Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for September, 2010

Reflecting on Turkey

In 2006 my wife and I took a tour in Turkey, visiting numerous sites as far west as Gallipoli in the Dardanelles, south to Antalya, east to Cappadocia and back to Istanbul via Ankara and Bursa.  I have been looking back through photographs taken during that trip and present below an interpretation with the benefit of hindsight and how I felt both then and now.

Turkey is a fascinating country to visit, being on the edge of both Asia and Europe.  It has an ancient history dating back to “the cradle of civilisation” through to modern attempts be become part of the European Union.  While it is by constitution a sectarian state, Islam is the predominant religion.  Turkey also has a significant Christian history as well as evidenced at  places like Ephesus and Cappadocia.  The country has been invaded from all directions, and has itself been the invader, and was the leader of a significant empire prior to World War I.

What I found most fascinating was the people, as is evidenced in the images below.


We happened on this man as we were wandering the narrow streets of Uchisar in Cappadocia.  He had the kind of lived-in face that was captivating and begged you to want to find out more.  But time and language did not allow for this.

Uchisar - Take my Picture!

This girl was an opportunist.  She had positioned and tethered her donkey along the path that visitors to Uchisar normally pass through and demanded money from anyone who stopped to take her photograph.  The donkey didn’t care whether you took its picture, or not!

Balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey

A highlight for many visitors to Cappadocia is to get up early in the morning to take a balloon ride over the fairy chimneys for which the area is famous, at sunrise. Part of the experience is hearing the roar of the burners as the hot air in the balloon is recharged so that it can regain altitude.

Hand crafted saddle bags - Cappadocia, Turkey

The weaving of rugs and kilims is a major industry in Cappadocia and many visitors succumb to taking home a souvenir.  Other woven products are also available, and these saddle bags seen on a motor cycle in Uchisar caught the attention.

Family Shopping - Spice Market, Istanbul

A visit to the Spice Market is a “must do” on the list of most visitors to Istanbul.  In the alleys behind the covered market vendors sell an amazing collection of cooking and other wares.  Here you will find the ordinary people of Istanbul going about the business of their everyday lives.  These alleys are alive with people and seem far removed from the normal glossed-up tourist haunts.

Little Prince - Istanbul, Turkey

This young fellow was found on the steps leading into the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque in Istanbul.  Having reached the age for circumcision, he was dressed for the celebration and visiting the mosque before the deed was performed.

Water Boy - Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Boys will be boys!  On our first visit to the Topkapi Palace there was water in this pool and the little fountain was playing.  The next day the pool had been drained and the fountain turned off.  This was a case of capturing the moment.


Eight in Line

Eight in Line

Taken in Melbourne, Victoria in 2009 from a bridge crossing the Yarra River.  This image has been worked on in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 using the ethos outlined in David duChemin’s book Vision & Voice – Redefining your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. David asks the question “How did it feel?”

The photograph presented itself quite by chance.  After work rowers were on the river training as the sun lowered itself to the horizon.  I saw them coming towards me and the idea of capturing them in silhouette occurred to me.  As the rowers came through the sunlight reflected off the water the moment arrived.  Straight out of the camera the image seemed pretty good. However, but a bit of work with the blacks, exposure, highlight recovery and enhancement of the blue of the bow canvas and yellow of the oar blades brought the image to how I remembered it and “how it felt”.

I have been reworking some of my photographs since reading the book and feel that I am now starting to get more mood from the images than previously.

Vision & Voice – David duChemin’s book on Refining your vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

I admit right here at the start that I am a great fan of David duChemin’s blog, his Craft & Vision e-books and his first published book Within the Frame – The Journey of Photographic Vision.  He espouses a philosophy about photography that resonates with me.  This challenges me to think about what I am trying to achieve when I am about to frame a photograph and press the shutter button.

As a relative novice of the photographic arts I often struggle to get the photographs I hope for.  Coming from a somewhat technical background I often lack the creative vision to make a reasonable photograph of a subject, however simple, that others create masterpieces from. But I keep trying.

In his book Vision & Voice – Redefining your vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom David has led me further down the path of understanding.  I came to Adobe Lightroom without any formal tuition, but what I found was a post-processing software product that I could understand even at its basic level. However, I struggled with it when dealing with RAW images because of the high degree of flexibility of manipulation, and a lack of understanding of what I was trying to achieve.  As a technical kind of person I believed that I should be trying to recreate the scene exactly as I remembered it.  David duChemin encourages me to recreate images as I “felt” them.  Now, there’s a challenge for a technician!

What I like about this book is that it’s not about the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  It’s about translating the vision in the image you captured into the final product.  David talks about three kinds of image – the image you envision, the image you capture in your camera, and the final image you produce as a result of refinement in post-processing.  Does the final image have to represent the subject “exactly”?  David argues that the answer depends on its final usage – if it’s a news image “Yes”, otherwise it depends on your intention.  What a liberating thought!  Did it look that way?  Did it feel that way?  That creates an opening for a technician to look at things in quite a different way.

By following the thought processes that David uses to create his final images one is treated to a “try it and see what happens” approach to image transformation with the clear understanding that there is a vision for what the final product will look and feel like.  In the process you learn how the sliders and tools in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom help to transform the raw product into its final form.

Beware – the old adage “Garbage in – Garbage out” still applies.  A poor vision coupled with a poor capture will still produce a poor image.

For me this book has been a revelation.  I now have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t in Lightroom, and a much clearer idea about what I need to do about capturing a worthwhile image in the first place.  In photography, as in all things in life, learning is a lifetime experience.  As an “older person” I am racing to catch up after so many years away from this fascinating craft.