Guest Speaker: Craig Potton

Craig PottonWe were very fortunate to have Craig Potton speak to the Dunedin Photographic Society on Monday the 22nd of October. He is a committed conservationist and New Zealand’s best known landscape photographer. Craig brought a collection of slides to illustrate a wide-ranging and very informative talk about his work and the work of others who have influenced him over the years. He highlighted the importance of studying art as a way of learning the principles of colour and composition and he reminded us that artists can help us to see both better and differently. He discussed Mark Rothko’s Colour Field Paintings, Japanese landscape paintings, classic Japanese gardens, David Hockney’s joiners and many other examples of work that has had an impact on him. He talked about the need for an image to work within the frame as a composition, whatever the subject matter. He showed some of his favourite photographs that he has taken over his long career, and it became clear that he has learned to apply the lessons he’s learned from the artists he has studied. For example, photographs like Beech Forest, Beach Tree, and Boulder Bank, have no central subject, which frees the viewer and encourages an exploration of the complex field of colour and texture, often drawing attention to the edges of the composition. He talked about the lengths he is willing to go to get dramatic images of magnificent places that have become familiar to us through more conventional, and much tamer, representations. To illustrate this, he gave us the back story to his photo of Milford Sound during a storm and a dramatic shot of the Mount Ruapehu Eruption. In his effort to get the best image possible, he would often return to the same place multiple times, photographing the same scene over and over again in an effort to capture an image that does justice to the place. One of his personal favourites, the Fox River Limestone Reflections, shows that this perseverance and dedication can pay off in the end. His work, as well as the work of other artists and photographers, can be seen in the Craig Potton Gallery and Store in Nelson.

 

2017 Programme

The year is coming to a close, but we have already been looking to 2017 and have put a great programme in place for you all.  For those who were not at the final meeting to grab a paper copy, you can access the digital version of the programme here.
On the Programme page you will see a link to download a PDF copy or you can view the events in the google calendar.  It is also possible to add the DPS calendar to your own google calendar by clicking the “+ Google Calendar” button at bottom right of the calendar.
Until 2017, have a safe and merry Christmas!
xmas
Christmas frivolities – by Denise Montgomery

Guest Speaker: Chris Gillman Gable

Our guest speaker, Chris Gillman Gable,  came to talk to us about documentary photography.  Chris is currently a lecturer in digital photography at Otago Polytechnic.

As is the case for many photographers, Chris started out taking pictures of things that he found aesthetically pleasing.  After years of travelling, he returned to Dunedin in his late 30’s, to discover a different looking Dunedin.  It was then that he became more aware of the transient nature of life and began his journey into taking photos that told a story and which preserved a slice in time.

Chris explained the various forms of documentary photography and gave examples of well-known photographers.

Typologies: this form may be seen as capturing details of a single subject, often seen as a rather scientific or analytical method.

9bb39e523c2c37cac0732e8311f1c5b1.jpg

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) produced a massive photographic study of the various forms and designs of plants, as seen here.

(Sub)culture: ethnological form of documentary photography.  Examples of this form include Edward Curtis’s (1868-1952) 30 year project photographing native americans.

August Sander (1876-1964) also similarly photographed portraits of germans, including during the Nazi regime.

august_sander_05.jpg

Issues: Lauren Greenfield’s (1966) photographs chronicle the culture of anorexia, youth and gender issues.

Geographical: photographers who capture aspects of their surrounds, such as Frank Meadow Sutcliffe in the 1860’s, who took pictures of victorian life in a northern english fishing town. Eugene Atget (1857-1927) also famously documented changes in parisian architecture.

Another example was Vivian Maier (1926-2009) who documented life on the Chicago streets.

14fbc96dadbaad07e0f0d78f536cb0b9.jpg

Vernacular: French photographer, Jacques Lartigue (1894-1986), started taking photos when he was a young boy – everyday photographs of his family and friends, often at play.

The Human Condition: Phillip Toledano (b.1968) documented the emotional declining health of his father due to dementia.

Richard Billingham (b. 1970) became well known with his candid photographs of his alcoholic father.

20101022110348_richard_billingham_untitled7.jpg

Events/Narrative: Frank Hurley’s (1885-1962) work as an official photographer on Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to Antarctica, documents the ill-fated trip.  He also later documented many battlefield scenes during the war.

Frank-Hurley-under-the-Bow.jpg

Documentary photography makes us think about the significance of the photos we take.  As time passes, our photos take on a new meaning and value.  It is important to record not only the happy, beautiful moments of our lives but also record a slice of time that can become a valuable reference in the future.

Chris concluded this interesting and thought provoking talk with some examples of his recent works in documentary photography.  These can be seen on his website: http://www.chrisgable.co.nz/

 

Guest Speaker: Greig O’Kane

Greig O’Kane from Nevill Studios in Dunedin,  was the guest speaker on Monday night (12th September).

Nevill Studios was opened as a photographic studio on 1934 by the Nevill sisters. Greig O’Kane’s family bought the business over 30 years ago, and began a transformation from photographic studio to framers, after seeing how long it took their framer to get their prints framed, and realising they could do it quicker!

 

Greig showed us a variety of glasses and mat cuts, and shared some interesting facts:

  • Mat cutters (such as the Logan brand) are getting harder to come by, so if you have one, treat it like gold! One place in Wellington is still selling them along with the guide rails, but it doesn’t look like anyone else is importing them to New Zealand now
  • Greig tends not to use colour mats on black and white prints, as it can be too distracting, so will usually use either a black, white or, occasionally, grey mat
  • He doesn’t believe that colours really go in and out of fashion – what is most suitable to the print in colour and size should look good on almost any wall
  • Nevill Studios recommend neutral or simple frames for exhibition work, so that viewers can focus on the image (e.g. a white mat in a black frame), while in the home, more colour and complexity might be suitable for the environment
  • They use the ‘eye-o-meter’ for working out dimensions – what looks most pleasing to the eye, tends to be the most balanced. Too small of a mat/frame will hem in the image, while it will be lost in too large of a mat
  • They also recommend that the bottom border of a mat be cut slightly wider than the other three sides – by about 5mm for a small image, or up to 15mm for something larger. Greig feels that if the border is even on all sides, it can give the illusion that the image is slipping down a bit in the frame
  • Nevill Studios use either archival hinging tape to fix images to backing boards, or a heat mount press to dry mount the image and flatten it so there’s no ripples
  • They only use acid-free, archival products in their work – anything they do must be completely reversible, so that the art is conserved properly, and not damaged in the process
  • They only use wood or aluminium componentry, no plastic or wood composites.   They prefer NZ made, but some of the gilt or high-end finishes have to be imported from overseas
  • Museum glass is a new technology – it’s super hi-def, with UV coating. It’s not cheap, but is almost invisible and allows the viewer to see the true colour of an image, so is perfect for high-quality images
  • There is also the older style conservation glass – this costs around 30% more than standard glass, while museum glass costs 50-60% more
  • Nevill Studios use a computer mat cutter now, which can do almost any kind of shape from standard to curved or intricate
  • One week’s work by a human mat cutter can be done in about 2 hours by the computer cutter!
  • Nevill Studios sell all of the bits and pieces related to framing, so you can buy whatever you need separately, from glass to dry mount tissue, and hooks and nails are free
  • If you need any advice, contact info here: http://www.nevillstudios.co.nz/

Guest Speaker: David Wall

David Wall was Monday night’s (8th August) guest speaker.  David who runs a stock photography business (http://www.davidwallphoto.com), recently returned from a family trip to the U.S.  He rented a RV campervan and embarked on a 22 day road trip, leaving from Los Angeles travelling up to the Grand Canyon, through Colorado and around to San Francisco.  He showed us some spectacular landscape photographs of various geological places of significance such as the Grand Canyon, slot canyons such as the Antelope Canyon, the Rattlesnake Canyon Arches, hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock),  and the Yosemite National Park.  He also showed some photographs of the ancient ancestral ruins at the World Heritage site of Mesa Verde National Park.

He also visited Las Vegas which was a complete contrast to his preceding days of travelling through rich cultural and geological areas.  Nevertheless, he found it a very interesting place to photograph the opulence and grandiosity of the city.  After Las Vegas, he moved on to Yosemite National Park and then a further three hour drive to San Francisco, before heading back along the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles.  He also took some helicopter rides around the city to take some aerial shots of Alcatraz, the airport, various highways, the Golden Gate bridge and some colourful palattes of salt ponds.

During the planning stages of these trips, David does some research using Google Earth to explore the areas he intends to visit and also view the photos others have taken in these areas.   David’s photographs certainly made us feel in awe of the diversity in landscapes from another part of the world.  If you missed the talk, you can see many of David’s photographs of his trip on his website.

Guest Speaker: Rod Morris

Meeting: Monday June 27th

Rod Morris, who is a well known and award-winning natural history filmmaker, author and photographer, was the guest speaker on Monday night.  His talk titled ‘ Pinch of Salt – Seashore macro photography’ was based around his most recent work, producing a field guide to the New Zealand seashore, in conjunction with Sally Carson from the Portobello Marine Science laboratory.

Accompanying his talk, were many photographs of the wonderful and weird sea life that inhabit our shores.   There is, in fact, a huge variety of life in the sea that exists and is not that well known.  In fact, about 96% of animals live in an aquatic environment; the rest are terrestrial.  Rod urged us to go out and explore the inter-tidal environment.

Photographing these animals presents several challenges.  First and foremost are two factors that are enemies of the camera – saltwater and sand.  Rod recommended placing a finger near the end of one’s camera lens to provide a warning that the camera is getting close to the water surface.  Rod also uses a point-and-shoot waterproof camera which can produce some pleasing results (particularly cameras that have a tilted screen).  In more sheltered rock pools, it is possible to shoot through the water surface, particularly when using twin flash units.

Another challenge is that many of the animals tend to quickly burrow themselves in the sand if they sense danger. In this case, Rod often took these specimens back to the laboratory  and placed a sheet of glass between the animal and the background sand so that it could not burrow.  After photographing, he would then return the animal to the sea.  He has also used water filters in the laboratory to move sediment and water around the tank, in order to stimulate some activity in the animals (such as barnacles which may close up as a defence mechanism).   There are also various tidal rhythms that can influence the behaviour of the animal so it is important to have a bit of background knowledge of these animals.

Rod’s talk has certainly inspired us to head out to the seashore and explore.  We  look forward to the publication of his field guide.