As the Northern Hemisphere slowly tilts its way to the winter solstice, cold weather has arrived in so many areas already. It snowed it Suncheon very early this morning, and I had to pour hot water on my gate handle so I could exit our property.
At that moment I was reminded of our most recent visit to the Philippines - the only ice around were the cubes to keep the drinks cool.
I first met Mario Dandi Romano, who is from the Philippines, on Facebook. He is a photographer, a classical piano instructor at his family's art and music studio, and a graphic artist and consultant for Studio 2. An articulate man who loves coffee, he also spends time on a non-stock/non-profit organization called Caffeinated Photographers. It was through Caffeinated Photographers on Facebook I met Mario. More about that organization in just a little bit.
Mario was exposed to photography, no pun intended, as a child due to the fact that his father was a photographer for the Cultural Center of the Philippines. His father was one to take his work home - he processed and developed the negatives and the photos at home. That influenced Mario greatly.
Mario is a landscape photographer whose work often features water due to his living in the Philippines as well as his traveling to the coasts in other countries. He is fascinated by the different details that can be captured when photographing water.
As can be seen, Mario enjoys photographing during the blue hour. He will often shoot using long exposure times.
Mario will shoot in manual mode, except when he is on a photo walk. Then he will set in aperture or shutter speed priority. Rarely will he use any other lens but his Nikkor 17-55mm 2.8DX lens. It is ideal for his portraiture and landscape photography.
Speaking to the subject of post-processing, Mario continually experiments with different styles. It would be folly for me to paraphrase his philosophy regarding his work in the dry darkroom - he says:
"I feel every subject has a style that would fit it perfectly and I don’t want my range to be limited because some people feel black and white is the only true art of photography, or because some think HDR is too “artificial”, or because some may think post-processing is heresy and an adulteration of the “true” image.
Some say a photographer should find a style he is comfortable with, master it, and make it his own. It makes sense to me up to a point but I don’t want to be tethered to a single style especially since I don’t want to use the same process for every subject – I want to use the best post-processing technique for each subject – I want to use the post-processing technique that will best render the mood of a certain scene or subject.
Photography for me is a continuous learning process, a journey of endless discovery and wonder – I want to take advantage of all the possibilities that the technology of our time offers but I also want to learn and retain the classic techniques of the old masters.
I personally prefer to use post-processing to bring out the scene that my mind captured and if I have to use HDR to recreate that scene I won’t hesitate to use it. However, I never use presets – for me, it takes out the creativity from the process and you will only end up with a mediocre image. I find it wrong to say that Photoshop/Lightroom makes everything easy and takes art and skill out of the equation – yes, it may be true when you use presets but, for me, real post-processing takes a lot of skill and knowledge.
To get the best image out of a good RAW file, a photographer needs to know how every little adjustment will affect the overall work, a photographer needs to understand the relation of shadows and light, colors and space in order get the exact image you have in your mind. In my opinion, post-processing should only be used to enhance an already good photo – using Photoshop or any software to try to improve a badly taken photo truly takes away the art from photography.
Since I don’t do any heavy editing and only use post-processing to enhance my photos, I rarely use Photoshop – I find Lightroom and the NIK plugins quite sufficient for my needs. NIK’s Viveza and Silver Efex Pro are my favorites."
Now, about Caffeinated Photographers I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Caffeinated Photographers is a collaborative effort involving Mario, Paulina Uy, who was a co-founder with Mario, Miracle Romano, Camellia Alferez, and Rose Alferez. At the onset, it was an informal club to celebrate the shared love of photography...and coffee. It has since grown into a significant international group as a result of planning and having a vision of the potential impact the group could have within the photography community at large.
In his own words:
"A few days after we launched the Caffeinated Photographers page, Paulina and I decided to feature photographers from different countries each week to promote photography, inspire new photographers, and more importantly, to show how photography helps bring people together by allowing them to see different cultures and countries through the eyes of different photographers. We also launched an online group where members could freely share their work and have a chance to be selected by our Caffeinated panel for the Top Photos of the Week Album in our official page – as of now, we have almost 6,000 members in the online group."
The official Caffeinated Photographers page is found on Facebook here.
The group page that is very active and dynamic can be accessed on Facebook here.
The popularity and growth of the group inspired a decision to begin Caffeinated in Every Continent Project. Mario says it best:
"Due to the popularity of the group and its diverse and “international” nature, we decided to launch the Caffeinated in Every Continent Project last May 2012. The goal of this project is to build on the existing partnership and further enhance cooperation and communication between members all over the world. It currently has registered members from more than 40 countries and we are currently in the process of building a database that will only be accessible to our registered members. In the near future, we will also compile all the material provided by our volunteers about their respective areas and publish it in PDF form for easy downloading. This project will give our members free access to information about great places for photography in areas that they may be traveling in. It also allows members to meet up, coordinate photo walks, etc. should they find themselves in the same area. Other useful information about hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, hospitals in specific areas are also made available to our members.
Anyone interested in participating in this project can register as a "member" or as a "volunteer." Specific details can be found on the project's Facebook page here.
Mario takes a moment to talk about the organization's magazine:
"The first issue of Caffeinated Photographers Magazine was published on May 2012 with the participation of photography luminaries and award-winners from Asia to Europe to the Americas. On World Photography Day, last August 2012, we published our second issue featuring Marina Cano..."
The published work is moving, and it is beautiful. The third edition was published this past November 2012 on the anniversary of the groups formation. It featured Filipino photographer Yen Baet as well as the founder of Mute Planet, Mark Malby.
To view more of Mario's photography, visit the websites listed below:
"My dream is to travel the world and celebrate life through photography. My life experiences hasn’t changed that dream – yes, not every experience is a joyful experience but it’s how we react to each circumstance that makes life worth living and celebrating. A huge part of my inspiration is my faith – I know that good or bad, everything happens for a reason. I believe in working hard towards a goal, doing everything in your power to achieve it, but after doing everything you possibly can there’s also a certain freedom in letting the chips fall where they may.
I am inspired by many people and many things – my parents, family, friends, photographers, artists, composers, musicians, birds, trees, landscapes. When one focuses on positive things it isn’t hard to find something to inspire you each and every day – the bird singing outside, the footsteps of a child, heavy rain or hot summer days, cars honking incessantly, trees swaying in the breeze…there’s always beauty to be found if we open our eyes.
As Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”"
The photographer José Antonio Nigro is currently exhibiting his project titled, Tales From Our Skin. The exhibition is at Gallery Golmok in Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea.
This is the artist's fifth solo exhibition at Gallery Golmok. He is truly an international photographer who has shown his work worldwide. The quality of his work, and the stories his photographs tell, is breathtaking.
The link here leads to the Facebook event page that provides details about Tales From Our Skin.
José Antonio Nigro's website is accessed here. The exhibit ends Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
The photographer Michael Wolf is receiving a bit of attention in Japan for his photographing commuters on trains during rush hour in Tokyo. The blog japanCrush displays the photos taken by Mr. Wolf as well as several translated comments posted by netizens. Take a look at what the hubbub is all about here.
Michael Wolf has a great many series on his website titled, Life in Cities. His photographic work is seen here.
This past weekend my wife and I were invited by friends to join them on a family farm located in 경상도. We had the good fortune to observe the annual ritual of relatives and friends making winter kimchi.
When I create my own work, I care very much about the process and the final result. When I observe others creating, I am most interested in the process. In other words, I want to know what is happening behind the scenes.
There is a lot of community work involved in the making of winter kimchi, or 김장. Each family has its own special way of doing things, and its own recipe for success. It is a group effort and everyone has a role to play.
Martyn Thompson is a forward thinking artist whose work includes photography, acrylic sculpture, documentary work, and music. He has been involved in a number of exhibitions showcasing his extraordinary artwork. Not to mention that he also curates art shows. Too, he has a job teaching English in South Korea. And he and his wife have recently had a beautiful son. I think somewhere in his schedule he has time to breath, but I don't know when!
As is true with many artists and photographers, the work is about light; however, Martyn uses light in a way that is so unlike how others use it.
The power of a particular piece of art is very important to Martyn. The art critic James Elkins reports here that the time a patron views a piece of art in a museum or gallery is measured in seconds. His aim is to create a piece that has a strong impact when viewed for the first time. Drawing a person in and capturing the mind of the viewer is key.
As any artist does, Martyn appreciates the time a viewer spends to get up close to his art to look around at all sides in order to figure out and understand the piece. I think a reader will note how important it is to hang a piece of art at the correct height so as to assist the impact of the piece.
I asked Martyn what motivates him, and his answer is worth quoting and remembering:
"My motivation is trying to push what I have already done until it provides me with a more difficult question. An artist should always question one's self, and evaluate where the work is going and in which direction one wishes to pursue. The questions get more complex, as are the possible solutions, but if they remain simple, you may as well do a paint-by-numbers."
To him, a number of Futurist artists, particularly Giacomo Balla and Carlo Carra, played a large role in his thinking. To the point, striving to destroy the art of the past by contriving new and vastly different perceptions of art.
When Martyn was in school, the Korean artist Bak Nam June had a very big influence on him. This influence can been seen with Martyn's use of technology in his art.
I first became acquainted with his work when I first viewed his creative and beautiful photography on Facebook. Little did I understand how these photographs were presented in the real world.
Martyn's own words are best used to explain his process:
"Initially, I will take a panoramic view of the surrounding area, with a digital camera, working my way around and down in concentric circles, capturing the whole of the environment. When these images are arranged on a computer, as many as two hundred separate images may be used to construct the final piece.
These are then further broken in to layers of depth, with the furthest items displayed only in the back image, working up to the foreground. Each layer is then printed on a separate piece acrylic paneling, and these are attached to an LED light box to illuminate the image from the back."
In my opinion, this is an imaginative and creative process. This process is also applied to his work with models. The artist and model Jung Min is the subject of the piece immediately below.
It is a process that requires patience and an eye for detail. Quality work and quality art cannot be rushed else it will look shoddy and amateurish. Martyn's father is a model railway enthusiast who takes the time to build just about everything from scratch. He even builds and solders the electronics necessary to operate the model railway. I have a feeling that some of that work ethic and knowledge rubbed off onto Martyn.
The acrylic sculpture presented below is titled, Festival Guitar Man. It illustrates well the detail and workmanship that is required for excellence.
Martyn is quick to praise his wife for the positive influence she has had on him. She is a graphic designer, and her assistance in buying supplies and contacting factories to produce new or experimental techniques and media is invaluable. It was she, he candidly admits, who persuaded him to present his best work. For that reason, he will not substitute quality for cost. What a wonderful team.
He shared this important and wise advice with me:
"Finding reliable people to work with is an excruciatingly time consuming necessity for any artist. Whether it be a regular supplier of canvas, a printer or a framer, maintaining these relationships and finding out what good can come does not happen without some epic failures along the way. Keep trying new places until you until you find what you are looking for."
Not surprisingly, Martyn stepped back from art when his son was born early in 2012. Spending time with his son has helped him to mature, and that is pushing his work in a different direction. Because of the constraints of time and prioritizing what is most important to him, his documentary work is on hold for the time being.
Within the last year, he has been published in PHOTO (ARTVAS), Leaders Magazine, Elle a l'Seoul, Mokpo Today, and the Seoul Art Guide.
I mentioned that Martyn has been involved with music, too. He played bass guitar for a band called Flying Maru that performed in a number of shows in Seoul. Listen to some of the music here.
He organized and curated the Homo-Sapiens exhibition earlier this year at Gallery Golmok. He will curate a show in December 2012 in Insadong at iGallery that will look at man's relationship with animals.
He recently concluded a group exhibit at the Jeonju Biennale. Early in 2013 he will have his second solo exhibition in Mokpo.
Luke Copping is a commercial and editorial photographer in Buffalo, New York. He posted on his blog a list of 10 things a photographer should not do to become a successful photographer. Read his insightful thoughts here.
I will not miss 2012 a whit with all of the news I have received about family and friends passing this year. I received word this evening that someone with whom I taught here in South Korea, a friend, has died in his home country of Canada.
Brenton Stevens had taught here in Korea for more than a decade, and his input was invaluable to me when I first arrived in country. Many a times we had feasted on his homemade pizza, shared beers, and told tales. I can't even begin to imagine how his wife feels.
Groove Korea is an online and hard copy English language publication in South Korea that reports and covers a wide range of topics. I was very excited when I was asked for an interview to be included in the November 2012 edition about one of my favorite places to photograph in South Korea: Waon Beach.
Dylan Goldby, who is a remarkable photographer and writer, interviewed me for Groove's Capturing Korea feature. Waon Beach is the ideal place for me to conduct a longitudinal project that supports my love and appreciation for water and the sea. To read the interview and to see some previously unpublished photographs of the area, please visit the Groove Magazine website here.
Thank you, Dylan Goldby, for interviewing me for this article. A big thank you to Matt Lamers, who is the editor-in-chief at Groove Korea, for your kindness and support.
This photograph wasn't a part of the interview; however, it does show Waon Beach when I visited during a rainstorm. I shot this scene from within the structure I mentioned in the article.
The news of the abduction and rape of a 22 year old female expatriate by a taxi driver in Gwangju-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea has motivated many expats living in the province to raise awareness and to provide services to increase the safety of foreign residents.
For example, KoreaMaria has posted on her blog some information about a self defense seminar that will be held regularly in Gwangju. Her post also includes helpful information regarding how one can increase personal safety. To read her article, please visit her site here.
As KoreaMaria mentioned in her post, the Jeolla Safety Alliance has a Facebook page, and it can be accessed here.
I just didn't feel like doing much at all this beautiful autumn morning. The 2012 Suncheon Photo Club exhibition concluded a couple of days ago, and I spent quite a bit of time last night working on submissions for an upcoming solo exhibit. I thought I would spend some time this morning just taking a look at what other photographers were doing.
In addition to being a member of the Suncheon Photo Club, the only foreign member of that august body, I am a member of the Gwangju Photo Club, too. I was revisiting some of the images posted on the GPC Facebook page from the recent Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk that many club members posted. Time and again, I kept viewing an image submitted by the Joe Wabe, who also happened to be the walk leader in Gwangju.
I realize not all of my readers will be able to view Joe Wabe's photograph of two Korean women here, because many do not have Facebook accounts. A wise decision on their part, I know.
The art of photographing the person is much different than taking a photo of people. Recording the mood, the feeling, the inner being of a person is no simple task. The subject must have a trust and a belief in the photographer, and the photographer must reciprocate. A bond between the persons is necessary.
While viewing the mentioned photograph above, I reminded myself of the photographic work by Claudine Doury. Rather than wax poetic using polysyllabic superlatives, I direct the viewer's attention to Claudine Doury's website here.
It is an art and a gift that just cannot be packaged and sold on one of those trendy photo sites, nor at some photo conference or workshop. It is inside a photographer, or it isn't.
I look at the photographic art created by Roman Rivera, and I feel at ease. I marvel at the scenes composed by Roman, and, too, I wonder where on this Earth such places exist; I so want to be there. I came to understand that such places are in my heart, and in my mind. Yet such places do exist in the physical word, but it is the point of view of an individual to see the beauty displayed. Roman not only sees the beauty and the peace, he has the ability to show it to the world.
Currently, Roman appreciates photography as a hobby; however, he has plans to approach photography professionally. He loves the art of photography, because it is his way to keep in touch with the world. It is my opinion that he is well grounded in the arts. In fact, he is inspired by the great artists of the past. Artists such as J. M. William Turner, and Edward Steichen are only two examples of the greats who do inspire Roman.
Roman is very candid about how he processes his work. When he takes photographs he already sees the end result before the image is even uploaded onto his computer.
He uses correct photography techniques when he takes a photograph. He merges the image with textures in his workflow. An extraordinary piece of art results. He says there are no big secrets to his process. I wish it were so easy!
The 2012 Suncheon Photo Club, 순천 포토 클럽, group exhibition started yesterday afternoon in 순천시 문화건강 센터. With nearly 50 photographs on display for the public to view at no charge, the event marked the 4th year of SPC conducting an exhibition for its members.
The heavy thunderstorm that blanketed the city kept a lot of people away. That was unfortunate, because I was struck by the quality of the work of the photographers, and I was very impressed with the mounting and framing of the finished pieces. There happens to be a lot of talented men and women who are members of the club. I was happy to see my friends who braved the elements to attend the event.
Prior to the start of the opening reception at 3 p.m., I took some photos of the venue.
My wife and I were photographed by the president of the Suncheon Photo Club, 김학수 (He is the gentleman facing the camera holding the cup in the photo above), as we stood next to the two pieces I am showing at the event.
The color photograph next to my wife is titled, Dwindling II, and it is part of my Water and the Sea project. The black and white photograph next to me is titled, Hide Openly, and that composition is a part of my 많은 사람들 중의 하나 - One Among Many People. The 많은 사람들 중의 하나 - One Among Many People project can be seen on my website here.
There is still time to visit the exhibition venue, though it must be done soon, because the exhibit concludes this coming Wednesday, October 31, 2012. Yes, it is too short an event for the quality of the photographs on display. The good news is the building appears to remain open until very late at night for visitors.
There are many benefits to living the life of an expatriate. One benefit is being able to ask for assistance within, and without, the expat community. Such is the case currently with Maria Lisak.
This past August I wrote a short article for Social Discourse of Disquiet about Maria Lisak here. At the present time, she is looking for some people to help with a project that will support nature and wildlife. She is looking for:
1) People to record a few interviews.
2) People to spend a day to video habitat areas.
3) People to translate or to provide captions/subtitles for the interviews and videos.
4) People to help with the design and layout of materials for a multimedia project coordinated with Cornell University.
The above mentioned positions are unpaid assignments. This is an ongoing project until May 2013. To learn more about this project, please contact Maria Lisak via her email (in an effort to stave off the email mining bots, simply replace AT with the @ symbol, and you will want to eliminate those spaces. Clear as mud?):
Ricardo Segovia is a fine art photographer and a digital imaging instructor from Mexico. He is also currently studying marketing and advertising to increase his knowledge of the business of photography. That pursuit of knowledge is a wonderful aspiration, because Ricardo's work is especially moving to me, and I think a lot of others who enjoy the arts would like to see his photography. I especially like his still life compositions, because of the depth of detail found in those images.
When Ricardo began is photography career, he worked as a commercial photographer. While he taught in schools, he rediscovered art and its importance. His approach to the art of photography is emotional, and it is moving. What is impressive to me is his attention to detail when he composes a scene during a photo session, and when he processes an image during post-production. My eyes, and my mind don't tire or get distracted when I view Ricardo's photography.
Ricardo is inspired by painters, music, nature, deep emotions, and concepts. His intent is to extract emotional responses and to share a message with a viewer. He is effective at this, because much of his work is minimalism. Simple things are the most powerful and thought provoking. He believes when a person has the opportunity to create something, it should be memorable.
Originally, Ricardo wanted to become a painter. He felt, however, that he wasn't talented enough to draw or to paint. He then wanted to study cinematic arts, but that was cost prohibitive to him in Mexico. He learned that by using a camera he could effectively mesh his appreciation for art and his desire to tell a story.
With film photography, he experimented with black and white film, and with different chemical processes in the wet darkroom. In the digital age, he experiments with colors, tones, and textures.
When Ricardo composes an image, light is the most important element. As seen in his still life work above, light shows texture and gives volume and depth to a scene. He works with different points of view, angles, and perspectives while composing.
His portraiture work is creative, and it is meant to have a psychological impact on the viewer. Ricardo not only feels with his heart and his mind, he thinks with his heart and mind, too. And he is patient when he is composing. One really isn't able to be as keen to detail as Ricardo is by being anything other than patient. All of the elements must be set up correctly before the shutter is released.
When I asked Ricardo what is most important to him, he replied family, friends, creativity and art. The important things in life are always first.
In the future, he wants to do more commercial work, and he wants to continue his work with art. Some day in the future his dream is to form an association of fine art photographers with the goal of providing financial aid to the photographers to create art projects.
To see more of Ricardo's fine art photography, visit his website here.
Ricardo's blog is nice, because there one can read his thoughts and feelings about his posted photography. Visit his blog here.
By way of conclusion, I wish to highlight three photography competitions that Ricardo participated in. A more complete list of his awards and honors can be found on his website. The three competitions:
In 2010, Ricardo earned a third place award at the Prix de la Photographie Paris in the Professional Fine Art Still Life category. Autumn Leaves is a series of five photographs that he submitted for consideration to the Px3 photography competition. Scroll down to the bottom right hand side of the Px3 awards page here to view Autumn Leaves.
During the 2011 6th Annual Black and White Spider Awards, Ricardo was a Nominee in the Still Life - Professional category. Autumn Leaves was his submitted work in this photography competition. View Autumn Leaves and the other award winning photographs at the Spider Awards site here.
Also in 2011, Ricardo was a Nominee at the 5th Annual Photography Masters Cup in the Still Life - Professional category with his exquisite piece titled, Night Table. To view Night Table and the other award winning color photographs, visit the International Color Awards site here.
Admittedly, I couldn't stay awake to see the record setting skydive made by Felix Baumgartner; however, I was able to view the lift-off and some of the ascent. After a restful slumber, and after reading the news of Mr. Baumgartner's successful feat, I was curious to know how this event was documented.
David Cardinal wrote an informative piece about the dive that also included some history and perspective on this incredible accomplishment. As an educator, I appreciate the illustrations and visual aids that complemented his article. Read Mr. Caridnal's article at ExtremeTech here.
The next logical step, for me, was to visit the "Cameras and Communications" page by none other than Red Bull Stratos. One simply does not shop online or drive to the local hardware store to buy all the equipment and gear necessary to ensure the success of this hazardous endeavor. It had to be designed, tested, manufactured, reviewed. So, too, the equipment used to document the dive. Read about it here.
Thanks to the information and link on the "Cameras and Communications" page mentioned above, I visited Jay Nemeth's website: Flightline Films. It is a fascinating look into aerospace cinematography and photography.
Congratulations to Felix Baumgartner and to all who worked to make this dive a success.
Yesterday, Joe Wabe led the 2012 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk in Gwangju-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea. It was a well attended event with a diverse group hailing from many different countries. There even was an artist who sketched and drew as she walked along the event route with the photographers.
Joe did a fantastic job leading this walk, and everything went smoothly with the help of others whose expertise and contributions were essential. It was a wonderful learning experience. It was also fun for me personally as I caught up with some dear friends during the after-event social.
The timing of the photo walk happened to coincide with other events occurring simultaneously along the walk route. As is my custom, I was looking for scenes and compositions that featured my appreciation for the design elements, water, and the often overlooked behind the scenes aspects of life.
The pair of gloves in Abandoned and Forgotten provides a poignant symbolism of those who are discarded so readily. Just moments after I took this shot, a participant kicked the gloves under the seats where the awaiting participants rest before being called to line up for the parade. Out of sight and out of mind as fast as one can imagine.
It is a joyous moment when two or more artists agree to come together with the goal of creating art cooperatively. Such was the case when the multi-talented Poppy Silver asked me if she could use one of my photographs to accompany one of her writings. I met Poppy Silver through Google+ not long ago, and I am moved by her work. Naturally, I responded in the affirmative to her request.
Readers and followers will be happy to know that I will feature Poppy in an article in the near future. I will enjoy that experience!
The collaboration with Poppy Silver discussed above was a positive experience. I have been involved in failed collaborative efforts that cam be termed, politely, as a "cluster foxtrot" and "fubar." Failed collaborative efforts results from unclear directions and goals, changing the purpose of a project without discussing the change with the other participants, feelings of jealousy if one participant seems to be receiving more attention than others, and, in one case, ulterior motives involving money.
If the purpose is to create art, then the collaboration will often be a positive experience. If participants are immature regardless the chronological age, and if there is a hidden agenda and motive, then the effort will fail.
Slate, the online magazine, has very recently started a photo blog called Behold. Heather Murphy is Slate's photo editor, and she is the creator of this new photo blog. It is expected to feature a wide range of photographs and projects.
Take a look at what has been featured so far: Behold
Professor Camille Paglia is a thinker and a philosopher. Her views about the current demise of fine art, and how fine art can gain new life is sure to provoke. Read her thoughts, beliefs, and ideas about fine in this Wall Street Journal article she wrote here.
My wife and I enjoy taking walks, and sometimes we find pleasant places to rest. Such was the case this past 추석 holiday season when we spotted this old dam late in the afternoon. While my wife napped, I set up my tripod along the edge of the rocky stream.
When I photograph a scene that requires a long exposure time, I will use the tripod and snap the shot using a shutter release cable. Additionally, I will lock-up the camera's mirror to further ensure there isn't any wobbling or shaking during the exposure.