Mistakes and Failures

Rural Idyll by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Rural Idyll. The sun sets on the canola by Mount Bakewell in York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens and Cokin 3 stop ND and 3 stop GND filters. Exposure: 1/13th sec, f8 ISO 200.

 

Photography and video are both media that allow the artist to play with the concept of time. Up until recently I primarily worked using still photography. With the advent of good quality video being added to most digital cameras I started playing tentatively with moving images and enjoying the whole idea of capturing movement in another way. Now I’m playing with time-lapse which is a way of using still photos to play with movement that the eye doesn’t normally perceive.

 

Canola Sunset by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Sunset over the canola fields. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Panasonic Leica 8-18/F2.8-4.0 lens a Cokin 3 stop ND and a 3 stop GND. Exposure: 1/50th sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

 

The last couple of weeks have seen me shooting the canola fields around York. I’ve yet to do anything with the resulting video footage, but the pictures illustrating today’s post are still out takes. It is just a matter a shooting hundreds of shots of the same scene over a defined time period. My normal landscape gear and technique are used. I’m also experimenting with adding my own movement in the form of pans, tilts and slider moves. Thankfully my camera has an electronic shutter so I’m not burning through the shutter life.

 

Abandoned by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Abandoned. An old colonial farmhouse amidst the canola. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II lens and Cokin 3 stop GND. Exposure: 1/30th sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

 

The thing with experiments is to allow ourselves to make mistakes. This can be difficult if you have, like I have, been practicing in a medium for many years because you tend to develop a certain competence/mastery (pick whichever is the most appropriate) and expect a certain result for your efforts. So when confronted with learning something new and seeing all the mistakes and failures it is tempting to run back to the security of our old established ways of working as it is more ego friendly. In our society the notion of mistakes and failure is seen as a negative, but they really should be embraced. We need to give ourselves freedom to explore and experiment in a nurturing environment so that we can learn and progress. At the moment I’ve got a couple of dozen time-lapse clips sitting on my hard drive, two of them are OK the rest suck big time. Looking at them objectively and looking at the work of people who are considered masters of this art form I can see where I have made my mistakes and so I can now work to avoid repeating them. Who knows in another couple of years I might actually get good at it.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For*

Just Visiting by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Honey bee feeding off a Menzies Banksia. Mogumber, Western Australia. Canon EOS6d with Canon EF 100mm f2.8 IS L macro lens. Exposure: 1/1250 sec, f8, ISO 3200.

 

 

Looking Down by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Looking down into a Menzies Banksia flower. Mogumber, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Canon EF 100mm f2.8 IS L macro lens. Exposure: 1/400 sec, f8 ISO 3200.

 

 

The other weekend I went on a road trip looking for the elusive, and some would say near mythical, Cleopatra Needles orchid (Thelymitra apiculata). After much searching I gave up and headed home after taking the above photos.

*Another rather obvious musical reference. It is of course U2’s song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” which was taken off of the album “The Joshua Tree”. The album used Irish folk and American roots music (in this case Gospel) to contrast American foreign policy with its wide open spaces. It was lauded by Rolling Stone magazine as one of rock’s greatest and along with the subsequent tour launched U2 as a stadium and arena band. It was also a turning point in another way in that many felt that the band and in particular Bono were pretentious and bombastic.

2016 In Review

Faversham
The Faversham vintage van in Avon Terrace, York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with Olympus OM Zuiko 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens. Exposure: 1/200 sec, f5.6 ISO 400.

 

If you have slightly geeky bent, and to be honest if you are reading a photography blog it’s pretty much a given that you have, then Adobe’s Lightroom has several useful tools. One of the ones I’ve been looking at is the ability to look at your photographic work for a specific time frame, and in this case it’s for the year 2016. You can also look at the cameras and lenses you used for that period which enables you to see what patterns of equipment usage emerge. It might ultimately save you money i.e. if you have a hankering for an expensive lens you can look back on your past year to see if that focal length/s you used and whether the objective lens of your desires is one you’d actually use or not. This has actually happened to me – a while back I was working on my project Broncos and Bulls and I felt that the Canon EF 75-300 f4-5.6 IS was costing me shots as it wasn’t the fastest lens to focus and the images at the long end were pretty soft. I wanted a Canon 100-400 L IS but my then preferred local dealer didn’t have one in stock and after waiting nearly 3 months they informed they couldn’t get one. I allowed them to talk me into buying the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS with the Canon x2 converter which they had in stock. Their logic was that I’d end up using the 70-200 much more and would hardly use it combined with the teleconverter. Now looking back through my Lightroom library I can see that I’ve hardly used the 70-200 at all on its own and virtually all the times I have used it was in conjunction with the teleconverter. I should have stuck to my guns and gone to another dealer and that way I’d have a lens that met my needs gave and gave good image quality rather than put up with a convenient compromise.

 

Gotcha!!! by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Gotcha. Steer roping, Boddington Rodeo Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D with Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS L and x2 converter. Exposure: 1/800 s at f/5.6 ISO 200
 So what have I deduced about my photography for 2016? Well I’ll start with commenting on 2015 – for that year over half my photographic output was shot with a DSLR (50:50 split between full frame and APS-C). In 2016 that dropped to 10% the other 90% was shot on mirrorless. The DSLR was only used for some macro work (radio controlled TTL flash), some architecture (a specialised lens) and one event where I had a crisis of confidence and didn’t think the mirrorless cameras would cope with high ISOs and low light focussing. When I look at lens usage it comes as a big surprise that one-quarter of the images were taken using adapted lenses and these with a focal range of between 15-135mm in full frame terms. Hmmm well I knew I preferred shorter lenses than

 

Quairading Railway Station by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Aboriginal art at Quairading Railway Station, Western Australia. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/4000, f8 at ISO 400.

longer already, the main thing is that I enjoyed using legacy lenses and was more than happy with them in terms of image quality. I don’t have to use legacy lenses at all as I have 20 to 600mm covered by modern dedicated AF lenses. For work where it is appropriate I will use the legacy lenses because they give a certain aesthetic that I like which is a less digital and clinical look.

 

York Mill by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
As you drive into York on the Great Southern Highway standing tall on your left is the historic York Flour Mill built in 1892, home to The York Mill. Sony A7r with Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide – Heliar lens. Exposure: 1/25 sec, f16 at ISO 100.

Well what will 2017 bring. Well for 2016 I experimented with finding a certain look. For 2017 will be more project driven as I have found the style I wanted and now want to put it to practice. There will be at least one new book (work on that has already started) and there will be some multi media projects. So exciting times indeed.

 

Hillside Farmhouse by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Hillside Farmhouse was designed by Sir Talbot Hobbs, a leading architect and built in 1911 for Morris Edwards in the historic Wheatbelt town of York in Western Australia. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens mounted via a Fotodiox adapter, Cokin circular polarizing filter and +3 stop graduated neutral density filter. Exposure 4 seconds, f16, ISO 50.

 

I hope for my readers that 2017 will be all that you hope and that you’ll be healthy and happy.

 

Everlastings by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Everlastings on Mount Brown in York, WA. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 135mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: aperture priority with +1 stop exposure compensation, 1/1000th sec, f2.8 at ISO 100.

 

 

Grip And Grin

The 2016 Act_Belong_Commit York Society Arts & Craft Awards held at the York Townhall.

Well it is that time of year again in the York arts calendar – the Act-Belong-Commit York Society Art & Craft Awards for 2016 are being held at the York Town Hall. Yours truly was asked to take the photos of the prize giving ceremony – the brief was to get the prize-winning artist accepting their prize. Classic grip and grin as it is known in the trade. I hate grip and grin with a vengeance – it is boring and conveys absolutely nothing. So 2pm on Saturday sees me parked in the front row at the award ceremony,  I’m there to take an endless procession of dull pictures. The photo below of Louise Gore Langton accepting her award from Dr Pamela Statham-Drew is one of seventeen similar pictures and is typical of the genre. It’s an OKish photo, but all it shows is a woman giving another woman a piece of paper. The photo does not tell you why Louise is being given a piece a paper, only the caption does.

Louise Gore Langton receiving her certificate and prize from Dr Pamela Statham-Drew

Louise won the Works in Fine Metals & Jewellery category with her work “Pocket Rocket“. So knowing that the pictures would be as dull as ditchwater I decided to take some alternatives after the ceremony. So the picture below shows the artist with her artwork looking very happy. So this tells the viewer something more than thefirst one. A big improvement, it is informative, happy and visually interesting.

A very happy Lousise Gore Langton with her prize winning entry in the 2016 Act-Belong-Commit Arts & Craft Awards.

The picture below shows Louise with Kate Mullen who was one of the judges this year. The picture is lively, vibrant and happy and that conveys the atmosphere of the awards ceremony and opening. Thankfully the editor of the paper shared my view and didn’t run any of the grip and grin shots.

 

Kate Mullen, one of the judges, with prize winning entrant Louise Gore Langton.

The moral of the story here, if indeed there is one, is that you do what the person commissioning the work wants and then give them what you feel is the more suitable image.

Sex, Lies, and Flowers

 

It seems like absolutely ages since I last made a post. The break came about because I moved house (yes again!) and as usual Telstra and iiNet cocked the whole re-location up resulting in me being without phone and internet for 6 weeks. Now I have signed up with Optus and I’m the proud owner of a fantastic broadband connection.

So in the last six weeks what have I been up to? Well I’ve definitely not been slacking off I can tell you!  I’m pleased to announce that for the whole of September I will be artist in residence at Beverley Station Arts and I’ll also be showing a body of work entitled “Sex, Lies, and Flowers”. Sex, Lies and Flowers is a project on the terrestrial orchids of the Wheatbelt of Western Australia. The word orchid comes from the Greek “orchis”, which literally means ‘testicle’ (with reference to the shape of its tuber). Orchids are distinguished from other flowers by their uniquely shaped column which is composed of the fused stamens and pistils. Often the petals are modified to mimic the shapes of insects to attract male insects to mate with the faux female and pollinate the flowers. Some of the forms they take also resembles human genitalia Hence the title “Sex, Lies and Flowers”. Over the last eight years I have travelled within the region photographing the plants on location. Instead of taking the standard approach of photographing the plant in its environment showing its full structure I’ve chosen to photograph them in a style more used in portraiture so as to bring out the distinguishing features and characteristics of the plants. The aim is not to produce an exhaustive catalogue of the plants but to produce a series of images that show case the beauty of the plants and raise awareness of them and how fragile they are. Hopefully some of you can pop in and see me and the work, if you are unable then the images from the exhibition and many more can be seen here.

Below is a video clip I made a while ago about photographing orchids in the Avon Valley of Western Australia.

Thanks for your patience everyone and regular programming should now resume.

Autumn On The Avon

Eastern Great Egret
An eastern great egret (Ardea alba modesta) waiting patiently in the morning mist on the Avon River. York, Western Australia. Sony A7r with Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens. Exposure: 1/160 sec, f8 at ISO 400.

How the seasons have changed. It was the height of summer when I posted Tales From The River Bank and now we are at the end of autumn. We’ve had a lot of foggy mornings which always makes me think of Captain Mark Phillips the ex-husband of Princess Anne. Rumour has it that Prince Charles nicknamed him Foggy because he was thick and wet. Well the fog has certainly been thick and wet here lately.

 

Autumnal Morning
The autumn mist on the Avon River in York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/160 sec, f8 at ISO 1600.

 

Quirky Quairading

Quairading Railway Station
Aboriginal art at Quairading Railway Station, Western Australia. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm f2.8 lens. Exposure 1/4000 f8 ISO 400.

 

Situated 166 Km (or 103 miles for the imperially minded) east of Perth is the small Wheatbelt town of Quairading. If you can’t pronounce it you’re not a local! Really it is just a blip on the map, one of countless small Australian country towns. Gazetted in 1907 the town was built around the rail terminus. Typical of many Wheatbelt towns is the CBH grain handling facility built near the station to ship the crop out at harvest time. The railway line has since closed and the grain moved by road. For many towns this would possibly be the last straw, but Quairading carries on. As you drive into town you are met

 

Quairading CBH Grain Bins
The land around Quairading was cleared for farming and in 1932 two grain elevators were built and wheat from the district was transported via rail. The railway shut in 2013 and now the grain travels by road. Canon EOS 550d with Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS EX lens. Exposure: 1/100, f8, at ISO 400.

 

by members of the grain family – cartoon characters based on grains of wheat created by local artist Lyn Whyte. Some of the businesses in the town centre shut down long ago but their buildings have been repurposed. The old bank is now someone’s home and has been called the Brass Razoo Bank, which is Australian slang for having no money and is kind of appropriate.

 

Wesley Wheat
Wesley Wheat a member of the Grain Family. He and his siblings Basil Barley, Ollie Oat and Lucy Lupin are the concept of local artist Lyn Whyte, the family can be seen in quite a few locations around the Quairading district.

 

One of the old shops has a huge street frontage and this now houses a collection of cars straight out of the 1970’s. Just a few doors down is the antique/collectables shop whose contents spill out onto the pavement. The items displayed are often arranged in odd juxtapositions which often cause passers-by to do a double take to see what is going on.

 

Flowers of Quairading
Flowers of Quairading. A street side shop display from the antique shop in Quairading. Sony A7r with Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide – Heliar. Exposure: 1/5000 sec, f16 at ISO 6400.

 

The Car Dealership From The 1970's.
The Car Dealership From The 1970’s. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/200 sec, f16, ISO 1600.

 

Mercedes Truck
An old Mercedes truck sits in a paddock slowly rusting. Quairading, Western Australia. Sony A7r with Voigtlander 75mm f2.5 Color-Heliar lens. Exposure: 1/4000, f2.5 at ISO 400.

 

100 Years of ANZAC
The Anzac memorial in Quairading. Western Australia. Sony A7r with Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide – Heliar lens. Exposure: 1/250 sec, f16 at ISO 1600.

 

The real highlight is the people – friendly, upbeat and generous. My partner walked into the local tourist office cum art centre cum civic museum and walked out with a free pumpkin. What more could you want?