The PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 38: Levels and Curves

Photoactive 400We welcome back Nik Bhatt, of Gentlemen Coders and RAW Power fame, to pick his brain on editing photos using levels and curves: what the differences are between the two tonal adjustment tools, and how to use them. We also talk about understanding the histogram, and touch on editing white balance and why we may be using the eyedropper tool wrong.

Listen to PhotoActive, Episode 38: Levels and Curves.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

The PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 37: Backups and 360-Degree Photos

Photoactive 400We’re tackling two topics in this episode. First up, all-important backups! We emphasize backups all the time, but what does a good backup system look like? Then, after the break, we turn a never-ending corner and look at 360-degree photography, an interesting and creative niche.

Listen to PhotoActive, Episode 37: Backups and 360-Degree Photos.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

The PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 35: Martin Parr Shot My Portrait

Photoactive 400In this episode of PhotoActive, we have some specific ideas about photographing with constraints. Whether you’re looking to expand your knowledge of individual shooting features (such as aperture or shutter speed) or get out of a creative rut, imposing constraints on yourself can actually turn out to be a freeing exercise.

Listen to PhotoActive, Episode 36: Photographing with Constraints.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

The PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 35: Martin Parr Shot My Portrait

Photoactive 400For this week’s episode, we’re moving to the other side of the camera. Kirk had the opportunity to get his portrait done by world-renowned Magnum photographer Martin Parr. He shares what it was like to be the subject, not the photographer.

Listen to PhotoActive, Episode 35: Martin Parr Shot My Portrait.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

Three Notable New Photobooks: Don McCullin, Michael Kenna, and Todd Hido

I got three interesting new photobooks this week, and rather than review each of them separately, here are some notes about each of them.

The Landscape, by Don McCullin

LandscapeKnown for his work as a war photographer, Don McCullin has also long shot landscapes, notably near his home in Somerset, in the UK. This book contains five sections. The first contains photos taken in a number of locations, the second photos from Somerset and elsewhere in the UK; the third consists of photos taken in India and the Middle East; the fourth returns to Somerset; and the final section contains photos of Somerset, Northern England, Scotland, and France. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

These photos are all dark; not just black and white, but they contain brooding tones, often with stark clouds, tangled trees, and lots of water (photos of flooding in Somerset). There is a unity among the style of the photos, which cover several decades of work, though not all are really landscapes. Many of the photos from India are of people in a landscape; there are photos of ruins in Palmyra; and there are a few photos of grimy cityscapes in the UK.

Nevertheless, there is something majestic about the darkness of these photos, especially the ones from Somerset, or the astounding photo of Stonehenge (below). This is a composition of vastness, of the spaces in front of his eyes, of the contrast between land and sky, which isn’t always clear. A stunning book of black and white photos.

Stonehenge

Michael Kenna, rafu

RafuKnown for his beautiful black and white landscapes, Michael Kenna has published his first book of portraits. This slim book contains 41 photos of nude Japanese women. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

In a short text at the end of the book, Kenna explains that he had been shooting nudes in Japan for about ten years, and these 41 photos were selected for an exhibit in Japan, and for this book, out of some 9,000 photos that he had shot.

They have the Micheal Kenna touch; they are square, use a hint of toning, and are not particularly erotic. If anything, they recall Edward Weston’s nude photos of the 1920s and 1930s.

These are subtle photographs where there is much more than the female body being shown, and this slim yet attractive book is a very interesting new aspect of Michael Kenna’s work.

Kenna

Todd Hido, Bright Black World

HidoEven for someone familiar with Todd Hido’s work, this book is a bit of a shock. In 48 large format photos – some of which fold out to double- or quadruple-size – Hido explores locations outside the United States, with a stunning level of darkness that pervades the works. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

An epigram from Hido sets the tone: “It’s been said that Inuits have many words to describe white. As the polar snow caps melt faster than we ever imagined, I wonder how long it will be before we have as many words to describe darkness.”

There is light in some of these photos, but most of them give off a level of angst that can be overpowering. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful book that is full of moving, atmospheric photos.

Bright black

I Had My Portrait Shot by Martin Parr

This weekend, my partner and I drove to Bristol, to the Martin Parr Foundation, to have our portrait shot. Photographer Martin Parr, a member of Magnum Photos, is well known for his quirky style of photography, of illustrating the UK, in particular, at leisure. Parr set up this foundation in 2017, with a goal of presenting his work, and the work of other British and Irish photographers.

Martin parr portrait

(Portrait of Martin Parr by me.)

As a fund-raising event, he held a portrait studio session over two days this weekend. This was a wonderful occasion to have a portrait shot by one of the great living photographers, at an affordable price, and to help support the foundation.

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