To continue with guest blog posts by InFocus 2017 photographers, I am pleased to introduce Al Dixon. Al has been with InFocus since the beginning and his landscape images reveal he is a man of patience and skill. As InFocus is quickly approaching, I love peering into the creative practices of these photographers. It is inspiring to say the least. I’m sure you will feel the same after reading Al’s words. On that note, away we go!
A picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, that’s oh so ‘tre cliche’, yet it’s a mantra that many photographers and other visual creatives live by. We strive to create images that resonate with our audience by capturing their imagination, evoking emotions & feelings, or spurring conversations. Along with a level of technical mastery & a certain visual appeal, these are the hallmarks of an exceptional image. We each have our own reasons as to why we embark on these creative journeys. For me it starts as a stress reliever. After that, the mixture of art & technology provides outlets for both my Inner Artist & Inner Nerd. Surprisingly, when we start to forget these reasons we seem to be able to produce an image reminding us of them just in time.
It wasn’t until after first posting “Sunset at Abraham” online and receiving feedback that I saw the image in a totally different manner. Having shot the image with an exposure of 4 minutes, the chaos and raw power of the location had been greatly mellowed and refined. Many that know the area commented that they had never seen Windy Point so calm and tranquil. Thinking back on the evening I created the image, I could recall sitting on the rocks with little doubt in my mind as to how the location had received its name. While strong winds attempted to toss photographer and gear into the lake, powerful gusts buffeted the tripod threatening the dreaded camera shake. Waves were crashing on the rocks below, creating spray that clambered to find purchase upon my filters and lens. What I didn’t realize at the time was that while I was aware of all this chaos, confusion, and distractions; not once did any of it interfere with the mission I was on. The image my Inner Artist intended to capture was clear in his mind, my Inner Nerd contently performed filter exposure calculations in his head, and I sat on that cold wet rock completely and totally at peace.
All it takes now is but a moments glance at that image to remind me of the simple joy the art of photography has brought into my life. While the stress of the daily grind may seem over bearing at times, immersing myself in creating images can make all of that go away. It rekindles the memories of ‘borrowing’ my parent’s camera as a child, countless hours in the darkroom throughout high school, and countless photo excursions with my daughter. These simple joys had been fading over the past few years; but thanks to a cold, wet, windy evening they are here to stay.
Where Al hangs his hat online:
I love sharing the work of other talented artists, writers, musicians and, of course, photographers. Today is a special guest post by one of the 2017 InFocus Photo photographers. I am pleased to introduce Hedy Bach! I first got to know Hedy and her photography two years ago when she submitted and showed her photography at our 2015 InFocus Photo Exhibit and Award. Hedy is a “sloppy Buddhist” and an inspirational woman in the arts. Below you will find a unique guest blog post, entirely in poem, writing about photography. On that note, I pass this post over to Hedy!
i photograph daily
i write daily
i upload images daily
i use adobe lightroom & photo apps
and i try to work mainly in camera
i play with my fujx100s & iphone 6
rarely do i go anywhere without a camera
i like small carry-around cameras
ones i can wear like a necklace
i like to feel obscure
i appreciate tripods but rarely use them
in 2011 i began to photograph with intention
before that i made snapshots
as a girl i was always looking
i learned about the surveyed and surveyors
i studied the place of the photograph
i became a visual researcher
i taught fine arts curriculum to education students
and as a researcher i worked with images and story
social justice issues, human rights, and visual ethics matter deeply to me
when i started my blog sloppybuddhist.com
i wanted to compose posts with my images
i wanted to be behind a camera
try another way of visual story telling
every day i began to photograph beauty with intention
beauty that can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane;
it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling.
i learn from
mostly i learn along the way
in ordinary everyday life
i am a member of two local photography clubs
i attend workshops, talks and competitions
i take free on line learning
i have one to one lessons with photography friends
i continue learning about the taking and making of photography.
i enjoy street photography
i like people
i like walking and talking with people
and i love wandering urban environments
i also love to be alone
walk my dogs
in early mornings just after dark
my magic hour
i love the land
in a room without a roof
i photograph in my home
i don’t need to be away to find beauty
of course i enjoy being in front of something different
being in various spaces and places
i am grateful for the opportunities that having a camera has given me.
hedy bach;s alberta
Hedy Bach’s Street Photography: A verb…
I love sharing the work of other talented artists, writers, musicians and, of course, photographers. Today is a special guest post by one of the 2017 InFocus Photo photographers. I am pleased to introduce Steve Ricketts! I first got to know Steve and his photography last year when he submitted and showed his photography at our 2016 InFocus Photo Exhibit and Award. Steve is not only a great photographer, but a truly kind human. On that note, I pass this post over to Steve!
I first became interested in photography about five years ago as a retirement project and as a homage to my Dad, and I found that I enjoyed it immensely. I find myself drawn to photography because of its ability to tell a story without the use of words. One can write at length about a topic but a single image can be much more powerful.
I’m mostly self-taught; i.e. I have no formal training in photography or in art; in fact, I’m not exactly artistic. If anything, I’m the opposite; I’m a scientist by education and work, and I take a very scientific and logical approach to photography. I have learned a great deal by reading books by photographers, by traveling with other photographers and seeing what they do, and by taking photos. Lots of photos.
I mostly do landscape photography but I also enjoy experimenting with weather (storms, noctilucent clouds), portraiture, urban photography, and the blur created by intentional camera movement. I am constantly looking for images that capture a special moment.
I use Adobe Lightroom for almost all my image processing, and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro for black-and white conversion. I try to minimize the amount of editing that I do; while today’s software allows for powerful manipulation to create a wonderful image, I prefer to challenge myself to be in the right place and at the right time to capture the image that I have in mind.
Over the past year, I have found myself drawn to doing black & white photography as I like how it draws the viewer’s attention to the contrast and texture in landscapes. I often use a telephoto lens and zoom in on a small area to capture lines and curves; it’s very much a desire for minimalism.
While the Alberta Rockies are home to a lot of spectacular scenery, there is a lot of beauty in the Alberta prairies too, and I find myself increasingly drawn to shooting the landscape in and around my home in Sherwood Park, especially in Strathcona, Minburn and Lamont Counties. That is, rather than take the viewer on a journey to see the grandeur of the Rockies, I prefer to take them on a journey around my backyard to enjoy the subtlety of the Prairies.
You can see more of Steve’s work on the InFocus Photo Exhibit & Award site by clicking here. Also, check-out the InFocus Photo People’s Choice Award by clicking here.
Other places to find Steve:
Alexis Marie: I have loved sharing the stories and inspirations of some truly interesting individuals during the InFocus 2016 show. Are you excited? Even through InFocus 2016 is already underway, it is not too early to begin preparing for InFocus 2017! In the fall, we will release the call for submissions and we would love to see your work. For now, I’m pleased to introduce one of our current and talented photographers, Brady Simpson.
In August of 2015 I attended the Arteles Creative Centre in Hämeenkyrö, Finland. Navigating through Europe is very easy and relatively cheap, so I decided to visit Estonia while I was in Europe, amongst a smattering of other places. The round trip train ticket to Stockholm and back was 24 euros, and the ferry across the Gulf of Finland was 50. Within a few hours you’re in an entirely different country and culture…bliss.
Estonia is still recovering from the hangover that was the Soviet era and still maintains many pieces of soviet architecture. Tallinn has a walled centre called Old Town that stems back to the 13th century with its walls largely still in tact. This is why it is a world heritage site but it provides an amazing experience. You have a beautiful walled city, cobblestone winding streets, and stunning architecture surrounded by these peppered remnants of the Soviet Union. One of these remnants is the Patarei Prison or it’s English translation, the Battery, and for 2 euros, you can wander the remains of a complex that began construction in 1828 under Tzar Nicholas I. It is a glimpse into hell.
The basement of this prison is where I took the photo featured in the InFocus exhibition. Of the same name as the series, Confinement encapsulates the entire experience of wandering this prison. The KGB favoured basement rooms such as this for their high moisture content, it’s a choking heavy air, a type of psychological torture. The low ceilings are heavily populated with arches to maintain the massive girth of itself and windows do little more than indicate if it’s day or night.
Patarei Prison is right on the shoreline of Estonia’s capital city Tallinn but you’d never know it by walking the halls. The higher floors offer higher ceilings and a little more light, but there is one thing that is common throughout these buildings, they are incredibly silent, no birds, no waves crashing, just silence. After leaving the prison I had a very heavy feeling, an almost need to enjoy my freedom after being within those walls. I grabbed some deli meat from a nearby store, along with some bread and cheese, and made my lunch in a scenic park back in Tallinn’s Old Town to cleanse my pallet with beautiful scenery. Incarceration is an incredibly complicated topic and I know leniency isn’t the public’s favourite dish when it comes to prisoners. But taking a look at Patarei Prison made me ask how we expect people to get better when we put them in places like this? Is it because we don’t want to help, we just want the problem hidden? Whatever the case may be, I hope places like the Battery will remain relics of the past.
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+BradysimpsonArt
Tomorrow is Halloween and also the deadline for InFocus Photo Exhibit. If you are wise, young grasshopper, you will enter your photography for consideration in InFocus today. On the other hand, what is more haunting and terrifying than waiting till the last minute to submit?
Halloween for InFocus Photo Exhibit
I can see it now: Photographers running from their computers, entering their images, to their door as the doorbell rings, children chanting, “Trick or treat! Give me something good to eat!”
Whenever you enter is great – as long as you do. If the urge is there, it’s important. If you want to get your work off your computer and onto a gallery’s walls, make the time. If you believe the project you have been working on in secret is finally ready, please share it with us.
One of the things I love the most about InFocus is the passion and community that grows out of an exhibition like this. Where there is passion and innovative work, everyone benefits. Both the maker and the viewers. Community is also invaluable. Life is short and its way more fun to have other photographer friends.
Here is some info about InFocus and how to submit. We on the InFocus Team look forward to receiving your submission. Curation begins in November. I’m excited! The air is changing – winter is coming and so too is this awesome group exhibit.
InFocus Photo Exhibit Deadline October 31, 2015
MISSION: To promote and exhibit innovative, thoughtful, and provocative photography created by Alberta’s contemporary image makers.
WHEN: February 1 – 29, 2016
WHERE: DC3 Art Projects (10567 111 St) commercial gallery in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
WHY: “Photography is the medium of our times.” – Exposure Photography Festival
Click here to visit the InFocus Photo Exhibit page.
Follow InFocus on Twitter: @infocusphotoCAN
Enjoy all the sweets! And good luck with your submissions!
Alexis Marie: I have loved sharing the stories and inspirations of some truly interesting individuals during the InFocus Alumni photography blog series. Are you excited about InFocus 2016? We will soon release the call for submissions and we would love to see your work. For now, I’m pleased to introduce Kevin Tuong.
Some people get their first camera at a young age from a significant family member, and that influence inspires them for the rest of their life to create beautiful photographs. My story is… not remotely close to that. I got my camera three days before my 19th Birthday not from a family member, but from Futureshop. It wasn’t because I’ve always been interested in photography and wanted to learn the art of creating beautiful imagery; instead.. it was simply because it was a “kit” with an extra battery and a bag and it was on sale. How inspirational – I know.
It wasn’t like I wanted a camera because I was interested in photography either, I actually knew little to nothing about photography and didn’t actually care at the time. I just never owned anything more than a shoddy webcam that shot 2 megapixel images before in my life, and felt like having a DSLR was cool. But once I started taking pictures with it, and noticed that “blurry background” effect it had that point and shoots don’t have, it sparked my interest, and that’s when the life-long learning process for me began.
From then on I read tutorials, watched videos, and played around with every effect in Photoshop just to learn what they did and how I could use them (and made some atrocious images because of this). Then one day when photographing a Chinese Opera performance, someone who was an actual photographer saw me struggling in the low-light environment and lent me his on-camera flash. I was hesitant as first because I felt like it was rude to just take someone’s flash, and the fact that I had no idea how to use it. I wasn’t even sure if it was compatible with my camera at the time, simply because I didn’t know how it went on the camera itself. But after playing around with that flash and seeing how it made a difference in the shot, a whole new door was opened for me. Camera gear and accessories… oh what a money draining door that would become.
Of course, gear isn’t everything and a photographer still needs to know what they’re doing in order to maximize that piece of gears potential use. But with each piece of equipment that I acquired, it opened other doors with new techniques I could learn and apply to my photography. I find that photography is a never ending adventure of creative learning. I remember when I first started out, and I saw these images of beautifully done photographs, I wanted to learn how to do it. Then after years of practice and experience, I look back on some of those photographs that once inspired me, and I feel like I’ve caught up to them and can produce photographs of that level. But all that means is that I’ll find new photographs to inspire me, to push me, and to learn from to help better my own photography.
Photography to me is a never ending creative adventure filled with imaginative ideas and fantastical story telling designed to speak to and inspire the viewer. One can never stop learning in photography, there’s always something new and different that we can learn and try for ourselves. Further more, no photographer should ever sit at the top and be “the best”, because the very moment that any person does, that person is no longer learning, and no longer improving, and their art will no longer evolve.
Christmas reminds me of the magic of my childhood back when I believed in impossible dreams. As a kid my imagination was wild and uninhibited. Now, as 30+ year-old, I do my best to capture those qualities in my life and artistic practice because I know the amazing power they hold for the creative spirit.
This Christmas, I wish you the unlimited belief that your BIG dreams will come true and all the potential of your imagination to make them happen.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
To learn more about Alexis Marie Chute, read her BIO and check out her artwork:
Exposure Photography Festival held its closing party on February 28th at Endeavor Art Gallery in Calgary. The gallery is beautiful with tall walls and large windows; definitely a space I would love to have a solo exhibition in one day! At the party, VISTEK announced the awards for Emerging Alberta Photographer and People’s choice. I’m always a little disappointed when I don’t win (human nature, right!) but just to be selected for the Emerging Photographer Showcase and having my image on a billboard in Calgary are true highlights.
A huge thanks to all my family, friends, clients, colleagues, Twitter followers and Facebook friends who voted for me! Your support is always more than appreciated!