Photographing The World Around You: With A Focus On The Web
Edward de Bono is a physician, author, and inventor who originally came up with the concept of “lateral thinking.” He wrote Six Thinking Hats and is a proponent of the teaching of thinking as a subject in schools. I’ve often said that the most useful photographic accessory is the one that’s between a shooter’s ears, and while lenses are important to accomplishing your goals as an image-maker, it’s your brain that will ultimately help realize that vision. This month’s featured websites are a perfect example of that kind of thinking, including a blog by a Shutterbug reader who has taken the concept of a photo a day (http://farace.smugmug.com) into an entirely new direction.
Note: In the July Web Profiles column, I mentioned that photographer Angel Gerena was based in Boston. He is actually located in Orlando. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused to any readers and the photographer.
Abelardo Morell is a Boston fine art photographer and professor of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His understated website, designed by Camilo Ramirez, showcases a 30-year body of work that’s remarkable for its breadth and depth. Morell is best known for creating camera obscura images in various places around the world and you can see some of his setups and images in the On Location section of the site. Camera obscura is Latin for “darkened room” and is a circa 300 BC optical device that projects an image of its surroundings onto a screen, although obviously there was no way to fix the image at that time. Looking at some of the photographs in Morell’s Camera Obscura collection you’ll see “straight” images that have the look and feel of manipulated photographs but instead are the work of a photographer who’s embraced ancient technologies and brought them into this millennium.
Monochrome images, such as “Houses Across the Street in Our Living Room,” are never jarring, but nevertheless you expect Rod Serling to walk into the frame any minute. In Recent Work, you’ll find color images that look like special effects frames from the film Inception, yet are straight shots. While the black-and-white images found in Alice in Wonderland are not what you expect, they are not—given Morell’s prodigious talent—unexpected as they combine Victorian drawings with photography, something Lewis Carroll himself dabbled in. To keep that theme alive, don’t miss his black-and-white imagery in Childhood. While all the images are interesting, “Laura and Brady in the Shadow of Our House” exudes a poignancy and delicacy that I’ve never experienced before while writing this column. There’s much more here—just explore.
If you follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/joefarace) you know that I have an interest in anything Lego related. If you are not following me, give it a try for daily how-to tips. Mike Stimpson is a photographer who has a “bizarre toy fascination, and a curiosity towards light,” all of which is manifested in a beautifully executed yet lighthearted website that makes a person feel good by just looking at these photographs. Smiles—that’s what Stimpson’s carefully crafted images are all about. Look in the Classics gallery for (mostly) black-and-white images of Lego characters acting out parts in famous photographers’ scenes. Here you’ll find Cartier-Bresson’s “Behind the Gare Saint Lazare” elaborately recreated using toys. Just ask yourself: how much work and talent went into producing this tableau? A lot. And while occasionally, as with his Vietnam War recreations, Stimpson heads off into not-so warm and fuzzy territory, he makes up for it with “The Walk to Paradise Garden” which was W. Eugene Smith’s comeback image after World War II. Moving over to his Lego gallery, we enter the realm of the Star Wars stormtrooper. In fact, Stimpson self-published (www.blurb.com) a book titled Stormtroopers, We Love You which is the most heartwarming picture book since Charles M. Schulz’s original Happiness is a Warm Puppy. What’s amazing throughout this gallery and book is Stimpson’s remarkable technical ability to overcome macro photography challenges while using these tools—and toys—to tell a story, all while bringing a smile to your face.
This month’s featured Shutterbug reader’s website belongs to Kim Malco, a fine art nature photographer who specializes in landscape images of California, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Costa Rica. The site’s galleries are arranged to highlight these geographic regions as well as offering thematic collections featuring topics such as Snow Scenes, Dunes, and (my favorite) Tree Portraits. As someone who likes to make tree portraits, I had to check out Malco’s approach and found the portraits as diverse and as beautiful as their subjects. Ranging from the moody, fog-bound forest (“Redwood Mountain ridge trail in Kings Canyon National Park”) to the awe inspiring (“Giant Forest area in west Sequoia National Park”), his monochrome and color images are a true delight.
The site’s format varies based on the type of gallery you’re viewing. In the thematic collections, small thumbnails are displayed that can be clicked to view larger images or purchase a print, although I’m sure Malco would prefer you do both. Some of the regional galleries contain subcollections that may be viewed through links and you’ll be taken to a similar collection of thumbnails where, as in the thematic collections, images may be viewed as a slide show. This is a great way to produce a fine art commercial site that’s a credit to web designer Bjørn Enki (www.bjornenki.com) and Malco’s photography as well. His work is as impressive as it is extensive, so take your time and poke around these truly wonderful images made by a photographer who’s clearly passionate about what he does.
In the January issue I wrote about my 2011 project to make a photograph a day and even created an online gallery. Some of you decided to try the same thing but Derek Miller takes the concept to new heights with this month’s Blog-of-the-Month. Shooting a picture a day is a challenge because weather and just plain life often gets in the way, but for Miller to shoot five photographs each day—and really good ones, too—is a major achievement, and so the Farace chapeau is off to this guy!
Miller uses Blogger (www.blogger.com) and the Travel template to assemble what is clearly a monumental undertaking, not just in volume but image quality. The site is arranged not surprisingly in chronological order and by randomly looking at a number of different days to get a feel for Miller’s work, I left impressed. As he begins the project there is a randomness about the five images but he soon gets into a rhythm and mini themes start to emerge for each day. From the domesticity of Day 44’s “Welcome to Richmond” to Day 46’s “Hello Poe.” (History buffs: Baltimoreans may claim Edgar Allan because he died there but his adoptive family lived in Richmond.) What Miller brings to all of these images is a strong sense of place mixed with a great color and design sense. Often the pictures are fun but the groupings, more often than not, tell a story, even if perhaps he is the only one to “get it.”