It’s Friday in my corner of the world once again! This week we are looking at the photography of Jonathan-Stacey, one of RedBubble’s most talented coastal landscape photographers, and host of RedBubble’s incredibly popular SEA group!
Despite the continuing evolution of his compositional and processing techniques, Jonathan primarily attributes the success of his artwork to his amazement of the world around us… not the man made world, but rather than natural world. The sky and water have been the key features in his most popular artwork – no matter how hard he tries to shoot something else, these two elements keep making their way into his photography (a feeling that I can totally sympathise with).
Jonathan identifies Christian Fletcher (based in the south west of Western Australia) as his most notable influence, thanks to his captivating, pastel dawns and vibrant sunsets – both of which are clearly evident in Jonathan’s own artwork! Other influencers, such as Peter Lik, have helped Jonathan to see that an in-depth appreciation and knowledge of light is the key to great photography.
Having purchased his first DSLR camera early in 2009 (a Nikon D90), Jonathan joined the RedBubble community in December 2009. He believes that studying the artwork of others whom he admires on RedBubble has seen his own artwork move forward in leaps and bounds. He also had the following to say about the RedBubble community:
It’s a strong community … you can gauge whether you are improving or whether something works from the views … not necessarily the comments, this I think is dependent on who and how many you comment on.
Jonathan is originally from South Dorset in the UK (aka The Jurassic Coast), but moved to Australia with his family in 1999. Despite loving the amazing colours of the Australian landscape, he can’t wait to get back to his original homeland to apply his amazing photography skills to the landscapes there.
I personally enjoy Jonathan’s artwork due to the similarities between his subject matter and compositional style, and my own. He exhibits a degree of technical perfection that I aspire towards, and serves as a fantastic source of inspiration for me whenever I go through a phase of bringing home uninspired photography.
It’s been hard to pick out just five of my favourite images from Jonathan’s folio, so rather than clicking on the individual photos above, why not just click straight through to his entire folio and check out the rest of his amazing artwork there…
I’d like you to meet my photography studio assistants: the rubber duck family (click for larger view)…
These little guys became permanent travelling companions in my camera bag some time ago, when I went through a phase of capturing uninspiring landscapes. I read about this technique for overcoming the issue of boring compositions: carry an arbitrary object around in your camera bag, and find a creative way to include it in the scenery whenever you lack inspiration. The rubber duck family did a great job of inspiring creativity in my landscape work when I felt uninspired!
Having moved on from that phase, the rubber ducks maintained their place in my camera bag and were promoted to the role of ‘studio assistants’ for much of the commercial work that I do…
I often find myself out on location with clients, having to make use of whatever space and lighting that they have available. Rather than toy around with my equipment to get the settings correct while one of the client’s models stands around idly twiddling their thumbs, I get there early and pose my rubber ducks to get everything just right.
Although one could use any arbitrary object for this purpose, the rubber duck family is particularly well suited to this kind of work! The soft, yellow, rubbery surface of each duck’s body appears much like the made-up skin of a human model when photographed, while the reflective, red beaks do a great job of mimicking the reflections of a human model’s lip gloss when using flash units. Furthermore, the irregular form of each duck (particularly mother duck) helps to assess how highlights and shadows will appear on the equally irregular form of the human face.
As for my choice to use a family of rubber ducks rather than a single rubber duck: having three objects that I can place at varying distances from the camera can be really helpful in assessing the depth of field that any given combination of lens focal length, focal distance and aperture will give me. This is particularly useful when shooting multiple models together, or when the surroundings of a single model are important in the final image.
Apart from the technical uses described above, the rubber duck family can provide a great conversation starter for when we want to ‘connect’ with our models in a bid to get the best possible images. I often leave the rubber ducks out on the floor where the model(s) will be standing when it comes time to start the shoot… and they have never failed to start a jovial conversation that forms a connection between myself and my models!
So, rather than spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on cameras, lenses or filters next time you feel it’s time to upgrade your equipment, save your money and spend just a couple of dollars on a family of rubber ducks. As far as I’m concerned, they are a ‘must have’ piece of equipment in the commercial photographer’s camera bag, due to their versatility and applications when working under a wide range of conditions that the photographer cannot readily control.
It’s been a busy week for me, with a bit of commercial photography work on for a dance company down here in Melbourne, and so this week’s Friday Featured Photographer nearly became a Saturday Featured Photographer. Of course, that just wouldn’t be right, so here goes…
I’ve always been amazed at the degree of modesty exhibited by the best photographers over on RedBubble. Those who show the greatest talent seem to be the most humble, leaving their artwork to speak for itself. Jim Worrall is one of these photographers.
Jim’s professional background is in the printing industry, where he has worked as an electronics technician for the last 30 years. His background in photography only goes back a few years to 2006, when he took up photography in response to a creative urge and a sense that something was missing from his life… and already he is producing artworks that possess a degree of technical perfection that leave the seasoned pros of RedBubble envious!
Jim started off by photographing his pet dogs (who enjoyed the attention!) using a point-and-shoot camera, during which time he studied the concepts of composition and exposure. He discovered the power and flexibility of exposure bracketing and blending in early 2007, and stumbled onto the versatility of the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique as it became popular on the Internet around that time. In late 2007, he took the next step by buying a DSLR camera and a few lenses.
It was at about the same time that Jim was introduced to RedBubble, which encouraged him to attend photography meets and post his artwork online. RedBubble has allowed Jim to meet many “like minded” people and to form some wonderful friendships through the site. I have a lot of respect for Jim’s philosophy on posting artwork online to sites such as RedBubble:
The images that I post online are the ones that I find personally interesting and not necessarily the images that I think might be popular. When I manage to sell a print every now and then I consider it to be a compliment and a bonus.
These days, Jim considers photography to be more of an obsession than a hobby: the art form is always on his mind, even as he engages in other activities. I can totally sympathise with that feeling, and think that it shows through in the technical proficiency and professionalism that Jim consistently displays in the artwork that he publishes!
In addition to his folio on RedBubble, Jim also publishes an amazing blog, “photography by jim worrall – (the blog)”, and hosts his own web site, “Photography by Jim Worrall”. If you are looking to be inspired in your own photographic work, it is well worth clicking through to explore each of these links!
It’s Friday, which means that it’s time to feature another of RedBubble’s most talented and inspirational photographers on my blog! This week I’m going right back to one of the first artists that drew my attention when I joined RedBubble, and one of the most proficient practitioners of HDR photography that I have seen to date: Yhun Suarez (aka spectrumcry)…
Yhun is 33 years of age, and was born and raised in Manila, Philippines; after completing his degree in Physical Therapy/Physiotherapy in 1999, he moved to England in 2000, where he now works for the National Health Service.
Despite his work in health services, Yhun says he has always been artistic, and his dream jobs were to become an animator or graphic novel artist. He attributes many of his varied artistic skills to his father (a lawyer with art skills), who taught him how to draw landscapes using pencil/crayons, how to play with water colours, calligraphy, and how to use a camera.
Yhun practised various forms of art and design throughout his school years, entering numerous themed poster-making competitions (and winning a few times), as well as designing t-shirts and basketball jerseys and so on. In his senior years, however, his interests became musical, when he focused more on playing the guitar and drums. These days he is playing drums for an unsigned rock band, ECHO FIRE – you can listen to their latest tracks on ReverbNation and MySpace.
Having amassed the typical collection of holiday snapshots and the like, Yhun’s passion for photography was really ignited in 2009, when he got himself a Nikon D60 DSLR camera with a kit lens. Determined to learn the basics of DSLR cameras, Yhun’s life was changed forever when he saw an image of a dog in HDR, which inspired him to learn about the HDR technique by surfing the net. After posting his first ever HDR image on Facebook, a friend encouraged Yhun to join RedBubble… and thankfully, he did!
Yhun had the following to say about RedBubble:
I became a member in January 2010 and it has been a great journey so far – I’m learning a lot… I enjoy looking at other artists’ masterpieces… All the features and challenge wins are very fulfilling… I have met a lot of talented and friendly artists… very enjoyable to say the least. And also, RB has definitely been a great place for me to release my artistic frustrations.
Being as humble and modest as he is, Yhun neglected to mention that he is a featured member of the following groups on RedBubble:
Despite my own preference for practising landscape photography, I can certainly appreciate other genres of photography as well. Yhun is quite the ‘all-rounder’ when it comes to photography, and his artwork regularly inspires me to consider the possibilities beyond landscapes. Furthermore, I am always so impressed by photographers who can apply the HDR process well to people and animals – this is an area where I have failed dismally in the past, but where Yhun is a true master of the art form!
Included throughout the text above are thumbnails of five of Yhun’s personal favourites from his own folio (click any image for a larger view). These are just five from over 160 other fantastic artworks that he has published in his RedBubble folio… click here to check out the rest!
It was a little before 2pm on Sunday, the 4th of July, 2010. I felt like I had the whole Sheoak Falls area to myself as I stood on the viewing platform at Swallow Cave, setting up my equipment (lazy, I know… although I had been shooting at various points along the Great Ocean Road for 7 hours already). I had not seen another soul since leaving the car park, not even while shooting the Sheoak Falls for an hour or so, nor while walking up the hill to Swallow Cave. I had discovered the peace and tranquillity that makes landscape photography my genre of choice… until I heard footsteps behind me. Frustrated, I turned around… to see a vision of beauty joining me on the viewing platform.
“Hi, how’s it going?” I blurted out uncontrollably with an equally uncontrollable smile. She answered, but I didn’t hear what she said.
She was more adventurous than me as she made her way around my equipment and slid down through the hole in the side of the viewing platform and on to the slippery rocks below. Instead of walking out across the rocks, she stood there and looked up at me.
“Did you want to get some shots before I make a mess of it?” she asked with a smile.
“No, no, you’re alright, go for it,” I answered, totally disbelieving that a member of the public would actually take a moment to consider what the landscape photographer was doing.
She skipped across the rocks and wandered around over the other side of the cascades, while I stood there taking my photos. Before long, she was back at the bottom of the viewing platform, trying to climb back up the slippery rocks that had been much easier to navigate on the way down.
“Would you like a hand there?” I asked.
“Yeah, I might,” she answered, reaching up and taking hold of my outstretched palm.
She had an accent that I couldn’t quite place, and given that we were at a popular location along the Great Ocean Road, I asked the most obvious question, “What else have you seen while you’ve been here?”
“You mean, in a tourist way?” she replied, “I’ve lived here for 12 years!”
I apologised for the assumption and we agreed that it was a forgivable mistake. She kept the conversation going, asking about my photography and my other interests. It quickly became obvious that she possessed intellect in addition to her beauty… she was switched on, asking me questions that would draw out my personal details without asking me for any of them directly (for example, instead of asking for my name, she asked if I was a famous photographer and whether or not she would know my work if I told her my name… I was even more impressed when she followed up by laughing and saying, “I thought I might have been talking to” and rattling off a list of famous Australian landscape photographers). Before I knew it, she knew all about me!
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for me. Although I managed to ask her about her interests and so on (and found it very cute when she had to think about her interests, and the first thing she came up with was “skinny dipping”, with “bush walking” in second place), sadly the need for basic details came to me when it was too late. At some stage during our conversation, her friend caught up and arrived on the viewing platform, went out and explored the cascades (while we continued our conversation on the viewing platform), and then came back and whisked my newfound friend away. They already had a great head start on me before I realised I hadn’t even found out her name.
I had never been so careless in packing up my equipment as I was at that moment (although nothing was left behind and nothing was broken, thankfully), but I wanted to catch up to them so that I could at least find out her name. I never caught up to them. I remembered her asking me where else I planned on going that afternoon, and thankfully I remembered my answer. So, I abandoned my previous practise of stopping at anything that looked interesting along the Great Ocean Road, and headed straight to where I said I had hoped to get to that afternoon, in the hope that her question was a loaded one that would see us bumping into each other a second time. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way, and my drive home tonight was a long and lonely one!
EPIC FAIL! *sigh*
There are a number of talented individuals within the RedBubble community who consistently produce and publish high quality artwork that regularly inspires me to do the same. Starting in July, I want to help draw attention to these artists by featuring one on my blog each Friday.
One of the most inspirational and talented photographers that I have been fortunate enough to converse with on RedBubble has been Philip Johnson. His RedBubble profile advertises a massive 475,000 views, which is understandable given the quantity of exceedingly high quality photography that Philip has published on the site. In addition to publishing his own artwork on RedBubble, Philip takes a lot of time giving back to the community by hosting a number of groups on the site:
- Art Deco Heaven – Period 1910 until 1939
- HDR Photography (one of my favourite groups on RedBubble *smiles*)
- Heritage Listed and Other Trusts Sites World Wide
- National Parks of the World & Great Parks Of The World
- Nikon DSLR Users Group (I won’t hold this against him *grin*)
- Sydney’s Northern Beaches
- The Greatest View in the World
- Unwanted, Abandoned & Saved Through Preservation
- Wide Angle and Fisheye Lens Photography
Philip focuses on landscape, architectural and heritage subject matter (this could be why I personally enjoy his work so much). He specialises in High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography and has commissions in fine art prints, wall murals and real estate. His work has been published in Australian and US publications, include Nine To Five here in Oz. His work has also been used in advertising campaigns, including a recent National Australian Tourism Campaign, and has been exhibited in a number of private galleries.
Despite knowing how busy he must be with hosting all those groups while continuing to work on his own successful photography business, I asked Philip to choose a few of his personal favourites from his folio to show in this blog post. Fortunately, he was happy to oblige, and came back to me with these images (click any thumbnail for a larger view)…
Of course, these are just a few of Philip’s favourite images… he has published over 1,500 other fascinating and awe-inspiring images in his folios on RedBubble and SmugMug. I cannot recommend highly enough that you take a moment to click through and check them out!
Despite not publishing so many images this last month, the stats have been going crazy! June was a fantastic month for sales, with a total of 5 prints sold of the following two artworks (click either thumbnail for a larger view):
Coincidentally, the second image above (“Morning Fog Near Lake Eildon”) was also featured in RedBubble’s Featured Art gallery during the month, which was a greatly appreciated although unexpected honour! A number of other artworks were also featured in RedBubble groups (click any thumbnail for a larger view):
In last month’s review, I set a goal to increase the stats by a factor of 100% in June. I achieved this goal in the all-important ‘sales’ figure, increasing by a factor of 125% from 4 sales as at the end of May, to 9 sales as at the end of June! Other stats fell a little short of the goal. 21,345 views as at the end of June represented an increase of 58%; 1,498 comments as at the end of June represented an increase of 48%; 562 favouritings as at the end of June represented an increase of 54%.
As for social networking, my Twitter follower numbers increased by a factor of 72% from 2,314 at the end of May to 3,976 at the end of June. The stats for my Facebook fan page were less impressive, with an increase of only 13% from 76 fans to 86 fans through June.
The reason for falling short of the 100% goal in most areas other than sales is likely due to the fact that I did not publish much artwork throughout June, nor did I put much effort into social networking, blogging, and so on. Instead, I have been focusing on writing and illustrating a book of landscape photography concepts, ideas, tips and tricks, which has been keeping me away from all those other activities.
Getting the book ready for publication continues to be my primary objective going into July. That said, I do hope to get back to publishing some new artwork in July, as I am still out there shooting as much as possible to illustrate the book, and will be working through the images that I have gathered to work out which will be in the book and which I can publish to RedBubble myself shortly. I also intend to balance out the development of the book a little bit better, so that I don’t entirely abandon the RedBubble community and all my followers on Twitter and Facebook again this month.