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Rusty Paintings

The Fish CrownIt’s been a while since I posted an artwork and certainly not one with a fish on my head before.

The base of this piece is all newspaper from last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. I bought the paper thinking that I would do something else entirely. As I flipped through it there were a number of articles on bushfires including photos. I picked these out and then started to select any photograph that had a warm ‘glow.’

After creating a background, the piece hung around for a few days before I decided to draw a woman with a fish on her head (based on a blend of two drawings from a Dover Pictorial Archive book of 1930s Spot Illustrations). Unfortunately I’m very rusty. The fish was fine. The woman’s head was not.

And so it was that I fell back to my collage materials to find a head that would fit under the fish… which as it turned out was mine!

I did make some attempt to blend the photo in to the background with paint but my ear and hair remain untouched.

I wouldn’t call it a great piece, but it’s finished just the same. I of course had cat assistance throughout. This time mainly from Saffron who seems to think the art table is her table (photographic evidence below to support this accusation). There’s so much junk on the art table it’s a wonder that she fits at all.
Art help from Saff

Not a hope in hell: weekly photo challenge

Yesterday I read that the weekly photo challenge was ‘Hope’.

Initial response: nothing. Blank. No idea.

I told Andrew the theme and he suggested taking a photo of the cat drooling over a cat of food. Then I saw Isobel’s post of her cat hopefully pursuing a bird.

So I went about the day I had planned and had my iphone at the ready. Perhaps I would see something today that inspired me to complete the challenge.

Garbage TruckPhotograph One: A garbage truck.

I wondered whether there was any connection with hope here. Hopes about greater recycling in the world? Hopes that my garbage room was not going to be as disgusting as it usually is. It didn’t take me long to realise that this wasn’t my ‘hope’ photo.

I kept looking.

Photograph Two: Generation minus the G

This is a mural painted along the brickwork at Redfern station. It is clearly part of a hope; a dream for the Aboriginal community.

Yet I’m missing a G, the rail was in the way so I’m thinking it is a lousy photography and doesn’t really qualify.


The next photograph I took aroused my curiosity. Why did this guy have pointy things on the back of his helmet?

Of course, I couldn’t muster any link to hope; not even the most tenuous one. I liked the photograph though so here is: Photograph Three: Enmore Sydney.
Enmore Sydney
I arrived home at my unit to read this message someone had posted in a common area.
One of my neighbours, apparently
I walked on in happy in the thought that I was a cat owner through and through.

I spent the next four and a half hours, with three helpers and two star wars films cleaning my unit for the inspection tomorrow. No one is going to tell me that the top of my cupboards are dirty or I haven’t cleaned the track in my sliding doors this time! Of course, none of this aided my quest for a ‘hope’ photo.

My last attempt was when the shadows of the wheelchair on the floor caught my eye. Once again, no idea what this had to do with hope; just had to photograph it just the same.
Shadow of a wheel

After all those attempts, I realised I had not a hope in hell of cracking this nut.

I look forward to next week’s theme.

2012 Genre a Month Challenge: Nature Photography

Sunset over the Redfern towers

Thank you mother nature for turning on a cracker of a sunset this evening. I’ve not seen one this colourful for a long time; perfectly timed too as I’m focusing on wildlife and nature photography this month.

I’ve learnt, quickly, that wildlife photography is very difficult so think I’m doing three-quarters nature. Even then, it’s tough to get an image which captures the true colours. I’m pleased to say that I haven’t altered the colours in this photograph and aside from a slight straighten, I’ve not cropped it either. Nature is so unpredictable. When I got out to photograph a sunset, sometimes she lets me down. Then when I sit on Andrew’s couch watching Kevin McCloud’s Slumming It not intending on doing any photography, I look out the window to find this beautiful saffron organza stretched across the sky.

So, where are your Wildlife and Nature Photographs for the 2012 Genre a Month challenge? Is anyone with me? If so, please post a link in the comments. [Since writing this blog post; I’ve now made a special page. Paste your comments and links here.]  My only condition is that the photograph be taken for the challenge, please don’t link old photographs. I’d like to think that the images posted are ones taken with a view to learning more about the genre of the month.

With several weeks in January left, there’s plenty of time to get snapping before I move on to next’s month’s theme: Travel Photography.

So c’mon, share, otherwise I’ll feel very lonely!

2012 Genre a Month Photography Challenge: Wildlife & Nature Photography Take 2

The aim of the 2012 Genre a Month Photography challenge was for me to learn and explore different styles of photography. It’s working. I’m learning already.

I’m learning that with Wildlife Photography, the subject is often just out of sight:

Subject out of sight

Uncooperative Cows

Or the sun is in the wrong place:

Black Cockatoo plays hard to get

Black Cockatoo plays hard to get in Belanglo State Forest

or it is fleeting and inconsiderately against a poor background:

Settles in the wrong spot

When it does stay still you're in the wrong spot!

or worst of all, your subject runs away and hides in a big black hole!

Runs away and hides

Echidna last seen headed this way

On the positive side, I’m delighted that I can go out and spot a black Cockatoo – thank you Andrew. Better yet, I saw my first ever wild echidna!

Given Wildlife was proving difficult, I switched to the ‘Nature’ part of the challenge.

Here too, I am learning.

Learning that flowers are too small:

Flowers too small

look too much like cauliflowers:

Looks like a cauliflower

or cause Andrew to think he’s stumbled on an opium poppy growing in the middle of nowhere (a poppy maybe but an opium one… in a gravel ‘turn-a-round’ near paddocks of cows?)

What poppy is this

Above all I learnt that if you take a 100 photos, if you’re lucky, you may find 3 you like. Here they are:

Belanglo State Forest II

Belanglo State Forest: base of tree in dappled light

The tree above is a favourite because it is simple. I like the colour on the trunk. I like the shadows from the spindly branches above. I like the ‘cross hatching’ of the pine needle carpet.

Bertha the world is slipping

Bertha the world is slipping!

The ‘tipsy’ cows just makes me laugh. I’m not sure why but in my head they have names like Bertha, Marge and Mildred.

Finally, my favourite shot of the day. A really simple photograph really. I guess I like the juxtaposition of man and nature in the one picture.

Nature meets man

If you are participating in the Genre a Month Photography Challenge, please post a comment including a link to your efforts on this page.

2012 Genre a Month Photography Challenge: Wildlife & Nature Photography

Doing a little Sunday afternoon research re: wildlife & nature photography; except it’s Wednesday. (It feels like a Sunday!) For anyone planning on joining me on the 2012 Genre a Month Photography Challenge, January’s genre is Wildlife & Nature Photography. Given January starts next Monday, Andrew and I got a headstart yesterday by visiting Kuringai Chase National Park in Sydney’s north. Is this allowed? It’s my challenge, so absolutely! (As an aside on ‘rules’ there really aren’t any as this is a personal challenge. Even so, in the spirit of the challenge, which is about learning more about different styles of photography, selecting an image which you took last year, doesn’t fit the bill. This is about learning in 2012. About thinking about a style for a month and seeing what I learn at the end of it. So in that vein, I would prefer if fellow-participants – all 2 of you at this point – didn’t select old images. As for starting before the month has started… phhh… quite acceptable!)

Now, where was I? Oh yes, background research. Whatever you do, DON’T go reading the chapter in Tom Ang’s The Complete Photographer on wildlife and nature photography. The images from Stefano Unterthiner and Thomas Marent are so spectacular, you’ll be quitting the challenge before even starting. After seeing these images I realise even my BEST shots of yesterday are worse than ‘pedestrian’ which is how I described them to Andrew last night. Now, I’m not sure what qualifies as worse than ‘pedestrian’ yet my confidence that is where my pictures belong, is unshakeable. I mean really, how unremarkable is this shot?

Ant escaping

18-55mm lens at 55mm, f/5.6 at 1/800 sec, ISO 2500, ND2, Close-up +4 filter

The only thing vaguely remarkable about it, is that in the context of my shots, it wasn’t blurry! Can someone make wildlife that doesn’t move?

I’m sure that leaving my neutral density filter on the camera did not help. I forgot that it was underneath the close-up filter.

I had another go with a winged insect (yes, another challenge of Wildlife & Nature photography – I don’t know my insect names!).

Who’s stupid idea was it to put Wildlife & Nature Photography as the first subject in this challenge? January is going to be a long month. Oh well, lots to learn I suppose.

Insect Kuringai Chase National Park

18-55mm lens at 53mm, f/5.6 for 1/80 sec, ISO 250, ND2, +4 close-up filter

Before you think I’ve completely lost my sense of humour, I’ll include 2 more photos from yesterday’s excursion. Both were taken en route to the National Park (for those of you who live in Sydney, you’ll laugh knowing that we went from Redfern to Kuringai Chase National Park via Palm Beach!)

The first, tells me crows can read:

Dogs no crows ok

The second is a strange kind of wildlife. Very rare indeed. Only found in a pie shop in Whale Beach.

Oliver's Pig

If you are participating in the Genre a Month Photography Challenge, please post a comment including a link to your efforts on this page.

2012 Genre A Month Photography Challenge

365 day creative challenge? Umm… no. Postaday2012? Too adventurous. But after my moaning about my 80% completion of the Alice painting, the knitting, the sewing and many other things, I feel a target is order. I was recently reading The Complete Photographer by Tom Ang. He details a number of different photographic genres. It gave me the idea that choosing to focus on one genre each month was probably achievable. This is a personal challenge but if anyone else would like to join me for moral support, I welcome you. (Andrew doesn’t know it yet, but he’s already joining me!)

So here’s my plan:

  1. January: Wildlife & Nature Photography
  2. February: Travel Photography
  3. March: Landscape Photography
  4. April: Event & Milestone Photography
  5. May: Fashion & Nude Photography (I’m opting for the former!)
  6. June: Sports Photography
  7. July: Portrait Photography
  8. August: Documentary Photography
  9. September: Abstract Photography
  10. October: Macro Photography
  11. November: Urban Landscape Photography
  12. December: Pet Photography

If you are participating in the Genre a Month Photography Challenge, please post a comment including a link to your efforts on this page.

I almost made that last one ‘cat’ photography as they are the only pets I have!

Many of these subjects are in Tom Ang’s The Complete Photographer, a few are ring-ins.

I’m already doubting how I will achieve this. Is it ok just to have one photograph a month on topic? Yes, I will allow myself this! If I have several, all the better! I keep thinking that Wildlife & Nature Photography may not be the easiest to select in January. Firstly, it’s usually stinking hot in January (I’m in Australia) and most wildlife is well served hiding under a rock. Secondly, I’m not going to a zoo in January so that means I have to find some wild wildlife, so to speak. I made February Travel as I am going away for a short period. I could have equally made it Event & Milestone photography as it is Andrew’s 40th birthday.

The only one I think may be near impossible is ‘Sports Photography’. I really don’t do sports. When Andrew reminded me that his place is very near a football oval, I decided to retain the genre. It may be good for a laugh!

So, I think my Canon 550d is going to have a workout in 2012. Wish me luck!

January: Wildlife & Nature Photography

My first  and second efforts at wildlife lead me to pursue more of the nature route as at least it didn’t move as much (windy days aside). My three favourites for the month:

Sunset over the Redfern towers

Nature meets man

Insect Kuringai Chase National Park