G

G is for Grain. Grain is really a film photography term and refers to the tiny flecks found in film photographs. Depending on the type of film used, how it’s processed and in particular the speed of the film, the grain will vary in texture and amount. It’s digital equivalent is called ‘noise’ and in photographic editing software, e.g Lightroom et al, grain can be added to a photo to give it a vintage feel.

G is for Gobe. Gobe sell great quality lens filters of all types, as well as accessories such as lens cleaners, and lens adapters which allow you to use vintage lenses on new digital cameras. I use them because they are committed to sustainability. Their packaging is minimalist recycled and recyclable cardboard, which is consciously designed to be reused as storage vessels. For each product purchased, they help employ local communities to plant 5 trees in areas suffering severe deforestation. Their website is informative and they have a digital magazine you can read which is comprehensive and illuminating. Find them HERE.

G is for Ara Güler, known as the ‘Eye of Istanbul’, where he was born in 1928~2018. As well as photographing famous people such as Picasso and Churchill, he spent many hours photographing Istanbul, and became the most influential Turkish photographer of his time.

Generations of Turkish photographers grew up looking at his nostalgic and dreamy Istanbul photos. His passion and commitment were boundless and inspired us all. The city has gradually lost its charm, but its pictures will always be there to remind us the good old days. He dedicated his life and his energy to photographing life itself and for this reason he is an example for many photographers. He had such a strong character, he was full of energy and funny. Even if his health had worsened in recent months, he was always happy to welcome others and share good memories with friends in his famous Ara Kafé, near the no less well-known Istiklal Avenue. We will miss him.

Emin Özmen

You can read about him and see some of his beautiful melancholic B&W pictures of the city HERE and watch a short video (2 mins) where he talks about his work and shows some more images.

F

F is for f-stop, the letter you find engraved on every camera lens. It indicates the maximum available aperture (f-stop) and you need maths to calculate it! A ratio is used being the focal length of the lens in millimeters divided by the diameter of the lens aperture (mm). Thereore, a lens with a 50mm focal length and an aperture of 25mm gives an f-stop number of 2. Just to make things even more brain biggling, the figures engraved on the lens run counter-intuitively, from the largest aperture, f2 in this instance, to the smallest, e.g f22. It’s a logarythmic scale: f2; f2.8; f4; f5.6 and so on, but what it means is a smaller f number gives you a bigger hole in the lens to let light in, and creates a shallow depth of field (see D) and allows a relatively faster shutterspeed. It took me ages to get my head around all that when I started out!

F is for fakery. Whilst you can do anything nowadays in Photoshop, there were still shenannigans going on in the analogue days. In 1934 Dr.R.Kenneth Wilson made a shot of the Loch Ness monster, since proved, sadly, to be fake, but not until 1975. See it HERE. The Cottingley Fairies by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, in 1917 these two young girls made 5 photo’s of fairies in their garden that fooled a lot of people, even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed these to be real! See them HERE. Over in America in 1860, William H Mumler maintained that ghostly presences appeared unbidden along-side his sitters, he even captured Abraham Lincoln’s ghost. He was tried and acquitted for fraud, as nobody could figure out how it was done. And still can’t, even today. Read about him and see the apparitions HERE. In 2009 Jose Luis Rodriguez won £100,000 as the Natural History’s Wildlife Photographer of the year with his picture of ‘The Lone Wolf’. The wolf turned out to be a trained animal called Ossian, and Rodriguez was disqualified. read about him HERE. Finally, we’ve all seen photo’s of fake flying saucers and alien spacecraft, so here’s a link to an article debunking the fakery, scroll down to see a cool slideshow of all the different ‘Flying Saucer’ shots throughout the years. You can click HERE.

F is for Robert Frank, who died in September last year (2019). Born in Switzerland in 1924 he studied photography in Switzerland working in commercial phhotgraphy and graphic design studios in Zurich, but ended up moving to New York in 1947 where he was hired at at Harper’s Bazaar to do fashion photography. He didn’t much like it, and after a few months went freelance producing photojournalism and advertising photographs for LIFE, Look, Charm, Vogue, and others. He has 2 notable controversial episodes, the first being a book of photo’s called The Americans. In 1955 he secured a Guggenheim fellowship and took 2 years travelling America photographing all strata of its society. He took 28,000 shots, but only selected 83 for the book, which was as revolutionary as it was controversial. He didn’t bother with the conventional techniques and showed a cutting perspective on American culture. The second controvery happened in 1972 after he turned to making films, where he travelled with The Rolling STones and made a documentary called Cocksucker Blues. Mick Jagger reportedly told him “It’s a fucking good film, Robert, but if it shows in America we’ll never be allowed in the country again.” So after a legal dispute over copyright, the movie is only allowed to be shown 5 times a year, and Frank had to be present. For me his book The Americans, with a foreword by Jack Kerouac is a standout, and you can see pictures from it HERE.

Here’s a short interview with him about the book.

E

E is for Exposure, arguably the most important thing to get right when making an image in camera. Exposure is the amount of light which reaches your camera sensor or film and is affected by shutter speed, aperture, and the ISO settings on the camera. It is a crucial part of how bright or dark your pictures appear, so it’s important to get the balance right between those three settings. Understanding the relationship between them isn’t easy when you start out, so a good tutorial can be found in here in A Beginners Guide.

E is for George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak company. Born in 1854 in Waterville, New York, he started out working in insurance, but at the age of 24 he bought a complete photography kit to take on vacation, and took a $5 course in how to use it. He never did take the vacation, instead becoming fascinated with the equipment and equally frustrated by the processes involved with wet-collodion. He made some adaptations to the process and opened a factory to produce the revised liquid which meant photographers could expose dry rather than wet plates, but the old guard were not enthusiastic. At this point he effectively invented the consumer photographic market by making a paper based film which could be rolled up in a simple ‘box’ camera. In 1888 he he introduced the pre-loaded “Kodak” camera. The customer could shoot 100 exposures and then return the whole camera to the Eastman company, the return package included prints, and a reloaded camera.

E is for Elliot Erwitt. Born in 1928 to Russian parents, he spent his childhood in Milan and then the family emigrated to the U.S in 1939. As a teenager he worked in a commercial darkroom in Hollywood and experimented with photography at Los Angeles City College. He moved to New York in 1948 and took film classes at the New School for Social Research, in exchange he did janitorial work for them. In 1949 he travelled through France and Italy with his Rolleiflex camera, before being drafted in 1951 where he served in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France and undertook various photographic duties. Whilst in New York he met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker, with Stryker employing him to work for the Standard Oil Company. Here he built up a commercial library of photographs for the company and Stryker commissioned him to undertake a project documenting the city of Pittsburgh. Inn 1953 he joined Magnum Photo’s and by 1960 he was the president there for 3 years. He then turned to film: in the 1970s, he produced several notable documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for HBO. Erwitt became known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum. He’s still going strong.

He sounds a lovely man, and his pictures are wonderful, here he talks about some of his work.

“It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy”

– Elliott Erwitt

D

D is for Depth of Field, (DOF) the amount of sharpness in the image from the front to the back, and depends on the aperture used in camera and the distance from the camera to the subject. A full explanation can be found here in A Guide for Beginers.

D is for Digitalab, an award winning online photo printing company, based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, but used all over the world. You can order and pay for your film to be developed online, send in the film and it’s a quick turnaround. They also make quality prints from digital files with lots of different media to choose from.

D is for David duChemin, a Canadian world & humanitarian photographer, author, adventurer, and entrepreneur. He is a great teacher, not so much about the technical aspects, but about creativity and how it’s applied to photography. He makes excellent photography courses, and free PDF’s for tips on photography, has an interesting podcast and there is a Youtube channel that has 80 or so videos that discuss creativity and photography. Check him out HERE.

D is for Bruce Davidson. Born in 1933 Davidson is an acclaimed American street photographer, known for his dedication to the documentation of social inequality and part of the famous Magnum collective. He started taking pictures at the age of 10 in Illinois, and is still going strong today. His biography is worth a read, he has an interesting life. In 1960 he travelled to the UK and produced a great body of work, travelling from London to Scotland and places in between well worth a look HERE along with some of his American travels.

C

C is for camera first and foremost and there are more to choose from than you think. Film, Instant, Digital, smartphone, compacts, DSLR, SLR, full frame, Bridge, 360 degrees, CatCams (see below) mirrorless… I have a few of them :). You can read about them in this article which explains the differences. One of the first cameras ever to become public was made by Susse Frères to the specifications of Louis Daguerre in 1839, and called a Daguerrotype. Very rare to find one outside a museum, but in 2007 one was sold at auction for £500,000, and another in 2010 for about £700,000.

C is for Cats. Cats of Instagram, cats on Facebook, Twitter, cats on Youtube, cute cats, Grumpy cats, and (my favourite), philosophical cats. In 2007 a German-American dude called Jürgen Perthold turned his cat Mr.Lee into the photographer by inventing the CatCam, a small lightweight camera on the cat’s collar that takes continuous photographs for 2 days in a row. The cameras are now commercially available from Mr.Perthold’s website, and here’s an article about him and Mr.Lee, with links to the cameras, and videos and pictures taken by Mr.Lee.

C is for Cameron, Julia Margaret (1815-1879). When most pioneers of early photography were men, along came Julia Margaret Cameron. At the age of 49 she was given a camera by her daughter, and she embarked upon producing a huge body of work. Not one for technicalities she had a strong vision for portraiture and composition, and became well known for soft focus portraits of famous Victorian men, illustrative images depicting characters from mythology, Christianity, and literature and for producing sensitive portraits of women and children. The collection of her work in this link to the Victoria & Albert Museum is well worth a look.

C is for Carter, Keith. (1948-still here) is an American photographer known for his dreamlike photos of people, animals and objects. His work is beautiful and whimsical, and he sounds such a lovely person. His website with galleries of his work is a joy to look through. He uses many mediums, wet-plate, collodian, silver gelatin and digital to great effect. And here is a short documentary with him that is worth a watch.

B

B is for Bokeh. It is a Japanese word, meaning senility or dizziness, but has been adopted by the photographic comunity to refer to the out of focus areas in a photograph when a shallow depth of field is used. Not just blurry bits, but also distinctly shaped out of focus highlights, usually circular, but that depends on the aperture blades within the lens itself. You can make filters to go over a lens to change the shape of the bokeh and some instructions how to do that are HERE but you can also buy sets on Amazon though I think I’d rather make my own.

B is for Beaton,Cecil. Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beacon (14 January 1904 – 18 January 1980) was an English fashion, portrait and war photographer, diarist, painter, and interior designer, and an Oscar winning stage and costume designer for films and theatre. Famous for photographing icons of the 20th century he was less well known for his work for the Ministry of Information during the war, but they are well worth seeing and you can do so HERE .

B is for Black & White. Black & White is the oldest form of photography, starting back in the 15th century when Robert Boyle, an Irish scientist discovered that silver chloride turned dark when exposed to air in a dark room.  Click on this link for a short history of black & white photography.

B is for Bailey, David. (b.1938) Bailey revolutionised fashion and portrait photography in the 1960’s, photographing musicians, artists and capturing ‘swinging London’. He shot for Vogue, produced TV documentaries and did album covers, and continues to have a prolific career.

A

Abstract~Fraggle 2019

A is for abstraction, not a genre of photography I usually do, but I enjoy seeing others work and I try now and then. Some great examples are shown here. Penelope Umbrico is doing some great work and her Suns from Sunsets from Flickr is an interesting concept as is her Full Moons project. To read about famous abstract photographers and see examples of their work, this article is a good read.

A is for Ansel Adams. One of the most revered photographers in the world, his beautiful black and white landscapes taken at Yosemite are stunning and have inspired more photographers than you can shake a tripod at. I don’t have a book of his (yet) but there is a wonderful, comprehensive website where you can read his biography which is really interesting, and see a lot of his work.

A is for one of my absolute favourite photographers, Richard Avedon. He had an amazing career photographing across genres, encompassing portrait, reportage, and fashion. I love scrolling through The Work, on the Avedon website, it is so eclectic and fascinating.

A is for Analogue, and I still love shooting film. I have a blog called Fragglefilm dedicated to my analogue adventures. I buy film from a company based in Buckinhamshire in the south of England. They are a small company but stock lots of interesting films, their website is called Analogue Wonderland and it’s a great resource as they don’t just sell film and accessories, but have tips and guest posts, loads of interesting stuff to see on their site. They post all over the world and at a reasonable cost.

A is for aperture.org Created in 1952 by photographers and writers as “common ground for the advancement of photography,” Aperture today is a multi-platform publisher and center for the photo community. They publish books, magazines, have a blog, do exhibitions,competitions et al.

“I never know in advance what I will photograph, … I go out into the world and hope I will come across something that imperatively interests me. I am addicted to the found object. I have no doubt that I will continue to make photographs till my last breath.” – Ansel Adams

Anthology

Anthology, a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler; it may be a collection of plays, poems, short stories, songs, films or excerpts by different authors.

I’m starting my own anthology, mostly about photography, and made in alphabetical order to more easily organise my thoughts and resources that I like to use. I will be linking to photographers of note, dipping into Pring’s Photographer’s Miscellany, discussing photography books and musing on any aspects of photography I fancy!