Monochrome

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Image: Su Leslie 2019

When we think of monochrome in photography, it’s often as an alternative to colour — or even as its opposite.

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Fern frond. Image: Su Leslie 2019

We might allow sepia — with its connotations of nostalgia.

But sometimes, nature presents us with monochrome images; green leaves, a bunch of flowers, or a perfect blue day on the lake.

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Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Lake Tarawera, Rotorua, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I’m sure there are others.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | monochrome

 

Seeing double

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“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams.  Image: Su Leslie 2019

Some things feel like they should always come in twos — like biscuits, and scoops of ice-cream. Though with (regular) hindsight, maybe having two eyes but only one stomach is a problem.

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Apparently, one of the earliest versions of  the saying “two’s company, three’s a crowd” dates back to 1678. John Ray wrote in his collection English Proverbs “One’s too few, three too many.”

One becomes two: shadows and reflections.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | seeing double

Layers upon layers

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Evening light, Whanganui River estuary. Image; Su Leslie 2019

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge asks for interpretations of the word layered.

Do I approach it literally with the layers of a macaron or a cafe breakfast?

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Salted caramel macaron. Not only layering of the biscuits with buttercream, but layers within the baking itself. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Hash-browns, mushrooms, eggs; layered to look good on the plate and distribute those delicious runny yolks throughout the dish. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Or stacked container layers, gone awry in high winds?

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Containers, Wellington Harbour. High winds have wrecked havoc with the carefully constructed layers. Image: Su Leslie 2017

More broken layers?

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Reflections in the contoured glass exterior of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2017

Or maybe layers in art?

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Detail, ‘Wave 2’ sculpture by Annette Thas. A tidal wave of discarded Barbie dolls installed at Tamarama Beach as part of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2015. Image: Su Leslie

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Layer after layer of discarded Barbie dolls form a wave shape. Layers of plastic and layers of meaning. Image: Su Leslie 2015

And then there are layers created by the two-dimensional nature of photography; compressing landscapes into bands of colour and texture.

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Landscape, Canterbury, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Tutukaka, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Not to mention layered images; double-exposures, super-impositions.

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Double-exposures; a newly discovered camera setting. Su Leslie 2019

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Photo-montage. Su Leslie 2019

Obviously, I couldn’t decide which to focus on.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | layered

Stealing Oreos?

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Protesters against TPPA, Auckland, 2015. Image: Su Leslie

“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus

The tiptoeing part of that quote definitely resonates with me when it comes to photographing people, particularly candid shots. It’s not something I do often, and my general rule of thumb is to make my presence known, but unobtrusive.

And when I’m happy with the results — definitely an Oreo moment.

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge | candid

Filling the frame

I recently saw a photo which consisted of a square of pale pink wall. On the very far right of the image, was a rectangle of black, and tiny cluster of brighter pink flowers.

I loved it! The simplicity and minimalism of the shot is so totally outside my photographic aesthetic or vocabulary.

Seeing Patti’s choice for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge —  Filling the Frame made me realise how much I do exactly that. I try to minimise distraction and guide viewers to see the my subject more clearly by presenting it front and (generally off-) centre.

Yet the ‘pink-wall’ image achieved exactly the same goal, focusing my attention not by foregrounding the flowers, but by filling the frame with “white space.”

Expect some attempts at this from me soon.

Silhouette

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Sunset, Christmas Beach, Herald Island, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie

We all know what a silhouette is — but do you also know the origin of the word?

Silhouette originally referred to a style of  portraiture popular in the mid 18th century, that depicted a person — usually in profile — as a solid shape. When done well, the subjects of these simple representations were clearly recognizable.

So you might think that the word silhouette means something in relation to this art form. But you’d be wrong.

Étienne de Silhouette (1709 – 1767) was a French nobleman who briefly served as Controller-General of Finances under Louis XV. It is commonly believed that his attempts to bring the nation’s finances under control earned him a reputation for penny-pinching.

The term à la Silhouette came to mean things that were seen as cheap — like the shadow profiles which were much less expensive to produce than traditional painted or drawn portraits.

Over time, the word has taken on a much wider meaning and now refers to pretty much anything that is backlit and appears as a dark undifferentiated shape on a lighter background.

Lens-Artists’ Weekly Challenge | silhouettes

Taking a break

img_5126 Watching the sunset, Castlecliff Beach, Whanganui, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

We tend to think of relaxation as a personal experience — the places and activities and moments that refresh and recharge us. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to find our attempts to relax utterly thwarted by the presence of too many other people with the same intent.

But sometimes it seems, relaxation can be collective. So many people arrived at Castlecliff Beach in Whanganui to watch this glorious mid-winter sunset, the little carpark ended up full. Families were picnicking on the beach, others in their cars, and a couple of groups lit driftwood fires. No-one played loud music or behaved badly; we were all too focused on enjoying nature’s theatre.

Posted to Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge — Taking a Break

Dreams within dreams

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“All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” ~Edgar Allan Poe. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The boy-child is studying digital media at university and recently made this video for an assignment. He’s really proud of it, and I think it’s quite professional, especially as video is a medium I haven’t really come to terms with yet.

He’s taken what was an exercise in using green-screen, and given it a very dream-like feel. The soundtrack song is Call Me, by Korean singer and DJ, Park Hye Jin. I have no idea about the surreal title.

Posted to the Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge | dreamy

 

 

 

Detail

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“The detail is as important as the essential is. When it is inadequate, it destroys the whole outfit.” — Christian Dior

A couple of years ago, I went to an exhibition called The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

I doubt anyone could ever call me a fashionista, but I do love beautiful things — and that  exhibition was a feast of beautiful things.

“A dress is a piece of ephemeral architecture, designed to enhance the proportions of the female body.” — Christian Dior

Understandably, the gallery lighting wasn’t great for photography,  but I hope these few images can convey some of the design genius and attention to detail that has made the House of Dior famous.

Posted to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | detail