dogwood2018

Week 30 Creative: Circles

Circles. Limes.

We have a bumper crop of limes. Usually, apart from a few, they stay on the tree and we pick them as needed. For some reason, this year, in the last couple of weeks, they have nearly all dropped from the tree and so now we have heaps of them to do something with!

So, I have successfully made lime cordial which I am hoping will keep so we can have scrummy limeade during the summer. It is deliciously refreshing mixed with soda water or tonic, a couple of ice cubes and if you want to push the boat out, add some gin or vodka. Lime and ginger marmalade accounted for another 10 limes – that is so good that I might even make some more – just need more jars!

The drizzle lemon cake that I usually make and which has always been successful, somehow wasn’t today…. a little sunken but I’m sure it will still taste good. It may just become pudding this evening served with ice-cream.

I also had a go at making pickled limes – not sure what they will be like but they look good in the jar!

Next on the list is lime curd, more cordial, more cake, possibly more marmalade and of course, when limes are plentiful, gin and tonic is pretty much a standard!  Cheers! Slange! Sante! Kia ora!

But wait! What about the photo challenge? I couldn’t help thinking how good all those slices of limes looked…. so I had a play. They look pretty good just as they are, but Snapseed is a great wee app I have on my phone that means you can manipulate the photo and make it into art!

rondels of yellow limes on a wooden chopping board

rondels of limes one in the centre circled by 6 around it, edited in purple and pink

rondels of limes, one in the centre, 6 around it and then 13 in the outer circle, yellow and pink

rondels of limes arranged with one in the middle and two circles around one with 6 rondels and the outer one with 13. They are all yellow on a wooden backgorund

looking down into a glass of limeade. the outer circle is the rim of the glass, then the cordial and the a rondel of lime

Week 29 Technical: Twilight Zone

Technical: Twilight Zone

While golden and blue hours bring beautiful lighting, shooting in twilight opens up a new way of seeing the world. Capture a “scape” that isn’t dominated by darkness. Show the light and textures that can be found under the stars, in city lights, or a moon filled sky.

Technical isn’t my thing… see my post about Master Photographers and my Dad and me!  And, I know that I should face up to my failings and make the effort to get my SLR out and just do it, but the truth is, I am the sort of learner that needs someone by my side to ask questions of when I need to learn something new. I really didn’t appreciate all that my Dad could teach me when I was younger, and now he isn’t here to ask. So, I am using that as a cop out for this week’s challenge, that and the fact that it is winter here and the weather isn’t very nice for going out at night to take photos. My phone camera just doesn’t do dark very well but here are a couple of ‘snapshots’ to start off with. I’m going to look for more opportunities over the next week. I may have to come back to this one!

This first image is heavily edited using Snapseed which is an editing app on my phone. I walked up Sunshine Hill in a small town called Taumarunui after working there one day. The light had completely gone by the time I got to the top, there was no moon as it was wet and very cloudy and all I could see were the street lights through the trees. I quite like it though!

Grainy blue and purple foreground of trees with a bright yellow and pink horizon which are the lights from a town in the valley. This is an abstract edit from a photo

The second image is taken as I was on a trail run with a friend on the shortest day here in NZ. There was a beautiful moon and the sky was clear. As we came to the edge of the forest, it seemed light enough to get this shot. My friend was wearing a head torch so I asked her to face away from me so that it lit the foreground. It is grainy and imperfect but it does represent what the scene looked like.

bright moonlit sky behind silhouettes of pine trees. A person is bathed in light in the middle of the picture

This one is the same evening just a little bit further along the track where I could see the moon. Still a very poor photo, and the moon is blurred but I like the smudginess on the clouds mixing with the leaves. Unfortunately, you can’t see the Matariki stars which were not quite out but which were clear and abundant later on.

sliver of a moon shining through the trees from a dark blue sky.

I’ve been trying to get a shot of the lights of a city from above since I saw this challenge topic. The last couple of lights I was on, it was cloudy. The problem is always the reflection from the window and the cabin. This is flying into Hamilton. I think the bright white square in the bottom right is the hockey turf, where I suspect my son was playing just when I was flying over!

lights of a city seen from a plane. Black and white

Week 27: Flattery

This week we were asked to choose our favourite photographer and imitate their art or technique. Well, it actually said ‘master’ photographer. I’m not sure what that really means? What makes a master?

When I tried to think of ‘photographers’, who came to mind?

My friend’s husband Paul, who is based in Raglan. His photos have a clarity and an intense interest in the ‘people’.

Ansel Adams – I love his philosophy about nature and conservation as well as his photography

An ex colleague Ruth Gilmour who takes the most amazing portraits of people to celebrate their special occasions.

I then also thought of all the people I follow on Instagram – some of my friends take incredible photographs – what they see in the world around them, their challenges, their successes, the people they love and live with.  There is such life and passion in those photos, and whilst they may not be technically perfect, just like mine, does that make them any less a ‘Master Photographer’?

Of course, they haven’t learned their craft like professional photographers, they haven’t studied the ‘science’ of photography, they probably don’t know, like me, the rules about shutter speeds, light, framing techniques etc. But they have an ‘eye’ for a shot, they capture a moment, and I think there is something special about that.

But I’m not going to try and emulate any of these photographers – I hope in my own way, I already capture moments and have an eye for a shot, that I bring as much pleasure to others as their photos bring to me. No, I am going to introduce you to Norman Barry Hodgson, my Dad.

Young man from 1950s with dark hair and brown eyes wearing a jacket with his chin resting on his hand looking directly into the camera

He is the person who inspired my interest in taking photos. I am not going to call it photography, because  I think that that suggests that I know what I’m doing, that I have studied it as an art and a science.

My Dad always had a camera in his hand when we were kids. We had heaps of slides of us, and also some movies, because he also had a cine camera. We loved the screening evenings when we would all get together in the front room. The anticipation was palpable as the screen was hung over the curtain rail, the lights were switched off and the slide projector or the film projector was switched on. Four little girls waited excitedly to see photos of ourselves, laughed at each other and hoped that there would be a flattering one of ourselves!  He turned some of the slides into photos that were hung on the walls. Sadly, many of the slides were lost, although I managed to salvage some which I have carefully scanned and digitised.

Dad was a gadget man and a technician. His photos had to be technically perfect. He would read books about framing subjects, about low key and high key lighting, the rule of thirds, F-stops and exposure times. I don’t think he always trusted his eye.  I thought, when I was younger, that he wasn’t very imaginative or daring.

When he went through his ‘portrait’ phase, I remember three of us (number 4 was not yet born!) all under 5, sitting on the table, lights and screens set up in the living room, curtains closed, whilst he got the perfect shot! I still have some of the contact strips.

3 little girls sitting on a cushion against a wall. Two older ones on either side of a baby. The one on the left has dark, curly hair and brown eyes, the giirl on the right has straight, blond hair and blue eyes. Dressed in their best clothes, they are all smiling
As his daughters grew up and were less willing subjects – teenagers really are too precious about what they look like – he turned to landscapes, cars, planes, boats, trains. To be honest, his first photography, before we were all born, was all about vehicles!

When I was 12 he gave me a basic camera to take on overseas trips – one to Berlin and one to Paris. I remember him showing me how to put the film in the camera, how to roll it round so that it caught properly on the spool. He told me how to hold the camera, frame the subject and not move the whole camera when taking a shot. It was a fixed lens with no adjustments for shutter speed or anything like that. I brought home my first photos – mostly blurry, and very grainy, but I still remember the excitement of opening that package from the developers to see what would be there. Oh, yes, and the disappointment too that my photos didn’t look anything like the picture I had seen when I took it!  Those feelings of hope, anticipation and disappointment or satisfaction were to continue for many years!

The Arc du Carrousel in Paris. There are a few people walking around in the foreground
Arc du Carrousel, Paris

When I was 18, Dad bought me a camera for my birthday – an Olympus Trip. I still have it. That was the start of my journey. My life has been documented ever since!  I have every photo and every negative I have ever taken, carefully catalogued and arranged into scrap books from 1978 until 2003 when I started taking digital photos. I also have every camera he passed on to me.

Dad used to develop his own photos too.  When we were little he set up a darkroom in the garden shed. Then, Harry Potter like, he moved into the cupboard under the stairs!  By this time I was a teenager and wanted to learn how to develop and print too. After a few months of getting under each other’s feet, he decided to rig up the kitchen to give us more space and easier access to running water. So he designed a ‘mobile’ dark room. After dinner and washing up was done, we would put light-tight blinds on the windows and doors, wheel in the trolley with the equipment on it, put the ‘Do not disturb’ sign in the hallway, lock the outside door, put the music on that we sang along loudly to, and get to work!

So what can I emulate – what photo can I take this week to ‘flatter’ my Dad?

As I already said, he was a technical photographer. We would often go out together and I would be his ‘eye’. He would have read about a particular technique in a book that he wanted to try, and have some idea of what he wanted to do but often couldn’t see the possibilities in a situation.  He got better as he got older!  I like to think I influenced that just a wee bit. On the other hand I used to frustrate the hell out of him, because I would just see something,  and take a photo without any regard for setting up the shot. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  I wonder now, though, whether it wasn’t so much that he didn’t have any imagination, but that film was a restriction. With film, we were limited to 36 shots, it was expensive to buy film, and expensive to buy the materials to develop and print or to have it done commercially. I think going digital helped to shift his thinking?  Didi it give him license to be more adventurous? He didn’t have to spend time getting everything right; failure is possible with digital because there is no limit to how many tries you get.

So, what can I do? I guess, I could try to take a more technical shot, try to follow the rules. Where Dad was quite imaginative, was in his editing of photos, both during the developing process years ago and using digital editing tools. He was always experimenting, always wanting to learn new things. Maybe, just by doing this whole challenge, I am emulating him? Is that enough? Maybe, I’ll try to get my boys to pose for a ‘portrait shoot’?

Week 26: Creative – High or Low Key

What does this mean? A Google search led to this website which tells me;

A low-key image is one that contains predominantly dark tones and colours. A low-key image is usually dramatic and full of mystery. Low-key lighting creates striking contrasts through reduced lighting. Shadows are now the primary element of the composition.

High-key images convey atmosphere and mood. A high-key image feels airy and light, it over-lights the subject to reduce contrast. 

So, how to go about doing this? Which opportunity might present itself first as I go on my adventures?

Early morning and a sunrise might seem to be a good opportunity to get interesting light on a subject. I was in Rotorua last week and thought about going back to bed after dropping colleagues off at the airport but decided it was too beautiful a morning to be inside. So, I went for a walk along the lake front and was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. As the sky lightened behind Mokoia Island, the swans, geese and ducks started to awaken and come to shore. I tried to capture them with the light behind them as they swam in. There is a beautiful story associated with Mokoia which you can find here.

two swans and a duck swimming into shore with the sun rising over the horizon
I took this photo in a great wee bar in Hamilton called the Wonderhorse – I think I may well have posted a photo from there before – Alex, the barman, is a joy to watch as he mixes cocktails. As you might imagine the place is dark and so snapshot photos are often grainy so do require some editing.

A cocktail maker at work pouring the concoction through a sieve into a glass.
 

Week 25: Technical Starburst

When shooting into the sun or other light sources, you may notice that some of your images have a unique quality to the light – this is known as a “starburst” effect. This can create a very strong focal point and add an entirely new dimension of interest to your image.

Just like the edge cut sun challenge, I found this one difficult. I really need to spend some time reading up about the technicalities around taking these sorts of photos…and maybe actually get my SLR out rather than just using my phone. But I am an opportunist photographer, and carrying my heavy camera round is not really an option!

Given that I am mainly out and about during the day, starburst opportunities usually involve the sun. This is late afternoon on a winter’s day at Rotorua, looking through the Manuka trees at the lake.

Sunburst through Manuka Trees on a winter afternoon

I love moonlight too but it is so difficult to capture. This was a beautiful full moon reflecting in Lake Ngaroto one evening. So bright that when I tried to get a photo I just got this starburst. You can just see the lake and treeline between the two ‘stars’.

Moonburst

This one doesn’t provide a focal point but I love the effect of the lights in this concert. This is Salmonella Dub playing at The Factory in Hamilton.

lights forming a starburst at a concert over a stage. The band can be seen behind the lights and concert attendees as silhouettes in the foreground

Week 24 Composition: Contrast

Contrasts.

Both these photos were taken in Tauranga. The first is in the early evening in winter as the clouds turned at the end of a cold but clear day. Taken by my passenger as we crossed the causeway, so strictly not mine, but we spotted the sky and since I was driving, she took the photo.  Not bad from a moving car!

sunset with red elipsical clouds against a blue sky above flat water

The second is mid afternoon down at the hockey turf where the bright winter sun provided some stark contrasts between the white salt mountains and the blue of the sky and turf.

blue hockey turf being watered with rainbow and white salt mounds

And this is an extra – a shot that I spotted when my husband came in from the garden with a harvest of chillis and showed me this curly one. There was a basket of limes from the garden sitting on the bench and the red and yellow made a great shot.

red chilli in the shape of a spiral or curl on top of bright yellow limes

Week 23: No Peeking!

Week 23: Vision: No Peeking

Shoot as if you were using a film camera. That means that you will not look at the photographs you’ve taken until they are downloaded on your computer.

Vision: This category is designed to push you to go beyond sight, to insight; to take inspiration and make it a reality. Vision exists in your imagination and is revealed your photographs; expressing something otherwise invisible. Developing a Vision for your work is showing to others what you see in your mind’s eye.

Given that I mainly use my phone for taking photos, this was difficult – the temptation to look is just too much!

So, here are a couple of interpretations of this week’s theme;

1. One of the activities I get teachers to do as part of a workshop about the Digital Technologies Curriculum, is a lego challenge. In pairs, they choose the same 5 lego pieces – colour, shape etc. Then sit back to back so they can’t see each other. One person creates a model with their 5 pieces and then has to give the instructions for the other to complete the same model. It is a fascinating thing to observe – they don’t always come out with the same model!

three images showing two people sitting back to back making a model with lego pieces. one image shows two models the same, the other shows two completely different models

2. The second image is probably more consistent with the intended idea. As I was driving through along the Forgotten Highway one misty morning, the light was beautiful. Clouds hanging in the valleys with the morning sun threatening to break through. I decided to pull in and try to get a photo. As I walked along the fence line I like the look of the raindrops on the barbed wire and thought that would make a cool photo. Then I noticed the spider’s web. The loght was shining directly into my face and I really had no idea if I had captured it or not. Given that I was on the road, I couldn’t look at it until I got home that evening. Pretty pleased with the result.

spider's web spun between barbed wire fencing against a lush green field and misty sky

Week 13: Leading Lines

Leading Lines: use lines to lead the viewer to your subject

I’m not sure that any of these except the swimmer meets the description above. But I like the lines that these photos have in them. The lines are really the subjects rather than leading the viewer to a subject.

What do you think?

Looking up to the sky from the base of a large kauri tree which splits into 3 separate trees.
Looking up; Kauri Trees
Lush NZ forest with tree ferns, low level ferns and tall tree. Two tall trees form a line vertically through the middle of the image. and the sun is shining through them at the top
Giants of the ngahere
panoramic shot of waterfall which shoots out from the right handside of the photo and lands before it hits a large boulder on left. surrounded by lush green vegetation, sunlight shines through fromthe back.
Water chute
Te Rewarewa bridge is an iconic white metal bridge in Taranaki. a white arch rising up from the bottom left of the image and then diminishing in the distance to meet the horizon mid centre. A ma is standing on the bridge and others are walking across it
Te Rewarewa bridge; Taranaki
Wide river with jetty and steps leading down to the water on the left. A swimmer stands on the post at the end ready to jump in the water.
Evening swimmer at the jetty
Town street. Modern mirrored building to the right with reflection of old colonial building in the mirrors.
Reflections
Town street. Old brick and stone clock tower to the left of image. Modern mirrored building to the right with reflection of old colonial building in the mirrors.
Mirrored building and clock tower

Week 12: Macro

Oh, so many to choose from after a weekend away! I forgot to take my SLR in the rush and ‘busyness’ of packing up, so resorted to the ‘pro’ setting on my Samsung camera app which allows me to manual focus and change ISO etc. It is a bit tricky focusing as you basically need to move physically closer or further away from the subject. And steadying a light camera is not easy either. Nevertheless, I am quite pleased with the results.

We spent Easter weekend exploring some of the Whirinaki landscape. A new area for us made easier now that we have a campervan to pull over in and sleep anywhere! The podocarp forest (ngahere) is a stunning place and especially rich with berries and mushrooms now that Autumn is on its way. We were lucky too, with the weather. It is still warm and the sun provided excellent light through the trees.

Here are a few of my shots. Which do you like best?

woolly inkcap mushroom looking into the centre from an angle
Woolly Inkcap; Lake Okaro
Shaggy Inkcap Mushroom taken from above
Woolly Inkcap
earthstars
Earth Stars; Whirinake Waterfall Track
clover
Clover; Lake Okaro
puffball mushroom, white with detail of skin
Puffball Mushroom
bright green fern growing on the side of a tree. Spores are around the outside.
Kidney Fern; Whirinaki Waterfall Track
bright green kidney fern, seen side on growing on the side of a tree. Light shining through it.
Kidney Fern: Whirinaki Waterfall Track
dandelion clock
Dandelion Clock; Lake Okaro
deep red berry with a drip of water hanging underneath
Berry with drop of water: Lake Okaro

Week 6: Alternating Rhythm

I like the promise that this challenge suggests. Alternating rhythm of what? Sound, light, colour, motif? I have been, and still am, looking for possibilities. My initial thought was sound, and I wondered how I could convey sound in a photo. Then I was out at the weekend at the Banksy exhibition in Auckland. We went out for a late lunch afterwards and I chose to have a Rhubarb Rhoyale which came in a beautiful retro champagne glass – the light that refracted off the crystal appealed to me.

On Monday we wandered into town and went through “Riffraff” square in Hamilton. The whole place has been thoughtfully designed to evoke the theme of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and late at night the lighting is stunning. A video would respond really well to the theme of alternating rhythm, but how do I express that as a still photo? I had a play with Snapseed and produced these images but they still don’t really hit the mark for this week’s challenge.

We have a glut of green beans. Too many for us to eat and so they have grown so big that they are all but inedible unless we boil them for so long that I am sure there are no longer any nutrients in them. Today we decided to pick them all, harvest the beans from inside and use them. They are like wee jewels, shiny pink and purple jewels, cushioned in their bright green pockets of safety. Alternating rhythms of colour. I collected them like treasure and took them into the garden. This is my ‘beanart’.

I am unsure yet what my final submission will be, but I have had fun thinking ad creating… still a few days to go, so I may yet be further inspired.

Postscript

On an unscheduled visit to Te Papa, this installation hung croon the ceiling. It has promise…

Maybe it would be better rotated 90°?