BEHIND THE LENS, THEN AND NOW, NAWFAL JOHNSON’S PHOTOGRAPHY EVOLUTION AND THOUGHTS ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY

BEHIND THE LENS—THEN AND NOW

INTRODUCTION:
Brooks Jensen, the founder and publisher of Lenswork Magazine, said that:

“Artists don’t do their craft merely for the money—they do their artwork to reach a sort of perfection.”

That is not a word-for-word quotation; however, that was the general message.  I would change that slightly by adding a quotation by the late motivational guru, Zig Ziglar, who said:

“While money isn’t the most important thing in the world, it is close to as important as oxygen.”

I would say that when I design a new photograph it is because of several aspects that I take the effort to pull my camera out of my camera bag:

1)  A very specific subject or object has overwhelmingly captured my attention.
2)  That I have a finished image of the subject or object already clear in my mind’s eye.  Therefore, there is nothing else that I can do but photograph the thing.
3) Photography Experimentation for the sake of creating an image that I’ve never accomplished before.
4)  That I was hired by someone to solve a photographic problem for them.
5)  The obsessive feeling that I MUST try to investigate a subject deeper because I know that there are still images on the subject out there…I just need to discover them.

PASSION OR OBSESSION?
I do not do photography because of a passion for it, in fact, as I reflect more and more about “passion” for something, the more I have come to realize that photography has never truly been a passion of mine.  Rather, photography fulfills a need of mine to be creative my way.  For some reason, I have a keen eye to see deeply at objects that most people don’t give a damn about.  Some people would call this a “gift”, and others may consider it a waste of precious time.  Some people might say, “Everyone is really skilled at something,” so whatever you appear to be good at, it must be your “gift”.

If I see something that draws my attention, I become OBSESSED with discovering a way to photograph it.  I think my fuel to do photography is based on “obsession” more than passion.  Can a passion be an obsession?  Sure!  And the same goes for an obsession being a passion.  However, I feel that the use of the word “passion” is quite overused when discussing the reason for doing photography; and therefore, I simply no longer wish to think of it as a passion.

With that thought in mind, when confronted with some of my images, viewers may get interested in the mundane as I present it in my pictures.  I’m referring mainly to my Abstract Photography, or simple objects the not many people pay attention to.  Maybe a few people will understand my obsessions with my various subjects, which are numerous, and the individual subjects are represented in collections of works.

WHY THIS BLOG POST?
Recently, I saw the video of the new camera, Light, and more can be seen about this camera at their website, Light.co   Then had the chance to speak with a representative of Light!  Instantly, I thought that the Universe must be conspiring with me, and that is a good thing when it happens!

Besides a thought of, “Wow—this is interestingly strange,” I was also quite honored that a new, and technologically innovative camera company, noticed my work at my photography blogs.

Their innovative new camera technology got me thinking about how my work has evolved and how, or if, technology has played a part in my evolution as a Photographist.  I thought that this idea sounded interesting, so this is the post on that topic.

IN THE BEGINNING
I am quite a believer that a camera is meant to be a tool of the Photographer’s craft.  A camera does not capture interesting images—it captures moments in time.  I believe likewise what Henri Cartier-Bresson said about pictures:

“Pictures, regardless of how they are created and recreated, are intended to be looked at. This brings to the forefront not the technology of imaging, which of course is important, but rather what we might call the eyenology (seeing).” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

I too, believe that the technology is not the most important aspect of photography—”eyenology” on the part of the Photographer is the key to designing great images.  Knowing which photographic tools are necessary to create the image is also important.  In some cases, the most basic of cameras can do the job.  In other situations, more technical equipment may be best to solve photographic problems.  Over all, I also believe that “The BEST Camera is the one that you have with you!”  I have a camera with me everywhere I go.  I have lost many images in the past because I did not follow that photography rule—now I do.

With that rule in mind, I am often found photographing with my “ancient” CANON POWERSHOT A620, in hand (it is circa 2005).  It is small, very handy, creates good pictures, it is fully manual capable, it has great macro capabilities, the CANON lens is crisp and clear, it has a rotating LCD screen [which is almost necessary for Photographers suffering from some form of diabolical arthritic disease, like I do], and it has a synch flash speed of up to 1/500th of a second!  I will show some of the images I have designed using my A620 camera; but first, I need to take us back to an earlier time in my photographic journey, to 1978, when I was 13 years old…I just dated myself…argh…

OK…yes, I do think technology is important to Photography!  However, the creative skills of the Photographer come first.  One of my favorite painters, Caravaggio, was using unbelievable techniques at his time, in the 16th century, to achieve masterful paintings!

“Italian Renaissance painter Caravaggio used revolutionary optical instruments to “photograph” his models more than 200 years before the invention of the camera, according to a researcher in Florence.  The 16th-century artist celebrated for his dramatic chiaroscuro (light and shadow) paintings mastered “a whole set of techniques that are the basis of photography”, Roberta Lapucci told AFP.  Caravaggio worked in a “darkroom” and illuminated his models through a hole in the ceiling, said Lapucci, who teaches at the prestigious Studio Art Centers International in the Tuscan capital.  The image was then projected on a canvas using a lens and a mirror, she said.  Caravaggio “fixed” the image, using light-sensitive substances, for around half an hour during which he used white lead mixed with chemicals and minerals that were visible in the dark to paint the image with broad strokes, Lapucci said.  She has hypothesised that Caravaggio used a photoluminescent powder from crushed fireflies, which was used at the time to create special effects in theatre productions.” [ Source:  http://m.phys.org/news/2009-03-caravaggio-techniques.html ]

This is what I’m talking about!  A GREAT ARTIST using experimentation and some technology to achieve stunning results.

1978—”HOLEY BARN BATMAN!”
In 1978, I created, what I think, is my first photograph—not a snapshot, but a photograph.  My late Uncle Norman, a farmer in Pocahontas, Iowa, had a barn that was over 100 years old. The ceiling was full of holes.  As the sun traveled overhead, the sun rays shot through each of the holes like light sabers.  My Aunt Mary Lou said that the barn was to be torn down so if I wanted to photograph it, now was the time.  So the opportunity presented itself.  I was using my first SLR camera at that time—a PENTAX K1000.  The K1000 was an amazing camera and I wish I still had it.  I created a photograph of the barn light beams from inside the barn, with my K1000 on a tripod.  This was my first Special Effects Photography effort.

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VARIOUS SLR CAMERAS AND A BROWNIE!
I have used many cameras over the years.  In high school, while Photo Editor of our School Year Book (Lincoln High Links –  Lincoln, Nebraska, USA) I used the NIKON F—I still have this camera…it is a tank…amazing!  I have also owned other NIKON, PENTAX, and MINOLTA SLRs.

Believe it or not, a few years ago (2007), I used my antique KODAK BROWNIE camera to take some photographs in Penang, Malaysia, which is where I live now.  TALK ABOUT A CRAZY ADVENTURE USING A 100-YEAR OLD CAMERA…here’s the story link…
https://nawfalnur.wordpress.com/2007/07/19/frustrations-in-the-digital-age/

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MY “BEST CAMERA” !
Do you remember my definition for “BEST CAMERA”?  It is the camera you have with you when you need, or want, to capture a photograph!  For me, my “BEST CAMERA” has usually been my CANON POWERSHOT A620 digital camera.  And honestly, I don’t care if anyone says it is a digital dinosaur nowadays.  What do I care what people think of the equipment I use to create my photographs.  If someone, when seeing an interesting photograph, makes the statement, “I wonder what camera the photographer used?”  Then, I think the viewer isn’t all that interested in seeing and thinking about serious photographs.  An interesting photograph tells an interesting story!  It solves an interesting problem.  Or, it creates a technically interesting scene of a subject or object.

If I’m not using my A620, then I am using my NIKON D3100.  AND BEFORE ANYONE SAYS, “WOW! WHAT A DIGITAL DINOSAUR”…wait a minute…haven’t I already been accused of using digital dinosaurs?

CONCLUSION

●  So in the end, I can sum up my Photography Philosophy like this:  The Photographer’s creative skills, imagination, and willingness to use his time and efforts to experiment with various types of photography techniques and technology, are the keys to good photography. 

In addition, as Ansel Adams said: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”  And sometimes you don’t need all sorts of fancy photo gear—Robert Capa suggested,  “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”  That advice points to the skill of the Photographer to know where to stand to get a great photograph.  It also alludes to the skill of the Photographer to fill the frame with the most important subject.  I also listen to this advice:  “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” – Jim Richardson.


● Remember, you can see over 1,400 of my Art Photographs at my print sales gallery at Imagekind, the link is:  http://nawfalnur.imagekind.com


A SAMPLING OF MY PHOTOGRAPHY USING MY A620 AND D3100
These images are a few samples of my more recent works (meaning, the last 10 years).  Digital cameras have opened up a few more creative possibilities; digital technology provides instant feedback, cost savings, quick turnaround time for clients, and it is fun!

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All of the photographs in this blog are the copyright of Nawfal Johnson, All Rights Reserved.  No Unauthorized Use Allowed!

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