A New Home!

My blog has a new home! I have now integrated my blog into the main site on Photography Techniques. I hope you will visit my new blog and subscribe to it as I have got some great tips and techniques in store for you. Here are some recent posts:

Aug 18, 2011

Photography Composition 3: Find a Natural Frame

A great photography composition tip is to frame your subject. Use trees, rocks, hills or
anything inanimate that you can find. This is a kind of psychological trick which keeps the
eye contained within the image as the eyes by their very nature wander around a scene looking
for the next interesting thing. By framing your shot, you keep the eyes where you want them – on
the subject of your photo.

Permalink — click for full blog post "Photography Composition 3: Find a Natural Frame"

Aug 17, 2011

Photography Composition 2: Line, Shape, Pattern, Texture & Color

Photography Composition 2 looks at the use of line, shape, pattern, texture and
color. These are the five main elements in any composition, whether a
photograph or a painting. How they are combined, balanced and blended will decide if the
picture is artistically successful or not. In a successful image, all the elements will have
a place and a function – no one element will appear to be superfluous, it will feel as if
nothing has been left out and the picture will have a simplified unity. It will feel complete.
And when successful, the underlying emotional content, or message of the picture, will be all
the more powerful.

Permalink — click for full blog post "Photography Composition 2: Line, Shape, Pattern, Texture & Color"

Aug 16, 2011

Photography Composition 1: How to Use Rhythm

Rhythm in photography composition is an important concept.
Rhythm is innate to us all, our heart beat is the single most obvious example, and since
the dawn of time humans have had a kind of sympathy and love of rhythm which we express through
music, poetry and art. In visual art it creates a sense of underlying harmony and structure
to the composition.

Permalink — click for full blog post "Photography Composition 1: How to Use Rhythm"

Aug 15, 2011

Artistic Photography 1: Negative Space

Artistic Photography 1: A great photography technique that can improve your pictures hugely, is the use of negative
space. This is a compositional technique found in art in general and once you have grasped it you will
begin to wonder how you managed to miss it before

Permalink — click for full blog post "Artistic Photography 1: Negative Space"

Aug 15, 2011

Flaming Pear Plugins: Flood Filter

Flaming Pear do some amazing plugins for Photoshop. Among my favourites is the Flood Filter which
gives the effect of a submerged world. It costs about 22 Euros (whatever that is in dollars!) but you
can give it a try with their free download which I believe lasts 30 days – and you can do a lot in 30 days!

Permalink — click for full blog post "Flaming Pear Plugins: Flood Filter"


Pegasus the Winged Horse

Click the image for a larger version.
This is an updated version of a previous image I posted entitled Dreaming of Pegasus. I’ve altered the colours substantially and introduced a swimmer who is struggling to reach the boat. I think it’s a big improvement – any comments?

The origins of Pegasus the Winged Horse lie in Greek mythology where Pegasus is a divine, winged creature, the offspring of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Medusa, a monster from underneath the earth whose gaze could turn onlookers to stone. Pegasus’ image can be found on ancient Greek pottery and sculptures and paintings from the time of the Renaissance.

For the psychologist Carl Jung, Pegasus was a symbol of spiritual energy that allowed access to the realm of the gods on Mount Olympus. Other legends of Pegasus include descriptions of Pegasus as a symbol of wisdom in the Middle Ages, and as a symbol of creativity, particularly poetry, in the 19th century.

Photomontage: Dreaming of Pegasus

Dreaming of Pegasus

The name Pegasus often refers to any winged horse but its origins lie in Greek mythology where Pegasus is a divine, winged horse, the offspring of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Medusa, a monster from underneath the earth whose gaze could turn onlookers to stone. Pegasus’ image can be found on ancient Greek pottery and sculptures and paintings from the time of the Renaissance.

For the psychologist Carl Jung, Pegasus was a symbol of spiritual energy that allowed access to the realm of the gods on Mount Olympus. Other interpretations include Pegasus as a symbol of wisdom in the Middle Ages, and as a symbol of creativity, particularly poetry, in the 19th century.

Limited edition prints of this photo montage are available. Click here for more information.


Visit a Fotografiska’s Dream

Review of the contemporary photography gallery Fotografiska in Stockholm by guest blogger John Hudson.

When a tour guide recites automatically, “And to your left you can see Fotografiska, the world’s largest photographic museum” you think this is just another in the long Museet-list of Stockholm. Sweden’s capital is not only one of the world’s most beautiful cities, it also has a museum for everything.

But wait. As the tour boat glides past an industrial building in the Art Nouveau style built in 1906 and recently restored you realise this could be something special. It’s large but elegant; the quayside on which it sits is wide and filled with light. It’s new. It’s a little bit out of the way, offering big views across Stockholm and as we get closer I can see large windows on the top floor. I want get up there and take a look.

From Gamla Stan, the old centre of Stockholm, it’s about a fifteen minute walk. A large ferry has drawn close to the quayside but that just adds to the sense of to and fro, the busy port built over fourteen islands. Some ice is still floating around in the water. It’s April, crocuses are pushing mauve and yellow into the air; the winters here are long and deeply cold.

Is Fotografiska the world largest photo museum? I don’t know. But it is very impressive. It opened in May 2010. It has rotating exhibitions, a bookshop, a cafe, seminar facilities and it is an active collector of new work. The facilities are no-expense-spared. All information is presented on HD TVs… banks of them and certain exhibitions take place on them, rotating images, written and spoken commentary and plenty of onscreen space and silence.
fotografiska museum stockholm sweden

The big exhibition spaces are beautifully conceived, essentially grey and white with hugely flexible lighting. The plans are flexible to incorporate small cinemas to allow for films and presentations. The bookshop is well stocked and even the toilets are super-slick (individual white cotton hand-towels stacked in black pigeon-holes by the wash-hand basins).

There were three principle exhibitions for my visit. All first-class. On the ground floor was a big Albert Watson retrospective. Images of Kate Moss and Alfred Hitchcock side by side, and some equally effective landscapes from the States, the glove of Tutankhamen (the oldest glove in the world, Albert tells us in the accompanying film), and a triptych around the Passion. If you thought Albert Watson was just Vogue covers think again. Of course Albert is a Scot, and living as I do part of the time in Scotland, the retro gave me more than just images – it gave me a kind of cultural thermometer.

Another place I live is France and guess what? Sarah Moon, on show on floor two, is one of France’s most renowned contemporary photographers, filmmakers, and artists. A real tour de force this show – part fairy-tale, part nightmare. I kept on looking over my shoulder in the dimly lit space from where the images seemed to press against the psyche.

The other big show was Intended Consequences by Jonathan Torgovnik. Here the public were visibly in shock. Revisiting Rwanda 12 years after the genocide, the exhibition’s narrative of machetes, rape and domination contrasts with the images of mothers with children. The accompanying film interview (very well shot) offered a further socio-political dimension.

Not wishing to end on horror, I have to mention the café. Remember those windows I mentioned? They are photographs, their landscape format offering neatly cropped views across Stockholm no matter where you stand. Brilliant! I held out for a window-side table and watched the city moving with an almost dreamlike rhythm. A huge Baltic ferry set sail and slid by towards Helsinki. Cormorants and gulls flurried in its wake. I could see the National Museum far across the water. The old and the new and so much in between.

You can get to Stockholm easily and cheaply by air. Don’t forget your camera…

Visit the Fotografiska website (available in Swedish and English).

Photographs of Fotografiska are © Fotografiska
Photograph of Alfred Hitchcock, Los Angeles, 1973 © Albert Watson

Visit John Hudson’s website

Women-only Mosques in China: an Interview with Islam in China

chinese female ahong

Ding Gui Zhi, Nu Ahong at Lu Lan Women's Mosque in Lanzhou, Gansu Province

Q: Nu ahong (female imams) and all female mosques are a unique Chinese Muslim phenomenon, what roles do nu ahong play in the hui culture?

A. The precise role of a nu ahong varies from mosque to mosque. It is a position that offers a measure of security and high community status, and a nu ahong most often plays a very full role in the life of her local community. In addition to presiding over nu si (women’s mosques) a nu ahong’s duties include ritual guidance at marriages and funerals, preaching, resolving political and social disputes, and offering moral guidance and counseling. She also acts as educator, a role which is highly valued within Islam.

There are many schools for hui woman and girls and they are often attached to mosques and run and financed by the hui people themselves. Some help women with illiteracy, others teach the Arabic and the Qu’ran, and still others give girls from disadvantaged backgrounds a basic education that enables them to teach themselves or even to go on to university. This aspect of hui society has been instrumental in keeping Islam alive in China.

Education for a girl in China may be her route out of poverty. In the past, the high illiteracy rate among women in China meant that most Muslim women had to stay at home as they had no opportunities to receive education or join in a broader social life. Now young people are learning Arabic as part of their religious instruction and this increases their chances of finding a job in the private sector as a translator or interpreter in the blossoming Mideast-China trade where they can earn very good salarie
(Read the full interview…..)

David Bailey in conversation with Andrew Graham-Dixon

The profane photographer on stars, snobbery, sculpture and why he couldn’t give a monkey’s about posterity.

I’d been warned. David Bailey has a reputation as a “difficult” interviewee: touchy, hectoring, foul-mouthed, with an inveterate tendency to ignore questions and talk about whatever is at the forefront of his own mind instead. Foul-mouthed he was, but as for the rest he most certainly did not live up to stereotype.

Maybe we caught him on a good day but he was thoroughly charming, giving the impression of a man who has ceased to care what posterity might think of him – if he ever did care – and who is now sufficiently successful to pursue his own enthusiasms: creating sculptures, photographing the last bullfighters, doing charity work in Afghanistan.

Surrounded by his army of assistants, and speaking in the large, light-filled studio just off the Gray’s Inn Road where he has worked “for donkey’s years”, Bailey, now 74, even agreed to talk – mostly, anyway – about what we wanted him to talk about…

Read the rest of the interview in the culture section of the Telegraph on Sunday (04 Apr 2011).

If you are interested in learning about high fashion photography just follow the link.

Photo Montage: The Ruined Windmill

the ruined windmill photomontage by anne darling

I was driving home at night and spotted an owl flying across the field to my left. I slowed the car thinking it might fly in front of me and on in to another field but it hit the car roof with a soft thud. I don’t know why it didn’t see me, I had my headlights on and after all, owls can see at night can’t they? I hope it lived but I will never know. This photomontage is for the owl.

Footnote: According to John Ruskin, the English art critic, a ruined windmill in a picture aesthetically connotes suffering