“Over There, It's Raining” by Fernando Correia da Silva
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~Clare Boothe Luce~
“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” ~Lin Yutang ~ (The Importance of LIving)
These quotes really apply to photography as well in full. Like poets can say so much with just few words only, so can an excellent photographer with just few pictorial elements. The phrase “knowing what to leave out” is often used as a to guide for a powerful image.
At the heart of photography is the idea that you are conveying a message to your viewers. Perhaps you want to show the beauty of a waterfall or the drama of an incredible sunrise. Or, you may hope to depict the dark intensity of a jagged mountain peak. A photograph with a clear message can be as effective as possible; its composition, colors, subject matter, and lighting all add to the impression that you are trying to convey.
And, more than any other element of composition, the concept of simplicity helps you achieve this goal.
Enjoy my selection of 1x images to illustrate this wisdom…
“Racetrack” by Annie Poreider
“Horses b&w” by Michel Romaggi
“Tree svans” by Viggo Johansen
“Apples” by Christophe Verot
“Talk to me” by margit lisa roeder
“put” by bonifasius wahyu adi (bnfwahy)
“the sweet caress of twilight” by Thierry Lagandré (Transgressed Light)
“Ben l'Oncle Soul” by Christophe
“Snow White” by Mato P.
“lute” by piXXelpark
“Forward” by Paulo Abrantes
“morning greeting” by Roswitha Schleicher-Schwarz
“Macha Contemplations #08” by Vladimir Kysela
“Family flamingos” by Natalia Baras
"Sunset” by Heidi Westum
"Golden sunrise” by Christian V. Cortsen
“Light after sunset” by Martina Stutz
“The spiral of life” by Ben Goossens
“Forever” by Monika Schwager
“communication” by Christoph Hessel
“Bond” by Antonio Grambone
"Peaceful” by Fahmi BHS
For closing, if you want to understand how ‘simplicity’ can turn into poetry, read this old verse by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886):
Simplicity How happy is the little stone That rambles in the road alone, And doesn’t care about careers, And exigencies never fears; Whose coat of elemental brown A passing universe put on; And independent as the sun, Associates or glows alone, Fulfilling absolute decree In casual simplicity.
I am sure somewhere in 1x.com is the perfect image to match this poem, if you found it, let me know in the comments section please.
Antonyus Bunjamin (Abe) is an excellent photographer celebrating life in all it's facets. His work is very diversified and mainly focussed on perfect compositions and the Art of light. He is an autodidact and has an attaching and humble personality. Discover the man behind his strong and beautiful work by reading this interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Antonyus. I am an ordinary man who loves photography and tries to capture subjects which express my imagination. My profession is architect but photography is my biggest passion. My other hobbies are reading, listening to music and praying.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography? I'm a self-taught photographer developing my skills by looking at other people's work. The initial desire to learn more was when I failed capturing a child's baptism moment. That's when I started. With a pocket camera, I began to shoot kitchen utensils making compositions which were pleasant to look at. My preference for minimalism helped me a lot to achieve some fine shots.
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art? As an architect, I'm constantly confronted with geometry which – in fact – is simple and minimalistic. Human interest and mood are also essential to me. But till now, I'm still learning and enjoy all photography genres.
What first attracted you to photography? Many moments that are unique and cannot be repeated. God's creations are different every day, for example the skies and nature in general.d's creations are different every day, for example the skies and nature in general.
Describe your overall photographic vision. I always strive to make artworks which can be enjoyed by many people which are a treat for the soul and eyes of the viewers glorifying our Great Creator.
Why are you so drawn by Abstract & Architecture (and Creative edit) Photography? Because I'm interested in abstracts and simplicity. Most of my images are BW - neutral colours - making it easier to print because it doesn't need a calibration as complex as for colours prints. But the mean reason is that BW feels more artistic.
Sometimes, some images ask for colour, than I will leave them in colour.
I use creative edting when what I had in mind cannot be photographed in reality. For example, geese-shaped clouds or other subjects which cannot purely be find. A person's imagination has no limits. That is also a gift from our Creator.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection? The story behind the picture is the most important to me but supported by good techniques? Nowadays, technology is sophisticated to process an image as well as the cameras to capture it. Even photos taken with mobile phones are as good as taken with an expensive camera. But what distinguishes one work from another is the content and what it conveys to the viewer. I don't really like illusive works. For me, the main thing is an excellent composition.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer? There is no special relationship J, if it feels good or if there is an idea behind, I go for it. Simply the way it is.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph? If you want to make conceptual- nature- still life or architecture photographs, it's evident that you must go for basic preparations: survey area and lights condition, weather, batteries, memory cards, the location and good positioning. For street photography there is no special preparation but taking your camera, lens kit and other gear.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)? I stared with a Canon pocket that I still have. Now I'm a Nikon user. For high quality shots I use a fixed lens. For street photography, I use a Lumix. Remember ... never glorify the equipment. It's the man behind the gun who is important. I have various brands of camera bags according to my needs.
What software do you use to process your images? Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 with Nik software plug-ins.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow? Usually a sudden idea arises, both from the experience of seeing other people's work or from my own imagination. I even sometimes draw sketches so I don't forget the idea when going out to shoot. It also happens that I capture a moment, no preparation in this case.
“Emptiness of Jail”
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Abstract/ Architecture & Creative edit Photography and how do you get started? The most important thing for me is composition and lighting. A good photo has to be correctly composed. There are many ways to learn nowadays compared to the days I was still studying, for instance via YouTube. It doesn't have to be expensive to study photography. The essential thing is that you still want to learn, to observe. The eye is the main element in photography. Observing and practising a lot ... shooting hunts with friends or on your own.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve? As long as God still allows me to work and photograph, I will continue to work and photograph.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
For the uniqueness of the moment: "A Farmer"
For the mood: "Rain of Sadness"
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work? I keep on moving, improving, enriching myself by the member's curation and the 1x tutorials.
In my last article I shared my top tips for successful Zoo Photography. You can read the article here. In this one, I am going to share my top tips for successful Aquarium photography.
“Commerson's Dolphin” by David Williams
I decided to write about aquarium photography because not many of us can afford all the gear that is needed, the actual diving license needed, the travelling that you would need to do and probably a lot more things. This shouldn’t stop us being able to take beautiful photos of underwater life. Don’t get me wrong, underwater photography is almost magical. I had the pleasure of trying it once and it was like nothing I have ever done before. I have full respect for anyone that does underwater photography. I believe my favourite underwater photographer is Barathieu Gabriel.
So now let’s talk about what makes a great aquarium photo!
People! Yes, that’s right, putting people in the scene adds something quite special to the photo. Usually a silhouette. Here are some awesome photos as example:
“Curious” by David Williams
n/t by Javier Senosiain
“First encounter” by Matjaz Corel
“Looking at the ancestors” by Carlos “Grury” Santos
“Close encounter ...” by Yvette Depaepe
“The Red” by Andi Halil
“Love Story of the Golden Fish” by Ganjar Rahayu
“Jellyfish” by David Williams
“Half turn” by Andi Halil
“Clownfish” by Franky.M
“Piranhas” by Peter Wagner
“Jellyfish” by Dara Pilyugina
“Shark” by David Williams
“Sky full of stars” by David Williams
Aquarium photography has a lot more problems to deal with than the Zoo. Let’s explore these and I will share with you my top tips.
1. Glass & rounded glass Aquarium “glass” nowadays is acrylic and very thick. The thickness of the acrylic can cause all kinds of problems. Also, it will usually have scratches and a green tinge. To get around this I use a lens with the shallow depth of field (f1.8 / f2.8) this helps the glass “disappear” as well as letting in the most available light. Also you can fix the chromatic aberration in LR with a click of a button.
2. Reflections People are everywhere and usually wearing white or bright colours. Also, many modern aquariums have LED lights now causing more problems, especially white balance. To get around reflections, use a rubber lens hood. This sort of sucks up to the glass and blocks most reflections. I say most because they do creep on you! Plastic lens hood has gaps in them and let all kinds of problems into the scene. Also waiting for people to move / changing your place / using people’s reflection if they are wearing black (I do this very often actually.)
3. Low light Low light is your enemy and your best friend at the aquarium. You of course you have the benefit of being able to get great low key shots easily, but at the same time you have the huge problem of a very slow shutter speed. Usually I will try and take a photo of the fish when it is sideways to me. It seems to bounce off the light and with spot metering you can usually get away with a shutter speed of 1/125 or more! (more on settings below)
4. Distortion The easiest way to avoid this, is to be totally perpendicular to the glass. Also, you can easily fix this in LR.
5. White balance White balance is a big problem in aquariums. You can simply use auto (I KNOW) and then fix it in your post work or you can take a photo of something grey in similar light and set it as your white balance. If you are not sure how to do that, check your camera manual or take a trip to YouTube. I find auto works well or daylight. It really depends on the subject and situation.
6. Tripod / monopod Can you use a tripod at your local aquarium? Well some do let you use your tripod / monopod but if it gets busy, they will ask you to stop using it. I think that is rather fair. If you are asked to stop using it, please do respect their wishes. In that case I will then hold my camera against the glass / acrylic with a little more weight behind it as well as really positioning myself in a sturdy position. I can usually get away with 1/50 or more without shake.
7. Settings So, we get to settings. Before I start on settings, these are what I usually use. They may not work for you. All aquariums are different, so it is quite impossible to give settings that will work in every situation. I am giving you the ball park settings, so please adjust as you see fit.
– as open as possible. F1.8 50mm is a great lens for aquarium. 16-35mm f2.8 is my go-to lens.
Shutter speed - I try for around 1/125 or more if I can
ISO – Now some people will use auto for this, but I tend not to as auto thinks “yeeha party time and goes to its max” so play around with it until you can get away with 1/125 or more. My camera seems to be happy at around ISO 4000. While I appreciate that is a high ISO, there are many noise reduction software companies around. I suggest you find one with taking aquarium photography. I won’t promote any companies here (unless they pay me) if you would like to share your favourite software for noise reduction, please do leave it in the comments section.
Metering – The forgotten hero! On light or shiny fish, I will use spot metering, this will give you the highest shutter speed as it only measures 3 – 5% of the scene. If the scene is evenly lit, I will switch to evaluative or centre weighted.
Some more wonderful aquarium shots...
"Alone" by David Williams
“Dreaming Jellyfish” by David JANSSEN
“Orange dance in a blue dream #1” by Schaumburg
“Splash” by shikhei goh
"The flower of tail" by Andi Halil
Closing words So, these are my top tips. I really do hope you enjoyed this article, it means a lot to me that you can take something away from it. These are things I have learnt over time and I am more than happy to pass them along. I find tips on the internet are all well and good but actual tried and tested are better!
I'm looking forward to see your aquarium photography!
“When you enter the realm of the birds, the world becomes abstract. Shapes, patterns, curves, lines and the intricate play of light, shadow and colour Dominate this world. This is when you can let your mind roam free And the poetry of your imagination takes over.” (Author Unknown)
This description was attached to an aerial abstract I saw during the curation process some time ago.
“Aerial of delta river in Iceland” by stavros charisopoulos
”The Pattern” by Phillip Chang
“Gone with Wind” by Mei Xu
“Plowed Fields” by Matjaz Cater
There is something magical that happens when we are freed from the shackles of our terrestrial world. Whether looking down from plane, rising in a hot air balloon, hovering in a helicopter, or seeing through the camera of a drone, there is no denying that a birds-eye view of a landscape is distinctly different from the one we see as land-bound bipeds.
“The beautiful road” by E.Amer
“Web” by Matjaz Cater
“Lines” by Javier del Cerro
“Fly in the Picture” by John Fan
“Blue Ice, Green River” by Stephan Fürnrohr
Patterns that aren’t visible from ground level reveal themselves when our perspective changes from the horizontal to the vertical. Roads become graceful threads cutting through a forest, rivers can look like braids of hair woven into the landscape, flocks of birds form abstract shapes, fields are transformed into geometric art, and the mundane can become the sublime.
“Jahra Road” by Faisal Alnomas
“Elevating” by Stan Huang
“Canoeing a Frozen Alaskan Glacier Lake” by Toby Harriman
“Geometry of Oil” by Javier del Cerro
“Flowers in Stripes (2)” by Luis Bonito
“The Meeting Place” by Leah Kennedy
Aerial abstracts have become a popular genre with the advent of drones and the increasing popularity of light aircraft and helicopters as conduits for intrepid photographers drawn toward the sky to see the Earth from a different perspective.
I have been a window-seat flyer for as long as I can remember. My younger self was fascinated by how the world changed as the airplane rose higher: each altitude offered a unique perspective of the world below. Farm land became colorful palettes of circles and squares, rivers became graceful curves or tight coils carved into the land, cities became islands of light…This was before my obsession with photography would lead me to aerial abstracts as a favorite genre, albeit one which will be a lifelong journey of learning to execute more effectively.
“The Trees” by Phillip Chang
“A Tree and Trees” by Mei Xu
“Broome Camel Train” by Renee Doyle
“Salt Flats 005” by Rob Darby
“Africa Pallete” by John Fan
In curating images for this article, I found it hard to choose among the many sublime and unique aerial abstract images created by the 1X community. There are so many! I also attempted to select a variety of images that captured the many types of aerial abstracts: landscapes, city scapes, rivers, fields, lakes, birds, animals...the list goes on.
“Winding way into the darkness” by Peter Svoboda, MQEP
“Nature Abstract” by Mei Xu
“River Delta Gesse” by Antony Spencer
Every aerial image is a piece of art unique to that moment in time and space. Some aerial abstracts stop you and force you to ask: what is that? Others present a common subject in a way that you have never seen. And still others stop you cold, and the only poetry in words you can find is: “that is utterly beautiful.”
Congratulations and thanks to all the participants of the 'For Children' contest.
'Red' is the currently running theme. Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense colour. Red can also set the mood in all genres of photography.
The contest 'Red' will end at midnight on Sunday the 3rd of March 2019. The sooner you upload your image, the more chance you have to gather the most votes.
If you haven't uploaded your photo yet, you can do it here.
Daniel Castonguay is a street photographer in heart and soul. Depicting the quotidian life in its simplest form, his unique style is pretty audacious and not necessarily following the rules surrounding this type of photography in the pure sense of its definition. His post-production work allows him to put the emphasis on the mood and atmosphere. Daniel brings his street shots to his own fantasy level and state of mind. Let's wander together through his inspiring world full of poetry and learn more about this passionate artist.
Briefly tell us about yourself, dear Daniel. I’m a street photographer from Montreal, Canada. I started photography in 1979 as an extracurricular activity. Living in a great city, I was naturally driven to street photography and depicting the quotidian life in its simplest form, I admit being very audacious not necessarily following the rules surrounding this type of photography in the pure sense of its definition. Indeed, my post-production work allows me to put the emphasis on the mood, the atmosphere I was in when shooting. In fact, I just brought my street photography to a fantasy level and this let me to not just display my images but my state of mind as well.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography? Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art? To me, photography represents the adventure of a lifetime. Life experiences, expectations, and even the disappointments will trace a path, an ideal that often transforms over the years and influences my vision and perspective of life and this is reflected in my work as well.
Street photography and what comes out in terms of art is none other than a mirror of my way of seeing what interests me, touches me and even disturbs me. When I look at my work over a fairly long time span, I realize that my progression in photography is a succession of experiences depicted in different “frames“ or episodes and from this point of view, this development allowed me, in my humble opinion to become a better person and to have a much better understanding of others and this is a key element and a motivation in the street photography discipline.
What first attracted you to photography? Curiosity and the desire to learn ! Back in 1979, as a member of a youth association, I had to choose an activity for the upcoming session. Naturally interested in science and experimentation, photography seemed a very fascinating activity since I could have access to a dark room where I could, of course, develop my images but the most interesting part was experimentations such as creating effects and image manipulations, this was at the time very empirical and with no rules, I then discovered that photography was an endless source of learning and it still applies today. From the very beginning, I am self-taught. We had not much but enough literary resources to manage. We sometimes did some kind of brainstorming on the practices to use though, that was some sort of classes on the fly. Even today, with Internet resources, it is much easier to be self-taught or follow lessons from tutorials. With a minimum of discipline and time, it can be very fun to learn. I refer very often to the Internet for post-production techniques or simply to be aware of the latest photographic editing trends.
Describe your overall photographic vision. For me, photography is neither more nor less than a matter of relationships with our environment and these ties will induce different behaviours which we can relate to. These reciprocities can be with others, elements or things. For example, our relationship with bad weather such as rain will induce a state of resilience that will render mood to imagery.
The quotidian life is more or less the same for all with a few variations. A part of my work as a photographer is to bring this daily life into a world of fantasy, something related to reverie. This will create a duality, a paradox. The paradox of the ordinary life in a universe that exists only in one's own imagination that can literally be anything but still being able to relate to.
Why are you so drawn by creatively edited photography? Personally and without displeasing anyone, the fact of illustrating the daily life in its pure reality bored me enormously from a technical and artistic point of view. So I started working on my images to fill a “lack” of something, to add some mystery. As we all know, a photographic style is not invented overnight. Learning post-production software led me to create composites to give an atmosphere to my work, but it took too much of my creative mind, and I then focused on my images as they were without adding or removing elements. After all these attempts, it ended up with the style you now know.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection? From a personal point of view, I believe that the quest for technical perfection is like looking for the holy grail and represents a task humanly impossible. However, it is wiser to capitalize on the “management” of imperfections. Imperfections are part of my imaging and the atmosphere that I create in my works. All put together, the textures, character behaviours, and imperfections will create the mood helping the viewer to get into a story.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer? Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph? Being a street photographer is above all being a part of the urban life, to contribute to its vivacity, its pace and almost belonging to a chaotic scenario. To me, street photography is more than a “picture making business“, it’s being part of a continuous theatrical sketch where I play the role of a silenced character. From this point of view, the connection is almost inherently made when working in the field.
However, the notion of presence and especially of anticipation is a key constituent since, at a certain moment, the desired image is neither more nor less than building up and the events have not yet occurred. It's like trying to predict a plausible scenario. So, one of the roles of the street photographer is one of a story maker and his intuition is his best ally. Let’s take as an example a man in a subway station waiting for the train, the train arrives, the doors open and simultaneously, a lady comes out of a wagon arms raised, and even if actually they do not know each other, the image story may be about their reunion or such. The importance of the connection process is more than punctual, the connection must be also anticipated and that's what I mean by being part of a theatrical sketch.
Also, in street photography, the notion of proximity is one of the first importance. The concept of proximity is very relative, depending on the number of people and the circumstances in which photography takes place. Shooting in a crowded fair helps to get close to the action while shooting in a deserted terminus at 10 pm requires a little more judgement and tact.
With years, I realized that in this type of photography, the planning is not that important since it’s a work of solitary, a one-man band walking around in the city. When out for taking pictures I have no idea what I'm going to end up with, I have not many expectations and very often at the end of a photo session, while reviewing the roll, I often discover some surprising jewels.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)? Since 2010, I mainly work with a Pentax K-x, it's a small and light reflex. I am now in the evaluation process for a mirror-less but I haven’t decided on a preference yet. The main features I am looking for are the robustness, lightness, size and mainly the quietness, I should make my mind somewhere this year. At one point I was using a nifty fifty lens (50mm f1.8) on an APS-c sensor camera. So, the equivalent of a 75mm considering the crop factor. It was okay when the goal was to isolate the subject but I quickly realized that it was far too narrow, the urban decor was set aside losing so much on the height and the depth given by the accessories such as street lights, buildings, and lines on the pavement. Now, I aim for anything around 20mm and it’s the ideal without much distortion.
As a street photographer, I prefer to travel light so, I do not carry any bag or bulky items, It is less cumbersome when travelling by subway.
What software do you use to process your images? A factor to consider when selecting a post-production software is obviously the access to learning resources and portability and I mean by portability the possibility of exchanging documents from one system to another and also from one software revision to another. Without a doubt, Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom became with years the reference. for my needs, I do not work much with Lightroom preferring the use of Adobe Camera Raw which is implicitly tied to Photoshop. So, nearly all my work is done using Photoshop.
Can you tell us something more about your workflow? Well, considering that each of my photos, just like any other photos are unique from the start in terms of lighting, geometry and composition, I work every picture as if it was the first one I'm working on. In my mind, the concept of workflow and probably some will agree with me, rather refers to mass production and I have a hard time to comply with, since art is not a product in itself but rather the result of a way of thinking, of seeing things. However, some stages of my post-production will be similar from one image to another but the whole treatment will still be unique for each of my images.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in creatively edited photography and how do you get started? Since the advent of digital technology, there has been a quiet revolution in imaging. Photography is no longer reserved for an artistic "elite", photojournalists or for media distribution. Several new photographers have emerged without understanding the very essence of photography which is an art and must remain an art, and at a certain point, that's sad. However, I understand that the learning curve for a new photographer is long and time-consuming, but if from the beginning this one understood that photography was art, this photographer will essentially produce artistic work and strive to evolve in style and artwork quality
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography? Without a doubt, Henri Cartier-Bresson is one, if not the most prominent figure in the history of street photography. His subtle and brilliant use of compositional geometry has made his work an inspiration for many. Several studies of his works are a priceless source of inspiration.
The photographic style and personality of Saul Leiter is, in my opinion, the pure definition of audacity. In his remarkable period of colour, Leiter made us discover his way of seeing his neighbourhood in a unique vision. The simplicity, emotion, and audaciousness in his works, as well as the modesty of the character himself, made Saul Leiter a reference and a great source of inspiration in photography as well as in life in general.
Joel Meyerowitz's view of his urban environment and his fascination towards the actors of the quotidian life is an inspiration in itself. The exceptional quality of his photographic work is due, certainly to his immense talent in addition to his understanding of the people. His intuition is an asset that enhances the whole of his work. To me, Joel Meyerowitz combines emotion, intuition and daily life scheme consideration, essential qualities of a street photographer.
In my opinion, by bringing together the main qualities of these three masters of photography, namely geometry, audacity and fascination, we can manage to transcend the photographic medium to reach a whole philosophy of work.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why? One of the most inspiring images for me is certainly "Man cycling down street" by Henri-Cartier Bresson. This image combines all the elements of the compositional geometry applied to photography. Among many other qualities, this photo unites arabesques and diagonals, while clearly showing a well defined relationship between the figure and the background. For me, it's an amazing photo from an emotional, aesthetic and geometric point of view.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve? It is quite difficult to keep an objective perspective when it comes to one's own work. First, the important thing is always to do it with fun and not feel obliged to produce and publish. I have many things to improve, new techniques to learn, I must always look to refine my style, it is the work that remains to be done and this work will probably take several years. In my humble opinion, we must not become complaisant in a comfort zone, we must try to evolve, do not change style drastically but look to find variants in our own style and this is the challenge to me.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you? It is my image “ Rendez-vous “, this is the very first image of my series that really pleased me. I took it in a very crowded area next to a subway station at the morning rush hour and I got an immediate connexion when I saw this scene. I like the mystery surrounding it and even when shooting I could feel it, this was a very particular moment as a photographer.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work? I consider, to date, that a 1X portfolio represents sort of a business card for clients such as galleries, magazines and even passionate photographers. This is one of the best platforms for promotion. The great reputation acquired by 1X over the years is undeniable.
Thank you very much to 1X crew for allowing me to say a few words on such a prestigious tribune and thanks to the readers for taking time for reading me, hope you enjoyed.
“I construct my photos somewhat like staged scenes on a theatrical set, where the subjects and the props are obviously real, but their role is to induce and suggest emotional reactions in the audience. After all, the reaction of pleasure or discomfort are those responsible with bringing life into any form of art, because, in the absence of the subconscious in the process of perception, the message remains unknown, and the story, sadly, untold.” ~Crina Prida~
Crina Prida is a Romanian award-winning visual artist, whose work focuses on portraiture and conceptual photography. She is not comfortable being described as a photographer, but rather as a storyteller, because her work is staged, and mostly auto-referential. Since 2008, Crina's work has been featured in many international publications and online media, and exhibited in over twenty solo and group exhibitions in Romania and abroad.
Her works contain a perfect mix of performance and theatricality by using symbolism, specific themes of tension, intimacy and cinematic references to conceive a special mood. I invite you to discover more about Crina, her inner experiences as a visual storyteller and her remarkable portraiture photography projects in the interview below!
Crina, first of all I would like to thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions! To begin, please introduce yourself shortly and tell us more about you, your hobbies or other jobs/projects you are involved in! I am a visual artist based in Romania, with a former training in arts, but who became a dentist after all. I suppose I’ve always had second thoughts about this decision, because the years I have spent studying art have remained, to this day, the favourite slice of my life. As far as I remember, the educators we had in art high school would not put a lot of emphasis on performance and quantifiable achievements and grades, but rather on pushing the boundaries of free thinking and on encouraging the creative exploration of our ideas. Anyway, I can’t remember a time, during my university years and after, in which I haven’t dabbled in drawing, writing or painting; currently, my interest has shifted mainly to photography.
Let’s start from the beginning: when and how did you start your photographic journey? My father had a serious interest in photography as I was growing up; he was mostly interested in technical stuff, and he used his cameras to make photos of his work as a civil engineer and the mandatory vacation pictures; he still has a few boxes of developed slide films, lots of 35mm rolls of films and photos taken through the years. He bought me a Smena camera when I was maybe 10-12 years old. I was pretty comfortable with its minimal settings, so I shot a few rolls, which we would develop and then make print enlargements in a makeshift photo lab in our apartment.
Since sourcing chemicals and photo paper became problematic in the late 80s, I gave up on this hobby, that is, until the digital cameras became available on the market.
“A Somber Afternoon”
“A Somber Afternoon 4”
For many of us photography is either a hobby or a way of life. How would you define your relationship stressful with the photography? Well, it is certainly not a desirable way of life, if we speak in terms of cost/benefit. My ‘real’ job as a dentist, is, above anything, stressful; it requires time, concentration, patience, it’s physically challenging, and it involves a very personal human interaction. In this regard, taking a hobby is more than a bourgeois adventure, it’s almost a necessity. In my case, it’s been a manner of re-connecting with the world I had abandoned after high school. At some point, going to art events, watching art movies and reading books just didn’t seem enough, especially when juxtaposing this type of experience with my own memory and validation of reality, so I decided to buy a camera and see where this would take me.
“Geometry of Lust”
“Geometry of Lust”
What would be the most important experience so far that has influenced your steps in photography? I’d say, without a doubt, my long time struggle with social anxiety. I am not talking about the clinical side of it, which is manageable most of the time; I am thinking about the marks that it leaves on the lives of those who’ve ever had to deal with anxiety on any level. Reality becomes convoluted, people around you tend to occupy places in your life ranked by their ability to understand what’s going on without asking inane questions, and, of course, the whole perception of life is slightly more vulnerable and (I speak for myself), prone to a special type of empathy, a selfish and self-educated ability to be more compassionate.
“A Somber Afternoon”
“A Somber Afternoon”
Crina, I would say that you are exceptionally proficient in conveying a special mood by your portrait photography! This is an area where many photographers try to stand out, but very few even succeed. Why are you so drawn by this photography type? The short version is - I had access to quite a number of ‘models’, people who agreed to let me take pictures of them, even in the early days, when I had really no idea what I was looking for in a photograph. There’s way too much talk about technique, lighting, posing, in portrait photography. I think it’s a shame that we fail to discuss the reasons for which we want to shoot portraits. A lot could be learned or explained if we link the aesthetic of portrait photography to its origin: curiosity as an adventure of the mind, compassion, fixing a broken memory, stuff like this. At this point, I’m trying to match my subjective and average daily life experience with an enhanced observation of it through the lens.
“A Somber Afternoon”
“A Somber Afternoon 6”
What do you think that makes your portraiture works differently? I don’t acknowledge that it’s significantly different, or no more than anybody else’s work is unique and personal. Perhaps there is a vague visual common denominator to my portraits, and that has to be credited to the fact that I use specific themes of tension, intimacy and cinematic references or lighting. But this is certainly a simplified explanation, and I really don’t have a better one.
You have found inspiration for one of your latest project “Witchcraft” in the Romanian folklore. Where else are you looking for to find inspiration for the stories you want to convey by your portraiture? What is inspiring you? Inspiration is literally everywhere, and yet, how weird is it that we find ourselves in the middle of creative blocks all the time. I said in another interview, and I stand by this line, that photography is an efficient method of organizing chaos. I watch movies, I read books, I browse the internet like the next person. Everything can be deconstructed and re-contextualized; the Witchcraft project was fantastic, and ultimately so easy to put together. However, it took me years to actually do it. Why?? It was there all along - I have lived most of my life in Transylvania, the myths and the legends, both mysterious and extremely well documented, AND the brazenly kitschy by-products, have been continuously part of our lives in this part of the world. Yet, I had to meet the right people who were willing to be part of this adventure in order to make it happen, and I am obviously talking here about the three models and the handful of other people who helped out with logistics and everything else.
You once said that your photography style can be more fit under the “staged photography” category, usually following a plan but also letting the spontaneity to express. What would be the features of a successful “staged photography” session? It’s true, I make images that tend to contain a mix of performance and maybe theatricality by using symbolism, props, textures, specific lighting. I am setting up the scene for the subject because it’s the best way to create a narrative in which the viewer becomes a voyeur, if that makes sense. The model is not aware of what I see at the moment when the camera shutter goes off. There is no reciprocal gaze, and that means I’m the link between the narrative in front of the camera, and the viewer who will have access to the final image, after I have manipulated it. I do value spontaneity, because often the models are playing along with the idea I had explained to them, and it’s good to allow this transition from the literal space in which we shoot, to the conveyed reality in the final image.
Can you please tell us something more about your workflow for portrait photography? I’m not very keen on studio photography, because it is too static. Also, it needs advanced lighting skills which I do not possess, nor do I wish to develop. When I work in natural light or with very limited and simple studio lighting, my main concern is to make the model feel comfortable. I avoid heavy styling, excessive posing, complicated lighting, especially because most of the time I work with non-professional models. The more I left everything I had learned or seen in various tutorials behind, the better my images became. I value error a lot, it’s been my favourite motivation to explore beyond the classic visual landmarks, but am trying to avoid recurrent errors.
I found your project “I’ve never seen your face” impressive and I wanted to ask you how difficult is to outline the emotion in a visual story involving a person without fully revealing her/his face? Or is the other way around: this makes your photographer job easier? The beginning of that series was caused by the much loathed question every photographer hears: What should I do with my head/hands? I’ve heard it dozens of times, and to be honest, it still puzzles me after all these years. I used to tell the models ‘just shake your head, move your shoulders, take a few steps to your side, whatever works, and forget about the camera’. As it happens, I came up with a few interesting random photos that were hiding partially or completely the model’s face, and later I started staging a few more; I still collect faceless images, in fact this could easily turn into a project in its own right, in these times where being anonymous has become a rare commodity. To answer your question - it’s neither difficult, nor easy, unless you’re losing focus on why you’re choosing one over the other.
“I've Never Seen Your Face”
“I've Never Seen Your Face”
You work with models for your portrait projects. They are an important part of the story you want to build and convey to the viewers. How do you chose your models? In the beginning, most of my models were my friends. Later on I have worked with models from local agencies on certain fashion or editorial assignments; however, over the past 4-5 years, I have photographed mostly women I have found among my Facebook followers, a few of my patients (even models have occasional dental problems), and naturally, some of my friends who are still willing to take part in my photo projects. I am happy to have had the chance to work with a number of theatre actresses from Cluj and Bucharest, they are amazing in front of the camera, and their knowledge and ability to express emotions using their face, their eyes, and their body are exceptionally welcome for any photographer.
The success of model shooting sessions depends heavily on the model skills, on one hand, but also on your “stage director” skills, on the other hand. How do you manage to successfully communicate with the models, to make them fit in your story and to get the most of the mood from their performance in front of the camera? This is indeed a good question. When I work on a specific project, I usually start with doing my research alone, then I set up a meeting with the models, where we discuss the concept, plan the make-up, hair, wardrobe and props. I sometimes have a few handwritten sketches and ideas collected in notebooks which I carry with me at the scene where we are shooting.
Like I said before, I prefer working with non-professional models. But, alas, there are degrees of ‘non-professional’, some people are more camera shy than others, which doesn’t make them less interesting as subjects. This is the main obstacle I have to overcome, making the model part of the scene without compromising their personality. A photo should capture grace and meaning, and sometimes I get it within the first five minutes, sometimes it takes much longer to find a way of capturing the kind of look or expression I’m after.
Crina, you are of the opinion that a secret ingredient for a great photo (portrait in your case) would be to include unforeseeable and intriguing elements. What else do you think is needed for a remarkable photograph? Managing the mechanism that switches reality to its counterpart, the interpretation of it, for the viewer. If I like my photo, the photo is most likely about me, if the viewers like it, perhaps it’s about them as well.
“I Never Thought You Were Real”
Many are of the opinion that the gear is not very important when the passion for photography is strong. However, can you please share with us what is the gear do you use (camera, lenses, tripod)? Currently it’s mainly the Canon 5D Mark IV; I prefer prime lenses, mostly the 50 1.4 and the 100 2.8, but I sometimes use my old lensbaby 3G, the Daguerreotype lens, and occasionally I borrow lenses from friends, if the project requires it (wide angle, for instance). I’m using more and more these days the Fujifilm x100f, which I bought for travelling, but it appears to be quite useful for my personal work as well. I tend to carry with me less gear than before, at this point the camera is an intuitive tool, and basically, one body and one lens are good enough for me most of the time.
Who are your favourite photographers or mentors whose works have influenced you and your photography? There’s a long list of photographers whom I like very much, but reading about some of them or studying their work has made a stronger impact; I’m listing in no particular order or timeline - Duane Michaels, Yamamoto Masao, Ferdinando Scianna, Man Ray, Sarah Moon, Saul Leiter, Alec Soth, Sally Mann, Graciela Iturbide, Mary Ellen Mark, Robert and Shana Parkeharrison, Bill Brandt, Roger Ballen, to name a few.
“Living in a Box”
Now, since we almost reached the end of this interview, I would kindly ask you to share with us your future plans or photographic projects you would like to involve in. First of all, I’ll have to try and complete a couple of projects I have been working on, or put on hold for various reasons over the past 2-3 years (Witchcraft, Delicatessen, I’ve Never Seen Your Face). I am working with visual concepts, which means they take forever to complete. Or not. I often feel I have finished with this one thing, only to find myself discovering a new way of looking at it, two years later. It’s something I can’t actually predict.
Anyway, I’m struggling to finish a series of single, rather classic female portraits, inspired by, and emphasized with literary quotes (Flaubert and Julian Barnes); I also have in mind a project that will involve a less ‘clean’ approach to portraiture and editing, but rather a sequenced storytelling, in the manner of Chris Marker’s “La Jetee”; it should result in an absurd story taking place in a derelict space we found by an abandoned spa, close to the airport, where the models actually created some charcoal/acrylic works of art which became the props in lieu of pre-existing beauty, and include some alternative processing of the images I took. There are a couple more, but I have to organize them better before talking about them. Finally, I definitely want to make a photo book which should obviously contain at least some of the things we discussed in this interview.
1x has a unique feature the founders are very proud of: the photo critique. Members can submit pictures to a team of knowledgeable senior critics. Their feedback and different suggestions are useful, interesting and enriching even for the best of us.
With this image I tried to accompany the observer on a journey suspended between the real Manarola and a Manarola of fantasy, through the editing of a unique photographic shot aimed at enhancing all the feelings that the moment suggested to me. I consider this one of my best photos. Obviously this picture has some problems that I can not see. I thank you in advance for your help in the analysis of the image. F5.6 - 15 sec -- iso 100 - 16 mm (apsc)- pentax k2ii Alessandro __________________________________________________________________________________
Senior Critic Andreas Agazzi Thanks for presenting one of your amazing photographs to the 1x Senior Critic team, Alessandro.Without any doubt, this photograph is also breathtaking!
You are referring to some problems with this work. I can only assume that the reason why you think so is a negative curation process. If so, there might be various reasons but not necessarily because of any flaws that would stop from a publication.
But you are here not for fishing compliments and so I try to dive down to the level of nitpicking. Please find my personal findings below:
Framing: my instant finding was that the scene is framed a bit tight., especially on the top. I would prefer to see more from the sky. There is not enough air to breath. The eyes move within the composition upwards towards the top and are forced to stop immediately, no slow down at all before you hit the end. This is the emblematic approach trying to describe what I think could be a potential for improvement. At the right side I see the necessary negative space above the open sea; it also should be above the town. So, I am not sure whether you have more space left up there.
Processing: I like the way it is but I can imaging, this is not the same for some people. Clarity and colours are pretty strong. Not sure whether you have used a detail extractor, the way your photograph looks like gives me that impression. There is nothing wrong with it but as I said, not for everyone's eye the best option.
Vignetting: the corners are a bit dark. I assume that this is not the result of your lens but added intentionally in post processing. I would reduce it a bit, especially at the left side. The upper left corner lacks of details in the darkest areas, this is too much of a contradiction compared with the area where the central buildings are.
I understand that this is your favourite one. Your great work 'Between the Earth and the Sea' is my favourite and at the same quite similar to this one here. So, in case it was in curation and has been denied, I can imagine that this one here is too close to the other one, but that is just my subjective guess.
Alexandro Traverso I turned to the precious help of the critical section because, together with the expertise and severity of the curators and the extraordinary variety and beauty of the photos published that I admire daily, are the best way to improve myself. The photo is close up because I have straightened very obvious hanging oblique lines of the houses of Nanomolar, but it did not bother me too much, perhaps because working a long time on an image one get used to it and one loses the critical spirit. As for the vignetting, it is a characteristic that I reproduce in several of my photos in order to better highlight the subjects of the same. In this case I have perhaps exaggerated a bit. As for clarity and saturation, white balance I understand that they may not please everyone, we would miss it, but I like it :) I'm a self-taught Light room and Gimp user, therefore I'm far from the technical aspects... I wondered if it is worth in situations like this to straighten the pending lines, I do not bother but I think many see them as imperfections to be avoided absolutely. Thanks a lot, Andreas. __________________________________________________________________________________
Senior Critic Mike Kreiten Usually we have a look at the portfolio of a member before writing, to get an idea for his or her preferences, skills, maybe habits. I enjoyed your portfolio very much, inspiring work. Like Andreas, I noticed "Between Earth and Sea" and of course compared both. For me, and we can only share our personal opinion, that one is much stronger than this work. On 1x, very common subjects are not favoured in curation. 1x is a gallery, looking rather after renewing images.
Your shot of Manarola is far better than mine, and it was no surprise to me that it was published. But having two versions published may be a high expectation. Especially if the first one is stronger.
In this one, a very large portion of your frame is dedicated to the sea. But the sea in your other version has more details , appears wilder. This one is not calm, but still quite flat. Your houses are all straight. Manarola's houses are not all aligned, that's part of Italy's charm.
There is not a single window lit in a dark scene, just street lights. Again, better in "Between Earth and Sea". The strong vignette was covering some street lights, which now appears blown-out, toned down. The vignette became very obvious in this photo. The hard detail level on buildings looks pretty graphical to me, it's much more natural in your published image.
I read this one is your favourite, so I really have to hope you don't bother me naming all the weaknesses compared to the other version. This one is a great photograph, the other one is just more than great.
Alessandro Traverso Thank you so much Mike, I'm so glad you like my wallet. I like this one better than "between the land and the sea" because I wanted to do something different, risking also some technical imperfection. I had already partially identified the weak points of the picture but, thanks to your expert analysis, now they are clearer. If a photo is not published, I think the fault is mine, certainly not the curators'. 1X gave me lots of unexpected satisfaction and also to have you among my followers.
Senior Critic Mike Kreiten You're very welcome, Alessandro! Your portfolio is for sure interesting to watch. We usually don't comment much on curation because we don't know more than any other member about it, but let me say something nevertheless.
1x is an online gallery, curators choose works that fill the virtual wall called front page. If a work is not chosen (I prefer that over 'rejected'), it does not mean there is something wrong with it. Curation is not a quality check. It just means other works occupied the vacant spaces that day and yours was not amongst the chosen ones. __________________________________________________________________________________
Senior Critic Martin Zalba Thank you very much for sharing your work with us, Alessandro. This view is magnificent! I think it is a complicated photograph due to the high dynamic range between lights and shadows. From my point of view, so much light in the central area, makes the scene natural, the difference of light and shadow is so extreme ...
The main problem I see in your work is the excessive vignetting, which eats the details around the photo. In general it seems to me that there is too much processing (look at the haloes in the rocks below on the left) the excessive saturation of warm colours, the excess of light in the central area of the photograph and the burned-out lights of the lighting.
I would reconsider the processing. I like the framing and the atmosphere. I hope that, looking at the details that I mention, you rethink the processing of your photograph. Always with respect and with the desire to help.
Alessandro Traverso Thanks for your contribution to the analysis of the photo, Martin. __________________________________________________________________________________
Critique is also open to all members, and we learn together here. If you see an image you'd like to comment on, your words would be welcome.
Ever thought about it? Probably you have, because there are many articles discussing technological developments. Today, the step towards mirror-less is hot.
I started thinking about it following the latest iPhones' announcement, more exactly their portrait capability to create a depth of field – bokeh – without any user intervention. So, the bokeh is just calculated, no need for large apertures any more.
What are these developments? The technology is referred to as computation photography. It stands for digital image capturing and processing using digital computation.
computational imaging techniques that enhance or extend the capabilities of digital photography
output is an ordinary photograph, but one that could not have been taken by a traditional camera (tentative) definition by Marc Levoy, 2007; Computer Science Department Stanford University
What I like about this definition is that it refers to the output, “is an ordinary photograph.” It makes you wonder even more…
“A whiter shade of pale” by Lus Joosten
Today, a first, a general overview of the field.
The photographer has always been in the front line of technological change: In the 19th century it was the invention of chemical photography. That ignited a revolution in image-making. Some people were thinking that painting would become extinct ... and it almost did for some genres like portraits, yet, painters found a new way to excite the world.
Followed by another huge step when in the 20st century digital photography was invented. Photography became even better, now you can have instant feedback during a photo shoot, copy and distribute pictures super-fast and post-processing options are mind-blowing: easily clone out things, changing colours, etc.
And now, the 21st century, we see a rapid development of computational photography. Camera’s able to produce images by calculation, based on image data collected by multiple lenses, and sensors. Multiple images combined to create a High Dynamic Range, large Depth of Field by focus-stacking, blurring a background when shooting a portrait, large mosaic pictures, etc.
Where will it end? Start dreaming… Suppose you would have a complete 3D-capture of a situation for a brief moment in time… and by computation alone you are able, to relight, change focus (plane), zoom in or out, etc. It would mean total freedom for the photographer being back home… an ideal world?
For sure, the possibilities to correct and enhance images will increase even further. Yet, it seems just to be the perfecting of our present tools… however extrapolation of the current abilities is never a good prediction. I believe that in the era of computational photography we will see new and unexpected things developed by true artists who will be applying the new tools in new ways...
What would that do to photography? Would it still be fun? Absolutely!
What remains unchanged: 1. Bringing the camera to the “situation” 2. Staging - in front of the camera 3. Imagination - seeing beyond the factual
Look at these pictures I have selected… these are not just ‘captures’ of a situation these are personal representations of a vision, believe or an experience or emotion…
For me this is the essence of photography. Finally, do you think you would enjoy photography in that new world just as much?
Would Artificial Intelligence software take over? Science Fiction: “Camera, please capture this building, in contrasty light, so it has a suspense and mysterious mood” - “OK, sir but if you step 2 meters to the right, we get a better composition”
Who knows – step through the elevator-door, join the future and let’s explore! “Let your love and not your camera draw you to your subject.” - ~H. Steward Wallace 1902 ~