Friday, December 29, 2006

Special Assignment 5 - Environmental Portraits

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts... Here are three of life’s players; in bit parts that they themselves may not consider their greatest roles, but which nevertheless, generated sufficient empathy in each of us, such that we paused to freeze a single scene for the benefit of a wider audience.

Mick - Boyd

Vendors of The Big Issue, a fortnightly current affairs and entertainment magazine, are folk who have experienced hardship, homelessness, unemployment, etc. Mick often "holds station" on the steps leading to the Cathedral of St Stephen and uses a very passive approach to selling. I wanted an image that captured him backlit with the early morning sun and located with a hint of the majesty of the church behind.

Smile in the Boutique - Nicole

This lovely lady graciously agreed to pose for my camera. Though she was a little apprehensive about being photographed, she gave me a wonderful smile and a showed a fine sense of pride in the fashion on offer in her Brisbane Arcade boutique. The mirrored wall was a bonus, creating a seemingly endless line of linen and frocks.

Man with a Camera – Martin

I thought it quite ironic, that I as a man with a camera should shoot a man with a camera. His consent to being photographed was almost unspoken and came with nary a hint of concern, after all as we both knew, to photograph or be photographed are equally important parts of the game.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Metal Elegance

Quite a few of these beautiful pressed metal ceilings can be found under the awnings of city buildings. Sadly, many of them have been damaged by workmen with ladders, not quite passing trucks, or the unstoppable march of progress. This lovely specimen on Adelaide Street has survived. I have decided to present the photo as I shot it - no crops and in colour(!), but seeing the subject is still monochromatic, I hope my fellow bloggers will pardon the lapse!

To the Fallen

With all the restoration work going on at Anzac Square, it is impossible to get a classic shot of the shrine, so I went for this compressed view instead. Decided to give it an old-fashioned, pushed contrast, sepia tone to fit with the memories tinged with regrets. We can only hope there is never another reason to build a monument like this.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

End Grain

A still life from the collection of images taken of the sculpture "The Blitz" (see blog entry 11th October 2006). After all what's a truck without a load on the back, in this case a collection of sleepers embedded with bits of iron work. Nikon F65 and Ilford HP5 pushed two stops.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Monochrome Brisbane

Taken this very evening rom the top of the Kangaroo Point cliffs whilst in the company of the motley crew (Infocus Community Camera Group). I sometimes need to remind myself that night shots don't always need colour to prop them up, (well I don't think so anyway). The title suggested itself.

Monday, December 04, 2006

1 Eagle Street

Cloaked in aqua tinted glass, Waterfront Place can't help but mirror the prevailing mood of the heavens. Thus given a digital infra-red interpretation, it is easily transformed into a pseudo smoke stack, covered in the same grime it appears itself to be belching skyward.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Special Assignment 4

This group project was aimed at changing the shape of our view.
The challenge was to create an image in the square format where the subject also has a direct or indirect reference to the word 'square'.
Here are our offerings...

Martin's 'Brisbane Square' is a simple and fitting choice. In fact, all of us took shots at this location - the newly opened BCC building. The slick glass sign is framed in a large metal square, accurately caught by Martin's camera as it obeys remote orders from its owner who lends his presence to the shot.

Squares feature in classic Brisbane architecture, often in combination with exuberant Corinthian columns. Boyd has captured the neat juxtaposition of severe lines and rococo swirls in his study of 'Column at 311" which is the portico of the Masonic Temple on Anne Street.

And to round things off (pun intended), Nicole's shot rather cheekily contains no visual squares at all but is based on the circle. 'Post Office Square' is the location which provides the necessary link and the postmark engraved tables confirm the spot.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Special Assignment 3 – Transport 3x3

(Click this link to access the individual photos)

People live in cities. People need to move around and need to move things around. Transport, therefore, is needed for life in cities to survive and thrive. Three photographers, Nicole, Martin and Boyd, have captured aspects of boat, bicycle and rail transport within Brisbane.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Blitz

"The Blitz" is an example of the work of Chris Trotter, a local sculptor notably responsible for the metal kangaroos lazing on the George St footpath (near the corner of Adelaide St). This work was "parked" outside the entrance to old Government House (QUT Gardens Point) where it formed part of a display. Taken with my Nikon F65 using Ilford HP5 (pushed 2 stops to ISO1600, just because I could). Didn't quite get the in-camera, "rule of thirds" composition I was aiming for, though I thought it still sufficiently interesting to be worth a share. The LED time stamp was mistakenly activated during this and a number of other exposures. Rather than digitally remove it, I thought it could serve as a reminder of of times past when such mediocre detail on a print was considered highly useful, even desirable! ("Oh yes Joan, this was taken on our.. ? September! Skegness holiday, terrible weather, just poured.. )

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Roma Street Dome

Every once in a while, modern architecture breaks into something like this that makes me forgive it for leaving ornate cornices and carvings behind. This is actually a half-dome, tracing only a semicircle. I really enjoyed finding a viewpoint that would isolate just a section to give the illusion of a massive fan vault. It's the lines that are the stars, arching from edge to edge and compartmentalising the two main textures of the ceiling itself and the supporting glass wall. Guest appearance from the late morning sun with its suffused glow.
Path to Glory

This was shot in midday sun, which while not always the photographer's best friend, was perfect for picking up the repeating horizontal surfaces. After processing the image, I liked the effect of the lower half of the flight being bathed with a slightly mysterious light and was instantly reminded of the Biblical account of Jacob's dream of the angels on the ladder or stairway reaching to Heaven. In a more transient and earthbound sense, the title is still appropriate as this flight leads to the stage in the Roma Street Parklands.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Special Assignment (Part II) - The 3x3 Project Sequel (Parallels)
(Click above link to access individual images)

Following on from the success of the original 3x3 project, I volunteered a theme for the sequel, a CBD street shot after dark, and an initial subject. Apart from the condition that the photographs were to be taken after sunset and before dawn, and must include some aspect of the street (in any way, shape or form); there were no real constraints regarding composition. I personally found shooting black and white under these conditions quite a challenge. However I think the results confirm what all "great" photographers already know, and that is there are worthwhile pictures everywhere, of every kind, irrespective of light quantity, quality or colour. My fellow MB'ers certainly seem to be aware of this.

This 3x3 assignment has been dubbed "Parallels", given that the CBD streets chosen, (Mary Street, Queen Street, and Adelaide Street) run (you guessed it!) parallel to each other.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sword of Themis

While I was walking to work one day without my camera I passed the statue of Themis outside the Brisbane Law Courts. I thought that the shadow would be an interesting subject, but on closer inspection when I returned the next day revealed that shadows from nearby trees were far more distracting than I first noticed. I was, however, drawn to the sword. In this shot I have attempted to simplify the composition of the statue (OM4, 135mm Zuiko at f5.6, tmx400) to convey a feeling of strength.

Monday, August 21, 2006

111 George

The awning over the footpath at 111 George has some thick beams supporting glass panels to let through the light. I noticed that from some angles the glass (stained and dirty as it is) is obscure and you can only see the profile of the structure. I used a 135mm prime to compress the perspective and stopped it well down (f16) to maximise the depth of field. Because I had no tripod, an available post provided the necessary support for this rather long exposure (about 2 sec with Tmax400). I like the repetition and the way that the indirect early morning light gives interesting shade to the metallic finish.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Special Assignment - The 3x3 Project

Three photographers... Boyd, Martin, and Nicole
Three structures... 173 Wickham Terrace, The Belgian Brasserie, and the Walter Taylor Bridge

See the results...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Flights of Fancy

This was taken last month, but time has slipped by so quickly, I'm posting it a bit late.
Was quite an experience taking this shot of the parallel stairway and escalator from the Ground floor to the Piazza level of the Brisbane Convention Centre. There is something unbalancing, and unnerving, about hanging over a glass railing, leaning into space to get a shot - while passers-by mill about pointing at one in a semi-concerned fashion.
Well, I think I got the shot I was after. Hope the slight sense of vertigo is conveyed!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

BOQ bronze bust

This is one of two bronze figures outside the BOQ office on Queen Street. I am quite taken by the incongruity of the nudes being placed on the main street of the city and how they are “detached” from the passing crowds. This image was taken on the same morning as “Level 2”, and I haven’t posted it earlier because I am still not sure whether it is the pick of the set that I took on that day. In the early morning these subjects are in deep shadow and I find it quite difficult to expose it correctly (OM4, Tamron 135mm f2.8, f4, 1/125, HP5, handheld) to extract the detail while not allowing the highlights to really blow out. I don’t think that I have captured these figures satisfactorily yet, so I will return and alter the composition to try to do them justice.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Concerning Boys (and the loss of their toys)

I haven't added an image to MB for a while now. Notwithstanding I have been busy work-wise, we are in a quite a disarray at home due to a major house renovation. An unfortunate byproduct of such an activity is the increased vulnerability one is exposed to as walls and roofs are removed, replaced, or otherwise modified.

Such was our experience as we came home one Friday evening to find the contents of our home literally turned upside down by thieves, intent on searching for anything of value that was also easy to tote. Without realising it, these criminals actually succeeded in hurting each member of the family individually by their choice of goods stolen. My wife misses mostly all her jewelry, collected over her lifetime, some pieces family heirlooms, others sentimental gifts of love, or pieces marking milestones in her life. The kids miss their Game cube and Mario Kart, favorite Barbie movies and Disney's animated Atlantis films. I miss the two film SLRs (Nikon FG and Canon EOS300) and DSLR (Canon EOS300D) this person or persons took, along with my Manfrotto monopod.

One doesn't sometimes realise the cost of replacing these sorts of things until required to quote a replacement value. Luckily we have insurance, and after approximately two months of assessment and investigation the insurers have admitted the claim and are arranging to replace the goods. Of course there is always a downside, e.g. there are limits with respect to the amount claimable under certain categories, particularly if the items are not individually listed onyour policy schedule. Jewelry and photographic gear are two prime examples, and with regard to both, the insurer’s payout will not meet the replacement value of our stolen items. Warning! Warning! (Danger! Will Robinson) Might I suggest that you take the time to calculate the worth of your gear, determine the magnitude of risk you are prepared to accept in terms of the possible loss of your gear, insure accordingly, and review this risk as you replace and add new items to your kit.

Anyway, my cut of the kitty in today's dollars will equate to a little less than eighty percent of the "theoretical" replacement value of the three cameras. "Theoretical" because determining the replacement cost of a classic compact Nikon SLR camera twenty-eight years old by pairing it up with something still on the shelf (a Canon EOS3000v no less! Shock! Horror!) purely on the basis of common features seems quite subjective. I'm not complaining mind you, at least I'll be getting something. Suffice to say; I thought I'd use this opportunity to realign my allegiance with Nikon having started to travel down the EOS path, since my remaining camera is another Nikon (FG-20). I have already replaced the EOS300 with a beautiful Nikon F80 and was about to purchase a D70s to replace the EOS300D, but then a remarkable opportunity for a bargain has just caught my eye!!

Picture a professional 6MP DSLR with a 10 stop tonal range, Nikon mount, originally available new in February 2005 for $3895- and now discounted to $1895- As you might expect these little babies are going out the door faster than a public servant at a Friday knock-off time! What I think could be the last available (new) body in Oz is currently in transit between Canberra and Brisbane and has may name on it! Oh yes, if all goes to plan, I'll soon have what I think will be an absolute spectacular new toy to play with!!

Oh, apologies Boyd if this ramble has pushed you off the page ;-p

Monday, June 05, 2006

Level 2 Inverted

Although it is not usually my go, my good friend and colleague talked me into playing with my original Level 2 image to have some fun with it. I have come to the conclusion that architects either spend way too much time on ceiling detail or, when trimming back during projects, developers tend to cut costs in other areas. As the inverted image suggests, if the developers had presented the ceiling on the floor they may well have found themselves with a more interesting, albeit harder to clean, entrance to the arcade. I not sure that I feel completely comfortable with this type of approach to my photography (I would have preferred a stronger composition to begin with) but I think that this image is a more interesting interpretation that the original …

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Level 2

I often pass this side entrance to one of the busier shopping arcades in the city and never really give it a second look, but in the early morning light with few people around it almost begs one to wander in and discover what is around the corner. This was not an easy shot to hand hold and get enough depth of field (OM4, f1.8 50mm zuiko, f8, HP5) so I braced myself against a chair. Even with some selective cropping I am not sure of the composition, maybe it would work better if I rotated it 90 degrees so the gentle curves on the ceiling were on the bottom …

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

91 Queen Street

I was determined to take a picture on the weekend with the idea of posting it to this blog. It is not often I shoot with black and white in mind. The original of this shot had some interesting colour highlights with the blue of the sky visible through the ceiling. However, the monochrome conversion draws attention to the interesting semi-organic lines and hints of reflection. Hopefully the crop works too.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Abstract in Grey

One of the newer buildings in the CBD is the Brisbane Magistrates Court
. The structure is impressive, and so is the large artwork outside the front entrance on George Street. I particularly like the repetition of the pattern and the highly reflective grey surface generates interesting tones in the soft light of early morning (OM4, Tamron SP35-80 f2.8 towards the long end, f8, 1/125, HP5). Where different surfaces meet there is a slightly bevelled edge that provides a nice highlight, even though the whole sculpture is constructed of one material in one colour. The sculpture is located within a garden, so I decided to leave the tuft of grass in the bottom right of the frame. I am still not sure if the composition would be stronger without its inclusion — tell me what you think …

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

King George

It is surprising how many objects there are around Brisbane city that can serve as challenging photographic subjects. This large statue of King George on a horse stands outside City Hall. Not only does a dark bronze figure present a difficult subject in shadows of the early morning, but the King’s gaze from this angle gives an interesting viewpoint where I can almost image myself as a small child watching him pass by in a parade. This shot was taken with a zoom lens that often doesn’t get taken out of the bag (OM4, Tamron 35-80mm SP, f4, 1/125, handheld towards its longer end), but when it does it tends to surprise me with its degree of sharpness and contrast. After printing this in the darkroom (the wet one) last night and being able to dodge the bronze and burn in the clock tower, it has highlighted for me that there is much more detail in the deep shadows of the negative than my scanner (Canon MP760) is able to give up. I can see me making a few more attempts to capture different aspects of this subject, maybe next time I will experiment with a fill flash. I would love any comments or suggestions about how I might again approach this piece.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bronze texture

Two things had me out and about this week: my continued quest to reduce the grain in my negs and I was inspired to shoot with one of my "alternative" camera bodies - an Olympus OM40. The bronze statues in King George Square have long held my fascination. Each has great textured surfaces that range from highly polished to rough areas reflecting very little light. They are arranged so that they catch different light during the day and their different shapes means that when one is dull, another close by can be shining. The one shown here has almost slab sides and I love the way the finished produce shows the work that the artist put into the mould. The shot was taken with Ilford HP5 early morning using a "standard" Zuiko (50mm) lens stopped down to 5.6 at 1/60. Although this image has had the lightest of sharpening (but no other manipulation) after scanning (Canon MP760 at 1200dpi), I am really happy with its tone and the relative lack of grain compared with my earlier efforts (this one developed in Ilford DDX). There were some shots on the day that almost worked, but I will have to go back to reshoot those before I put them up ...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Anne St Uniting Church

I have been trying to reduce the grain size and increase sharpness I have been realising in my prints. As part of my experimenting I loaded Ilford Delta 100 and took a different route to work. I tried to capture the early morning sun hitting the church spire to see if I could capture the tonal range (handheld, om4, 1/125, 128mm Tamron f2.8, Ilford DDX developer) - I had to shoot wide open to get the shutter speed required for hand-holding. The DDX and Delta 100 combination certainly seems to make a huge difference compared with what I was achieving before, I will now have to try the DDX with HP5. I would love to get some comments or hints about how to further improve ...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Burnett Lane

Another photograph from the "lane" series. Burnett Lane runs parallel to and between Queen and Adelaide Streets, and is bounded east and west by Albert and George Streets respectively. Favourite parking place for police vehicles as well as delivery vans. I was particularly attracted to the waste paper sacks which add an interesting foreground subject. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 14, 2006

Esk Lane

Much to my colleague’s amusement, I have developed a strange fascination for lanes and alleyways located in the CBD, and have started poring over a street directory, looking for likely candidates to photograph. I blame this unhealthy curiosity on the digestion of one too many (US) crime shows, in which dastardly deeds occur most typically in (you guessed it) a dirty, dimly lit alleyway strewn with the detritus of the human condition. I had falsely believed that the Brisbane CBD had very few of these places, however I have since located a number of examples of which I have photographed two to date. I’ll leave it to you, the viewer, to determine whether the alleyways and byways our fair city would qualify as possible crime scene movie locations.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Morning shadows
Ok, I have been feeling indulgent these past two weeks and can't decide which photo to post, so it must be both. Have continued my experimentations with development times and techniques and have focused on early morning shots with shadows as the subject. I thought that the lantern on City Hall provided some interesting shapes and I really liked the diffused effect created through the glass. The fire escape steps at the back of Perry House provides what I think is an interesting subject with strong repetition on the textured brick surface. Both were taken on the same morning at about 7.30 (OM4, 135mm f3.5 zuiko prime, f8, Ilford HP5, handheld). I would love someone to tell me which, if any, I should have selected ...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Kangaroo Point

After seeing the wonderful shots already here, it is with a little trepidation that I add my abstraction of the Kangaroo Point flats to the collection. This shot was taken in December 2005. For some time I had it displayed as a horizontal shot. However, in the past couple of weeks I have changed my mind and decided to turn it 90 degrees left. As a tribute to this blog, I have also changed the border from white to black. I wish the members of Monochrome Brisbane much pleasure and success in capturing our city in glorious b&w.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Australian Air Force Memorial
I have not been happy with the way my negatives have turned out of late and suspect that I have been over-developing in the tank. On my walk to work is what I though would be a good test shot: the bronze eagle memorial in Queen's Gardens. I took this early in the morning (OM4, 50mm f1.8 lens, no filter, f11, 1/250th, Ilford HP5)—the sun was providing a strong backlight and it had just stopped drizzling. I did some light sharpening and brightening to bring out the detail in the underside of the wings. Maybe I have my problem sorted …

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Carlton CUB

This photograph was taken on the same outing and roll of film as "Stairs". I chose a light blue tone to enhance and reinforce the cold metallic surfaces of the unpainted kegs. As the addvertisement goes, "Made from... Beer!"

A lunchtime foray into Margaret Street (corner Edward Street) last Wednesday produced this interesting view of a criss-crossing staircase. Photograph taken using a Canon EOS300 with Ilford FP4 Plus. Developed for 6:30 in Ilfosol S at 20C. I subsequently scanned the negative and edited the image in Photoshop Elements. There were several dust artefacts that required removal before the image was moderately sharpened and digitally toned using a custom process I have called "Old Newspaper 2". I rather like the added warmth this particular tone adds to the image.
Inaugural Post

This blog is dedicated to publishing images of, or associated with, the fair city of Brisbane. Whilst the initial emphasis is on monochrome, that's not to say that traditional colour images won't appear from time to time, it's just that at the moment, some of us are having too much fun playing with black & white films and darkroom chemicals. Of course, images may also be wholly of a digital origin.

The "we" I refer to (or at least I'm hoping) will be a loose collection of friends who happen to share a common love of the art of image making, and whom I can persuade to overcome their modesty and contribute images and commentary. Some of us post our images to more traditional photo sites, however few such sites offer the level of unfettered interaction and access available through a blog. If you happened to stray upon this site by accident or design, please feel welcome to comment on anything you see.