Category Archives: learning

contrast

One of the things I want to do this year (and every year) is improve my photography, which is kind of like asking myself to measure a piece of string. It is, as I’m sure is the case with any craft, a skill that you can keep on learning about forever and still never feel like you know everything.

That’s the beauty of it.

So saying that I want to improve is not so much setting a goal as taking an endless voyage of continuous learning.

One of the things I can do to learn, aside from actually going out and making photographs, is to take some courses in areas that I want to do better in. I’ve signed up to many of them, and always seem to start and never finish them. I find it difficult to stay motivated when the whole course is delivered online and there’s little, if any, interaction with the instructor, and no assignments to hand in. Some of them have online groups you can post your work in but there is still very little accountability and no one chases you up if you don’t. However, I suppose this is the difference between a short online course for a few hundred dollars and, say, a uni degree or diploma for several thousand dollars, which I seemed to have no lack of motivation to finish.

Anyway, my lack of follow-through aside, one of the courses I have been working through (slowly) is called The Compelling Frame by the Canadian photographer David duChemin. David describes the course as being “designed to help you better understand visual design and composition, specifically how we use those to create more captivating, more powerful, photographs”.

Cool.

I’ve been working though the lessons (there are 19) this year, and have just completed lesson 9. (Did I mention I was working very slowly?)

This lesson is about contrast, and one of the exercises is to go out and make photographs of ten contrasts. This could be obvious things like colour contrast, dark/light or size, or more “conceptual” such as new/old and natural/man made.

The brief didn’t say they had to be great photographs or even photographs that were trying to say something, so I tried to let that additional pressure go and just look for contrast. I took my 24mm lens, which I haven’t used for ages. I was talking about it with a friend the other day and thinking how once upon a time, before I got my 50 mm lens, this had been my favourite lens and how it might be fun to take it out for a while. So I did.

Here are some of the images I came back with. I did some quick edits on them and cropped most of them to 8×10 to try something different. I don’t think there’s anything earth shatteringly brilliant here but what I found interesting was the more I looked for contrast, the more I found it everywhere.

I also found that in some of the images, there was more than one type of contrast, which I mostly didn’t notice until I got back home and started looking at them.

Contrasting living/dead as well as natural/man made and also shades of green
Colour contrast
Discarded human stuff in a natural space. Also blue/green contrast
Natural/man made, colour contrast, texture contrast
Colour contrast (I was getting desperate)
At first I saw the colour and light/dark contrasts within the leaf, then noticed the contrast of the leaf on the pebbles
This was meant to be a contrast between the two small bins lined up straight and the big one being crooked but it doesn’t really work out for me
Natural/man made, though a hay bale isn’t exactly a natural feature it is? Also a colour contrast
Light/dark and also textural contrast between the fence and the buoys and the smooth/rough buoys
Textures, light/dark

50 in 50: the wrapup

When I got the idea for the 50 in 50 project, I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself to take a photo every day with the same lens, and to restrict myself to using only that lens for a whole month to see what new perspectives I could get by limiting my choices. I had initially thought I’d use my 24mm prime lens because, well, because I love it and I could see myself using just that lens forever and never using anything else.

Day 50: 50

But loving that lens so much, I didn’t think that it would be a huge challenge to not use it. The 50mm, on the other hand, well, that was something different. I wasn’t exactly sure why I’d bought it and I’d rarely used it. I think I’d heard it was a good lens for portraits but, as portraits aren’t a genre I’m very interested in at all, I’m not sure what I thought getting a portrait lens would achieve.

Nonetheless, I had it and it was sitting there in my lens bag unused. Everytime I went to use it, everything would be SO CLOSE and I’d hastily swap it for my 10-22 where I was a lot more comfortable.

I’d set myself the goal of completing a 30-day project with one lens in 2020 as part of my 20 in 2020 list that I write about on my other blog. I realised at the end of October that time was running out if I wanted to get this done. I was on a short break in the middle of a very frantic time at work when I decided, in that way you make crazy decisions when you’re relaxed and on holidays, that I was going to start the project the very next day with the 50mm lens and it was going to be a 50-day project, not a 30-day one. Because 50/50/50 was just so much tidier than 30/50/30.

The challenge was set and the rules were made. I locked all my other lenses away in my camera bag and began. The main rule was that I needed to make at least one photo every day and post it. I didn’t actually have to edit or post it the day I took the photo, as long as I’d actually captured a photo every day. I was a little bit flexible with the challenge and I did allow myself to continue to use my phone for thing I’d normally have used my phone for anyway like casual daily photos and Hobart Street Corners.

So what did I learn?

Not allowing myself to crop the images, other than what was needed to straighten them, meant that I had to be a lot more careful in my framing in-camera. In some photos that were very tight, I found it difficult to make the adjustments I needed to compensate for the viewfinder showing me a slightly different view than what appeared in the image. More than once, an image that I thought I’d framed perfectly ended up with something I thought I had excluded sneaking in on the right hand side, or the image wasn’t framed exactly the way I had thought it was.

Day 2: It’s not centred!

It was also difficult to step back as far as I needed to get what I wanted into the frame, so in a lot of photos I ended up getting closer and including less in the image than I had intended. This is why there are a lot of photos from the challenge of the tops of buildings or details, because the 50mm perspective just didn’t allow everything to be included. There are limits to how far you can step back sometimes, because there are things like brick walls or roads with heavy traffic that stop you. Getting run over in the pursuit of my art is not really the way I want to end my life!

Day 5: Just one more step back would have helped this one

Doing this challenge forced me to look at things in a different way to how I would have if I was using the 10-22 lens and trying to get everything in. It helped me to isolate details that I found interesting and to really think about what was interesting about a scene. It often felt like it was a lot more of a personal way to make photos, to find the element that spoke to me within what was usually quite a cluttered space, and to focus on that and to show it from my perspective.

I’d go out with one idea in mind and then, after being in the space for a while and taking the photos I thought I’d wanted, I’d look around some more and see something completely different. I’d then go and explore the things that had caught my eye and end up with a totally different image to what I’d imagined. Light playing on a surface, a creeping shadow, a small feature that I’d never have noticed if I’d been looking at the big picture. Something on the ground. Something sitting on a fence. I’d capture these things as I saw them, and I’m glad I did because, more often than not, I’d come back the next day and they’d be gone.

Day 29: Specs in time. I came back the next day to rephotograph this scene because I wasn’t happy with any of the images, and the dandelion had gone.

Of course, not everything worked out as I’d wanted it to, and some days I ended up just taking a photo of something, anything, just to complete the challenge for that day. These were not some of my best moments.

Day 35: Hmmmmmmm……

I found I really enjoyed getting up close to a feature and making it the focal point of the image, with a very shallow depth of field to blur the background.

Day 31: Some sandstone at some old building

Some of these types of photos worked well; others not so much. I had a couple of days where I’d get a photo I really liked only to find I hadn’t quite nailed the focus, whereas similar shots with less pleasing composition were tack sharp. What to do there?! My choice was to go with composition over sharpness and to remind myself it’s okay to take more than one photo of exactly the same thing if I think it’s going to be a good one. Maybe one day I’ll remember this.

Day 42: Composition trumps focus

16 December was the last day of the challenge and I’d already picked out my subject a couple of days earlier on my morning walk, when there was great light. I’d taken a few test shots and thought I could make it work on the last day. All I needed was the same light and the same lack of traffic on the highway. Sadly, the light didn’t come and I woke up feeling very unwell. Not unwell enough to not go for a walk but not exactly raring to go either. So I didn’t get the photo I wanted to round the project off. I took a couple of photos while I was out but nothing really worked and all I wanted to do was go back to bed. Which I did.

It was a disappointing end to what had been a fantastic project that, for the most part, I enjoyed doing. Overall, I’m pleased with the photos I made for the project, and there are a couple that are up there with my favourite images of the year.

Day 10: A re-edit of one of my favourite photos from the whole of 2020

I’m not in any great rush to stop using the lens and, now I know some of its possibilities, I’m keen to use it more often.

Day 38: I love this one and several of the others I made at the same location

It’s been a great experience for me. I would say if you feel like your photography is getting stuck or same-y or you want to mix it up a bit, set yourself a challenge like this where you restrict yourself to one element. Go out for a couple of weeks, a month, however long feels right to you, and make photographs every day within that restriction. Maybe you could restrict the lens, or the aperture you use (or even both!). You could restrict yourself to making a photo at a particular time of day or within a particular location. One challenge I have always been interested in is the “one block” challenge, where you can only make photographs of things that are within one block of your town for whatever period you choose. Maybe a back and white challenge is more your thing (I did that for a year in 2018), or you photograph only yellow things every day for a month. Or birds. Or cups of coffee. Or sandstone (nah, just kidding, don’t do that). Anything where you limit your options, I think, will help you to focus on one thing and to get more creative as you can’t get distracted by the many other variables that could distract you.

Now I have to plan myself a new challenge for 2021.

Have you thought about undertaking a photo challenge like this? Or done one? Let me know in the comments.

50 in 50: week 3

These are the photos from the third week of my 50 in 50 challenge, where I use only my 50 mm lens for 50 days and post a photo a day. I’ve been a bit behind in posting because I had all the Open House Hobart photos to post as well, so there will be a couple of catch-up posts now.

Day 15: The Gull
Day 16: The Supreme Court
Day 17: Abstract sunrise
Day 18: The Magistrates Court
Day 19: Rust
Day 20: Rooftops
Day 21: Three

open house hobart 2020: part 4

When we last saw Robyn, our entertaining and informative guide of the “What Style is That?” walking tour that was part of our Open House Hobart experience, we were in the car park of the Treasury building in Franklin Square, looking at the Reserve Bank building across the road. You can read about how we got there in part 3.

Some sandstone things on one of the Treasury staircases

Lil Sis and I visited the Treasury complex last year as part of Open House. It wasn’t open this year so we were glad to have been able to look through it then. Today’s visit looked at the outside of the buildings and the many different features and eras of the structures that make up the complex.

Robyn told the story we heard last year about the four columns out the front of the main entrance, which were originally going to be eight because John Franklin was obsessed with columns, but this was never done because of public outcry about the cost of eight columns. (Also, you have to ask yourself, where would the all fit?) Robyn mentioned that the Jane Franklin building in Lenah Valley had similar columns and that there had been suggestions that perhaps this is where the missing Treasury columns had ended up. She also said that she was 100 per cent confident that they weren’t, and you’ll have to ask her yourself how she knows this.

Another sandstone thing at Treasury. Note the vermiculated sandstone quoins in the background. Quoin is a fancy architectural term for corner.

Across the road from Treasury in Murray Street is the former Hobart Savings Bank, which is notoriously known as the red awnings building.

Former Hobart Savings Bank, 24A Murray Street

This bank was founded by the Quakers as a bank that former convicts and other people who had been rejected by the big banks could access. Robyn said that in a big financial crash in the 1890s, this was the only bank that was unscathed because all of the others had made huge risky investments and lost most of their depositors’ funds. This benefited the people who had been scorned by society as they now had all the money and could go out and buy property and start to set their families up.

Up close & personal with the red awnings

We were lucky enough to have a brief tour of this building after the walking tour. It’s now a private residence and is quite amazing inside but I can’t show you any photos as the owner has requested that we don’t publish any photos from the inside.

Looking up

As we walked down Murray Street, Robyn showed as another example of how front walls are designed for the upper class, with their perfect sandstone blocks but when it comes to the sides, anything goes because that’s what the less well-regarded members of society see as they go around to the side entrance.

The well-to-do front

So the walls are uneven with odd shaped bits of stone shoved in to fit whatever space there was. I never knew this and had never paid any attention before. But now I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it.

And the side of the same building

We ended our tour at Parliament House, which I rightly identified as Georgian. (There, see, I learned something.) It was built in 1835 as the customs house. I mentioned that I understood that it wasn’t big enough for its purpose as Parliament House. Robyn said that this was indeed the case, and that the original plans had larger wings on either side, which had been crossed off (in red pen, no less) the design, leaving us with a building that isn’t fit for purpose. Perhaps one day I will elaborate on my plans for fixing this but I don’t think Hobart is ready for that yet.

It was a fabulous tour and I am so grateful to Open House Hobart and to Robyn for giving us this opportunity. It has opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t know about our older buildings and I am interested to find out more. I’m still not going to convert to the cult of sandstone and I can’t tell my Corinthian column from my Doric or my Tuscan ones (sorry, Robyn, my brain just isn’t equipped for this). But I will certainly look at some of these places in a different light as I walk past, especially ones with inappropriate porches! (You can go on Robyn’s tour next year and ask her about those.)

50 in 50 update 1

I’ve now been doing my 50 in 50 challenge for just over a week. This is a challenge where I use my 50mm prime lens for 50 days and take at least one photo every day.

Day 3

So far, it’s been an interesting experience and I’m enjoying the challenge. I’m pleased with most of the photos I’ve made, though there are a couple that probably are best never to speak of again.

Day 4: The idea in my mind didn’t quite translate into the image.

I’ve noticed a few things as I use this lens, which I’m not all that familiar with.

First, and most obviously, is that, as it’s a prime lens, I don’t have the luxury of being able to zoom to compose a photo like I can with my other lenses. If I want less in the frame, I have to move closer to the subject and if I want a wider view, I need to move away. That’s all fine until I take one step too far back and bump into a wall and can’t get any wider. This also means that sometimes the shots don’t capture everything I want and I have to reconsider how to best compose them.

Composition is especially important because of my “no cropping” rule, which means I have to get no more than I want in the frame. The only exception to no cropping is to straighten something that I didn’t quite get straight when I was shooting. Which sometimes creates problems . . . .

Day 5. The less said about this one, the better.

Doing this challenge has made me think about what I want in the image when I’m actually shooting it as opposed to going wide and playing around with it in post-processing.

I’m also finding I’m paying a lot more attention to my settings, in particular aperture, rather than leaving it on f/8 as I normally do with my wider photos. This lens goes all the way to f/1.8, which is very challenging to shoot at and not something I’m at all familiar with. It will be interesting to explore this further over the next 40 or so days.

Day 6. Obviously not shot at f/1.8.

I’ll be updating the blog every week or so and posting my photos every day (or thereabouts) on my Instagram with the hashtag #50in50.

Day 7. Afternoon light at the beach.

50 in 50

Over on my other blog, Stepping on the Cracks, I’m writing about my progress in doing 20 things I set out to accomplish in 2020. It’s a movement (I guess) called 20 for 2020, which I first heard about a couple of years ago on the Happier podcast when Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft talked about doing 18 for 2018. Last year, I did 19 for 2019 and this year I’m doing 20 for 2020 (although I actually have 22 things on my list but who’s counting?)

Thing number 9 is to “use no camera other than my SLR with a single prime lens for 30 days and post a photo a day for the month”. 

I thought of this challenge last year some time when I was using my 24mm lens a lot. I thought it would be fun and interesting to keep that lens on my camera for 24 days and make 24 images in 24 days. I never did it, and the challenge turned into one of my 20 things for 2020, for a month rather than just 24 days. At the time, I thought I’d use the 24mm because I love using it. 

But I have this 50mm lens too. (It’s 50mm, but on my crop sensor camera it has an effective focal length of about 80mm.) It’s not a focal length I often shoot at. I’m a huge fan of my 10-22mm wide-angle lens. If I’m not using the 24mm, this one lives on my camera. The other lenses are there just to take up space. 

Earlier this week I was on holiday. Let’s call it a photo holiday. While I was in a coffee shop, I was thinking about how time was running out for me to shoot with one lens for a month. So in a fit of holiday madness, I thought why not mix things up totally and use the 50mm for the challenge, and why not start right now? 

I put the lens on and went out to take some photos. But, true to form, as soon as I got to the location I wanted to photograph, I took it off again and put the wide-angle back on. 

No, Barb, you’re missing the point of the challenge. 

The challenge is to shoot within the limits of the lens you have. Not to change back to your safety net as soon as you start shooting. So, after getting the wide-angle shots I wanted, I put the 50mm back on and set about learning to use it.

I think what had been playing on my mind was a recent episode of photographer David duChemin’s podcast, A Beautiful Anarchy, called Play the Unplayable that I had listened to the day before. In this episode, David talks about the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett performing the Köln Concert, where (to make it very short) he made the most of everything that could go wrong going wrong, performed an improvised piano concert at the Köln Opera House on the world’s shittiest piano after no sleep, being in a back brace, and no food, and still managed to pull off a masterpiece performance. 

The point is, says David, that the best of our creative efforts don’t happen when the conditions are perfect. He says that Keith Jarrett performed this masterpiece because of the limitations placed on him, not in spite of them. The constraints forced Keith to play in a way no other piano would have, and, David says, suggested variations he might never otherwise have considered. Keith played the “unplayable” little piano with its broken keys and non-functional pedals with what David describes as a determination and grit that other performances had never required of him. 

From this story, David observes that working with unfamiliar tools and unfamiliar circumstances forces you to play an A-game you wouldn’t otherwise play. He says that a disruption to our script forces us to think in new ways. A broken tool demands new ways of working and, on some level, he says, being close to failure makes us pay attention and focus our efforts in a way we wouldn’t do otherwise.

Perfect conditions are not a prerequisite for making our best work.

David asks us to consider what if the most perfect conditions for making extraordinary things are those where things go wrong, put us off balance and demand more from us? What if the conditions we see as a liability because they’re hard are actually our greatest assets?

The best of our creative efforts, he says, do not happen when conditions are perfect.

You can read about the Köln Concert here.

The 50mm challenge is my equivalent. Okay, it’s not quite the same. Actually, it’s nothing like it. Unlike Keith Jarrett, I have a choice about my tool. I’m not in pain, I don’t have a shitty camera that doesn’t work properly and I haven’t driven 350 miles across the country and had no sleep. But it’s a lens I’m not used to at all and I don’t really know how to use it. Because it’s a prime lens, I can’t zoom to get the composition I want like I’d normally do, so it’s limiting in that sense. It is not the tool I would usually use to make my art. 

It is the tool I’m forcing myself to use.

I have set my constraints and now it’s up to me to create my work within them.

Here are the rules of my challenge:

  1. The 50mm lens stays on the camera for 50 days starting on 28 October. The other lenses are out of sight. (In fact, they are locked in my camera bag so that I can’t just get them out without thinking about it. If I want them, I’ll have to unlock the bag, which is going to remind me that they’re off-limits. I just hope I don’t lose the key.)
  2. I take at least one photo a day with the SLR.
  3. I can edit the photos however I want but only to enhance what was already there. I can’t make up light that wasn’t there, for example. The only exception to this might be to alter the colours to make a more coherent image or change it to black and white.
  4. The basic composition has to be right within the original shot. I can straighten and crop minimally to make up for my crappy eyesight or to make up for not being able to get closer or further away because of limitations of the site (e.g. oncoming traffic, large holes in the ground, or other risks to my life if I moved closer, but people looking at me oddly for taking a photo doesn’t count). Apart from that, I can’t use cropping to make up for not having been in the right position. I need to move to get the angle I want, not rely on post-processing to do that.
  5. Cloning is okay if I couldn’t have avoided including the thing to be cloned in the image. But if it’s careless composition, for example, because I didn’t check the edges of the frame and there are stray tree branches in the image, they stay as a lesson to me to be more careful next time.
  6. I can use my phone for photos to record my daily life, street corners project and other things that I regularly document with my phone.
  7. I share one photo from every day. I don’t have to share it on the day I made it, but I need to have 50 photos from 50 individual days between today and 16 December.
50 in 50: Day 1

I’m going to post the photos on my Instagram with the hashtag #50in50 (which looks like it’s actually a hashtag about running!) and I’ll aim to update at least once a week on the blog.

50 in 50: Day 2

Behind the sunrise

I slept in every day this week and missed all the beautiful orange sunrises that I saw in my social media feeds earlier in the week. I was disappointed because orange skies are my favourite skies and I rarely see them in person. But I only had myself to blame.

I finally decided that, as I  describe myself as someone who walks a bit, maybe missing my morning walks isn’t particularly congruent with who I profess to be. I walk every day, and this week I haven’t.

I went out this morning and, of course, today wasn’t the day for an orange sunrise.

Well, it was orange, it just wasn’t the dramatic orange I was hoping for.

20190426 Sunrise Taroona Beach edit edit

River Derwent | 26 April 2019 | 7.00am

Not to worry! I was back out doing what I loved and that was the main thing. Not too long after the sun rose, it started to rain. Lightly, at first.

Where I was standing on the beach are some boat sheds, which I sometimes photograph if the light is right. This morning it was, and I took some photos from where I was standing—the usual place I try to photograph them from. I was waiting for the light.

20190426 Taroona Boathouses 2-Edit edit

Waiting for the light

The light hadn’t quite hit the boat sheds when something made me walk along to the other side of them to see if I could get a better angle from there. As I turned around, I saw a rainbow over the beach and realised this was the shot I needed to take: the photograph behind the sunrise.

20190426 Taroona Boathouses 6 edit edit

Behind the sunrise

By the time I’d clambered over rocks to try and get the right shot, the rain was getting heavier, the wind had come up and it was becoming unpleasant. I took some okay, not great, images of the boat sheds from the other side and decided it was time to go.

A man at the house over the road had been watching me, probably thinking (not unreasonably) that I was mad to be standing around taking photos in this onslaught. “It wasn’t like this when I left home!” I complained, in response to his comment on the “wild and woolly” weather. (Totally off topic, where does that phrase even come from? It makes no sense to me at all.)

I carried on along the street, turned the corner and headed towards home, eager to be warm and dry again.

As I was walking, I looked ahead and saw the most wonderful sight: a modest-looking house sitting on the next corner, shining in the golden light. It looked beautiful! This was really the thing I was meant to see this morning, not the sunrise, not the boat sheds, not the rainbow. This one photograph, of all the ones I captured this morning, made it worth getting wet and almost blown away. I just wish I’d had my camera instead of my phone.

20190426 Shiny house-Edit edit

Friday morning light

When I was taking the photos of the rainbow, I’d been thinking how funny it is that sometimes the thing you really need to be looking for is right behind you. (Does that sound too much like an airline safety briefing?) And, after seeing the house, I realised that if it’s not behind you, it will be somewhere else you didn’t set out to look.

365 days of B&W

In 2017, I got tagged into one of those photo challenges that crop up on Facebook every now and then. This was a challenge to post a black and white photo every day for seven days, which was to have no people in it and no explanation. I enjoyed that a lot and decided to keep that project going for the rest of the year. I didn’t make a new photo every day, but I ended up with 45 photos by the end of the year. I posted them on instagram and also on my personal blog.

You can see my favourites on that blog, Stepping on the Cracks.

2017 B&W 01-07.jpg

My original seven b&w photos from 2017. Yes, one is sepia. I’m sure no one noticed.

I wanted to continue the project into 2018 so I made a commitment to make a black and white photo every day and post it on my instagram account. I stuck to the original “no people, no explanation” rule and added in a couple of new rules.

First, the photo had to be made on the day that I posted it. No going back through the archives to find something. I had to actually go out every day and find something to photograph for the project. (There may have been occasions where the day was almost over and I’d not found anything that grabbed my attention and I had to resort to making arty photos of my front door or my wine glass at 11pm. Maybe . . . )

20180609 White wine edit

Day 160. It’s late at night and I don’t have a photo yet!

I was also known to take a photo of something intending to use it for the project that day, only to find something I liked better later in the day, and going back to the original subject a few days later to re-take the photo so that it was the correct date.

Second, hmmm, no there was no second. I intended that all the photos be made on my iPhone. I started out editing in Snapseed but swapped over to Lightroom CC for mobile several months in. There are a couple that started life on my SLR, but for the most part, these are phone photos. This was good in one way because I almost always have my phone on me and so I can take photos of anything, anytime. But it wasn’t so good for helping me to get to know my camera better (I only got it at the end of 2017) because I’d always be reaching for the phone rather than the camera.

I didn’t restrict myself in terms of subject matter either. It was perfectly okay to post a photo of something I’d already posted, as long as it was from a different angle or at a different time of day or had some other feature that made it look different to a previous photo.

So, what did I learn from 365 days of making black and white images?

It reinforced for me that not every image can be converted to black and white. I can’t just go out, take a photo and hit the B&W button and expect a good result. And if it’s a bad photo to start with, making it black and white doesn’t fix that.

20180530 Little building on Liverpool St edit

Day 150. Unimpressive black & white, but this is just not a good photo.

Some subjects work better than others. I think images where there’s a lot going on don’t work as well, in a lot of cases, than images with a single, simple subject.

Sometimes having a lot in an image can work quite well too. Here, I think it’s all about the light and shadows and the contrast between the lovely T&G building that’s the main subject of the photo, and its surrounds.

20180716 Back of T&G 5 edit

Day 197

As the year went on I found myself looking for lines and for light and shadows and trying to picture what effects might look good in a black and white image. Sometimes I think it worked.

20180901 Taroona Medical Centre edit 2

Day 244

Other times not so much.

20181024 Grate on Liverpool St 2 edit

Day 297

I was increasingly drawn to making images like this

20180827 From one carpark to another edit

Day 239

and this,

20181013

Day 286

as well as finding joy in the more abstract things I saw around me and going crazy with the contrast.

It was an interesting, and challenging, 365-day project and one I’m glad I undertook. I know I’ve only just started to scratch the surface of black and white photography, but I’m hooked on it! I’m ready to learn a lot more in 2019, without the (self-imposed) pressure of having to post a new photograph every day.

I hope you enjoyed following my project in 2018. Thank you to the people who have supported me over the year. Your comments and encouragement have meant a lot to me.

To see the whole project, visit  2018 black & white project.

20181231 B&W combo 1

Some of my favourite photos from the 2018 project.

 

Watching the Marine Board Building

In summer the sun rises early enough that I can often see the sunrise when I’m out walking in the morning before work. I posted some photos here back in January and February  As the days shorten and the sun rises later in the morning I miss that special pre-sunrise time of the morning when I’m outside. It’s dark and it’s cold and it’s harder to make myself go out.

At this time of year, as we move towards the Winter Solstice, the sun is rising after 7.30 am and if I leave home early enough I can see the sunrise sky from the window of the bus. To my delight, one day recently when I got into town earlier than usual, I found that the morning light just after the sunrise gives everything around the waterfront a magical glow that in the earlier months of the year I’d have to be there before 6.00 am to see.

The waterfront presents endless photo opportunities as the buildings light up as the sun rises. This, perhaps, is the incentive I need to keep getting up in the morning when it’s dark and cold outside—the reward of the beautiful light play if I get to town early enough.

One building I have been watching over the last couple of weeks has been the Marine Board Building.

I know.

It’s not a favourite building of many (any?) people in Hobart, especially given its size, colour and prominent waterfront location. It became even more controversial when the building owner installed the (ill-fated and subsequently replaced) wind turbines on top of the building in 2010. I’ve heard more than one person say they’d love to see it demolished.

I don’t have a lot of photos of it. One that I can think of, from January, other than it maybe appearing in a couple of street corner photos. I hadn’t really paid much attention to it. It was just a brown building that no one liked. Until about three weeks ago, when I was wandering around the waterfront looking for something to photograph for my 365 days black & white photo challenge I’m doing on instagram.

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Marine Board Building | 23 January 2018 |8.16 pm

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Marine Board Building | 23 May 2018 | 8.16 am

The Marine Board Building ended up being my photo that day and I started to think it was actually an interesting building. I’ve been to look at it on other days since then and have been noticing how it really changes as the light changes in the mornings.

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Marine Board Building | 31 May 2018 | 7.47 am

On Friday I tried to capture a sequence to show this.

When I first got there I thought that the light was all wrong and it wasn’t going to happen. You know how some days you get good sunrise skies and others you don’t? I thought this was going to be one of the “don’t” days and was getting ready to leave when the light started working its magic.  It was captivating. The way the building changes in the light in just ten minutes as the sun rises is spectacular.

At first, it’s a dull brown building.

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Marine Board Building | 6 June 2018 | 7.47 am

Then the light hits the wind turbines on the roof, then the top of the building, leaving the bottom in shadow.

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Marine Board Building | 6 June 2018 | 7.50 am

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Marine Board Building | 6 June 2018 | 7.52 am

Then it works its way down the entire building and lights it up with this almost surreal glow. It changes from brown to orange to golden. It looks like a completely different building in this light.

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Marine Board Building | 6 June 2018 | 7.57 am

I couldn’t stop watching.

Part of this exercise was trying to find the best spot to take the photos from. It’s difficult because, with a phone camera, which is what I had, I needed to be far enough away to have enough room in the shot to correct the perspective later but also to not get too much clutter in the foreground, which becomes more of a problem the further away I am. Also, there also seems to be a lot of tour buses milling round just outside at the time I want to take my photos, which is also a challenge and restricts where I can stand if I want a clear shot of the building.

And the red cross? That’s part of an installation for Dark Mofo. It also gets in the way of my clear shot of the building but I think it looks kind of cool and it casts a nice shadow on the building that’s only going to be there for a couple of weeks.