Take nine diverse landscape photographers, shake them up a bit (metaphorically of course with pre-exhibition nerves), and land them in the inspiring surroundings of the ‘gallery@oxo’ on the South Bank in London, and what do you get?
Well, put simply, a wonderful celebration of the love of our landscape, and so many different interpretations and ways of expressing that love in print!
If you love landscape photography – or indeed simply love the colours, mood, light and contours of our beautiful world – then this exhibition is well worth a visit.
If you venture along to the gallery@oxo, you will find a delightful mixture of landscape photography from intense and detailed abstraction, through to a magical impressionistic world akin to Turner or Monet; from dramatic mono images, wild and emotion-filled seascapes and powerfully minimalist images, through to classic sweeping ‘big vistas’.
Additionally, many of the photographers will be at the gallery all week and would like to actively encourage you to come and chat to them, so if you can’t see the photographer in question please do come to the desk and ask.
There really is something for everyone at this exhibition, and who knows, you may even discover other styles of work that you like, and which bring you inspiration in your own photography.
Vision 9 takes place at gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH from April 11th – 15th 2018. Entry is free. Opening times are: 11am – 6pm.
I believe that to be classed as “great”, an image must speak to your heart at the deepest level. Its technical merits are less important than the story it tells. It will touch you emotionally and make you want to learn more about the subject and the photographer. Its message may not be immediately obvious, but it will engage you and draw you into its embrace.
I would like to share one such image with you. It is well-known within its own particular circle but maybe less so in the wider world. It speaks of folly, human arrogance, misplaced hubris and a desperate struggle to survive against overwhelming odds. Around it gathers a tragic human story of love, devotion and lonely death in the high Arctic.
The image was taken by Nils Strindberg, a member of the Swedish 1897 An-drée Arctic expedition. Three men, Andrée, Fraenkel and Strindberg, took off in a hydrogen balloon from North-West Svalbard in an attempt to cross the North Pole. After their departure, which nearly ended in catastrophe, they disappeared into the north and vanished from human ken. Their remains were found 33 years later, entirely by chance, on the island of Vitøya, North-East of Svalbard. They had crashed on the sea ice and struggled for three months across the frozen sea in an effort to reach safety. As winter closed in they managed to reach Vitøya, but within days all three were dead. Rescue parties searched across the Arctic but had no success. One party actually visited Vitøya, but the remains were covered with snow and ice and were not discovered.
The balloon was technically flawed. It leaked hydrogen with alarming speed but had no system to replenish it. The steering system relied on ropes to trail across the ice to slow the balloon and manage its direction, but these were lost immediately after the launch, and would, in any case, have snagged on the rough sea ice. There was neither a clear understanding nor knowledge of Arctic weather conditions, so assumptions as to wind direction were largely false and the balloon would zig-zag across the ice before crashing within three days of its launch. The balloon team was hopelessly ill-equipped to survive in the Arctic. Andrée considered that, since there was no chance of a crash, there was no merit in planning for one. He regarded the survival equipment that they took with them as an emergency lifeboat; enough to survive for a short while until rescue arrived.
If you asked me to guess who would write the next Photoshop book, I think Guy Tal would be right at the bottom of the list. He’s a photographer who rarely discusses technology, equipment or processing and instead concentrates on aspects of aesthetics and of living a life artistic. However, that Guy Tal has written such a book is a great bit of news as he is probably the ideal person to explain why you might be using Photoshop, unlike so many other writers who have created far too many pages about 'how' you use it.
And this is the underlying theme of the book, a framework to think about processing that emphasizes the authority of the picture and of the photographers intent (and is strongly suggesting that you do have intent!).
Unlike many a Photoshop book, the first chapter introduces you to some aspects of art history. Relevant? It might not appear so at first, but it is part of the story of why the final photograph is very rarely complete without an intentional processing step to achieve the result that was visualised at the moment of capture. I.e. rare is the straight photograph that is actually straight out of camera (apart from Polaroids I suppose).
Guy suggests a break with the production line, or ‘waterfall’, processing of an image (you know the one, set the black and white points, click auto white balance, pull up the shadows and protect the highlights, tweak the saturation to taste, apply three layers of sharpening and save into your archive). This process is the antithesis of the interpretive approach to processing. Instead, Guy recommends a narrative approach to working with images. A visualisation of what the image may look like once complete and a recognition of your own emotions and thoughts about the experience of the scene in front of your camera at the time of capture. Whether you work in with visualisation at the moment of capture or you try to recollect the feelings whilst processing to create your work, you’re asked to look for gaps between your capture and your goal and to keep these gaps in mind whilst processing.
Along the way, Guy talks you through all the technical aspects of using Camera Raw and Photoshop, always trying to keep a connection with the reasons for dealing with these aspects. The chapters on layers, curves, blending images and black and white conversions are worth the price of entry alone.
The book really shouldn’t be called “A guide to Photoshop” as it’s really a guide to processing images that just happens to use Photoshop as an example. You could easily use the majority of the information included if you just happen to use Lightroom or Capture One or any other processing software.
Here’s a list of the topics included.
An overview of the history of art and of photography as art
A deeper understanding of creativity and visualization, and of the technical underpinnings of digital imaging
Techniques to effectively apply visualization in creating and processing your images
How to perform 'gap analysis' to identify the gaps between the image at any point in time and the desired outcome
How to convert your RAW files using Adobe Camera Raw prior to editing in Photoshop
How best to employ many of Photoshop's tools and features
How to leverage Layers and Masks to accomplish your visualized results
How to control and adjust contrast, color, and tone
Image blending techniques to extend dynamic range and for focus stacking
Processing strategies for black-and-white conversions, including toning your images
Printing and other output techniques including sizing, sharpening, noise reduction, and color management
Overall, a great addition to a photographer’s bookshelf and better than nearly all of the other Photoshop books I’ve read if you’re not looking for in-depth, technical coverage. You could call it a processing book for artists, not geeks but that might be insulting to geeks like me :-)
If you can do so (i.e. if you’re in the US), I would recommend buying the book directly from Guy’s website. It’s always better to buy direct where possible. If you’re outside of the US, just use your normal bookselling website.
Welcome to our 4x4 feature which is a set of four mini landscape photography portfolios submitted from our subscribers. Each portfolios consisting of four images related in some way. You can view previous 4x4 portfolios here.
Submit Your 4x4 Portfolio
We're on the lookout for new portfolios for April, so please do get in touch!
Those four images have been taken along the Petitcodiac River down to Cape Enrage in Southeast New Brunswick, Canada. Every day, the Petitcodiac river and its estuary, the Shepody Bay is transformed by the great tides of the Bay of Fundy. What you see in ''Illusion'' and ''Frozen River Bank'' is the frozen sediments carried in a huge amount by the tides.Because of this, those water bodys are profoundly transformed every day which make them a fasciniting subject to photograph.
Since starting out in photography I’ve never managed to get out in the snowy winter conditions especially to capture some woodland images. Having driven 2 hours and walked 3 miles through blizzards and 40mph gusts I finally reached my location where everything has calmed down and all the conditions had come together.
Good snowfall is hard to come by these days, at least, for those of us who don’t reside in areas of peaks, fells and mountains. So, I was delighted when the forecast for a heavy overnight snowfall materialised in the West Midlands in Dec 2017.
So, when I woke, early, in anticipation that the forecast is right, I was delighted to see a good eight-inch blanket of snow outside my house. I had arranged, the previous night, to meet up with others to share the spectacle together. However, after a 45min failed attempt to move the car 1.5 miles down the road, the idea and meetup were quickly abandoned.
Instead, I ventured out into the woods on foot, Plants Hill Woods, Coventry, that back onto my garden. I walk in these woods most days of the year as part of my daily break away from the computer, phone and being online to run the business. On this day I witnessed and felt something I hadn’t experienced there before.
The transformation in colour, peaceful atmosphere and tranquillity was breath-taking. It was still snowing and in fact was blizzard snow, so I was aware that it could be challenging to make images that required the lens exposed for any length of time without protection.
However, the change in tone, colour and structure from my usual observations along the paths I have walked hundreds of times, was quite inspiring. The normal greens, browns, yellows and abundance of seasonal colour had been completely re-painted into a reduced palette of white and slights hints of colour just revealing itself on a few trunks and branches.
There was a temptation when I initially processed the RAW files, to convert them to mono but somehow those images didn’t convey the same evocative feelings experienced at the moment of being there.
There’s a lot to be said for getting out in your own backyard!
For many of you who print your own photos at home, Fotospeed is a familiar name. In the UK they’ve been successful in courting a range of high profile photographers and have convinced most of them (including me) that their products are of a high quality and that they offer good support. The one thing that has been missing from their range so far though is a matt product that is free from optical brightening agents (OBAs). Until now that is.
With the help of Joe Cornish (read more ofJoe's articles), an early convert to Fotospeed papers, they have produced Platinum Cotton 305. This paper is similar to Fotospeed Smooth Cotton but with a bit more tooth and a less ‘Persil White’ look. It's also 100% cotton and acid free.
Why do we need a paper without optical brightening agents? Well, in order to explain this we need to know a little bit more about optical brightening agents.
What do OBAs do?
The words ‘optical brightening agents’ seem to suggest something quite benign when more descriptive term for these would be ‘UV powered blue tinting agents’. However, it would be more difficult to market them with this name. How do they work? Well, they use fluorescent dyes that absorb UV light and emit it as blue light. Added to paper, which naturally looks slightly creamy, the mitted blue light cancels out the yellow in the cream to make it closer to a pure white.
So what’s the problem?
If we can make paper appear to be not only white but brighter, what is the problem? There are two main problems.
OBAs don’t work forever, which wouldn’t be bad as the paper should just revert to a non-OBA colour. However, then OBAs stop working they turn yellow which will also make the lighter tones in your image look yellow.
The balance of visible light to UV light affects the amount of blue boost so in daylight it might look good but under different types of artificial light the light tones can shift colour.
It is recommended that frames are glazed with UV blocking glass or acrylic. This obviously cuts the UV available to the OBAs and hence negates their effect.
The UV output of the spectrophotometers used for profiling papers has a fixed UV content in its light source. This is unlikely to match the UV output of the light under which a print is viewed. This leads to errors in the colour accuracy of the final print.
Because of this, many fine art printers recommend the use of OBA free papers where longevity is important.
Here’s a couple of very good links about the use of OBAs.
Well, I’ve printed more than a dozen images on this paper so far and am happy to say it handles and looks very nice indeed. It’s not overtly yellow like some OBA free papers I’ve used in the past and personally I like the slight tooth/texture, even in smaller prints (it certainly helps in the dark areas in my opinion).
I spoke briefly with Joe Cornish about the paper as he has a lot more experience of using it than me and he is very happy with the paper and has already printed one of his own exhibitions using it.
The paper (click here for details on Fotospeed website) is being launched at the Photography Show on the Fotospeed stand F31 and will be available online shortly after. If you visit the stand you can ask Joe more about his experiences using it. He'll be around late Monday afternoon and is giving a talk at 15:30.
(NB Fotospeed Studio Enhance & Fotospeed Platinum Baryta are OBA free gloss papers)