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Better Photography Online Edition

Better Photography is available four times a year (at www.betterphotographyeducation.com) as an online read or you can download it to your device for offline reading.

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Recent Blogs from Better Photography

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Exhibition: Murray White's Conversations with Landscape

Ballarat International Foto Biennale
Mercure Ballarat, 613 Main Road, Golden Point, Victoria
Open daily from 7 am until 11 pm until the 9th
 January 2022.

Murray White' exhibition looks at Australian landscape through the eyes of landscape itself. Anthropomorphic studies have tried to reveal a consciousness within the environment that elevates our inanimate world into a living structure. Faces, torsos and human concepts emerge to imply a sophistication not commonly associated with trees, rocks and other elements within Nature.

The prints are untitled, but are paired with written verse, arranged in quatrains, juxtaposing a human interpretation with the subtle language of our natural world. Although the pairings may suggest a particular relationship, sufficient ambiguity remains for the viewer to adopt their own view of these intimate studies.

This sequence of 20 images has been captured over a three year period on medium and large format B&W film, hand printed onto fibre based paper. Murray has sepia toned the prints for archival purposes, but more importantly, to achieve a vision consistent with traditional portraits. His belief is that the landscape exudes character and should be recognised for its significance in the world as we understand it.

A regular contributor to Better Photography, Murray has written and photographed for many magazines and books, specialising in landscape and off the beaten track travel destinations. The exhibition forms part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, and is on display at the Mercure Ballarat, 613 Main Road, Golden Point, Victoria until the 9th January 2022. Open daily from 7 am until 11 pm. 

Stingray Bay

North Island, New Zealand, 2006
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, Leica-R 19mm, 30 seconds @ f11, ISO 50, tripod-mounted, 10X ND filter

Years ago, while shooting The Pilbara Project, I spent an enjoyable afternoon walking through the Art Gallery of Western Australia with Les Walkling. Les, many readers may already know, is well known in educational and contemporary art circles within Australia and around the world. He’s also a part of our Ninety Degrees Five (ND5) group. You can read more about Les on his website - www.leswalkling.com.

During our trips away, the conversation is inevitably related to photography, especially the way that modern photography fits into the art world.

There are two camps: those who believe a photograph should look like a photograph, and those who say a photograph can be anything it wants to be. I appreciate both schools of thought. Both are valid.

Of course, there can be a great deal of discussion about the definition of ‘a photograph’! 

One of the challenges in the digital age has been the use of colour. In comparison to the colours we could capture and reproduce with film, today we can produce much stronger, more vibrant and saturated colours. Should we?

And this is where my walk around the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth with Les was so instructional. We took great delight in looking at the paintings (not photographs) hanging on the wall and observing their use of colour. Talk about out of gamut!

Of course, not all of the works were highly saturated, but many of them were. Artists, it seems, are quite comfortable with colour in many guises.

But photography isn’t art, is it? Perhaps this is better stated that photography isn’t always art. Sometimes photography is a scientific record or a historical document. We expect to see natural colours in some photographs, depending on their context.
However, when it comes to using photography as a means of expression, I think we can afford to be a little more adventurous.

From an early stage, I have enjoyed using strong colour and friends have even called me ‘Mr 200% Saturation’! However, I like to think that while saturated in places, my photographs aren’t just a matter of dragging the saturation slider to the right. Only some colours are saturated, while others are in fact de-saturated.

In the photograph above, the saturation in the water and hills has been enhanced, while the sky has been desaturated and darkened. Simple post-production adjustments of colour balance can have a dramatic impact on the mood and feeling of an image, a choice photographers can make after capture in The New Tradition.

Need a good read? Like to learn something more about photography? Interested in new ideas? Why not purchase a copy of my book, The New Tradition, which is full of great tales and ideas. It has 100 photographs and accompanying stories guaranteed to enthral you - and you can save $30 on the purchase price right now - use coupon code TNT30. Check out more on the www.betterphotography.com website.

STOP PRESS: There's a special Better Photography Magazine subscription deal - buy The New Tradition before Christmas as outlined above and we'll add in some 'festive cheer' with a year's online subscription to Better Photography magazine and its archive of over 50 magazines. What a great Chrissy present for yourself!

Is Easy Masking Any Good?

Mountains in snow, Georgia. Separating the layers of trees, snow and sky for editing couldn't be achieved satisfactorily (by me) with any automatic selection algorithm, or even luminosity masking. A manual approach was the only solution I could find.

I think we will see more photographers experimenting with more post-production in the near future - and that's a good thing. Adobe has released new masking tools for both Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, making it both easy and almost intuitive to decide on what you want to 'select' and 'edit'.

For instance, a person standing alone in a field can be easily selected and separated from the sky and the grass. Once selected, the person can be lightened, darkened or coloured as desired. Similarly, the sky can be selected and darkened or the blue removed and then, using the opposite selection of the sky, the grass and landscape can be turned to, say, purple or green as you choose!

Adobe is to be congratulated for introducing these new masking tools which work remarkable well in many situations. Perhaps it will also change the language of photography so 'purists', while not changing their personal approach, will be more accepting of others who choose to look further than the reality captured by a camera.

However, where does that leave photographers like us? Is it a complete solution?

Read More

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