Thursday, 27 September 2012

Exhibition: 10X100 '10 Australian Photographers'

I recently visited the QCP exhibition 10x100 which focusses on 10 Contemporary Australian Photographers. Each artist was invited to submit 10 of their images for display using a Fuji Finepix X100 camera. The variety of images and ideas and resultant photos was quite impressive.

Particular favourites:

Brad Rimmer - 'dusk' - mixed lighting situations. Calm, eerie and silent scenes with a mystery about them. Combined with simple, somewhat deadpan portraits in beautiful lighting (a certain time of day).

Further research online discovered his work 'SILENCE the west Australian wheat belt' - all in similar beautiful  lighting situations (early morning or late afternoon or evening) - some 'found' objects such as a colourful dead bird or tyre swing (shallow DOF), more portraits of attractive young people staring at the camera sans smile or much expression, outside of wheat silos, all with lovely colour, square frames and slight vignetting at the corners of the images. Long, end of the day shadows. Not sure how the 'pretty' people fit in with the dry images of hard country life...

Brad Rimmer, for personal study purposes

Brad Rimmer, for personal study purposes

Louise Whelan - portrait of 'Lucille' - taken late afternoon with vibrant colours and unusual viewpoint (looking up from below, perhaps at a cheap motel?) - a visually engaging and interesting image.

Narelle Autio - comic and lighthearted images of a very familiar location (Falls Creek - a ski resort I have had family holidays to since I was 6 years old) - great to see a familiar scene with a cheeky twist (in particular her 'windy corner' image!). Research online later (viewing the Stills website) reveals many interesting underwater images which are really striking and vibrant in colour - the water holds the swimmers as if they are dancing or floating. I also like her Murray Cod series for its diversity on a simple subject (a fish!)
Narelle Autio, taken from Stills website for personal study purposes

Narelle Autio, taken from Stills website for personal study purposes

Narelle Autio, taken from Stills website for personal study purposes

Narelle Autio, taken from Stills website for personal study purposes

Marian Drew - quiet (a modern take?) still life scenes, apparently lit by torch using very long exposures. Online, looking at her website, I was most taken with the very long exposure landscapes where she has painted with light circles and lines - they are beautiful and unusual and quite tastefully done.
Marian Drew, for personal study purposes

Rimmer, B (2012), Brad Rimmer. Online, available at: [accessed 27/09/12]

Drew, M (2012), Marian Drew. Online, available at: [accessed 27/09/12]

Autio, N (2012),  Stills Gallery, Narelle Autio. Online, available at: [accessed 27/09/12]

Artist: Trent Parke

Last year I purchased the book ‘Minutes to Midnight’ by Australian Magnum photographer Trent Parke. I had seen some of his work online and thought that his images were quite stunning and dramatic, and I liked the fact that he photographs Australia and it’s unique people and way of life. During my current work on exposure for Assignment 2, I was reminded of Parkes dramatic use of slants of light pinpointing people or shapes and revisited the book and also online.

The book (Minutes to Midnight) size surprised me – it is almost pocket size, and only has about 30 pages. The images are all black and white, with little grey in between – so very dramatic use of the end members of black and white. There is great variety in the images – from a horse photographed at night using flash, to rain on a city street, movement and drama in many images, and slight blur which does not appear to detract from the mystic quality (for example the fruit bats flying overhead). The images are full of stories and great character and are quite distinctive. They were all photographed on a great road trip around Australia, and I wish there were twice as many in the book!! Nonetheless, it’s great to hold in my hands and feel transported to another place.

Trent Parke, from Stills Gallery website for personal study purposes

Trent Parke, from Stills Gallery website for personal study purposes

Trent Parke, from Stills Gallery website for personal study purposes

Trent Parke, from Stills Gallery website for personal study purposes
Trent Parke, from Stills Gallery website for personal study purposes

Viewing Parke’s feed on the Magnum website includes some of his colour images, which have a similar feel to some of Martin Parr’s images I recently saw at the Brisbane Powerhouse Museum (see my blog post here). Fantastic use of light and shade and dramatic colours. I was particularly taken by the second image in the feed; ‘AUSTRALIA. New South Wales. Pacific Highway. Motel. 2006.’ Such a bland sounding description (perhaps that’s thanks to Magnum?) but a wonderful dramatic image of the front of a Motel with a child playing and strong afternoon light with stormy clouds overhead. Even images of shopping trolleys are composed neatly and cleverly. Common to many great photographs I’ve seen lately is the use of strong colours and either complementary colours or opposing colours in bold statements. I particularly like the way individual people are picked out by light falling across a road or through a train station onto someone – they are highlighted by the bright light and it adds real dynamism to the image. Thinking about exposure – he uses the whole spectrum very strongly, and in many images it appears that there is clipping (or close-to) at both the highlight and shadow ends of the spectrum. This leads to fabulous dynamic pictures.
Trent Parke, taken from the Magnum Website for personal study purposes

Trent Parke, taken from the Magnum Website for personal study purposes

Trent Parke, taken from the Magnum Website for personal study purposes

"I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical."  
Trent Parke, Magnum Website


Parke, T. (2005), Minutes to Midnight. Paris: Collection Magnum

Parke, T (2012) Stills GalleryOnline, available at: [accessed 27/09/12]

Parke, T (2012) Magnum Photos. Online, available at: [accessed 27/09/12]

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Book: Perfect Exposure

I have been reading in detail the book 'Perfect Exposure' by Michael Freeman. This is an excellent book and perfect for reading just prior to doing Assignment 2. I have made lots of notes in my paper logbook that I'm not going to reproduce here, they are mostly for personal reference. Here I'm going to post up some images as examples of different exposure situations that I have encountered recently. I have been thinking and preparing for Assignment 2 and taking 'test' photos with my P&S camera before I go out with my DSLR.

Background is not blown out, but there is almost no detail in the bird, it is a silhouette (a little can be seen in the colour image, but I prefer the B&W version below). Processed in Lightroom:

This example I chose to keep the shadows deep and not expose for the people at the cafe - I think the deep shadows are intreging. I boosted the saturation somewhat in Lightroom.

In this case I chose to expose for the bright highlights on the leaves and keep the background dark (it is quite messy and not interesting) to isolate the brilliant green leaves of the plant. I have pulled back on both the highlights and shadows, the highlights were slightly overexposed and I wanted to make the shadows slightly darker. I also increased contrast slightly. 

This image of the inside of the Powerhouse Museum is lit only by natural light from large windows and skylights. I needed to pull back on the highlights to bring any detail in through the windows. This probably wouldn't be possibly with a jpeg, so for the assignment I may need to either not include the windows or reframe the shot not to include them. The shot would also be improved with the inclusion of people at the tables etc.

Freeman, M. (2009), Perfect Exposure. East Sussex: Ilex

Monday, 3 September 2012

TV Series: Photo Finish

I recently watched a series on ABC TV entitled 'Photo Finish'. It was a competition style show with three different contestants each week and a different challenge each week. I thought it was an interesting show, though a little lacking in polish, but that didn't stop me from being inspired to get out and try different techniques and give me inspiration to shoot some different scenes. A few ideas below...

Portraiture - get to know your subject and try to connect with them, perhaps before even picking up the camera
Landscape - get out in all weather, particularly bad weather as a great image can be made
Wedding - give it a go! connect with the people involved and don't forget to look at the details
Plastic Cameras - looks like fun - part of the challenge is the unknown
Fashion - be prepared to adapt as necessary when challenges arise
Photojournalism - don't try to set up scenes, just observe and capture
Mobile photography - try this more - always keep it handy and shoot lots of photos
Performance - light is challenging, but moody shots with some movement obvious can be interesting

This was a fun program to watch and has given me some new ideas to try out. Pushing yourself such as the way the participants did in this show (with limited time and new equipment) shows that thinking on the spot and being willing to give anything a go is important, and can help creativity. Perhaps I should push myself some time and give myself some 'mini-assignments' to help the creative juices flow.

ABC TV (2012), Photo Finish Website [online], Available from [Accessed 4 September 2012]

Exhibition: Martin Parr 'No Worries'

Today I visited the Brisbane Powerhouse Museum to see the Martin Parr Exhibition entitled 'No Worries', a photo essay documenting life in three small West Australian towns that was commissioned for the Fremantle photo festival FotoFreo. I thought the exhibition was excellent, and it was fantastic to see a large selection (probably about 40) prints of this very well known photographer. His use of intense colour was really obvious in the images, as well as really clever framing and varied viewpoints. The prints ranged a lot in size which added to the interest of the series as a whole. I made quite a few notes about the range of subject matter in my notebook which I won't reproduce here, instead I'll make some comments about the exhibition as a whole.

I thought there were many excellent images (not surprising given Parr's other work!) and it was great to see his take on Australian life, and how quintessential scenes had been captured by the master of capturing people and life in all it's glory (and ugliness!). His framing shows great mastery. The first image I thought was fabulous consisted of a beergut, stubby with beer in the foreground, man in chair on the beach in the midground and camel train behind behind is fabulous, and just perfectly captures the character of Broome. (You can see some of the images on the T and G Publishing website) (2011). There were many others that I thought were great. Overall, he has captured a wide variety of scenes of everyday life - of people in their homes and in their workplaces and in their places of relaxation. All are gently poking fun at the West Australian culture and people, and are in brilliant saturated colour and creative framing. A delight to view and I shall try to get back along to the exhibition before it closes in a few weeks. Part of the book can be 'viewed' on Parr's website (2012).
Book cover of 'No Worries', by Martin Parr. Taken from T and G website for personal study purposes
Spread from 'No Worries', by Martin Parr. Taken from T and G website for personal study purposes

When I got home I found a video online by David Dare Parker who interviewed and followed Parr for some of his time in Broome and Port Headland. The video is here. It provided some interesting insights into Parr's work, and it was good to see some actual footage of him shooting, posing people
("...the key is not to smile ... a portrait is a serious thing...") 
(a rough quote from Parr in the video) (2011) and commenting on his work and his desire to become more of a 'community photographer', a concept which I like - shooting in the community and then returning to show the community the images of themselves.

Parker, D. (2011), David Dare Parker Blog [online], Available from [Accessed 4 September 2012]

Parr, M. (2012), Martin Parr Website [online], Available from [Accessed 4 September 2012]

T and G Publishing (2011), [online], Available from [Accessed 4 September 2012]