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One of Us #65 - Atom Ant

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    Posted: 18 June 2019 at 13:31
One of Us #65: Atom Ant



Dyxum member Atom Ant writes...


When Mike invited me to write this he said “I think you probably know the format...“ . Well, the format, as I understand it, starts with telling you that I have a long standing interest in photography & to show some fabulous shots that I took on film in the distant past. Here I already have a small problem… Yes, I was interested. At school, I was a founding member of the photography club! (How’s that for pedigree?) And there was a family hand-me-down Pentax. But, sadly, the photos were rubbish. I’ll spare you samples, if only because they are, essentially, lost.

The loss of the photos I’ll blame on having moved about a bit - which I’ll blame, in turn, on a combination of career & wanderlust. At this point, I should explain that I’m an Australian but moved from there in 2004. Since then I’ve lived in Singapore (twice) & London but have recently moved back to Sydney. I have also retired so that, while the career has passed into history (though I guess not legend), the wanderlust remains.

To get back to photography, when I moved from Australia I bought my first digital camera with the intent of keeping family & friends informed of my adventures. It was a simple point & shoot but I grew fond of it. At least it got me shooting again after a period when my interest & time for photography had waned. Overall, it was really satisfying - even if the results weren’t outstanding. Here are a couple of samples:

1: Winged Victory, Louvre, Paris



2: Dawn at Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan


During this period I had resisted suggestions (mostly from my partner Anne) that I should get a “good camera”. Nevertheless, in 2013 I found myself in a camera store with Anne explaining that I was going to get a good camera NOW and I couldn’t refuse because it was a birthday present from her and anyway she needed me to take photos on the big trip to Africa she had been planning. I walked out with a brand new A58 – on the basis that my elder son (I have two grown sons by the way) had bought a Sony & he would have done some research, wouldn’t he?

The A58 helped me lift my game. And a large part of that was due to finding this forum in late 2013 & doing the Photography Assignments. So I will again thank Brian, pegelli & all the others who help out there. Consequently my story as a photographer is pretty much my history on Dyxum. Which leads me to my first POTW! It was shot outside Mandalay as a submission for the Silhouette assignment:

3: Monks returning to monastery outside Mandalay



Soon after, I took this shot along with some similar ones:
4:


Yes, I realise it’s not as interesting as the previous but there’s a story. At the time, my objective in photography was to make better travel snaps. I would have loved to make more creative shots but doubted I was capable. But this particular afternoon I was free, so I wandered to a local park & took some photos of nothing in particular. I was pretty happy with the results. Maybe I wouldn’t be so excited now, but that afternoon did make me think I might be able to attempt more than travel snaps.

This shot probably shows something of what I privately think of as my “style”. I’ve always thought that one of the neatest tricks of a photographer is to take an almost random rectangular piece of the world and convince the viewer that it’s interesting. In the second half of this post I’ve collected some of my favourite shots & perhaps you’ll see what I mean.

I don’t know whether it’s my work as a project manager that taught me to be organised or I ended up as a PM because being organised is natural, but I confess to setting objectives for myself as a photographer. (I shouldn’t overstate the level of planning – the temptation to click the shutter before engaging my brain is, all too often, irresistible.) My goal for 2014 was obvious – complete the photography assignments.

For 2015 I set myself a stretch goal – win a DPC. I was lucky enough to win the Small Product Photography DPC with this shot:

5:


Looking back I’m very glad that I targeted that subject. I soon realised that product photography requires incredible precision & craftsmanship. Obviously doing one shot didn’t teach me those skills but it did make me more mindful of them. Moreover it helped me appreciate the skill required in other genres even when I might have little interest in them per se. (BIF springs to mind – sorry!)

On a different level it started me thinking that craft may be a better model for photography than Art. (Note the capital.) I find “eye candy” shots worthwhile, whereas I have doubts about some of the photography on the walls of Art Galleries. But perhaps I’ve become a philistine…

To return to my narrative, I don’t mean to give the impression that I’ve developed as a photographer based on a master plan with attached schedule. But I have, at least, tried to avoid staying in my comfort zone. In 2016 my aim was to bag some decent landscape shots since that was not something I’d previously managed. (And I do enjoy landscapes.) Luckily some crazy cheap fares to Ireland were available. While I know I’m not a landscape photographer of the standard of some of you, I gave myself a pass on the basis of some shots like these:

6: New Lake, Donegal



7: Burren National Park



Now, backtracking a bit, I mentioned earlier that my main interest when I first purchased a digital camera was travel photography. Yet somehow along the way I’d ended up quite incapable of making a travel shot. It wasn’t that I disdained them - I mean my mind would just go blank when I looked at a tourist attraction with a camera in my hand. The solution was obvious – take a holiday somewhere photogenic & lick this thing. From this I learned:
1.     Anyone can take good shots in Greece. (See below.)
2.     11 and a half hours on a budget flight is way too long.

8: Welcome to Santorini

In case you are wondering, most of the hotels in Santorini are on a steep slope - so they often have a front entrance behind which are stairs going down.

9: Windmills of Kato Mili, Mykonos


My current challenge is light. Should be easy right? But there was a lot to light that I didn’t really “get”. I’m working on it, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight! These shots point to the current state of my struggles:

10: Backlit leaves



11: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao



12: Cacao Fruit



I selected all the shots above because they related to my back story. Let me finish with some favourites.

13: Windsor (Mono)



14: Bamboo, Shoren-in Temple (Kyoto) at night



15: Under Marina Coastal Expressway



16: Still life with grapes & cape gooseberries (mono)



17: Behold - The Fin



18: Empty art gallery (4m33s)

I normally prefer quite prosaic titles but this one is wantonly obscure. I’d be interested in knowing whether anyone gets it…


19: Low key lily



20: Phone box at night


Most OoU pieces reference famous photographers who have been an influence. In my case, I have absolutely no books about famous photographers – instead they have titles like “The Photographer’s Eye”. The fact is, I’m much influenced by shots I see on Dyxum. With some of my landscape shots I’ve tried to channel Roger Rex. The shot above was an attempt to channel Harald/waldo_posth. Others among you are also at risk of the sincerest form of flattery. (Fair warning, Svjetlana!) Others are safe for now only because I’m not sure know where to begin!

21: Miho Museum: Entrance tunnel



22: Museum of Modern Art (BA)



23: Classic



24: Santiago de Cuba



25: El Pimiento



26: Novice at monastery outside Mandalay



27: Little India



PS: To bring the equipment story up to date, I still have the A58 but I swapped the kit lens for a Sony 18-135 (which I love) & added a Tamron 90mm macro, a Sony DT 50 F1.8 and a Sigma 10mm fisheye. My most recent acquisition is a ColorMunki for calibrating my displays. (I really wish I’d got a colorimeter earlier.) I like to think I’ve resisted GAS but I do have a short list of lenses I’d snap up second hand at the right price… Maybe GAS could strike yet!

Thanks for looking.

Tony
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    Bob J View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 18:50
    Bravo!
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    Snegren View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote Snegren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 18:56
    Interesting narrative and a fab collection of images!
    Knowledge is a deadly friend, if no one sets the rules
    The fate of all mankind I see, is in the hands of fools
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    Fred_S View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote Fred_S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 19:01
    Originally posted by Snegren Snegren wrote:

    Interesting narrative and a fab collection of images!

    +1! Well done Tony!
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    C_N_RED_AGAIN View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote C_N_RED_AGAIN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 19:16
    Nice read. Love reading the back stories to these articles
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    onsplekkie View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote onsplekkie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 20:11
    Fair Dinkum, mate
    Greetings from Holland   
    "take life as it is, not as you want it to be"
     



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    pegelli View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 20:24
    Great story, great images.

    Congrats for being "One of Us", well deserved
    Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
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    mambo View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote mambo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 21:27
    Congrats on the recognition.
    Charles M

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    Post Options Post Options   Quote Phil Wood Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 22:08
    Great images.

    And 4m 33s? I guess the appropriate thing to say is nothing.
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    waldo_posth View Drop Down
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote waldo_posth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2019 at 22:10
    Thank you, Tony, for giving us this account of how your photography developed. The recognition is well deserved!

    It's a wonderful story to read. I was amazed to notice a tear rolling down my cheek when reading that your partner forced you to get a good camera (thank you, Anne!) - and that happens in a world where you usually hide your recent gear purchases from the eyes of your wife!

    And it's a wonderful set of images to view - diverse, sophisticated or just excellent (and I remember quite a number of them, beginning with #3). I very much hope to see more of your work and wish you many magical visual moments when you happen to have your finger on the shutter release!

    "Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." (Walker Evans)   http://www.flickr.com/photos/waldo_posth/
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote LAbernethy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2019 at 01:48
    good read
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote Jozioau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2019 at 04:12
    Tony,
    Congratulations and welcome to O.O.U.
    It's wonderful to read your photographic and life trajectory and see (as well as revisit) your beautifully crafted and diverse images.
    Looking forward to seeing lots more.
    "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst" - Henri Cartier-Bresson
    My FlickrPro site
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote Dopol Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2019 at 05:46
    A good read and a wonderful set of photos.
    A well deserved Welcome too O.O.U.
    Be yourself; everyone else is already taken
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    Post Options Post Options   Quote skm.sa100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2019 at 10:30
    Hi Tony, I like your meandering introduction to your efforts in this area and how you've penned the whole thing. It shows a man of thought with an ability to reflect on oneself.

    No need to be that humble! I'd suggest you take pride in your work, be confident about your efforts but do resist vanity and arrogance as well as you've resisted GAS. (I have no choice but to be humble as long as I hang around on Dyxum!)

    What I like about your photography is that you've dabbled in different things and have interesting pics to show for your efforts.

    As for your journey on Dyxum, I do recognize many of your pics, having been a member here for 10 yrs or so.

    Keep pursuing your passion and do keep sharing. Looking forward to many more interesting pics from you.

    Regards
    Sashi

    P.S. Yes, congratulations on making it to the "One of us" list. That is indeed an honor which holds great value here. To earn the respect of peers is a wonderful achievement.
    More Dyxumer, less photographer.
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