Do you filter down (reduce), or build up (introduce) objects into your compositions?

I'm always intrigued by the journey from the moment I step out with my camera and come up with the final image. It's a filtering down process for many, but for me it's the opposite way around. Let me explain.

Many workshop participants tell me that when they are confronted with some new location, they find it hard to filter it down to one or two main subjects. I remember one participant telling me that they 'start with everything and have to reduce it down to one or two things over a matter of an hour or so'. Certainly, I'm aware that for some - being confronted with some new scenery can make things very hard to distill into a coherent composition. Everything is vying for your attention and it can be hard to give some elements priority over others.

In the main image to this post today, I show you the final image from a shoot in Hokkaido last December. For me, I tend to be drawn to a subject instantly. It's the opposite of the 'filtering down' approach that some of my participants describe. For me, what tends to happen is I see one thing in the distance and I'm so attracted to it, that everything else around it disappears. Let's zoom out from the image above and have a look at the surrounding landscape near it in the image below:

This is exactly what I saw from the side window of my guide's car and I felt compelled enough to ask him to stop so I could go and make a photo of the tree. In fact - if you look closer - you'll see i'm in the shot - making my way across a river bed that was covered in snow, to get to the tree. 

This is exactly what I saw from the side window of my guide's car and I felt compelled enough to ask him to stop so I could go and make a photo of the tree. In fact - if you look closer - you'll see i'm in the shot - making my way across a river bed that was covered in snow, to get to the tree. 

Can you spot the tree I photographed? 

I like to think that if something is worth photographing - is strong enough as a compositional subject -  it will tend to catch my eye. Like window shopping, I often find something jumps out at me. I think this is a combination of visual awareness and visualisation at play. The awareness to spot something and the visualisation to imagine how it could be with other items removed or reduced in the composition.

I often find I start with one object, and introduce others. In the instance of the main image in this blog, I did exactly that - despite all the clutter and confusion of other trees at the roadside, I could 'see' the lone tree sitting on its own, and I knew there was potential. I also understood that I would have very little else in the frame to draw attention away from it once I got closer. I saw all this from the passenger seat of my guide's car and I believe I utilised my visualisation skills in order to 'see' it.

Once I was closer to the tree, I started to think about the surrounding landscape and which elements, if any, I could introduce into the scene. I've introduced the sun into the frame, as this was more a fortuitous event rather than something I'd noticed in advance. I made several shots - some without the sun and some with, because I can never tell at the time whether I'm overcomplicating something, so I like to make insurance shots for later on. I'm convinced I can only do good editing while at home behind my computer, not while on location. But the key point I'm trying to make is that I started with the tree and slowly started to introduce the surrounding landscape into the scene.  

So which way do you tend to visualise your compositions? Are you a 'start with everything and filter it down to a few objects', or do you start with one thing that grabs your interest, and slowly introduce other objects into the frame?

The undefined line

Sometimes, what we're really attracted to in a picture, is not the form or the subject, but the contrast between where the subject begins and where it ends.

Kitami , Tanno, Hokkaido, Image © Bruce Percy 2015

Kitami , Tanno, Hokkaido, Image © Bruce Percy 2015

I think that's why I love images where the main subject in the frame isn't so clear. My mind has to 'fill in the gaps'.

These Hokkaido images were made with this in mind. But the editing had to be done carefully. Just like writing a story, I needed to decide on the correct amount of detail to provide. If I had given too much away, the viewer's interest may wane, and if I hadn't give enough away, the viewer may have been confused and lost. 

Kitami , Tanno, Hokkaido, Image © Bruce Percy 2015

Kitami , Tanno, Hokkaido, Image © Bruce Percy 2015

It was interesting for me to shoot these images. I was confronted with absolutely nothing (and I mean nothing). I felt like I might get snow-blindness because I could not discern the sky from the ground and I found that my mind wanted to fill in the emptiness with something.

Just the hint of a tree, and my eye's seemed to latch onto it, like I was clutching at a lifebuoy ring.

Our visual system 'constructs what we see'. This is why we see faces in the shapes of rocks for instance. So when I was working in these empty places, I couldn't help but find my mind was going into over-drive, trying to imagine more than what was there. If you've ever been driving in a white out, you''ll have experienced your mind imagining obstacles that come out of the snow in front of your path.

So with these edits, I wanted to ask the viewer to work a little harder. The first image requires more work than the last one does. I love playing around with different strengths of contrast, not only while I'm editing work, but also at the time of capture. I was well aware that sometimes the trees would come and go, surface and sink behind a veil of snow.

You see, not everything is so clear cut - in art as it is in life, and why should it be? Through concealing elements within the frame, we invite the viewers minds to imagine what may be there - to fill in the gaps, and that's no bad thing at all :-)

Four views of Lake Kussharo

I visited lake Kussharo in Hokkaido, Japan one day last December, on what was a murky grey day. I love overcast days and days when the to most non-photographers the weather would be considered 'bad'.

On the horizon I could see the snow-covered hills that surround Kussharo veiled in mist and low-pressure clouds. The lake itself had taken on a milky greyness to it (light reflected from the grey sky) which I felt complimented the black volcanic beach.

I saw many similarities with this location, weather wise and also subject wise, with Patagonia's Torres del Paine national park. Both possess a stark beauty which only becomes apparent to us photographers once we embrace muted colours and tones. I see a beauty in landscapes when they appear to most as bleak - I hope you do too.

But Kussharo had much to offer with overhanging trees leaning towards the water, and I spent much time roaming up and down its edge looking for suitable trees that had separation from their neighbours like the image below.

I spent quite a bit of time on this tree, positioning the far-off hill between the branches, and ensuring that the branches themselves didn't protrude out of the confines of my frame. I think I have two or three rolls of images (30) shot at this very spot where I experimented with my tripod height until I felt I'd fully explored the compositional possibilities here.

And sometimes removing lake edge trees seemed to be the way to go. I like to try to get as many different interpretations of a place that I can. I think it's easy to get lost in searching for great foreground subjects all the time, when there may be an image there that doesn't require one. 

And just before we left, I noticed some coastal decorations in the water. Hokkaido and indeed Japan, seems to have many coastal defences around its periphery - I'm not sure if they intended for Tsunami defence, or just coastal erosion, but it was interesting to note that a small 'coastal defence' had been put here at the edge of Lake Kussharo.

The weather was rather murky and wet, and my guide had a lot of work with the last image helping me shield the lens of my camera because it was pointing straight into the wind (and rain). But I feel I made a collection of images that have a certain character and feel to them on a day I feel that many people would prefer to stay in-doors.

I often feel that the difference between the impression we get from a photograph and how it felt to be at a location are often quite different. So many times I could be overwhelmed by the bad weather and choose not to go out, only to miss great potential. If I get soft light and a good composition, I don't sit at home going 'yuck - really horrible weather'. Instead I'm often pulled in by the tonal shifts that happen through a picture where soft light played around.

I'm not a fair-weather photographer, because that would be extremely limiting to what I photograph. I made (in my view) four really nice images on a day that many wouldn't consider ideal and I did it not just because of the soft tones present, but because I felt there was atmosphere and mood present, and also, because experience has taught me that these kinds of days are beautiful in their own way.

Veiled landscapes

When I researched my trip to Hokkaido, I had wanted to include the famous 'blue pond'. Many of you will know it from one of the desktop images that is available on the Apple Mac OS.

The blue pond, Hokkaido, Japan December 2015 Image © Bruce Percy

The blue pond, Hokkaido, Japan December 2015
Image © Bruce Percy

I'd been told by my guide, that this pond is frozen over from November until late April and there is often a lot of snow covering the surface. So the chances of seeing any colour would be minimal.

The winters here are extremely cold. I mean really, really cold - Siberia cold. So I turned up in mid December expecting to use snow shoes and wearing all my clothes and underwear at the same time ;-) Only, I think the weather was really messed up due to El Niño. I found Hokkaido practically balmy with temperatures above freezing.

One positive aspect to this change in the usual December climate was that the landscape was covered in a mist, which I think was brought on by the warm air mixing with the cold snow covered landscape.

So when I met my guide on the very first day of the trip, I asked him if the blue pond would be visible. What I didn't understand until after I'd seen it shrouded in fog, was that this is a very unusual situation to have. In fact, I think my guide told me that he had never seen the blue pond like this before.

The Blue Pond, Hokkaido, Japan, 2015 Image © Bruce Percy

The Blue Pond, Hokkaido, Japan, 2015
Image © Bruce Percy

It's often hard to judge your feelings on visiting a place for the first time. When I think about some of the places I go to each year as a repeating schedule of my workshop itinerary, sometimes I see a landscape in very unusual conditions and despite telling my participants how unusual it is, I think we all come away from our first experiences with an assumption that this is how it always is.

Certainly for me, I loved the blue pond so much that l asked my guide if we could stay nearby so I could try to photograph it again in the morning. What I discovered the next day though, was that not only had the fog dissipated over night, but so too had any atmosphere to the place. I made zero photographs this day as a result.

I love fog. It can reduce backgrounds to nothingness, and can give a sense of depth to 3D objects when converted into 2D

Fog also adds mystery. We enjoy not knowing the full story and I'm convinced that our minds enjoy filling in the gaps - what we can't see - we imagine.

Density Ratio? - New Hokkaido Images

I've just completed work on a new set of images, shot over a six day duration on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

I have wanted to come here ever since I got to know the beautiful mono work of Michael Kenna. He has been photographing this island for over a decade and his images are really a lesson in simplification.

Over the past few months, I've become aware that I seem to be very selective with regards to how 'dense' the scenes are that I choose to shoot. I think when you're peering through a viewfinder at a white canvas with only one tiny little tree, you are forced to think long and hard about what it is that you're trying to do. How minimalist can one go?

I know that many consider my style 'minimalist' but I've come to realise that I do look for a certain ratio or degree of emptiness in my compositions. 

I am wondering if each of us has a 'goldilocks' ratio for our own compositions? For example, perhaps if you look at your own work, you can see there is a trend to shoot very busy scenes over less busy ones? My feeling is that each of us has a gut instinct to go for a certain amount of objects in the frame. If we find a scene that is more empty than we are used to, we feel either unsure or insecure as to whether it 'feels right', and the same too if the scene is more complex than we normally shoot. If this is the case, I think it simply may be down to a matter of taste, something each of us chooses based on our own aesthetic sensibilities.

So with this thought in mind, I am going to actively give myself more permission to vary the complexity of my compositions in future.

I'd like to think this is perhaps a signal, something that is telling me that what I want to do with my photography is changing, or maybe it's just a recognition that I do tend to gravitate towards the very simple most of the time, and there are other kinds of compositions out there that are equally as valid, but I'm missing out on, because my own aesthetic taste keeps forcing me to work within a small range of 'acceptable compositions' Time will tell.

The new Hokkaido portfolio is up under my 'new work section of this website.

Looking forward

Dear all,

I'm in the Atacama desert at the moment and new year is almost upon us. I always find new year a time for pause and this year I seem to be looking back to my very first travels to South America in 2003.

Back then, I had only really been into photography for about three years. Up until my trip to Patagonia, I had been mainly making photographs as a memento of my travels. But Patagonia changed all that and I found that my time there turned my hobby of travel into a secondary aim: I was traveling to make photographs now, not the other way round.

Since then I've been back many times. Patagonia has become an almost yearly adventure for me, and indeed, a home from home. It is also dear to my heart because back in 2007,  it was where I ran my very first workshop! So there is a deep connection to this place for me for several reasons.

And so too the Bolivian and Chilean Atacama desert. First venturing here in 2009, this place has become somewhere where I feel I've grown as a photographer. I've written in the past that the Bolivian landscape helped me to simplify my style over the years. I feel it is a place I am still building a relationship with as I notice my photography is evolving from my visits here.

So too with Iceland. I have had a long standing, and deepening relationship with it since 2004. First venturing around the ring-road  on the local busses, I spent a glorious summer photographing throughout the beautiful evenings. This trip has stayed with me as one of the more pivotal moments in my own photographic journey. I feel my photography came on in leaps and bounds.

You may have noticed from the way I have been writing about Patagonia and Bolivia, that I like to get to know places by returning many times, over many years. I feel this approach allows me to connect more deeply as I begin to learn and understand how the landscape works.

And now to the present day. 

Last month I visited Hokkaido. It was in some respects, a 'rite of passage'. I know some of the places here so well through the work of Michael Kenna, that the trip here felt like I was re-connecting with who I was way back in 2000 when I first picked up a camera. I felt as though I am at the start of hopefully a new and lasting relationship with this landscape, but that is really for the future to show me.

So I am now looking ahead. In 2016 there are a few new locations lined up, that I am looking forward to visiting for the very first time. Knowing the way I seem to work, I hope that they may be the start of some new life-long relationship, where my appreciation and depth of understanding grows as the years pass, and that maybe my association with these new places brings new insights and enlightenment to my photography.

By looking back, I see that I've come so far and I delight in realising that I may still have a long way to go, both in terms of life-experiences and artistic development. This I feel, is at the core of why we photograph -  to experience life and find ourselves inspired and engaged in the future. It's a great way to go through life.

Here's to 2016 and beyond.

I wish you well.

Thoughts at Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido

I often see similarities between one place in the world, and another. 

Me photographing at the edge of beautiful lake Kussharo, Hokkaido Japan, December 2015.

Me photographing at the edge of beautiful lake Kussharo, Hokkaido Japan, December 2015.

I've been on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan for the past week or so, and I have been surprised to find that the landscape here often reminds me of Patagonia. For example, on the shores of lake Kussharo, I found myself thinking I was somewhere in Torres del Paine national park. This is in part because of the weather but mostly it was because the shoreline was black volcanic sand and the vegetation scattered around the edges were also similar to what I've seen in Patagonia.

But the similarities didn't end there. In northern Hokkaido, in the town of Wakkanai, a small fishing town situated on the coast, I felt that I could have been in Punta Arenas on the edge of the Magellan straight. Both towns have an 'end of the world' feeling to them. Tinned roofed buildings, rusting industrialisation scattered in the fields, and the low flat coast line with a sea that could be a channel, or an ocean. Punta Arenas and Wakkanai were inseparable in my mind.

Laguna Armaga, Patagonia. Image © Stacey Williams (thanks stacey!)

Laguna Armaga, Patagonia. Image © Stacey Williams (thanks stacey!)

Perhaps though, the reason why I see so many similarities between different places in the world is much simpler than I may imagine: it might be a case that I'm drawn to those places because they are comfortably familiar to me: they resemble my own country of Scotland in ways that are not immediately apparent to me. I may be just be drawn to places because underneath - they offer the same things. Similar weather, similar terrain. Ultimately, they offer something deeply comforting because I 'understand' or 'know' them so well.

But I think it's really just that the more I travel, the more I will be prone to draw comparisons between places. It's unavoidable really. 

Either way, I enjoyed seeing the resemblances. It allowed me to look more closely than I would if I was just a normal tourist, and it's also very comforting to experience a sense of familiarity while I'm on my travels: everywhere feels like home.

Hokkaido is perhaps a place I will be returning to from now on.

Acknowledging your influences

I'm in Hokkaido, Japan right now. It's lovely to be here.

Acknowledging one's own influences is good for the creative-soul. It's good to give credit where credit is due, and it's also very humbling to recognise that there is no such thing as true originality: we derive our work from what inspires us.

I think that acknowledging your influences is first and foremost a respectful thing to do. But it is also a way of understanding and tapping in to what it is that drives you forward as a photographer. 

Homage to Michael Kenna, Hokkaido, Japan, December 2015

Homage to Michael Kenna, Hokkaido, Japan, December 2015

I have learned so much by following (literally) in the footsteps of some of my heroes. I first visited Patagonia in 2003 because of Gallen Rowell's images of Torres del Paine national park in Chile. And now I am in Hokkaido, guided there by the inspiring photographs of the island by Michael Kenna.

When we do follow in the footsteps of our heroes, a few things happen. Firstly, we learn why certain locations worked for them, but we also learn a lot about ourselves in the process. I've arrived at a location I know through someone else's work whom I admire, only to find out that the landscape is more urbanised than I had thought. Or maybe I find out that there is simply only one aspect to shooting the location. Either way - I learn. And if I am fortunate enough, I may see other possibilities in the landscape: a view, or a fresh aspect that was not explored by my hero.

Following in someone else's footsteps is a worthy thing to do. But hopefully at some point, we begin to forge our own path. Even if you are visiting the same place as your hero, hopefully you'll begin to find your own voice after a while. I certainly think this is how my time in Patagonia has panned out for me over the last decade: where I initially saw Galen Rowell everywhere, I have moved past this and have found my own aesthetic in the Patagonian landscape. Now that I am here in Hokkaido, I acknowledge that I am at the very beginning of finding my own voice here. At this very moment,  Hokkaido is Michael Kenna and Michael Kenna is Hokkaido.

One thing that I'm acutely aware of, is just how much work MK put into crafting his vision of this island. It is a very personalised one, because on the surface, Hokkaido looks nothing like his images suggest. For one, it is a very populous place. It has as many people living here as there are in my native Scotland (5.5 million), and the landscape is not as pure and empty of people as MK's images suggest: the main source of industry on Hokkaido is that of agriculture and the landscape is littered with farms.

Looking for Tonal Separation

I’ve been coming to Iceland for over a decade and often visit it several times a year. It has become a home from home, somewhere that I feel I have built up a deep visual relationship with.

One aspect of returning many times to the same location, is that its appearance can be quite different during different seasons. In the winter months, Iceland can be shrouded in a blanket of snow, and this I feel can add a dynamic contrast to the black beaches found on the south coast.

View of Reynisdrangar sea stacks from Dyrhólaey, South Iceland, 2012. Image © Bruce Percy

View of Reynisdrangar sea stacks from Dyrhólaey, South Iceland, 2012. Image © Bruce Percy

I think my image of the distant sea stacks at Reynisdrangar, shot from Dyrhólaey illustrate just that. I was particularly drawn to the tonal separation between the foreground sea stack of Dyrhólaey against the background snow covered cliffs of Reynisdrangar. When I have visited this location during the summer months, the background cliffs are often too similar in tone to the foreground stack. So much so, that they often merge to become one confused mess in my viewfinder.
 

Some thoughts on to working on tonal separation

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve reached by visiting the same places during different seasons is in reading the tonal separation between objects in my view. I feel I am now at a level in my art where I make ‘black and white’ images ‘in colour’ (I often find that when I convert my colour images to monochrome, very little change is required because I am reading the tones of the scene at the time of capture). Well, I'd certainly like to think this is the case ;-)

I believe the biggest pit-fall for many of us is our inability to abstract a scene into an image. To do this, we need to understand that the skills used to compose our camera on location are no different from the skills we use to interpret and edit a scene during the ‘post-process’ phase. In fact, I abhor the term ‘post-process’ because it encourages us to think differently about two tasks that should use the same skills. The pit-fall is that many of us don't.

While out in the field, rather than thinking ‘tree’, ‘river’ or ‘bridge’, I try to think about the tones present within the scene. Because this is what I do when I am ‘post-processing’ my images.  If you are a film photographer, I would suggest using a spot meter, as it helps me build up a mental picture of the tones contained within the frame. If you are a digital shooter, then I would suggest using live-view. Live-view is fantastic because it transforms a scene into 2D for you. It further helps you abstract the real world into a tiny postcard image on the back of your camera. If you make the distinction in your mind by thinking of the back of your screen as a photo, rather than a view of live scenery, then you're on the right track.

To aid in helping you think more about tonal separation, try turning the jpeg settings to monochrome as this will give you a black and white rendition on your live-view screen. The Raw file will still be in colour but you will have a tonal rendition on your camera that should aid you in noticing tonal errors much more easily. You should be able to see more clearly tonal errors such as foreground objects merging into background objects or two objects of similar tone colliding with each other. Beware though that often green and red have the same tonal rendition in monochrome.

In praise of shadows

I've been reading a beautiful book called 'In Praise of Shadows'.  It was written by the Japanese author and novelist Jun'ichirō Tanizaki and is considered a classic essay on Japanese aesthetics.

As a westerner, I find reading Tanizaki's book is opening up some thoughts for me about light, the way we use it in the west, and in particular, how varying levels can be employed to create a sense of quietness in our environment. Tanizaki talks at great length about the beauty of shadows.

Although his book may be more related to architecture design, I do feel that as a photographer, it's touched upon something that is close to my own heart: that of how I respond to my surroundings. In the days of old Japan, subdued lighting was used to give a sense of calm or 'quietness' to a space. Areas of shadow were an intentional and appreciated consideration to building design. My feelings are often influenced by the lighting of my environment, and I find that most modern, brightly lit places aren't relaxing places to be.

Shadows are the places where our imagination is given free reign. In Tanizaki's book, he delights in suggesting that the corner of ancient temples where very little light penetrates, allow the mind to find quietness and a space in which to dwell. While reading Tanizaki's thoughts, I couldn't help but feel I always knew this. I think that most of us do.  I just needed someone to spell it out for me. 

For instance, as a child, I remember being afraid of the dark and would ask for the hall light to remain on, because in the shadows I could see many possibilities. This is something most children do, and in my adult life as a photographer, I find I still see possibilities in areas of negative space or where shadows exist.

Maiko1.jpg

As I've progressed as a photographer, I've had to open my eyes to what is really before me. I have come to know that I am sensitive to light levels where initially I had no idea that I was. Shining a direct light into my eyes is tantamount to a pneumatic drill crowding my thoughts. I've despised overhead lighting for many years, for this very reason.  Likewise, on overly sunny days I may have the blinds lowered in my home to give the degree of visual comfort that I emotionally require.

This sensitivity to light, is something I try to imbue in my photographs. I think all visual artists should.

Tanizaki's book allows me to embrace this - I know now that shadows are beautiful and used carefully in one's work, they can add depth as well as mystery. They also give me space for my imagination to roam free.

As a visual artist, I understand that my surroundings are important to me, not just because they are the subjects of my photography, but because the qualities of light they possess influence it in ways that I was never truly aware of, until I read this book.

Many thanks to Jeff Bannon for recommending this book to me.

Art as Influence, as Inspiration

"art is often a symptom of the landscape"

Over the past few weeks, I've been enjoying and reading about the great Japanese artist Hokusai. Although Hokusai's name may not be universally known to many of us, his painting 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa', will be. It is perhaps the most famous Japanese print of all.

Hokkusai's 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa'.

Hokkusai's 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa'.

I'm due to visit Japan this December. It's a trip I've been looking forward to all year now and as it gets closer  I find I can't help myself but wish to know more about Japan, its art and its culture.

You see, I get great inspiration from enjoying and absorbing the art of the places I'm going to visit, because its art is often a symptom of its landscape. I think this is very true in Japan's case. Often the landscape has been cultivated to fit their aesthetic sensibilities, and other times the shape and form of the landscape has informed their art.

This is a beautifully illustrated book of Hokusai's work. I find that just looking and enjoying the work, that I am finding inspiration. 

This is a beautifully illustrated book of Hokusai's work. I find that just looking and enjoying the work, that I am finding inspiration. 

But as well as enjoying the art for its own sake, I find the actual process of investigating and learning about it helps me connect with the place I'm going to visit. Indeed, I often find that the art of a country can often mimic elements of the landscape, or the other way round.  In Japan's case, their landscape has been cultivated to a degree to match the culture's aesthetics. 

But there is more. The Japanese have very definite aesthetics to their art and architecture, and I feel that any understanding I gain before the trip may help me when I am piecing together a new portfolio of images. I guess I'm trying to say that since I felt inspired to come to Japan because of its art and their approach to shaping their landscape, I wish my photography to illustrate this as far as is possible. If I am not entirely ignorant about a place and the culture, then I think any knowledge I have is going to be absorbed hopefully in my picture making.

Inspiration can come from many sources, and I guess the most obvious one is to look at other photographer's work. But I think I stopped using others photography as the sole reason for my influences many years ago. These days I'm more likely to find inspiration through a book i've read, some music I've listened to (such as the wonderful 'Bino No Aozora by Ryuishi Sakamoto below)) and most likely - the art of the country, because the art is often a symptom of the landscape. 

Ryushi Sakamoto's 'Bibo No Aozora

We construct what we see

I’ve been reading ‘Visual Intelligence’ a book by cognitive scientist Donald D. Hoffman. It is a fascinating book about the cognitive processes that are at the core of our visual system. 

The premise of Hoffman’s book, is that we ‘construct’ in our minds what we see. In essence, light comes in through the pupil of our eye and hits the retina, but from that point on, there is a lot of ‘visual processing’ that happens immediately, and in such an innate manner, that we aren’t even aware of doing it.

Let's consider these two statements from Hoffman’s book:

"The image at the eye has countless possible interpretations"

and

“The image at the eye is always two dimensional. You construct the third dimension”

In the famous Necker cube we see here, we are given a rare opportunity to observe our visual-intelligence working. Let's look at the cube:

The Necker cube is an optical illusion first published as a rhomboid in 1832 by Swiss crystallographer Louis Albert Necker. If you look at it for a while, you may see the cube in two different ways. Keep looking!

The Necker cube is an optical illusion first published as a rhomboid in 1832 by Swiss crystallographer Louis Albert Necker. If you look at it for a while, you may see the cube in two different ways. Keep looking!

There are actually two ways in which we 'see' the cube. Sometimes we visualise the square marked here with letter A as being in front of the square marked here with letter B. Other times we see them the opposite way around. If you don’t, just keep looking. 

Donald Hoffman's book about visual intelligence. If you're interested in why we 'see' the way we do, and why our brains are fooled by certain optical illusions, then this is the best book I've read to date on the subject of our visual system.

Donald Hoffman's book about visual intelligence. If you're interested in why we 'see' the way we do, and why our brains are fooled by certain optical illusions, then this is the best book I've read to date on the subject of our visual system.

I’ve been thinking for a long time, that the problem for us photographers is that our visual intelligence is so innate, so immediate, that we sometimes don’t actually ‘see’. 

I believe that our ‘visual-intelligence’ helps us only so far with our photography. And from a certain point it starts to hinder us. The adage that looking is not the same as seeing rings true here. We really have to work at being more visually aware because our visual-intelligence has its own agenda and often hi-jack's us into seeing things in a way that does not help us when creating images. 

For instance, our camera sees in 2D while we do not. So in order to be able to visualise our images we have to be able to look at a scene in 2D. This is very hard because our visual intelligence is so innate that we can't help ourselves but see everything in 3D. It takes effort to see something in 2D. (Interestingly each of our eyes receives a 2D visual image and it is our visual intelligence that is responsible for automatically constructing a 3D interpretation).

To be a good photographer, we almost need to un-see the 3D construction that our visual-intelligence innately makes for us, so we can notice if one object that is in front of another will merge when flattened down in to a 2D image.

If you’re interested in this subject (as I feel all photographers really should be), then I’d recommend Hoffman’s book. It’s very well written.

Please Sign the petition: Central Highlands of Iceland under threat

The Icelandic wilderness is under threat with plans to build highways and power lines, despite the will of the majority of Icelanders to make it into a national park. Bjork, the famous Icelandic singer is leading the opposition and calling for help from all over the world to sign this petition in order to put pressure on the Icelandic government. 

The central highlands of Iceland is like nowhere else I know: it is a vast landscape of natural wonders, and what I love about it, is that there is very little in the way of development there. Some of the regions like the Fjallabak nature reserve and Vatnajokull National park do have protection status for good reason. But there are many, many other special areas of this region that I think need protection also.

You can sign the petition here: http://heartoficeland.org/

The yellow areas are the central highland region, and the grey and yellow I believe, show where the proposed areas of development such as power plants and power lines.

The yellow areas are the central highland region, and the grey and yellow I believe, show where the proposed areas of development such as power plants and power lines.

When you think you're just about lost - you're probably nearly there

Last week I posted this article about keeping objectivity in what we do.  As a response to my post, I received a few emails from readers who were preoccupied with a more fundamental aspect of their creativity: that of knowing whether any of what they do is any good. The nature of the questions I received were more along the lines of 'what if you think all of your work isn't any good?' or 'how do I know when I should give up on something?'.

I came here on a hunch. I had no guarantee's that anything I would shoot in the Puna regions would be any good. I also found that the majority of what I did shoot wasn't any good. The final portfolio on this site is only a tiny fraction of what I did shoot, and it took me a while to see there was still something of value - because upon first review, I had assumed I'd gotten nothing.

I came here on a hunch. I had no guarantee's that anything I would shoot in the Puna regions would be any good. I also found that the majority of what I did shoot wasn't any good. The final portfolio on this site is only a tiny fraction of what I did shoot, and it took me a while to see there was still something of value - because upon first review, I had assumed I'd gotten nothing.

No one is alone in feeling that their work sucks from time to time. I fully sympathise with these feelings because I get them just like everybody else does. In fact, I think it is part of the natural process of being a creative person to have doubts and feelings of dissatisfaction about what you do from time to time.

There are often spells in my own creativity when things don't happen, or that I am dissatisfied with the results. But the thing is: I understand that I am at the mercy of my own creativity. I can't control it, and I just have to accept that sometimes I am going to suck. I've just over the years realised that it's ok to suck.

I've been a creative person all of my life: whether it was drawing and painting as a kid, music composition during my teenage years and 20's, and photography since my 30's, to know that creativity has an ebb and flow to it. I can't control it. So it's best to ride it out. 

Besides, sometimes when I find the work is not going the way I wish it to, it's usually because of a change within me. Sometimes the reason why new images don't seem to work is because I'm on the cusp of something new. Other times it's just because I'm tired, or maybe needing a rest and it's time to do something else for a while.

Besides, if we created wonderful work all the time, then it would simply become our new 'average'. So I think it is natural to have this 'tug' of balancing one's own aspirations against one's own abilities.

Growth can often be painful.

If you feel your work isn't up to the standards you'd like it to be, the best bit of advice I can give you is to get it out of your system so you can move on. Everything we do is a stepping-stone - a mark in time. If you keep working endlessly on something that isn't working, then you are stuck. So best just produce it, even if the experience wasn't a good one, and move on.

I think creativity is all about letting go. It is about giving yourself permission to make mistakes and it is about deliberately getting lost. For being lost, means that you are somewhere new in your work, which is often an opportunity to learn.

Creativity is not about controlling the entire process and neither is it about knowing where you are all the time. If you want a guarantee about what you are doing, then creativity is not for you.

Each time I pick up my camera, I have no idea whether the results will be successful. So when I do start out looking for new images, I do so with an openness to failing. I fully accept that some of my images will be better than others, and because of this, I avoid giving myself a hard time about it.

So be kind to your creativity. When you feel it isn't working, best give it a rest and do something else for a while. The inspiration will return.

And also remember, that when you think you're lost with what you are doing, you're probably nearly there :-)

Short time critic

Now that I've completed work on my new collection of images - from the Puna de Atacama of Argentina, I feel it's an appropriate time to talk about being one's own critic.

Images from the Puna de Atacama. Shot in June 2015, and I didn't start to look at the transparencies until early October 2015. It is now early November, and I've had a few weeks to sit on them, periodically doing a review to see if anything needs to be changed. But doing it for short spells, because this is the only way I can remain 'outside' of my own work.

Images from the Puna de Atacama. Shot in June 2015, and I didn't start to look at the transparencies until early October 2015. It is now early November, and I've had a few weeks to sit on them, periodically doing a review to see if anything needs to be changed. But doing it for short spells, because this is the only way I can remain 'outside' of my own work.

I've mentioned many times before, that I prefer to leave a lot of time between the shoot and the editing. I deliberately hold off sending my films away for immediate processing, and if I were a digital shooter, I would deliberately hold off editing my images for several weeks (preferably more). This I firmly believe gives me distance because with time, I gain a realistic sense of objectivity about what it was I accomplished. Editing straight away I feel does not give me the chance to truly see what the images hold, because I am too close to the work: I tend to suffer from a prejudice, often holding onto ideals of what I hoped the images would be.

Giving some distance to my work allows me also to be a more honest critic of what I've done. In fact, I don't just give myself distance between the shooting and editing stages any more. I do the same thing during the editing as well.

Editing is an iterative process. For each image, I tend to go through a process of edit, then review a day later, do another fine tune edit and leave it for several days then review. If I do any further editing, it is short and then I save them again, and repeat.

The issue is this: in order to edit my work well, I have to be a critic of my own work and to do this, I need to remain objective. The nub of the problem is that I'm only able to be an objective critic for a short while, because the longer I spend on the work, the higher the risk is, that I will become too lost in it. So I tend to review for short spells only. (tip: take note of your first impressions as they are usually right).

Being a good critic of my own work has required me to be able to step 'outside of myself'. This can only happen if I take time off between the edit and review sessions and more importantly, am brief when I do review. I believe a good critic is a short-time one. Don't overwork your work.

The Labyrinth Desert, Puna de Atacama

I've often felt that the more I get to know a place, the deeper the connection becomes. Over the years I've been traveling and making images, I have slowly built up a collection of places I love and keep returning to for that very reason.

This summer I visited the Puna de Atacama. It is a new location for me despite being, on the surface, similar to the Bolivian altiplano that I know and love so well.

One place in particular that I really found most interesting is named 'the labyrinth desert' - it's yet another high elevation landscape, but it was so far removed from all the other kinds I've experienced to date in the Altiplano of Chile and Bolivia, that I felt it has been overlooked somewhat.

It's difficult to get some scale to this landscape, and you may be forgiven for thinking that this area only encapsulates the mountains you see in my shots. The mountains are actually small pink clay hills - approximately around 30 to 40 feet high. Not that big at all, and so the scale of these photos is maybe a little deceptive.

But what you can't gather from these shots is just how selective I was in making them. This is only a very tiny section of the entire area. Due to the limited time I had here - one evening of good light which lasted for about 10 minutes, I had to quickly make these shots with the time and limited positioning I had. 

Research is key to good landscape photography. I only feel I've just become acquainted with this place, and really need to spend a lot more time here - because it's the only way I will know where the best locations are for the kinds of light that I like to shoot in (often with the sun behind me).

The other complication to this landscape was its fragility. It is made up from a very soft pink clay and gypsum. The gypsum is scattered all across the surface like broken shards of glass and the terrain is really fragile to walk on - when you do go anywhere, it's like walking across the crust of a chocolate pudding. Each footstep breaks through the surface and seems to leave what I was convinced was a permanent scar on the landscape.

Cono de Arita, Puna de Atacama

Today I just published some new work. This time round, from a place I've never photographed before - the Puna de Atacama.

I visited this high plateau early on this summer. Perhaps the most startling location here is the cono de Arita - a small volcano that is only 122 meters high.

I was really taken with its conical shape and the tonal contrasts - the white salt flat is at polar opposites to the dark tones of the cone. The place has a surreal, alien quality to it and I really wanted to convey that in the final edit you see here.

But it's a tough place to visit: at a high altitude of around 4,000 metres, and very basic amenities (more basic than in Bolivia), plus very very long traveling distances between locations - I found my time here a challenge.

I missed a lot of places because we were passing through at the wrong time of day, or because we simply ran out of time. In my minds-eye I can still see so many key locations that I failed to capture, that I know I really do have to come back. So I've already begun planning some time there again in 2016.

I love how photography has the ability to steer you in new directions and take you on new journeys :-)

Sometimes it's about the sky, or ground, but seldom both

Disclaimer: Please note, that I write these articles to stimulate some thought. I will sometimes generalise a point or simplify an argument  in an attempt to convey a message. Ultimately,  it is just my point of view and of course is not the definitive word on the matter (as much as I'd love to think so!) ;-)

As much as I would love to fit both sky and ground into my compositions, I only have so much area within my frame to work with. So I have to figure out what is central to the story I'm telling in the image I'm composing. If I add a lot of sky in, then it should either compliment the foreground in some way (if both sky and ground have a relationship - by mirroring shapes or mirroring textures / patterns), or it should dominate the scene.

Picture 1 Despite many thinking this image is about the desert and the mountains, it's really about the sky. So much so, that the sky covers 3/4 the area of the frame, while the ground only covers 1/4 the area. My eye moves mostly around the sky with occasional visits to the two mountains - often in a triangular motion around the frame.

Picture 1
Despite many thinking this image is about the desert and the mountains, it's really about the sky. So much so, that the sky covers 3/4 the area of the frame, while the ground only covers 1/4 the area. My eye moves mostly around the sky with occasional visits to the two mountains - often in a triangular motion around the frame.

For me, it has to be either / or. You either have a lot of foreground and little sky in the frame, or you have a lot of sky and little ground in the frame. 

We have to figure out what is it that we're trying to say, when we choose the proportions of sky and ground. Is the photo really about the desert and mountains? Or is the image really about the sky, and the mountains are in the frame to give some kind of context?

Settling for something in the middle often results in a confused message. The end result is that the viewer is pulled between both sky and ground and a competition race between sky and ground ensues for the viewers attention (see Picture 2).

But it's hard to choose the sky over the ground as a dominant subject. We tend to give foreground or ground subjects more prominence than they deserve because they are usually what draws us to a location in the first place. In the first image above (see Picture 1), I had that very circumstance. I was first drawn to this place by the strange rocks and mountains to be found there. We can be so wrapped up in what grabbed our attention, that we may fail to see other motifs or interesting patterns elsewhere (such as in the sky). Picture 1 is all the cloud shapes and the light scattering upon them. It is a 'sky photo' with some contextual mountains in the foreground. Not the other way around. 

I've re-cropped the image so we can look at it from another point of view. In Picture 2, it would have been so easy for me to compose the shot in a more traditional format - with the sky only taking up 2/3rd's of the frame and the ground taking up 1/3rd. The net effect is that the horizon is more central and my eye is being pulled between two competing subjects: sky & ground. 

Picture 2 In my original shot, the ground covered 1/4 area of the picture. In this crop where I've reduced the sky, the ground has now 'gained' and covers 1/3 the area of the picture. The result is that the sky has less dominance while the ground has gained in dominance and I find my eye is being pulled between sky and ground in a competition between the two for my attention.

Picture 2
In my original shot, the ground covered 1/4 area of the picture. In this crop where I've reduced the sky, the ground has now 'gained' and covers 1/3 the area of the picture. The result is that the sky has less dominance while the ground has gained in dominance and I find my eye is being pulled between sky and ground in a competition between the two for my attention.

My advice would be to do the following:

1. Set up your shot the way you want it and make an image for comparison.
2. Adjust the camera so that you get a lot more ground in the frame than sky, and make an image.
3. Adjust the camera so that you get a lot more sky than ground in the frame, and make an image.
4. Compare.

I guess I try to avoid central horizons where I can, because mostly they just make a composition feel less focussed. But there are times when going central does work. If the sky and the ground have a tight relationship (such as similar tones, or textures, or perhaps a pattern in the landscape that is also encountered in the sky). I also find I will go central when I feel that sky and ground have little to add to a photo - the main point of attention is to be found in the middle of the frame, By doing this, I can use the sky and ground equally to give a lot of space around a subject, as in Picture 3:

Picture 3. The horizon is just slightly above centre. I can get away with this composition due to the requirement to have a lot of space around the island. Note however, that I still didn't go central, because that would introduce the feeling of the island sinking (see Fish Tank article from a few days ago).

Picture 3.
The horizon is just slightly above centre. I can get away with this composition due to the requirement to have a lot of space around the island. Note however, that I still didn't go central, because that would introduce the feeling of the island sinking (see Fish Tank article from a few days ago).

Ultimately, often trying to have both sky and ground with equal attention leads to competition between the two, unless they are contextual (such as in Picture 3 above - where they just contribute a sense of space to the composition). I prefer to make things as clear as I can - either the image is about the ground (and therefore there is a whole lot more ground in the frame than sky) or it's about the sky (and therefore there is a whole lot more sky in the frame than ground).

Most often, you can't have both without it seriously compromising the strength of your composition.

Suffering from Fish Tank Effect?

Disclaimer: Please note, that I write these articles to stimulate some thought. I will sometimes generalise a point or simplify an argument  in an attempt to convey a message. Ultimately,  it is just my point of view and of course is not the definitive word on the matter (as much as I'd love to think so!) ;-)

Over the years I've been running workshops, I've noticed that many photographers tend to put a lot of sky in their photos, pushing fore & mid-ground interesting subjects towards the bottom of the frame (see Picture 1).

If I were to look at Picture 1 from the point of view of balance, I would be tempted to suggest that everything is sinking towards the bottom of the frame. My eye spends most of the time hovering in the lower area of the photo. If I had to use an analogy, it would be that of a fish tank, where everything that is placed inside the tank sinks to the very bottom.  In the case of Picture 1, I would go further and suggest that everything is not only sinking to the bottom of the fish tank, but it is also falling through the floor and beyond!

Picture 1. Classic bad composition (Sinking)

Picture 1.
Classic bad composition (Sinking)

Picture 2. What many photographers would consider balanced, but in my view, is still sinking towards the bottom of the frame

Picture 2.
What many photographers would consider balanced, but in my view, is still sinking towards the bottom of the frame

Picture 3. In my view, this is balanced (not sinking). The composition appears central, even though everything is higher up in the frame

Picture 3.
In my view, this is balanced (not sinking). The composition appears central, even though everything is higher up in the frame

Overall, Picture 1 has a very 'low' feeling to it, caused by my eye being pulled downwards. 

I've seen this kind of composition repeatedly on my workshops over the years and I've often wondered why many photographers employ this approach? I think the reason may be that the photographer is simply trying to 'put everything in the same shot'. Or perhaps it's because they find composition difficult. But I suspect it's because, like most of us, they interpret the world as being made up of half landscape and half sky. So why would you put less or more sky in a photograph would be their reasoning.

A good framer will always add a little extra space to the bottom border of a matt, so the picture feels more central.

A good framer will always add a little extra space to the bottom border of a matt, so the picture feels more central.

Photographs are fixed perpendicular frames. They only have so much area in which to lay out a scene. We can't get all of what we see into the same frame (although I feel many of us try!), Photographs are not real. They are interpretations of reality. A photograph is a 2D representation of something, framed within a rectangle or square. Rectangles don't exist in nature - the world is not a rectangular thing, so we should understand that when framing the world through a frame, we have to use some kind of notion of balance in our compositions.

Simply composing your images like Picture 1 because you like a lot of sky, does not help the composition, and as explained, creates an imbalanced bottom-heavy composition that suggests everything is sinking to the bottom of the frame and beyond.

In Picture 2, I have corrected the imbalance by pushing the camera south (towards the ground), and therefore moving the mountain and tree towards the middle of the image. But although this is a huge improvement on Picture 1, it still feels imbalanced to my eye. And here's why. a good framer will never place images right in the centre of the frame, they will leave a little extra room at the bottom of the frame so the picture sits higher up in the frame. They know that when you do this, the eye perceives it as being central. They also know that when you put something in the middle of a frame, it is perceived as being lower than central. So even in Picture 2, the overall balance still has the suggestion of sinking.

In Picture 3, I've moved the horizon further up the frame and as a result, I've also heightened the distance between the branches and the mountain to give them more 'breathing space'. By placing the horizon a little further up the frame, I feel I've given the image a more 'uplifting' feeling and it also feels more centred. As discussed in the framing example above, images tend to feel more centred when they are placed higher in the frame. So too is the same thing evident in photographic composition: by placing the key elements of a composition higher in the rectangle, the image is given a more centred feel.

Before I close on this post today, I would like to show how I feel the viewer interprets the above three images by the diagrams below. The black circles indicate where the eye tends to be drawn to, and consequently, illustrates the 'weight' of the image. 

Picture 1. The mind interprets the balance of picture as sinking

Picture 1. The mind interprets the balance of picture as sinking

Picture 2. The mind interprets the balance of picture as more central but still sinking towards the bottom

Picture 2. The mind interprets the balance of picture as more central but still sinking towards the bottom

Picture 3. The mind interprets the balance of picture as central, even though the main elements of the composition are higher in the frame than the mid point

Picture 3. The mind interprets the balance of picture as central, even though the main elements of the composition are higher in the frame than the mid point

This subject is covered in my Simplifying Composition e-Book which is available in the store section of this website. I also cover this subject and many other aspects of composition on my Scottish based workshops.

Discovery Series - Conceptual at heart

I think that photography can be a lot stronger if it is created with a concept in mind, or if it exists as part of a concept. 

Individual images, like individual sentences can be quite nice, but there’s often more depth to the work if the sentences are strung together to create a story. So too, with the photographic image.

Images on their own only go so far to tell us something but I often find I’m left feeling part of the story is missing. That’s why I find collections of images, arranged within a theme or as part of a narrative so much more engaging.

Hans Strand - Intimate 1

Hans Strand - Intimate 1

Chris Friel - Framed

Chris Friel - Framed

Greg Whitton - Mountainscape

Greg Whitton - Mountainscape

This month, Triplekite have just announced a series of books which fit into this category. Rather than producing individual books, they are focussing on producing a series that all fit together to create a unified body, which I think is a great idea.

David from Triplekite explained to me that: “It’s the ‘wholeness’ of the project that interested us when we began to work on it. Rather than looking at individual titles, I think there’s a strength to a body of work if it belongs as part of a larger theme”.

He struck a chord with me, because this is something that is at the heart of my own photography. I believe that when we prepare our work, we should consider how it fits into the bigger picture. I’m not a piecemeal photographer, and I believe that my ‘message’ is stronger when my images are presented in theme based portfolios.

With the three books I’m going to review here, they are presented with the same aesthetic values: all titles here have the same dimensions, the same page count, and although each book is a flexible vehicle for illustrating a wide range of photographer’s and also a wide range of projects, they ask to be considered as part of a whole.

David also explains that “for Triplekite, we are looking at this as an ongoing project - one in which we can, over time, add new titles, showcase lesser known photographers as well as some really well known ones - which we already have in the pipeline, but ultimately, make the collection a cohesive effort".

So clearly the the Discovery Series has been put together with the hope that owners of the collection will be attracted by the diversity and on-going exploration into different photographers work along with varying project remits.


Abisko Canyon, Sweden, September 2013, Image © Hans Strand. Used by kind permission.

Abisko Canyon, Sweden, September 2013, Image © Hans Strand. Used by kind permission.

Hans Strand - Intimate I

The first book in the Discovery series i'd like to review is Hans Strand's 'Intimate 1'. Clearly the title suggests that there are more intimate series to come, and I'm looking forward to them very much since Strand's work is of particular interest to me.

Until now, I was only aware of Strand's ariel 'abstractions'. In 'Intimate 1' he takes us in, closer - to a smaller intimate landscape. Seldom will you see the sky in any of the images contained in this collection which is something I admire, because quite frankly - I suck at it. It's very hard indeed to make such beautiful yet anonymous images and Strand excels at this. He is a meticulous photographer. His compositions are extremely well thought out and very fine indeed. He takes time to simplify them right down and show you only what you need to see, and nothing more. I can fully understand why this may be series 1 in an on-going collection for him. 

I should note that this is by far my favourite book out of the Discovery series (at present).

Before I leave this book, I should take time now to say that I was particularly taken with Strand's Iceland book - also published by Triplekite - if you don't own it - then I strongly suggest you read my review of it here.

Reed, Lake Teen, November 2011, Image © Hans Strand. Used by kind permission.

Reed, Lake Teen, November 2011, Image © Hans Strand. Used by kind permission.

Nianån River, February 1992, Image © Hans Strand. Used by kind permission.

Nianån River, February 1992, Image © Hans Strand. Used by kind permission.


Greg Whitton - Mountainscape

Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Torridon, Scotland. Image © Greg Whitton. Used by kind permission.

Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Torridon, Scotland. Image © Greg Whitton. Used by kind permission.

"A love for all high places" - is perhaps the sentence that resonated with me upon reading Whitton's introduction to his book 'Mountainscape'.

Like Whitton, I had to endure endless hill walks as a youngster with my mountain-mad father. I'd often yearned for the time when I could choose for myself to avoid them. But just like Whitton has found in later life, the passion for the hills had already been ingrained from an early age. It seems we both could not escape the beauty of the mountains in our later years.

This book then, is a homage to his acknowledgement that he loves the high places, and perhaps without knowing it - it is also a tribute to his father's love of high places also.

Liathach, Torridon, Scotland. Image © Greg Whitton. Used by kind permission.

Liathach, Torridon, Scotland. Image © Greg Whitton. Used by kind permission.

'Mountainscape' contains images shot up high, around many parts of the UK: Snowdonia in Wales, the Lake District in England, and many places in the Scottish highlands such as Torridon and Wester Ross to name a few.

Whitton's images are more intent on capturing the atmospherics of a place, rather than showing you some literal translation. I can almost feel the 'liquid-air' of the misty days I spent up in the mountains with my 'mountain-mad' dad.


Image © Chris Friel. Used by kind permission

Image © Chris Friel. Used by kind permission

Chris Friel - Framed

I've left this book till last, because it is perhaps the most adventurous of the three. The first two books could be easily classified as belonging to what many of us consider landscape photography.

But landscape photography should be, and can be, a whole lot more than the idea of recording verbatim scenery. As a creative person, I believe that photography is an art-form. I'm not particularly interested in recording a verbatim scene, but instead, I'm more intrigued by how we can interpret what we see and feel. This book falls distinctly into that realm for me.

Image © Chris Friel. Used by kind permission

Image © Chris Friel. Used by kind permission

Friel's images are like wild brush strokes. As Doug Chinnery notes in his fine introduction "they mimic the tantalising half glimpses we get of light and beauty through windows". So often I've been mesmerised by these 'half glimpses', and I would go so far as to suggest that many of us, if not all who love photography, are often caught by moments when the light shifts and a scene is altered for a fleeting moment.

Perhaps it is the short lived sense of something only being for a moment that I find most arresting when I'm drawn to something I wish to photograph.

Image © Chris Friel. Used by kind permission

Image © Chris Friel. Used by kind permission

Friel also uses frames found in the real world to frame his landscapes. Again, Chinnery notes "His frames are not regular, perfect, geometric shapes. Rather, they are the wild, free brush strokes of an artist at work". I think this is an accurate description of Friel's interesting use of the landscape to frame itself.

It's an interesting book and one which I think suggests that this discovery series may allow us to explore the wide gamut of what photography really is about. 


These three titles on an individual basis, offer excellent value for money at £18.50 each. They are inexpensive, yet beautifully reproduced. They encourage me to think of collecting the set that Triplekite intend to release over the coming years, and I feel it's worth noting that keeping an eye on this series will reap rewards: you'll get to find out about photographers you hadn't heard of before, but you'll also be open to looking at a wide variety of projects. If you're a book collector like I am, then I would imagine that some of the titles may be very popular indeed, and knowing which ones to collect just makes it more enticing to collect the entire set.

I think Triplekite have offered a concept in photography book publication, which they should be admired for.

For more information, please see: Triplekite Publishing Website