One of the benefits of having this guestblog section: discovering other excellent photography galleries/photoblogs from my guestbloggers. I found out about the excellent gallery of Don Ellis from one of my previous guestblogger, Gayle Knowles. Don captures stunning pictures with a Canon Powershot G1 and G2 combined with an interesting array of filters. And the standards of his pictures exceed many of those taken with much better equipment! His pictures are a living testament to one of my strongest beliefs about photography: it’s the man behind the camera that maketh the picture, not the camera. Or as Ken Rockwell puts it: Why Your Camera Does Not Matter. Do also take a look at Don’s tsunami diary, which provides a chilling first-hand account of the devastating tragedy that struck almost a year ago…
Image title: Infrared Lotus
Name: Don Ellis
Location: Hong Kong
Equipment: This photo was taken with a stock Canon G1 and an R72 infrared filter. I also use a modified G1 with an 093 filter for handheld infrared. For colour, I used a Canon G2 for four years and retired it in September 2005 for a Canon Pro 1.
About your image: I spent 10 days in Ubud, Bali, at an isolated villa with a lotus pond. I’d never lived close enough to this exotic flower to realize that it lives and dies in just a matter of days, so I began photographing the stages of its life. The result was the “lotus pond” gallery on my website. Because it’s intended as a visual record, many of the photos are more for documentation than hanging on the wall — but then that describes a great many of the photos on my website. I took so many color photos of the lotus that I began looking for new ways to show the flower and broke out the infrared camera. I like the fact that it’s just as beautiful, and perhaps even more exotic, without its distinctive color.
Your favourite subjects: Whatever crosses my path, although I like “banana grove” and “pumpkin patch” on my website because they are visual narratives of a living process. And of course “mantisland,” a reminder that you don’t have to go to other planets to see charming aliens.
How did you start out in photography? In 1996 Leela and I were about to leave for Darjeeling, India, so I bought a Nikon F90X and a Nikkor 24-120mm zoom. It was a great combination and I documented our stay with it. Then I bought a bigger zoom in every sense of weight and cost and reach — a 70-200 f/2.8. I soon tired of switching lenses, so I bought another F90X body. And a big Domke bag. And an even larger Lowepro pack. And a tripod and ballhead and quick release plates and flash attachment. And then I got tired of carrying everything, so I left it all at home. In 2001, I bought my first digital, a Canon G1, and sold all my film gear soon after.
Are there any special themes/ideas that you like to convey in your pictures? I don’t think of myself as a photographer so much as a guy with a camera. I’m a writer, so the camera is my gate pass into the graphical world. If I try for anything in my photos it might be simplicity or a different view of a familiar subject. I try not to over-process my photos, preferring to capture the best image I can and polish it a bit. But I do find myself removing small blemishes on walls, sidewalks and other surfaces that pull the eye away from the subject.
Do you have any favourite places (in your local country or overseas) for taking pictures? My film gear was so cumbersome that I never took a shot of my home city, Hong Kong. That changed with the digitals and I have at least one camera with me 360 days of the year. Beyond Hong Kong, I enjoy documenting wherever Leela and I travel.
Apart from your own photoblog, are there any others that you would like to recommend here? I have enough trouble updating my website without trying to write a photoblog. Instead, I occasionally offer a little commentary on my photos. Frankly, the majority of photos need a few words of introduction to justify their inclusion on the website — a picture may be worth a thousand words, but I think you often have to supply some of them yourself. I like the website of Gayle Knowles, a lady who has become a friend over the Internet and is very talented besides being a great (read, like-minded) person. I don’t read much beyond Gayle because of time.
Who would you like to dedicate this entry to? Leela, for understanding. Usually.