Sunday, March 11, 2012

David duChemin's triptych (Within the Frame, Vision & Voice, Photographically Speaking

I just finished David's last book which I consider to be the third book of his comprehensive modern version of Ansel Adam's: "The Camera", "The Negative", and "The Print". I didn't read Ansel Adam's books but I am sure they would apply even in today's digital age, the tools have changed but the outcome is the same... A work of art.

David's true third book (VisionMongers) is on how to make it as a professional photographer and make an earning at it. Which is why I don't consider it part of his actual triptych and I have yet to read it. I am considering making the jump from amateur to professional, but to David there is an extensive discussion on what the definition of a professional is, that can be applied to any chosen profession. What truly makes a professional a professional. I am a controller of a school division my profession requires strong management and business skills. However when I am assuming the role I am not a different person. I would think the same would apply when you consider yourself a professional photographer it comes naturally and you don't sense being different or superior to someone who is just starting out in their profession.

There might not be strong similarities between David's books and Ansel's books but David's approach provides a step by step thought process into the photographic process the same approach Ansel took during the writing of his books. Judging solely on Ansel's book titles I can only guess it might be more on the technical side of photography with some artistic insight thrown in for good measure. Ansel was perfecting his craft while David is using the tools at his disposal to make an artistic statement with his own unique Vision while Ansel was doing both at the same time.

David has a strong following and readership. After reading his books and his blog it's easy to understand why he has such a strong readership. He is well grounded and takes a simple approach to his craft and has the ability to communicate his knowledge of his craft in a unbiased approach without too much jargon. The point of his discussion is the end product and the thought process used to arrive at the end product. Occasionally there will be some technical minded people who will make comments on his blog that steers the conversation to an area that has little impact on the intended outcome.

Like most artists learn enough about the craft and the language so that you can communicate through your photographs. The technical aspect of photography is only to get us there. In fact like most technologies that hasn't matured yet it is constantly changing. To quote David it's not about the gear. But having the latest gear helps you communicate through your photos more effectively and give you the ability to realize your vision.

I purchased my first camera at 16 years of age, even back then I knew I had found something I enjoyed so much I had to buy a SLR. Working on a farm in Northern Alberta I had an eye for things natural. I had some exposure no pun intended, on doing the entire photographic process from the camera to the negative and finally the print when I took photography in high school. I never thought of photography as an art form when I was learning it, I was more concerned learning the technical. I was stumbling along taking pictures like most users of a camera to document life as it unravelled.

Things have changed technology wise but the exposure formula ISO vs F-Stop vs Shutter Speed exists today. Stating the obvious but there are still people who use professional DSLR's and are still using the automated.

I have to thank David helping me in refining my own vision and my quest to find my own vision. Reading David's books provides a boost of motivation to keep pursuing the refinement of this goal. I don't think any one person truly reaches this photographic nirvana as a person changes through life experiences and a person's vision changes along with it.

Thanks David for delivering materials on a topic that is hard to put into words.

Listing of David duChemin's photography books available on Amazon

Mike Le Photographe

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Early Morning Photography

My first attempt at early morning photography is just an hour away. The night before I consulted the weather reports hoping it would be overcast and determining when the sun would crest the horizon. I set my timer so I wouldn't miss this opportunity to take "the shot" that I have envisioned since I started working in Swift Current. The sunrises are incredible here more so when there are clouds present. The clouds add extra drama to any shot and especially sunrises and sunsets.

I have been reading in bed and browsing the Internet since 5 am. I usually sleep in but because I set a goal of taking a sunrise shot my mind is extremely excited and has blocked me from any type of sleep. At most I slept for 5 hours I guess I will be taking cat naps during the day. Maybe my girlfriend's cat "Matisse" will join me.

I have gone through different scenarios and pictures I want to take. But the one I envisioned is on the road to work. There is a grain elevator on the way to work that I want to superimpose over a sunrise giving that golden glow I also hope that the birds that like to congregate at grain elevators work their magic and fly above the grain elevator. The other shot I want to do is a sweeping panoramic that is if a train is stationed next to the grain elevator. Using my 50 mm F1.4 I would take several concurrent photos and splice them in photoshop to make a print that could eventually grace someone's wall sometime in the future. I am being hopeful. But I am mostly doing this for myself.

I might do a time lapse of a sunrise maybe a sunset but that is a story for another blog post.

I'm jumping out of bed as my sweetie still sleeps and getting my cold weather gear out hoping there is also a light coating of frost on everything. I am also prepping my equipment ensuring I have my tripod.

To be continued...

Mike "Le photographeur"

Location:Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Barbershop Photowalk

I needed to get my camera trigger finger active again from a long absence do to an injury. I intended to take pictures of the downtown area and the old buildings with old advertising painted on the side. However at the same time I was in dire need of a haircut. I notice the barber shop on the street was open. I dropped in hoping I could get a quick haircut.

Upon entering I felt that I took a step back in time. The barbershop had the style and appearance of the shops of old. My eyes were scanning everywhere seeing photo opportunities at every turn. I asked the lone employee if I can take pictures of the shop and the equipment after my haircut. She even volunteered additional information that Mike's barbershop down the street had one of the oldest barber chairs in town.

I had to take a look. I cracked open the door not even looking at the shop window. Asked Mike I heard you have one of the oldest chairs in town. With pride, "of course" and pointed to the store front window. He had made a shrine slash museum to the vintage tools of the trade. I felt like one of the men from Canadian Pickers stumbling across a big find. Only difference was I didn't ask the proprietor to part with any of his collection I just wanted to take some photos.

Mike was friendly and told me go ahead step up into the display if you like and if you know how to tilt the chair go right on ahead. He had even a old hair dryer that still works. Just the heating element was burnt out. The thing weighs 20 lbs I took his word I didn't dare touch anything.

Blade Sharpener

Hair Crimper

Refurbished Barber Chair

Old Barber Chair

Oldest barber chair in Swift Current, SK

Tools of the trade

Nickel & Chrome

20 lb Hair dryer

Lots of use out of this chair

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Putting your Photography on Canvas

I have decided to order one of my photographs on canvas to see what the outcome might be.  I was anxiously awaiting my order from Picture it on Canvas.  I have used them for another print before as an experiment.  This time I chose a bigger canvas size 20 X 30 with a strong colour photo.  The results are really good.  I wasn't sure on what frame to pick, but with the photo I chose there is a strong blue & yellow presence and with a clean black frame I think it showcases the print rather well.

I am now convinced that doing canvases of your best photos is the way to go to showcase your pictures.  Why buy someone else's artwork when you can display your own.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Family Portraits

I have decided to venture into some portrait photography and group photography after I was requested to take fall family pictures for a friend's sister. I jumped to the opportunity as I am still at the stage where I am still exploring the possibilities of photography. When there are kids involved I am even more enthusiastic. I prefer more casual/natural setting photography than pure "formal" portrait photography. When kids and their family are allowed to do as they please the results can be the most natural looking pictures ever. You might even be surprised as a photographer if you take time to have fun with the kids and the family. The kids will even strike poses for you that feel comfortable and natural to them. What else could a photographer ask for, really?  So instead of just concentrating on the technical aspects of photography spend some quality time with the family there will be an impact in the poses and resulting photographs.

Take a look at this pose of the little fellow. It was towards the end of the shoot and he felt comfortable with me and even found a nice rock to sit on and pose for me. Technically the photo can be improved upon when he posed for me he was facing the large rock beside him casting a shadow on his face and eyes. But with a little help of software I was able to locally adjust exposure and
provide some fill light.

Here the older brother decided to play monkey bars with one of the branches of the tree. He hung on long enough for me to get several good pictures.

The family enjoyed themselves and they will have family photos to enjoy for a long time to come. The husband was relieved that I was able to take the family photos as they had been looking for someone to fulfill their desire for fall pictures for a while. Most professional photographers only offered studio type photography. I can see why they had a strong desire to have this done. Life is short and kids grow up fast and photos have the ability to recall joyous family moments.

I have to thank the family for this opportunity. I would do it again in a heart beat. Oh and thank you for supper too! :-)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn in Jasper National Park

Yesterday I drove through Jasper National Park and the leaves were yellow and red. It was a visual delight for a photographer. There were many taking pictures from the side of the road.

I decided to venture off the road to an area with a cluster of Aspen trees in a meadow. I was in my little world taking pictures of the trees and leaves. The sky was full of clouds with a lot of blue which provided a very nice colour contrast. I took pictures knowing that these will look good in black and white as well. I also tried HDR however the wind was blowing hard I doubt any will turn out.

As I was walking out of the meadow a car did a quick u-turn on the park road. The passenger window rolled down. The couple inside asked me hey did you see some animals? I did a few km's back but I doubt they are still there. But at this location no. They completely missed the leaves and being able to enjoy what opportunity was given to them. Animals they will always present themselves at any time the time you least expect them. Leaves will only be this colour once a year if they were from another country they should capitalize on what is available while they are here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Road trip to Yellowstone National Park

I am currently making preparations to travel to Yellowstone National Park for the first time. Wishing I had a full frame camera. Ultimately I'd like the D3x and ensuring that the lens I have acquired over time are full frame capable. The D3s is a tempting alternative especially with its low light capabilities and its ability to take 720p HD video. Being predominately a landscape photographer with an interest in macro I tend to lean towards the D3x.

I have considered the D700 which would nicely complement my D300 with interchangeable hand grip and batteries.

I just wish I had a full frame camera for this trip especially to make use of the full range of the 14-24mm Nikon f2.8 lens. This only means I will have to return to Yellowstone when I eventually own a full frame camera.

On the plus side my D300 will be perfect with its cropped sensor to capture any wildlife that may be found in the Lamar valley. I recently acquired the TC-20E III 2x teleconverter to use with my 70-200mm Nikon f2.8 lens. Effective focal length will be 210-600mm with the teleconverter attached. With a higher pixel density of the D300 sensor it should make for sharp wildlife pictures.

With that focal range there is no question that I will have my camera resting on either a tripod or monopod to increase the stability of the shots. With the teleconverter attached I will also loose a few stops on exposure.

I am hoping to have access to the internet so I can post pictures while I'm away if not stay tuned for pictures on my Flickr page.

A bientot!