Category: Fine Art

stkilda-pier-longexposure-kiosk-melbourne

Today I just have an image for you. It was taken last week and is of St Kilda Pier. I was down there with a friend at sunrise and we were going to make the trip out on the rocks to do some long exposures, but it had been raining and we weren’t sure how safe it would be to walk out on the rocks. I was going to go, and I had my camera around my neck, but thought I should put it in my bag, just in case I slipped. I decided to take a couple of quick shots first, then I saw the photos on the back of the camera and thought, I have to do a long exposure here.
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woomelang-silos-train-tracks-longexposure

Since this is a new beginning for this blog and you are all here I would like to do some new things. One thing that I would like to go back to doing is looking at an image and seeing how I processed it. More a discussion on it rather than a tutorial, but perhaps over time I might start doing some of those as well. So this is the first of my posts on the Evolution of an Image, and we start with one I call Going Through.

Going Through

The image for this discussion was taken up at my mothers last week. I had lots of plans of getting lots and lots of long exposures, but the weather was unseasonably warm, or hot if you like. It also meant bright light and not many clouds. I did manage to get out a couple of times, and I pretty much got what I wanted, but I think it might be the start of it really. I am looking forward to getting back and trying more.

This is the basic image that I managed to get. I love these silos, they say the Mallee to me, however they are no longer used, like so many things there.

basic-image-1959

I haven’t done anything to this image, and this is how it was shot. It was a four minute exposure with the Firecrest 16 ND Filter from Formatt Hitech. It was starting to get too bright so I had to make some adjustments. I am starting to think I might need to get the Firecrest 3 as well, do some stacking, especially with our harsh light.

Once I got it home I opened it up in Adobe Camera Raw to make some preliminary adjustments. I always do these images in Adobe Photoshop as I know I will want to do things that I can’t do in Lightroom. I also converted it into a black and white image.

straight-from-ACR

You can see the clouds moving and the black and white conversion allows for more concentrated effort on the textures and patterns. Sometimes we can get too distracted by the colours.

Lots of things were done to the image. The sky was darkened because I like dark skies. I like that effect. I also put some noise into the sky to help with any distortions that can happen as you darken it.

I started working on the silos themselves next. I wanted people’s eyes to settle on the ones at the end. The oldest silos, and the ones that you see everywhere in the Mallee. They are no longer used, so they are the subject for me. The silos on the left were too bright so I had to work on them to take the focus off them. I like dodging and burning so did quite a bit of that all over the image.

woomelang-silos-train-tracks-longexposure-monochrome

There is a lot more contrast in the final image. The silos stand out more, but the ones at the end get a little lost. I knew that I would want this image in colour.

I converted it back to colour and my orange silos were back. Sometimes when I convert them back you can end up with some over saturated colours that just ruin the image and you can’t fix it, but other times you can. This was one that I could. I chose to get rid of a lot of the colour from the sky, it wasn’t the subject. I worked on the silos at the end more. I think in the final image they stand out more. Though as a final bit of processing I also put some purple into the shadows.

woomelang-silos-train-tracks-longexposure

I know some people are going to prefer the monochrome version, but for me it is the colour one. I think it is a much stronger image. For me your eyes go to the end silos.

This image is also for sale and I will be putting up a page for pricing soon with a blog post on it.

As I usually do with long exposures images I started by making the image of the Eureka Tower monochrome, then I wondered what it would be like with a touch of colour. The gold windows at the top of the tower make it such a distinctive building and every time you see them you know which building you are looking at.

As I said, it was a long exposure. Taken with the Formatt Hitech Firecrest 16 Nd Filter. It was a six minute exposure that I did last weekend.

1st State

Here is the monochrome version.

eureka-building-melbourne-longexposure-monochrome

I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with this image, but it does tend to look like a lot of other images done the same way.

2nd State

eureka-building-melbourne-longexposure

In the end I decided that while I didn’t mind the majority of the image being monochrome, I did want the top bit to show the gold and the little strip of red. I like the touch of colour and think it makes the image more interesting.

Being Featured

On another note, but along the same lines, I wanted to let you know that I am now a featured artist on the Formatt Hitech website. It has been such an honour to be featured and I feel in very good company when I see the work of others there. You can check out my page here, Leanne Cole.

I do love their filters and I never have a problem promoting them. I keep hearing from others how much they love them too. I find I am using them more and more as well, and now I’m starting to get asked to teach people as well, that’s nice.

Long exposure photography seems to be becoming something I am doing a lot. I know it is important for my art work and you will be seeing a lot more of it in the future.

flindersstreetstation-afternoon-sun-shadows-melbourne

Sometimes you really are in the right place at the right time. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but last night, well, I was so happy to see the light that was shining onto and reflecting onto Flinders Street Station. It was soft, almost diffused light.

We had been down to Docklands to take photos, but the late afternoon sun was hot and too bright. We decided after awhile that we should head down to Federation Square and maybe do some sunset and early evening shots down there.

We jumped on a tram down Flinders Street from Spencer Street. I love it that trams are now free in the CBD. Still, it was incredibly busy and not a lot of them. We were jammed on one with lots of other people.

When we got off at Flinders Street Station I could see the late afternoon sun coming from the direction we had just come from. It was shining on the side of the station, but the front, which should have been in shade, also had light on it. It was being reflected off something else and gave the front a beautiful soft diffused light. It was stunning.

There were no trams coming so I could stand on the tracks and take photos before the lights changed. I was also very happy that I had my 14-24mm lens on.

flindersstreetstation-afternoon-sun-shadows-melbourne

 

Once the image was opened in Adobe Photoshop CC I had to do a bit of work to get rid of the distortions that the lens creates, but I think this works. The front part was full of people, so I tried to darken that area, so while they are still there, they don’t stand out. I also did a little more work to make the front of the station station stand out more, but not a lot.

For me this was incredible. I had never seen the light on the station like this before. I love the effect of it.

seafarers-bridge-monochrome-long-exposure

In Melbourne there are many bridges that allow you to cross the river. Some are for cars, and many for pedestrians and bicycles. One bridge that is one of my favourites to photograph is the Seafarers Bridge where it goes over the Yarra.

One Viewseafarers-bridge-yarra-river-melbourneThe things that go over are like ribs of a ship or a sail. It is like our mini opera house. There are so many angles to experiment with. This image is also a long exposure. I’ve really only done long exposures here once, but it is definitely a place I want to do more.

Another View

seafarers-bridge-monochrome-long-exposure

This is from the other side. I’ve began to realize that I need to explore the angles a lot more.

One of the downsides with this bridge is how popular it is and there are always people on it, or so it seems at times. This is where the advantage of doing a long exposure comes in. If you can get a long enough time then you can get photos so that the people don’t show up. It is something that really interests me with long exposures.

I’ve been using the Formatt Hitech Filters, and the one I especially love is the Firecrest 16. I’ve now got several of their filters, and the full ND filters are the ones I like the most. I have the 6 , the 10 and the 16 stop, I just need to get the 13 and I will have the full set. I really like their filters.

The next thing to get is the filter holder and maybe the 10 stop to start with for my Nikon 14-24mm. I would love to be able to do some long exposure photography with that lens. That is next on the list.

I just keep wanting to go into the city and take photos these days. I find it so satisfying. The more I do it the more I can understand what sort of scenes I want to shoot. I have a purpose in mind and I can see that it is becoming a reality, if that is the right way of putting it.

lane-entrance-melbourne-city-colour

In the last couple of weeks I seem to be spending more and more of my time in the city taking photos. I really want to try some new things, and I know the images I’m taking are a little different to my usual work. Though, I have to admit, I’m not totally sure what I want to do yet. I know I seem confused and perhaps I am.  Then I was reminded that I promised to blog here more and I haven’t been. It is getting crazy, I have the next issue of Dynamic Range Magazine due out in about two weeks, my book on Banyule Flats has to be finished in the next month or so, and I have a whole new body of work I’m itching to start. See, crazy.  Let me show you what I have been doing.

study1-lane-melbourne-flindersstreet-spencer

I’ve been going back to the city and isolated places and seeing what I can do with them.

I enjoy making them look isolated, mysterious and perhaps dark. I’m still playing around with the processing and seeing what I can do with them. I think it helps when I know what I am trying to do, what feeling I want to express.

shelter-railway-line-rain-city

This is under the rail bridge that runs between Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Station. It is an area that is often inhabited by homeless people, except when it rains. Then there is too much water. It is a beautiful underpass, if that is the right phrase. I liked how isolated it looked, almost lonely.

lane-entrance-melbourne-city-colour

Sometimes it is also interesting to just take some photos that have an almost abstract quality to them. I like the columns here. They are black and shiny, but everything reflects in them, so they almost blend into the surrounds. It is the second time I have been there to take photos, and I suspect not the last.

With all three images they are in places that I know I will go back to. It is nice to have places to photograph over and over and see what you can do. Get them in different lights and different seasons.

With the last photo I have also done it in black and white for Monochrome madness on my other blog.

house-abandoned-cairncurran-reservoir-newstead

Finding Abandoned Homes

Driving around the countryside in Victoria, Australia, you are bound to come across old homes that are home to no one anymore. Some of them are easy to get to, while others you need to get permission to go there.

They are made from different assorted materials. Usually very small. It is amazing to consider what they lived in back then and what we live in now. It is also amazing how solidly they were built, considering how quickly houses seem to fall apart these days.

house-old-brick-maldon-abandoned

This is on the roadside and many people stop to photograph it. I don’t know if it was a home, but has usual markings of a small two roomed house from the 19th century. Buildings like this are very common around central Victoria from the gold rush days. Many tiny homes. I’ve been in a couple of them and they are so small. I couldn’t imagine living in one of them. What’s that old saying, no room to even swing a cat. I know it isn’t a good saying, but fits what I was trying to say.

house-abandoned-cairncurran-reservoir-newstead

This old home is a lot bigger than the previous one, but it is no longer inhabited and has been devoid of life for some time, around 100 years. It was abandoned to make way for a reservoir or dam. The Loddon River was sort of dammed and this house was under water for a very long time. I don’t know when it emerged, but think it may have happened during the drought we had at the beginning of this century. I don’t know if it will ever go under again as our climate warms up and water becomes scarcer.

Another reason for empty homes is that as farms join and get bigger and bigger the homes of the original farms are no longer needed and are just vacated and left.

For whatever reason the homes are abandoned it is good for us photographers. There are so many photographers that love abandoned buildings, so they now get a new purpose. I am finding more and more all the time.

old-church-woomelang-falling-down

Adding Mood to an Image

When you look on the internet you see images everywhere. There are millions and millions of them. They are all great and that then creates the problem of how to make yours stand out. I don’t know the answer to that, or what you can do about it, but what I love to do is try adding mood to my images.

old-church-woomelang-falling-down

This is an old Church in the small country town of Woomelang. I go up there a lot and I first started taking photos of this Church about 20 years ago, and the last time I did was back in August. When I was there last, a few weeks ago, this Church was gone. The building had been sold and it was taken apart to be shipped somewhere else. Now there is one less thing to take photos of up there.

This photo was actually taken early in 2014. I wanted to do something more with one image to show it in a new light and as a thank you to it for being a fantastic subject all these years. It is my farewell to the building.

The original image had a horrible sky. It was taken very early in the morning and to say it was boring is an understatement. The first thing I had to do was replace it. I found a sky that I had taken up there once before. It was also done in early morning, so perfect really.

Cloudy skies are great for adding mood to an image. It is so important, I think, for fine art photographers to collect certain things, and one of those is skies. I have collected around 300 different ones so far, and I continue to collect them.

This image would not have had the same impact if the sky was boring. We know that clouds give us a feeling of morose or something like that. There is something about cloudy days that effects us all. When you see images with that cloudy sky then those feelings come to you. I like the way it helps to demand a response from the viewer.

Just because you take an image under certain circumstances, doesn’t mean you have to settle for it.  You can change whatever you like in the image to get what you want. Of course you have to know how, and if you don’t there is nothing to stop you from learning.

Think about what you wish you could do with your images.

desk-lamp-typewriter-antique-swanhill

Today it has been really hot here. To say that our visit to Swan Hill and the Pioneer Settlement was silly is an understatement. Really not a great place to be when it is so hot. I did take some photos, but I don’t know if they will be any good. I did get one that I couldn’t wait to process.

desk-lamp-typewriter-antique-swanhill

This was in one of the shops, I think it was the stock and station agents, but to be honest, I can’t really remember. The interior was quite dark and all you could see was the light on the desk. I really like the way the camera saw it.

When I got home and started to play with it I wanted to keep that low light and tried to emphasis it a bit more. I also wanted a more sepia look to it, without it being a true sepia image. It is still colour, but has that tone. I tried to make it look like a memory, perhaps a moment gone.

Swan Hill wasn’t really successful for us, but I should have known better. I grew up around the area and I know what the heat is like. There will be other visits I’m sure, perhaps in the winter.

bridge-railway-reservior-dry-monochrome

Recently I got to go to a place in country Victoria to explore and while we were there we saw an old railway bridge. The bridge is no longer in use. The area was made into a reservoir and I guess the bridge was too low. Close by there is another railway bridge, but it is much higher.

Something I’ve been doing a lot when I process images is to immediately change them into black and white. I then work on the image as though it will be a black and white image.

bridge-railway-reservior-dry-monochrome

I don’t have a problem with how it looks in black and white.  I tried to bring out the brick pylons that were left from the bridge, or what would have held up all the rails, which have been removed. I also did a bit of work in the sky to make it look more stormy.

Then, as I’ve done many times I reversed the process and made it colour again.

bridge-railway-reservior-dry-colour

Sometimes when you convert it back you can find it looks revolting as the colours are too saturated, or they are changed too much. The bottom half of this image was fine, and I like the colours, but the blues and aquas/cyans in the sky were over saturated. It didn’t take much to pull them down a bit so the sky looked stormy again and not a colour mess.

I was going to leave it there, but then I decided to go back to the black and white image and add a slight tone to it.

bridge-railway-reservior-dry-toned

I like the warmth of it, but I don’t think this is my favourite version of the image. It does give it another element, but I worry that maybe there is a lack of contrast in it. So I decided to add some more and see how it looked.

bridge-railway-reservior-dry-toned-2

I guess the test now is whether or not you can see any difference. I think there is.

It is fun to try one image and do different processes to it.  Each person will have there own ideas of which ones work and which don’t. I like them all, but I think I might like the colour more, but that is me.

I am going to put them in a gallery for you so you can see them better. You can click on the images for a bigger view.