Photoessay-project-WIP: Crust

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Today’s post is going to be the first time I’ve presented a partially completed project – for the simple reasons that I feel it’s probably useful to discuss the creative process, because it’ll make a good follow on to this post on projects in general and because I have honestly no idea if or when I’ll ever be able to complete this set. The idea behind Crust is fairly self-explanatory: the dried, hard, textured earth from the air in monochrome – all the better to enhance the suggestion we may well be looking at a highly magnified burnt breakfast offering*.

*And I think I might well shoot that as the title image, too.

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Being a photographer today

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Whoops, that was yesterday. But I don’t think any reader will mind the eye candy.

There is a point to the ‘wrong’ image: it ain’t like it used to be, and if that’s a cliche and somewhat ill-fitting statement given I haven’t been in this game that long, perhaps it’s also a sign of just how fast the market is changing. As I come to the end of my fourth year full time as a photographer and start planning for the fifth, I’ve got to ask myself what’s changed in the last few years and where that fits with my plans (or rather how I’ve got to adapt not to be left behind). What’s a bit frightening is that niches seem to be coming and going both extremely fast and in a way that is almost impossible to predict what works and what doesn’t; luck, as always, plays a massive role in the proceedings.

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Photoessay: More from the air (and some tips)

_Q116_L1020291 copySomewhere over Scotland

Today’s photoessay is a series of images that is both a continuation of the dreamscape series and the result of spending far too much time on an aeroplane in the last few months – think of it as the fruit of doing a little homework before departure. Of course, shooting from a chartered helicopter is nice, but also not something undertaken without a client or access to a central bank’s vault – preferably from a country that’s still solvent.

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Photoessay – Architectural details of Aalen and Schwäbisch Gmünd

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A few more images from my time in Germany earlier in the year – there are a lot of geometrically simple yet interesting architectural details dotted around the towns of Aalen and Schwäbisch Gmünd; of course I suspect they might be rather more depressing without the benefit of such strongly directional autumn light. I would consider this set to be mainly studies of form and texture; distillation of a scene into almost unrelated and non-contextural component elements and nothing more. Regardless of the subject, the aesthetics of an image boil down to this – every compositional element has different visual weight and presence that’s contingent on color and the amount of image it occupies, in addition to relativity to the rest of the frame. Sometimes it’s nice to be free from the expectations and preconventions a particular subject might imply – portraits must include the eyes, for example; or buildings a sense of scale. Enjoy, and lastly, Happy New Year! MT

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss 1.8/85 Batis and 2.8/35 PC Distagon. You can learn the underlying postprocessing in the Weekly Photoshop Workflow series.

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Photoessay: Germany, on the move

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Today’s photoessay comes from a much earlier trip in the year to Zeiss HQ in Germany; I had a lot of connections and a lot of transit time. The camera naturally falls to hand and one starts observing and recording. Having personally spent a lot of time in transit in a large number of countries around the world, I always find it remarkable how developed countries are quite similar – but somehow little things make a difference in implementation and efficiency of the overall system. Whilst German public transport lacks the brutal efficiency of the Swiss, it also lacks the unpredictability of the French and Italians, so I suppose that’s reason not to complain…MT

This series was shot with a Leica Q, Sony A7RII and Zeiss 1.8/55 FE and 1.8/85 Batis lenses. You can learn the underlying postprocessing in the Weekly Photoshop Workflow series.

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Photoessay: Paradise Lost, part I: the daydream

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What if inanimate objects had a soul? Hopes, dreams, lives, consciousness, a feeling of purpose? Do they have salad days? What happens when they retire, descend into old age and start to feel their mortality? How does a retirement community for Air Force aircraft feel?

Paradise Lost is a project I’ve been working on for the last few months that attempts to answer some of these questions in a photographic interpretation. At some point, I’ll expand this to include other machinery – mining equipment would be fantastic (but tricky to access) and cars are probably the next logical steep (and easier to execute). The first part of the series is supposed to evoke feelings of daydreaming, wistfulness and a nostalgia for golden days past. I’m once again experimenting with the metaphor of clouds as insubstantial fleeting thoughts (first encountered in The Dreamscape Project). Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII and Zeiss 1.8/55 FE and 1.8/85 Batis lenses.

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Photoessay: Details of Aalen

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For a relatively small town in Germany, Aalen has quite a few little interesting architectural details – certainly enough to make for a morning’s worth of abstracts in the right light. For the curious, though I mostly shoot in this ‘abstracted form’ style* for myself as eye training for still life or structuring product shots, the architectural details are also frequently commissioned by clients – so there is some commercial applicability…

*All elements decompose to just color, shape and light

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, and Contax Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon.

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The portfolio

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MT’s architecture master portfolio

Following on from the previous articles on curation and how to approach a project, I thought I’d conclude with a slightly different look at the same thing: the portfolio. We hear that word bandied about quite a lot amongst photographers and clients too: ‘Send me your portfolio’, or ‘That image is good enough to go in the portfolio’, or ‘Here’s my client portfolio’. What does it actually mean? How can we use it to our advantage?

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Photoessay: Gold and Silver Forum, Schwäbisch Gmünd

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During my previous trip to Zeiss HQ in Oberkochen, the group was taken to the nearby town of Schwäbish Gmünd for a demo session with the new lenses; I passed on the models and wandered around the town with Lloyd Chambers instead. Needless to say, this rather unique building caught my eye I and landed up producing a series of studies of it. It is the Gold and Silver Forum located on the banks of the Josefsbach stream in the centre of town; I was made to understand that the reason behind it was the area being historically a centre for fine metalsmithing several hundred years ago. Today, it serves as a public space to take in the sunshine and a meal. Personally, I think the most interesting part is the way the faceted facade reflects light and simultaneously creates the illusion of having many layers and great complexity thanks to the play of projected shadows on the underlying building’s core. This was accentuated by the hard light of that particular day. The facade itself is quite a challenging subject simply because it’s difficult to fully abstract without focusing overly on a single set of apertures, and pulling out loses the shadow gradation on the structure beneath. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, Contax Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon and a Leica Q. Postprocessing was with the ‘commercial’ technique in Making Outstanding Images Ep.5: processing for style.

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Project thinking

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From Paradise Lost – the former forefront of military hardware in old age and thinking about better days

It is quite common to hear a photographer or artist talking about work on ‘x project’ or ‘y project’ – in practical terms, it means that images are being made to fulfil a certain objective or idea. For the longest time I’d stayed away from doing this because I felt frustrated at the limitations it would impose at the least expected of times. I also didn’t feel that I had the time to commit to pursuit of a single idea. But at some point in 2013, that all changed for me for various reasons. Outside commercial work, I now find myself working in a few major themes.

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