Fun photos and hanging out with my inner child

Macro b&w shot of cut onion with bokeh. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
— George Bernard Shaw

For me, photography is play.

I have no-one telling me what to shoot; or how and when. I don’t make money from it (although I’d like to one day). The only constraints on me are time, light and my imagination.

The shot above is pure play. Not just the messing about with an onion, a smartphone and some tinfoil (now there’s a sentence you don’t often see), but the afterwards playing — the electronic doodling with photo-editing apps.

Diane Ackerman said “play is our brain’s favorite way of learning”, while the psychologist Jean Piaget offered this advice about creativity:

If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.
— Jean Piaget

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally

 

Moving on from colour: form and texture in sculpture

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Detail of Wolf Habichhorst's nikau garden light sculptures, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie. Edited with Snapseed.

Detail of Wolf Habichhorst’s nikau garden light sculptures, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie.

I think sculpture is a great medium to photograph in black and white. Without the distraction of colour, we can focus on forms and textures; like the folded wire mesh of Wolf Habichhorst’s garden lights, or the wood grain in Karen Walters’ carved seed pods.

Detail from Karen Walters, 'Tree of Golden Pods', NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, edited with Snapseed.

Detail from Karen Walters, Tree of Golden Pods, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie.

Cast and rendered works , like Frank Watson’s The Thoughtful Fish and Sam Harrison’s Gretchen, reveal textures that are a legacy of their production processes.

Frank Watson, 'The Thoughtful Fish', NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie. Edited with Snapseed.

Frank Watson, The Thoughtful Fish, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie.

Sam Harrison, 'Gretchen.' NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

Sam Harrison, Gretchen. NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

All of these images are taken from the outdoor sculpture exhibition, NZ Sculpture OnShore. As well as being New Zealand’s largest such exhibition, is also a fund-raiser for Women’s Refuge — donating over $1.5m to the cause since its inception. The exhibition is held on a beautiful cliff-top location, overlooking the harbour. On a sunny day, the backdrop of sparkling water and blue sky can enhance visitors’ enjoyment of the huge range of work exhibited. But sometimes, we can better see the artist’s vision and intent by taking away the colours of sea and sky. I think it’s easier to focus on the play of light and shade in Rebecca Rose’s ‘In Flight Entertainment’ without gazing at the background blues and greens of trees and ocean.

Rebecca Rose, 'In Flight Entertainment.' NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

Rebecca Rose, In Flight Entertainment. NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. You can see Sally’s photos, and find out more here.

DP Photo Challenge: dialogue

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Dew drop. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

Dew drop. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

christmas decorations in a shop window. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

In his post for the Daily Post Challenge, Frédéric Biver  says “When it comes to photography, dialogue can be perceived as a consensual interaction between two images. Placed next to each other, each photograph opens up to meanings that weren’t there when viewed alone.”

I work in the creative side of marketing; bringing words and images together to create meaning, invoke emotion, suggest a course of action. I love the way the human mind wants to “join the dots” between any two points, to create narratives and meanings from images or symbols that may share little more than proximity.

With this challenge I’ve tried to bring together pairs of images around which authentic narratives can be generated, but also to suggest a meta-narrative about the photographer — me. I think my choices reveal a lot; about my life, my interests, the way I approach photography, perhaps even my personality.

Shoes and boards: universal symbol for "caution, boys inside". Photo: Su Leslie 2014

Shoes and boards: universal symbol for “caution, boys inside”. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

The morning after. Remnants of the teenagers' breakfast. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

The morning after. Remnants of the teenagers’ breakfast. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

In this centenary year of the start of WWI; crimson and sepia have come to be imbued with more intense layers of meaning.

ANZAC Illuminations: Auckland War Memorial Museum. Photo: Su Leslie, 2012

ANZAC Illuminations: Auckland War Memorial Museum. Photo: Su Leslie, 2012

berry boys

The Berry Boys: exhibition of WWI photos, Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

Sometimes the dialogue between images is an intensely personal one; a narrative of love and tenderness.

tom b&w

The boy-child. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

 

Arum lily. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

Arum lily. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

This post was written in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: dialogue.

Here are some other blogger’s dialogues that I enjoyed:

http://kanwalkwilltravel.com/2014/09/02/wk-6-joy-is/

http://buntymcc.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/dialogue-formalinformal/

http://maamej.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

http://blessingsthruraindrops.com/2014/09/01/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

http://eatswritesshoots.com/2014/08/30/dialogue-no-1/

http://allentimphotos2.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue-with-a-flea-market-shopper/

http://beijingcityphoto.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

http://tiffanymetzger.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

http://citysonnet.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

http://isengrapher.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

http://artbea.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

http://breathofgreenair.com/2014/08/31/dialogue-in-stone-callanish/

http://beeblu.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/weekly-photo-challenge-dialogue/

 

 

Steel & grease: the new project in our garage

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Mechanical things are not my forte. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Bike bits #1. Mechanical things are not my forte. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

I am the daughter of a perfectionist tradesman; practical and unafraid to get stuck in and fix things when they break. But my long tenure as the Big T’s co-habitee has, I confess, made me a bit lazy. Like my dad, T is enormously handy. He has built bits of our house, maintained our cars,  and sorted out the kind of plumbing and electrical problems that other people would have paid a professional  to do. And I have definitely developed a tendency to ask for his help rather than trying to do maintenance and repair stuff myself.

T spends his days at a computer screen; a mechanical engineer whose work is mainly virtual. But he’s a man who needs a project; a tools out, hands dirty, greasy smell project. Several years ago he restored his old motor bike which had languished in his parents garage while we were in the UK. He doesn’t ride as often as he’d like — but at least now he can.

Bike bits. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Bike bits #2. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

A few months ago he bought another bike to restore. So once again half of the garage is spread with tools and parts. This is totally outside my realm of either knowledge or interest, so I content myself with occasionally taking photos of these machines.

Bike bits #3. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Bike bits #3. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Black and white photography works well for machinery; allowing a focus on shape and texture. I shot these deliberately in quite poor light without my glasses on. I figured I didn’t really understand what I was photographing so I’d just — literally — point and shoot.

Bike bits #4. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Bike bits #4. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

I have friends (and of course a partner) who can look at these photos and not only know what all the parts are, but whether they are original or aftermarket, and can probably tell what size and make the bolts are. I just look at them and think; nice detail, cool contrast.

Bike bits #5. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Bike bits #5. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

Sally’s Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Photo challenge this week at Lens and Pens by Sally is black and white. Pop over and have a look.

 

Black and white: theft or focus?

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Ramon Robertson, 'Void' 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014.

Ramon Robertson, ‘Void’ 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014.

Auckland is enjoying a gloriously sunny week, and yesterday I finally managed to visit the Harbourview Sculpture Trail in Te Atatu. I have an interest in sculpture as an art form, (Travel Theme: Sculpture) and a particular interest in the Te Atatu event as it is one of several in Auckland that have sprung up in response to the success of NZ Sculpture OnShore – the first outdoor sculpture exhibition in Auckland, and an event with which I’ve become very involved.

Because of the weather, my photos from yesterday are wildly colourful, so it has been interesting to strip away the colour and focus instead on the forms of the sculptures themselves.

Ramon Robertson is a Scottish artist now resident in New Zealand. His work ‘Void’ consists of a series of figures atop a tall wooden structure – contemplating their existence, or staring into the void.

Ramon Robertson, 'The Void', 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014.

Ramon Robertson, ‘The Void’, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014.

Figures are also central to Anton Forde‘s ‘Te Atatu Revisited’ –  a group of carved kuia (elderly Maori women).

Anton Forde, 'Te Atatu Revisited', 2014. Photo; Su Leslie 2014

Anton Forde, ‘Te Atatu Revisited’, 2014. Photo; Su Leslie 2014

The Kuia are carved from gorgeous red-brown hardwood, so the photographic challenge was to still capture something of the strength and wisdom of the women in whose hands the well-being of families and communities resides. I’ve relied on emphasizing the grain of the wood – distinct against the unfocused background – to suggest the age-lines and maturity of the figures.

Plant forms provide the inspiration for much of the work at Harbourview. Juliette Laird’s ‘Transplantation’ consists of a grove of “trees” with colourful knitted leaves and wound wool branches. These remind us of a time – not so long ago – when West Auckland was home to many orchards and vineyards, planted by European settlers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Would these introduced plants have seemed as ‘alien’ to the environment then as their knitted counterparts do now?

Juliette Laird, 'Transplantations', 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

Detail: Juliette Laird, ‘Transplantation’, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

Juliette Laird, 'Transplantations', 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

Juliette Laird, ‘Transplantation’, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

Carol Robinson created a series of ceramic pods on steel poles  which she “planted” in a pond to sway gently and sit beautifully amongst the “real” plants. The colour palette of the pods is mainly black and white, but with  blue and red centres. Without that burst of colour, I’ve had to rely on trying to emphasise the texture of the design.

Pods

Carol Robinson, ‘Pods’, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

‘On Angels’ Wings’ by the Expressive Art Group, is the one piece I think actually works better in black and white. When I de-saturated the shot, it revealed the bright white hands which make up the wings, with much greater clarity than I’d seen in the colour original.

hand wings b&w

Expressive Art Group, ‘On Angels’ Wings’, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

This post was written for Sally’s Black & White Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. I’ve noticed that I seem to gravitate towards images of art for this particular theme. I think for me that is the challenge – to somehow retain and convey the beauty of the art even as I’m taking away a part of it.

Art is a deliberate act; a construction of beauty and meaning and power in which the colours chosen by the artist – and provided by the setting  – are an integral part of experiencing the work. Does art lose it’s power when stripped of this component? I suppose one could make the same argument about photographs themselves -particularly photos of three dimensional art.

And maybe that is the point of photography; by taking away some elements the photographer is inviting us to contemplate others.

Have I achieved that with any of my images? You judge.

Images shot on iPhone4 and edited with Pixlr Express.

Here are some black and white images from the challenge that I I’ve enjoyed:

http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/phoneography-challege-black-and-white-beauty-in-simple-things/

http://pictograf.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white/

http://completelydisappear.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/the-overcast-sky/

http://irisgreenwald.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/phoneography-challenge-the-phone-as-your-lens-black-and-white/

http://angelinem.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white-in-the-bar/

http://piecesofstarlight.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/9194/

http://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white-4/

http://nwframeofmind.com/2014/03/17/iphone-monday-3-17-14/

http://helpalongthepath.com/2014/03/17/horse-of-a-different-color-phoneography-challenge/

http://firebonnet.com/2014/03/17/phoneography-bw-philodendron-bipinnatifidum/

http://allkindsaeverything.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white-arrival-of-spring/

Phoneography challenge: black and white

It’s turned out to be an odd summer in Auckland. After last year’s endless sunshine (and accompanying drought), we’ve had weeks of rain, high winds and a whole lot of overcast.

Pah Homestead, Hillsborough, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Taken on iPhone 4; colour editing only.

This makes a black and white theme quite timely, but almost renders photo editing redundant as I discovered when I looked at some photos I took yesterday at the TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre, housed in the Pah Homestead, Hillsborough, Auckland. The sky had been so leaden that there was very little colour to edit out of many of my images.

Pah Homestead, Hillsborough, Auckland. The house was completed in 1879, and I wanted to give the shot a sense of age. Photo: Su Leslie 2014. Taken with iPhone 4 and edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

Pah Homestead, Hillsborough, Auckland. The house was completed in 1879. Photo: Su Leslie 2014. Taken with iPhone 4 and edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor to try and capture something of the mood of the day.

The Homestead is a grand late 19th century house–  at one time the largest in Auckland — which is currently owned by the Auckland Council and open to the public to view the art collection housed in it. The work exhibited at the Homestead comes from the collection of contemporary New Zealand art held by the Wallace Arts Trust.

pah ballroom

Inside the Homestead, contemporary New Zealand art hangs or sits in the house’s many beautiful, lavish rooms. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Taken with iPhone 4 and edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

One of the things I really like about visiting the Wallace Collection is the juxtaposition between contemporary art and the slightly eclectic design of the house itself. Modern sculptures sit in neoclassical niches or hang from ceilings adorned with plaster roses.

A cafe spills out onto the terrace, offering views of a wonderful collection scupltures by New Zealand artists. This bronze head by Terry Stringer is one of my favourites.

Figure in a Landscape Head, Terry Stringer. The James Wallace Arts Trust Collection, Pah Homestead, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie 2014. Taken with iPhone4 and edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

Figure in a Landscape Head, Terry Stringer. The James Wallace Arts Trust Collection, Pah Homestead, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie 2014. Taken with iPhone4 and edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

Terrace cafe peeping through from Gregor Kregar's sculpture Prstan - winner of the 2000 Wallace Art Award, and now located in the garden of the homestead. Photo: Su Leslie 2014. Taken with iPhone4 and edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

Terrace cafe peeping through from Gregor Kregar‘s sculpture Prstan – winner of the 2000 Wallace Art Award, and now located in the garden of the homestead. Photo: Su Leslie 2014. Taken with iPhone4 and edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

How fitting that a black and white cat decided to settle amongst black and white furniture on a very black and white day.

This post was written in response to Sally’s weekly Phoneography Challenge – black and white theme. You can see Sally’s work here. Or visit some of the other black and white posts I’ve enjoyed:

http://wisnuwidiarta.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/phoneography-challenge-the-phone-as-your-lens-sleeping-under-a-tree/

http://weliveinaflat.com/blog/phoneography-weekly-getting-mood-chinese-new-year-cny/

http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white-2/

http://streetsofsfphotos.com/2014/01/20/streetlight-on-tree/

http://angelinem.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white-coco/

http://decocraftsdigicrafts.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/iphoneography-challenge-black-and-white/

http://amarnaik.com/2014/01/20/gapstow-bridge-central-park-new-york-city/

http://thepalladiantraveler.com/2014/01/20/travel-italy-trentino-alto-adige-ski-the-dolomites-phoneography-challenge-black-and-white/

http://nwframeofmind.com/2014/01/20/iphoneography-monday-1-20-14/

http://watchingthephotoreels.com/2014/01/20/black-and-white-phoneography-time/

http://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/phoneography-challenge-the-phone-as-your-lens-black-and-white-2/

http://pilotfishblog.com/2014/01/21/iphoneography-monday-black-and-white/

http://chrisbreebaart.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/iphoneography-challenge-monday-black-and-white/