Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.”
- Gary Winogrand
Swirls. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.”
- Gary Winogrand
Swirls. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“I don’t know where I’m going when I walk. I’ve learned to lean towards that uncertainty. It’s a really odd thing to embrace, but it allows me to exist in the present. The more uncertain something is, the more attracted I am to it. And the more it feels like home.”
- Diana Markosian, Magnum Photographer on how she photographs
Hopefully, I have already shared the sister photograph of this one. One of those peak photographic moments when everything came together. Out for a photographic walk. Light rain. Near the end of a workshop with Freeman Paterson in New Zealand, so I was very much in the perfect state of mind.
Finding this tree was the highlight.
I was just wandering up beside the creek. The creek pulled me closer to it.
I think I spent half an hour at this tree, but truthfully I have no idea. Time dissolved.
Afterwards, I struggled to take another photograph. Knowing these ones were so special. Nothing was as good.
Wandering is so important. Wander without certainty. Allow yourself to be pulled by intuition and curiosity and discovery.
Really look, and try to see.
Hopewell, Marlborough Sound, New Zealand. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2018
“Ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.”
- Lee Jampolsky
Gaia, people, community, love, lovers, art, teaching, words, photography....
Footprints on the sand, Myall Lakes. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“My whole life I got caught up in complications. Now I simplify.”
from Gilles Bourdos‘s film Renoir
Bombo Quary. Kiama. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gizmos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn't make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel."
- Peter Adams
I say this over and over, yes it’s not about the camera but it is worth having a camera you love to use. Chasing imagine quality is falling victim to marketing and numbers on charts.
What is really important to me is how it feels in your hand. Can you use it like you expect or want. Do you love to use it. I know that if I don’t love to use it I am not going to use it as much as I should.
I have just done a year and a half with a camera I didn’t like. It takes the best photographs, when it comes to quality, than any other digital camera I have ever owned. But I found it clumsy and awkward to use. It ended up on manual and on a tripod. Turn it on and use it manually.
Hated using it. It’s time for it to go. Yes I will leave imagine quality on the table. But I will be happier with something I love to use.
Photographing sailing boats today. Will be on the water at the Australian Schools Regatta and Championships at Belmont 16 foot skiff club at Lake Macquarie. Photographing the races I was in when I was at school. One year I raced a Northbridge Senior and another it was a 16’ skiff.
So many stories from those days with my scout troupe.
I will be turning to my Olympus today with the 300 mm lens. Perfect for bouncing around in a boat with. I know it like my own hand. Easy.
Misty trees, from near Bega earlier this year. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
This is one of only a handful of portraits I took in Namibia. I am fascinated by the place and the people. So when I was asked to return and run another tour for the African Safari Company, I decided I wanted to spend less time driving around chasing the iconic locations in Namibia and more time creating portraits. Portraits of the landscape, the people and the animals.
So we trimmed down the traveling and we went for a more compact trip in the North. I wanted to start with some learning, and practice. I wanted to spend time at each location, and not be always on the move.
We start with two full days, in a stunning desert location. Perfect for sunrise and sunset shooting. Actually it is so good there you can photograph from your bed. Without moving we can get to know this stunning location before we move on. It takes time to photograph a place. Getting to know it, experimenting, learning, adjusting. During the day we will head to the classroom for two days, so we can look at portraiture skills and approaches so we are ready when we get to the various Namibian tribes, and animals we will encounter along the way. What a great way to start a tour, brushing up on our skills.
Why not join me there? Will be great fun and a wonderful opportunity to photograph with me.
A Portrait of Namibia information evening…
For the workshop / tour I am running…. you can read more about it here.
When: Tuesday 30 April 2019
Time: 6:00pm for a prompt 6:30pm start
Where: 124A Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025
RSVP: by Monday 29 April using the form in this link here
Himba boy, Namibia, 2018 tour. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
Some more photographs follow to tempt you…
Well it was a very technical and draining weekend. The two day printing workshop was a great success. We made so many prints, tests and experiments. Covered the table many times over with delicious prints.
The Canon printer stood up to most tests. Would I buy another one tomorrow? The jury is still out. The Epson has a few features I miss, but not some I enjoy with the canon. It’s still a toss up. I think the Epson wins with archival permanence. The Ezio monitor shon brightly with its uncanny perfection. Impressing all who used it.
Unfortunately it’s hard to set up a solid printing workflow. Requires some attention to detail. But once done printing is easy. Now printing is one of two clicks in Lightroom for me.
There has been a very slight variation between my Ezio monitor, and the prints viewed under my 4700 kelvin lights. Two classes of photographers later, and we all agree that it is the lights that are out. The monitor matches the prints in daylight perfectly. I now have to decide do I match it to my lights or to daylight. Easy decision really, daylight is everyone’s universal standard. Might look into some different lights.
One question arose that I still have to find the answer for, raised by me. Does the kelvin daylight temperature vary around the world? Is 5500 k just an average? If anyone knows please drop me a message with the answer.
Skeleton of a gum tree, at Leura. This was opposite where I once lived. I know, I have lived many places. Taken on the last shoot of the Master Class. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“Even abstract shapes must have a likeness,”
- William de Kooning
Another workshop finishes this morning. I am sitting looking out overlooking Mt Solitary, Korowall it’s called to the indigenous locals. I can almost glimpse Warragamba Dam. I can’t stop thinking about what will be lost once the dam wall is raised. My Kowmung River will be flooded and too many indigenous sites destroyed in the process.
The state government is hell bent on development. Apparently we need more people in Sydney. More people equally more tax revenue. More tax revenues means they can spend more today and not worry about the depts of yesterday.
It has to stop.
Another workshop toorrow. Printmaking. Will run another one, just need to figure out when.
One spot left on Easter Monday’s nude shoot.
Tuesday 30th talk about the Namibia trip. Will post details tomorrow.
Rocks and sky, Waychinicup, near Albany, Western Australia. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“A photograph should have a journey and that journey starts from the moment it was captured and ends with the print.”
The print can be the ultimate joy in photography. Particularly as an artist. It changes them. So often you see someone who loves photography. Often for years. They start printing and... omg... wow...
Printing forces you to resolve your work. Finish it. It’s it’s own reward. Beautiful. Very very beautiful.
Dried flowers somewhere in Western Australia. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
"Art is literacy of the heart"
- Elliot Eisner
Then as Hugh says… ‘Hold that thought”…
It is really worth thinking about it…
Been watching too many Youtube videos of camera reviews… Hugh Brownstone is who I am quoting, from Three Blind Men and an Elephant, who has a lot to say about cameras and not much else.
I wonder if this photograph of Ivy is facebook safe? I won’t find out either… Laughing now…
I so love this sort of lighting. I wonder if it has much to do with my sense of control. I like lighting to be predictable so I can take my time with each shot. To get these you need to be standing in exactly the right spot. The model and you. Lots of fine adjustments.
Am so looking forward to the shoot with Nicole Rayner on Easter Monday.
Ivy Rose Raven, Len’s Studio, Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“I like me better naked. I don't mean that in a vain way... When you put clothes on, you immediately put a character on. Clothes are adjectives, they are indicators. When you don't have any clothes on, it's just you, raw, and you can't hide.”
- Padma Lakshmi
Yesterday’s photograph has me banned from Facebook for a couple of days. I will have to turn off the auto posting feature in the emails.
It makes me laugh as violence, hatred and aggression are allowed. Swearing and discussions of explicit nature are too. Yet a breast or a bum.
Did you know many paintings, famous ones from the canon of art history have also been banned from Facebook. Mind you I don’t necessarily agree with the canon, but that doesn’t make it ethically right.
Personally, I find cultures that oppress things struggle the most with them. Sexuality is the least of our worries and it should be celebrated not hidden. Encouraged and not oppressed. Sexuality is something we are born with. Anyone with children can identify with this. They express it at such a young age despite thier parents intentions.
Just today we were talking about the parents trying to raise thier daughter in a gender neutral environment and the daughter is self selecting pink princess dresses to wear to the parents dismay. Why can’t the young boy have as an equally valid choice to wear a pink dress. Or the young girl exploring being a Tom boy?
This is why you don’t see me on Facebook very much anymore. It’s been great removing it from all that wasted time. I do miss keeping up with my pool of friends. I probably am missing out on marketing and networking opportunities, but my sanity and happiness is much more important.
I have booked a beautiful English model, Nicole, whom has been recommended by Ella Rose to me. I have decided to share my time with her for an afternoon on Easter Monday at my studio in Willoughby. Only four spots, last one I put out there to you was sold out in a day or two. So if you’re interested please book quickly.
I want to work on more of these sculptures, where we carve the figure out of the blackness with some very delicate and careful lighting. I have put some on my scarves and they look stunning. Plenty of examples on the workshop page in the link below. It’s at that page you would book if you want to come.
Nude in Len’s Studio, from the Naked Lens workshop last year. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“If I could find anything blacker than black I'd use it.“
- William Turner
I had an amazing evening talking at Shellharbour Camera Club this week. Such a lovely group of photographers.
Afterwards was just so special. People coming to tell me how wonderful my talk was. A couple who knew me, had never heard me speak before were stunned.
So many lovely emails afterwards too.
Still feeling very good about that.
Thank you for all those people who took the time to say something special to me. It’s greatly appreciated.
Nude. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“I do not paint what I see but what I saw.”
- Edward Munch
Cairne Wall, from Fortress Ridge. Leura. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
- Oscar Wilde
Have been talking about dreams lately. Particularly clairvoyant ones. I found out what clairaudient is too. One of which I am. Another story for another time.
Last night I suddenly remembered an event from twenty years ago.
We were driving to Byron Bay. Heading there for a beach wedding. Bernie’s. A marriage now long past. I feel terrible as I can’t even remember the brides name now. Many of you know how terrible I am at remembering names. I meet so many people each year.
There were four of us in an old Holden. It was Marks car, a beautiful old thing at the time and would now be on vintage plates if it’s still going.
We had opted for the drive all night approach. Sharing the driving between four of us seemed a logical way to get there. Quiet the drive from Blackheath to Byron. It was early morning. We were well past Grafton, but where exactly I can’t remember.
Mark was driving, Scottie and Lisa were asleep in the back. The sun was up, but the air was still cool from the evening.
I was asleep in the front seat. I was dreaming in snippets on and off. I started this flash of flying very very close to the green grass. Very very fast. It woke me up with a start.
I looked around. Green fields as in my dream. The resemblance uncanny. We were heading towards them.
Mark was asleep at the wheel. We were just leaving the road. Just enough time to wake him. I can’t remember if I grabbed the wheel or he on waking he steered us back to the road again. In a flash we were safe again. That dream flash saved us from it eventuating. I am so grateful for each dream.
Lots of swearing and relief. We stopped and regained our composure. Swapped drivers and continued on. The story was lost in someone else’s big day. The memories of it forgotten for twenty years.
I believe in my dreams. Some are warnings, and others are possibilities. Write them down and reflect. Something watches over me and I am eternally grateful.
On the way to nest. Macleay River, from the Abstract Workshop. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“I know of no genius but the genius of hard work.“
- William Turner
So much of my work is about portraiture. Portraits of people obviously, but also portraits of animals, trees and places. Like all portraiture I put myself, my own stories, values and essence into my work.
For example in today’s accompanying photograph one wonders if that wildebeest is actually lonely in such a vast and empty space or on the flip slide feels safe and secure knowing that predators aren’t that close because of all that space to see them stalking thier way up.
Was it really alone? Using the edge of the frame I may have removed the heard of support just standing near.
Do animals stare out into the salt plains and contemplate life?
Do animals enjoy the view? Deep slow breaths thinking “Awww… Isn’t that just beautiful!”
Those questions and thoughts are mine. We currently have no way of deciphering truth. If truth even exists. Most of your interpretations are actually about me and what I have constructed.
When looking at portraiture it is so easy to forget the artist / photographer and concentrate on the subject. Yet all we see is their own interpretation of the subject. Full of their assumptions, values and thoughts.
There is no truth in photography despite what we love to believe. Nor in what people tell us when they say, ‘See I have the photograph to prove it’.
My second portraiture workshop is being held in Namibia in just under a years time in March 2020. We start a tour with two days in the classroom sorting out techniques and approaches to portraits in the most amazing location perfectly suited for early morning and late evening shooting. We will lean and practice specifically for the types of opportunities we will encounter during the rest of the trip. People, places and animals. These include; Himba Tribes, desert trees, sweeping plains, and African wildlife.
Our trip heads north and is in a concentrated area so there is less traveling in vehicles and more time photographing. We visit less of the over photographed icons and spend more time searching out unique and exploring photogenic subjects.
This is a true workshop and tour combined into one.
We are putting together a information night at Woollahra as soon as we have a date and a time I will let you know.
Portrait of Namibia Workshop / Tour https://www.lensschool.com/namibia-photography-workshop-and-tour-2020
Some of my photography from my last few trips to Namibia: http://lenmetcalf.com/?tag=Namibia
Wildebeest Contemplates. Etosha Salt Plain, Namibia. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“The decisive moments in black and white and color are not identical.”
- Ernst Haas
Vigars Well, Lake Mungo. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“If you lose art you lose culture; if you lose culture, you die.”
- Mieke Bal
Morning sun. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.”
- Jackson Pollock
Button Grass, Mini Haha Creek, Katoomba. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.”
– Howard W Thurman
I have a memory of visiting an old recreated village in Wilbourforce as a kid. My uncle, Brian Loughlin was singing and playing his largerphone and bones in the original Bushwackers, I think. He and his mates, John Meredith and Alan Scott started the Bush Music Club, which still survives as is one of the worlds oldest folk music clubs. They were into collecting the songs sung in Australia by all, documenting them, recording them and singing them to keep them alive.
I vaguely remember a stage.
The songs he sung were probably reinforced through the few albums we have with him singing on them. One was the Club / band putting Henry Lawson poems to music and the other was Reedy River. I did see him perform in that too, at Balmain but that is even a more shady memory.
I don’t have many memories of my uncle. More of his wife Pam, mums sister, my Aunty who was wonderful. And my cousins of course who were closer to my age.
Now-days, the closest I get to this music is going to an Irish Ukulele Jam with Pt and Gail.
How many Australians know this tiny part of our musical heritage?
I am heartened to see that the club survives in Marikville and is healthy and alive.
Emma Peel and Neaky at Old Tailem Town Poineer Village near Adelaide at Tailem Bend. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019
“Tell your own story, and you will be interesting.”
- Louise Bourgeois
Ant on snow gum. Snowy Mountains. Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2019