| inspiring | challenging | thought provoking |
The words I've used above are what motivate me to take photographs. Photography allows me to express my feelings, thoughts, ideas and creativeness and transform these into my visual interpretation. I enjoy seeing beautiful images and am continually impressed by the wonderful work fellow photographers produce and share. I'm always looking to capture natural pictures as well as create effects which can both enhance and stimulate discussion and debate.
a definition of mindfulness
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it. I feel this ability we have can be a significant factor in the art of photography, and I'm certain it helps me to connect with my subject.
Be aware of what's around you
I became interested in photography over 50 years ago having bought my first 35mm camera. I certainly 'got the bug' and experimented in home processing of black and white film and then became a big fan of reversal slide film. I still have hundreds of slides and a working projector. Eventually the 'digital age' took hold, my first camera being a Kodak 1 megapixel camera, yes one megapixel, before moving on to several SLR cameras with a number of different lenses. I now thoroughly enjoy using both rangefinder and mirrorless cameras.
what inspires me
My main photographic passions are street photography and landscapes and I like to explore different viewpoints in everyday situations. I've also come to love monochrome more and more and feel that it provides another perspective to my images. But I also get inspiration by seeing other peoples images whether it be in camera groups, on websites or social media shares. I'm not an avid reader but I do read articles that appeal to me and I guess any keen street photographer should have a copy of 'the decisive moment' by Henri Cartiér Bresson. There are also some great YouTube videos and the Sky Arts series Master of Photography is worth a watch on Catch Up.
being aware of what's happening around me helps me create interesting images
I'm fortunate to live in walking distance of the Forest and close to some beautiful locations which provide endless opportunities for photography. Nature is a wonderful thing and whilst I don't attempt much in the way of wildlife photography, the changing seasons offer a wonderful landscape to recreate. Cities such as Bristol and Cardiff are also easy to travel to and provide lots of scope for my street photography.
photography is an art and therefore subjective
Photography like other art forms is very subjective and therefore 'each to their own'. Members of camera clubs will often concentrate on creating technically perfect images using Photoshop to correct or embellish the original, the once adage "the camera never lies" certainly is a relic of the past. Making tweaks and enhancements in post production is pretty standard these days although I don't get into the really 'heavy' manipulation.
My approach to photography is generally 'project' based. I prefer to have an objective or topic I can focus on (forgive the pun), rather than go out aimlessly looking for for subject matter. Recently I set about photographing a number of the many villages within the Forest Of Dean and I found it really interesting wandering down side streets and discovering wonderful architecture and hidden gems. Some other projects have been the Severn Estuary bridges, Graffiti, mainly in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol and Selective Colour; this is where I convert a colour image to black and white leaving an object within the picture in colour.
villages of the forest of dean project
becoming mindful of the beauty that surrounds me
I love photographing trees they have a mystery about them and the foliage and the shapes they create provide some interesting opportunities. The vibrance of colour as the trees reach their summer peak show the Forest in all its glory whilst Autumn leaves bring those wonderful rich oranges, reds and browns. I like to photograph from different perspectives in order to create an atmospheric effect. Using an extreme wide angle lens emphasises the height and breadth. The forest is definitely a place where I can 'lose myself' from the noise of everyday life and be more mindful of the beauty that surrounds me.
These came about by chance when I was shooting some street photography in Cardiff. I engaged with a young man who was sleeping rough and chatted to him about how he came to be there, with his permission I took a few photos' and published his story with an image on my website. I've now done this around a dozen times with a variety of people I have met and having chatted to them found they have an interesting story to tell, and who have been happy for me to take their picture even if they wouldn't usually do so.
I'd often seen this guy out walking the lanes when I was driving by; he'd signal with his hand and I was never sure whether it was an acknowledgement or some other sort of gesture! Originally from Ross, Lenny is one of the Forest of Dean's true characters and today whilst about to start my short woodland walk, he appeared as if from nowhere, and seeing my cameras asked 'if I'd got anything?". We began a conversation and I learned that Lenny is a Pagan and believes that "things in life happen, you don't make them happen!" He is an artist, and crafts walking sticks from the branches he might find and also the antlers from deer that have passed. What a great character and I just had to take his picture; something apparently he rarely gives.
taking photographs helps my wellbeing
Photography is a great hobby, it can be challenging, it get's your mind thinking and your creative juices flowing. It gets you outdoors, yet provides opportunities indoors. It can help you meet people and sharing your images and memories can be a wonderful social activity. You may never produce the 'perfect photo', very few people do, but you will get great satisfaction seeing and sharing the results of your endeavours and hearing those words, "what a great photo that is".
the best camera is the one you have with you
You may well of heard this statement before and it's absolutely true. Many great photo opportunities have been missed because your 'proper camera' was at home. Nowadays virtually everyone has a camera in their phone and modern day phone cameras can take exceptional pictures. I use mine regularly as it has a great camera and makes it really easy for sharing on social media.
it's being mindful of what you see
Hopefully you like the photo's I've shown in this presentation and you might be thinking I bet he has a very expensive camera and that's one of the reasons they're good. Well yes I do, but having a 'good camera' doesn't necessarily make you a good photographer. You can achieve this whether you use your phone, a simple snapshot camera or a Mirrorless or DSLR. It's being mindful of what you 'see', how you interpret that and how you create the image that makes the difference between a 'nice snap' and a great picture.
can I inspire you?
So if you love to take photographs now's the time to get out with whatever camera you have and try a different approach to creating some special images. Think about what you are going to photograph and what you want to achieve. Try and visualise how you want your photo to look; whether it be capturing a landscape a personality through a portrait or conveying a pictorial message. Then decide where and when to do it and immerse yourself in the process; you will enjoy it.
| topics | projects | challenges |
Set a topic or maybe a little project to complete over a period of time or set a photo challenge with someone. Myself and a friend take it in turns every four to six weeks to choose a topic to photograph leaving the interpretation to ourselves. We then get together over a coffee or lunch and review each others images, usually we limit it to a maximum of six pictures.
simple tips and techniques for improving your pictures
IMAGE ORIENTATION: If you're using a phone please turn it on its side. It seems that most photo's taken on phones are taken in portrait position, yet our natural field of vision is horizontal (landscape). Unless you are taking a portrait or specifically want a vertical perspective, using your camera in the landscape position will give you more scope and produce more natural images.
COMPOSITION. We often snap a picture and don't notice a distracting object such as the 'P' sign in this example. Just moving the camera angle or the subject if you can will hide the offending object.
VIEWPOINTS: We often photograph from our usually standing position, but crouching down as in example 1 or looking up as in example 2 can produce a very different result.
RULE OF THIRDS: It's common to place the main subject centrally in the picture, but often the photo can be more interesting if you offset it. The rule of thirds grid (which is built into some cameras but easy to visualise), guides you to use the vertical and horizontal cross-points to position objects; this makes the photo much more interesting and can turn a good image into a great image.
CROPPING: I guess many of you do this but again it's a great way of ensuring that the most important part of your picture has no distractions. Just be careful not to crop too much as your camera may not be able to maintain the quality of resolution you need for a sharp image.