One of the positives to come out of hanging around this artsy headcase that I mentioned a couple of posts back is that it prompted me to look a little closer at the art of photography.  I have always enjoyed taking photos ever since I bought a Sony DSC-R1 after much agonising when I was still living in Dubai.  Since then I’ve moved onto Canon SLRs, with the inevitable result typical among oil industry expats who worked through the last boom that the quality and cost of my equipment far outstrips my ability to use it.  Nevertheless, I have been able to take some nice photos.

A quick look at any half-decent amateur photography website or collection tells me this is not something I could do for a living and that whatever meagre talent I have is common to other amateur photographers numbering in the millions.  In other words, I’m not going to strut around Paris or anywhere else declaring I am an “artist”.  But looking back over my old photos, and with my putting in some effort when I was on a recent trip to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana in a friendly competition with my ex-pal Angela (who was on holiday in Spain at the time), I realised I had some degree of what people call a photographic eye.

I have no idea where today’s photographers post their stuff, but Instagram seemed more like a visual form of Twitter and Tumblr a blogging platform for photos.  What I wanted was somewhere to post photos in collections, and from what I could tell Flickr was the best for that.  The only concern I had was that Flickr seemed to be big in the mid ’00s, and I felt I was stepping back 10 years by setting up an account in 2016.  It was a bit like setting up a MySpace account.  I noticed a lot of once-prolific photographers are now dormant on Flickr, and I did try to see if everyone had migrated to another platform but couldn’t really tell, and so I decided just to go with Flickr.

So, if anyone is interested, my Flickr photos can be found here.

There are probably two things I try to do to make my photos stand out.  The first is get myself to places where most people won’t go.  I took hundreds of photos during my time on Sakhalin Island, some in places which very few people will have been to.

View of the encampment from the top of the Piltun lighthouse, Sakhalin Island, Russia

To a lesser extent I also took a few photos in Nigeria which will be new to most people.

Shipwrecks, Ilado Beach, Lagos, Nigeria

 The second is during street photography, when I walk quite slowly trying to see a detail that others may have missed.

Graffitied building, 3rd Arrondissement, Paris, France

Being tall certainly helps in this regard as my eye-level is above most people’s, and being tall also helps in street photography generally because I can take photos over people’s heads when they’re crowding around something.

I also like to take photos of general scenery, some of which will be quite well-known landmarks, so don’t expect to see something new in every picture.

Toompea Castle, Tallinn, Estonia

I also try to avoid photography cliches.  I might not always be successful in this, but where I am aware of one, I try not to do it.  Something you hear a lot from amateur photographers is “I like to photograph people”, meaning they stand there with a super-zoom lens and take photos of people going about their business totally unaware they are being caught on camera.  Firstly, I think this is a bit of a cop out: it is not hard to surreptitiously snap somebody making an intriguing gesture or looking “human”.  Secondly, I once read a convincing piece by a photographer saying you should shoot people in 35mm or 50mm so they know you are taking their picture, or ask them for permission.  Anything else is cheating.  If you look at the best photos of people on the photography websites they are posed, or at least the subject is aware of the camera.

So if you’re interested, please do check out my photos, I intend to post a selection of each place I visit from now on.


13 thoughts on “Photography

  1. I seen your work on the link in the last post its not too bad!

    As for presentation mediums I prefer to do a lot of Ken Burns Effects and then put them on YouTube with sound, gets some good feedback and well worth a try best to keep them around 1 min to 2 mins max. I mostly used a Canon 5D and do a lot of broadcast video as well. Semi pro in that I do all or our companies marketing information, construction footage, web videos and publications. I was in Mozambique recently travelling light and did a bit on iPhone with exposure lock and got some good results for both personal and business.

    The first two shots might look better with the rule of thirds, maybe?

  2. Didn’t ‘Angela’ teach you anything? It’s not about technical talent. It’s about having a searing artistic vision. You don’t need much technical talent to take a picture of broccoli with a tattoo on it, but you do need creative genius. Regimes tumble with that sort of honesty.

    And technical ability is a bourgeois hang-up that gets in the way of originality. If you’re thinking of F-stops then you aren’t thinking enough about taking photos of Santa Claus with his dick out, or Rupert Murdoch doing Bambi up the bum, etc.

  3. Instagram is definitely the place that photographers seem to be posting their work these days. There are all sorts of posts out there about how to get your photo properly set up to exploit/maximize your exposure on Instagram.

    however i do like Flickr for the fact it gives you 1TB of storage. If nothing else it is a very cheap back up option to store your photos. though you point about its declining use does mean it could disappear one day.

    I’ve quite liked Reddit’s /r/photography forum for photography chat.

  4. I’m like you. I am a decent amateur photographer who couldn’t do it for a living and who would probably be a better one if he learned how all the features of his camera worked. Also, I have some nice shots, many of quite exotic places. I have had poster prints of some of my favourites framed and I have them hanging on the walls of my flat. It can make for nice conversation, if nothing else.

  5. It can make for nice conversation, if nothing else.

    Indeed, my next step is to buy a decent photoprinter and get some up on the walls for much the same reason.

  6. My wife used to belong to a photo club and enjoyed it pretty well. She learned some good stuff about composition and whatnot. Do the French do enthusiasts’ clubs?

  7. Instagram is definitely the place that photographers seem to be posting their work these days.

    I’ve given it a go, but it doesn’t seem much good for posting collections, just single pics. I can see what Instagram is good for – single posting of random photos for everyone to like and comment on – but Flickr seems to be better for posting large collections from trips, etc.

  8. Didn’t ‘Angela’ teach you anything? It’s not about technical talent. It’s about having a searing artistic vision.

    Heh heh!

  9. Do the French do enthusiasts’ clubs?

    They do, but probably not to the level Brits do. But there are plenty of photography groups and clubs in France. I’ve thought about joining in a few, but language laziness is putting me off at the moment…even though I’m sure there are English-speaking ones. I have heard these sort of groups are very good for an amateur to improve, though.

  10. To someone who remembers the old days, a ‘Photo Club’ was an excuse used by a group of wankers to hire a nude model.

  11. Pingback: Photos of People | White Sun of the Desert

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