Monday, 2 November 2009

creative trail continues . . .

Over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to visit a few galleries and exhibitions and wanted to jot down my thoughts.  The first I visited was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Beacon in Whitehaven.  It was full of wonderful and colourful photography from across the globe.  Many different styles from the macro to the massive to the humourous.  But my overriding feeling on leaving there was that the photographers all had at least one thing in common - patience and oodles of it. There was one particular photo that caught my eye and brought a smile to my face which was deadlock by David Maitland. The photographer said in his text he'd been watching them for 3 hours and left them to it still in deadlock. 

It made me wonder too whether we somehow judge the quality of a photo by the hours of painstaking waiting, setting up and preparation that goes in to a shot?  Because taking photos can take a split second, does a quick shot belittle the value of the art of a photo. And therefore for a photo to be viewed as 'art' does creating the image need to take the same amount of time as an artist would take to paint a picture?  Any less is somehow an insult to the art of photography.

The other thing that made me think a little was this andy rouse image about lighting. Some part of me considers using the flash as bit of a cheat and that ambient light is far more preferable.  However, when I read the blurb on this image and discovered it was taken with flash it got me thinking.  I have a 580ex flashlight and have used it at weddings for fill-in light but I think I would like to start using it more creatively.  Lighting is an area I would like to explore more as often it is trial and error at the moment and rarely with flash. 

On a trip to Keswick last week I also went to a local landscape photographers exhibition and saw a further exhibition at Rheged, near Penrith.  Viewing these helped me crystallise a little about the type of landscape photography I like (and don't like) and the style of photography I would like to pursure more.  The first exhibition was a church room full of framed images of breathtaking scenery of the Lake District from vivid summer days, misty days, autumn golds and still reflections in the lakes.  They were beautiful, well-composed and striking images.  But living in the Lakes I have seen many images similar to these many times.  I myself have taken many images of a similar ilk.  However, I am finding a beautiful landscape is not enough.  In the past I have framed some of my own best landscapes and hung them in various places in the house.  People commented favourably on them when they visited, but I barely looked at them.  They began to frustrate being hung up at all because I just didn't get any enjoyment out of them.  Although I took them, they were not important to me or didn't mean anything to me.  It is one of the reasons I embarked on this course because I was so disillusioned with my own photographs that just weren't doing it for me and I couldn't figure out why.

The second exhibition, I have temporarily forgotten the name of the photographer, also a landscape/travel photographer had twelve or so large, framed prints.  They all incorporated something quirky or different, either the subject matter, composition or lighting. In others it was the incongruous placement of a naked model in the landscape (something I also experimented with in assignment one) and then in others it was capturing vibrant people at fairs, daredevils jumping off devils bridge.  I didn't like all the images, but I did like the vibrancy and quirkiness of the images.  There was something in each of them that held your attention a little longer than you would otherwise have done had it been a conventional landscape shot.  This I liked.

The final thing I thought about was the actual physical framing and presentation of the images I had seen.  In the exhibitions I have been to, matting is predominantly white and frames black and relatively discreet.  In commercial galleries, images are more frequently presented in a variety of frames from wooden, gold effect, shiny, matt, metal, in fact virtually everything under the sun.  The matting varies in width, size and colour and the image itself also varies in finsh from gloss, poster-print to photo-finish.  And then there is canvas too. I am beginning to appreciate the presentation of the image is as important as the image itself. Often frames can create too much congestion whilst on others it makes the image complete.  Again, an area I need to work on is the print finish of large images.  I've used several online consumer-facing sites and would prefer to find a commercial printer that specialises in this.  In addition, I have used good ol' wilko's for frames in the past and have been pleased with the quality.  Professionally framed prints are costing significantly more, however, in the long-run I really need to look in to this.

Enough of my ramblings for now. Toodle-loo.

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