Photoessay: Trees revisited

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Following on from the previous article on improving the digital B&W workflow process, it’s only fair that I show you some examples. I’ve chosen near-field landscapes – effectively, trees – as the test material, because I’ve always felt that this has been the most difficult subject to capture in a convincingly natural way*.

*Yes, I know, nature is in colour and monochrome images are by definition unnatural, but bear with me here.

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Photoessay: Trees in monochrome

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Today, we’re taking a little break from the travel-themed images I’ve been posting of late, and return to nature somewhat. I’ve always found something compelling about trees; I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s some deep-rooted part of our subconscious that calls for an occasional visual break from the uniformly geometric concrete we live in, and an embracing of the naturally fractal and chaotic world for a change instead. Judging from the feedback on previous images and photoessays, I’ve also found this to be the case with a lot of other people, too.

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Photoessay: Random household objects in monochrome

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The hand

In an ideal world, the art of seeing and composition should be independent of one’s surroundings, subjects or location. Or at very least, one should attempt it. Even though it’s almost always easier for us to previsualize compositions when we are in an unfamiliar or new environment – that which is different always stands out the most – it’s good practice to see what can be found closer to home. I like to give myself this challenge on a fairly regular basis to keep things fresh; after all, if you can find a new and compelling image in a very familiar situation, it’s all the more likely you’ll be able to make one when you’re on assignment or travelling.

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POTD: When color might have been preferable

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Postmen. Leica M-Monochrom, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE

One of those times where color would actually have been better. The bright blue and red uniforms of the motorbike postmen in this shot stood out well against the gray tarmac…I reached for a camera instinctively, nailed focus and exposure, but didn’t realize I was holding the M-Monochrom instead of the M9-P! Still, the geometry of this shot is its saving grace, I feel.

Today is going to be a busy day. Many people wonder what photographers do in the time they’re not shooting – well, here’s my schedule:

1. Client meetings
2. Test prints from M-Monochrom, 50 APO and D800E for clients, and if I have time, a quick article/ note on the site about relative print quality
3. Have to buy a light, strong, compact tripod in preparation for a trip (did I mention those are all oxymorons?). Tripod choice is another minefield I’ll probably write about at some point.
4. Retouching work for another client
5. Chase payments once Europe wakes up
6. Intersperse with replying email and comments to the site – between the two, I get an average of about 100-150 per day, which eats up a good couple of hours in replies. My laptop keyboard is now mirror smooth! :)

I think I need an assistant. MT

Photoessay: Workers, in the style of Sebastiao Salgado

This is a continuation from an earlier post with one image. The back story is not quite what you’d expect: I was killing time at a culinary academy in Singapore while waiting for one of my classes to start (I was teaching food photography, not cooking, though at some point I’d love to attend a proper cooking course, however, I digress) and happened to notice a building site out of the window. The 6th floor was a great vantage point to get far enough away to see the entire scene, but not so far that you’d miss out the details. Add in that wonderful directional light that comes immediately after rain when clouds just clear and the sun starts poking out (plus the textures and wet reflections) and the light was utterly gorgeous. Colors were still muted, and this was one of those occasions that just screamed ‘B&W’. Just another example of one of those times when you don’t plan to shoot, but somehow an opportunity presents itself – enjoy the results for yourself. On an unrelated note, I’m really loving the square format, too. Or maybe I’m just lazy to turn the little camera sideways. MT

This series shot with a Leica D-Lux 5 Titanium.

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POTD: After lunch

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Stall owner washing and packing up utensils after the lunch rush, Kuala Lumpur. Down some grimy, dirty, little back alley whose name has been long forgotten by all except those whose lives revolve around there. Beautiful light from the holes in the roof and gaps between the buildings, though.

Leica M-Monochrom, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE. Look out for my full review (in three parts) starting from tomorrow.

POTD: A vaguely religious notion

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I don’t know why, but there’s something oddly religious suggested to me by this composition. Can’t put my finger on it, though. Leica X2.

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