Entries in photography (57)


The Last of Summer

Nostalgia, Day 10, March 2019I had a lot of fun producing my third set of the 30 Day Photo Challenge. The vivid colour and what I call the ‘glowy’ effect of my chosen combination of Hipstamatic equipment were very inspiring. I hit on the combination by chance, using the random button on my self-portrait photos of the first day.

It was a beautiful late afternoon, and I took the shots on a bridge where I was bathed in the light of the setting sun. The Leonard lens creates a complex layered texture that looks like a shimmering bubble, and also adds the occasional flare to which the Standard flash adds even more brightness; they are offset by the weathered Sussex film, a great textured base with burnt edges. It felt like the right blend to celebrate the last of summer.

Self Portrait, Day 1, March 2019The funfair clown is one of my favourite images, and evokes the Nostalgia theme perfectly, reminding me of attending summer carnivals in my childhood, where the air itself was charged with excitement, and all the crowds, colours, lights and noise thrilled me. Carnivals were places full of possibility and adventure. I still love attending them to this day, and enjoyed my perambulations through the Moomba carnival, just taking photos – it was hard to choose between the ferris wheels, dodgem cars and other rides, but as I came to the laughing clowns, I knew they were It.

Click here to view the whole gallery.


A Rainbow of Happiness

To celebrate the International Day of Happiness, I have made a little slideshow of some of my travel photos, taken in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Portugal, Morocco and my hometown of Melbourne. I call it a six second rainbow of happiness!

I hope you have been able to do something that makes you happy today.


Thirty Days

January, Day 28: LiquidLate last year when I was thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I decided I needed a new creative challenge. For two years in a row I had been fulfilling my 2017 resolution of a poem a day, but it was time for something different, although of course I would keep writing regardless.

I take photos every day, if nothing else for my on-going Lost Things project, but I hit upon the idea of a ’30 Day Photo Challenge’. I had come across the concept here and there in the past, and a little research on the Google brought up various options on Pinterest. I quickly decided I didn’t like any of them in their entirety, and wrote my own subjects, trying to keep them fairly broad and open to interpretation.

January, Day 10: NostalgiaAdditionally, I decided to complete each month using the same equipment in Hipstamatic in its entirety – that would make approximately twelve, visually cohesive sets. (Because I am rolling over each thirty days immediately rather than waiting for the first of the month, I will finish up the twelve sets a bit before the end of December.)

February, Day 6: Morning In January I used Hipstamatic’s moody, vintage-style Tintype ‘pak’ with desaturated tones and short depth-of-field; and in February I chose a green-tinged combination which evokes for me blissfully lazy, sun-dappled summer days. I didn’t use any flashes in the January set, but the February set is a mixture of no flash, and various coloured flashes in the Hipstamatic app’s arsenal.

Here are a few samples, and to view the full sets, go to my new 30 Days Photo Challenge gallery page. These will be updated each month, so do come back to take a peek at my 2019 visual diary again.

February, Day 25: Upside Down


Vintage Mementoes

Recently I bought some vintage items on Etsy, a pair of 1940s sunglasses, and a hat (actually one of a few!), but these two sellers used vintage photos for thank you cards. Aptly, the 1940s beach photo above came with the sunglasses.

Both the photos are very tiny, about 6cm wide, and there is only so much one can see with the naked eye. I didn’t notice at first, but the photo above is actually a square negative printed on rectangular paper. When I scanned it at 200% of actual size, I was able to pick out a bit more detail – I love seeing what’s going on in the background of vintage photos.

Her expression is a little pensive, looking away from the camera as though she is thinking of someone far away from her.

Here, there is a man’s hat sitting on a rock just behind the two young women, children running about perhaps playing a ballgame, and numerous people doing the kind of things you do at the beach. You can see the girl closer to the camera is much prettier, and her dress has scalloped sleeves and neckline, and she is wearing a polka dot sash. Her expression is a little pensive, looking away from the camera as though she is thinking of someone far away from her. The other woman is wearing a floral print, and both of them are holding sunglasses in their hands.

I always wonder about the people in such photos – what were they thinking at the moment the shutter snapped? Where are they now, or their descendents?

And who are the two Edwardian women wearing bowties? Mother and daughter perhaps? The woman in the polka dot tie has such weary, deep-sunken eyes and looks much older than the other. Look at the detailing on their dresses – so many pleats!

I love the old cardboard these photos are printed on. I’ve always been fond of those deckle-edged photos because I remember them from old family albums; I even own a pair of scissors that cut like that, but of course I never print photos anymore. The embossed Edwardian frame is perfectly lovely – I actually might get photos printed if you could order frames like that. It makes them seem far more special, real mementoes. I wonder if these women are remembered by someone.

Click images for larger versions.


A Beautiful Soul

Only very recently did I discover the ethereal work of Scottish photographer Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822–1865), via an Instagram page called VictorianDarlings.

For a moment they took my breath away, for there was something achingly poignant and tender about them: the soft natural light that gently bathed these young women and diffused into grand interiors, this glimpse of a woman’s exploration of her subject – her daughters, mostly – in the pioneering days of photography.

Produced by albumen prints from wet-collodian negatives, the most popular method in the mid 19th century, Hawarden’s photographs are like paintings, sumptuous and delicate at the same time.

Hawarden called her work ‘studies’, and she worked in natural light, unlike many of her contemporaries, using mirrors to distribute the light pouring into her interiors through huge windows or French doors. In largely empty rooms, she used props, mirrors, draped fabric and curtains, and clothing made up of both contemporary and costume dress to create exquisite portraits, and tableaux (a popular theme of the era) of her daughters.

Windows, an obvious and convenient source of light, become a framing device, and offer a glimpse of the balcony beyond; further off, the city becomes a blurred background.

Most of what is known about Hawarden must be gleaned from her work; some art critics have made suppositions about her themes, for instance, exploring sexuality and adolescence, subjects that bothered the Victorians; but that can only be guesswork, and dubious at that when viewed through a contemporary lens (no pun intended). She left no diaries, nor was there any accompanying archival material when the photographs were generously donated to the V&A Museum by her granddaughter in 1939. They were cut or torn from family albums – there is no explanation as to why, but my guess is stubborn glue! (Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.)

I think Hawarden found a creative outlet that thrilled her – she produced her entire oeuvre (over 800 photographs) by painstaking method in only approximately seven years – and in an era when this art form was so new, above all she wanted to make beautiful pictures. Is that not enough without casting about for bogeymen? To me, the photographs speak for themselves – and of her beautiful soul.

Read more about Lady Clementina Hawarden and see more of her work at V&A Museum.

Images from V&A Museum, and Pinterest.