Photographer’s Paradise

My Wife’s parents live on 100 acres 25km SE of Goulburn, NSW.

Every time I go down there I take photos and with each visit, I always challenge myself to try to come back with something different. Like any place on Earth, its seasons present different challenges.

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“Dog Noise” – © David Johnson

Goulburn can be bitterly cold with a hard-driving wind in Winter; very hot in Summer with a wind that is equally annoying. Autumn and Spring are gentler and invariably prettier.

They have a few dams on the property, some sheep and of course, Kelpies (a type of Working Dog for those that are unfamiliar with the breed).

Snakes are a problem (they tell me) in the warmer months, but in the 20 years I have been photographing down there I have not seen any, though Mum & Dad have had quite a few confrontations with Tiger and Brown Snakes. Perhaps they avoid me, which is a good thing. 🙂

I still take precautions though and must look a sight in Summer, when I am walking around in Gumboots, thick Jeans taking photos.

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“Sunday Afternoon” – © David Johnson

The dams hold a particular fascination. I love the way the light hits the grasses and the contrasts between the reflections and the grasses always attract my attention.

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“Wistful” – © David Johnson

I am fortunate that Mum loves Nature the way that she does as 20 years ago they planted all different types of trees, evergreen and especially deciduous. What self-respecting photographer can resist a backlit Autumn leaf?

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“Veins” – © David Johnson

Perhaps the best way to finish this post is to talk about my absolute favourite time of day at the property, Sunset. I have experienced this enjoyment many, many times.

Even though the property is less than 2 hours drive from where we live, the quality of light is so different there, softer. A photographer’s paradise indeed.

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“Western-bound” – © David Johnson

Written by David Johnson
8 April 2018

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Journey Of A Lifetime!

Photography has been a passion of mine for 35 years, though since 2010 (when I did a basic Drawing course and started dabbling in Painting),  Drawing and Painting have been slowly increasing in interest for me.

For the first time ever, this year, I have spent more time painting than I have photographing… Wow!

They are two very different mediums, with some similarities, particularly since Digital impacted photography. Painting cannot compete with the immediacy of photography, however, photography (since the Digital onslaught) has become almost machine gun-like, in that where a lot of photographers churn out numbers in the hundreds and the thousands when they go out to take photos.

There are or course photographers who do not take this approach to photography. They give serious consideration to the idea before they even pick up their camera to shoot the image or image series.

These photographers remind me of the painter who gives serious consideration to the idea and plans the painting accordingly. They need to decide on the composition, the story, the colours and the lighting etc. They pre-visualise just like the Black & White/Monochrome Darkroom photographers of yesterday did. Some still do.

Sitting in front of a computer (for me) editing image after image just isn’t as exciting or as fun as sitting in front of the canvas and creating.

This did surprise me somewhat, being a passionate photographer for as long as I have been. Recently, a photographer friend went on an overseas trip for a few weeks and took 8,000 digital images. 8,000! Having to review that many images from the trip are a real turn-off for me.

I’m still passionate about photography, though in different ways than above.

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“Abundance Of Joy” Acrylic & Oil 90cm x 30cm

So, why I am attracted to Drawing and Painting?

  1. They slow me down. They force me to think about what I am doing, what I am endeavouring to create, much like using an old TLR (Twin Len Reflex) on a tripod and taking the time to explore a scene with the eyes and the mind instead of firing off shot after shot with a DSLR…
  2. It really takes you back to basics i.e. just using the mind, the limbs, pigments and paper/canvas. It is a challenge to create something uniquely yours without the high-flying technology. This excites me!
  3. We, humans, spend our lives these days ‘tied to technology’ via our ever-present mobiles (cell-phones), tablets and other digital devices. Sitting in front of the canvas or creating in my Journal allows me to disengage.
  4. I was thinking the other day that one can’t get much closer to the raw beginnings of hand-made Art than Drawing, Painting (or indeed Sculpture). The cave-dwellers picked up a rock or some other pigmented material and started to draw/paint.

Drawing and Painting takes one back to the early days of Art, the person, tool, pigment and the imagination.

What you draw, paint or photograph depends on your genes, your environment, what influences your thoughts and actions and your beliefs etc just like those cave-dwellers.

In that respect, only the tools and Mankind’s thoughts and advancement have changed.

In regards to drawing and painting, I am in the early stages of my journey. I feel it’s a journey that I will be on for the rest of my life. Exciting times are ahead!
Written by David Johnson
30 December 2017

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“Journey” – incomplete. Oil – 16in x 20in

Journal To Discovery

It never occurred to me many years ago to keep a Journal, not a Diary, but a Journal of thoughts and ideas. It would have been great to be able to delve into now to see what sorts of things I was thinking of way back when.
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The idea to keep such a thing only started to enter my thinking around 2010. I started a small one for photographic ideas that I would definitely need the use of Photoshop to engineer as they were moving towards ‘Conceptual Photography.’ I would write a few brief notes and then do basic drawings or a sketch. Ironically, these days I seldom use Photoshop, but that’s for another article…

At my core I am ‘an ideas person.’ I have a lot of them and sometimes the phrase, ’shiny object syndrome’ comes to mind. Through 2003 – 2009 I was traveling 4 hours return by public transport to work in Sydney, Australia, was in two Photographic Societies, on committees and had lots of things on the go. Over the years, I have many ideas and some of them have progressed but many are still there, waiting…

In 2008 Toastmasters arrived in my life and I was being exposed to new things, ideas, people. Evernote became my ’Typed Journal.’

I began to revisit Sketches (that were not connected with Photographic ideas) which led me to keep a related Sketching journal, which led to me completing a basic Drawing course. Up sprang another type of Journal!

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Drawing led to me wondering if I could Paint? Up sprang a small Painting ‘Journal.’

In August 2013, I started writing Poetry, so yes, enter my Evernote Poetry Journal. Two years ago I realised just how much I was missing the ‘actual act of writing’ and so I bought an A5 journal that I handwrite poetry in. As I was halfway through my 4th poetry journal, a thought came to mind… Instead of having all these different Journals, why not combine them?
Research began on what type of journal to buy? This went on for a few weeks…

I ascertained it had to be able to be good enough quality paper to be:

  • Written on using a Calligraphy (or similar pen)
  • Able to withstand Watercolour and Acrylic Paints
  • Sketched or Drawn upon

As I found out, there is a whole industry devoted to Journals/Journaling. Here is one of the links that were indeed very helpful to me, as I hope it will be for you.

The next decision was, ’should I buy a ready-made’ product or make my own?’

I decided to go the ready-made route. I feel that my next one will be one I make myself. It sounds like fun!

The Journal I have chosen to combine all my Artistic, Writing & Poetical ideas is an A4 Ivory paper journal.

In this Journal, to my Heart’s content I can:

  • Write Poetry
  • Write small articles
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sketch
  • Formulate Ideas
  • Paste photos

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As I get on in years it is going to be so much fun delving back, re-engineering ideas and seeing what thoughts and ideas I have had. When I am no longer on this Earth the Journals will be left to relatives/friends who I know will appreciate and gain enjoyment from (and who knows) may progress some of the ideas and be inspired to record their own Artistic Journey.

Do you keep a Journal of your Art, Thoughts & Ideas?

If so, what do you use? I would be interested in hearing about your Journal of Discovery!

As for me, I believe I can hear my Journal calling me… Bye for now.

My Photographic Journey – Part 2

Having purchased my Olympus OM-10, I embarked on a journey which still fascinates me to this day, although that journey has morphed in time, as you will find out much later…
The OM-10 came with a Manual Adapter. I was assured by the salesperson that this allowed me full Manual control. I was to find out later, that this was not true. My first lesson learnt as far as ‘gear’ was concerned…
I started to photograph all sorts of things. I remember driving out on a country road and seeing a small pile of rubbish on the side of the road and saw light reflecting off some beer bottles. I stopped, I photographed. Aiming the camera, I continued to photograph flowers, birds, buildings, insects, cars, people, parades, musical instruments and basically whatever came in front of my lens.
Books and magazines were my main sources of learning. Back in 1982 there was no Internet so the newsagent, bookstores and library were ‘our Internet’ if you like.
Early on I took prints and had them processed at the local camera store or chemist and they would take 1-3 days to be ready. Sounds strange now, in the Digital Age.
In 1983 I purchased an LPL 3310D Student Black & White Enlarger and jumped into this strange, but exciting world of Black and White developing and printing. My early attempts (I still have them) at photographing and developing black and white images were, in a word, woeful. I could really achieve a really good muddy grey…
Basically, I needed help but didn’t know where I might find it…and started to concentrate more on colour prints, taking a lot of different subjects, and enjoyed taking the camera on bush walks, to functions and continued finding things to photograph. By this time, I had added an Olympus OM-1n (a truly Manual camera) and some additional lenses to my bag, plus a tripod, filters etc.
This continued on until mid 1986 when I saw an ad for ‘Campbelltown Camera Club’ at the local Camera store.
In May 1986 I attended a couple of meetings and joined in June 1986 and my life changed forever…