Guest Shooter Val Jerram in India

Posted in Guest Shots on April 1st, 2010 by MadDog
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Under the heading of Best Laid Plans several have gone astray in the last couple of days. For the last few days I’ve been unable to connect to the Internet by my new wireless hop from the office because I failed to realise that the power at the coconut oil refinery was going to be horribly unreliable. Then, this morning, my brand-new Windows 7 installation on my desktop computer at home stayed stuck on the “Please wait . . . ” screen for two hours. How long  do I have to wait, for pity’s sake?

The wireless problem has been partially solved by moving the hop from the coconut oil refinery to the top of the big supermarket across the harbour from our house. I know that the power there will be reliable, because there is a tonne of refrigeration equipment there and it must be kept running. The generators there kick in withing 10 seconds day and night 356 days a year.

I spent about four hours up on the roof of the supermarket this morning in the blazing hot sun. I’m still taking an antibiotic that could make me “sun sensitive” whatever that means, but I didn’t remember that until we were just about finished. I’d had no breakfast and no water. I didn’t realise that I’d overdone it until my vision started to tunnel and my knees got so wobbly that I hardly made it down the ladder. When I got back to the office, I took my dripping wet shirt off and laid down on the couch in the reception area and begged for food and water. As I lay there recuperating, I reminded myself that several seemingly minor errors in succession can put one in a world of hurt when their effects accumulate.

I think that the Windows 7 installation failure after only one day of use was because I hooked up my old Vista hard disk to get the data off of it. The first time that I booted after that, I believe That Mr. Gates’ software got terminally confused and did a Vulcan Mind Meld between Vista and Windows 7. You can guess what the solution to this problem is. I’m working on my laptop now with a slow dial-up connection while I reinstall Windows 7. I have to be honest and say that this is the first real complaint that I’ve had against W7. Otherwise it has been a dream, a good  dream.

Enough about all that. We’re here to see some more of Val Jerram’s lovely images of India. I’m happy to have influenced Val to develop her photographic talents. She has a Flickr Pro account with thousands of images from her travels around the world. There is some very nice stuff there on Darby Dog at Flickr.

I wish that I had paid more attention to Val’s comments on these images. I was so addled that I just took the time to prepare them for WordPress and uploaded them. I can’t comment much on them, but that’s okay. Good images should speak for themselves. This one certainly has a vioce:Happy faces, eh?

This one I love. It’s a very well composed image. I did only a bit of cropping and reduced the saturation of the background to make the machines pop:The presence of the three women in the corner make background look like a giant poster.

Nice, juicy colours make this ordinary scene come alive:I find it amusing that most of the carts in the world today seem to have begun their lives as automobiles or trucks.

This fantasy of colour is the inside of a dome:And this mosaic must have taken thousands of hours to complete:

We are just beginning the four day Easter weekend here. I’ll be up early to try to get the wireless connection finished. At noon I’m taking Jo and Ush out on Faded Glory  for a swim. I’ll probably do a solo dive to get some images to keep the pages filled.

I hope it’s not too sunny.

I can’t believe that I’m saying that.

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Guest Photographer Val Jerram – India With Eyes Wide Open

Posted in Guest Shots on November 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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I so much enjoy featuring the images of friends who share my passion for photography. Our long-time friend Val Jerram is a perfect example. Val is a world traveller of the first order. She’s been everywhere, man! She recently sent me some images from her last visit to India. I’m happy to present them to you here. Val shoots with a high-end point-and-shoot camera; she’s had a variety of them. These are great examples of what can be done with them by someone who reads the manual and has a good pair of eyes for composition and the moment.

Here’s a nice example. This image of a man playing the Sitar seems, at first, not particularly special. It’s nice, but . . . Okay, now look again. Look at the expression on the face of the old man in the background. Knowing Val, I don’t think this was an accidentally excellent shot. Here’s what Val had to say:

This gent Dr A. J. Tha serenaded us and played his sitar, along with a drummer at sunset as the fellow in the background paddled the boat down the Ganges river at sunset and we set our lighted candles to float on the water. There was a hive of activity because they were celebrating the religious festival of Diwale (The Indian equivalent of Christmas).

Sitar Man by Val JerramSounds better coming from Val, eh? Here’s another beautiful image preceeded by Val’s comment:

The picture of the man was taken in a remote village when we went for a walk after breakfast. We had stayed in the local fort which which was being restored and used as a hotel. It was in the province of Rajasthan.

Indian Man at Sunrise by Val JerramExquisite!

And, just to show that she’s not immune the the ‘tourist shot’ here’s one of the Taj Mahal:

Taj Mahal by Val JerramHey, wait a minute! That’s not your average tourist snapshot. That’s a well-thought-out, beautifully composed photograph worthy of exhibition.

Here’s one that Val described as, “A family out for a ride on the outskirts of town.”

Camel and Family by Val JerramNice use of the Rule of Thirds, angular elements and interesting cropping to capture the sense of motion.

This one is my favourite. Eat your heart out, National Geographic! Here’s what Val had to say:

On our ride on camels into the desert we had to take a break for some of our camel drivers to put their prayer mats down and face Mecca.

Camel Drivers by Val JerramOkay, but she didn’t walk over and take a shot of the guys praying, no not Val. That would be far too obvious. They are way up in the corner. Once you start to listen to the image, hearing what it’s about, you can’t stop looking at the fellows praying. It’s a setup job. She’s tricked you. All that beautiful colour and the smiling faces are red herrings.

And here is the talented lady herself:

It can get cool in the desert overnight. On the ride out those long sleeves protected me from the hot sun. The obligatory money pouch is strung around my neck.

Val JerramShe keeps saying that she’s going to take root for a while.

I don’t believe a word of it.

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The Eyes of Heidi Majano

Posted in Guest Shots, Photography Tricks on August 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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I could teach Photoshop all day. Of anything that I’ve ever done with a computer, Photoshop provides me the most satisfaction with the least effort.

Our friend Heidi Majano has keen eyes for an image. When she asked if I’d teach her how to refine her photographs with Photoshop, I jumped at the chance. She has proven to be a quick study. Once she is shown how to do something, she seldom needs that skill refreshed. She’s able to understand the whole process of image refinement rather than trying to remember each keystroke or slide control. I find that people who take time to learn some theory instead of concentrating on the details learn to produce images that please them much quicker.

I’d like to show you a few of the images that Heidi has found interesting and that we used as training tools. She shot this one in El Salvador in the village of Suchitoto. Heidi shows a natural talent for composition, something which many people struggle with:

El Salvador - men gossiping in the village of Suchitoto - Heidi Majano

Here again, showing her excellent eye for composition is The Garlic Beauty,  aloso shot in El Salvador:

The Garlic Beauty - by Heidi Majano

The photo above is a good example of that indefinable quality that practically nobody can explain, but most people recognise instantly as a great image.

This image of women sorting green beans in India is also a stunner:

In India, women sort green beans - Heidi Majano

Here is Heidi and her son, Keyen, in El Salvador on his fifth birthday:

Heidi and her son Keyen in El Salvador on his 5th birthday

Keyen loves to dress up and let his mommy take his photograph. It’s a skill shared by all children:

Hiedi's son Keyen as "The Dual Hero"

Heidi calls the shot above The Dual Hero.

Sadly, Heidi will be leaving PNG in a week. She has made many friends while here and everyone is going to miss her. The time that I have spent with her helping her to learn to develop her natural talent through the use of Photoshop has been a great pleasure.

Any other Madang Photoshop students out there?  The lessons are free.

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