A Fresh Perspective
Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment.
Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael.
My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals.
My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation.
This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections.
Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client.
And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!
The Wednesday Wonderment series examines some of the things that amaze and inspire me; lots will be in nature, but there may be some surprises.
“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”
― Albert Einstein
Today’s image is all about structure. Nature provides us with a dazzling array of structures that are optimized for the function that they perform. Such is the case here with this palm leaf, which is perfectly folded to provide the strength needed to support its size, which allows it to capture as many of the sun’s vital rays as possible.
Structure that lends strength is seen in many places in nature, maybe none more dramatic than the giant sequoias.
There is also beauty in these forms beyond just the functional aspect; this beauty has us coming back time and again to appreciate a level of perfection that is rarely achieved in human endeavors.
What structure in nature is your favorite? What draws you in when you look at it?
Thank you for reading this post; I hope you enjoyed it!
This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII with a 17-40mm F4 lens. F-stop used was f/8 at 1/25 second, ISO 640.
As today’s Tuesday Technique Topic is part 1 of 3 on abstract photography, as I have approached it thus far, it might be nice to share an outlier from this part of my portfolio with you.
The title of this image is a reference to the theory in physics that unifies all consistent versions of superstring theory. If we look deep enough into the underlying structure of all that surrounds us, its structure shall become apparent and reveal the great secrets of the universe.
Technical Aspects of the Image
I created this image using a zoom-blur technique with an exposure time of appr. 1/3 of a second. The camera I used a Canon EOS 5D MkII with a 24-105 lens. It took about 3 or 4 attempts to really get the effect that I was looking for, as I wanted the stringiness to come through while acquiring the speed of the universe throughout the edges of the image.
Hope you enjoy this little exploration of the universe.
As part of the new schedule, Tuesday’s will get a regular feature titled TTT: Tuesday Technique Topic. At the suggestion of one of my wonderful readers, I’m starting with the topic of Abstract Photography, as I have approached it.
A significant amount of photography attempts to capture the reality we see around us, often in the best possible light.
As a result, most of the advances in photography have been aimed at achieving ever higher fidelity in capturing this reality. In digital photography, sensors have become more sensitive causing ISO ranges to expand, white balance is corrected ever more accurately and many other innovations have been programmed into the complex computers that we call digital cameras.
Of course, this is a good thing, as it has allowed photographers to get much more satisfactory results in capturing all matter of subjects under a wide variety of conditions. Moreover, today’s digital cameras provide their users with a sense of instant gratification well beyond that of even the near-instant output of Polaroid cameras. The added bonus of being able to delete a poor image has brought many people to photography on a scale that dwarfs the success of even the legendary Kodak Brownie camera.
One side effect of this renaissance of photography, is that the digital diluvium of imagery may give one the impression that everything ranging from the mundane to the sublime has been recorded by someone somewhere. How many times have you heard someone say, as you proudly show them your work, “I have a photo of that, let me show you!”, and they bring forth their smart-phone to show you their record of what you thought you were the first to see through your viewfinder?
I have to admit that there have been numerous times that I looked at a scene in front of me, weighing how I might want to photograph it, and felt the pressure to come up with a novel approach to creating the image. Yes, each individual photographer views the world in their unique and personal fashion, but is it enough differentiation to satisfy our creative urge? Personally, I refrained from photographing certain scenes that might be considered over-photographed. Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick, ME, comes to mind; this may be the “most photographed” lighthouse on the East Coast of the US. It was years before I came up with a treatment of this lighthouse that told a story that I saw.
Rather than replicating the great work that has been done by many photographers before me, I started looking for an alternate take on the world around me. Yes, I still photograph what all of us see around us in the standard manner of faithful reproduction of the scene. However, from time to time, I have been doing some experimental photography to try and reveal some of the things that our eyes don’t see, but that are still there. After a little more than a year of experimenting, and learning some new tricks that can be performed with a zoom lens or through camera motion and careful timing, I have started to pull things together into a more unified portfolio of abstract photography.
The goal of this portfolio is to show some of the layer underneath the immediately visible; a layer that I see from time to time, when I look at the world through more of a mind’s eye. This view is exposed only when I manipulate the camera or the lens, and never through post-capture processing; also, no special camera software or firmware is used.
These images come to me when I am on location and are inspired by the sense of mystery that I derive from that location. What first started as pure experimentation has evolved into a new set of skills that uncover previously hidden insights. An image unfolds in front of me as I visualize it, and I plan an approach on how to capture it. The success rate is not 100%, but the results are interesting and encouraging in exploring new avenues of creativity that may otherwise remain cryptic.
The subjects that I have approached with this experimental methodology have ranged from fire to flowers and urban landscapes. Each set of subjects evokes their own, specific set of moments in the space-time continuum that ask to be recorded in a particular fashion; some have rendered surprises and few have been disappointing. There have been times when several attempts were needed to find the right balance that extracts the correct alternate sense from the subject; each subject has a series of alternate views that can be uncovered through opening up to the flow of energy that emanates from it. Many more await discovery.
In next week’s episode of TTT, I will describe the details of the process that I use to create the images seen here and in my abstract images portfolio. I hope you don’t mind waiting until next Tuesday for that post. In the mean time, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them.
A bit of abstract photography to soothe the senses
One aspect of my photography is that I will experiment with different in-camera techniques to produce images that are more abstract than representational. Over the years, I have built up a series of images that I call Kryptomorphaics, as they bring out the hidden through transformation.
The inspiration for this image is the overwhelming sense of calmness that I felt, as I walked through the landscape observing the way the light played through the autumn leaves.
Hope you enjoy this image, as it is a little different.
As learned from Blogging101, part of a blog’s brand identity is established through the cadence of posts that are provided within that blog. In all honesty, I have struggled with that aspect a little, which probably comes from my own lack of understanding of Dutch Goes the Photo‘s brand identity. I felt a little bit, as in this image…
Luckily, some of my fellow Blogging101 students have successfully tackled the issue of creating a schedule, which inspired me to come up with my first schedule:
Sunday – Shot of the Week feature – this will usually be a shot that I took during that week, even though I have already violated that rule once…
Monday – Free-form post – posts on Monday will vary across a range of photographic items, which could be topical or throw-back.
Tuesday – Technical Topic – starting this week, I will kick off a series of TTT (Tuesday’s Technical topic) posts, for which I will be happy to take requests. Some topics may require more than a single post to complete, so they could be across several weeks.
Wednesday – Wednesday Wonderment – these posts will focus on items that have amazed me in the past; some are simple, such as this past week’s Mushroom, whereas others will be more convoluted. It’ll depend on where my mind takes me.
Thursday – Dogstar Thursday – this is my version of TBT, as these images will all be throwbacks to the days, when I photographed a lot of dog agility competitions. I have a thousands of images, so there’s a bit of source material.
Friday – Free-form Friday – we’ll see where this takes us! It may be food, strange collectible, custom toys (I have a bunch). It’ll be fun!
Saturday – Variety – I’ll definitely include some photo challenges in here and will pick up some other items along the way.
As you can tell the schedule has plenty of flexibility built in, which is one of the items that I learned over the past week. I figure that might work to my advantage, so that I’m not too boxed in, but still have enough regularly schedule items to not have to be uber-creative to come up with a new post.
So, Dear Reader… What do you think about this? Do you have suggestions? I’m curious to hear how you have tackled this issue…
The shot of the week came about on Thursday morning during my commute; yes, there may be a pattern here, as you may have noticed that I’m often inspired during morning travel.
The quality of the light was that beautiful warm tone, that occurs on chilly days when the air is nice and clear. As I traversed into Westborough, Massachusetts, I decided to stop near a pond that I had frequented before and check out what caught my attention.
In all honesty, I had first thought to do something with the way the sun’s light was playing across the trees, but the sun was still too low in the sky for the desired effect. As I walked along a path, my eye caught the tall grasses with still quite a bit of frost on them; I thought they looked pretty interesting in this color light.
Now, all I had to solve was how to make it pop in the image with just my iPhone as a tool. You can see what I did: put the sun behind a fence post, get low enough and ensure that the focus is on the front grasses to create some extra depth in the image.