Out of sight…

PhotoTalk 2020/21

A few of us were out on a documentary project, and I noticed Darrell eyeing up a particular shot, I suspected but wasn’t sure what he was looking for. On asking a bit later, his description pretty much met a photo I knew well, and one that I thought most people knew, well, most local people. He didn’t know the one I was referring to; which brings me to today’s PhotoTalk image.

Before turning his attention to Video, John Greene was well known in photography circles, and in society at large who needed photography services.

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This image of his has remained with me for several reasons:

It had the typical John Greene processing in terms of colour and tonality

It captured a scene that was well-known but not often photographed (or publicised through photography)

The composition made it uncomfortable and memorable – and for this I would like to elaborate in comments)

I saw it in more than one local calendar and in printed news media

Paintings like the DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, Van Goth’s Starry Night, Photos like McCurry’s Afghan Girl remain with us because they keep popping up, they are talked about, they remain in reproduction in some form (these days, print and online), they are discussed and they are written about.

For local photographers’ work to achieve this level of recognition, should certain images be identified and promoted? Do any local works stand out? Let’s Talk!!

#PhotoTalk


Original comments and discussion can be seen on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook post.


WWII Women

PhotoTalk 2020/20

This weekend, some antic or the other had my daughter mentioning the “woman with the muscles” poster. This got me to thinking about the Rosie the Riveter Posters and the images during World War II, yes, before my time, but still relevant.

During times of conflict, times of dramatic change, photographs (and video) provide a record of people, events, environment, etc. The Rosie the Riveter campaign was responsible for women entering the American workforce in unprecedented numbers, and they were crucial to the war-effort (despite being paid far less than their male counterparts).

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This post is not about Rosie the Riveter nor the campaigns and illustrations of that time, in our April 03, 2020 PhotoTalk #6, we spoke about Margaret Bourke-White, today we show another of her images taken during the war-effort, of women in the work-force. As an image it is powerful, and it should also be said that Bourke-White was one of the first photographers hired for LIFE Magazine and the first female war correspondent.

Even today, it is still a male-centric world, and seeing images like this impresses me, not because I can’t see women doing these things, but maybe because I don’t see it often enough.

So, what’s the importance of a photographic record, in journalism and in art, during times of change, such as our current time? What are your thoughts of the similarities or differences between photographers of different genders and the photos they produce? Lets Talk!


The original comments and discussion can be seen on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group’s post.


Overtopping

PhotoTalk 2020/19

As a photographer who has a penchant for the seawalls, most of my seascapes and seawall images tend to be at low-tide.   I somehow prefer low-tide…  I will admit that one aspect might be the lack of salt-water spray on the camera, but that’s not the main reason.  I do admire images taken at high tide, especially when they are done right, and by right, I mean that they have an impact.

Two “over-topping” images immediately came to mind when I was thinking of this post, and I decided to use both.  As photographers, I have long admired the amazing nature photography of Bobby Fernandes (Robert J. Fernandes), and I’ve always marvelled at the technical skill in Dwayne Hackett’s studio work, so its no surprise that they both produced the images shown here.

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On the coastland, we live below sea-level, and all that protects us are our natural and man-made sea-defences.  It is our responsibility to maintain these defences, but to also acknowledge that as humans, we are contributing to climate change and the rise of sea-levels, and we, especially in Guyana, are dumping garbage that clogs our drainage, and prevents proper drainage; much of that garbage is thrown back at us by the sea.

Of great interest, although its video and not photography, is Alex Arjoon’s Coastland documentary, you should check that out!

As photographers, are we also responsible for the recording and documenting not only the ravages of the sea, but also the efforts of the builders of our defences? The keepers of our dams and kokers?  Let’s Talk!

#PhotoTalk


You can also see more of Dwayne’s work on his website, and on Instagram.

Original comments and discussion can be seen on the Guyana Photographers’Facebook Group post.

Through the eyes of a Foreigner

PhotoTalk 2020/16

  I came across Jean Ross’ images of Guyana recently, and the selection she had on her website had me thinking about a few things.

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  When I first began an interest in Photography, it was usually the case that when photographers came to our country, the images that they got were of a different calibre to those taken by locals; due to different factors, including training, access to better cameras, and also they saw things differently.

  That has changed a lot since then, and I think that with the talent available locally, that gap has narrowed and may even be non-existent to some extent.

  In looking at Jean’s selections, I do see that seeing Guyana from the perspective of an outsider has had a distinct influence on the images, but I dare say that images such as these have been produced in recent years by locals.  I had found the Guyana images on her website.

  What are your thoughts?  Whose work so you think may resemble some of Jean’s own?  Can we as photographers compete on par on the world stage?

Let’s Talk!


Original post can be seen on the original post Guyana Photographs’ Facebook Group and along with comments and discussion.


Darrell Carpenay

PhotoTalk 2020/12

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Bringing it closer to home today: I wasn’t intending to tackle one of Darrell’s pieces until much later down, but I came across this one in one of his Instagram accounts and thought it would be good to share it now.

It was lumped in with his Street Photographs, but to me this leans more toward Seascapes (personal opinion only) and its one of those images that immediately strikes me as a stand-out image. For those of you who are not familiar with some of Darrell Carpenay’s works, he tended toward more Nature and Landscape images, in recent years he has also made great strides in Street Photography here.

Now back to the image, firstly it uses very subtle tones and contrast, eking out subtle yet important details in the sky and in the waters, the there is the dark slash of the Jetty (groin, pier) across the width of the image, it angles up towards the left where stands two fishermen, and then there is the pièce de résistance for me, the marked undulation of the waves against the jetty. For me, this combines his love of landscapes and street photography into a simple, yet powerful image.

The image can be seen on instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0mhLGrHx-c/

Also you can follow his Street Photography on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/visualdarrell/

and his Nature and Landscape Photography at

https://www.instagram.com/darrellcarpenay/


Originally posted to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on the 23rd April, 2020. The original comments and discussion can be seen on that post.


The incomparable Annie Leibovitz

PhotoTalk 2020/11

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Most of you are probably familiar with the name Annie Leibovitz, she is known for her portraits, more specifically, she is known for her portraits of celebrities which often tended to the intimate side. She has many notable images, from Leonardo DiCaprio and the swan, to Angeline Jolie, to Lauren Hutton’s mud covered image to the infamous John Lennon image taken on the day he was assassinated.

I am not a portrait photographer, so I’ll just mention what it is that I feel makes her images grip me as they do, when I look at her portraits, I can feel the subject looking straight into my soul, there’s an intimacy not just in the setting, but between the subject and the camera, between the subject and the photographer; I feel as though Annie was flirting with the subject’s dark side, with the forbidden, with their very soul.

Of her many many images, I’ve always been drawn to the one I share here; there is, of course, quite a story or even stories behind and surrounding these gentlemen, but I just always found that the lighting, the texture and the colour of the processing combined with the intense, serious yet mischievous looks made this an instantly memorable and liked portrait, this isn’t as flambouyant or erotic as some of her work can be, but its always been a gripping one for me.

There are various types of portraits, what Annie did, was special, she had panache. What do you think of Annie’s portraits? Let’s talk.


The original was posted to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on April 21st, 2020. To see the original comments and discussion please visit that post.


Bobby Fernandes

PhotoTalk 2020/08

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I started off this series of chats with photos from two local photographers (Kester Clarke and Kwesi Isles), because I think that it is important to recognise and highlight our local talent, while also learning from the established and legendary photographers from around the globe. Today I want to share an image by one of our own local legends, Mr. Robert J. Fernandes, better known as Bobby Fernandes.

Although not my favourite image from him, I think that this image exemplifies some of the things that has always made Uncle Bobby’s images meaningful to me. This one is called “Rainy Season at Cipo”.

What follows are my own views, I can’t speak for anyone else; I grew up seeing his works on calendars, whether it was nature or architecture I was always fascinated, I think I learned more about local buildings, and about our country from seeing his photos on calendars than I did from the papers, mainly because I would ask questions of my parents or grand-parents about the images I was seeing. His images of anywhere outside of Georgetown were captivating to me, and he became known for these, I believe mainly because he had something most others didn’t, and that was access to these places, but I remember my parents and grand-parents saying to me that Bobby had “the eye”. He saw things and captured them on film in a way other people here didn’t.

As I myself got to know Uncle Bobby in later years, as I myself was beginning to learn about photography, I was surprised to learn that when I spoke about shutter speeds and aperture, ISO and bracketing, and all the other camera techniques I was learning about, he’d be amused in a way, because to him those were “camera tricks” and not very important to the final image, he was all about what he was seeing, yes, he’d use the camera and its settings, but the visual impact was more important; and there it was, it dawned on me that my parents and grand-parents were right, he had “the eye”.

I remember one conversation with some other photographers one Friday evening where we were discussing his work, and the lack of technical excellence in Bobby’s work came up, and at the end the general consensus was that Bobby wasn’t a gear-head like some of us are these days, he was a photographer, and the results speak for themselves.

He lived in the Orinduik area for many years, and his images of vistas, water-falls and life there will always remain with me, as will his other works of wildlife, natural patterns, and much more. If you can get your hands on his last book “99 Best” you would not be disappointed.

Michael C. Lam


Our eighth post in the PhotoTalk series, this was posted to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on the 7th April, 2020. The original comments and discussion can be seen on that post.


Ghandi – Margaret Bourke-White

PhotoTalk 2020/06

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Let’s talk about a famous female photographer, but not necessarily about her famous photo.

Margaret Bourke-White is known for her famous photograph of Ghandi and the Spinning Wheel; it is a notable photo for several reasons, among which are the fact that its a photo of Mahatma Ghandi, she was the last person to do his portraits before his assassination (and interview him, a story in itself), it captured Ghandi as never before, the simple man at his then infamous charkha, she was the first woman to break into the photojournalism field, her photo was the cover of the very first TIME magazine, and the list of her accomplishments goes on.

The amazing thing to me is that she became famous for doing something she originally didn’t want to do, photograph people, especially those in politics. She started out shooting waterfalls to make ends meet, then into a bit of architecture, until she got to shoot subjects she was passionate about, machinery, things in industrial America (and the wider world), then into photojournalism, the war, etc.

I could go on, but you should check our her story yourselves, as well as photos from those earlier periods.

So let’s talk, got opinions? got questions, let’s chat!


Original post to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook group was done on April 3rd, 2020. Original comments and discussion can be seen on that post.


Ansel Adams – Michael C. Lam

PhotoTalk 2020/03

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One of my inspirations has always been Ansel Adams, his black and white landscapes have always fascinated me. Ansel shot film back then and did his own dark room work, concentrating on his “Zone System” to get the details he needed. You should read more about that. While “The Tetons, Snake River” isn’t my favourite Ansel Adams photograph it illustrates my description of what he accomplished, and some of what I’ve aspired to. Feel free to discuss the good / bad of his work, whether you think his work was great or over-hyped, etc. 

When I started this PhotoTalk series, Dione had asked me how I get my black and white images to be “Black and White”, she says all of hers a tinge to them, red/yellow/orange… I do most of my processing in Adobe Lightroom, my base processing involves getting the highlights and shadows where I want them, and also making sure that there is the sharpness I need. I do tend to go for high contrast black and whites more than softer low-contrast images. I’ve juxtaposed one of mine here with that of Ansel’s for comparison and contrast. When I get the image where I need it in lightroom, I either use the LR Black and white tab to ensure that its in BW or I do further processing in DXO Nik Silver Efex.

Calling them Black and White is actually incorrect, they are monochrome images, lots of shades or grey. When I am printing, I ensure that I use black and white/monochrome files and that the printer uses as close to only Black ink as possible instead of mixing inks (CMYK) – for display, all files are RGB, but I try to ensure that in LR my settings are usually in Black and White. Images that have warmer tones like red/yellow/orange or even cooler tones towards blue may usually need a simple white balance adjustment towards a neutral temperature setting.

My process is not secret, and I am always open to questions.   Ansel’s Zone System is well documented and you should give it a read and learn a little from it.


Original published on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Page on March 30th, 2020. Original comments and discussions can be seen on the original post.


PhotoTalk – Wildlife; Kester Clarke and Kwesi Isles

First in the PhotoTalk series.

PhotoTalk 2020/01

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I’ve always admired those folks who do wildlife photography, in Guyana its mostly Bird Photography, but they do get in quite a bit of wildlife too. For local art competitions and exhibitions its been hard for these photos to break into the top where they are considered art.

My view on this has always been that the photographers approach has a lot to do with it. Many Bird Photographers are concentrating on catching the Bird, whether at rest or in flight, its not an easy task to get a great shot of the bird; what results most times are what I consider Bird Portraits, again, excellent work, but often not considered “art” by many.

I was discussing this with an artist and one of the things I came away from that conversation with was that the resulting photographs often lacked other compositional elements related to “story-telling”.

I wanted to mention two “Bird” photographs that, in my opinion, broke through that barrier and by themselves speak volumes. Kester Clarke’s image gives not only action in a still frame, but also offers drama, the shallow depth of field, the sharp details in the birds with the bit of motion blur on the wings makes it an instant pleaser. Kwesi Isles’ image uses subtle background detail with sharp foreground detail in the “post” to add to the main subject in flight, putting it in greyscale lets the viewer see all of this while being undistracted by colour, I haven’t seen the coloured version, but I believe that the background colour would have diminished the clarity seen in the black and white version.

Just my two cents. 

Thanks Kester and Kwesi!

Michael C. Lam


Originally published on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook page on March 25th, 2020. Comments can be seen there on the post.