Blog Post #024 – Photography Explained #3

Advice, Art, Photography, Travel

Welcome to the third installation of my Photography Explained series. I have enjoyed the process of creating these kinds of blog posts as it allows me to take a hard look at my photography and find those areas that I am weak at and need to work upon. It has also provided me with a further sense of appreciation of the effect that a well-taken photograph can have and the components that need to all come together to allow for this to happen. 


In this particular blog post, I am going to be looking more closely at animal photography

I have been drawn towards the animals of the world all my life and have always been intrigued by what they are. I enjoy watching them go about their activities and observing how different their lives are to our own. Of course, this means that I love to take photographs of these animals that I spot. However, animals are notoriously fast-moving and it can be a real challenge to capture the creature within your frame before they scurry or fly away. 

Below I am going to display a few of my favourite photographs of different animals taken around the world and offer a few tips as to how to get that perfect photograph. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


My first photograph is of a squirrel taken in Elveden Forest, Suffolk. What I like about this photograph is the framing of the points of interest in the image. Around 50% of the photograph is taken up of the foreground which is in focus and the other half is out of focus but provides context to the photograph. As well as this it was crucial to ensure that the squirrel’s entire body is within the frame with none chopped off by the edge. I felt that this organisation created a nice dynamic to the photograph which differentiates it from other photographs of animals.  

A piece of advice that is universal for all animal photography is to take as many photos as you can with a fast shutter speed. You will be left with hundreds of photographs using this method but you have a far greater chance of one being the money shot sitting within a host of average photographs. 


My second photograph is one of a humpback whale taken off the coast of Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. It was such an honour to be in such close proximity to such a huge, majestic creature and the photograph does not do the experience justice. 

And my third photograph is of a loggerhead turtle in Greek waters. I had been told of turtles being present in the area but I did not expect to be greeted by one. An incredibly special moment and thanks to photographs I can revisit this memory again and again. 

In both of these photographs of aquatic creatures, what is important is ensuring that the point of focus, either the tail fin or the turtle is as close as possible to the centre of the frame. This was also another example of when it is vitally important to take multiple photographs in a short period as these encounters are over in a flash and there is a very small window of opportunity to get that perfect photograph. 


My fourth and final image is of a cormorant taken in Folkestone, Kent and is my favourite photograph of any flying animal. In my experience, it has been very challenging to capture a satisfactory photograph of a bird in flight and my best results come from when they are stationary. Again the framing techniques came into play but what I like about this photograph is that I have made the subject silhouetted. 

This is a simple photography technique that can add an extra layer of intrigue by stripping away the fine details of the subject. The most effective way to achieve this is to ensure that the sunlight is behind the subject, this means that the subject stays in shadow and therefore will become a silhouette. 

This is because a human eye has a far greater dynamic range than the sensor of any camera. Through eyesight, details are much clearer when looking towards a light source but through a lens, a silhouette effect can be achieved. 


I hope that you have enjoyed this short journey through my favourite animal photographs and that you have been able to yearn some useful tips that will improve your photography. 

Until next Monday, have a great week. 

Blog Post #019 – Photography Explained #2

Art, Education, Photography

Welcome back to Photography Explained with the second instalment in the series. In these posts, I hope to make some sense of some of the photography that I have taken and offer information on the decision making processes behind them. 

In this particular edition, I will be discussing a collection of photographs named Accidental Art. These images are the remnants of an art class discarded into a sink. These often go unnoticed and regarded as waste but the mix of colour and pattern when you’re least expecting is what interested me. This led to an extensive process of seeking out these obscure pieces of beauty. Whenever I was lucky to find these discarded remnants I made sure to take a photograph and over time built up a portfolio of similar images but always different in terms of colours and patterns present. 


Below is a selection of the photographs for this particular collection:  


After researching into the world-famous Leonardo da Vinci further reinforced my thinking behind this particular exercise. A theory coined by da Vinci suggests that art can be found at any moment. The advice was directed towards those that were experiencing a creative block. This passage is taken from Leonardo da Vinci’s words: ‘If you look upon an old wall covered with dirt, or the odd appearance of some streaked stones, you may discover several things like landscapes, battles, clouds, uncommon attitudes, humorous faces, draperies, etc. Out of this confused mass of objects, the mind will be furnished with an abundance of designs and subjects perfectly new.’ The overarching reasoning is that an artist should try and find meaning in chaos.

This was exactly what I was attempting to do when carrying out a simple exercise but with a greater meaning behind it. The quote devised by Yotam Ottolenghi, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ sums this experience up rather nicely and I implore you to do just this, find beauty where it is least expected, in my case a classroom sink. 

Till next week, all the best. 

Blog Post #017 – My First Art Exhibition

Art, Life in General

This blog post brings together the artwork selected for my final exhibition that has been completed over the last 2 years for my International Baccalaureate Art course. The exhibition took place in The Pie Factory, an art gallery in Margate, Kent. The exhibition was open to the public and saw north of 250 people coming in to have a look around. The entire experience was a first for myself and I feel far more confident in articulating the reasoning behind my work to strangers, I feel this is a worthwhile skill to work upon.  


To begin I have my exhibition description which hopes to explain my thinking that underpins my overall exhibition and brings together each of the individual pieces together into a harmonious art installation. Alongside the images of each piece sits a section of text that allows for greater clarification and understanding of the work that I have completed by offering further information. 

Exhibition Description: 

With an untrained eye, one may see a singular beautiful thing. A trained eye, however, will see a hundred beautiful things. It is not what you are looking at, it’show you look at it. A simple building may appear to be rather plain and unappealing, but upon closer observation, one can see the interesting placement of windows, the patterned carpet and the ornate doorknobs. Only those that consciously seek out the finer details begin to deeper appreciate their surroundings, only then you can say you are fully immersed within a space.

My thesis statement for this exhibition is simply: Stop, look and listen. This serves as a constant reminder to step back and consider the finer details in the world around us. This is something that I have found myself having to consider as I found myself wrapped in my school life and was losing perspective and clarity within my mind leading to a deeper, personal connection with my work.


Une petite cathédrale

The upcycling of used, defunct sporting equipment that utilises the general form of flying buttresses found in cathedrals creating a useful and exciting lighting piece. 


Staple City 

A group of young children were asked to respond to the task, ‘draw a city skyline’. The responses were very similar, with simple shapes drawn. Taking these simplified forms, I tried to reflect this ideology in my sculpture. The sculpture is focused on stripping back the confusion of our cities and focusing on what is beneath the surface. A group of young children were asked to respond to the task, ‘draw a city skyline’. The responses were very similar, with simple shapes drawn. Taking these simplified forms, I tried to reflect this ideology in my sculpture. The sculpture is focused on stripping back the confusion of our cities and focusing on what is beneath the surface. 


The Wheel of Colour

An inspired piece from my great-great-grandfathers sketchbook showed also. This is a presentation of my exploration into colour via the creation of a colour wheel with the design being made up of interior designs that have piqued my interest. This construction expresses a metaphor, the blurred colour when the wheel is spinning represents normal, fast-paced life. When halted by the hand it signifies the clarity that arises when time is taken to ‘Stop Look Listen.’


The Search for Obscure Beauty 

A collection of carefully selected photographs that seek to explore the finer details within the surroundings of my ‘town’. The aim was to try and find beauty in places where they are least expected and are missed by many that choose not to look. 


Inside/Outside – 50% 

An exploration into the manipulation of the pencil to depict a dissected shell. The shell has been cut in half to expose the inner beauty that is hidden to those that never look. The halved shell is present for observation.


The 16 Hour Clock 

An inspired piece from a finer detail that piqued my interest which I observed in the British Museum in London. The intricate patterning of the observed window was divided into 16 sections which led to the aptly named ‘16 Hour Clock’. 


The Johnson Table

A resting place for my collection of my ‘City That Never…’ pieces but remains relevant as the legs hark back to Frank Lloyd Wright’s design of the ‘Johnson Wax Headquarters’


Jet Black Tub Chair 

Adding to this collection of soft furnishings this tub chair takes inspiration from the circular forms and ‘faux’ trees found in Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Johnson Wax Headquarters’ in Wisconsin. 


The City That Never Sleeps 

Through the exploration of these simplified forms and shapes, I created a design that takes a simplified skyline and I have stitched it onto a self-made soft furnishing which adds further context to the ‘Jet Black Tub Chair’. 


The City That Never Reads

The utilisation of a book signifies how important it is for us to maintain a habit of reading. In today’s age, social media has infatuated our minds of sometimes useless information and we must make a conscious decision to take back control and read more. The simple skyline represents a stripped-back reality, and this simplified attitude to life is something to consider. 


The City That Never Drinks

An exploration of an alternative artistic technique whilst maintaining this design of a simplified skyline on a mug as explored in various of my other pieces. 


‘Thesis’ 

These words formulate my thesis statement, tying together all of my exploration pieces and consolidating them to this idea that we as people must slow down at times and take time to ‘STOP and LOOK’ for those finer details that go missing in our everyday lives.


Mankind’s arches 

A simplified replication of an arch found in Canterbury Cathedral allowed me to bring a large scale construction, capturing the shapes and forms observed by myself, inside the Pie Factory. The ivy, however, reminds us that these human forms are derived from nature. 


All together these individual pieces came together to make up my exhibition, I was very pleased in the way that it all came together and I am proud of the hard work that I have put in over the last 2 years. I have enjoyed the exhibition experience and look forward to immersing myself into similar situations in the future. I think I will have access to similar situations in architecture school which I am looking forward to. 

I see this exhibition as an example to myself the necessity of long hours and hard work to see successful results. 

To many more long hours before the end.

Blog Post #014 – Practice Makes Perfect: Drawing Every Day

Architecture School, Art, Life in General

“Practice makes perfect. After a long time practising, our work will become natural, skillful, swift and steady.” 

Bruce Lee

We are always told that if we want to become proficient at something then we must practice, practice and practice some more. The book Outliers: The Story of Success written by Malcolm Gladwell is the origin point of the 10,000-hour rule. He stated that “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours”. 

To put 10,000 hours into context that equates to approximately 417 days. That means that if you were to practise for 3 hours per day that would equal approximately 3333 days or a little over 9 years. I think you have to take this timeframe with a grain of salt because I believe that you have to push yourself to improve during these hours, otherwise you will simply stagnate and your skill level will not increase despite putting in the hours. 


With self-improvement and practise in my mind, I have decided to take it upon myself to become more confident and improve my drawing skills. I have decided to an emphasis on drawing as I have come to learn that communicating your ideas through drawing is a crucial element of practising architecture both in architecture school and professionally. I want to be confident in my ability to draw and refrain from reaching for the laptop and rendering softwares to develop my ideas. 

I have worked on my drawing skills in the past by enlisting the support of an art tutor and I saw my skill level improve during this period. However, now that I have been offered the gift of time during these strange times I want to try and make drawing part of my daily routine. 

Something that is helping me keep to this daily routine is the discovery of Kiyeon Kim who is an architect, designer and sketch lover. He has built up this huge library of ‘Draw With Me’ videos on both his Instagram and on Youtube. He has a distinctive style that I have come to enjoy emulating. I am getting into the habit of following one of his videos every day which is building my confidence to be able to draw architectural scenes. 

Instagram Account: 

https://www.instagram.com/kimkanone_/?hl=en

Youtube Account: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeeyrUpLa6wOUTH-ZNwTYnw

He predominantly uses a fountain pen in his sketches which has a striking effect, however, I am not quite brave enough to go straight in with ink so I use a rOtring 0.5 mechanical pencil and then overlay that with a 0.1 uni-ball fineliner. Similarly to Kim, I use graphic marker pens, specifically Winsor & Newton Markers to add a layer of colour to the drawing. I have included links to all of my drawing implements below if you want to get your own. 

rOtring Mechanical Pencils:

uni-ball Fineliners: 

Winsor & Newton Promarker Set 1:


I have included some of my own sketches inspired by his videos below. I think it is a really good way to get into a habit of drawing and it is a lot easier than staring a blank page and struggling to see where to start. 


Perhaps I have inspired you to start practising drawing or perhaps something else that you are interested in and want to see your skill level increase. Whatever it is, use this time to try and work at it and build it into your routine, once it is in there then it becomes second nature much like brushing your teeth. Start your 10,000-hour journey today. 

Happy practising! 

Blog Post #013 – Corsa Camper Conversion

Art, Life in General, Travel

This week’s blog post is centred around a project that I undertook over the last couple of weeks. This particular project I am calling the Corsa Camper Conversion. 

Confused already? Let me explain. 

I have always toyed with the idea of wanting to live out of a campervan and travel with this. These dreams mainly stem from listening to stories of my Dad doing this in Australia when he was younger. I actually have the number plate from that very campervan up in my room. When I first looked at buying my first car I did look briefly at vans for a possible conversion or campervans and realised very quickly that this route was very much out of my budget at 17 years old. 

Also, Instagram feeds like these only fuels the fire even more!

This then saw that dream put to rest for a while, until a couple of weeks ago. It came to me almost out of nowhere. I think the genesis of this project is partly down to the COVID pandemic and the cancellation of several holiday plans this year. I was troubleshooting how I can get to travelling as soon as possible. 

That is how I concluded that I would convert my 2010 Vauxhall Corsa into something that I could live out of for some time. In my mind, these periods may consist of two different circumstances. 

1

When I move to Nottingham to study architecture I am situated near the Peak District. This project would allow me to drive out there, park up at a campsite and disconnect from normality, even if it’s just for one night. I see this as a way of dealing with the stress I may experience at university but who knows.

2 –  

I am also aware that France and Spain openly welcome ‘wild camping’ and I feel that a road trip through these countries would be very high up on my To-Do List when restrictions are relaxed. I would also be much more comfortable driving than having to make my way through an airport and boarding planes. 


Before I set out on these adventures I am going to need to put my ideas in practice and carry out my very own van conversion but on a Corsa, hence the name ‘Corsa Camper Conversion’. 

I enjoyed the process and I do feel that I surpassed my expectations with my level of woodworking ability. I have my Grandpa to thank for these skills that have been taught to me from a very young age. I tried to keep this project on a budget and within the images and descriptions below you will see just how I managed this. I was also conscious of the limited size of the car in question so storage played heavily on my mind and I feel that I have been able to achieve a substantial amount of storage.

Without further ado, let’s get into the process of this project. 


To achieve enough space for this conversion, I removed the back seats which was easy enough but I have ensured that I can remove all modifications with ease and return the car to its original state if I require space for more people in the car. 

With that completed, I started to construct the bed frame. This was built using wood purchased at my local B&Q for around £50, this ultimately became the only large purchase I have made so far on this project. This frame sits in the boot space and is elevated off the floor of the car to allow for additional storage. 

To create the length required for a mattress I extended the structure as shown and added horizontal slats for added strength. The white board is removable and is only screwed down when the front two seats are fully pushed forward which increases the length of the sleeping space which I very comfortably fit in.  

I was kindly gifted a mattress that was to be thrown out by a friend so at no additional cost I now had a mattress which snugly fits atop this wooden structure and is remarkably comfortable considering it is in the back of a car. 

Now fitted with a duvet, pillows and cushions I am now looking forward to additions that will make the experience more enjoyable. I am looking at purchasing material to tint the back windows, a solar shower and potentially a fridge of some kind. However, these all cost additional money but I am happy where I am at the moment and I’m looking forward to spending my first night in my new ‘humble abode’. 


Throughout this process, I practiced both my creative and practical skills which always need to be exercised to improve. It also makes you realise that small spaces designed well can be extremely comfortable. This experience has opened my eyes to the world of micro-living and minimalism which is something that I wish to explore further. 

So there we have it, another one of my ‘Lockdown Projects’, not sure what’s next but whatever it is I am looking forward to it. 

Till next week, have a good one.