Month: November 2007

March Castle Ruins, v5, Edit C


March Castle Ruins, v5, Edit C, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

This image is a “constructed image” of a Sci-Fi, or, Medieval type of Genre. All parts of the photograph are real, except the water.

The castle ruins and red sandstone landmass, are models that I made (sculpted/formed) and painted. The surface is made to look weather-worn and ancient.

The photograph title reflects that I made this image in March of this year (2007).

Lighting for this “macro-landscape” setting is tricky, but not so difficult if well thought out.

The important thing for me when doing these types of multi-medium artworks is that when I construct it, the parts of the image becomes a story, or a History.

Nawfal Nur’s 2008 Calendar Now Available for Sale!

2008 Calendar by Nawfal Nur - Now Available for Sale!

Please take a look at my new 2008 Calendar, called ETHEREAL. It’s for Sale at my LULU Store. It’s a collection from my Smoke Photographs, a Series also called “ETHEREAL”. Thanks for taking a look and ordering a calendar!


Hi People!

Just me checking out if FLOCK has improved on it’s blogging capabilities. I guess I will find out.

Here is a photo I took just outside of Island Plaza, oh, a couple weeks ago I think. The goal was to get light streaks so no tripod was used, but I did want to get lettering readable, as seen here in the photo. The exposure was in the 15 to 30 second range at f/8.0. I was really happy with the results.

I had to squish the photo a bit using the handles on the image (in wordpress) and that does not produce lossless resizing at all.  Bummer.  Therefore, I’ve added a link to the image to go to my Flickr version, which is much better – just click on the image below to go to my Flickr Gallery.

Time Exposure Photograph by Nawfal Nur - All Rights Reserved.



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Being the Unseen Photographer: Lessons from Dorothea Lange.

Dorothea Lange Taylor (b.1895 – d. 1965), was an incredible documentary photographer best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she did work for the War Relocation Authority (WRA).. (Source:

I’m currently reading an interview Dorothea did with Suzanne Riess, conducted during the later part of Dorothea’s life, as she struggled with cancer. The interview was done for the Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley. The interviews took place between October 1960 and August 1961.

Before delving into this interview manuscript, I knew very little about Dorothea Lange, but as I read more and more of the interaction between her and the Interviewer, I see that she was thoughtful, high-spirited with her ideas and opinions, and she had a strong foundation under her feet, growing up in Hoboken and overcoming many difficult obstacles in her life.

When discussing her grandmother and family, who were German immigrants, she said: “In fact I always had a kind of a feeling of ‘What kind of people could these people have been that they came on a ship and then plomped themselves down, right there?’ I mean they didn’t have the gumption to go to Cincinnati or Milwaukee or Chicago. They just stayed right there in Hoboken. They must have been dying to go back! Well, they were pretty spirited people, and they didn’t.” (“Dorothea Lange: THE MAKING OF A DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER” [1968], p.3).

I thought that was highly entertaining as I am also of German immigrant ancestry. It was my Grandmother’s family (my mother’s mother), who were Germans, but they were Germans from Russia: Bessarabian Germans. They came to America and entered through the immigration station in Galveston, TX. My Grandmother was 2-years old when her family immigrated to America, and they ended up “plomping” down in St. Francis, Kansas, and then later moved to Lincoln, Nebraska – a far cry from Hoboken.

The main point of this entry, however, is regarding an observation Dorothea Lange made about a skill she acquired as a child and how it helped her later on as a Photographer.

She mentioned that there were two nights a week that she had to walk home alone from her mother’s workplace. Dorothea’s father abandoned the family, so Dorothea’s mother supported the family. She worked as librarian at the New York Public Library on East Broadway in New York. After school, Dorothea went to the library and read books; she called the Library her ‘day home‘.

She was supposed to be studying in the staff room while her mother was working, but instead, she said she read all the books. Makes sense, you’re in a library with a world of knowledge at your fingertips. Forget about the homework and get to the interesting works of literature, right! ;^)

It appears that it was during this time of her life that she took a keen interest in “observing” – especially the people and the neighborhoods that surrounded the library and the route to her home. She said that she was the only “gentile” in a Jewish school: “I could look into all these lives. All of a tradition and a race alien to myself, completely alien, but I watched…I’m aware that I just looked at everything. I can remember the smell of the cooking too, the way they lived. Oh, I had good looks at that, but never set foot myself. Something like a photographic observer. I can see it.” (Id. at 15).

On those two days of the week when her mother worked evenings, Dorothea had to walk home and traverse the wild and dangerous streets of New York by herself, to get back to her home in Hoboken – a rather tough journey for a grade schooler.

In her words, here is her recollection of her journey home, and a skill she learned that no doubt helped make her the great Documentary Photographer that she became:

I went home generally about five o’clock. Now the scenery changes, because I had to walk from Chatham Square to the Christopher Street Ferry, and that’s a walk along the Bowery. And that Bowery suddenly ended at City Hall. There I walked across the park over to Barclay or Christopher Street where that was still another neighborhood.

But there were three worlds there that I had a very intimate acquaintance with, and that Bowery part (I remember how afraid I was each time, never without fear), I thought of it recently when I was in Asia, quite often, because in Asia there are places where you have to look where you step because the sidewalks are unspeakably filthy and you never take it for granted where you walk. Well, on the Bowery I knew how to step over drunken men. I had to do it, you know, and I don’t mean that the streets were littered with drunken men, but it was a very common affair. I knew how to keep an expression of face that would draw no attention, so no one would look at me. I have used that my whole life in photographing. I can turn it on and off. If I don’t want anybody to see me I can make the kind of a face so eyes go off me. Do you know what I mean? There’s a self-protective thing you can do. I learned that as a child in the Bowery. So none of these drunks’ eyes would light on me. I was never obviously there. And you can see what equipment that was for anyone who later found herself doing the kind of work I do, or maybe it took me into it.” (Id. at 15 and 16).

And then she goes on and says that she did all of this as a physically disabled kid: A result of having Polio as a child. She always walked with a limp.

Dorothea Lange was a really amazing person. I find it totally fascinating her keen sense of observation and the skill of being “Unseen” helped her tremendously, later on, as a Documentary Photographer. It became, as she recalled, “equipment” so she could more easily enter the lives of strangers and photograph them.

Dancer,smallerAs I read more of the interview with Dorothea Lange, I may mention other interesting points that can help us to become better Photographers. Perhaps being more understanding, more compassionate and more observing without being seen, are the true keys to great Documentary and Street Photography.

I know I can learn a lot from Dorothea Lange’s wisdoms on photography. The closest thing I see myself doing in regard to being ‘unseen‘ is when taking performing arts photography. I know from experience, that it is best to stay as inconspicuous as possible – that’s when the best shots develop.


Photography by Nawfal Nur

ARTHRiTiS SUCKS! A.S. HLA-B27 Since 1988- Edit B

ARTHRiTiS SUCKS! A.S. HLA-B27 Since 1988- Edit B, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

ARTHRiTiS SUCKS! A.S. HLA-B27 Since 1988- Edit B

Genre: Social Awareness Photography – Fine Art.
Series: “ARTHRiTiS SUCKS!”
Self Portrait.

Tattoos on my hand giving details: The first one is obvious, “Arthritis SUCKS!” Especially when you started getting it when you are in your early 20’s. A.S. (Ankylosing Spondylitis) usually hits young men in their late teens or early 20’s.

I was diagnosed with A.S. when I was 23 years old (in 1988), but I knew there was something wrong with my joints before that. “HLA-B27” is the genetic marker that makes someone more prone to AS and other autoimmune diseases referred to as the “seronegative spondyloarthropathies”.

That’s my Fina Acoustic Electric Guitar, and anyone who has Arthritis and plays guitar will know how painful maintaining fine finger dexterity can be at times. Any activity where flexibility and dexterity are important is a major issue for the “Arthritic.”

So, this image, and my FUSION photo, are my contributions to the Public Service of sharing some “knowledge” and “experiences” with Arthritis and A.S.

One common misconception that many people have is that Arthritis is a disease of the really, really, incredibly aged….Ah, well, that just isn’t the case with some types of Arthritis.

Maybe I’ll continue this “ARTHRITIS SUCKS!” Series as ideas click in my mind.

FUSION – USA Made, Installed In MY, Edit B

FUSION – USA Made, Installed In MY, Edit B, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

FUSION – USA Made, Installed In MY, Edit B

Genre: Social Awareness Photography – Fine Art.
Self Portrait.
Notes: I rarely take photographs of myself, but I thought, “What the hell, might as well use my own messed-up back as a statement about Spinal Fusion – One of the joys of having A.S. (Ankylosing Spondylitis). “MY” is the short code for Malaysia. The titanium parts were made in the USA, I believe.

Sorry, no “sexy back” here!

Paint the World…with Truth, Part II

In Part I, I discussed about how photographs are only a general representation of the one-and-only reality. In other words, photographs are objective representations of the world as we ‘Artists‘ design our photographs to be.

Double Talk? Yes, and a little ambiguous as well, thank you very much!

Did I mention that this is a good thing for Fine Art Photographers? Well, it is! Not the “double talk,” but the personal translating of reality in our work! That is good! That’s creativity.

Now, in this entry, Part II, I want to mention a totally different sort of “Truth”. This “Truth” is something that many Artists will no doubt experience. If you don’t experience this “Truth” at least once in your life as an Artist, then count your blessings; you are the luckiest person in the world; life is so good you must be living on Mars!

“What ‘Truth’ are you talking about ALREADY?” That’s a mighty fine question!

Well, it’s actually the UNtruth told to Artists when someone shows interest in their work. If you still have no clue what I’m talking about, then YES, you are the luckiest Martian in the Solar System!

Getting on with it now…

If when you show your artwork to someone (a gallery, a museum, a library, an interior designer, an art collector/buyer or artist’s representative), and they show interest in your work, then that’s a good thing…Smile!

If however, after the pleasantries are over, and the other party then makes any comments like this: “We would really like to work with you on this; we would really like to help you out; we could do you a favor and show your work for you, blah, blah, blah…“; If you hear this, then your internal red flags should be sounding the, “Alert, Danger Will Robinson!”

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THESE PHRASES in discussions with any of these people:

  1. “…do you a favor…”
  2. “…giving you free wall space to show your work…”


1. “Pardon me, but actually if I agree to work with you on this project, everything will be spelled out in the agreement and we will naturally be benefiting each other.” And then, you can continue with…”And by the way, I always keep a copy of my ‘Standard’ Artist & Gallery Consignment Agreement (if this is a consignment deal) in my camera bag (Organizer, etc.). If you wish to have a look, see my terms, which are quite typical, then we can discuss the project further, OKEY DOKEY!” Well, maybe leave out the “OKEY DOKEY” terminology.

  • If they baulk at the idea of an Agreement, or at most of your “Standard Clauses“, then you might as well save yourself some hassle and heartache and walk away. The idea is to protect yourself, your time & efforts, your investment, and your property.
  • You should always be open to negotiations, but don’t let yourself get completely pillaged by a bossy designer or gallery owner. You’re a business person too, and have your own interests to look out for, and that is what your Agreement is all about. It protects you and the other party by spelling out all the terms of the business relationship.
  • These are business people and they are NOT going to go out of their way to do you a favor for nothing! They will enter into business relationships with you if they see there is a benefit for them: This is common sense and part of business. As a business owner and Artist, you need to think this way as well.
  • Mentors will help you, do you favors and generally want you to succeed at your business and personal growth endeavors. That’s not to say that your Mentors are not also Business People, or maybe even business colleagues of yours – they could be. This would definitely be a plus for you, the Artist – you would have someone cheering you on to success!


2. “Ah, excuse me, but this project will cost me X-Amount in Time, Y-Amount in Printing Costs, and Z-Amount in Matting and Framing Costs” (don’t give exact figures, you don’t want them to know your absolute costs – ballpark figures are good enough). Then you can continue with: “So please don’t tell me it is ‘free wall space’ because I’m investing a lot of time and money into this project!” And then you could follow up with, “I’m a business person too, and I’m expecting you to promote my work so I get a good return on my investment. By the way, what is your Marketing Plan for promoting my Artwork?Throw it back in their face! This is just rough dialog of course. You don’t have to ever use it if you don’t want to; but who knows, it may work!

If the other party fails to realize your investment in this venture, then don’t continue doing business with this party. They will always believe they are providing you with “free wall space,” and “doing you a favor.”

Artists vs. The World…

Is this the case? Is everyone out there waiting to rob us blind; or, stab us in the backs with deceit, treachery and lies (the UNtruth)?

Well, that may be a wild overstatement – but the treacherous are out there waiting to take advantage of the “Starving & Struggling Artist” – So beware!

Perhaps you don’t consider the quest to be a “Working Artist” a “Conflict in Motion“, and that is certainly fine. I only wish I had that sort of, well, for lack of a better term, a Pollyanna viewpoint.

“When look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.”
—Abraham Lincoln —Inscription on Pollyanna’s broach, a gift from her father.

I’m not suggesting that you become a totally Paranoid Freakazoid Artist or something, suspecting everyone you run into, to stab you in the back. That’s no way to live. And, not everyone will, that would be a vast exaggeration.

Nevertheless, being that I’ve been “burned” before in a couple of Artist and Rep. dealings, I now approach most artistic opportunities with “Guarded Optimism and Suspicion!” [LMAOBT! ;^) ]

I like the general idea of Sun Tzu on this issue:

“The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations
beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few
calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It
is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to
win or lose.”

In other words, Prepare Yourself, and prepare thoroughly!

Maybe some people do not think the “Art World” ‘doings‘ (i.e., business dealings, etc.) is a “battle”. Well, I have my own opinions on this, and also my battle scars….that being the case, I would suggest to “Prepare Yourself with MANY Calculations!

End of Part II: “Paint the World…with Truth”.

A Few Images Added to My “35mm Photo” Set.

“Walking into the Light” by Nawfal Nur

Well, it’s been awhile since I first made my “35mm Photography” Page.

I think, and I must admit, I’ve been busy and a little absentminded…I forgot to add images to the page. My apologies for anyone who has gone to my 35mm Photo Page and found not much there.

I have improved it a little, and now you can see a few images that I took using my 1960’s, Nikon F camera. The photographs were taken in March, for the “This Planet” Project. 146 photographs (from about the same number of Photographers I would guess) covering subjects from around the world, were taken at approximately the same time. For me, in Penang, I think it was around 10:05pm when I shot most of the images for this project.

I still love shooting with film, no doubt about it. I must also admit, it is difficult to not love digital too. And, in this part of the world, getting specialty films, like the ones I used to love shooting with, B&W Ilford, KODAK HC, Kodachrome, IR, etc., is just not so possible. Many of these films may not be made anymore, and some are just plain not available in some areas.

Basic film…yes…can get.

Specialty film, not that I know of…very tough to get.

Well, as I locate older 35mm shots, or shoot new ones (which may not be too often), I’ll send them to my 35mm Photography Page. Thanks for looking!

Trying out a Flickr Tool (See Sidebar) – Let’s See if it Works Here…

Just trying out a widget for showing my latest uploads to my Flickr Galleries. The tool seems to be working. Check it out! Thanks!