And so to our last speaker of the season and it is fair to say we had someone who seems to be creative on a 24/7 basis! We were delighted to welcome Barbie Lindsay MPAGB FBPE EFIAPs AWPF and it was clear from the outset that this lady was extremely adept at making her creative visions into something that many understandably enjoy.
Barbie informed us very quickly that she aims to get the image “in camera” and so we were not going to see lots of behind-the-scenes editing techniques. Indeed, it was refreshing to have an evening of images and to just take these in. She also makes sure that everything in the final image is from her own work and not someone else’s. To maintain that, she shared with us the short story of her 60 mile round trip to photograph a rabbit…which then turned out to be The Wrong Rabbit, Gromit!
Many of Barbie’s inspirations come from everyday things that we can all relate to: song titles, sayings, nursery rhymes, etc. But many more seemed to be something conjured up by her based on what is in front of the lens. She encouraged us to keep a list of ideas (and to keep your images as you never know what you need may well already be in there; the gull, a sky, a shadow, a building, all of them not immediately viable but you can take out just the bit you need)
Some good tips that Barbie dropped into the evening were:
Make the most of luck – take the photograph and think about it afterwards.
Use a different viewpoint, e.g. get down low and look up to suggest empowerment or up high and look down for vulnerability.
Use perspective for creative effect.
If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
Pay attention to the details, especially when actually taking your photograph.
Barbie shoots mainly in manual but goes to auto for street and/or being spontaneous. I found her view that “making your image mono is a creative decision” to be quite revealing. To add further impact, she gave us many examples of portraits in mono but where she had turned up the tonal contrast to give her subject a more aged and weathered look. The same can be used to add impact to architecture work. In fact, I was impressed by what Barbie uses the most in Photoshop – she does not dig too deeply but seems to have found a set of filters and effects that she can rely on. Among these are:
Colour replacement, Upping Saturation, Warp; Smudge, Liquify, Clone. Layer Masks, Textures and crop! If it not adding to your image, crop it out!
Barbie is often to be found searching eBay for that last ingredient to complete her image and has spotted many bargains there such as a pop-up light tent for around £5. There were many other little, simple things that can add so much to what you produce.
Make a brush in photoshop that is 2 pixels wide, light grey in colour and use that to add “scratches” to your image.
Take photos of bricks and use these to add a layer of texture.
For those of you that are on a Mac, then Barbie did mention the Brain Fever Reflect plugin – seems it is not for Windows yet.
Barbie is a great advocate for entering exhibitions as her credentials show! She herself is a member of the Beyond Group – http://www.beyondgroup.info/ – and encourages all to enter images to as many exhibitions as possible – they are a great way of gaining recognition and just opening up a wider world of photography, especially those taking place overseas. I think the sheer diversity of her work showed that there is so much more one can do when making a “successful” image and whether you want to win a competition or see your work up there on a wall at an exhibition, you have to enter to have that chance. Personally, I will take a longer look at these opportunities as many are free to enter.
To end, here are a couple of Barbie’s images where you can see how much she has included in creating her final work.
She spent ages looking for just the right type of curtains to photograph for the magician and had her husband and a friend hold up the woman in that photo in just the right pose so that she could then use that one part to add to the look of that work. For the rabbits, well…see above! The cards were arranged on the back of a rucksack to create the impression of falling and the birds came from other images. A friend posed in a dinner jacket and Barbie’s imagination did the rest!
In her helter skelter shot, it’s Clacton Pier with its helter-skelter plus the plane, the smoke trail and the sky again all taken from three other images.
Thank you to Barbie for a fine ending to our speaker season and here’s to all us getting that bit more imaginative.