photography

Week 32: Alphabet

This was a challenge and required a whole day to pull together some sort of creation. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a whole alphabet but couldn’t think of a word that didn’t seem twee or trite and that had some meaning to me. In the end, I created a couple of images; one was a whole alphabet, the other was the word ‘hauora’. It had been a busy and stressful week and so having time to spend on a wet Sunday really was a spot of well-being.

a collage of photos all of which mke the shape of a letter of the alphabet

photos that spell the word 'Hauora"

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 15 Composition: Rule of Space

‘Your subject should be facing the frame, walking into the frame, this keeps your subject “in” the frame and engaging with it. Give your subject room to move.’

Not sure what to do with this one. I have been looking at what others have posted and although there are a lot of people or animals literally ‘walking’ into the frame, there are also others which are not so literal.  Here are some of my options;

I snapped this wee fellow practising his writing on the school playground a few weeks ago. Such concentration.

black and white photo of child drawing on pavement with chalk

This was taken in New Plymouth when we were in Taranaki for the WOMAD festival. Not sure how much space there is for the subject (my ever patient husband, Nigel!) with all the reflections! But I like the effect.

IMG_20180317_122104_377.jpg

Another one of Nigel out and about. The Boon Street Arts festival hits Hamilton every year and this is one of the offerings from this year.

Man wearing a strpd tee-shirt and jeans standing against a painted wall looking upwards. The wall is painted pink and blue with a dog in the right corner and other dog paraphernalia across the painting

As we walked along the front in New Plymouth I spotted this dogwalker. It isn’t a great technical photo but I do like the ‘seaside postcard’ effect of the composition.

man walking dog along a promenade by the sea which is in the background. The left side of the photo is the footpath with other walkers and a tall bendy red 'wand' swaying in the wind. The sky is blue.

Week 14: Tryptych

Week 14 asks us to connect two or three photos together to provoke a thought or to tell a story.

My biggest challenge was finding an app in which I could frame two or three photos. I fell back to ipiccy as this is a photo editing tool I have used before.

I am well behind on my weekly challenges but have had the project titles in my head as I have been out and about.  We have recently spent a lot of time in the NZ bush and as it is Autumn, there are heaps of mushrooms about.  The other day we found these Slender Parasols up by the trig point in Hamilton Gardens in various stages of development.

three parasol mushrooms in various stages of development.

A new garden has recently opened at Hamilton Gardens. I was not too impressed with the Tudor Garden but I really like the Concept Garden.  The squares of water, and different types of plants reflect the squares on land maps.  The Māori whakatauki on the wall and the rusted iron water tank tell contradictory stories of the permanence or fragility of the land and the people.

Whatungarongaro te tangata toituu te whenua
As man disappears from sight, the land remains

 He peke tangata, apa he peke titoki’ 
The human family lives on while the branch of the titoki falls and decays.

hamgardens.jpg

My third option is a city scape – I used an app called Tiny Planets which is a bit of fun to create the images in this collage. All the images are from the same photo but one is the original and the other two are edited in Tiny Planet.

three images in a row, the middle is a cityscape at sunset, the outer two are derivatives, edited through an app that makes them into planets

Back to nature for the last one. Once again on our wander into Hamilton Gardens on Anzac Day.  Autumn is good for seeds as well as mushrooms, and we saw these plants in various stages from fresh green pods to fully blown seeds.

seedburst 2

Too many choices again!

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 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°?