I was just musing, and there’s plenty of time to do that in Lockdown, that considering I was involved in Dentistry for most of four decades, there were only a few random fragments of that left around. I used to sell materials and equipment to the Dental Profession and as a consequence samples and demo items accumulate. I don’t throw things away, so I wondered what was left. There are a couple of Espe Elastomer Spatulas, used for mixing impression materials, that have been used as butter knives for many years, but they don’t count as they are still in daily use.
The Kurers, highly respected Manchester based dentists get a couple of mentions. This is an over-size model of their Kurer K4 Anchor, a post sytem for restoring teeth.
and this is the Kurer Ceramicolor Contact Point instrument, used with composite materials.
It’s a random and maybe interesting fact that Hans and Peter Kurers’ aunt, Margaret Stone, was my first primary school teacher.
I still have a few dental instruments, in a nice leather folder that was obtained for me by the distributer. It’s too good to throw away!
Models of crowns and bridges for demo purposes.
Some gorgeous catalogues of instruments and rotary instruments that again are too good to dispose of. Here’s three of them.
And finally an advertising campaign for exciting false teeth in the form of a postcard sent out to dentists in 1954. It’s an odd one, printed of course but pretending to be hand written and both daring and cutting edge and yet quaintly old-fashioned, all at the same time. This predates when I was working by many years, but was given to me by one of my customers as an item of interest. I still have it, so the gesture was clearly appreciated.
Meanwhile, I could do with a couple of replacement Espe Elastomer Spatulas (aka Impregum Spatulas) as my two “butter knives” are wearing out, so if anyone is listening…….
In the context of what I have in mind today, not a jar, but a gate. Just to check I looked up the definitions of a door and a gate using Chambers’ Dictionary and a door allows access to a building and a gate allows access to a space beyond, perhaps a courtyard, perhaps a garden, and so on. Of course there are a multitude of other ways to describe doors and gates and just thinking for a second then the gate at an airport is just one of them. Having defined the difference, and being a collector of images of interesting and even mundane doors, I wondered what I could find in the way of gates. The reason why is of course the making of projects, and projects give direction and purpose to our photography.
So on to some images, and these are the gates I found.
I’ve always been interested in architecture, not in a highly technical way, but as an aesthetic. I know what I like to look at, and I like well detailed, quirky buildings, so the Victorian and other older buildings are the ones most likely to appeal. So this book popped up on Twitter and I thought it seemed an interesting contrast to what I like – Brutal North by Simon Phipps, September Publishing, 2020, ISBN 978-1-012836-16-4. This shows black and white images of the concrete montrosities of the later 1960s onwards, and I say monstrosities because no matter how clever the architects think they are, given a few years, water damage and neglect and they are generally not a pretty sight. There are also all those bleak public areas, bereft of relief from the oppression of all that concrete, with overgrown gardens and solitary ailing trees, none maintained no doubt because of lack of ongoing funding.
The photos in the book are actually all very well shot, and actually exaggerate the bleakness by being in black and white. An example is the Lancastrian Hall and Library in Swinton, Manchester. Apparently closed since 2015, this is a building I am well familiar with, along with the Swinton shopping precinct that continues the bleak concrete behind it. Here’s the back and white image from the book.
And yet, is this entirely fair? A different look might be gained from my colour slide shot in the early 1970s, which shows a much warmer effect, with some colour in the concrete facade. There’s also no argument with the building inside, which fulfilled its functions very comfortably.
It may be the sledgehammer design of huge concrete blocks that is the cause of my architectural lament. Stone or brick, breaking up the detail as it does, is so much friendlier and so much more human.
However, the book itself is fascinating, and well worth the price being charged for it on Amazon. Highly reommended!
Now, for reference, Im going to use the nude I posted yesterday: as I write, 25 hours after posting, it has 83 votes and 8 user awards. By my standards, thats successful. You may want to go and have a look at it, in between paragraphs if you arent offended by nudes, and havent seen it already.
The straight image, which I appended as a version, is in colour, with vibrant green plants vying for attention, and distracting from the subject, Misuzu, who I interviewed for Ephotozine a while back. Im pretty sure that monochrome works, partly because it unifies the colour scheme, and partly because it puts some distance between the reality of a woman lying on an old wooden sleeper and the image. Most people who commented also prefer mono.
The sepia tint fits with an old railway, and also works well for Misuzu, who has beautiful olive skin and dark hair. For several viewers, it had hints of a silent film with the heroine tied to the railway tracks, but that would be a whole different image: maybe one day But the hint is there, certainly.
Theres a strong triangular structure, with Misuzu across the bottom of the frame, and the rusty rails converging towards the top of the frame, though the vanishing point where they would meet, is well outside the frame. Learning point for me: maybe the triangle doesnt have to be entirely within the picture!
One line heads right into the bottom left corner, and the other into the top right: so the structure is neat, and fills the frame. However, unlike a recent shot of Kirstie Black, there was enough room for me to step back and include both Misuzus feet and her left hand, reaching back past her head to touch one rail. Filling the frame, but not cut off
Mt lens mattered, I think. Like around 80% of my pictures, this one was taken with an 85mm lens (on full frame): Id be using a 50mm on crop frame, or 45mm on micro four thirds. This gives good perspective, and suits my style really well: a slightly distant, vaguely academic perspective on the model. A forensic eye, rather than the up close and personal view that a wider lens tends towards. I use this sometimes, as a deliberate tactic for exaggerated perspective, but I like the more distant view.
The Nik Silver Efex mono conversion includes a rather olde-worlde frame, because I like it, and a slight vignette/edge darkening. Its not big or very intrusive, but just holds the eye in at the edge of the frame, I think.
And choosing the model Ive mentioned this a few times in the past. An experienced model is great value, because she knows how to pose herself to make the most of her physique, and because she will also exploit the location. Steve (who had proposed the shoot, on waste land near Hanley) and I had only asked Misuzu to lie down on a sleeper: the rest was her pose. What you pay a model for is their ability to throw poses not just for getting cold and dirty, and taking their clothes off in front of you.
A couple of people have pointed out that there are stalks of grass in front of Misuzus face, and suggested cloning them out, or a little wild gardening before taking the shot. Well, yes, and no. In the best of all possible worlds, I agree they wouldnt be there: but in the flow of making pictures, stopping to flatten them (and in the process to look over the model, quite close) would possibly have meant that the image didnt happen, and might have shattered the creative mood for all three of us. If youre really offended by the grass, feel free to do a mod, and I will thank you for it.
Im currently reading a William Gibson book called The Peripheral which involves the idea that being able to intervene in any way with the past splits history, creating a different timeline, where different things happen. And its like that working with a model: choosing to perfect a shot will alter the whole course of proceedings. And thats fine: its how some people work, emerging with a few beautiful and perfect images frozen in time. Its not how I work, though theres a constant movement, a developing professional relationship between two people that depends, I think, on that sort of constant moving on.
By the way, if youre into Sci-Fi, read a Gibson or two. His grasp of the Twenty-First Century is considerable, if worrying!
The most important part about photography at this time of year is – rather obviously, to be prepared for the cold! Warm clothing, preferably layered, and a hat; if you’re cold, your mind is more on how cold you are rather than the pictures you’re looking for.
Keep yourself (and your batteries) warm!
Remember too, that when you’re standing around looking for photographs, you will get colder quicker, so err on the side of too much, rather than too little warm clothing. Your camera battery won’t last as long in sub-zero temperatures either, so make sure you have a spare with you, and that they’re fully charged. Try keeping the spare in an inside pocket, rather in your camera bag, as your body warmth will keep the charge in the battery for longer.
Frosts are typically better early in the day, often before the sun hits the frost and starts to thaw it; which means a prompt start, but one of the benefits of the winter months, is that at least sunrise is at a more sociable time than in the summer! Head for areas of open space and rolling landscapes, rather than woodland, where the shelter of the trees can prevent frost.
Consider trees, foliage and hedges
Trees and hedges are great subjects for frost of course, but more in isolation. Use your macro lens for close-ups of frost on leaves – both on the tree or lying on the ground – or on cobwebs. Even frost on a barbed wire fence portrays the feeling of a crisp winter morning. Remember too, that a small aperture will give you a greater depth-of-field, to ensure more of your picture remains sharp, but on isolated leaves, try a wider aperture to isolate the leaf against an out-of-focus background.
Photo by David Pritchard
On a really cold day, when even the sun isn’t going to thaw the frost too quickly, a touch of sunlight helps to emphasise the sparkle of frost, and especially try shooting into the light to accentuate the glint of the sun on the frost still further, but remember to use a lens hood to minimise the chance of flare on your pictures.
Even photographing in the shade can still show wonderful textures, and remember, temperatures remain lower in the shade – so frost tends to hang about longer. If your subject is in a particularly shady spot, use of a reflector can help to bounce a little daylight into the darker areas. A warm reflector, such as a gold, or sunfire, can also help to reduce the blue cast so common in the shade.
The white of frost can also fool your camera meter, so keep a close eye on your histogram as most cameras still “see” white frost as mid-grey. Possibly an exposure compensation of around +1 stop will keep your frost-laden trees looking pristine white.
Ive been digging through old files, and found a project I started three years ago, using a GK Chesterton poem as a device for titling pictures.
The Strange Music is a beautiful and moving piece, and my son had asked me to read it at his wedding. I managed, but not without a lump in my throat and slightly damp eyes. I decided to use the lines as titles for a series of pictures, because each has its own resonances, and would I hoped pick up on the mood I wanted in the picture, and enhance it.
So heres a project for the next few days (should you choose to accept it). Pick a poem: possibly one you know and love, or wander through a book or website to find one you like. It could be ethereal and romantic, or it could be a limerick if you want.
This will give you a number of different ways to spend your time profitably. You may end up with some unusual and thought-provoking titles for pictures. You may discover poems you dont know or maybe discover poetry as a whole, if youve never been interested since some teacher made you learn I wandered lonely as a cloud off by heart.
And you may find a way to organise otherwise-random pictures into a sort of sequence. Yesterday, in a Critique Gallery comment, I suggested that free association might be a good technique to use for finding objects to put together in a still life picture, and it strikes me that reading poetry on the web or in an anthology may be a way to stimulate such thinking.
And a suggestion: my favourite book of poetry is called Other Mens Flowers. Its one mans collection of the poems he remembered and loved from school not a negative experience for him, clearly. Although it was compiled around 80 years ago, its still freely available, both used and new.
If you’re heading outside today, why not take your camera with you and turn your walk into an opportunity to capture some images you might not usually. Subjects are all around you and now’s the perfect time to open your eyes and look for the unexpected.
We said we’d keep the photography inspiration coming during the UK’s ‘stay at home’ orders and that’s exactly what we’re doing with today’s feature that’s all about filling you with inspiration for a photo walk.
As part of the coronavirus guidelines, we’re allowed to head out of the house to stretch our legs and to give the mind a break while we run, walk, cycle… or skate? Whatever your exercise choice is, you can combine it with photography to keep the grey cells working while staying healthy.
A photo walk will probably be easier to navigate as you’ll be paying more attention to your surroundings so you’ll see more and have the opportunity to capture images you may have not had the chance to before. But if you fancy capturing images with an action camera from your handlebars – go for it!
Now, make sure you do follow the rules and don’t be heading off into the countryside just because you can capture more interesting photos! There’s plenty to take photos of around your local area, you could even head out with a theme in mind to make your photo walk more challenging.
You also can’t go out with a group of photographers – just 1 person (2m apart) so now’s the perfect time to get them interested in photography, too.
It’s not just for those with DSLRs and other ‘proper’ cameras either as a smartphone is the perfect tool for capturing images on a photo walk with.
Once you’ve captured your photo walk images, upload them to our Gallery so we can see them. Plus, you may win a Samsung Memory Card if your image is chosen as our ‘Photo of the Week‘.
As photographers, we’re always wanting to improve our technique and learn now ways we can take better photos. So, to help you do this, here’s three challenges you can set yourself which will not only get you thinking a bit differently but they’ll also help you think more about composition and as a result, you’ll hopefully produce better photos.
Choose One Spot And Stay There
When you’re out taking photos it’s easy to walk and click so you take lots of photos of everything that are good, but not ‘wow’. By sticking to just one spot in one location, you may start to notice things about it that you’d usually miss. You don’t actually have to travel a great distance to try this either as by picking one spot in your home or garden to take photos from you’ll probably discover photo opportunities you didn’t even know existed until you actually took the time to slow down and really open your eyes. Play with your zoom, change your angle and pay attention to your composition and the light. Also, simple things such as focusing on colour or texture can completely change the look/feel of a shot, too.
Don’t Take So Many Photos
Why not limit the number of shots you can take in one location? To really set a challenge, only take one photo in each location you’re stopping to take a photo. By doing so you’ll really think about your composition and study the scene in front of you to ensure you’ve found the best spot possible to take your one photo in. Don’t forget to assess the light, too as you may find that waiting for the sun to shift position could help you create a better shot. You don’t want to lose good light, though so pay attention to how clouds are moving and hit the shutter button before it’s too late.
If you find this too restricting try setting a shot limit before you head out of the door and make sure you stick to it. By doing so you should be able to improve the quality of the images you take as you’ll be finding the best shots through planning and careful thought.
Use Less Equipment
Instead of carrying a bag full of lenses why not just use one that has a fixed focal length? By doing so, you’ll really need to think about what you’re going to photograph because without a zoom your focal length is limited so rather than relying on the lens to do the work you have to get those grey cells warmed up and your feet moving to find a position/shot that works.
The Vanguard VEO Range 21M camera bag range is a new line-up of small shoulder bags perfect for mirrorless camera owners that have room for a tripod.
On the front of the Vanguard VEO Range 21M bag, which measures just 27cm long, are two straps that will secure a travel tripod, such as the VEO 3GO 235CB or VEO 3GO 265HCB. The straps don’t interfere with access to your camera, either as they are on the front of the bag, but access to your camera is from the rear, opening away from the body.
Inside the Vanguard VEO Range 21M is room for a mirrorless camera with lens attached, 1-2 lenses, a flash, accessories (or a small drone) and a 7″ mini-tablet.
Other features include a full top-access flap that opens away from the user, multiple pockets for essentials, clips and zip that prevent unwanted access to your camera and a rain cover.
Vanguard VEO Range 21M size and weight:
Internal Dimensions: 235mm × 110mm × 190mm
External Dimensions: 270mm × 160mm × 220mm
The VEO Range 21M is Vanguard’s smallest bag that carries a tripod and it’s available now in blue or stone with an introductory price of £34.99.
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