'Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others' - Jonathan Swift
I think we have an instinctive creative need and this might manifest in anything from painting pinheads to designing advanced technology. When we develop a keen interest in photography it's not about the camera or what it can do, its about what we see and how we capture what we see with the camera. We often start seeing the often unseen. The mundane becomes interesting when we start looking for photo opportunities as we develop an increasing awareness of scenes that might ordinarily pass us by.
The two images below are examples. The image on the left is a close up of bees at work collecting pollen from a Michelia tree in my backyard. The day I took this photo, the tree was being swarmed by bees. I thought I'd take a closer look. By focusing closely on the flower the image is arguably more eye catching and interesting than a wide angle view of the tree would have been.
The image to the right was taken at Classics of The Sky, a regular event held at Tauranga Airport. I saw the smoke trailing aircraft turn for a fly-past and I waited to line it up through the open cockpit of the Harvard in the foreground. This made the photo much more interesting than if I'd photographed just one or the other aircraft.
The photo below is one of my most recent at the time of writing and its a great example of thinking about all the elements that can be used to make an eye catching photo. The photo was taken on the sultry evening of 30th March 2016, another day in a line of beautiful clear warm autumn days. Late in the afternoon a few clouds appeared and I thought about the potential for a sunset photo on the beach after work (as I'm apt to do). One of the handiest applications on my mobile phone is a tide times app. It's very handy if you are in to beach photography. I checked tide times and found that low tide would coincide with sunset. Already I was seeing boxes being checked. The good thing about low tide apart from providing more beach to walk on is that there is often a wide expanse of wet sand and wet sand means reflections. I was increasingly sure that all these elements had the potential to provide a recipe not only for a beautiful time to be walking on the beach, but a great photo opportunity.
By the time my wife Margie arrived home from work I had hastily made dinner. Had I been a contestant on Masterchef, I would have been the one going home as my mind was already at the beach. I suggested she eat as fast as, as we had no time to spare with the sun quickly slipping toward the horizon. With dinner done in a flash we slipped a lead on Toby the dog (and handy floor mop), grabbed my camera which I quickly fitted with a 12-40mm lens and walked quickly to the beach. Why did I choose the 12-40mm lens? It's the widest lens I have and a wide angle lens allows a more expansive scene to be captured in the photograph.
I could have taken a photo high on the beach closer to the dunes, however had I done that I would have missed so many enhancing elements in this image. By taking the photo from the waterline I was able to include the setting sun, the beautiful sky reflection in the wet sand, and wait for a wave to wash in and create an eye line separating sea and sand through the centre of the photo. Standing in the surf line is becoming my favoured photography position on a beach. The mirror reflection enticed me to forget the accepted rules of landscape composition by placing the horizon line in the middle of the photo. If I'd decided on filling two-thirds of the frame with sky or two-thirds with beach I don't think the scene would have looked as beautiful. I managed to avoid lens flare, which is an effect created by pointing the camera at a bright light source such as the sun, by waiting until the sun was partially below the ridge line of the dunes. When I clicked the shutter button I knew I had captured something quite beautiful.
So, that's an overview of how I took the sunset at Papamoa Beach photo below and as I said at the beginning its very much about what we see before we depress that shutter button.
Lens flare can be a curse or a blessing and that is demonstrated in the image to the left which I took in winter from a car park on State Highway 2 in the Kaimai Ranges. Lens flare has resulted from pointing the camera directly at the bright setting sun. Personally, I think lens flare can add quite a beautiful effect in some scenes.
The week that was
The highlight in the past week was a first ever visit to The Blue Spring near Tirau (which is a very interesting day trip in itself) and Putaruru in the Waikato. The drive is only about 74km from home or a little less than hour away, so why I haven't been there before in the nineteen years I have lived in this region is a good question. The access is via a 4.7km walk from an off-road car park on Whites Road or a much shorter walk from nearby Leslie Road. The 4.7km walk is flat to gently undulating and easy going. It follows the crystal clear Waihou Stream and there is good trout spotting along the way. There are rudimentary toilets along the way. Take a picnic, and take a camera!
'I write music with an exclamation point!' - Richard Wagner
Continuing from last week's blog, here is a little more on my family lineage from German composer Richard Wagner
Wagner had a stormy marriage to actress Minna Planer and after they went their separate ways he later married Cosima Liszt, daughter of famed Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Richard, it has been asserted by many commentators, was a notorious womaniser. He had an affair with Maria Zesche which produced a son named August (my great, great grandfather).
The adult August and his wife Johanna fled Germany setting sail from Hamburg in 1874 on the ship 'Fritz Reuter' on a long voyage bound for Australia and New Zealand. In all likelihood the conditions on that ship weren't quite up there with say recently launched floating city cruise ship Ovation of The Seas which is heading to these shores in the 2016/2017 cruise season.
August and Johanna disembarked in Wellington, New Zealand and settled in the Wairarapa region north east of Wellington.
They and other Wagner descendents are buried in the Mangatainoka cemetery. August and Johanna died in 1910 & 1916 respectively.
The couple had a daughter Elizabeth who married Irishman Laurence Collins (my great grandparents).
Laurence & Elizabeth had four children including a daughter Cecilia Evelyn Mary who married well known Wellington businessman and cricketer Claude Vivian Osgood (my grandparents).
Claude and Cecilia had a daughter Joy Patricia Osgood who married my father Robert Gordon Taylor
So there you have a bit more on the branch of the family tree descending from Richard Wagner. Its wonderful to have these and many other historical family photos.
'Joy is not in things; it is in us'. - Richard Wagner
Until next time