Tag Archives: Style making

Presentiaon by Olivier Du Tre about Black & White, and my case

I am helping organizing speakers for a small camera club in Calgary. I invited multiple award wining photographer, Olivier Du Tre as a speaker for the club meeting in May. Oli is landscape/fine art photographer, residing in Cochrane, Alberta. He shoots only black and white, and furthermore, he totally switched to film recently. He mentions “zone” while others are referring Nike Silver Efex. He will cover many aspects of B&W photography in the presentation. Please check his website. Also the info about his presentation is here.

So about my story how I started B&W and why I like B&W. When I became interested in photography about 20 years ago, I was suggested to try color slide film because it was considered to be more advanced compared to negative print film. One day, I took BEAUTIFUL sun rise shot on my trip. I thought it was glorious shot and showed to everybody at work. But one person said the photo was not remarkable. His reasoning was “Color dominates the image too much. Besides color, nothing to see”. And he recommended B&W film. I was pissed off, but anyway, I tried B&W. My first roll…I quite like images. But 2nd and 3rd rolls…I didn’t get good images. Usually, I got quite interesting or so disappointing images. Not so much between. Then eventually, I realized good composition made difference in photography. Color comes next to composition.

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Then I started printing by myself. I read many books about printing in darkroom. I could obtain prints by following text book. But I could not tell if they were good prints or not. I found a kind of the mentor and I showed my prints. I kept visiting him. I gradually learned “tone” or tonality was really important in prints and each master photographer had signature tone in his/her prints. Photography is picture by light. I realized light comes always first, even before composition.

This is an image from Vermilion Lake in Banff in snowy day. I knew I could not expect gorgeous scenery including well-photographed Mt. Randal since the sky was still so grey. But I tried and I found this composition. All elements were line up vertically. When I grabbed my camera, the sun was a little off from the center so I waited about 20 min for the sun moving to the center.

Actually, now I found I could apply more burning and dodging to this image to enhance the story I saw at the scene. No wonder many B&W photographer stay in a darkroom for months.

Anyway, please check out, Oli’s amazing B&W photography in his website. You will see what I was talking about.

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Keep it simple

As I mentioned in my previous post, my style has been changing. This photo is one of the examples. I think my landscape photos are getting more subtle, soft and naive. Do you guess where this photo was taken? I went to Vermilion lake in Banff, Alberta as part of oopoomoo’s workshop weeks ago. Vermilion lake and Mt. Rundle is iconic location for photographers. But my lens was facing opposite side.

Slowness by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K)) on 500px.com
Slowness by Hiroaki Kobayashi

 

Sunset and boats – Lake O’Hara

One more photo from the Lake O’Hara trip about 2 weeks ago. I have taken so many sunset images from the viewpoint around the shelter area. Also I was leading some photographers. I wanted to show something a little more creative and different. So I took them to a boat dock as I predicted we could play with long exposure. I always think female photographers have more free thinking. Each of them created their own images.

In this trip, I opened my tripod only 3 times…infrared photography, night photography and this shot. Shutter speed is 8 sec.

Sunset and boats - Lake O'Hara by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K) on 500px.com
Sunset and boats – Lake O’Hara by Hiroaki Kobayashi

My first photo workshop guide experience

Last week end, I visited Lake O’Hara, British Columbia. It was workshop by Brian Merry and I was one of leading guides. We started hike around 2 pm and it was beautiful sunny afternoon. The sky was spotless. This condition is perfect for hikers but for photographers….it is boring. I would be taking a nap in my car or searching  good subjects for  better lighting condition coming up later. Although I took my group to some iconic locations, the condition was not for open-dynamic-view type of images. Needless to say,  I have to show them something we can do without a tripod. As an instructor, I did not have time to set up a tripod. I was looking around and I got an idea.

Well…this is not super creative. Many people try the same thing. But this is fun and still some of viewers can tell where the scene is. I think documentary part of photography is also powerful tool to communicate with viewers. Having said that, I felt I had to add some effects to convey my languid feeling in the bright and warm Indian summer afternoon.

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I tried Darton Drake‘s techniques. I hope the result is more special than Instagram. Lastly, thank you, Brian, for giving me the opportunity.

Evening with Large Format Cameras (2)

As I mentioned in my last blog, I would like to showcase Janice’s and my photo from the large format photo outing in May.  Although, for the location, we considered Big Hill Spring Park and Glenbow Ranche Provincial Park, we chose the Cochrane Ranche Historic site, which may be a least attractive location for photographing. The Glenbow Ranche park is usually windy and it may be hard to use large format cameras with bellows even though we could expect more attractive landscapes due to some iconic spots and open sky. The Big Hill Spring Park has many small waterfalls along with a trail. It must be great and maybe easier location for nature photography.  On the other hand,  Cochrane Ranche Historic site is located in the town of Cochrane.  If I wanted to include sky, houses came into a frame. The park does not have iconic spots or “keywords” like waterfalls.

I think Sam chose the difficult location since it is a truly good practice to create images in any situations and stimulate eyes. Furthermore, the cameras we used were 4×5 large format cameras, which requires expensive film and many adjustments before pressing a shutter-release. You can imagine how challenging it is. We have to really slow down and observe situation. I think this type of the practice is a good way to develop own styles, rather than just a being a technically good photographer.

I think of two abilities which photographer should pay attention at a scene (besides finding good subjects). The first one is reading lights. The second one would be knowing perspective of the lenses, which is related to composition. One good thing about large format cameras is we cannot use zoom lenses. Through my experience, prime lenses help us to understand how perspective works in composition. Also we have to compose and adjust bellows with an up-side-down image projected to a screen. This really force me to slow down and compose more carefully.

So first image is Janice’s image, which her very first experience of 4×5.

By the way only brightness has been adjusted and sharpening was applied to all the images since scanned images are usually degraded from originals. Some people may think the sky is overexposed, actually, she requested pushing 1 stop therefore the overall image is lit perfectly. Moreover, it is her own tone and her style. When analyzing photos by master-photographer’s from film age, I am sometimes impressed by their ability to CONTROL exposure. They selectively allow whiteout or blackout. You know they did not have histogram or screen at that time.

 

This is my image. I think I found a good subject and the light was so dramatic. But this image needs more proper cropping.

The last one is mine as well. I wanted to try something with the tree trunks, which seemed to have a lot of potentials. However, the sun quickly disappeared, and I lost the beautiful light. So I resorted to a gimmick which is the shallow depth of field in this case. Special effects are good if a final image is visualized in photographer’s mind. But I think this is just a rescue attempt to use up film for the day. I am afraid this is just interesting photo.

 

 

Film is not dead (3) – Borrowing someone’s eyes

It’s been long time since the last blog. This is the last episode from “Film is not dead” and this time is not quite about film, more toward to a topic about style making . When we had the film development session, Samantha Chrysanthou did not have film to develop so she tried one of my film. I have just picked up the film randomly so I did not know when and where the film was taken.

One morning, while I was JUST photographing the sunrise at lake Louise, Alberta, I saw one guy carrying large tripod and Hasselblad was looking for an open spot. Yes, it was FILM Hassel, one of the most prestigious cameras.  The location was quite busy with photographers. The best time of the morning passed and I started packing my gear. He approached to my spot and IMPATIENTLY waiting for me leaving. Then as soon as I moved my tripod, he set his tripod on the completely same spot and raised it to the same height. I shacked my head. The hundreds of similar images of the location can be found in Google images and more importantly the best moment was long gone. I spoke to myself his Hassey would cry.

So after the film was developed by Sam, I found that the images on the roll were ones I took in Jasper, Alberta last autumn. The trip was hard since I was out of luck of the weather. I visited Pyramid lake in the morning, aiming to shoot the gorgeous sunrise and orange color on the Pyramid mountain but weather quickly turned to gray. I know Photographer’s saying “No bad light”, but also it is true overcastted sky with no cloud pattern is not encouraging. Anyway, I had to change my strategy. Then I was thinking of Sam’s images. Her subtle, soft, calm images with a kind of melancholic feel, rather than gougeous and powerful typical landscapes. That motivated me to try something in the difficult situation. The result is, I think, pretty good. The funny part of this anecdote is Sam herself developed the film accidently.

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Please click for the larger size.

Do you see the huge difference in the creative approach between the photographer at the lake Louise and myself. I believe the process of developing creative eyes and learning music is not so different. At first, being interested in someone’s works, then we try the same things but usually did not work. Start pursuing the artist’s works more seriously,…sometimes thoroughly analyze their works. Try at the field again and see the some sort of the achievement . After this long process, the artist’s style blends into own style, becomes own flesh. In my case of Jasper, I used Sam’s influence more consciously. It is not stealing. I call this approach “Borrowing someone’s eyes”. Accepting influences is also important, I think. Mick Jaggar stated that ‘You can’t always get what you want” was inspired by “Hey Jude”. I guess that is cool.

Please visit oopoomoo.com to find Sam’s appealing photos.

Film is not dead (2)

As I mentioned in the last post, I will showcase the results of the film development session. Craig Taylor developed his two roles of 35mm Ilford. I picked 3 images which I felt interesting from his roles. For some reasons, the last image caught my eyes. This image would not get a ribbon. Judges would leave negative comments from points of composition, a focal point focus, contrast, etc. But to me, all these aspects considered to be failure give a certain edge to this image. It makes me feel unease. It means this image successfully communicated to me. Is it only me to call “Lee Friedlandar’s America by Car” to mind through this image?

Heather Simonds tried her Holga toy camera. At the shooting, we did know how to advance film. Just after the film development session, we discovered, her Holga came with two attachments and could select 6×6 cm or 6×4.5 cm format. So at the shooting, she thought Holga was always 6×6 cm format but actually the 6×4.5 cm attachment was loaded in the camera. Therefore, the sides of the all images taken in the film was overlapped each other. Followings are her images . Do you think if these are just failures or something interesting.  I will leave to you.