Category Archives: art

The making of a book cover

My clever step-daughter, Dr. Alix, has turned her doctoral thesis into a book, and it has been printed by Brill, a well-known publisher of scholarly books.

Her book, Problematic Identities in Women’s Fiction of the Sri Lankan Diaspora:
“…offers an insightful reading of nine novels by women writers of the Sri Lankan diaspora: Michelle de Kretser’s The Hamilton Case (2003); Yasmine Gooneratne’s A Change of Skies (1991), The Pleasures of Conquest (1996), and The Sweet and Simple Kind (2006); Chandani Lokugé’s If the Moon Smiled (2000) and Turtle Nest (2003); Karen Roberts’s July (2001); Roma Tearne’s Mosquito (2007); and V.V. Ganeshananthan’s Love Marriage (2008). These texts are set in Sri Lanka but also in contemporary Australia, England, Italy, Canada, and America. They depict British colonialism, the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict, neo-colonial touristic predation, and the double-consciousness of diaspora. Watkins examines the problematic identities in this fiction, revealing them as notably gendered and expressed through resonant images of mourning, melancholia, and other forms of psychic disturbance.”

I was very pleased and honoured to be asked to provide a cover shot for the book. Alix wanted the cover to suggest the themes of Sri-Lankan women and colonialism, which is how we wound up on a very windy St Kilda pier early on a Sunday morning. The pavilion at the end of the pier had the look of a colonial-style building and made a good background; early morning put the sun in the right place for me.

After dealing with wind, flowing hair, people wandering about on the pier, people fishing in inconvenient spots and the odd stray dog, we made a book cover. And as a bonus, I got to photograph the elegant and charming Chatu Gunaratne.

The cover image for my step-daughter's book.

The cover image for my step-daughter’s book.

 

Also posted in explanation, family, How I shot...

Up in the air

In June last year I was fortunate enough to get a flight over Lake Eyre in South Australia. This is spectacular country and I was fascinated by the patterns and forms in the landscape from up in the air.

I wasn’t equipped for serious aerial photography, but I was able to take a number of shots that not only captured the vastness of the land, but also had an element of the abstract about them.

The image below is of the dog fence that runs for more than 5,600 kilometres through South Australia and Queensland.

The dog fence, South Australia

Also posted in explanation

500px

I have just created a portfolio at 500px. I will be using this site to highlight collections of my favourite images.

First up, several images of farm buildings in Iceland. I never cease to be fascinated by the feeling of emptiness and sometimes desolation that these places and buildings create.

My first portfolio at 500px

Also posted in Iceland

A day with Joshua Holko

Like many photographers, I suffer from a tendency to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). For a while now I have been aware that the quality of my prints and skills as a printer haven’t been improving and fall well short of what is expected of a fine art print. First solution is more megapixels, right? So I upgraded my camera. This resulted in bigger prints but didn’t do much for my ability to print, so new printer, more software, more plugins, still looking for that magic bullet.

Then I happened upon the website of Melbourne-based landscape photographer Joshua Holko. Joshua has won many awards and regularly leads photograph trips to places such as Iceland, the arctic and Antarctic.

After an exchange of emails, we arranged a day for me to take advantage of Joshua’s mentoring program. And what an eye-opener that day was.

Starting with shooting technique we discussed the entire workflow needed to produce a gallery quality print. Joshua critiqued some prints I had brought with me, then spent several hours taking me through a Photoshop workflow that produced much better results than I would have imagined.

And to prove that more gear isn’t the answer, Joshua then produced a beautiful, detailed print from a file from my old camera, not the fancy new one.

Spend a little time to go through Joshua’s website and his list of achievements, this man knows what he is doing.

Before you give in to the symptoms of GAS, try learning how to use and get the most out of the equipment you already have, that might solve the problem.

A farm in Iceland

Also posted in changed thinking, Iceland, influences, Photographers

The more things change…

“In those days a photographer ran his career upon the celebrities who came to him”

~ Mathew Brady, 1891

Also posted in discussion, History, Photographers

Seagulls

I live beside a lake and very near a wetlands sanctuary of world importance (listed under the international convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat).

On an evening walk I regularly see ducks Australian black swans, pelicans, fairy terns, cormorants and herons.

And seagulls. Lots and lots of seagulls. They can be annoying, irritating, noisy, pushy and messy. But they can also be beautiful and a joy to photograph.

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Also posted in opinion

Under the West Gate Bridge

The West Gate bridge connects the centre of Melbourne with the western suburbs and the highway to my home town of Geelong.

The West Gate, or lack of it has been a main feature of my life. Before it was open, the only way to get into Melbourne city, or through it to the suburbs in the east, was a long, slow trip through the western suburbs and inner city suburbs. After it was built in the 1970s, I spent quite a lot of my time driving over it; and sitting in stationary traffic on it.

In October 1970, during the construction phase, one of the spans fell, killing 35 workers. There is a memorial park under the western end of the bridge to commemorate this tragic loss of life.

Recently a lot of maintenance work has been undertaken on the bridge to repair cracks and put up higher safety railings.

The West Gate can be a beautiful sight; it has the form of a long, sinuous curve and presents different aspects in different weather conditions.

Under the West GateUnder the West GateUnder the West Gate

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Also posted in exhibition, explanation

Suburbia

I live in one of the fastest growing areas in Victoria, in fact all of Australia. Although the area is fairly well-heeled and there are some people with serious money, the suburbs around me aren’t exactly full of cutting edge architecture.

In fact I regularly have to endure conversations that include the terms; cheap, thrown together, cookie-cutter, ugly, cut-price, design free, boxes made of ticky-tacky, little boxes all the same. Not many of the boxes are little though.

There is a lot of truth in these comments, this period in this area won’t be remembered as a classic example of modern architecture or building techniques.

However, I do enjoy photographing as I walk around the streets. Given the right time of day and the right light, there might not be great architecture, but there is design, and sometimes even art.

Some links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links benefit this site.

Also posted in opinion

Russell Boyle

My good friend and poet Russell Boyle has added his words to two more of my images. I am always very impressed with just how well Russell captures the mood and the thought process behind the image.

Apocalypse

This is based on my image Early Morning in Little Lonsdale Street. The photo was taken with bright low morning sun shining directly down Little Lonsdale Street, turning the old building facades into a series of light and shade and vertical lines.

Door

This image was taken in Fitzroy. I was attracted by the band of diagonal light down the wall. The original image can be seen here.

A framed A2 print of this image is for sale at Seddon Deadly Sins in Victoria Street, Seddon, Victoria. Ask for Chris and have a coffee while you are there.

Also posted in discussion, Poetry, Russell Boyle

Into Uncharted Waters

A new year brings a new venture. I have just made the first of my Icelandic images available for sale through Redbubble.

Can be purchased as a framed or unframed print, postcards or lots of other stuff.

The Church at Hellnar

Purchase The Church at Hellnar at Redbubble.