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Tag Archives: Ansel Adams

Better Black and White Photography

from those nice people at Lightstalking

Black and White photography can provide some stunningly beautiful images that have a classic feel if done really well.
Standing stones at Avebury, Wiltshire UK by Keith Barnes

Standing stones at Avebury, Wiltshire UK by Keith Barnes

There was a time when all photographs were done only in black and white, and people were still able to see the different tones (i.e. the tonal range) in black and white. That is immense beauty in black and white photography and it’s important to show tonal variations in black and white too.
This week we’ve got some quick tips for you on how to create beautiful black and white photographs. This applies to both photography and the conversion process.
Quick tip:
Remember an important fact to be kept in mind while using the term monochrome (varying tones of one color); all black and white photographs are monochrome, but not all monochrome images are black and white!
Did you know about the Zone system of exposure that was developed by Ansel Adams and his friend Fred Archer?
Ansel Adams known for his famous black and white landscape photographs, was very particular about capturing as much dynamic range in his images (from the deepest black (shadows) to the brightest whites (highlights)).
So he developed this system for metering and exposure that made him stand out from other photographers of his time.
His images stood out so beautifully because of the range of tones that they had between the color black and white.
Tip Number 1: Learn to use your histogram
Keep a check on your histogram to see that you have a full range of tones before you start the process of black and white conversion, or if you are shooting black and white, make sure that your histogram has enough details for you to bring out the perfect tonal range in your photograph.
Black and white photography is not about capturing just the color black and the color white, but about capturing all the other shades of gray that lie in between black and white!
Look for yourself at the difference in Histograms when you change contrast and exposure in an image.
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Pay close attention to the histogram

And, look at the histogram for the picture with a correct exposure; you see that there are a good range of tonal variations!

Image

Tip number 2: Understanding Tonality

You need to choose a scene that has contrasting tonal values. Yes, tonality matters. What happens if you disregard this? You’ll simply end up with flat images that will look and feel lifeless with not much to look at.
Truth is, not all images will look good in black and white and you may have to tweak them a bit in the conversion process so that they don’t look flat.

This also tells, do not use automatic black and white settings in your camera, but instead shoot RAW in color and do the conversion manually so that you can tweak up the image later to bring in the tonal range.


What is tonality?
It’s the lightness of the image and is very important while shooting black and white. Colors that look very distinct may actually look the same when converted to black and white!
If you don’t quite understand, look for yourself at the conversions below! Amazing isn’t it? (Basic automatic conversion in Lightroom)

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But a slight variation of the above colors can create good tonal variations as seen below!

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Tip number 3: Choosing a good photograph for conversion to black and white

So from the above two tips, what do you gather? You need a photograph that has plenty of shadows and highlights, good tonal ranges and some textures wouldn’t hurt at all, but create a striking black and white photograph.

So, choosing an image that will create a decent black and white photograph is important and that doesn’t mean that you cannot make a good conversion from other pictures, but it simply means that it will be more difficult to achieve it.

Look at the images below along with a default black and white conversion to see how they turn up!


Check out these examples:

The image on the right has some tonal values and beautiful textures whereas the image on the left, although a beautiful landscape, lacks tonal range and textures!

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If you wish to learn for yourself about the histograms, how the Zone System works for photographs along with useful and step by step illustrations to convert photographs into beautiful black and white pieces of art, you really should check out Kent’s “Better Black and White” premium photography guide.

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The problem with landscape photography is metering

This is a thing I have to say on just about every camera course I teach. It seems everyone likes to take landscapes, not me so much I have to add, (why, oh because they involve so much walking and carrying gear to places that are difficult to get to). As dear old Ansel Adams taught us (he is probably the greatest landscape photographer of all time) metering is the essence of getting a landscape picture right, see this picture of his

Adams_The_Tetons_and_the_Snake_River

So it was with relief that I found this post by  on Lightstalking that address all the issues surrounding metering and landscapes. Just give it time to get past all the jokiness, it is worth the effort.

He proposes that the Zone System, originally developed by Ansel Adams and that involved metering, film development and printing can still be used in digital photography, I agree with this and taught it on our Black and White Digital Photography course. It takes a bit of understanding and careful metering as well as command of Photoshop but is worth the work. The basis of the Zone System was that light meters as you have in your camera provide aperture and shutter combinations that would create a mid grey or 18% tone, understanding this allows you to meter into the darkest shadows/brightest highlights and then adjust your exposure through managing aperture or shutter as you prefer (usually shutter). This may sound complicated but it is the foundation of all photography that relies upon a light meter and should be understood by anyone serious about their photography and especially landscape photography. Here is the summary from Kent but I would recommend that you read the whole article

To properly meter for a landscape photograph consider the following-

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Illustration by Kent DuFault

  1. Once, you have decided on a scene; evaluate the contrast range with your eyes. Take notes (I do). Note your brightest highlight area that you wish to maintain detail. Note your darkest shadow area that you wish to maintain detail. Note an area that you believe to be a mid-tone (127) area.
  2. Use your longest focal length lens (or a handheld spot meter). Set your metering pattern to “spot”. Take a meter reading of the three areas that you noted in step one. Write down the exposure settings. (For the sake of example- I’ll make some up: Shadow area 1/2 sec at F/1.4: Mid-tone area 1/2 sec at F/8: Highlight area 1/2 sec at f/45) This represents a 10 stop dynamic range. Most DSLR cameras can record a dynamic range of about 5 to 6 stops. The super high-end professional DSLR cameras may go as high as a 10 to 12 stop range. For most of us, we are looking at a 5 to 7 stop range.
  3. Make a determination of where you are willing to lose detail: highlights or shadows? Set your exposure with a bias to the end of the scale that you want to have detail. Using my example meter readings above- if I wanted to bias my exposure maintain detail in the highlights, I would set my camera to 1/2 sec at f/16. If I wanted to bias my exposure for detail in the shadows, I would set my exposure to 1/2 sec at f/4. If I wanted to record as much mid-tone levels as possible, and sacrifice a little detail at both ends of the scale, I would set my exposure to 1/2 sec at f/8. I’m not going to go deeply into this- BUT- you may have heard of “Shooting to the Right”. This refers to biasing exposure to the shadows thus over-exposing the highlights. The theory behind this is that digital cameras, shooting raw files, can recover more detail in the highlight end of the scale- than they can in the shadow end of the scale (in post-production). And while this is true, you should strive for the best exposure setting possible (based on your mind doing its work).
  4. Finally, shoot a picture and look at the histogram on the LCD screen in preview. Are you getting the correct bias that you wanted? For example, if you wanted to maintain detail in the shadows, but the shadows are being clipped off on the “0” end of the scale- you need to increase your exposure. The opposite would be true if you were looking at the highlight end. If they’re being clipped off, you need to reduce exposure.

Illustration by Kent DuFault

SUMMARY

  • Evaluate the tone range of the scene.
  • Make a determination which tone values are most important.
  • Set your equipment to take a meter reading of the smallest area possible (spot setting)- take a meter reading of the shadow, mid-tone, and highlight areas you identified in the previous steps.
  • Determine the dynamic range.
  • Set your exposure using ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed to place the “window” of dynamic range in the right location on The Zone System Scale.
  • Shoot a test shot.
  • Evaluate the histogram.
  • Adjust exposure as necessary.
  • Enjoy your wonderful results!

Sadly I no longer run the Black and White Digital Photography course due to lack of interest but would be happy to do so again if there were enough interest. If you are interested send me an email

Here are some more Ansel Adams for you

Ansel Adams Wilderness, California. Afternoon Thunderstorm, Garnet Lake.

Ansel Adams Wilderness, California. Afternoon Thunderstorm, Garnet Lake.

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ansel-adams

20 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PHOTOGRAPHS IN HISTORY

The title is a bit misleading as the images are those selected from one collection, that of The Royal Photographic Society. The choice therefore is a bit restricted but is still an interesting mix. I would be most interested to hear what you consider the 20 most important photographs of all time from whichever source you like.

The-Hippopotamus-at-the-Zoological-Gardens-1852-Juan-Carlos-Maria-Isidro-Count-de-Montizon-de-Borbon-copyright-NMeM_1080x1080The Hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens’ by Juan Carlos Maria Isidro Count de Montizon de Borbon, 1852 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Soldiers-of-the-Sky-1940-Nickolas-Muray-The-RPS-Collection-National-Media-Museum-Bradford-copyright-Nickolas-Muray-Photo-Archives_592x888‘Soldiers of the Sky’ by Nickolas Muray, 1940 ©Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

In 1853, Prince Albert noticed how quickly the world of photography was developing, so urged the Royal Photographic Society to start collecting images quick smart, to be sure they recorded its rapid rise. And so they did. The result? A collection of more than 250,000 images, 8,000 items of photographic equipment and 31,000 books and documents, including some of the greatest examples of photography yet.

Now, for the first time, photography fans can witness some of the best images from the entire body of work. Drawn by Light, an exhibition running from 2 December 2014 to 1 March 2015 at the Science Museum’s Media Space, showcases shots by such high-profile names as Ansel Adams, Madame Yevonde and Lewis Carroll, right up to Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill and Martin Parr. From still lives, nudes and portraits to photo-reportage and landscapes, it spans the gamut of styles.

Afghan-Girl-Pakistan-1984-The-RPS-Collection-National-Media-Museum-Bradford-copyright-Steve-McCurry_592x888

‘Afghan Girl’ by Steve McCurry, 1984

Science Museum has selected these 20 images from Drawn by Light,  exclusively for Condé Nast Traveller, for you to lose yourself in.  www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/drawnbylight

Aspen-New-Mexico-1958-Ansel-Adams-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Aspen’ by Ansel Adams, 1958 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Audrey-Hepburn-1950-Angus-McBean-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Audrey Hepburn’ by Angus McBean, 1950 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Bewengungsstudie-Movement-Study-1926-Rudolf-Koppitz-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Bewengungsstudie Movement Study’ by Rudolf Koppitz, 1926 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Nude-on-Sand-Oceano-California-1936-Edward-Weston-The-RPS-Collection-National-Media-Museum-Bradford-copyright-Edward-Weston_1440x960

‘Nude on Sand, Oceano, 1936” by Edward Weston ©Edward Weston
Moonrise-Hernandez-New-Mexico-1941-Ansel-Adams-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_1440x960
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico’ by Ansel Adams, 1941 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

6 photography quotes every photographer should live by

From Digital Camera World……Learn from the famous photographers and true legends of photography with our practical guide to the six best photography quotes ever uttered and how you can put them into practice.

In the 175 years that photography has been around, some very smart people have picked up cameras, and some of these very smart people have said some very smart things.

Indeed, some photographers, such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson, wrote extensively on the theory and practice of photography, and as we’ll see, were never short of an illuminating maxim or pithy aphorism.

Other photographers wanted their images to do the talking, and went in for more esoteric observations which we’re still puzzling over today.

Anyway, the best quotations about any subject are those which still help and inspire people today, so with this in mind, here are our six favourite photographic quotes – along with some ideas on how you can put these wise words into practice.

Photography Quote No. 1

Photographer:  Robert Capa

Photography Quote, Robert Capa: “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”

Quote: “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”

What it means
If you get closer to your subject you will often end up with sharper, better composed shots. By filling the frame, or even cropping in closer, you’ll also eliminate dead space, and get a more intimate, involving image.

Don’t get so close, though, that you put yourself in danger – war photographer Capa sadly got too close to a landmine while covering the Viet Minh uprising in Vietnam in 1954.

SEE MORE: The 55 best photographers of all time. In the history of the world. Ever.

How to do it yourself
Try using a standard prime lens with a fixed focal length, rather than a long telephoto zoom, as this forces you to get in close to your subject and engage.

Even better, 50mm and 85mm primes usually have wide maximum apertures, which are handy in low light and help to blur the background, while revealing less optical distortion than zooms. They’re often great value too.

 

Go and see the rest here

Masters of Photography – their thoughts and ideas

ARLMSC2047

Please read these quotations, think about what these supremely gifted photographers have to say, what do you think? Leave a comment and start a debate. Or find a quotation of your own and post it and start the conversation going

1. “ You don’t take a photograph, you make it. – Ansel Adams

Full awareness of what makes a good photo is essential in taking great photographs.

Why would anyone be interested in this photo and what elements can be included or excluded to make it truly great?

2. “ Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Do you know how many photos you have taken up until now? You will have to take thousands of pictures to reach a point where you can begin to evaluate them objectively. Looking upon your photos as if you were looking at them through someone else’s eyes is a good way to give yourself constructive criticism. Comparing your first photos with your most recent, do you see improvement? Do you remember how you loved some of your first photos – do you still love them or are they now not so good anymore?

3. “ Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. – Matt Hardy

You often don’t or can’t see beauty in the world until someone shows it to you. Take a look around you just now – even without moving from the computer. Can you see something in a new way, a different way of presenting something common? Just take a look again…

4. “ Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. – Elliott Erwitt

When the world is your canvas, so to speak, you need your tools with you to capture everything around you. Make a habit of always carrying a camera with you—you will never suffer the regret of wishing you had.

5. “ Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow. – Imogen Cunningham

Never be fully satisfied with what you’ve done.

Never stop photographing. It is very likely that your best photograph has not yet been captured.

6.  “ You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper. – William Albert Allard

We are always looking for reasons for not taking good pictures. Cartier-Bresson used film camera, same lens, no flash, same shutter speed – he didn’t need the newest digital equipment to take great photos.

We all have access to some subjects that no one else has access to – look at your friends’ hobbies, the workplaces of friends and family, and any place you have access to to find a vision that comes uniquely from your access. Many people would dream of having the same access you have, and you might not have considered how valuable your access is.

7. “ If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up. – Garry Winogrand

How often have you seen a photo that is missing something, thinking, “This is a good photo but I’d make it different somehow.”? Sometimes small things make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to shake things up.

8. “ I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good. – Anonymous

Sometimes it is interesting to hear the story behind the photo and you see the photo in a new light. But in most cases a photo shouldn’t need a story to back it up. It has to speak for itself.

9.  “ Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. – Ansel Adams

Even one of the masters in photography, Ansel Adams, didn’t expect to get more than 12 great photographs each year.

How can anyone expect more?

Take a look at your last year in photos – do you really see 12 photos that stand out from the rest?

10. “It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get. – Timothy Allen – On editing photos

Editing photos can often be the most difficult but also the most satisfying part. Sometimes taking a quick look at all the photos and then going away for a while before taking a closer look lends a fresh eye to your viewing. You may see things you did not notice previously. Stepping away from the mass of photos can make certain images stand out in your mind’s eye, leaving a memorable impression that can characterize a good photo.

 

Well……..

EDWARD VAN HERK . PHOTOGRAPHER

György László and his impressive site has become a firm favourite of mine. I think it is so important to understand the motivation behind a photograph and therefore the motivations of a photographer. Of course not all photographers would claim to have ‘motivations’ but they make the dullest pictures. An image is a visual representation of an idea and the more clearly understood the idea the better the photograph. As Ansel Adams said “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” 

György László finds images he likes and then interviews the photographer to understand the concept, the motivation and today we have Edward Van Herk, no I hadn’t heard of him either but I do like his pictures.

edward_van_herk_01-600x411

EVH: Travel comes with a bag full of expectations and clichés to some extent. When I got an opportunity to stay in Buenos Aires for a few days, I immediately had to think about Tango music. When visiting a new place, I always search for authenticity. Tourist dance performances, Tango dinner shows and so on didn’t interest me. When I found out the porteños (locals) passionate about music and dance came together at Milongas, I knew right then I wanted to get inside and connect. I bought a newspaper to search for locations. This particular picture was made in a traditional Buenos Aires Milonga salon, where passionate Milongueros come together to escape everyday life. Time seemed to freeze there and it felt really exciting.

GL: What are you most ‘sensitised’ to? Light? Motion? Emotions? Stories?

Edward van Herk Milonga 2EVH: Mostly emotions. A Milonga night is filled with passion, drama, beauty, grace, tenderness, love, desire, envy, romance, tension, and of course music. This couple immediately drew me in. The age difference between them simply seemed to fade. Generally a photographer’s first choice is what to photograph. David Hurn once said ‘You don’t become a photographer because you are interested in photography’. He meant that photography is only a tool for expressing a passion in something else. A desire to become famous, to get many likes on the Internet or to fall in love with cameras as desirable objects doesn’t improve your photographs. Mostly it requires practice, getting out there and going to work and not letting failed attempts set you back. Therefore is important to do some research and find an accessible subject and start a project or story. When your subjects become most important, your heart opens up and you will respond and discover and develop your own style. It will allow you to enhance your level of perception and get involved in the world around you. I mostly develop a strong desire to connect to people during my projects. The greatest gift I have received through my work is the connection with my subjects.

Read the rest of the interview

Ansel Adams Exhibition London: Photography from the Mountains to the Sea

Are you bored yet? Nearly time to go and find something interesting to do and this might just be that thing.

9 November 2012–28 April 2013 Times: 10.00-17.00  Royal Museums Greenwich (including National Maritime Museum), Romney Rd, London, SE10 9NF Full details here
An exhibition of Ansel Adams prints is always worth a visit if only to see the exquisite craft in his work.
A retrospective of the twentieth-century landscape photographer Ansel Adams. The exhibition, which focuses on the photographer’s life-long fascination with water, features images of seascapes, rapids, waterfalls, geysers, clouds, ice, snow, ponds and rivers, many famous, some that have never before been on display in the UK. Adams (1902-1984) was a photographic pioneer who brought the American wilderness into the homes of millions with his images of rugged and romantic landscapes. The show brings together some of the most famous photographs of the twentieth century, such as ‘Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite’ and ‘Stream, Sea, Clouds, Rodeo Lagoon, Marin County, California’, along with lesser-known examples. It also provides the opportunity to see Adams’s largest known works, a series of three murals produced for the American Trust bank.
‘Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, about 1937. Photograph by Ansel Adams – ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
Fern Spring, Dusk, Yosemite Valley, about 1961 Photograph by Ansel Adams. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Music Robot

OK this post has little to do with photography but if you have followed this blog for a while you will know that music; new, vibrant, unusual, creative music is a spur (another passion there, Spurs) to us over here at OSP Towers. Each year we get to photograph at Britain’s festival for new and often unsigned bands down on the south coast in Brighton at The Great Escape. This is like a pilgrimage to the unknown because you rarely have an idea what you are going to get but you know some of it will be good. Our interest in photography is often a mirror to that, we like the things that are maybe a bit challenging and unusual rather than obvious. We do get the delight in seeing beautiful images but unless there is a bit more we get bored ever so easily. No, Ansel Adams is not one of our favourite photographers, much in the same way that we can appreciate Coldplay but just don’t care about the results.

This is a huge diversion from the point of this post but that what passion does for you, gets you off on tangents.

We find the music that excites us on the music blogs that feature new bands and artists, we don’t mind much what genre of music it is but more often than not avoid anything that has ‘rock’ in the name (especially if it is preceded by the word classic)  I have just heard about a new site called Music Robot that is an amalgamation of the very best music blogs in the country featuring new music. Seems to be in part organised by our most favourite source of new music The Recommender and brings together a number of bloggers who make recommendations of the best new tracks, the site is clean and easy to use and you can listen to the tracks on Music Robot or go to the originating blog for more info and detail. There is a chance to vote for your favourite tracks and this generates a sort of chart, not sure this is too important to me but some will really like it as it highlights the best, or at least most potentially successful tracks on the site.

This is what they say about themselves:

We are a new music discovery service. Consider us a fresh style of music website that shares the genes of a blog collective and an aggregated music chart.

The best-established music bloggers in the UK regularly uncover lots of fantastic new music on their respected websites, so we pull their selections onto Music Robot. We then ask the public to vote for the tracks that they’ve fallen in love with.

Those votes then boost that track up our chart, so if an artist gets a number one on Music Robot, you will know that not only do the best music bloggers love them, but the public agree.

We have hand-picked 15 of the raddest music blogs, all of which have been selected because of their influence and importance in the UK music blog community. Music Robot wants to put these hard working taste-makers front and centre on our site, alongside the awesome tuneage, because we believe they’re key commentators for emerging music.

Together we bring you Music Robot, the home of the new cutting edge. 

If you like finding new music and are prepared to go beyond the dull outpourings of the main stream the Music Robot should be bookmarked in your smart phone, tablet and computer.

On a photographic note, as this is a photography blog, I usually find that new bands use imagery very well, the photography is often usual and stimulating, I suppose they want to stand out from the plethora of other bands and the images they use is just part of the game.

Here are some images from the current Music Robot site

William Eggleston

William Eggleston could be considered one of those annoying photographers who have great acclaim but seem to photograph just what is in front of him and it is then considered ‘art’. There is no doubt, that on one level the simplicity of his images and the feeling that they are only a stones throw away from being snap shots is frustrating. Frustrating because it is so difficult to pin down what makes them so absorbing. As with many artists when you show their work to people they either get it or they don’t, and this is telling; somehow those that do are more likely to become your friends. There is an outside nature to his images, domestic as many of them are you are still drawn to the edge by them. Should you be interested in Eggleston, well yes if you are interested in photography. Those photographers who provide decoration, amazing images but essentially decoration give you answers immediately but Eggleston mostly gives you questions and that is intriguing. “His first exhibit was a one-man show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This was the first photography exhibit to show solely color work. Up until that point, black-and-white was considered the only true photographic art form. The curator of the museum, John Szarkowski took a big chance. He loved the work. He called it perfect. Most didn’t consider it perfect though. The show was strongly criticized. Hilton Kramer, of The New York Times, wrote, “Perfect? Perfectly banal, maybe…perfectly boring, certainly.” Even Ansel Adams wrote to Szarkowski asking him what those photos were doing hanging on the walls of the MoMA.” (from Faded + Blurred) I think the point about Ansel Adams just reinforces my views on Eggleston.

As Nicole Rae says on the blog Faded + Blurred “Despite his often mundane subject matter, he is simply not your ordinary photographer. His first one-man exhibit at the MoMA in 1976 was both heralded as being genius and was criticized as being the most hated show of the year. Some see his work as being perfect – the angles, composition, color, everything pushing the edges. While others see a jumbled mess of boring things, just thrown together, like he just shot from his hip with no thought behind it whatsoever. Love him or hate him, William Eggleston changed photographic history and changed the way we look at the world.”

A potted history of his life and achievements starts in 1939, born in Memphis, Tennessee

1957 Acquires his first camera, a Canon rangefinder.
1958 Acquires his first Leica.
1959 Sees Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment” and Walker Evans’ “American Photographs”.
1965 Begins to experiment with color transparency film.
1967 Starts to use color negative film. Goes to New York and meets Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus. Presents his work to John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
1974 Harry Lunn publishes the first portfolio of dye-transfer photographs, “14 Pictures.” Receives a Guggenheim Fellowship. Appointed Lecturer in Visual and Environmental Studies at The Carpenter Center, Harvard University. Completes his “Los Alamos” project.
1976 The Museum of Modern Art exhibits work in first solo exhibition of color photographs accompanied by a monograph, “William Eggleston’s Guide.” Commissioned by Rolling Stone to photograph Plains, Georgia before the election of President Jimmy Carter. Project becomes “Election Eve,” the first of the artist’s books of original photographs published by Caldecot Chubb.
1978 Appointed Researcher in Color Video at Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the invitation of Richard Leacock. Photographs the Gulf states on a commission from A.T. & T. Receives another award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Visits Jamaica.
1979 Chubb published three smaller volumes of original photographs, “Morals of Vision,” “Wedgwood Blue,” and “Flowers.”
1980 Travels to Kenya with Caldecot Chubb and creates a body of work known as “The Streets Are Clean on Jupiter.” Commissioned to produce the “Louisiana Project” and to photograph throughout the state.
1983 Begins to photograph in Berlin, Salzburg and Graz and titles the series “Kiss me Kracow”. Commissioned to photograph the mansion of Elvis Presley, Graceland.
1986 Invited by director David Byrne to visit and photograph the making of his film “True Stories”. Commissioned by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art to photograph in Egypt.
1988 Begins a series of color photographs of England he calls “English Rose”.
1989 Photographs in the orange groves of the Transvaal. Accepts one of 54 Master Photographers of 1960-1979 awards from Photographic Society of Japan. Plays the role of musician Jerry Lee Lewis’ father in the movie “Great Balls of Fire”.

1996 Commissioned by Coca-Cola to photograph their plants in four cities in the U.S. Invited by producer Caldecot Chubb to visit and photograph the making of the film “Eve’s Bayou”. Receives the University of Memphis Distinguished Achievement Award.

2000 Commissioned by Paramount Pictures to photograph studio lot in Hollywood, California. Commissioned by the Cartier Foundation to photograph the American desert.

2002 Travels extensively and photographs locations including Pasadena, California; the New Jersey Shore; Queens, New York; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Tuscany, Italy.
2003 Travels to and photographs the Niagara Falls area. Travels to Arles, France to attend Rencontres d’Arles and meets Henri Cartier-Bresson. Accepts Gold Medal for Photography from National Arts Club, New York.
2004 Receives the Getty Images Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Center of Photography (ICP) Infinity Awards. Travels to Hawaii and photographs with new panoramic format camera. Travels to Madrid to accept 2004 Photoespana Award. Travels to Clovis, New Mexico and photographs the city and Norman Petty Recording Studios.
2005 William Eggleston In The Real World, a documentary film on Eggleston by Michael Almereyda is completed. Travels to Xilitla, Mexico to photograph Las Pozas. Longtime advisor and friend, Walter Hopps dies. Invited and travels to Tokyo to be guest judge at Canon’s New Cosmos Photography Contest.

In between these many awards and citations he was commissioned to travel and photograph for corporations, national art bodies and film directors.

Eggleston said, “A photographer friend of mine bought a book of Magnum work with some Cartier-Bresson pictures that were real art, period. You didn’t think a camera made the picture. Sure didn’t think of somebody taking the picture at a certain speed with a certain speed film. I couldn’t imagine anybody doing anything more than making a perfect Cartier-Bresson. Which I could do, finally.”

More from Faded + Blurred by Nicole Rae “Although he started his career working in black and white, he soon changed to color. The biggest problem he found was getting the colors the way that he wanted them. He tried having them developed commercially, which didn’t give him the results he wanted. He then went to Kodak slide film, which still didn’t work. In the early 1970s, he came across a process called dye-transfer. Also used by the artist Robert Rauschenberg, dye-transfer is a long and complicated process involving separating the individual colors from the master negative. It was a technique used mainly for advertising but, when Eggleston saw it, he knew it was perfect for his prints. He often said he could never get his colors as rich or as saturate as he wanted until he started using this process.”

“Sometimes I like the idea of making a picture that does not look like a human picture. Humans make pictures which tend to be about five feet above the ground looking out horizontally. I like very fast flying insects moving all over and I wonder what their view is from moment to moment. I have made a few pictures which show that physical viewpoint. . . . The tricycle is similar. It is an insect’s view or it could be a child’s view.”WE

Nicole Rae again…”Color became the main subject in his photographs. The objects are secondary to how the color looks and fits within the composition. He has been highly influenced by artists Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, which you can see in his images. There are blocks of color, there are shapes, there are angles and lines. He is not concerned about his photographs having meaning behind them. He says, “A picture is what it is… It wouldn’t make any sense to explain them. Kind of diminishes them.”

The William Eggleston Trust has a wide range of information on their site including details of all of his books, monographs and portfolios, also there is a list of articles and essays with links through to the original pieces where they exist on line.

From the Getty Museum site...“This plain, unassuming suburban house dominated by its television antenna could be titled Anywhere, USA. The image demonstrates William Eggleston’s interest in tract housing and particularly in new Southern suburbs. This theme runs through the over two thousand photographs of his seven-year “Los Alamos” project, for which he had actually photographed all over the United States. “

Nicole Rae says “Eggleston is able to simply capture moments, without being overly concerned with the why behind it. He takes one photograph and moves on. If he doesn’t get it the first time, he doesn’t go back to try to recapture it. The moment is over and he has moved on. His subjects are things most of us would consider to be boring, but he takes the everyday, often mundane objects in our lives and makes them beautiful. He turns them into works of art. If you look at each of his images and take the subjects themselves out and just see the color, shapes, and lines; seeing how it all fits together. That is art.”

There is an excellent TV documentary as part of the Imagine series and it can be found on line here

Many of his books are still available on Amazon and are  beautiful and engaging, I recently purchased William Eggleston Guide from his first MOMA exhibition for £15 They might not be first editions but they are true to the originals and looking at images on paper is always better than on a screen, somehow it demands more of your attention. I also bought” Two And One Quarter” but I see it has now nearly doubled in price so get them while they are still cheap.

I had planned to write a long piece on Eggleston myself but having found the excellent Nicole Rae I found she had said all I wanted to say, so do go and visit Faded + Blurred, I will leave the last sage words to her

“When you look at Eggleston’s work, you get out of it what you get out of it. There is no correct interpretation of it, no right or wrong. It either affects you or it doesn’t. There is no reason behind it and maybe we need to stop looking for a reason. Maybe that’s what art is – just something that affects us on an emotional level. We don’t always need an explanation for it. Sometimes we can just look at an image and appreciate it for what it is without looking for something deeper.”

Eggleston has published his work extensively. He continues to live and work in Memphis, and travels considerably for photographic projects.

Here is another page full of pictures and editorial you may find useful Artsy

How to Come Up With Ideas for Your Own Photography Projects

One of the main points I teach is that it is difficult to just go out and take photographs. But if photography is your hobby that is what you are supposed to do, take pictures. This means that many times cameras only get an outing when their owners are on an outing, a walk, a visit to the seaside, a picnic, the zoo, name any activity that is a diversion from normal life and photography can be part of it, well maybe not going to the movies or the theatre but just about everything else. But if photography is your hobby then you need to be doing it more often than the occasional family trip out so how do you know what to photography.

I have taught on our Intermediate Photography Course for many years that themes and projects are a way of getting to use your camera on things that you might otherwise have overlooked. I have worked on different themes for more than 30 years, I always have a number running but some have staid the march of time and have entertained me for decades and always will.

This is what at Lighstalking starts her article with

“In this modern world, where nearly everyone has a camera of some sort, it can be difficult for a photographer to stand out in the crowd. Coming up with photography project ideas that are both creative and unique can be a daunting enterprise. If coming up with a project of your own is becoming a struggle, here are few tips to help get started.” read the rest of this article here

Tiffany makes many valid points and I agree with all she has to say but there is one thing I teach that might help you to work out what matters to you and what you can turn into a project.

Write down everything you care about, everything that interests you, then cross off from that list anything you could not photograph in your home town. So if you passionately care about polar bears and live in Oxford that would be one you would cross off your list. Eventually you will have a shortened list of the things you care about and are interested in and which you can photograph. These things are the basis of your projects or themes list and where you need to start photographing. You could do the same with photographers, write down those that you really like and then cross of any that you might have difficulty emulating, Ansel Adams and Yosemite Park might be difficult from the home counties, but Ralph Gibson’s graphic architecture might be possible.Then go out and find the images your favourite photographers might have captured.

Ansel Adams

Ralph Gibson

Click Here: How to Come Up With Ideas for Your Own Photography Projects