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Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day (5)

Having taken to photography once again, I sometimes find myself being a bit enthusiastic about one or two of the captures I make on any certain day - I might over enthuse sometimes and annoy those around me with my ... shall we say 'arty farty' ideas about why I like one photograph over another.

I'm not one to bang on about the relative merits of one art form over another, nor would I claim to be any great expert on the subject of photography (or any art for that matter) and, although I am from the school of thought that distinctly falls into the "if I likes it, I like it" way of thinking, while I was at college I stumbled across one particular theory which I find helps explain why some people 'like' something, while others 'love' it ... and all without getting to 'poncey' about the whole thing.

Roland Barthes book Camera Lucida (amongst other things) looks at the idea that a person has two distinct ways of looking at a photograph ... firstly what he calls the studium, which is the cultural, linguistic or political way of 'seeing' the photograph, and secondly the punctum which is the personal 'feelings' or emotions that the image stirs in any single person and creates a direct (or more direct) relationship with an image.

His theories have been bashed around a bit since I was at college, but I think at its simplest level, this does explain the like versus love (or even hate) aspect of preferring any form of cultural creation.

Here is an example of what Barthes is saying ...

... here is a photo from my Flickr account - nothing special about it ...


Pollen Covered Bee

Now, from my point of view (and remember, I took the photo, so I'm involved already) is, its a bee on a yellow flower, even if I hadn't taken the shot, I could probably guess that the flower is a buttercup. Perhaps if I lived somewhere more arid (less soggy than Cornwall) I might not be able to identify that the flower is a buttercup, but I would most likely know that it was a flower, and even if I lived in the coldest part of the world, I'm also certainly going to recognise a bee.

So, the studium of the photograph (though it will vary from viewer to viewer) is in essence "This is a photograph of a bee on a yellow flower".

Now, heres where I think Barthes is a clever fellow indeed - In my opinion almost every conflict of one type or another (not just physical, but mental and emotional) is caused by people failing to 'see' things from anothers perspective ... this exercise helps you do that ...

The punctum of the photograph to me is (and this is not an exhaustive list) - Yellow is a colour I associate with my primary school team, warmth, summer, the sun. I love wildflowers (for many reasons, but mainly because as I was once a gardener, I really don't understand who decides what a weed is!)

Insects fascinate me - bee's are scarce at the moment, its difficult to get closeups of bee's, I'm always amazed at the 'hairiness' of insects when you manage to take closeups ...

I wouldn't say I love this photo, but I like it a lot and it would definitely be in my 'Photos of the Day'

Making any sense yet?

Now imagine you are allergic to bee stings - what do you think the punctum is then ?

Have a look at my punctum photos - you might like them, you might not ... but thats the point really :)

Broken Pocket Watch

I'm not usually one for studio shots (and in this case, by studio, I mean next to my office window on the inside of one of my jackets which had a nice non-reflective black material) ... but today I took a few photos of things I've got lying around the house ... mostly for projects I'm working on, or been working on.

This was an old pocketwatch that I'd bought as part of a joblot when I was designing a few metalwork objects ...

I whacked a few closeup filters onto the camera lens and put the camera on my mini tripod (the light was good, but not great, so I had to use a longish exposure).

The combination of the filters and the apeture size gives this a really fantastic minimal depth of field that adds to the whole 'old' feeling.

The final picture has been cropped and manipulated in photoshop to further add to the 'nostalgic' look ...

I've not taken many 'set up' photographs, but this one has encouraged me to try some more ... watch this space!

Jun 08 2012

Foamy Sea

Watch Out - Foam

This is perhaps not the best shot I took on my walk on Tregantle Beach, but its the one by which I'll remember the day.

Its slightly out of focus - and so was eveything! The wind was so strong, I had trouble standing up and my eyes were watering, so getting any of the photos in focus was a small miracle :)

I actually like the way the 'out of focus' wave of foam gives a better impression of just how strong the wind was!

The foam was being blown along the beach in all directions (hence the little trail towards the camera).



May 31 2012

Razor Wire

Razor Wire

I've been making a conscious effort to photograph things other than flowers and insects and "pretty" nature stuff ... its difficult, I think we all like to blinker off the nasty things, edit out all the litter that swirls around our streets and try to ignore the latest breeze block and concrete monstrosity the local council have deemed necessary for our democratic survival, but I'm trying :)

As a result, I'm actually quite enjoying taking photographs of manmade stuff ... not always, but often, I'm fairly happy with the results - in this case, the light was quite low and the sky was clouding over, so an open aperture and exposure for the sky resulted in a quite pleasing effect, I'm not sure I'd want it blowup and hanging on my wall, but none-the-less, I'm happy with my razor wire photograph :D

Hazel Leaf Shadow

This, like many of my favourite shots, was a snapshot - I had to stand on tiptoe to reach, but the Lumix LCD screen came in handy to focus with the camera away from my face ... always, just always buy a camera with this function - an excellent idea ... I could hug the person who first thought of it :)

Anyway, I love this photograph - the contrast, the lighting ... great, I think we don't look at things closely enough any more ... when I got my closeup filters, it made me appreciate not just smaller things, it made me look for small things, and by doing so, I started actually taking notice of stuff that I'd pretty much started to take for granted ... they say that we don't actually 'see' most of whats going on around us, just whats directly in front of us, our brains fill in the rest from past experiences ... perhaps spending some time actually looking directly at a small patch of earth, or a leaf (but not the Sun) can do us all good :)


May 25 2012

Hazy Buttercup

This was taken on a day my dog, Jake, woke me with his itchy ear (he's allergic to pollen

Early Morning Buttercup

and sometimes his ears get a bit too gunked up and he has trouble sleeping) - so at about 5:20 a.m (yes a.m) we went for a walk to one of the local nature reserves.

We'd been there over an hour, when I grabbed this capture - the sun was just starting to clear the morning haze and you can actually see the haze in the photo.

I also am a big fan of buttercups, and this is a favourite of mine - you can see dew on the flower and the sunlight reflecting off the dew ... for a quick snapshot, I think it summed up the morning really well, damp and dreary, but brightening up and eventually becoming bright and sunny :D