One thing I've learned in the "Awake" photo artistry course is the importance of warming-up by doing what Sebastian calls "Finger Exercises". The idea is take a few minutes, grab a couple of images and some textures, and knock something together. It's a great way to get into the flow, and most of the time the results are rubbish, but sometimes something good comes out and suddenly the whole morning has disappeared. This piece is not my normal style, but was engaging to work on. I hope that we never reach the day where all we have are photo albums with memories of kākākpō. Fortunately the Kākāpō Recovery Team is doing all that is humanly possible to ensure their survival and are well worth your support, but it is an uphill battle.
Kākāpō and other photos by Linton Miller and myself, kākāpō skeleton from the NY Public Library digital archives. Additional content via "Awake".
We've been avidly watching Marc Levoy's introductory course on digital photography, recently provided online for free by Google. For people like Linton and me who are entering the creative world of photography with scientific backgrounds, finding out more about the physics of optics and the maths behind Photoshop, makes it more approachable. I'm guessing we're in a minority! Last night's episode was especially in our wheelhouse as Mark touched on the psychophysics of vision, or how the human sensory systems gathers and interprets information in its environment, and how this impacts on things like minimum resolution for displays. Like all things involving the human factor, the physics is the easy part! And even if your eyes glaze over at some of the tricky bits, there's more than enough things of interest to keep most photographers going with the course.
We're also enjoying the assignments. The first one is to deliberate take some "bad" photos, where "bad" involves breaking the rules and circumventing your camera's default behaviour (e.g., blurred, poorly exposed, poorly composed, out of focus, or wrong white balance). The aim is to, of course, get an artistic shot by breaking the rules - a most satisfying start to what I assumed was going to be a "thou shalt" approach to photography.
My go-to site for bird information is no longer the definitive field guide by Heather & Robertson, but instead NZ Birds Online. Essentially a wikipedia for New Zealand's Birds, it gives authoritative information curated by Te Papa's ornithologist, Colin Miskelly, supported by a wealth of crowd-sourced photographs from keen birders and wildlife photographers (like myself!). One of its strengths is the ability to quickly add and modify entries as new information comes to hand, such as the recent sightings of new vagrant birds to NZ like the red-footed booby.
Judi Lapsley Miller
Fine art inspired by the stories of birds and the natural world. Starting with photographs, I let my imagination take me on flights of fancy. What is real and what is imagined is blurred. What is physical and what is virtual is disrupted. Bursting with colour and life.
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