Tag Archives: Gallery show

Ethereal Photographic Art Show (4) – Interview with Heather Simonds

In this blog, I am glad to introduce my friend and photography rival, Heather Simonds. However, she denies to be my rival. She said she was not that keen to get up 5 o’clock in morning or shooting in -20C outside. But she misunderstands me. I am so weak in morning so most of my landscapes are sunsets. Then going to local micro brewery; this is my routine. Let’s start the interview with Heather.

Hiro: So let me start from how you stated photography to path to the current position.

Heather: First of all, I have to tell you how thrilled I am to be interviewed by you, Hiro. We have many photography interests, including, learning where photography came from, historically, while we explore our own vision.

My path …Growing up on a rural New Brunswick farm, nature, like wildlife and botany (I have a Master Gardener designation but you might not guess that by the looks of my potato patch) has always been a part of me. In 2002, I came “out of the closet” as a bird watcher after a 9 week family trip to the Andean countries. Given that desire to muck around in nature photography, and living in an area where I can jump in a truck and make a circuit any day NW of Calgary and have an encounter with any of moose, foxes, deer, owls, etc, well, the nature stuff has just been begging for capture. In my family life, as a kid and raising four, I was the “designated photographer” processing leaky black and whites on my plastic camera (I wonder where that thing is?) and scrambling around on the floor to catch dogs and kids at their level. Other than trying to capture the family moment, I don’t think I was doing much more than documentation. In 2004, after practicing law for over 20 years, I shut that door. Shortly thereafter, I
sought repair of a three-year old P and S I had “paid a lot for” at The Camera
Store and walked out of the store with something I hadn’t planned on (a digital
SLR) – have you ever been there? The rest has been an exploration from macro to zoom and everything in between. The Rule of Thirds was waiting to be discovered. I thought filters came in dry cleaners and cars.

Hiro: You are one of the regular winner for any categories of competitions at camera club. Categories of the Foothills camera club competition varies from conventional nature, portraits, botany, architecture to digitally manipulated creative images. How do you categorize yourself as a photographer? Or do you think photographers should specialize themselves for any reasons? Do you usually set a concept for each image?

Heather: Let me step back…I have always been interested in art … Always…. and I believe that is key, the exploration of sensory stimulation, visual or whatever, that keeps you aware, searching, passionate and stimulated. I have been stumbling into galleries, museums, art shows in small towns, acquiring stuff while I was still paying off student loans, gazing at the masters (Kertesz in Paris last fall and Karsh at the Glenbow) and asking why are “these” images timeless?

Hiro: Yes, now remember. I mentioned about Andre Kertez in my presentation at the club. I thought none or not so many knew about the photographer. But you quickly commented about Kertesz by email. I was surprised but also I was convinced again.

Heather: Oh! yes, and squeezing the library for free art and photography resources, pouring over magazines and books to get a broad education on the fly and cheap. One recent influence has been the Palm Springs Photo Festival (search it, you will be surprised at the wealth of talent), which I have attended for several years. The focus is more fashion/ commercial, feeding off LA, but the exposure, so to speak, is second to none. Push into the shadowy corners and learn or move yourself to things out of your comfort zone. As far as photography goes, I guess I am working on the creative process all of the time. Maybe that’s why I have not narrowed as much as others, not to say there is anything wrong with either approach as I think some people find a specific focus (Oliver du Tre who uses one camera and one lens) while others carry a range of bodies and lens and filters. The paths are many, none is true. It really is an outward expression of yourself.

Hiro: I know you try variety of photographic techniques or effects for your images. Nowadays, new techniques or effects are introduced in every social network system and everybody can try them easily on computers. But I sometimes find they remain at the experiment level. On the other hand, when I see your image, their impact comes from whole mood of the image regardless of what effects you used. Also I remember, you mentioned that your raven image was influenced by one of Darryl Benson’s image. I could clearly see the influence
of Darryl Benson in the images, but it still has your taste. How do you approach to new photographic techniques or effects?

Heather: Personally I don’t think the number of years of staring down a lens barrel adds much credibility to photography, except for pros maybe. The images speak for themselves. What’s more, photographers can be competitive, not wanting to share where they shoot, what technique they use, some copy in the footsteps of a winning shot, lacking confidence to explore their own vision. Guy Tal has been outspoken on this topic- it’s just not art.

Hiro: I remember the article by Guy Tal. I agreed with him but it created controversy. Some people do not know the fact they are taking only easy paths. Actually, being influenced requires long process and patients.

Heather: Perplexing, why someone would spend time and money to go to SW US or the Rockies to jostle for position and copy the same images as others.

HiroHa, Ha. because you have developed your own eyes. Photo tours can be beneficial for some types of artists until certain level. But I do understand your point.

Heather: I am more interested in exploring a new site or idea to its fullest, while away time engrossed in the potential of a new technique or discover a location or better still, a rusty old 40’s car. It’s a big world out there. Become engrossed in a scene or concept, work the angles, maybe confine to one lens and camera, fine tune the adjustments, stack filters, refine the vision, lose track of time, then walk
away confident you gave it your best.

Hiro: Sounds like you try everything you can do at a scene on your camera. I know when you are shooting, you look so focused and I am afraid talking to you.

Heather: I am almost always alone and it is special if there is a nature encounter, an unusual bird (quail flew past me the other day as I was shooting LE on the
beach at sunset) or a snake or coyote or something to pass the time while you
are working the shot. Ansel Adams went to the same spots over and over and
over, you know, returning year after year his entire lifetime. People think he
made those great images over a few visits, or happened upon them, but he spent
a lifetime perfecting every one. One or two a year was satisfaction to a
master. I also try not to put off a shoot, having been disappointed when
something old and rusty got hauled away or torn down, or settle into “lazy
shooter syndrome” being satisfied with a grab from a car window. Turn the
vehicle around, park safe, get the tripod out and “just do it”. Of course, this
doesn’t work for wildlife, it’s entirely “be ready or go home”. There is
nothing more rewarding to me than capturing the wild in the eyes, raptor,
coyote or even moose.

Hiro: So what is your usual creative process from picking up a camera to presenting your images in public?

Heather: Inspiration comes from life, pure and simple. I am always looking, and I am grateful that the practice requires close examination of things others walk by without a sideways glance.  Better to go through life examining it closely than missing the point. Landscapes, one of your specialties –well, I don’t like to get up early in the AM (although it is almost always rewarding when I have a good fox encounter) and I am not much for -20 to capture a nice ethereal mountain shot with a leading line of deer footsteps.


Heather: I am happy with long exposures, creamy, melting, surreal, wispy, and, the bonus is, if you block out enough light some great ones can be captured mid day. A few years ago I read a Popular Photography article by Darwin Wiggett about stacking filters and I basically spent the summer doing slow exposures, waiting for images to come up on the screen (kind of like film- the image is more mystery than a straight shot), taking a lot of stuff that was not that great (like thistles waving in the breeze for 60 sec) but I did realize that each image is unique and it beats trying to copy other winners.

Hiro: As mentioned before about mood, I often hear people describe
your image as “warm”, “gentle”, “soft”. I agree with them. Regardless of subject matter, types of photography, or photographic techniques you used, your images have certain character, which can be described as warmth, softness, or delicateness. Where do you think these feeling of your images come from? Is it a result of some influences by other photographers or artists?

Heather: Pay attention to tones- oh, yes, I am a stickler for keeping a nice range from shadows to light. Mood is critical, impact is key.

Hiro: Your article was published in Outdoor photography Canada issue #16 –
Winter 2011
. Moreover,  now, you are an official park photographer of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Could you explain how you got the position and what are actually your activities /contributions to the park as a photographer?

Heather: The writing stuff comes from many years of drafting documents as a lawyer, picking away at language. Writing fits and I have ideas jumping around in my head most of the time, a notebook handy when something needs to be recorded. The fox article (Outdoor Photographer – Foxy Photography) was on my doorstep screaming to be shared, and it was a no brainer, with foxes endearing us to our canine friends. As Park Photographer at recently opened Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, I have been writing articles park related for the newsletter as well as shooting several events including the August opening (politicians love to pose but they aren’t patient), and, as a bonus, I am now putting on regular workshops, trying to keep the topics varied and interesting. You never know what doors are slightly ajar, waiting to be opened.

Hiro: What is your goal as a photographer? So you set a load map?

My Goals- Recently, you lured me into the realm of studio lighting when you showed me your setup so that is my next experimentation. I had a couple of model shoot srecently that went so well I am anxious to line some more up. Mostly concept shots at this point. More writing (running a blog started in the summer is always there to practice on. Now that the nest is empty (and the barn!) more travel is looming. This fall I pretty much toured every back road in northern Vermont and New Hampshire (the Great North Woods), touched the
Laurentians and just finished a late fall west coast visit where the leaves were still on the trees. It’s hard to believe that fall lasts so long in other parts of Canada. Stay tuned this winter, for Vietnam and over a  month in India, a cornucopia of street material, no doubt.

Hiro: Thank you for taking your time today.

Heather: Thanks again, Hiro.

Here are Heather web-sites

Blog http://heathersimondsphotography.com 

“The Pier” – Heather Simonds

“Weather Watch” – Heather Simonds

Photographer 11 - Entry 05 Matte Paper 8x10 -

“The Raven” – Heather Simonds

Ethereal Photographic Art show (3) – Keith Walker

Keith Walker is a professional photographer specializing aerial photography, obviously residing in Calgary, Alberta. He is also a great talker. I never be bored when he started talking about his unique experiences in helicopters and his digital Hasselbrad. One day, he showed to me his series of photographic books, and I was so impressed by his bird-eye images. I did not know, until I saw his book, huge scale but interesting patterns are formed not only in nature but also in manmade structures. I often cannot tell what is the pattern in a picture. It is a magic by God’s hand. Figuratively speaking, if macro photography were quantum mechanics, aerial photography would be cosmology discovered by Einstein.

But surprise is not only his aerial photography but also he crafts wonderful photo arts or photo paintings. Nowadays, it is not difficult to try photo-arts digitally. We can see many photo-arts in Flickr or anywhere. However, I am hardly impressed by these images. Actually, I tried the effects, but I could not get what I expected. I always ask what is an photographer’s intention, to be honest they look gimmicky to me. However, after I saw Keith’s photographic book and his cooperative work with the famous Marine photographer, Tim Wright, my eyes opened. He uses a more sophisticated photo editing software than Photoshop, and reproduces delicate touch of brush or pen. They were totally new to me. Please check out this website, photoaction.com/index-4.html#

Let me repeat, he is a full time photographer…but he said to me one time he still took a camera and tried some different areas of photography as a hobby in his spare time. He continued he did not like an typical photographer’s attitude to complain when they could not get the best conditions they expected. Please check out his Personal Photography & Artwork site and his aerial photography site as well.

Who is going to be the next photographer? Just stay tuned.

“Passion for Dance – Havana Cuba” – Keith Walker

“Big Old Dinosaur I – Havana Cuba” – Keith Walker

Ethereal Photographic Art show (2) – Our photographers

I think it is about time to introduce some of the photographers exhibiting their photographs at the Ethereal Photographic show.

Walker McBryde: He joined this show from Canmore, Alberta. He is showing quite strong image of the waterfall in a vertical panorama format. What catches my eyes is its bronze color tinged finish. I am really curious how it was done. Was it done digitally or on the process of printing?

“Waterfall” – Walker McBryde

Jean Parboosingh: She is also from Canmore, Alberta. I checked her Flickr site and I found her remarkable travel photographs. Wow, how many places she has visited. But I am truly impressed by her everyday-life photographs, especially images of the flowers and the plants. They are not simple snap shots; some artistic tweaks are applied. Check out subtle blending of colors  in her flower images. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jean_parboosingh/page3/

“Silver Birch Tree Trunks” – Jean Parboosingh

Annett Wichmann: I know Annett from a local camera club and we have many chances to appreciate her photos since she is one the regular winners of the club competitions. I am always impressed by not only her creativity but also photographic techniques and her knowledge to achieve own artstic view into the frames. But it may not be surprising since she runs art classes at her store, Kensington Art Supply. http://kensingtonartsupply.com/workshops.htm

“Floral Dream” – Annette Wichmann

Dana Naldrett: His images are, according to his explanation, “new series of photographs with an environmental theme”. He printed his images directly on  Aluminum board, which I wrote in my previous blog post.

“Birth of the Earth” – Dana Naldrett

Craig Taylor: I know Craig from the camera club as well. He is extremely eager to try new things; As far as I know, he has tried  studio lighting, light painting, star trails, night photography, and even film.  His extensive knowledge of photo techniques and software always surprises me. Although his concepts varies from one image to another, he still achieves high quality images. http://craigrtaylor.blogspot.com

“Ascension to Joy” – Craig Taylor

Candace Belliveau: I have known Candace since I started shooting digital, and she is one of close photography friends. Infrared photography has been part of my photographic expression. However, Candy started IR photography even before me. She intensively shoots IR photography and create fabulous images.  So I could say IR has been one of her styles. Establishing own style is really important as an artist, isn’t it? Although I turn my IR image to pure B&W, she keeps original red-orange color which just came out from her IR modified camera. This gives truly ethereal feel. I am expecting her to open own website.

“Totem” – Candace Belliveau

Lisa Mercer: Oh, Lisa! She did great job again for this show. I can write about her extensively but I put just an introduction this time since I wrote about Lisa in my previous blog post. Her unique vision and tone never betray viewers. In addition to the last blog post, she has opened her website and started photography business. Congratulation to Lisa’s new voyage. Please check out her web site. http://www.prairiemoon.ca/

“Swing” – Lisa Mercer

More artists will be coming next blog posts. Stay tuned.

Ethereal Photographic Art show (1) – Free your mind

I have not posted blog for long time….because I have been so busy organizing a group show in October at a local gallery inCalgary.

I have been questioning meanings of photo competitions recently. I know categories have to set and there must be RULES.  On the other hand I started thinking why I can’t place my hands in my landscape photographs, like one of
images I found in Darryl Benson’s photo book. Why do images have to be always super sharp? Why does it have be “WOW” to get a ribbon?

When I was thinking about the theme of this show, I did not want one which was going to limit types of photography. But finding meaningful as well as catchy words was really difficult process. One day, I found a good word in Sam’s Rant (Samantha Chrysanthou’s blog). It is “Ethereal”.

Through this word, I wanted all photographers, including myself to set mind free and expect everybody to craft images to achieve her/his imaginations. It could be done on a camera at the location, or can be done on a computer, or with development chemicals, like one of my images. As a result, wide variety of artistic photos from 15 photographers are exhibited at the Resolution Local Art Gallery in Calgary, Alberta.  Please check out our Web-gallery. I believe they cannot be described as the simple word, “WOW”.

More info about the show is here. I am planning to write about all photographers in the future as many I can. Stay tuned.

Gallery show at Mount Royal University – Size matters, but be gentle (man)

One fantastic thing at the Stampede western photo gallery is I met so many amazing photographers and people. Also I was kindly offered another exhibition at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. I had to add 2 more images for the exhibition so I checked my website and I found the photo below was highly viewed. However, I am not 100% satisfied by the result of the image.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Woodman 4×5, Fujinon 90mm, Velvia 100F, Click the photo for larger version.

What is wrong with this photo? Actually I wanted to have more space between rocks and the summit of the mountain reflecting on the lake. I had known the problem but this was only I could achieve with my TRIPOD. There are reasons why professional photographers carry a giant tripod. My tripod extends as tall as my height, but in this case, I was standing on the rocks and some part of tripod legs were submerged in the water. So the camera position was much lower than I expected. And what was worse,  I was shooting with my 4×5 view camera so I could not extend a center pole since it may have caused camera shake blur. For a lot of times in nature photography, a tripod which is as tall as your height is not high enough. Furthermore, after people become more serious on photography,
they tend to upgrade to heavy cameras and lenses. Then an extended center pole will result in blur images. Now selection of tripod is getting narrow. So which model I am looking for ….after some research…Gitzo systematic series is only option for my purpose due to their lightness and durability. (I would not go with ones made in Taiwan.) I hope I can sell some of my photos and I can scratch off one item in my “to purchase” list.

One more anecdote about this photo. The location in the photo is a kind of Mecca for photographers in Jasper, Alberta. I woke up early morning not to miss sunrise. When I arrived at the location, a lady had already started photographing. She set up a flagship model of camera on a huge tripod. I was mad since I had to give up the location. I left her with a parting shots, “you must
be professional”. After I took pictures around the area I came back to the location. The lady was still there with her husband, shooting photos. I tried talking to her and actually, they were really nice people. They were professional photographers from near Edmonton, and she told me how hard nowadays being full time photographers in photographic industry. When they were leaving they gave me their business card. It says “Outdoor photography Canada Contributing Editor”. I know this magazine! I subscribe to the magazine!! They were Lealie & Mark Degner. I felt embarrassed by my attitude before. I, being as a nature photographer, cannot control conditions of the locations,….so just be happy! Who knows how amazing people they are. Next day, I woke up really early again, and I tried the same location again. While I was waiting for sunrise, a car arrived at the location and a guy took off from the car. It was still dark outside, but I heard voice, said “shxt!”

Stampede Wstern Gallery Show(3) – Photo finish “Direct Metal Print”

When having conversations with photographers, we tend to talk about equipments or photo editing software. But when I have chances to talk to professional or experienced photographers, I am often impressed by their care for photo finishing. Prints by major chain stores are fine for casual occasions. However, imagine if someone bought my photo and hang on a wall at their home, I would like to provide properly completed works. More importantly,  I believe photo finishing is still a part of artistic process. It is like chefs make delicious food but also serve on carefully selected plates and bowls.

For previous gallery shows, I printed on conventional Barayta or fiber based paper by my Epson photo R2400 printer. I really like their rich black and NATURALLY saturated color. But I wanted to try something else this time
for Stampede – Western photo gallery . After some researches, I found Quintaro
in Calgary, Alberta does “Direct Metal Print”. It is not metallic paper; an image is printed directly on an Aluminum metallic board. Quintaro has 3 types of finishes: white coated, white coated glossy and non-coated (brushed). I tried non-coated and brushed finish for my Infrared images.

Floating Root

Please note, I copied print images by taking picture of them by my digital camera so the quality is compromised. But you can see its uniqueness. Because of its shiny surface, intensity of high light changes depends on directions of illuminating light . This also changes impressions of image. You may understand if I would say…that it is like sun is moving behind the clouds. It is cool.

Enlarged image. Now hairlines of brushed surface are visible.

Possible downside of this photo finish you are thinking of now may be that the results of prints can not be predicated on Photoshop. However, it is not a problem since Quintaro provides free proof prints for a couple of times. Actually, I did not need 2nd proof prints for most of my entries.  Thank you very much, staff of Quintaro Imaging, for your wonderful services and professional suggestions.

Major advantage of the metal print is that I can print my images as large as possible since mats and a frame are not necessary. For the same reason, cost of the metal print is comparable with a framed photo. Now, I am just hoping viewers will like the displays.

One more info I have to mention, Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett‘s photos are exhibited at Baker Creak Chalets – Restaurant in Banff national park, Alberta. To be honest, I heard about direct metal prints first time in their lecture. (I admit I am a follower of them. I always find something new to learn in their blogs). Some of their display are metal prints as well, but their prints are white coated ones. So the photos have very different look from the non-coated brushed surface. Check them out if you have chance to visist Canadian Rockies.

Lastly,…I think it is okay to proud of myself… this image is the winning image in Stampede – Western Photo Competition in the nature category.  Next week of the same day, Calgary Stampede 2011 will have been opened. I am throbbing with excitement.

RELATED POST: Infrared Photography

Stampede Wstern Gallery Show (2) – Stay on trails

This photo was taken in Lake O’Hara, British Columbiain in early September in 2010. I was walking on a trail and I found a beautiful green moss shinning in the morning sun light in a creek. However, I was with some friends heading to a location for the day. So I decided to come back in the evening. Unfortunately, the day turned to cloudy and we had a shower at the evening. But when I came back to the location I found in the morning, the sky was clearing up. I had still time before sunset.

But here was a problem. The creek was running about 3m below the trail. If I had taken Ninja action, I would’ve been able to go down to the creek. Well…now, I’ve got to tell myself…”No, I can not do this. It is not acceptable”. “Staying on trails”, that was clearly stated by a park ranger. It takes long time to recover once natural habitants are damaged. Photographers tend to bend the rule to get unique shots. But it may result in struggling own neck in long run.

Anyway, I kept walking and I came to cross the creek. Then there was a pass along by the creek. Lucky! I can reach to the green moss without stepping over natural vegetation.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Ultra wide Heliar 12mm/f5.6, my fun lens. Lee 0.9 ND filter. This is HDR image. I used PS to develop the HDR image but the outcome was not satisfactory. Then I tried Photometix, and I am quite happy with the result.

Stampede Wstern Gallery show – need a little help from my friends

Since I have to stay in town for this long weekend in Canada, I am (re)- post processing images for the exhibition at the Western Photo Gallery at the Stampede. These images were taken in Lake O’Hara area last year at the same time, and each image is stitched with 5 images by Photoshop CS5.  The first one shows reflection of mountain in the pond. The 2nd one does not show such a static reflection due to wind and wavy surface of the water. But reflection of trees has a more painterly charactor and impressionism kind of feeling. Interestingly, I did not notice this, until comparing the two images side by side, that the top image is more contrasty and more saturated. The top image, itself has a kind of strong character so it may lead me to add more contrast and saturation unconsciously. On the other hand, the bottom image a little more subtle so it may have made me process the image toward more soft side. What does this tell ya? Although we use many techniques to control conditions of light at a scene, the images opened on a computer monitor first time is kind dull. So we take a lot of time to make photos more attractive. To me, it is not different from wet dark room. My point is this process is strongly affected by mood of image as well as one of a photographer at the location and on a computer. It can be consciously or unconsciously. Don’t you think this is really artistic process?

Actually, I am supposed to submit the 2nd image since it is the one accepted by the gallery. I do not know which image I like, more precisely to say I do not know which one appeal to viewers. If you were me, which would you pick? Any comments are appreciated.


Impact of Photography, and Tone – Lisa Mercer