Summer print sale

For two weeks starting from today I'm offering 30% off all print purchases in my summer sale. You can buy a single print or more than one, and receive the discount. Simply use the code ALL30 at the checkout.

To launch this little sale, I'm offering a chance to win one of my small (A4) prints. All you have to do to enter is to re-tweet the tweet shown below. The competition will remain open for one week from today and the winner will be picked at random. I will contact you by Twitter direct mail if you win. No cash equivalent is offered and the print in question will be of my own choosing.

Photography advertising, the invisible influence

The other day I came across a reproduction of a Leica advert from the late 1990s. They were advertising the then latest incarnation of the famous Leica rangefinder, the M6 TTL. As you might expect, the advert is aspirational and contains a carefully crafted studio shot of the camera.
 
The advert got me thinking about photography advertising, and more specifically its influence on me. We live in a world of sublimated desires driven by consumer advertising. We might not always reflect consciously on the effects of advertising, but they are measurable and real, as the gargantuan advertising budgets of the multi-national corporations attest.
 
What if my regard for my Leica M6 TTL was a product, albeit an indirect one, of this advert from the late 1990s? I don’t think I remember it specifically, and yet it has something of an uncanny familiarity. I had a little chuckle to myself, rolling this possibility around in my head. It may not be the whole story - I should hope not, a big chunk of my practice nought but the fulfilment of a market instruction - but there is a strong possibility that my desires were at some level shaped by the adverts of the time. It is sometimes said that we acquire in later life the cameras we once lusted after in our youth and when money was too short to make the dream a reality.
 
I wonder what other photography advertising has helped to shape my choices and paths through equipment and practice? I wonder which ones have shaped yours?
 

#TreePhotoGallery, Part 2

This week I'm pleased to present #TreePhotoGallery, Part 2.

In Part 1, I gathered together a fine selection of tree photographs by photographers on Twitter. The quantity and quality of submissions following my original call for work was so high that I promised a Part 2 - a promise I happily now keep.

I hope you enjoy the work. 

Tom Rayfield, Walk The Faded Line.

Tom Rayfield, Walk The Faded Line.

Tom's delicate piece cocks a snoot at the notion that central placement is to be avoided. The tonality is stunning: it allows the tree to be 'just' emergent; the viewer continues to do a double-take as the tree shimmers like a grey mirage. There is a tonal lesson too: the range is constrained in the middle values - but just look at its effect! Leading lines are at work from the bottom and the sides.

Matias Takala (@elfsprite), Lone Pine, Ilford HP5+ film.

Matias Takala (@elfsprite), Lone Pine, Ilford HP5+ film.

Matias' image works on so many levels. What a fine juxtaposition of the vulnerable tiny growth in the foreground and the expansive water and forest behind. A successful landscape image so often stands or falls on the foreground-to-background relationship. Matias' image is a great example of how to get it right. 

Analoguephotolab (@analogue_photo), Orwocolour NC19 film.

Analoguephotolab (@analogue_photo), Orwocolour NC19 film.

I enjoy the pale tonality and somewhat humanoid-like posturing of Analoguephoto's trees. It's shot on Orwocolour, a film with an interesting history and idiosyncratic colour palette. I haven't tried it, but from what I've seen I imagine it isn't a film for all occasions. It's an excellent choice here.

Adi Taylor, Twisted, the Owler Tor Tree, Ilford Delta 100 film.

Adi Taylor, Twisted, the Owler Tor Tree, Ilford Delta 100 film.

Great photos take great subjects and add photographic magic. That's exactly the case with Adi's image. Not only is the tree itself brimming with visual interest, but Adi's treatment adds fine tonality and careful composition. The square format can be quite a challenge, but here it reinforces the tree's stocky, powerful form.

Tim Dobbs, A Tree At Sunset, expired Fuji NPS 160 film.

Tim Dobbs, A Tree At Sunset, expired Fuji NPS 160 film.

Some photographs have the power to awaken senses other than just your vision. Tim's monochromatic piece does that for me: I sense a whiff of the early morning fresh air; or the cool rush of the day's end. The sun is carefully positioned, its light breaking through the branches just above the horizon. Like Tom's image above the tonality is subtle, and gives away more as the eye delves deeper and gets accustomed to the lower darkness.

Lina Forrester, Afternoon, freelensed with a 50mm lens and a Nikon D5300 camera.

Lina Forrester, Afternoon, freelensed with a 50mm lens and a Nikon D5300 camera.

A clever use of freelensing by Lina conveys the impression of wavering branches and fragile flowers in this poetic black and white photograph. It has something of a dream-like quality, a moment glimpsed but somehow not quite fixed, as a photograph should. Transience is key.

Sandeep Surmal, Southbank, London, Ilford SFX film with Infrared R72 filter.

Sandeep Surmal, Southbank, London, Ilford SFX film with Infrared R72 filter.

I see so many infrared images in which the effect itself is dominant. They seem to say first and foremost: 'look how infrared transforms our visual world'. Sandeep's image uses the infrared effect, for sure, but it does more photographically, because the effect is in the service of the photo, not the other way around. With their leaves transformed, the trees mirror the lamp posts, leading our eye down the Southbank promenade. The partly ghostly people on the left add a lovely visual punctuation mark.

Lucy Wainwright, Fuji Superia 400 film.

Lucy Wainwright, Fuji Superia 400 film.

Lucy's image is one which reminds me why I enjoy shooting film so much. It's hard to put into words, but the medium, with its bluish cast and gritty grain, add a gravitas to the struggle of the stalwart, gnarly tree. It's an image of survival: of steadfast resistance in the face of nature's unforgiving side.

A fine image to end a fine collection.

Here's a quick link to #TreePhotoGallery, Part 1 in case you missed it.

 


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Hahnemühle Photo Matt Fibre 200 gsm paper

Make a start in fine art inkjet printing

There is a beguiling range of inkjet printing papers available on today’s market, many of which have specialist characteristics and applications. If you are new to inkjet printing, or indeed are simply in the mood for a different support, it can be difficult to know which paper to choose.

I have several paper types that I regularly use, each for a different purpose. Among these is a category that I might call the inkjet equivalent of a straight print in the darkroom. Having made a first stab at processing an image, I want to print it out and begin to make decisions on how to proceed. I will return to processing, print again, and repeat as necessary. Towards the end of this procedure I will include the final paper, usually one of the most expensive available. The paper I use first will be an ‘economical’ one (for reasons of economy, naturally), but, crucially, must not be so far removed from the final type as to introduce a jump or glitch in the process. It’s pointless to work on a draft version of a print, only to have to start processing from scratch once the end paper is introduced.

A paper has recently come to my attention that I have considered for this draft / straight print role. It is Hahnemühle Photo Matt Fibre 200 gsm. You have to tread carefully with affordable matt papers because at the lower end of the market you may not achieve the kind of quality you need. In point of fact, I remember thinking for some time that printing on matt supports wasn’t worth the trouble - until I discovered fine art matt media. The problem was that the image was rendered with a noticeable grainy structure (quite unlike film grain, incidentally) that gave the image a rather un-photographic quality. A quality matt paper will not suffer this, rendering your image in a smooth and photographic fashion, with good tonal transitions.

The price point of Photo Matt Fibre suggests that it is an economical but not a budget paper. It is significantly cheaper that Photo Rag Matt (one of my favourite final print papers), at nearly half the price. Hahnemühle themselves advertise it as a good first paper for fine art work. I’d like to second that view here and recommend it myself as a good place to start.

A draft print on Hahnemühle Photo Matt Fibre 200 gsm. Made using an Epson R3000 printer.

A draft print on Hahnemühle Photo Matt Fibre 200 gsm. Made using an Epson R3000 printer.

I like two things about this paper. First, it has the aforementioned quality of rendering a photographic-type image that I consider the sine qua non of inkjet printing. Second, it is not a thin paper at 200 gsm, and comes with a slight texture reminiscent of more expensive fine art matt papers. I can therefore get very close to my final print with this media, before using my preferred exhibition paper.

Good tonality, the ability to render sharp details and a gentle fine art texture are qualities of Photo Matt Fibre.

Good tonality, the ability to render sharp details and a gentle fine art texture are qualities of Photo Matt Fibre.

There are two possibilities here then, as I see it. Either you’re starting out and are on safe ground with this paper as a first matt paper choice and a taste of fine art printing; or you’re already printing and might consider it as a replacement to your draft matt. In either scenario Photo Matt is a sound, keenly priced option.

 

You can buy Photo Matt Fibre via this link from Amazon:


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Purchases made with Amazon following the links on my site help me cover costs for posting the content I make. I get a small commission from Amazon at no extra cost to you. Alternatively, you can donate directly here. Thank you for your kind support!