10.30.2005

Interview with Flickr's Fack to Bront

self portrait


Christopher: Fack to Bront, interesting screen name, why did you choose it?

Fack to Bront: I suppose I'm interested in neology to some extent and also the elements of lysdexia I do have I find entertaining. Fack to Bront just seemed to suit flickr well

Christopher: Ahh, quick wit, this will be interesting. Want to share your real name?

Fack to Bront: Anndra Dubhacan

Christopher: Anndra can you tell me a little about yourself, what you do and your involvement with photography?

Fack to Bront: I'm a full time photography student working toward a degree in Glasgow, Scotland. Besides playing music, I spend an unhealthy amount of time on photography. I don't mind confessing that since I started back in February of 2005 I have become pretty much obsessed with the subject and it's seductive ways. My goal is to become a professional photographer and to purse my interest until I draw my last

Christopher: What sparked you interest in photography? I would assume with a creative outlet like music, that portion of you brain would be exhausted.

Fack to Bront: Many portions of my brain are exhausted and I do enjoy the unexpected mirth it brings to my life. I started photography simply because I had to do something resembling physical exercise that would get me out of the house. A musician’s life is pretty sedentary for the largest part. Of course, I didn't expect to enjoy it so much and fell for photography hook, line and sinker almost immediately

Christopher: well, considering you are fairly new to it, I must say you have come a long way. Your portrait work is amazing and you processing style very unique. had you had some prior experience with Photoshop?

Fack to Bront: No - I'd faffed around with corel's photopaint for a while afore I started photography. But, as in common with so many other dabblers, my output was best described as shockingly bad and laughably self-indulgent.

Christopher: To flip through your photostream backwards tells the story of the evolution. It seems the style has been constantly evolving since you've started on flickr. Do you still use Corel or have you moved onto another program?

Fack to Bront: I have only used Photoshop since I got my Nikon back in February. I'd agree about the evolutionary progress, because of course I'm still a relative novice to post-processing with photographs. I do enjoy it immensely, however. I'd also expect my style to continue to evolve as I learn more and my skills become more refined. I hope so, anyway

I've just recently discovered Jay-z's music, but it's pretty late here so time to turn it down a bit ;)

Christopher: Your style of photography has been quite consistent. I would think, processing aside, I'd be able to pick your portrait out of a bunch. Is there just a certain way you like to photograph or are the photographs you post just have a common appeal to you among others you take?

Fack to Bront: Both notions would be somewhat true. I don't feel as if I have a style as such, because it's all so new to me as yet. I try to be relaxed with any given subject, but usually I'll know instinctively what it is I see that I want to capture. Often the reasoning for it comes much, much later. I'm a great believer that if it feels good it probably is good.

Christopher: (jay-z is great, I'd recommend his earlier work though, less ego)

You mentioned you are a Nikon user, what model?

Fack to Bront: aye - I'll work my way through it. As ever with music and given my tastes, anything bass heavy will catch my interest

I have three Nikon cameras at the moment. My digital slr D70, a truly gorgeous FM2 and an FM5. The FM5 feels a very serious camera somehow, I don't enjoy it as much as the other two. Like so many other users, I'm eagerly awaiting Nikon's new D200 which should be here afore too long.

Christopher: what pushed you toward the Nikon team? Why did you choose the d70 and this camera line?

Fack to Bront: This was a very simple decision to make for me. I have a life long friend - also from Ceann a' Gheàrrloch - called Brian Hickey who is a professional photographer working out of the Valencia region in Spain. When I asked him to guide me along, he suggested Nikon as he used their kit, too. I trust him completely and the D70 he suggested I start with has been a wonderful creative tool for me. I still take tutorial from Brian and we work over my stuff via the internet.

(he is an awesome photographer - I aspire to his standards)

Christopher: he is an excellent photographer. I am a fan as well! How lucky you are to have him as a guide.

Fack to Bront: Indeed - I owe him more than a few beers when we next meet up

Christopher: what lenses have you invested in? what do you prefer to shoot with?

Fack to Bront: I have a number of lenses. But the three I use most of all are the Nikkor 24-120vr, Nikkor 80-400vr and Nikkor 105mm macro (or micro as Nikon insist on calling it). I have no particular preference other than trying to use the one most appropriate for the situation. I'd love a Nikkor 12-24 wide angle next.

Christopher: As you are selecting your lenses to cover your focal range or were there other qualities in each that played a part?

Fack to Bront: Both. But, now I'm very interested indeed in the impact lenses have on subject and subject matter. The 80-400vr, for example, makes for a great portrait lens in that it allows you to stand a fair bit away from a subject and completely fill the frame with their image - this helps put some of them at ease with me being (usually) a complete stranger to them. I also find it curious how people react to the large physical presence the lens has - it's almost as if they take you more seriously.

as if you are a 'proper' photographer

Christopher: Do you feel that general perception is thus? the bigger scarier the equipment the more talented or professional the photographer must be.

Fack to Bront: I sense that, but I don't feel it to be true at all. Nevertheless, with those who perceive it to be true, I do enjoy the extra control over a situation it often provides you with.

Christopher: I understand how that can benefit you. How do you go about approaching your subjects? How many "NOs" do you run into?

Fack to Bront: Less and less now - practice makes perfect and all that. I ALWAYS carry a camera with me in case I come across something or someone of interest to me visually. I'll then usually approach them and simply try and be honest about what it is I see that I'd like to photograph. People usually know if it's true if I say they look strong, or strange or individual and don't seem to mind my approach. Not always mind you - the rejections can be relatively embarrassing. Or very much so :-)

Christopher: Have your subjects ever asked for prints? do you provide them?

Fack to Bront: Sometimes, more often emailing a digital copy is sufficient. Either way, meeting such requests is the least I can do and I usually offer anyway.

Christopher: One of the issues we "new age " photographers run into is the ideals of the purists who believe there is a division in photography and digital photography. Some believe further still a separation in photography as art and computer processed photography something else. what are your feeling on this? How did you come into you style of processing? what do you feel it lends to your work?

Fack to Bront: I find the 'debate' over digital or film both divisive and utterly tiresome. It's a photographers choice and I don't care to question other photographers about their choices other than when seeking information that might help me. It's ridiculous to me that an image recording medium can spark such heated exchanges. Again - with those who would seek to divide photography subject to processing (or not) - I find the issue to be largely irrelevant. What counts most for me and for most others is the final image.

I don't really care how the image was arrived at unless I want to learn from it, but I do care about the image itself very much indeed. My respect for another photographer’s decisions would also outweigh my need to condescend to them about what might notionally be 'better'.

Also - the label of purists when applied to photography - all of it being about manipulation of light - is laughably inaccurate.

Christopher: I meant to quote it as "purists", and I wholly agree. To the questions posed of your processing, how did you come into it, what does it lend to the appeal of the photos you make?

Fack to Bront: I shoot RAW almost always, so post-processing is a necessity of course and from that flowed my inclination to experiment. Having realized that processing could offer an additional creativity, I decided to dive right in and learn to use it as well as I could. The evolution of the way I do things is simply a reflection of my growing skills and confidence. I can't imagine doing without it now. Digital raw shooting and processing is just like fine whisky - always improved by the addition of good company.

Christopher: I have noticed you detail your process on most of your posts on Flickr, what led you to do that?

Fack to Bront: I've yet to come across a photographer or graphics specialist who refused to offer their help to me when I have asked - passing along what I can for those interested seems the least to do. And it's no trouble at all - only takes a few moments to jot down the basic outline. I'm happy to do it.

Christopher: would you be opposed to walking us through a detailed exercise of your techniques with one of your photos? Let’s say http://flickr.com/photos/dubhacan/55673044/

Fack to Bront: sure - that particular shot was relatively easy anyway.

Christopher: is there a more difficult one you'd prefer to tackle?

Fack to Bront: not at all, the methods are much the same - none of them are particularly difficult.

Once opened, I always sort the levels out. There is a routine published by Scott Kelby that is freely available that I use and then I'll merge the level adjustment layer and the background layer, then copy that so I have two, identical layers

Christopher: Kelby of NAPP?

Fack to Bront: the very same

Fack to Bront: I have been devouring Photoshop books as quickly as I can

Deke McClelland next

Christopher: I own the Total Training, great teacher

Fack to Bront: I'll look forward to absorbing his tutorials

the one I follow is in "The Photoshop CS2 book for digital photographers" wonderful book

Christopher: I'll have to find that one

back on topic, so, adjust levels then merge?

Fack to Bront: ok - with the image we are discussing I then copy the background layer and work on the top most

I'm pretty sure it's not the best way, but it suits me and it's quick and easy to go back

then I applied a hue/saturation adjustment layer - boosting the top slider by 6, reducing the middle slider by about 20 and then merging again, recopying and onto the next step

shadow/highlight I think - playing around with the sliders until I am happy with the result. I'm usually seeking a 'pop' appearance

dodge + burn next I think, just as expected to brighten or darken any elements. I do like to burn in wrinkles and the like to enhance such features

shadow/highlight tweaks again - once more just playing around until I have a visual I am happy with - sometimes there are 'halo' artifacts, but I don't mind them mostly, and if I do I can erase them away on the top most layer

then running the hue saturation again to apply a slight desaturation. Often this is necessary because the highlight/shadow steps can amplify the reds in an image.

and - as ever - a quick run through the smart sharpen filter. I use this simply because Scott Kelby's book advises it to be good. And he's right: it is.

that's pretty much it - the only other major thing I do is to scroll through the blend modes of any layers to see if they offer anything useful.

Christopher: wow, sounds so simple and appears so dramatic

Fack to Bront: that's one of the great myths about Photoshop. People often can be mislead into thinking that - because of it's vast facilities and potential complexity - that it cannot provide very useable results easily. It's not true at all - it can!

If you only applied shadow/highlight to an image you would see almost instantly how some of my images are arrived at - it's really that simple - all that needs to be done is experimentation with the sliders

Christopher: well, I thank you for sharing that, I'm sure many can benefit from this technique

Fack to Bront: I hope so, if others find it useful then I'm delighted. Incidentally, I think it's appropriate to mention punkassbitch from flickr here - he offered me a similar outline when I asked him how Bekon achieved his results.

I just took his advice and experimented with his basic outline

Christopher: what's next for you Anndra? where are you going with this? where do you want to go?

Fack to Bront: :: smiles ::

I'm going to become a professional photographer and earn my living from something I adore to do. I'd also like to create work that was respected by my peers and perhaps leave something behind me that conveyed a message of kindness and my faith in the generosity of human spirit

high goals then, but they feel very comfortable to me

Christopher: you have such a pleasant demeanor, what has made you you? Married? kids?

Fack to Bront: thank you - I'm not certain what made me how I am. God would know ;) I've enjoyed a wild roller-coaster experience of life and it taught me a very basic fact - I'm fit to judge no one. So I don't.

Christopher: I think I fell into the ignorant notion that those most talented and creative were hard to talk to. you are and have been great to speak with

Fack to Bront: it's been my pleasure Chris, I've also enjoyed talking with you immensely. I'm sure some talented folk can be difficult, but they give so much of themselves in other ways. We all share what we can differently.

Christopher: well, thank you again for allowing me to pick your brain. maybe once we are famed photographers(my dream too, I'm in school for it as well), we can sit down and chat about photography on our own daytime show on the "photography Channel"{it's got to be in development by now}

Fack to Bront: no goal gets realized without a dream

10.28.2005

The beauty is all around us.

bee28 bees paradise butterfly28 p. mantis27

I am very proud of my latest works, I have even gone the extra step of adding my personal logo/signature to many of them. I am invigorated and looking forward to a fantastic birthday weekend with my family.

10.27.2005

Creative Boundaries

bees paradise

By creative boundaries I don't mean having reached the bounds or limitations of my creativity, and I would pray that never happens, what I mean is having to create soley within bounds of what may be acceptable right now. These boundaries are finacial, mental, social, etc. All can change with time but if I am changing as well, will I have the mind to create then?

The finacial issue is the least important as nothing I can buy will guarantee better photographs. To elaborate, photography itself is an expensive hobby and even more expensive profession, thus finacially I am bound to the types of photography I can afford. This means that for the most part macro photography of insects flowers and extreme closeups will be unexplored until I can afford macro equipment. And to be explored maybe even later still would be certain aspects of nature photography like birds in flight, exotic animals in natural habitats until I can plop down for a supertelephoto or a sightseeing vacation or both.

Mentally I suffer from several blockades, the most notable being my fear of never being as good as I feel I'd need to become a notable professional. Too many times I sit thumbing the work of others comparing myself. I hate that I do it but on some level it feels necessary, on some level I believe that if I find the work of others more engaging than my own, I am failing. We are indeed our own worst critic but "Christopher" usually carries an arrogance with any activity he'd attempt. Not here, here I am venerable and impressionable and self critical and insecure. Confidence can be reflected in every shot, so can every other emotion. Some of my opportunities would have better product had I approached it with confidence. Too many creative chances passed me by on account of that very boundary, when the creative thought is there but not the guts to do it.

One of my fascinations with art, from back in the days of drawing (I was quite the pencil artist in my younger days) was the human form. I think it was defined most after a gift from Jim (best bud) of a barbarian fighting a dragon, the artist name escapes me, but I was a big fan of the artwork then and especially after seeing how he drew women. The women were always drawn so curvaceous and buxom. That and artistic nudes and erotic fine art shaped my style of drawing and even early works of poetry. One of the greatest things I could accomplish would be to somehow bring my art style and poetry into my photography. Boundary here?, I am married and wouldn't very much like to have my wife displayed for all to see and have my reservations about photographing other women in various degrees of undress. I know that is a little silly but
my thoughts are my own. To venture even further into social boundaries, I would love to do more candid portrait/street photography, but how do we view paparazzi, and how would most respond to the notion of unknowingly having their picture taken. There has been some once in a lifetime shots that I have missed because I was too worried about reaction or how I might look to the public. I always have my camera on me, that is one issue I have overcome, and I have researched and found that it is perfectly legal to snap anyone and anything if it is in a public place, but I am more often to preoccupied with those around me watching me.

I am slowly growing into this role. I have started to realize that it goes against who I have been in the past. So slowly, I worry more about what I see and less about how I am seen. Slowly it means more to invest than to spend, more important to be patient, more calculating than frivolous, more assured than uncertain, more confident than arrogant. Slowly I grow.

10.26.2005

Interview with Flickr's Solea

This week's interview is with Flickr's Solea. She is a talented hobbist photographer with an extensive range of work. We cut the interview short on account of extreme time conflicts (she's in Holland), but will resume our discussion in the following weeks. Enjoy!


Christopher: Tell me who "Solea" is.

Solea:

a woman living in The Netherlands, my name is actually Carmen, I live there alone with my two cats. I am working in a crappy office with a multinational but I am trying to start a study photography this year.

Christopher:

Yes, lets hope no one at the office gets wind of this! Do your cats have names?

Solea:

ah I don't care actually

the names of my cats are Phoebe and Figaro

named after friends and the cat of the barber of Seville

Christopher:

So Carmen, how did your love affair with photography begin?

Solea:

well as long as I remember I have seen cameras in my life. My grandfather was a fanatic amateur photographer and my uncle picked up this hobby but turned professional. He always used me and my cousins as models, I can remember I did not like this at all, but we were use to it. When I grew older I more and more became interested in making photos. Always collecting fashion adds from Elle, Cosmo etc

and trying to get inspiration from it. Always hanging around at my uncles studio, photographing girlfriends.. that is the start (and I did not discovered digital photography yet)

Christopher:

What did you not like about being photographed by someone else?

Solea:

well it's about vulnerability I guess

I could never pose for another like I pose for myself.

no control

Christopher:

So how long have you been fascinated with self portraits? Other forms of photography?

Solea:

well I guess a few years now..

first of all, I don't consider myself as a model

I consider myself as an artist who uses myself as an 'object d'art'

I have so many ideas in my head, when I listen to a song. I can have an image and I want to express that immediately. So I am taking the camera and I am starting to create that image

it's an urge

it can be a scene in a movie, a book, a video clip,

I am always with ideas, it never stops. People in flickr wonder how I do it. How I have the time. But it's easy, I have no family to take care of and it's my biggest passion so I am able to make this my first priority

well music is also a big passion for me btw.. I am a total music freak

I can listen to a song by Depeche Mode for example and have great ideas

http://www.flickr.com/photos/solea/32893608/in/set-60573/

I was also inspired by a band named "16 horsepower" who shoot their video clips mostly with a little Bolex camera. Super fantastic material.. nostalgia with capital N.

Christopher:

I have noticed that your talent extends into many areas of photography but most seem to be self portraits. Where is the separation from "object d' art" and a simple love affair with the camera?

Solea:

hahaha

love affair with the camera?

hmm yes it is a love affair, the most satisfying one I ever had!

Christopher:

so the art is derived from this? or is it different somehow?

Solea:

well the love affair is also showing when I photograph nature or animals or my cousins so it does not goes 1 on 1 with the SP's

it's a total love affair I think

but the camera is my tool to be creative, to express my feelings my ideas

I can only remember that I was always creating even as a little child

Christopher:

would you describe your art style as Goth in some cases?

Solea:

it can be described as dark, moody, melancholic...

so if that is Goth than yes.. but I have lots of styles

not only the dark side

Christopher:

Oh yes, you have great range as an artist.

Solea:

that is because I am a very diverse person myself I think

I can see things in life in so many different ways

Christopher:

why photography? Is this what you see as your "calling" Do you see a career in it?

Solea:

because it's more easy than drawing or painting

and I don't know if there is a career, I certainly hope so

Christopher:

So photography because its easier than painting or drawing?

Solea:

yes but also because photography is such a fascinating tool. You can reflect the world around you exactly how it is

so not only because it is easier

actually it's not easier, it can be really difficult haha

Christopher:

so your creative talents extend into any other fields of art?

Solea:

yes drawing but I have been neglecting that talent

and I love to make music with friends

Christopher:

Really, what do you play?

Solea:

the voice

I am a singer

Christopher:

what are you shooting with currently? what did you start with?

Solea:

at the moment I use a semi professional; the Canon powershot G6

I started with a little compact one the Kodak easy share CX 6330

actually my whole winter collection I shoot with the little camera

I am not really a photographer who is much into perfect techniques you know, I rather want to feel a photo... to be touched by it. The most beautiful photos are made with toy cameras for instance, the Holga camera and the Diana...

Christopher:

when was the last time you used film? also, what applications do you find best for your post processing?

Solea:

the last time I used film is this year. I have a holga camera and a diana camera and a lomo

but I have to admit, digital is more fun because it's so much quicker

I am an impatient person

I use Photoshop CS2

Christopher:

have you had many scanned, can any be viewed on Flickr?

Solea:

no I have not posted any of that as I don't have a scanner (yet)

Christopher:

lets talk a bout the photo "Persephone". It was the photo of yours that caught my eye. Can you detail the shoot from idea to finished product?

Solea:

it's a manipulation

that is all I am saying

Christopher:

not sure I understand

Solea:

well there are so many people who want to know how I did it but I rather keep that one to myself

sorry

Christopher:

very well. Is there a particular shot you'd like to discuss?

Solea:

for the rest I want to discuss every photo

Persephone is just something I would like to keep a secret because everyone wonders how I did it.. and I enjoy that.. it's the same about my age. Everyone is wondering about that and think it's funny

maybe it's strange for you

Christopher:

So, I noticed a lot of your photos have a film like grain to them, is this intentional?

Solea:

yes

Christopher:

what do you feel it adds to the photo

Solea:

I love that effect on photos... it gives it some kind of nostalgia I think.. like you re watching an old still movie

I love old photos .. photography of the late 19th century

Christopher:

now, you are , as we discussed earlier, a very private person. You had talked about the vulnerability of being photographed by others. Yet, your self portraits tend to be very provocative, how, when displaying to thousands do you still feel private or guarded? Is this the result of the free spirited nature or has your interest in subject always been artistic nudes?

Solea:

yes yes you are right

I love the forms of the female body so there has always been a fascination with artistic nudes. As I was saying I am mainly using myself as an 'object d'art'. When the photo is finished .. it's not me anymore.. it's a piece of art with a woman on it. Of course I know it is me but I can see it apart from that fact. Not all photos of course, some of them are indeed ego shots (as people call it) but th

the provocative ones, the artsy ones are much much more than that

Christopher:

So what do you mean by "ego shots"

Solea:

a photo from myself to show people

a photo with Solea on it

http://www.flickr.com/photos/solea/54575593/

Christopher: and you'd rather not reveal your age?

Solea:

rather not

Christopher:

(women!)

Solea:

hahahahaha

it's not that I am ashamed or anything like that, I am very proud of my age! but it's just so funny when people are guessing

Christopher:

ahhh, okay. You use varied forms of lighting. Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Solea:

yes but not a professional one, I use mostly natural light and in the evening a .. how do you call that in English.. the lights used at construction sides

Christopher:

I can't think of the word but I understand. What is you keeper ratio like? how many photos do you take against how many you actually like and post?

Solea:

I think appr. from 10 photos I like 3

I am very “perfectionistic”

Christopher:

wow, 3/10 is incredible. I would think most of our numbers are like 1/10, I know mine are

where do you want photography to take you? what is your dream

Solea:

to be able to live from my art

to have my own gallery

maybe to expand it with photojournalism

(every photographer's dream I guess)

Christopher:

hmmm, that seems far and away from the form of art we've seen from you. why photojournalism?

Solea:

because it has such deeper impact on people, on me..

it's a very difficult part of photography so therefore a challenge too

and it's a great way to show people what is going on in the world

Christopher:

Here is the tough question. I believe you have exceptional talent behind the camera. You have been posting your work on Flickr for nearly a year now, You are probably one of the most viewed and acclaimed artists there. what role do you think that your self portraits play in your popularity? I have noticed that this is a bit of a controversy as per a previous interview. What are your thoughts?

Solea:

a big role I think. People love to see other people I think that is psychological. But in my case it's a combination I think because there are lots of women and men who post portraits on flickr but don't get so much attention as I do ( I have to admit that sometimes I am stunned about all the visits too. The comments, the people who are faving my photos, the testimonials). I think in my stream

there is a thing for everything both men and women. I have provocative sexy photos but also landscapes (real ones and surreal ones) I have macro photos, cats, dogs, little children

so with every photo there is a different group I attract

(my theory)

Christopher:

indeed

Solea:

and yes I get hate mail too

but mostly very sweet ones

Christopher:

any professional artists you admire or imitate?

Solea:

I love Anton Corbijn

guy bourdin

Christopher:

I’m not familiar with them, I will have to check them out.

any techniques you’d like to share with readers?

Solea:

I love so many, lots of them are unknown

Anton Corbijn shot a lot of photos from U2 and Depeche Mode

actually U2 only want to be photographed by him

this one is a photo made by him

miles Davis

guy bourdin has some really suffocating work..

Madonna is accused of plagiary

she has made this video clip (Hollywood) and the images are copied 1 on 1

anyway you should check them out yes

a friend of mine of flickr also introduced me to some photographers of beginning 20th century, Gertrude Kasebeir, Anne Brigman

Christopher:

so as we wrap do you have any secrets you want to reveal or words of wisdom you'd like to share, or even a camera technique or two?

Solea:

secrets.... ah they remain secrets

but..

I would recommend everybody to join the clone trend

it so much fun and so easy to do

there was actually someone on flickr who send me a sweet mail that he never thought that I was a twin.

Christopher:

Well, thank you so much for talking with me Carmen. I’ll be looking forward to seeing whatever it is you create next!