Wednesday, 11 April 2012

History and Inspiration Part 1

Hi there!

Firstly, I apologise for the huge gap in time since my last post, without going into got in the way!

Now that's out of the way, I'll carry on with what I promised ages ago, that my next post will be about the history of photography but i'm going to split it into 2 parts as I feel its too much for one post and probably easier to digest in this way (for me at least!) - its not the whole history of photography, just a snippet to get you thinking about it..........

I'll mention some sources via links so that you can get to them if you want to read up more in-depth information and if you want to continue the journey through your own research.  The first of these links is and you will see why i've chosen this, its a good place to start.  If we jump straight to 1816 we meet Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a French gentleman who was obviously excited by the newly discovered medium of lithography which was in use c1813 across France.  He used this medium to experiment further using the camera obscura (mentioned previously on the timeline) but it took years of experiments to get the image as we know it today.  He set the camera obscura with a polished pewter plate inside, which had a layer of bitumen coated onto it.  The set up was in front of a window and would be left for long hours with the lens cap removed to let the light in, once he felt it was time, he removed the plate and washed it with a white petroleum mixture which dissolved the bitumen that had not been hardened by the light.  What was left behind was a permanent imprinted image of the roof tops of buildings in the courtyard "View from the Window at Le Gras" (1826) which in my mind is a true wonder in itself!  Not until 1952 were attempts made to reproduce this image, by Kodak no less.  

So why have I mentioned this and what is the importance of the history of photography?  Well, as an artist I want to know where my creative medium comes from, its great having inspiration and imagination but when all else fails and I am struggling to feel inspired, I try to go back to basics, not on technicality but on the pure genius of people such as Niépce.  Just reading about how he was inspired can be enough to get the creative juices flowing!  The timeline is a great place to start as it can lead you in all sorts of directions, for instance here for more information on Niépce.  

I'm no expert on the history of photography, and that's why I want to share it as I learn it, so I'm not saying you MUST know this stuff but it's obvious in an age where digital is the medium of choice, that most of us do want to know where it all started.  We are now in an age where we even see digital painting, so in that sense it's no different from a digital painter wanting to know more about Cezanne or Picasso or even being an established painter using....well, paint!  So we all want to be taking better photographs, we are all perfectionists and our own worst critics but remember the hurdles that were strode over by others for us to be able to take a shot, look at it instantly and discard or save it as the moment takes us.  Just take a second to stop, step back and appreciate what you have created and think of that View from a Window at Le Gras and the 8 or so hours it took to create.....and the years beyond that it took before it was reproduced.  I respect the history of my chosen art form because without it, I simply couldn't persue what I love and make my own history :) 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Up until now....

Hi there! 

I've had so many thoughts and ideas whirling around in my head this last week.  My new found addiction to Twitter takes a lot of getting used to but I'm gradually learning the concept and all the etiquette required for interaction between Tweeps!  I am purposefully following mainly other photographers but also anything to do with photography and that way I'm hoping to gain as much knowledge as possible from them.  I am new to this lark as and I'll probably say that a few times before I've convince myself otherwise.  The label of "Photographer" gives me a sense of responsibility to the creative obligation but I don't really look at it like that, I mean what gives me the right to call myself a photographer anyway?  Well, for one thing I take photographs and although I may not have all the technical stuff down, I do (and always have had) an artistic eye, and mind.  Someone passed a good piece of advice on to me a few days ago and that was "First of all you have to learn to see, then all the technical aspects will follow soon after".  It's stuck in my head ever since I heard it.  

I go back to my first memories of photography and its impact on my life.  My Grandad was an enthusiastic Photographer, Artist and Structural Engineer.  I suppose photography and drawing / painting were his hobbies, but I saw such beauty in his work, I could watch him paint in his study or sit and flick through the photo albums.  On holidays, he would get us to look into the distance and point as though we were spotting something of great interest, a forced candid shot of his family discovering some amazing view!  He did spark my very first signs of interest in photography (and art for that matter) and I would always make a beeline for the photo albums when we went to visit, even more so if they (Nan and Grandad) had been holidaying somewhere exotic or cultural.  I reveled in the fact that I could be swept to that land just by looking at the images my Grandad had recorded (for me, I told myself!)  When I discovered  that there were other photographers out there I wanted to learn more about them, their work and from that my love for artistic resolve in everything began to unfold.......and it still is! 

So I'm allowed to call myself a photographer, not only because I take photographs but because I like to produce an image, an image where I am trying to convey my vision of a subject not only through the lens but from within me.  Yes I'm still learning, but I truly believe that all photographers are always learning, as they try to perfect techniques, try new ones or push boundaries and gain knowledge.  Ok, so I am at an early stage in all of this but then again, I don't expect to ever know everything....that way I know I will always be working towards perfecting my style and I will enjoy sharing any gems I discover along the way.  In that vein, I can share a little editing that I've completed in GIMP.  I wanted to express a dreamlike quality here which I have been influenced by Michael Orton - see - and I have attempted this using layers.  The first layer is the image which has been set with the Gaussian Blur setting and blown quite high, I then added the Soft Glow option which further blows out the highlights giving the whole image a soft and fuzzy feel.  I then opened a duplicate image in layers and set the contrast a little higher just to pick up some harder light in the details.  By bringing the opacity down by about 50% I could start to see the blurred version of the image showing through, giving it almost the dreamlike quality I was after....I then merged the layers and could have added more if I wanted to.  I am getting the idea of an image that I want to see and by playing around with these layers, hopefully I will get the image I am seeing in my head, and learn some more about layers and their attached functions whilst doing so!  

Soft Glow Gaussian - Orton
I'm always happy to answer questions about my images or anything really, so please go ahead and ask me! 

Some connections I've made so far include Twitter connections @davidmlansdell @richcovephoto @Mike_Meggiato @MichaelB961 @annemckinnell @RCNaturephotos @UpClosePhotos and @VivecaKohPhotog I will mention more in future blogs and elaborate on my influences and brilliant new finds!  Have a good weekend and I'll share some more rambling soon!  Sara x

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

How often should I post?

Ok, so I got started last week and since then I have been tweeting away on Twitter @sarajealphotos (just in case I hadn't mentioned that!) and gaining more followers which I hope will eventually mean more exposure as a photographer.  I also hope that it means I will have a better all round view of the photography world around me, because at the moment I am pretty green to all that goes on out there!  I keep looking for articles of interest to tweet and am trying to learn from others by looking at their websites and blogs, but I seem to have spent so much time doing this in the last few days that I haven't actually posted anything to my blog!  So how often should I post to my blog?  Every day I have thought about this and I've felt a sense of guilt for not posting a daily about giving myself a headache!  After all, this is meant to be fun and about me sharing some of my photography and all the stuff that I learn along the way.  There are so many distractions when it comes to looking for articles or work of interest, reading tweets and looking at websites, reading tutorials and commenting on posts that I'm in danger of forgetting to actually go out and take photos.  That said, I do think that this new journey I'm embarking on will benefit the way I look at photography....its fine that I am in love with photography and fantastic that I am making connections with other like minded people but I do want it to actually go somewhere at some point in my life.  What photographer doesn't want their images to be admired and be worth selling?  But where do you even start?  Erm...I'd buy a camera first and then the possibilities are endless..... 

So, to try and stay focused I am going to limit myself to 2 blogs a week, there's no point in blogging just for the sake of it but I'd like to think that I do have something to say a couple of times a week.  As I'm new to Twitter and found some pretty interesting people I'll probably be mentioning a few that I think are worth a look or that have caught my attention.  One of the best websites I subscribe to that give great articles and insights into the photography world is @LightStalking and I have gained a few fantastic contacts through their Twitter and website, its definitely good for inspiration and they have a section of cool photos which are usually posted from Flickr.  I visit often as they also pick the best of the web for great tutorial websites and such.  I'd say its a pretty cool place to start!

I'm off to end my evening with a tweet to my blog, I'm so techno its unreal! Bye for now..... :) 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The 2am post

So, here it is, my first ever Blog!  A little over 9 hours ago, I decided that I would start writing a blog, even though I haven't researched blogging too thoroughly yet, or read lots of other peoples blogs , I concluded that now is the time.  So I had to tell myself to stop procrastinating about it all and just go for it!  As it says in the "About Me" section, I am a self taught photographer and I have been interested in photography since I was about 12.  Only recently did I acquire a decent enough DSLR to be able to really explore the possibilities and now I am most definitely hooked.  When I was 25 my husband bought me a Minolta SLR, but at the time I didn't have the resources to fund my new passion..., film processing was too expensive and the result is a plastic bag filled with around 40 undeveloped films!  Yes they are years old now, but I do hope that in the near future I will get around to processing them, even if it is only to cringe at the naivety shown by them!  Last year I took the step to purchase the Sony A390 along with an additional Tamron 70-300mm lens.  I'm not really that bothered that its a fairly cheap alternative to the Nikons and Canons, I am more from the school of thought that if the artist is good, the tools are only secondary to the resulting creation, its all about producing an image that I am pleased with and that I think others would agree.  

So, why the 2am post then?!  Well, its taken me 9 hours to go through the basic set up of the blog and in between   catching up on my Twitter page (@sarajealphotos) and Facebook page (Sara Jeal Photos), I think I have cracked it!?  Perhaps once I post this I will take another look at my layout etc but for now, I just want to get on an write!  I'll be back soon.....zzzzzzzz 

Sara Jeal Photos' photostream

Archway edited using curvesGrovely TrackOrange popB&W Snow & Colour PotsLens FlareEvening Starscape
Salisbury Cathedral with StarburstLandscape with StarburstMoonFemale MerlinFemale MerlinGolden bud
CrunchAnticipationMy placeBoundNew homeSpun
Man on the horizonBuzzyCudNew cropRustedThorn on my side