Hey, look who graduated - Congratulations Cass!
Lucis & Umbra
Photography by c.j. kerr
How do you get nice light?
A softbox is the easy answer, but I can’t afford one. Bare fill flash can help if you know what you’re doing, but it can be too harsh unless you find a surface to bounce from.
What if you’re outdoors? Then you can use a really simple trick - step into the shade.
In reality shade looks dull, but what the camera sees is soft, even, beautiful light. A little bit of photoshop magic to sweeten the highlights and you’re golden!
Posted in Project 180, People, Landscapes on 9th April 2012
Eagle eyed views will note that I haven’t posted an image in nearly a month. For a project intended to deliver 3 photos per week, that’s a pretty serious failing.
I started this project with the greatest of optimism. I knew I’d be at University most days, that finding time and inspiration would be a challenge, but I was determined to push forward. I borrowed a smaller camera, tried to convince myself that life, in all its spontaneity, would provide moments as I went. But it was not to be.
I’m blind in the city. I look, and I see nothing. Sometimes I shoot there anyway - this post showcases a few of the things I brought back.
Stay tuned: Project 180 2012 is dead, but I’ve got more to announce soon.
Sometimes the only motivation for taking a photo is fun, and that’s OK!
Why was I shooting with a 70-200mm indoors? For fun! Why did I take a photo of Brooke mid-word? For fun! Why is the processing all crazy?
I’ll let you guess ;o)
This post is also a farewell to my faithful 70-200mm f/4L - we had a fine 18 months together, and it never let me down, but I’ve just swapped it for a 200mm f/2.8L prime. Bon voyage old friend!
Ladies and gentlemen, Patience Hodgson! The Grates enthusiastic vocalist made a tough subject - she bounced across the stage non-stop, punctuated only by a few spots of crowdsurfing.
Sorry about the lousy quality - I only carried the S95 because I wasn’t sure if a real camera would get past security. As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried, Manning Bar seems pretty relaxed about such things.
Ahem. Sorry guys, this is a bit of a copout - I shot some proper stuff today, but it was all on the Rolleiflex - forgot to take something digital.
This was shot on Cassie’s S95 after a pint of liquid inspiration. The processing is a crazy mix of the camera’s “Nostalgia” mode and what I added after I figured I might as well run with it. Next time, someone remind me to shoot RAW…
Hey, I’m back!
You may have noticed that I’ve fallen behind. This, then, is as good a time as any to announce that I’m trimming the project.
The goal of the project was to get me to use the camera every day, and I’ve certainly been doing that. The trouble is my own standards - I refuse to upload snapshots, only photographs with motive. This turns every day into a deadline, and that makes me cranky and snappish. For the sake of my friends and family, it’s time to tone it back.
Henceforth, this is Project 180. I’ll aim to update 3 times per week - provisionally Monday-Wednesday-Saturday. I’ll also be posting a “bonus” image each month from entries to competitions like OCAU’s “Iron Photographer”. If you figure that out, it totals to 174. I’m not sure where the other 6 will come from yet, but I promise the updates won’t stop until I reach 180!
I’ll still aim to post most days - a little less time fretting will mean more time writing, so expect tips and articles to start trickling in soon.
Today’s image was shot yesterday from Stockton. The real subject is the sky - everything else is just an unusually unco-operative prop to balance it out. I’m not thrilled with the composition, but I’m happy enough to post!
Just catching up for yesterday - this Noisy Miner is no friend of mine, but he did want my lunch!
For birds in flight there’s no substitute for focal length, but aggressively foolish birds like the Minor are quite approachable - this was shot with a 60mm Macro from about 35 centimetres.
What a sky - I’m really happy with this one, which is a nice boost after yesterday.
Coming out of the Botanic Gardens, I happened to look over the top of the builders fences near the Opera House and saw this composition, just as she turned and walked away.
Fortunately my long-suffering model was on hand to recreate it! Sorry Cass, I didn’t realise the staircase was quite so long…
I’m not going to pretend I’m happy with this image - I’m really not. You may have picked that up in the “ironic” lomo processing - after all, that’s how the cool kids make bad pictures better, right?
I still think there’s potential in this installation, but this composition is too busy to be effective.
It’s not everyday you photograph a kangaroo doing a jig. Only on Day 12.
A good photograph finds a new motive or a new moment. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering - just different. If your photo looks the same as anyone else’s, what makes it yours?
I’ll post a bunch more from this set when I’m done processing.
I reckon it’s time for another portrait post! Informed viewers will note that this image wasn’t taken yesterday when it should have been - sorry about that, I really do hope to be well again soon! I’m falling back to my secondary rules - not shared before and processed today. It was actually taken on Day 2.
Don’t worry, there’s another image coming for today, I just need to finish the writeup.
Still sick, but the local wildlife showed up to help me out.
Well, actually, they showed up in search of dinner, but that’s beside the point - the local kookaburras are pretty tame, and not spooked by flash, so they make fair subjects.
There’s another below - I actually like it better, but I missed focus a little.
Copout? You decide - I’m a bit unwell, so hitting the streets for inspiration was beyond me today. Instead, allow me to welcome you to day two of introspection week.
I’m an engineer first and a photographer second - I’m drawn to technology, the more arcane the better. Today’s photograph features a Russian “Nixie” tube, a precursor to modern alphanumeric displays. Like the Rolleiflex featured yesterday, it’s obsolete, yet beautiful. Both are rare and fragile, but these aren’t works of art, they’re tools - they were designed and built with such care because they were to be used, not admired.
This is true of my cameras - I admire the design, the complexity and ingenuity and purpose. I don’t know if I’m an artist - I create, but is it creative? - but I do love to use these instruments of precision and beauty. I am a photographer.
I was thinking today about the end result of this Project 365 - essentially, a document of a year of my life. And I realised that, thus far, my Project has showcased a lot about my photography, but very little about me.
A real person doesn’t just have strengths, they have quirks and flaws, and I have many, but we’ll start with a photographic one: film.
Some people admire the aesthetic qualities of film, whilst others are drawn to its physicality. Still others love the process, the arcane rituals and the smell of fixer. I can relate to all that, but that’s not why I shoot film - I shoot film to make photography fun. Digital photography is humiliating - every failure displayed for your instant review. Film turns that around - instead of disappointment, every shot stirs anticipation.
Today’s image is shot through the viewfinder of a Rolleiflex 2.8F TLR, a beautiful camera I’ll write more about soon.
“Light and Shade” - the raw elements of the photographers craft.
This image almost didn’t happen - I went out tonight with a very clear vision of the shot I wanted, but I had trouble communicating the concept to Cass, my lovely girlfriend and reluctant model. Straight out of the camera, none of the images were quite what I wanted - the pose too jaunty, the nose too indistinct.
In processing, I was drawn to this image, but I wasn’t sure why. A little crop, a counter-clockwise rotation, and it becomes clear - the image I wanted was there all along.
Aww, isn’t he cute?
One of the goals of this project is to push myself out of my comfort zone. Coming from a portrait mindset, macro photography is hard - the subjects are tiny and uncooperative, and it’s difficult to get nice light.
The solution to the last problem is a softbox - I don’t have one, but I used this template to build a little prototype. It certainly helped, but the highlights are still harsher than I’d like.
I’m afraid I didn’t shoot this image today - it’s actually from Christmas. But I did get around to processing it, and I’ve not shared it before, so I’m letting myself have a pass this time.
Children are always easy portrait subjects, and that’s doubly true of those as well behaved as Nicholas! Still, it’s fun, and that’s what this project is all about.
Hooray! For the first time in this project, here’s an image I’m genuinely happy with. Newcastle put on a nice warm sunset and provided some fresh subject matter, and it all came together.
This has been processed as a stack of two images for improved depth of field - I shot two versions, with the wharf and ship in focus respectively, but neither felt right. I prefer this blend, even if it is a bit quick and dirty!
The simple majesty of space. The vast silent abyss. The unifying beacon of the Southern Cross.
If only that had been what I set out to capture! Actually, I’d set out to do some star trails, but the weather had other ideas, so I had to be happy shooting this patch of clear sky.
Everyone, meet Tash. You’ll probably see her a few more times this year! Most of my friends are camera shy - Tash not so much.
Sorry this image is a bit late - I was out at a party. Fortunately Tash stepped up to the mark, saving everyone from a photo of a lamppost at midnight.
One down, three hundred and sixty-four to go. Sounds like a bit of a commitment when you put it like that!
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, the idea of Project 365 is simple - capture and share one photo every day. By the end of it, I hope to have two things: a neat record of a year of my life, and a style to call my very own.
I thought we’d start this with a bang, so I stayed up all night to photograph the sunrise from Forresters Beach. Nothing ever goes to plan - with dangerous swell and thick cloud cover, the images I’d had in mind were unattainable. Sunrise, when it came, only served to suck the last traces of blue from the landscape, so I packed up and went home.
Remember Spy vs. Spy? No? That’s OK - by rights, neither should I. Spy vs. Spy (or The Spys to their friends) were legends of the Sydney pub rock scene - two decades ago.
A dedicated fanbase in Brazil kept them together until 2003, but guitarist Mike Weiley never let the music stop. Maybe the lineups after Craig Bloxom left aren’t true Spys - but that doesn’t make them less fun to photograph! Head on past the jump for more from the night.