Telling a story

This month the local photo club in Gisborne hosted a photo essay challenge. The task required capturing 3-5 images that told a story. There were no words allowed. I had great plans involving lighting and set up. Maybe something in the kitchen, or blitzing the garage (yeah, I know I lead an exciting life). Time as ever ran way too fast, so I needed a quick solution. Without further ado I grabbed my trusty iPhone and started my morning by taking photos.

Morning Preparation

I’m pretty certain nobody wants to see what I look like first thing in the morning. However, this project could be shot using my phone and stared myself as a model. What could possibly go wrong? And yes, it all happens in this order, so now you know something else about me.

Near Winner

Well, my image set did not win, but earned a respectable joint second place. It was great fun putting the project together. What would your ideas be for a story challenge? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Lastly – well done Pauline for capturing the excellent winning series of doggy fun at the beach. This proved the old adage of ‘never work with animals’ is completely untrue!

Learning to process film

An artistic adventure…

Gisborne City Beach

I have finally got round to something that I have been wanting to do for a while and process my own film. Over the midterm break I headed out with my fathers-in-law’s old Cosina CT-1G, equipped with a 50mm Pentax lens. The camera is a well-travelled number, and in its day has been to Antartica and back. For film I used Ilford HP5 Plus.

Developing

Now I’m no expert at this, so please do not see this as a guide. I managed to mix the chemicals and followed a set of instructions found online. My wardrobe was emptied and turned into a dark room for the fiddly part (getting the film out the camera and into the developing tank). Once the film was inside the tank, which is basically a light sealed pot, I ran through the process of adding four different chemicals to develop and ‘set’ the film.

Mixing the old school with new school, I scanned the negatives and edited the photos in Lightroom. Maybe one day I will go through the whole process in a dark room and skip the computer completely. Click on the images below to see them in full.

Ditching Digital

I am probably NOT going to be ditching my trusty Sony anytime soon. However, this experience was fun, slowed me down, and taught me something new. I really like the final images, flaws and all. Having a fully manual camera certainly made the experience a challenge and is certainly something I will keep working at. As they say, practice makes perfect! Please feel free to leave a comment.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Many thanks Ross for the camera. It is still working its magic.

Vietnam Portraits ‘Re-Mastered’

I purchased my first ‘serious’ camera in 2011, whilst living in Vietnam. The camera was a Sony Nex5n, and there was nothing wrong with it. However, my skill level was low and I had a lot to learn. My lens choice followed the idea of ‘the bigger the better’ (I may have been right there….). Everything was shot using JPEG.

Flaws

I have selected some of my favourite portraits taken whilst living in Vietnam (2011-2013). The portraits chosen are of colourful characters, and it felt a pity to leave the images forgotten about. Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar Neo, and Topaz De-noise have been used to enhance each image. There are still flaws with each photo and I clearly had a lot to learn. However, technology has improved and has helped bring a fresh look to each image.

Laughter/ HCMC
Roadside Restaurant

Memories

One aspect of portrait photography is how a photo can trigger memories. The above photo is certainly flawed and was taken in low light. However, it brings back memories of a chicken dinner at a roadside cafe with pigs running round my feet. The meal probably tasted even better as I was wet and cold after ditching a broken motorbike and was hitching back home to Saigon. The noise in the photo was removed using Topaz Noise Removal.

Lady from Hmong Tribe, Sapa, Vietnam

The Hmong people form the largest tribe in Sapa, North Vietnam. I would return there for more photography in a heartbeat. This lady was selling her goods in the village centre and was happy to pose for a photo (I’m sure I purchased something to return the favour!)

More Portraits?

This week I am planning to go through my archive in search of my favourite portraits. Coming up (hopefully) will be images from China, Thailand, India, and New Zealand.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Craters of the moon

Photography can be frustrating. You go to an iconic landmark, and it’s in scaffold. Wake up early, and the sunrise gets obliterated by cloud. The perfect street photo opportunity arises, and you left the camera at home.

Last week I headed down to Taupo in New Zealand’s North Island, and the weather looked fantastic. I therefor had high expectations for photography the next day, planning to head to ‘Craters of the Moon’ as late in the afternoon as possible, with the hope of catching some interesting light. Unfortunately the sky was gun metal grey, and as interesting as boiled rice.

Boring Sky solution…

A boring sky does little to catch the eye and is unlikely to set the scene for a spectacular landscape photo. The obvious solution in this instance was to avoid the sky altogether. Fortunately Craters of the Moon is spectacular, with towering pillars of steam and boiling pools of mud. Very ‘Lord of the Rings’ indeed.

Craters of the Moon

Shooting & Processing

This image combines about five different photos and was stitched together in Lightroom. The fact that all 5 photos were taken with no tripod really shows how far the latest versions of Lightroom have come. Luminar Neo remains a favorite tool for getting a ‘final look’ to an image. Other photos were captured, but this is the best!

Next…

Next up, today I’ve had an afternoon photo session up the road and under a pier…

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Photo Feedback and the PSNZ

Last week I received feedback on three of my photos that were entered for the monthly challenge at Gisborne Camera Club (GCC). Secondly, I am now a member of the PSNZ, which stands for the Photographic Society of New Zealand. Hopefully, joining the PSNZ will open some new doorways provide some inspiration. Anyway, without further ado, here are some photos with the feedback I recieved.

Evening Peace

B39-Open-Evening Peace
The perfect title. This is indeed a very peaceful image. The pastel colours are beautiful. I can’t
decide if the ship is a distraction or not. On balance I decided it was nice, especially as the red of
its hull looks quite pastel like. The layout of the tree in the bottom third balances well with the
negative space of the water. Just nitpicking but perhaps the large trunks sticking up are a little too
bright. It’s not a major thing and the layout and colours win me over.

Evaluation: Honours (Chris Page)

Got Milk?

39-Still Life-Got Milk
A wonderful abstract still life. I am assuming this is an upside-down mug or perhaps a jug. The
strong geometric shapes and patterns are engaging and visually stimulating. Using black and
white like this can be challenging, however the author has controlled the exposure, and everything
is just so. Nice work!

Evaluation: Honours (Chris Page)

See You Later

B39-Interaction-See You Later
This is a very strong street photography image where the author has managed to catch this
moment as it unfolds. What I love about street photography is that in this tiny moment we can build
up our own back story and try to fill in the gaps. It’s like people watching on steroids. When I look
at this image I have so many questions, do they know each other? Was this someone complaining
about the other getting in their way? What are all those marks on his legs? Is that normal dress or
is she going to an event? And so, it goes. There are a few distracting elements and I wonder if this
would be stronger in black and white. This is a nicely seen moment.
Evaluation: Highly commended (Chris Page)

Thoughts?

Effective feedback is the single best way to improve as a photographer, and I am incredibly grateful to the guest judge of this month’s photos. It was also nice to get a good mark for images that are outside of my specialist genre. However, living in NZ has brought my Landscape photography along in leaps and bounds.

What do you think of the comments the judges made? Agree, disagree, of have something to add? Either way, enjoy the pics and hopefully this blog will continue to inspire some of you to get your camera out. I’m now looking at starting to put together a final project based around the East Coast of NZ’s North Island. Watch this space.

Keep clicking, Chris

pagespics

Farewell Old Friend

Saying goodbye to my Olympus OM-D EM-5 M11 (2017)

This week I have said goodbye to my beloved M4/3 Olympus camera. This camera accompanied me on many adventures, but for the last 2 years it has received little attention, as I have been using my Sony A7. I am seeing the Olympus off by posting some of my favorite pics, and will be explaining a little about the stories behind each shot. This post looks at the photos I took in 2017, the year I purchased the camera.

Girl on a Scooter/ Hongzan Lu

Shanghai

The old alleyways of Shanghai are disappearing fast. This pic was captured in Hongzhen Lu, which was one of my favourite locations for street photography. When I arrived in China, the area was a busting with markets selling fresh fruit and veg. I left Shanghai three years after this photo was taken, and by then most of the streets had been demolished, or were used by squatters. Shanghai continues to bury itself and move forward in the name of progress. I cannot help but wish for what has been lost.

Noodle Time

Noodles are the ultimate comfort food. This is a scene played on many of the corners of Old Shanghai. The kitchens are usually open and on the street, which creates the opportunity for steamy street food images. I don’t think that either of these gentlemen noticed me taking their photo, so the food (or conversation) must have been good. There are photographers who believe you should always ask before taking someones photo. However, a candid photo taken discretely, will always produce the most genuine ‘slice of life’ that is found on the street.

Bangkok

Buddha

Thailand has always been a favourite holiday destination, and Bangkok provides heaps of opportunities for street and travel photography. Statues of Buddha are usually photographed in the serene environment of a temple. This Buddha was on the back of a pick up truck, and arrived outside Nana Plaza, a notorious red-light district in the heart of Bangkok. The two contrasting worlds came together for just a few minutes for workers in Nana Plaza to give their alms to Buddha.

Tattoo

Sticking with Bangkok, this portrait was taken in Khlong Toey slum. The scooter driver who dropped me off advised me to stay on the main street and to leave before dark. Heading straight down a side street bought me face to face with this heavily tattooed individual. This portrait is one of my personal favourites. At the time I assumed the tattoos were gang, or prison related. Now when I look at the photo, and the calm expression of this individual, I am led to wonder of the tattoos are cultural, or maybe a mix of both.

Bangalore

Butcher Shop

The area surrounding Bangalore’s central market is always good for street and travel photography. Meat hanging in the open air is a common sight, and is certainly cheaper than when you purchase it in the West! Nothing is wasted, and the lady on the left is preparing the hooves, which will be used in soup and stock.

Alleyway

This image was taken close to where I worked. I had been up since dawn and had not captured anything to be particularly proud of. The sun had risen and the light was getting harsh. I ducked into a small underground passageway, and stumbled upon this tiffen centre (a tiffen is a traditional tin, used to carry rice, dhal, and curry). Most food centres have a jug of water that customers help themselves to. The water is drunk without the lips making contact with the container. Strangely, I find the last or first shot of a photo shoot is often the best!

My next post will continue to feature pics taken with my Olympus, that were captured in 2018…

Take care, and keep clicking, Chris

Shooting Wide Angle

Using the Samyang 24mm 1.8

Getting new gear does not make you a better photographer. Maybe. However, getting a new lens sure is fun. I previously mentioned that I was hankering after an extreme wide angle lens. In a classic case of buyer beware, I went for a secondhand lens that turned out to be an older model than I thought. It was also manual focus. However, 24mm is plenty wide enough to capture images that are slightly different from what is often seen.

Gisborne Clocktower
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New Year New City!

Starting again in Gisborne

A belated Happy New Year to everyone. Once again, my New Year’s resolution is to post at least once a week; the critical ones of you will notice I have already failed this, but it’s the journey and not the goal (?)… maybe.

To be honest, like many of us, my photography is struggling post Covid. New Zealand is beautiful, but somehow misses the excitement of International travel, which is now almost impossible. However, Gisborne presents a interesting challenge. A holiday town, a surfing town, and an industrial port. One of my favourite locations so far has been a disused railway track. Lots of leading lines. Here are a few pics from my dog walking & photography exploration.

35mm

These pics were all captured using a Samyang 2.8 lens, which is a bit of a bargain and great for Street Photography. Though I am finding it a little soft for landscape and cityscape work. I am quietly hankering after the Sigma 24mm F/2, please let me know if you have any experience with this lens, as it looks quite a beautiful piece of work.

Next up

In Gisborne all good walks end up on the beach, which is generally littered with timber waste from the logging industry. A pain in the bum, but it makes for interesting pics. Next up – some street pics!

Stay tuned and keep clicking,

Chris

2021: A School Yearbook

Not an awful lot of photography in 2021, which has been (as for many of us) a bit of a topsy turvy year! One successful photography project has been the completion of a school yearbook for Ngata Memorial College, where I have been teaching Mathematics. The students were fantastic and I am missing them all heaps!

Ngata Memorial College is on the East Coast of NZ, in Ruatoria, one of the first places in the world to see the sun. It is home to the Ngati Porou, a Maori iwi descended from Maui and Paikea (the whale rider). The area and people are steeped in culture and tradition. Of course, this means there were ample opportunities for photography.

Here are some snippets from the completed school yearbook!

Traditional v Contemporary Fashion

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Ruatoria on an iphone

Moo

It has been a while since my last blog post. However, I have still been clicking away. My go-to camera at the moment has become my iphone. Phone photography has never really been my ‘thing’, but appears to be my tool of choice at the moment!

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