Exhibition

Yes, it’s official! I will have my first (and hopefully not last) exhibition next spring. Theme: landscapes. I will certainly include the recent b&w beach series, which I am still expanding. Below another example from that series. I am passionate about this series for 2 reasons: first it reflects memories from childhood when I spend many days at the beach with my grandmother, who lived not far from the coast. Second, it shapes my dreams about space, light, land, sea and sky: about the earth. After all, I am a geologist by training.
I’ll keep you posted on the exhibition preparations: selection, prints, frame choice, size, etc.

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Black & White

I love black and white photography. I grew up with analog b&w so I guess it got firmly entrenched in my brain. The photos I made in the north of the country along the beach and dunes over there were made with b&w in mind during the shoot. Luckily my favorite print shop Profotonet just got a new fancy black and white printer with 7 grey inks promising a beautiful tonal range. I was very happy with the result. The photo fulfilled my intentions. Deep blacks, beautiful greys and whites. Judge for yourself. This photo is part of a series which you can find back on my web site www.arthurreijmer.com/holland

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Background and foreground

One of the tell tale signs of a more experienced photographer is his choice of background. In particular with travel portraits, to get the background right greatly improves a portrait photo. I have done that wrong (trees, poles, what have you coming out of heads, etc) many times before slowly improving. The main reason is that a beginner is so caught up with the portrait itself that he or she completely forgets about the background. Yet it is crucial. Recently I made an impromptu portrait of a lady in the downtown area, where the background is always messy. I noted the dark slabs of granite used to clad the supporting columns of a skyscraper and I used that as background (see photo). The portrait now ‘pops’ .

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There are many pixel-perfect landscape photographs of amazing scenery. The right moment (light) and leading lines. However, often I feel something is missing, but I didn’t know what. The answer is simple: a foreground. Many of these photos are fantastic backgrounds without a foreground. Why? Because it is so hard to get a great landscape AND a compelling foreground. So if you see such a combination, it’s a winner.

Editing

While i was working on my photos of flowering tulip fields and other typical Dutch low lands scenery, I stumbled again about the usage of the verb edit in photography. I am not a native speaker. I have the following phases when I come home with flash card(s) with photos:
        1.        storage: images are uploaden to backup(s) and imported in photo application (e.g. Lightroom); LR DNG files and catalog are also back upped,
        2.        Raw selection: the files are put in a collection and checked for total failures. These are deleted completely, not wasting unnecessary space,
        3.        Rating: I start rating = selecting by giving 1-5 stars. Lately, I abandoned a fine-grained selection and rather give 3 stars, meaning good/maybe and 4 stars meaning very good. I find this selection process difficult, I talk about that in another post.
        4.        The four star pictures are further processed in LR and sometimes PS, during which phase more photos drop out of the race.
        5.        The final images are set in a separate collection (called ‘select’) synced to mobile and distributed or uploaded elsewhere. Typically this is a ‘long list’ of 5-10% and a short list of 1% of the original set.
        
Which of these phases can be called editing and/or post-processing I do not know exactly.
How would you describe these activities?

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Tulips

What can be more Dutch than tulip fields? I feel a pity for the tourists that dream of seeing the tulip fields in full bloom: it requires either careful logistics and timing or luck. The flowers bloom ‘somewhere’ in spring for a short period, depending on the weather.Can be easily missed. Fortunately, there are the gardens specially for tourists, but nothing beats the real thing. I was lucky. Going for low-countries landscapes i found myself amidst millions of flowering tulips. Challenge: how not to photograph cliché postcard style photographs. Not having a helicopter, i choose the wide-angle option: on my knees in between the flowers, hoping to give a sense of being surrounded by flowers. I also did the more conventional pictures, all with wide angle and fairly high f stop. I started with f/8 and ended with f/16. Light was abundant.
If you really go for it, rent or borrow a ladder. I noticed that being at 1 or 2 meters high is probably the best. Next time.

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Fuzzy water

A benefit of the Internet is the easy distribution of knowledge. This applies strongly to photography, as this is truly an international activity. This benefit has its flip side. Take the technique to make moving or falling water look smooth and soft by choosing a long shutter speed and small aperture. This ‘trick’ made it to all the “tips and tricks” lists (click bait) and now it seems that every beginning photographer thinks this is a ‘rule’. But more often than not, it ruins an otherwise fine photograph and instead of a ‘pro’ quality it gives the picture a cheap “Bob Ross” quality. In my view, the movement of waves, drops or streaming water or a waterfall gives the picture a dynamic character: nature (and physics) in action! There must be a clear vision or intent to blur this dynamism and give it a soft, painterly atmosphere. For instance, for a model shoot it may work well as it is in line with the softer, rounder shape of a model. I vote for the return of crystal clear waves, droplets, waterfalls.