them to extend the depth of field. Helicon focus is a well respected piece of software that can help if this is something that you’re interested in, beyond what you can achieve in photoshop. This approach is somewhat problematic when things in your image are in motion, such as my favorite subject – water. This is where a tilt shift lens comes in. It should give you access to the same tilt and shift functions that you would have with a medium or large format camera.

My playing so far has been restricted to the shift function which is how the image above was made. A vertical panorama stitched together and then cropped. See the images that I used below.

Top:

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Middle:

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Bottom

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Which when stitched together give:

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Which I then cropped to this:

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I think that this is working. The next experiment will be to see what I can do with the tilt functionality. That should be fun.

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:

Friday Inspiration: Ninety Degrees Five

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It seemed appropriate, given where my head has been in the last few weeks, to look at the collaborative group Ninety degrees Five this week. One of the questions that I’ve been asking is ‘as a beginning photographer how can you accelerate your improvement’ and realized that being part of a working group can greatly help. While I was thinking about that I was also wondering once you ‘make it’ whatever that means to you then what. Does the group that you’re a part of still work for you, do you move onto a new group that are more aligned with where you’re currently at? Where do the modern day masters go for feedback?

It was interesting then for me to come across Ninety Degrees Five, Les Walkling, Tony Hewitt, Peter Eastway, Christian Fletcher, and Michael Fletcher. These four photographers and a film maker are in essence a group of modern day master photographers who are working together in the way that I described in my blog post earlier in the week. The image above of Dampier Salt Flats is by Les Walkling and is from the Pilbara Project. The projects that the group has completed include ‘South West Light’ and ‘2016 Shark Bay – Inscription‘.

One of the things that came out of the Impressionists was a group sensibility within which the individuals still had a indue voice. I think that could also be said for this group too. The work hangs together as a whole and yet they clearly have distinct voices. Check out the videos below for more about the Pilabara project and South West Light.

The Pilbara Project from Michael Fletcher on Vimeo.

52 Weeks On: A Pilbara Project Exhibition Trailer from Michael Fletcher on Vimeo.

South West Light – A Photographer’s Perspective from Michael Fletcher on Vimeo.

ND5 – A photographers Perspective – ‘Come on…..really! are you serious?’ from Michael Fletcher on Vimeo.

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: 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.