downpour

sudden downpour
sudden downpour

Melbourne is known for its changing weathers. It is on a very dry continent, but because of the difference in climate between the inland desert and the antarctic cold, people here go through quite a bit of changes through the year. Although we are still under strict water restriction, which means we cannot even justify washing our cars (and REALLY shame on you driving a shiny polished vehicles on the road!), we do get storms from time to time. Yesterday was one of those days.

I chilled out sunny morning making a quick trip to supermarket to top up some grocery and waited for someone to pick up the harddisk I did the data recovery work on. By the time I finished my coffee, brushed my teeth, finally put down Murakami’s ‘Dance Dance Dance’ into the bag and got off the couch, it was early afternoon. I opted for walking to the bus stop and riding into the city, rather than driving to the station for a train. Knowing what the weather change can throw at you here in Melbourne, I had a quick look at the weather website. It has the forecast in 3-hour block for the rest of the day. Next 3 hours show ‘possible storm’. It can happen, or it may not happen – it is all in the possibility. Right… I saw the postman at the mailbox and exchanged hello’s and said to him, ‘You think the rain will come down?’. He said, ‘Nah, not today.’ Was he sure of it, or was he hoping for it? He was cheerful and happy. It is Friday afternoon, after all.

I walked down under the sun to the bus stop. I know I’d miss one bus by a minute, but rather than rushing, I took a slow walk, and when I got to the bus stop and saw no bus in sight, I stood in a shade under a large tree and picked up the Murakami from the bag. I could see the dark cloud in the corner of my limit sight to the sky. My friend just posted a storm front picture on the facebook. And before I put the phone back in my pocket, it started to come down, lightly. The tree had large wide leaves so I was well covered. 5 minutes passed and the rain was large drops, smell of rain in the air. The couple who just took the dogs out for a walk came back to their unit right next to the bus stop. Cars have their wiper waving. By the time the bus got there, the rain was hard enough I waited under the tree until the last minute to avoid getting drenched while walking to the opened door.

I watched the town passing by outside my window. There are people without umbrella (for a city that has as much rainy days as Melbourne, many people somehow choose to walk without umbrella, even when they are in dress or a suit!), running from one shop roof to another, getting drenched in process. When I got to Swanston Street and walked across to the roof of the old Royal Children’s Hospital, the street had river running through it. I grabbed my camera and spread the small umbrella, which might just cover my camera but leaving the rest of me pretty much exposed. I made a few clicks and started to cross the street while looking for an image, when my left foot stepped into a couple of inches of ‘river’ when instantly my leather chakka boot, sock and foot got soaked. Nice…

caught unprepared
caught unprepared
connecting
connecting

And a few minutes later, it was all over…

suddenly sunny
suddenly sunny
cross walker
cross walker

As soon as I saw this large pool of water at intersection right across the pedestrian crossing, I saw that famous image by Henri Cartier-Blesson. His ingenuity is obviously the couple of ring-shaped objects before the man caught in the ‘jump’ moment, but I could see what he saw in this. Trying not to copy or make what he did, yet I could not deny that the only moment that works is when a man makes a jump. An old man came to the other side of the intersection later, but he was too cautious to risk getting his feet wet and made a boring walk-around. On the street, things don’t always happen as you predict.

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full moon on the rise

After visiting the local printing lab a few times and putting the same photo next to each other, trying to decide which of the same two photos are better (slightly different print treatment), I mounted all the photos in beautiful off-white window mount, put in acid-free box and they went out of my work desk. Finally. During the brief presentation of my works, friends game me the thumbs-up, mentors gave me some things in my images that are working well and effective, as well as some points for improvements. After 20 odd years of my photography life, the last couple of years have seen the steepest learning curve.

Now that the projects I have been working on for the last 5 months have finally came to a close, at least for now, my head is almost filled with anticipation of what’s waiting for me around the corner as I walk down the streets of cities I’ve never visited before. I love traveling and I love the excitement of finding connection with the local people, with whom I cannot quite communicate in their language, I find connection through my manners and respect for their customs. I love it when I am accepted and allowed to photograph them. Will I be relaxed enough to maximise my photographic experience in new countries? Or will some comment from somebody who don’t like to be photographed annoy me for the duration of my trip? :pĀ  That happened to me in Cairo all those years ago and I still regret not continuing to photograph for the last few days.

Well, it’s time to get back to the basics. Breathe in, and breathe out. Focus on the breath, and connect to myself first. Be comfortable an content. Appreciate the moment. Let go. Let go of the anticipation. Let go of the expectation. Be free.

But how can I stop myself from counting down the days to my departure? šŸ™‚

If I have regular access and feel like writing a lot, I’ll update my progress on my travel blog. If you love traveling like I do, keep your dial to that blog and throw in your comments whenever it comes to your mind. Adios heat in Melbourne! I’m off to the late autumn, and winter coat and scarf.

Reflection

In this blog I mentioned the series I have been working on. And I also showed you some of the photos before they were finalised. I am almost done processing these images, and I am about to filter it down to a 12-piece series.

They are all shot with a very specific methodology, and with fairly clear end-result in mind. As with often the case in Street Photography, a lot of time is spent just walking around town waiting for image or inspiration for image happens to me, and a lot of frames of shots were wasted as things cannot always happen in the most artistic manner. There is not setup, it is all accidental. It is all about observation, preparation and willingness to get good images. I am very happy with this series and cannot wait to finalise it for presentation.

Annelie, a cute little doll

Annelie

Recently I had a pleasure of photographing Annelie and her lovely caring family in their northern suburb home. I’d seen a few photos of Annelie, really cute ones, so my expectation was high.Ā  But when I parked my car outside their family home and walked through the front door, the baby I saw looked exactly like the photos I remember – Annelie looked just like a porcelain doll with her big blue eyes! (I almost got myself a self-portrait in her shiny eyes!)

Everyone was there, so they all took turns to show their off their little princess in front of me. They stood behind me as I point my camera at the little one, cheering and screaming, hoping to make her laugh and smile. I played along a bit, got a few beautiful shots, but at the same time, I was waiting for things to settle down. If you read my blog before you would know by now that I do enjoy photographing scenes of daily life as it takes place. I am of course aware that in a pure sense it is not really ‘natural’ because they would always be conscious of the foreign element in their home (me) and the camera that is recording how they look, what they do, all that, and they do want to look ‘nice’. Many people are really good at posing when the camera is one them. Annelie’s big sister, Nathalie, for example, put on a beautiful smile when the camera is on her. But adults are usually a bit more conscious about the whole thing, often reserved, so it is my task that, as long as they do not tell me they don’t want their photos taken, I see the moments when they look naturally beautiful, without posing or making scene for a camera, but something real, something authentic, that hopefully they would want to keep looking at as printed image on the wall or album and remember how they felt on that day.

with the big sis Nathalie
I want her beautiful long hair!

It is quite obvious who is the centre of attention here.

"I command you..."

Look how she sits back comfortably to face her people…

working hard to make Annelie smile

But when she gets hungry and a bit grumpy, she knows who’s got the control of the world. She knows who looks after her, feed her, change her, carry her across the room, all that. It is all thanks to her mum!

Is my milk ready yet mummy?
Watched over by the caring family
a cute couple

Milad, thank you so much for having me at your home to photograph your beautiful family. It is a shame that I won’t be in town for Annelie’s Christening photo shoot, but I’d love to come back and make beautiful images of your family as your kids grow up happy, healthy and beautiful.

Deliver, deliver, deliver!

Japan Culture Festival

It’s been a pretty busy fortnight. Somehow multiple projects all came down to delivery stage at the same time. There were a few child-and-mother series shoots I’d done that I promised to print and give to the parents. ‘Reflections’ series and ‘bond/ties’ series (or what has become the mother-to-child series) are both due for submission so after looking at the initial test prints, I’m sitting in front of digital processing software on monitor for hours, processing them to further improve, then they will be printed again for one more review before printed on the final size and mounted on paper-board window mount for presentation towards the end of the month. And I still had a few appointments to photograph some people in between.

In the middle of all that, Japan Culture Festival happened as well. I’d offered to the organiser that I photograph the event as the official photographer for the event, and due to the nature of the event the photos are published as small images on a Facebook album. With events, they say it is critical that photos are made available pretty much immediately after it happened. I was very tired after running around from the morning working with and coordinating the volunteers to set up the venue, moving lots of tables and chairs, making sure every booth looks its best, and photographing throughout the event with little time to sit down all day, except for 5 minutes for late lunch, but I got onto developing images on that evening when I got home. Out of 350 odd frames clicked, I chose almost half as the acceptable final products. Each image was processed till I was satisfied with their colour, sharpness and noise reduction (I shot most indoor shots at ISO1600 so noise reduction was crucial!), and a handful of images needed further delicate work to make them really presentable.

I was aware that there were a few other ‘serious’ looking photographers on the venue. The organiser did not tell me about other ‘official’ photographers they’d employed, but seeing how seriously they were photograpahing with their professional equipment and all, I expected them to share at least some of their works with the organiser soon, and let them do their thing rather than fighting for the same shots. That freed me up to capture some of the odd moments of the guests and back stage. And I was really enjoying the operation side of the event, as that is what I used to do for a job – running events. Anyhow, after exhausting day came the exhausting evening of processing, and by the time Formula One from Brazil came on TV around 3am on Monday morning, I was like a zombie… I fell asleep half way into the race and woke up at the winning lap. Why do I always wake up at the winning lap even if I fall asleep half way? I moved from couch in front of tv to the bed, pulled the curtain close in the morning light, only to be woken by a phone call from a friend who did not read ‘call me in the afternoon’.

Anyhow, the mother-and-baby photos are being hand delivered, the Japan Culture Fesitval photos are up on Facebook to which many people have already come to tag themselves and their friends. Some really nice comments are left on the Facebook page as well. That just makes the whole thing worth while. I can sit back and enjoy my cup of coffee. Oh, I still have the projects to deliver!

And yes, I am available for a few more photo shoots like birthday, wedding or a fun event, or a webpage HTML work (I happen to have a degree in IT as well), or translation work (I have a degree in English linguistics too), or document styling and templating (I am an advanced user of MS office and other stylesheets, too) before I escape from the heat of victoria for the holidays in freezing Japan and surrounds, so make sure you book me early šŸ™‚ Photos from new year in Japan and short articles can be done, so send me brief if you want one done. Otherwise, I’ll see you back on location on Australia Day weekend.

Daisy, Claire and Gordon

Big blue

It’s already been about a month, but I had a pleasure of photographing the gorgeous mother and little princess at their family home. Daddy also came home from work to join us for a couple of quick shots too.

Apparently it is Daisy’s birthday today, so I figured it is fitting to put these images on my blog today. Happy birthday Daisy – keep growing happy and healthy.

her own views to the world

I have had a chance to meet babies and kids of different age in the recent months, but Daisy is in a very interesting time of her life. Coming close to her first birthday, she was beginning to communicate more, express her preferences (she loves to show her books!) and she is clearly beginning to be aware of the world in terms of herself and others around, whom she does not really have a control over.

Be right there

Daisy was up on two feet when she felt like it, but seemed more comfortable on the fours. So Claire was always there right next to Daisy, who is still a little shaky standing on her two strong legs. I followed them around as they just spend a day as usual, and here is the result of some real emotions.

Let's clean up your lovely face!
Camera-conscious princess
Fastest ride in the world!

As we went out for a walk in the park nearby, Gordon came home for lunch. After lunch, we made a few shots. This first one just took place as Gordon and I were putting the shoes on as we set off. I had no space to back off to as my back was already against the front door. But somehow, it just showed the way they were. Daisy was standing on her feet, curious about things around; Gordon is home for lunch on a work day, keeping close eye on his little girl, and Claire is standing comfortably, watching a peaceful moment of her family.

a peaceful moment
Together on the grass
Progress

I felt that Daisy was growing very quickly. She has her own ideas now, and she’s about to pick up ways to express them more verbally soon. I wish Daisy, Claire and Gordon peace and happiness on Daisy’s birthday today, and I look forward to seeing them again in the future to see how Daisy’s going.

I’d like to thank Daisy, Claire and Gordon for letting me photograph your day on a sunny spring day in Melbourne.

Four Corners – official opening tonight!

As I have previously mentioned in this blog, there is an interesting exhibition running in a gallery up in Northcote. Four female photographers with each using their strong style are bringing the collection of works.

Official opening is this evening (Friday the 5th) – I expect to see you there.

Four Corners – A Photography Exhibition
5 November 2010, 6:30pm onwards
Synergy Gallery
253 High Street, Northcote, Victoria
Four Melbourne-based female photographers each brings her own style of documentary photography

 

Oh, by the way…

Don’t forget the Japan Culture Festival on Sunday the 7th at Collingwood Town Hall. A big group of Japanese volunteers are bringing to you the experience of modern and traditional Japanese culture – all under one roof! And the handsome Japanese guy is photographing the event. Make sure you show up at 11am as we open the door and get the party started!

Japan Culture Festival