Category Archives: Photography

A World in a Drop of Water

I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine : I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Water Drops. Seriously, I do. I find water photography fascinating, particularly Macro and Liquid Splash photos. With Macro water drop photography, you can often really see an entire World reflected in just that one drop of clear, sparkling water. I really admire photographers who are able to capture that drop at precisely the right moment, or find that perfect necklace of spider’s web dew, or present a perfect flower within a tiny raindrop.

The other day I was looking through my collection of Pins, and I’ve decided to share with you some of my favourite Water Drop Pins. I stand in awe of the many superlative Macro photographers out there, as reflected by the following images; some of the photos are not Macros, instead I’ve chosen them for their sense of otherworldly beauty, or for their beautiful Zen stillness. I love being a Pinterest curator!

Here are some of my favourite water drops (courtesy of Pinterest and all credits to the photographers, naturally):
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Artist Inspiration : Eiko Jones

I came across this startling image whilst browsing Pinterest the other day, and immediately went “Whoa! What on earth is that?” Well, not exactly in those words, lol, but if you see the image yourself, you’ll know why it got that reaction from me.

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It’s of tadpoles swimming underwater through water lily stalks in Cedar Lake, Vancouver Island, Canada. The photographer extraordinaire is Eiko Jones. National Geographic Magazine featured this shot in its “Photo of the Day” page online on January 2, 2013, and again in its Editor’s Choice section in its magazine, in April 2013.

Check out Eiko’s photography website for more information about his work.  He specialises in predominantly underwater photography, although he does occasionally undertake above water work too.

http://www.eikojonesphotography.com

More photos of Eiko’s superb work here, courtesy of Google Images and of course copyrighted to Eiko Jones:

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Artist Inspiration : Ruud Van Empel

Chances are you’ve already seen this wonderfully iconic piece of photographic art:

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I’ll bet anything that you then wondered whether it’s a real photo, or whether it’s the result of meticulous Photoshopping? Well, wonder no more. This is indeed a digitally manipulated photo collage by Dutch artist Ruud Van Empel, whose surrealistic yet entirely plausible photographs straddle the genre between photography and art. A real genre-bender.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruud_van_Empel

http://www.ruudvanempel.nl

The Wikipedia entry on Ruud describes his photographic techniques thus:

“Van Empel’s working method is a complex one. He photographs 4 or 5 professional models in his studio and takes many detailed photographs of leaves, flowers, plants and animals. The models pictures are mixed with these images using the Photoshop program and with clothes photographed separately on a tailor’s dummy. In this way he creates new images of mainly children, in black and white, set in a paradisiacal environment”.

The image above is titled “Fern Forest in Jamaica”. Why this is so, I’m not sure, because those are not ferns. Regardless, this is surely one of the most famous “Is it a photo or a painting?” images around.

I love the crystal-clear clarity and sharpness of Ruud’s images, the almost illustrative look that one might perhaps see in a fantasy comic book, the brilliant contrast between the colours he uses. You know the people are real, yet Ruud has managed to make them look surreal and out-of-this-world. Such is his mastery of his medium, and his genius.

Here are more examples of Ruud’s work, taken from Google Images:

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A couple of examples showing Ruud’s images in situ, just to give you a sense of scale:

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And finally, a photo of the great man himself:

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Lurking In Graveyards

Yesterday I wrote about Fallen Angel Oracle Cards, and bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t find my old Angels images from 2011. I’ve searched through all my computers and hard-drives, but can only find 3 out of a possible 150 :'(. I think of the 150 I must have processed/edited around 30, using mainly the App Snapseed. Snapseed on iOS. Snapseed on Android.

My Angels had come from the old Guildford Cemetery, near Perth Airport. It’s not easy for me to get there from where I live now. Google Search informed me that my next closest old cemetery was the Fremantle Cemetery. So off I went. I told my son that I was going to be lurking in graveyards, and that if I wasn’t home by the time he got home from school, don’t worry, I’m still at the cemetery. He didn’t bat an eyelid. He knows his crazy old Mum well.

It was raining on and off all day, so some of the photos here are reflective of the grey dullness of the day. Yes, they look like they’re in black and white, but they’re really shot in colour. These are just a few of the Angels I photographed, which I will edit and process as part of another project. Yes, I know…so many projects going on at the same time! 😄

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If you’re ever in Fremantle, Western Australia, and have a couple of hours to spare, I would recommend a visit to the Fremantle Cemetery. It’s old, it’s vast, it’s picturesque, and the residents would love you to visit and perhaps bring them flowers. (I always find myself righting overturned flower vases or fallen statues, or pulling weeds whenever I visit any cemetery). Despite the fact that it’s not terribly quiet, being surrounded on all four sides by road traffic, it is still a lovely place for contemplation and prayer.

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Fallen Angels

In the past, I’ve used Tarot Cards, specifically the traditional and time-tested Rider-Waite cards. However, these did not resonate very much with me, for some reason. I found that Oracle cards held more meaning for me. I’ve already written about Oracle cards in a previous post, please click on the link here to read about that.

My first Oracle card deck that I bought in Australia was the Fallen Angel deck, from a bookshop in Mandurah. I was struck by the artwork. As a visual artist, imagery is very important to me.  And so when I entered the bookshop looking for a likely Oracle card deck to purchase, the Fallen Angel deck literally called out for my attention.

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You can buy this deck on Amazon, eBay, at any decent New Age store wherever you are.

What attracted me to this deck was the grungy, textured feel to the collaged images. When I saw this deck, I was reminded of an early iPhoneography project of mine, that I’d done when we lived in Ascot, near the Perth Airport in Western Australia.

Here are some images from the Fallen Angel Oracle cards deck, courtesy of Google Images, in case you’re curious and what to see what they are like.

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So today, I’ve gone into my vast archive of images stored in my 1TB hard-drive, to actively seek out my own Angels images. Arrghhh! I can only find 3…they may still be on an old computer, which I hope has not been reset to factory settings!

Instead, as a compromise, please take a look at this YouTube video that I choreographed for a musician friend, Brian Vassallo, for his track “I Am Always In Your Heart“, as it contains several of my Angels. This was back in September 2011, nearly 3 years ago.  It’s a great song, and I like to think I’ve done the music justice with my mobile photography art and choreography. At that time I was on my iPhone 4, so this would technically be termed iPhoneography.

Meanwhile, I will continue to search for my Angels on all my computers, as there are unedited photos there that I would like to process for a future project. The cemetery I took the photos in is located in Guildford, which is difficult for me to get to these days, since we moved to Rockingham nearly 40 miles away. The next closest old cemetery to me now is in Fremantle, which I will endeavour to get to on a good day, if I fail to find my old Angels.

Post addendum: Looks like a trip to Fremantle Cemetery is on the cards.

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Oracle Cards

Today’s post is about Oracle Cards. Some of you may be religious and consider them the devil’s work; I would ask that everyone please read this post with an open mind. The angle I’m coming from here is not a religious one, but a mixture of spirituality, affirmation and artistic creativity.

Strangely enough, Wikipedia does not have an entry for Oracle Cards. But I found one that doesn’t self-promote or advertise products, which a lot of other sites do.

From e-How:
Oracle cards are types of cards that when used together form a card deck that provides individuals with answers to their innermost questions. These questions and answers are generally prophetic in nature and are thought to provide a glimpse or outlook into the future. An individual can buy and use her own set of cards for gathering insight, or may choose to seek the services of a psychic or medium who professionally reads oracle cards.

Oracle Card Meanings

You can find many types of oracle card decks. There are also many types of oracle cards within each deck. Each of these cards has its own meaning. As an example, “Amethyst” is a card found in the Crystal oracle deck. When this card is selected in a reading, you are being told to embrace your “shadow side.” This means that you must learn to love all parts of yourself. By comparison, the “Tiger” card in the Creature Teacher oracle deck suggests that an individual learn to face all fears head on.

History

Although you may think the use of oracle cards for divination is relatively new, it might surprise you to learn that they have been in existence for over 200 years. One of the most popular decks of oracle cards is the Lenormand Oracle cards. These cards are named after famed fortuneteller Madame Marie Lenormand. While there is no certainty as to whether she created the very first oracle deck or not, she is noted as having devised her own deck of oracle cards to give readings. Today, while still not as well known as tarot cards, the cards bearing her name continue to remain popular in certain parts of Europe.

Oracle versus Tarot

While the decks of tarot cards were originally created for playing games, the oracle card was created as more of an inspirational tool. Unlike tarot cards that have the darker images of the “Hanged Man” and “Death,” oracle cards typically stick with more positive images and many decks are based on angels or healing themes. There are 78 cards in tarot decks; however, the number of cards in an oracle deck can vary from about 44 cards to as high as 55 or more, since each card deck is unique.

Oracle Card Readings

The reading of oracle cards is quite similar to that of tarot cards. The person performing the reading focuses on the question at hand before shuffling the deck of cards. The card reader then selects a card and notes any impressions that are immediately apparent when she sees the card. Additional cards are then chosen as needed. Each card offers insight into the answer to the original question. The number of cards chosen generally depends on the reader and the type of spread she prefers. Some readers find that three cards can offer a past, present, future explanation, while other card readers may prefer 12 or more cards pulled out of the deck. These cards are then placed in a card spread for a more detailed reading.

In my personal photographic art projects, I like to do a Series of 100 images. Or at least 50. (I like round numbers). My first big project was my Madhatter’s Teaparty project, which I have placed under license with Kess InHouse now. My 2nd big project, and an ongoing one, is the 100 Butterflies project, of which I’ve done 45.

Most recently, due to a personal spiritual awakening in my life, I’ve decided to embark on another project, that of creating my own Oracle Card deck. I figure I have the artistic means to create the artwork, literally at my fingertips, so why not explore the spiritual world too. I won’t pretend to know much about clairvoyancy or psychic powers, but I do know I can at least write positive sayings or affirmations to go with the cards I create. Even “negative” cards will have a positive spin on it.

So that is my plan.

I’ve been experimenting with the layout and themes for my Oracle Cards, using Apps like PicsArt and Pixlr Express. The first one I did was to accompany a Haiku “The Lesson” I wrote, which I posted up a few days ago. That was just an image, without any text on it. It was titled “As Above, So Below”.
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The feedback I’ve received from friends has been very encouraging.

So I created another image, this time with text on it.
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And here is another one.
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And a third.

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I like how the latter 3 turned out, and I think that’s the way I’ll be going with this project.

I’m not sure yet about the text or explanatory notes to accompany my cards, but I’m fairly certain that when the time is right, the words will flow. :)

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Photograph or Painting?

Whilst trawling through the Internet, as one does with increasing frequency these days, I came across this arresting image.

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Like WOW. Mind blown.

The caption read : Orange sand dunes of Sossuvlei, Namibia. And at the bottom left of the image was the National Geographic logo and the photographer’s name Frans Lanting. So I simply Googled those keywords and almost immediately came across the National Geographic’s article about it.

Yes, it really is a photograph. Even though it may look like a surreal illustration for some science fiction/ fantasy book.

I just thought I’d share the awesome image with you all, and also the National Geographic’s interview with the photographer, Frans Lanting, where he describes how he came to create this masterpiece. (This image, by the way, isn’t new, it’s been around since 2011. It’s just that my radar has finally caught up with it. Darn…time to upgrade said radar ;))

From the National Geographic article:

Behind the Lens
Photograph or Painting?
While on assignment in Namibia for National Geographic magazine, Frans Lanting captured this surreal landscape image in a location called Dead Vlei. Due to the nature of the lighting in the frame, the photograph appears almost like a painting. We asked Lanting to take a few moments away from his current assignment in Africa to answer readers’ questions about the photograph. Due to limited internet connectivity in the field, he was only able to provide brief responses to questions, so we asked Elizabeth Krist—Lanting’s photo editor for this story—to offer additional detail where appropriate.
(If you are interested in acquiring this image as a fine art print, please e-mail gallery@lanting.com.)

From Shay Mordo: Absolutely amazing composition! Did it require prior planning or it was just being in the right place at the right time?

Lanting: Here’s a short summary about the making of the photo. It was made at dawn when the warm light of the morning sun was illuminating a huge red sand dune dotted with white grasses while the white floor of the clay pan was still in shade. It looks blue because it reflects the color of the sky above. Because of the contrast between the shady foreground and the sunlit background I used a two-stop graduated filter which reduced the contrast. The perfect moment came when the sun reached all the way down to the bottom of the sand dune just before it reached the desert floor. I used a long telephoto lens and stopped it all the way down to compress the perspective.

Camel thorn tree in the shade, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Krist: Our photographers do extensive planning, often selecting specific locations before they even set foot in the field, and in this case Frans was fortunate to have his wife, Chris Eckstrom, helping with research and logistics. A key factor in all our stories is giving the photographer enough time to scout situations so they know where the light will hit, when people might arrive, what the problems will be, etc., and can return at the best times.

From Ana Paula: What is it that appears white in the orange background?

Lanting: The sand dune is dotted with white grasses.

From Cathy Cory: What editing did you do to this image and what software did you use? I’m an art student working toward my B.F.A. and this image does look to be heavily edited. Some explanation would be helpful. Thank you.

Lanting: The colors in the final printed image were true to the scene as I saw it—the only technical adjustment I made was the use of the graduated filter, which only reduces contrast but does not affect the colors of the scene.

Krist: We never touch anything that will affect composition or the action that happens in a frame, but we do crop images to fit the layout, and our pre-press staff are masters at helping to adjust color or exposure so that the photograph will print well.

Visitors descend upon Dead Vlei, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Can you describe what it is that makes this photo look like a painting to so many people?

Krist: I think it’s the intensity of the sunlight falling only on the dune in the distance, while the foreground is still in early morning shadow, so the trees are almost in silhouette. The dune, called Big Daddy, is almost 1,200 feet tall, and is an intense reddish-orange color, so it creates a mysterious backdrop.

Are there techniques people can use to capture similar images?

Krist: One reason people respond so strongly to this image is just how surreal and otherworldly it looks. My advice to both students and professionals is to always, always, always use the drama of light (and composition, too, of course) to go beyond simply recording the scene in front of you. If you’re standing with a group of photographers, why would you want to shoot the same picture everyone else is shooting? You have to master the equipment, but you also want to find your own distinctive approach. A lot of that is sheer effort—trying different angles and distances (lying on the ground, climbing a hill), or investing the time to wait for just the right moment or weather and coming back the next day for a second chance. But there’s always that elusive imaginative element, too.

Cracked desert ground, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Did you have any expectation that this particular photo would be so popular?

Krist: I can’t speak for Frans at the moment he shot the image, but it was fascinating to see the reactions here at the magazine. People were polarized. Most of the editors loved it, but it left a few people cold. This scene, with the dead trees, stood out for us immediately while we were editing, but Frans shot a lot of variations, and we did have to do a lot of close comparisons before we finally settled on this one frame.

Why did you choose to shoot the five different frames that appear on this page, and what were you trying to tease out of the landscape in each frame?

Krist: Frans shot almost 16,000 frames for this story, and when I went back to look, I found that he had shot 321 images of the dead trees in Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei. (That’s actually relatively few frames for such an iconic scene, but Frans had a shorter time than usual in the field for this assignment, and he was trying to cover a lot of ground.) He was simply trying to give us the greatest visual variety from that unusual location in the brief time he had there.

Camel thorn trees in the shade, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Could you talk about the quality of light at different times of the day in the locale and what’s better for achieving the perfect photo?

Krist: The early morning light and the light at dusk usually yield the most romantic and beautiful feeling for most locations. But it all depends on the kind of effect you’re going for, and if you want the harsh light of midday, that can also give a certain kind of drama. There is no such thing as the one perfect photo!

Here are some other images of the Sossuvlei sand dunes, courtesy of Google images:

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These photos look strangely familiar…and then I remember a film where Sossuvlei and Dead Vlei featured in a film. It’s the opening scene of the 2000 movie “The Cell” starring Jennifer Lopez. Yes!!

Here’s a video clip of that scene:
http://anyclip.com/movies/the-cell/the-desert/

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Artist Inspiration : Dušan Beňo

Dušan Beňo is an amazing Slovakian photographer specialising in Macros of insects. Enter his microcosmos here.

Dušan’s photographic skills are not limited to Macros; he is also a dab hand at human portraits, animals and flowers, as evidenced on his site.

Here is what I managed to glean about Dušan, from various searches online:

He is a student of Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.  He’s 27 years old and has been shooting and specializing in macro for over 7 years. Dušan loves the details of his insect subjects and finds their bright colours and characteristics charming. His favourite camera is the Canon MP-E, which he considers the best universal lens for macro shooting.

Here are some examples of Dušan’s magnificent insect Macros:
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Here’s a photo of Dušan, the photographer, himself. Keep up the wonderful work!

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I also found a YouTube video by Dušan himself which showcases his wonderful insect Macros:

 

Artist Inspiration : Visarute Angkatavanich

Visarute Angkatavanich hails from Thailand and has a wonderful talent for photographing fish. I keep fish, but I can never get mine to stay still long enough to be photographed properly ;-). And my photos of fish never come out as envisioned. Quite possibly because my weapon of choice is a mobile phone camera and not a professional SLR with all the bells, stops and whistles attached to it. And definitely because I am not a patient person who’s willing to sit for hours watching for the perfect photo opportunity. I’m like that proverbial Panda that eats, shoots and leaves lol. Visarute uses specialised lighting and crystal clear water to shoot his subjects. (I have problems getting my fish tank water to stay clear and my subjects to stay alive long enough!)

Visarute is perhaps most famous for his portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Splendens. A fitting tribute, for these fish originate from his own homeland and are part of a rich cultural history going back to the 19th century and Siamese royalty.

Here are some examples of Visarute’s glorious Bettas, courtesy of Google Images:

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To me, it seems almost balletic, the way the wavy fins appear to dance in mid-air. The Betta Splendens is a beautiful fish in its own right, and Visarute has managed to enhance its attributes even more, with his photographic prowess.

I also found on Google some examples of Visarute’s photography that are Not of the Betta Splendens. This leads me to believe that he is flexing his photographic skills and observing the characteristics of other types of animals, no doubt in the near future we shall see more of his astounding works.

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Portrait of Visarute Angkatanavich and his beautiful young family (from Google Images):

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I contacted Visarute on Facebook, and asked if he would like to add anything to my post here. He told me that his work is available on Amazon through this link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=art_artist_search?node=6685269011&field-keywords=Visarute+Angkatavanich

 

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Artist Inspiration : Alexander Semenov

Alexander Semenov is a marine biologist with a wonderful sideline in undersea photography. You may recall recently that I posted up some images of jellyfish in a previous post. Some of those images may well be by Alexander Semenov. This young man is no landlubber, preferring a life on the high seas!

In Alexander’s own words:

In 2007, I graduated from Lomonosov’s Moscow State University in the department of Zoology. I specialized in the study of invertebrate animals, with an emphasis on squid brains. Soon after, I began working at the White Sea Biological Station (WSBS) as a senior laborer. WSBS has a dive station, which is great for all sorts of underwater scientific needs, and after 4 years working there, I became chief of our diving team. I now organize all WSBS underwater projects and dive by myself with a great pleasure and always with a camera.

When I first began to experiment with sea life photography I tried shooting small invertebrates for fun with my own old dslr camera and without any professional lights or lenses. I collected the invertebrates under water and then I’ve shot them in the lab. After two or three months of failure after failure I ended up with a few good pictures, which I’ve showed to the crew. It has inspired us to buy a semi-professional camera complete with underwater housing and strobes. Thus I’ve spent the following field season trying to shoot the same creatures, but this time in their environment. It was much more difficult, and I spent another two months without any significant results. But when you’re working at something every day, you inevitably get a lot of experience. Eventually I began to get interesting photos — one or two from each dive. Now after four years of practice I get a few good shots almost every time I dive but I still have a lot of things that need to be mastered in underwater photography.

And the most important thing — I love Sea.

Some images of Alexander’s amazing sea creatures, courtesy of Google Images:

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And here are a couple of photos I found of Alexander Semenov himself, one as he is, and one with his underwater photography and diving gear:

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Alexander Semenov’s underwater photography can also be found on these sites:

https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/a_semenov/

We owe a debt to Alexander and other photographers of his mien, who constantly work tirelessly to bring us images of deep sea creatures that we would otherwise never encounter in our daily lives. Maybe “work” is not the right word for what Alexander does, it is clearly his passion and more a way of life than a hobby.  It is his calling.  He’s one of the lucky ones who actually does what he loves for a living. Thank you, Alexander Semenov!

Postscript: Alexander replied to my email enquiry and provided some further insight to his aspirations. His newest and most ambitious project is Aquatilis, a 3-year expedition on the high seas to capture images of deep sea creatures. This will be an epic, scientifically important project. Please show your support if you can!

Aquatilis TV

Aquatilis Indiegogo Crowdfunding

Aquatilis Flickr