Photoessay: Shadows and details

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Texture is shadows, and shadows are texture: at the micro level, surface irregularities are thrown into relief and colors are intensified. This latter effect is an interesting property of raked lighting: since the pits in the surface structure of an object are in shadow, the overall reflected luminosity is lower. However, there are also small portions that appear brighter because some light may reflect off surfaces at precisely the right angle. End result: microcontrast is higher, colors are deeper/richer and textures are made to appear more real (if such a thing is possible). I love old buildings like these because they are perfect subjects for this kind of light: some surfaces are rendered smooth by centuries of paint; others by centuries of wear; and still others show the marks of etching of pollution etc. It’s an interesting study in color, form and texture…MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C, and H6D-50c, various lenses and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III.

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Artists, creatives and critics

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Positive/creative

Almost everybody falls into one of two categories: creator or consumer. Do you spend more time making content or material, derivative or otherwise, than consuming it? Do you prefer to make or view images? Of the creators, there are positive, derivative and negative. The positives try to advance art, science and and knowledge by providing a point of view or product or device or service that hasn’t existed previously, whilst maybe or maybe not benefitting personally from the provision of said novelty. The line between positive and derivative is a blurry one, and perhaps doesn’t cleanly exist – in my mind, it’s down to whether the creator tries to add some element of originality or not; there’s no such thing as 100% uniqueness or 100% invention from nothing. We cannot create without some base of precedent or inspiration, no matter how remote or seemingly unrelated. But the more remote the connections that are made in the creation of something, the more the creator contributes by joining the dots, making the logical conclusions and helping the rest of us see what we might have missed.

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Photoessay: Motion in Tokyo/ The Idea of Man II

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I view The Idea of Man project as mostly complete; the story is tight and stylistically consistent. But I’ve been thinking a lot about its sequel in the time since the exhibition; to begin with – is there one at all? Where does one go from the story of the individual finding their place in the world? The answer came to me after some long exposure urban landscape: it’s in community, in groups, in the flow and interaction of individuals. And that idea will be at the core of The Idea of Man II.

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Photoessay: Paradise Lost, part III

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Today’s images are I think a little darker and sadder than the previous two (part I, part II) – but not quite over the edge into full-blown depression. I see it as being analogous to one of those portraits where we want to enhance the lines on the subject’s face. I can see the final presentation of this series going in waves, with grouping and pacing a mirror image to the way we have different moods depending on the day – though I feel the impact of this particular set is lost in color, and mixing the two is somewhat odd unless the presentation medium is conducive (e.g. separate gallery areas, or sections in a book – but not as a continuous scroll or all at once. The ‘break’ is required to prevent a jarring visual discontinuity. What do you think? MT

This series was shot mostly with a Hasselblad 501CM, CFV-50C digital back, 4/50 C T* and 4/150 CF T* lenses. Postprocessing follows the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Photoessay: Paradise Lost, part II

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I’ve been continuing to work on the Paradise Lost project for some time now; at some point I will have to curate a consistent body of work to a theme and declare the thing ‘finished’, but in the meantime I’m still experimenting with the presentation. As mentioned previously, I’m treating this project as an ‘open book’ so you can see what goes into the creation of something like this. My current dilemma is a question of mood: is it a happy retirement, or a sad one, or a melancholic one? Or perhaps somewhere in between the three?

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Photoessay-project WIP: Anatomy of the quotidian

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Today’s photoessay is something a little different – a work in progress, if you will. An idea occurred to me several months ago: we see the same objects every day, in slightly different light and from slightly different angles. This is what contributes to our overall impressions and memories of the object: it isn’t a single encounter but a series of experiences. I wanted to figure out the best way of translating this visually. There was no question it would have to be a composite of some sort; however, it would also have to be done in a way that would leave the identity of the object clear, but simultaneously indistinct. I played around a bit further with that idea and the concepts of definition and then anatomy arose; taking that one step further, I thought it might be interesting to present these as virtual x rays. It’s a very different approach to my normal photography since I almost never work with composites, and even less with this degree of postprocessing (which I’m happy to cover in a future episode of Weekly PS Workflow if anybody’s interested). I’d be curious to hear your thoughts…MT

This series was with a Leica Q, heavily composited and the final leg done with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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Creative development for working pros

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The Crawick Multiverse, Scotland. Part of one of my most satisfying commissions from 2015

Here’s a serious consideration for all working professional photographers: how do you ensure your work stays fresh? We face several challenges. Firstly, unlike those in conventional employment, there is no obvious career development path; no HR department or performance review officer to ensure you attend the right courses to (supposedly) give you the right skill set for the next position up the ladder. Secondly, our clients almost always hire us on the basis of our portfolios: this is work we’ve already done, i.e. historical. It would be nice to be hired on the basis of imagining what we could do, but for obvious reasons, this is unfeasible. At very best, we are hired based on what we might do for a client in a given situation which might be outside our current scope of experience, but still based on an extrapolation of what have previously done.

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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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Reminder: Opening party for ‘Un/natural’, tomorrow (5/12) at 4pm

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Crucible

Hope those of you who are in Hong Kong are free tomorrow afternoon – a gentle reminder that my exhibition ‘Un/natural’ with Stephen King opens tomorrow at Alisan Fine Arts. The reception is at the gallery from 4-6pm; hope to meet you there! MT

The full press release for the exhibition can be found here.

‘Un/natural’ runs from 5 December 2015 to 9 January 2016 at Alisan Fine Arts, 2305 Hing Wai Centre, 7 Tin Wan Praya Rd, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (+852 2526 1091). Sebastian Turner and
Daphne King Yao
are representing me for this series of images, and all are limited to an edition of eight pieces each. The opening reception is from 4-6pm on Saturday 5 December; I’ll be there and all are welcome – please drop in and say hi if you’re in town.

Synthesis: technology as an enabler for art

_8A12416 copy1957, from the Havana series. VR on the 70-200/4VR required for slow shutter to motion blur car handheld; D800E to maintain extended tonal range and relatively small aperture for DOF

Much like genius and madness, the line between chasing the horizon for the sake of enabling art and chasing the horizon out of pure gearlust is a thin and often tenuous one. We don’t want to photograph with cameras that frustrate, impede or not inspire us. We certainly won’t feel like just that ‘one last shot’ or that ‘what if?’ experiment. But it is also true that composition is completely independent of hardware, too. Where do we draw the line? [Read more…]