Black and White

LOST SHOES, Edit C: Finding Subjects to shoot, Even in Bad Situations.

LOST SHOES, Edit C, by Nawfal Nur

 

TITLE:  “LOST SHOES, Edit C”
Creation Year: 2008
Original Photograph:  2000
Camera:  NIKON F90X
Film:  KONICA CENTURIA 200 ASA
Time of Day:  Mid-Day, High Sun – Harsh Lighting.
Scanner:  UMAX ASTRA 5600

There’s an interesting story behind the photograph, “LOST SHOES, Edit C,” at least I think so, because I experienced it; and in addition to that, I learned that some bad situations offer good opportunities…for photography at least.

In the year 2000, I went on a very long bus ride to Kelantan, a state in Malaysia that borders Thailand.  It was like a 10-hour trip…Did I mentioned that it was quite a long, long bus ride!  I had never been to Kelantan before, but welcomed the opportunity.  I was the semi-official photographer for the Penang Bola (Soccer) Club on this trip.  I thought that I could also work on some cultural photographs while in Kelantan:  The trip was a win-win situation!  ;^)

About 6-hours into the bus ride, the tour bus starts chugging up the hill, hot steam and black smoke coming out of every orifice that a bus has, and it basically dies, right there, in the middle of Nowhere, Kelantan! 

It’s mid-day, hot like crazy, no-one around, and the nearest bathroom, more like an ancient outhouse, was the only facilities available anywhere near to the breakdown site.

We were going to be there awhile…tick-tock, tick-tock, tick tock…2-Hours Later!  It was that kind of a wait.  I was bored…I wanted to use my time properly and find a subject to photograph to commemorate the breakdown.  The only touristy thing to do was visit the outhouse, and that was checked off my list of things to do in Nowhere, Kelantan.  What else?

The scorching sun had dried up the red clay that flanked both sides of the two lane highway.  And, there wasn’t much in the way of subject matter to hold my attention, that was, until I noticed these two shoes.  The shoes were just sitting there in the hot clay…teenager’s basketball shoes, but there were no kids around.  It’s almost like the person got plucked right out of the shoes, and the shoes were left behind. 

The shoes had been abandoned, they were LOST!  I was starting to put a connection between the LOST SHOES, and the poor broken down bus.  Maybe, that spot was some sort of mysterious zone where things go wrong, haywire, lost, and just stop working and are abandoned.  Don’t know….it was a mystery.  I didn’t bring my CSI kit with me to do a thorough going over, but I definitely smelled a mystery brewing.

At least my camera was still functioning, and I got a shot to celebrate the experience of the broken down bus and my long journey to Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia. 

Remember to keep your eyes open for interesting subjects, especially when you find yourself lost, in a bad situation, or even stuck out in nowhere, and waiting for a bus to be fixed!  What you find may amaze you.

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Can You Feel It?, Edit C

The camera is superior to the eye, and the photograph can, and ideally should, portray the world more graphic than reality itself.” Andreas Feininger (1906 – 1999)

 Can You Feel It?, Edit C, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

“Can You Feel It” is obviously about texture. The original is quite colorful and nice, but I wanted you to “feel” the photograph by creating this version, in this way. The rough textured wall, the smooth metal on the grille, the sharp barbed wire on the water pipe, the battered, gravel, asphalt road in front of the door. So…”can you feel it?”

A Few Series I’m Working On!

A Few Fine Art Series in the Works!

Ethereal“, “ONE Glass” and “Penang Trees” are fine art photography series, which I have been paying particular attention to over the past several weeks.

Click on the photograph (above), and the link will take you to the Artist Statements for these three series. I thought I would provide a little more information behind the works. If you are interested, please have a look.

Thank You!

 

MENARA MAXIS – Kuala Lumpur’s Built Environment

Menara MAXIS, by Nawfal Nur, 2003, All Rights Reserved

 

MENARA1
MAXIS, v.2
© 2003 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Photo Taken from Nikko Hotel

Chances are that if you travel to Kuala Lumpur, one of the first things that stands out are the Petronas Towers. You start seeing the towers from many miles away from the city (with clear skies). These towers are difficult to miss: They stand 452 meters (1,483 feet), with 88 floors, and a skybridge holds the two towers together at the 41st and 42nd floors.

When you stand outdoors in downtown Kuala Lumpur, many people, especially tourists will automatically be drawn to the Petronas Towers, ignoring, possibly, every other piece of architecture in the surrounding built environs.

If looking for a landmark to keep your bearings in Kuala Lumpur, the Towers make for a good indicator of where you are, and if you want to go to Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), just head in the direction of the tallest towers in the city.

Now with that all said, you may be thinking that this is yet another photograph of the “Towers”, and some other building just stepped in the way as I triggered the shutter button…Wrong! This is actually a photograph of the Menara Maxis (the cool looking building in the foreground).

I purposely took the photograph to position the Towers in the background. This perspective is unusual as the Petronas Towers are typically the center of attention in Kuala Lumpur architecture photography. This composition may seem blasphemous to some; but
sometimes, rules of composition are meant to be broken, or at least, experimented with.

In this photograph, the Towers are put to work as a backdrop for the building in front, the Menara Maxis. The over all architectural designs, the lighting styles, the size differentials, and the flow of lines are different enough between the two structures (the Petronas Towers being two structures, but spoke of as one whole building here), and these design characteristics keep them visually separated without needing to blur (by camera or software) the Towers in the background.

The composition is made whole with foreground and background. The cropping is kept close and vertically panoramic, thus forcing the viewer’s attention on these structures only. This compo-cropping strategy may also create an illusion, making the buildings appear impressively tall – even though they are impressive and tall anyway.

Though dwarfed by the Petronas Towers, the Menara Maxis is quite an imposing building on its own, standing at 212 meters (696 feet) tall, and with 49 floors. The architect of the building was Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates, and construction finished in 1998. The Menara Maxis is a stunning building in daylight, but even more interesting flooded by a sea of illumination at nighttime.

I think the Menara Maxis is a really super design and great addition to the Kuala Lumpur skyline.


1Menara means Tower.

 

Ocean Osprey – Old Looking Print – New Ship

Ocean Osprey, v.6 A digital image of the Oil Product Tanker by Nawfal Nur

This shot was taken a few days ago while crossing the ferry on the Butterworth side of Penang, and attempting crossing over to the island of Penang.

This was the same day when there was such a ruckus on the Penang Bridge. Apparently, a 10-wheeled trucked broke down near mid-bridge, and then, there was a bomb scare also – this all happened on 4 April 2007.

The Penang bridge is one long bridge: 13.5KM (8.4 Miles) long, and it is the only drivable way to reach the island from the mainland. With all the fuss on the 4th, thousands of motorists were stuck in jams going to or from the island.

At one point, it was reported that the jam getting onto the bridge stretched back some 15KM on the highway. I wouldn’t doubt it. I was stuck in the jam getting onto the ferry to cross over to the island.

We crawled along at a snails pace: Only after 3 and a half hours were we able to fight our way the 500-meters it took to get from where we were originally stuck, to where drivers pay the toll to WAIT IN LINE (some more), to board the ferry.

Damn-the-Frustration of Penang Traffic!

There are works going on now to widen the bridge, but that may be too little too late. A second and perhaps third bridge is needed to give Penang traffic some relief, but these things don’t happen quickly. Maybe a Light Rail Transit System would be good too, and that is something that is also being discussed by the relevant departments.

Anyway, I was glad that I had my camera with me on that day. I was able to get some shots of ships as we crossed over on the ferry. This image is a digital-Platinum-stylized photo of some activity at the Penang Port.

The ship at mid-right is the Ocean Osprey:

Country: Singapore.
Ship Type: Oil Products Tanker.
Deadweight Tonnage: 7,624.
DOB: 1996 06

I decided to make this image look a little antique: Thus, I incorporated this image into a Platinum-style layout and look. However, if looking closer at the ship, you know it is not antique, but modern with “SAFETY FIRST” and “NO SMOKING” signs painted in huge print. Also, the modern communication towers and equipment on the ship shows us a modern ship. If that isn’t enough to put a general date to the scene, add to that the modern lifting machines loading containers onto the ship on the left hand side of the photograph.

Well, maybe using digital software to come up with Platinum images is not very “pure” – but at least for photographers who never had the opportunity to work with this printing process, we can see our work similarly, or differently, using digital processes. It’s kind of fun to experiment with many kinds of looks for photographs, and this is just another technology that allows us modern day photographers to do such experimentation – digitally.

Here’s a little history on the Platinum Process by the very interesting and enlightening expert of photography at about.com, Peter Marshall:

“Platinum prints are one of the family of processes based on the light sensitivity of iron(III) (ferric) salts. In the presence of organic material such as oxalate ions, these are reduced using energy from light to give iron(II) compounds. These then react with platinum salts to produce platinum metal. The iron salts are then removed leaving a stable platinum image. Like the other iron processes, platinum printing is slow and requires a UV light source (you can use the sun, but UV flourescent tubes or mercury vapour lamps etc are more repeatable) and large negatives as all exposure is contact printing.

Platinum printing was patented by W. Willis in 1873 (with later improvements) and materials were available commercially for many years. Increases in the price of platinum around 1910-20 led to a rapid reduction in their availability and use, although production did not finally cease in the UK until 1941. A few photographers continued to print in platinum, making their own papers, but most used other materials. A revival of interest, using hand coated papers began in the 1970s, and at least one platinum paper was commercially produced from 1998 until around 2000.” [SOURCE: http://photography.about.com/library/glossary/bldef_platinum.htm ]

Clear the Stone of Leaves…

Dried Leaves on Stone, Edit B

 

Title: “Dried Leaves on Stone, Edit B”

Creation Date: 9 March 2007

Original Color Image Shot in 2006

 

Dried Leaves on Stone, Edit B,” is a very high contrast Black & White digital image, inspired by the opening lyrics of SLIPKNOT’s song, “Wait and Bleed“:

 

I’ve felt the hate rise up in me…
Kneel down and clear the stone of leaves…
I wander out where you can’t see…
Inside my shell, I wait and bleed…

 

The EXtreme contrast of this image and the imagery itself reminded me of the opening of this song by Slipknot: They may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, but hell, I like’em. They are a bit angry, a bit EXtreme and probably the best band to ever come out of Iowa. I hate disco and electro-noise and this is the antithesis of all of that. EXtreme Black & White for EXtreme words.

“The inspiration behind a lot of my work comes from wanting to express something within myself and usually associated with the things I love (or dislike) about life or have experienced. Some are metaphor, others more obvious. Music is big influence and of course emotion plays it’s part.” – Leith O’Malley – Artist

 

Storm at Sea, v5

Storm at Sea, v5, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

Storm at Sea, v.5” is an image made in 2006. It was originally a color digital image made with a Canon G2. The sky was amazing and dangerous looking. The little fishing boats stuck in the muddy water during this low tide seem helpless…they were going to get it! The blackened sky looks like it is going to eat up what is remaining of the bright portion on the left and then let loose with a hell-of-a storm.

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.” -Elliott Erwitt

For that same reason, I always like to remind myself that my “best” camera is also the one I have with me.

Old Bike with Old Basket!

“Old Bike by the Sea”

(c) 2005 Nawfal Nur

I was so grateful that I had my camera on the day I spotted this scene. An old bike just sitting next to the edge of the sea. With this scene and the background being very bright, you can do a couple of things to bring out the details of your main subject, in this photo, the main subject of course is the old bike.

You can use your camera flash to highlight the main subject in the foreground. Because this shot was taken mid-day, the ocean was extremely bright. I’m glad that the background is considerably washed out, and this was intentional. Too much background detail would detract from the bike’s details. Experiment with flash output. This is easy enough to do nowadays with the instant review of shots in the LCD of your digital camera. Once you have the balance you are looking for, by reviewing your photos at the scene, stick with that level of flash output.

Nawfal Nur @ Art.Com

Hi All! Happy New Year 2007!

The photo above shows four images from my “Environ Portraits” Collection at Art.Com. You can purchase these images from Art.Com in poster sizes/poster prints. Please stop by my gallery there and have a look.

Thanks!

In Front of the Lens…

Well, I guess it was time again to put the “Maniac” in front of the lens…

The last time I did self-portraits was in 2003; considering that, I believed it was high-time to do it again. I’m not the type who enjoys being the target of a photo-session. Nevertheless, when I have a choice, I prefer to be the one taking portraits of myself. I think I capture who I am better than anyone, at least, thus far. That is probably because I know myself better than anyone else…right!

I went into this photo session with the following goal: To capture my expressionistic qualities. And what do I mean by that? I didn’t want to end up with a snapshot: I wanted to capture a glimpse of who I am, at least, who I am, part of the time.

I guess what I don’t like about a lot of the ‘corporate‘ portrait studios is that they are quite impersonal; they don’t even get to know who you are before taking your photograph. Has anyone else had that experience?

In my opinion, and coming from the perspective of a photographer, you should get to know your subject, at least a little. You need to know a little about your subject’s likes, dislikes, mannerisms, attitudes, etc. All of this knowledge helps (the photographer) communicate to the subject what sort of poses, settings and props will be best for the shoot.

I mean, you don’t have to spend all day on this, but for God’s sake, take some time to figure out what makes your subject ‘special‘ or unique and target those qualities when taking portrait/character shots.

With any luck, if there is a strong sense of trust between photographer and subject, the shoot should work fairly smoothly and automatic within a suitable environment, and with props targeted for each particular subject.

Alright, so ‘corporate‘ studios don’t have that sort of time to figure out the Psyche of their clients and what makes them tick, their likes and dislikes, and that is why people have a choice to go for the ‘quickie‘ or to go to a ‘shop’ that will spend more personal time finding out who they are as a person and what they really want out of a portrait photograph.

In my opinion, I want it to be personal…and I want the results to express who I am.

Taking a self-portrait is not an easy task, especially if you want to take a photo of yourself doing more than just sitting there. I want expression and animation in my photographs and that is a difficult task. I used a single, 600-Watt studio light with soft box. I set the white balance on the camera to make the images warm-toned. I chose my Canon G2 specifically because of its good remote control system…forget that it is a bit of an older camera, the remote works very nicely in this circumstance. The camera was set on Aperture Priority at f/5.0 and the shutter speed was roughly.6 of a second, meaning that if I moved, the image would be blurred. Sometimes I wanted to show motion, other times, I kept positively still.

Good luck and Happy Shooting!