Category Archives: But is it art?

HDR revisited

This past week, I have been putting together some presentations about HDR and Photostitching for the AVA Show that is currently on in Johannesburg. I took the time to revisit HDR as a technique in digital photography and after really playing around a lot, I realised just what a powerful tool it is. I have done a previous post on HDR here, but again was excited by the technology. So, just for fun, here are some of the images that I came up with after using HDR.

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The misty sea

As you all know, I am a “binnelander” (live inland…in afrikaans) but I grew up in Kwazulu Natal, close to the sea. Since I have been doing photography, the sea is one of my favourite landscape subjects. I love its moods, its colours and its shapes and movement. Last week I was down in Ballito for a few days and to say the least, the weather was horrible. It was windy (on good days) rainy, cloudy and pretty much useless for any interesting photography. There were about 2 days out of 5 that it didnt rain and the one afternoon I went down to the beach to see what I could get. So here are the results….I am pretty happy with them.

So, I learned some lessons here about when the weather is bad:

1. Never give up. I know that it is easy to sit back and think that maybe tomorrow ill be a better day, but sometimes you need to persist until you get some images
2. Take photos in any kind of weather. The weather can be a huge ally in creating dramatic images. I was hoping for soft clouds in the sky and nice magenta sunsets, but it never happened. If i had waited for the clouds to clear up, I would never have these images in the bag
3. Be aware of how the elements could damage your camera. After these photos, my camera was moist from the fine drizzle and the spray of the sea, make sure you dry it off well afterwards (dont forget to do your tripod too)
4. Take a chance, you never know what might happen.Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Good glass…

Recently I was at the Walter Sisuslu Botanical Gardens in Little Falls (Johannesburg,  South Africa.) It was a cool summers morning and had rained the night before, so there were lots of droplets around. The light was good because there was cloud cover (soft diffusion, works well ) I managed to snap off a few shots, one or two which came out really well. I realised just how important it is to have a good lens. The one I used was a Nikkor 50mm F1.8 lens. This is not a macro lens, but it is very sharp and can go down to F1.8, which allows in LOTS of that precious light. So thats what I did, opened up the aperture and took a few shots. The amazing thing is that with a lens like the 50mm, you really cant get a bad shot. It is so easy to use and sharp that you really just want to take pics all day long. Let me know what you think….take a look at my flickr stream for the pics….

What makes a photo Great?

Well, you can go into detail about the “rule of thirds” (more about this another time) you can talk about the lighting, the colour, the tone, the expression and guess what. All of these would be correct. What makes a photo great is the combination of all of the above techniques and more. A great photo is about what speaks to you personally. Great photos will show emotion, will exude some sort of passion, will cause you to think, will make you laugh, or even cry. A defining image is not simply about a topic or a person, its about what it says about those things. You will know when a photo is great…its the one that speaks to you without verbally saying a thing…

African Sky

Photography…is it art?

I have had this conversation with a few people…can a photo be seen as art? Well, I guess that depends on your definition of art. If art is something that take a certain amount of talent to produce, is creative in nature, is visually appealing, stirs an emotion or memory, then perhaps some photos can be considered art. I think most people think that photos may not be art because the photographer simply walks out into the wild, snaps off a few pics and returns an hour or so later and sells those images as art. Well, the true photographic artists, will tell you thats not how it happens. Consider one of the landscape photographers, Koos van der Lende ( that I had the privilege of meeting and chatting to last year. His images are very specifically created. Firstly, when he treks off into the Namib, he may be away for a month or more at a time. That is time in which he cannot realisticaly generate income. When he spots something that he may want to capture, he will spend up to 3 days on that site tracking the movement of the sun to determine the exact angle and time he needs to press the shutter release. Often times he will be carrying anything up to 50kg’s of equipment with him and has been known to walk for a day or two to a specific location. Why walk? Well the terrain he shoots has often never been polluted by mankinds vehicles, so he resorts to going in on foot, so that he has as little impact on the environment as possible. The results are mindblowing, the images are stirring…is it art, I definitely think so, but you be the judge….

Garden of God - Koos van der Lende