An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of art & life ...

An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of life ... or just ramblings from the mind of a working Mum with far too little time to think!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Art Photography

Recently I read an interesting interview with fascinating British photography great, David Bailey. He spoke of his shift in focus from fashion and commercial photography to art photography, and of how his clients had been replaced by collectors.

Bailey foresaw the industry changes around 30 years ago. “Photography’s finished”, he said, “It’s going to end and it’s going to go on the walls.”

When asked about his thoughts on the move in the photographic industry from film to digital and whether his early pictures would have been as successful if taken with a digital camera, he replied: “It’s not the camera that takes the picture; it’s the person”.

It was a timely reminder to me of what is important as I am always looking at my work and thinking it would be so much better if I went to a large format camera, or a better lens, or one of the other new gadgets that are always being promoted as the way to improve your photos.

The hardest part of art photography is to find your own vision, and then to stick with it. So many photographers seem to spend far too much time copying other photographers that they perceive to be more successful, that they don’t have the time to develop their own point-of-view.

Art photography offers a myriad of opportunities to be explored by the creative photographer, especially in its more abstract forms. Abstract art can transport the viewer into a stunning world of colours, shapes, textures and patterns, and I have found that nature’s aesthetics provides an eternal source of inspiration for this art form.

There are so many individual elements that are necessary for the creation of a great image. Composition and lighting are the two key components that most photographers think about when capturing an image. 
However, for an image to stand out as art, it needs to leave a strong impression on first sighting.  

My focus has always been on colour and texture and their reaction to the ambient light, as these elements can be used so effectively to add emotional impact to an image. For, when you boil it all down, emotional impact is really what we are all looking for in a photograph!

Something I experiment with often is to swirl the colours together by using a very shallow depth of field and plenty of natural light, which can either give a soft, expressionistic and almost painterly feel to the image, or when working with strong colours, can make a powerful and dramatic statement. 

Beauty in art photography, like so many things in our world, is often found in the unexpected. We must ensure that our minds stay open to always exploring new ideas so that when we do stumble upon the unexpected beauty, we will be sure to recognise it as such.

“Photography is an art and not just a skill. Because if it was just a skill and not art, everyone would make the same piece of furniture.” ~ David Bailey

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Meet a brave little boy

This is Colby, an amazing little boy who has been fighting Leukemia for most of his short life. Yesterday I was invited to his 5th birthday party, held quite a few weeks after his actual birthday. He turned 5 years old whilst in isolation in hospital recovering from a stem cell transplant. Yesterday he was well enough to have a celebration with his family and a few special friends and helpers. 

I don’t know Colby very well, or his beautiful mother Belinda. They came to my attention through one of my daughters a few months ago when she first had the wonderful idea to miss out on her Year 12 Formal dinner/dance, and instead donate the substantial amount of money usually spent on this 'end of school' event to help Colby and his Mum with his enormous on-going medical costs. Colby's Mum was able to buy him the trampoline he needs to slowly strengthen his weakened muscles from months of lying in a hospital bed. 

Looking into Colby’s eyes in an unguarded moment through my camera lens yesterday, I was struck by the depths within. His very young eyes hold so much wisdom from experiences that he should not have to have undergone at his tender age – sadness, frustration, detachment, tolerance, and a certain resignation that can only be gained from much pain and suffering.  His rare smiles of joy when interacting with other children at his party lit up his face and eyes, and gave him the look of an angel, which he most certainly is!

Leukemia is cancer of the blood, and the most common cancer in children, affecting thousands of children under the age of 5 worldwide each year. The incidence of childhood leukemia is steadily increasing and the need for research into its causes is urgent. The much improved survival rate for childhood leukemia is certainly one of the greatest medical success stories of the last century, but one in five children still lose their lives to the disease and many survivors are left with serious long-term side effects as a result of the intensive, and often radical, treatments used to save their young lives.

There are ways for all of us to help in the fight against childhood leukemia – by donations of money or time to fund-raising for Childhood Leukemia Research through organizations set up in major hospitals all over the world, by donations to assist with medical costs for an individual child, or in a more personal way, by extending emotional support to a family in our community struggling with the life-changing ordeal of caring for a very sick child.

Colby’s Mum has set up a Facebook page to record his journey.  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Turkey

There are many reasons why I could never complain that my life is boring, the main one being my extraordinary middle daughter! Today, as I was getting back into my car at the local produce store after purchasing horse feed and hay for her horses, she jumped in beside me with a fully grown turkey in her arms! 


This was the turkey she had rescued from the Christmas table while attending a horse camp at the end of last year. She arrived home from the camp with her horse AND a young turkey wrapped in a hessian bag that she had named “Brains”.  She had fallen in love with this ugly creature at the camp and had badgered the lady who owned the farm to let her take him home. After I recovered from the initial shock and complained, she quickly said, “You’re lucky Mum that it’s only a turkey. There was an older calf that I was also allowed to take but could not fit it in the float with the horse!”

So, the turkey moved in with us. It gobbled loudly day and night, only quieting down when Jess was with it, following her around like a puppy and driving the neighbours crazy perched on top of our wall gobbling at the passing cars. After two weeks we had all had enough of the turkey and Jess agreed to find it a home. 
The local produce store had a little farmyard with chickens, ducks and another turkey and they agreed to take Brains.  Ever since then, for the last six months, Jess has complained incessantly about having to rehome her turkey, claiming that she still misses him, and he her! 
Every time we went to the produce store to purchase horse feed, she visited him, and every time without fail, he recognised her and ran straight up to her. And every time we left the store, I would breathe a sigh of relief ...

 Tiny rescued duckling ~ 'Jarpi'

Today, she impulsively decided that he was not looking at all happy, so she would take him to the nearby property where we agist the horses and he could take his chances with the resident goat and our three horses. 
So, we have a turkey again, though thankfully this time not perched on our wall for all the passing traffic to point to and laugh at!


Over her childhood years Jess has brought home countless injured and stray animals. We have never known what she would turn up with next! We have had baby birds, ducks, cats, chickens, mice, rats geckos, even two strange eggs that she found in an abandoned nest and was so sure would hatch if she slept on them and kept them warm! But it was not to be. She fussed over and warmed those eggs for over a week before one of the cats found them while she was at school and attempted to consume them for breakfast!

 Jess at 10 ~ At least this one got away!

I clearly remember one incident when she was in her second year at school. I received an urgent phone call from the school asking me to come in as she had had an allergic reaction to a bee sting. When I got there I was told that she had confessed that she had been ‘training bees’. She had found a bee hive at the far end of the playground and each day that week she had taken a few of the bees and was in the process of training them to be circus bees, much to the delight of her little classmates!

 Abandoned by his mother ~ tiny Plover bird

She is definitely a very special soul and has a wonderful way with animals. I just wish she would not bring so many strange ones home with her.  

Injured baby Minor bird ~ rescued from the middle of the road

Although, I must admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed photographing her many adoptees over the years!

It takes two!

'Isabella' ~ rescued from the pound


Mallard duckling ~ 'Duzzie'

Spikes ~ Frill necked lizard

Baby chick ~ rescued from a school Biology project

Jess at 16 with her best friend ~ horse 'Finn'

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Magnificent Moreton Bay

Glass Ocean ~ Looking out to King Island

Moreton Bay has got to be Brisbane's best kept secret. The Gateway to some of the world's largest sand islands, Moreton Island and South and North Stradbroke Island, and home to a large variety of marine animals and birds, the 125km wide expanse of blue water provides unlimited opportunities for sailing, boating and numerous other recreational activities.

Moreton Island in the distance

Moreton Bay contains several heritage-protected wetlands and mudflats which support a large proportion of Australia's bird species, as well as providing one of the most important breeding grounds for the increasingly rare Dugong, also known as 'sea cows' due to their grazing on seagrasses.


I am incredibly fortunate to live in the Moreton Bay area. Being able to walk along the waterfront each morning and experience the different moods of the Bay is a wonderful and inspirational way to start the day. And each day is so very different, depending upon the time, the date, the season, the weather and the tides.

Mud flats

Earlier this week I spent a very indulgent and relaxing day on the Bay on board a friend's yacht. I made an impulsive decision to drive the girls to school and then to take up the invitation of a day's sail during school hours!

Looking out into the early morning haze

It was a perfect, cloudless, warm Australian Winter's day, with deep blue skies and not a breath of wind! We packed our lunch, climbed aboard, cast off the ropes and left the jetty, motoring out through the leads into the Bay. The ocean was like glass, the only disturbance of the perfect surface being the ripples from our boat moving slowly through the still waters.


It was so surreal, like we were floating on a mirror with perfect reflections stretching out all around us. Everything seemed to be in slow motion, just like an old silent movie - a pelican gliding gracefully into the morning haze, a seagull perched on a bright green buoy, boats bobbing on their moorings as we passed, the weathered timber footings of a creaking jetty, a lone fisherman casting his line out on the shore.

Sea Eagle guarding his nest

Out on the open water, a very slight breeze arose and we optimistically cut the engines and put up the sails. We were not going to be getting anywhere fast, but it was pure magic!

The serene, empty Bay

No sound, just the gentle tinkling of the sails against the mast and the peaceful rocking of the boat. And no other boats in sight! It seemed as though we had the entire Bay to ourselves. Unbelievable! Where else in the world could you go out into a sheltered stretch of open ocean on an exquisite day like this and not see other boats doing the same thing?

Oyster lots marked by poles

The clarity and colour of the water was mesmerising and we sat and watched for hours as the dolphins frolicked playfully around the hulls of the boat, and the huge turtles and elegant manta-rays swam slowly and lazily beneath us, enjoying the warm sun and making the most of a beautiful day on the Bay!

Pelican in flight

Jetty at Wellington Point

Playful Dolphin

Magic in the water

Smiling Manta-ray

One of the few boats we saw on the water

Setting the sails

Fishing boat at Wellington Point

Calm waters of Moreton Bay

Jetty Reflections