Our first stop was the historic town of Borgarnes, where we went to the Settlement Center. We had a lot of fun in the exhibit, where there are some 3d fibreglass interactive maps, a bow of a ship that moves and some great information about the early days of the Icelandic Sagas and the creation of the parliament in Iceland in 930AD (located in Þingvellir). Lots of buttons were pressed and plenty of laughs were had on the recreation of the viking boat. We also took a few pictures of the fjord behind the museum.
From there we headed to Stykkishólmur, where we enjoyed some great fish and chips on the wharf before heading to the Library of Water and checking out the incredible church.
Stykkishólmur Church on the hill
Library of Water
Library of Water
Library of Water
View of Stykkishólmur from the Library of Water
We took our time heading west, taking lots of photographs along the way before stopping at Ólafsvík and checking out the triangle church.
Everywhere we went there were lava fields – I was amazed at how soft they felt – I always imagined them to be really hard. I think they would be dangerous to walk on as you could fall through the sections that are sparsely covered, or covered in moss.
The next stop was at the Saxhóll Crater, where you walk 300 metres up a flight of stairs to arrive at the top of the crater. There are fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, especially the Snæfellsjökull volcano.
The Snæfellsjökull volcano, glacier and surrounding landscape was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which incidentally was one of my favourite books as a child. Although we were keen to go to the glacier, we were informed that it takes about five hours, you need shoes with metal spikes, an all-wheel-drive vehicle – none of which we had. We also learnt that much care was needed as there were cracks in the glacier as it is summer. We decided that it might be better to go with a guide another time.
Snæfellsjökull in the distance
On the way back to Reykjavik,we were so lucky to see some Gray Seals at Ytri Tunga. When we arrived we were told by some other tourists that there was only one on a rock, but we thought it was worth walking along the beach anyway. When we got close to the rocks we saw the big one basking on a rock and then over the next 20 minutes around half a dozen appeared. Also the sun was just gorgeous, sparkling and golden as it was reflected on the water. Here is a short video of the seals – it is bit wonky as I only had my phone with me.
After leaving at 10am, I finally arrived home by around 1.30am – a huge day and biggest thanks to the awesome driver Ella <3. It was an amazing day and a taste of what an incredible place Iceland truly is.
The residency is located in what used to be Icelands largest dairy farm, on the outskirts of Reykjavík with gorgeous view of Mt. Esja. Korpúlfsstaðir has 40 SÍM artist studios, a textile workshop, a ceramic workshop, an artist run gallery as well a golf club with a golf course outside. I have also heard you can get a good coffee from the golf course.
When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I stayed in a lovely AirBnB on Laugavegur, one of the main tourist streets. It was very handy to walk to lots of places including the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral and museums and galleries downtown.
The past couple of days we have been slowly orienting ourselves to the Faroe Islands and our next month as part of the Clipperton Project (TCP). At the moment we are based in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroes.
Tórshavn is a really gorgeous place – lots of interesting things to photograph!
Gallery in Tórshavn
The Clipperton Prject mob
Tórshavn at 3am
Marty relaxing at Tórshavn Harbour
To give a little bit of a cultural context – the Faroe Islands have been a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. It has its own parliament and its own flag. The Visit Faroe Islands website has some great information about the history of the Faroes:
According to stories passed down for generations the Irish abbot St. Brendan in AD 565 went in search of The Promised Land of the Saints. One of the stories told of a visit to “The Islands of the Sheep and the Paradise of Birds” situated several days’ sailing distance from Scotland. Based on this story and archaeology excavations there is good reason to believe that Irish monks were the first settlers in the Faroe Islands.
In the 9th century Norse settlers came to the Faroe Islands. These were mainy farmers who fleed from Norway and ended up in the Faroe Islands in search of new land. The special constitutional status of the islands was originally founded on the ancient viking tradition from the 9th century AD (all free men convened at the Althing, later called Løgting, in the capital Tórshavn). From the latter half of the 12th century on – when attached to the medieval Norwegian Kingdom – they further developed their own culture, language and other social institutions, while at the same time adapting constitutionally to the surrounding political contexts of coming and going empires reaching out from the Scandinavian heartlands.
Little is known about Faroese history up until the 14th century. The main historical source for this period is the 13th century work Færeyinga Saga (Saga of the Faroese).
Anyway, we have only just started our journey with TCP – will share more soon!
There are a range of outputs intended for this project, they include:
1. The development of a Yorta Yorta language book for children incorporating the use of augmented reality technology
2. The development of an augmented reality walk around Barmah National Park, which builds on the existing GPS/Bluetooth project.
3. Providing workshops for young people in the Yorta Yorta community in digital imaging, bookmaking, video and creating augmented reality works with the Aurasma tool
4. The creation of an interactive map/screen at the Dharnya Centre which would be enhanced by augmented reality
5. To reinvigorate the Dharnya Centre through the above activities.
It is now more than 10 years since I visited the lovely city of Tallinn and it remains in my mind as one of the most beautiful examples of a medieval walled city. In 2004, I was very fortunate to go there to present a paper at the ISEA2004 Symposium, which was an amazing event in itself – see this summary by Brisbane media artist Keith Armstrong. I also wrote a review of an artwork presented by Trish Adams Wave Writer: Vital Forces (PDF), which was published in Eyeline magazine.
For a long time it was under Danish rule also being the birthplace of the Danish flag:
On the slopes of Toompea hill between the city wall and Lower Town is an open, garden-like area that happens to be the legendary birthplace of the Danish flag.
This relaxing spot is called the Danish King’s Garden because it was supposedly here that King Valdemar II of Denmark and his troops camped before conquering Toompea in 1219.
13th-14th-century Tallinn was part of the Danish Kingdom, marking the beginning of seven centuries of foreign rule in Estonia. The majority of the town’s population was formed of ethnic Germans who called the town Reval – a name which Tallinn was known for many centuries to come.
Mr Wikipedia says:
In 1285 the city, then known as Reval, became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Reval along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346.
It is a definitely place with some very rich history. I love that the town has undergone many name changes over the years:
In 1154 a town called Qlwn or Qalaven (possible derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan)was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Muslim cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as a small town like a large castle among the towns of Astlanda. It has been suggested that the Quwri in Astlanda may have denoted the predecessor town of today’s Tallinn
The origin of the name “Tallinn(a)” is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from “Taani-linn(a)” (meaning “Danish-castle/town”; Latin: Castrum Danorum). However, it could also have come from “tali-linna” (“winter-castle/town”), or “talu-linna” (“house/farmstead-castle/town”). The element -linna, like German -burg and Slavic -grad originally meant “castle” but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names…The German and Swedish name Reval (Latin: Revalia, earlier Swedish language: Raffle) originated from the 13th century Estonian name of the adjacent Estonian county of Ravala. Other known ancient historical names of Tallinn include variations of Estonian Lindanise (see Battle of Lyndanisse), such as Lyndanisse in Danish, Lindanas in Swedish, and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. Kesoniemi in Finnish and Kolyvan (Колывань) in Old East Slavic are also other historical names.
One of the things I also remember was the great antique and secondhand shops and I found a lot of Soviet memorabilia, which tells a story about another layer of Tallinn’s past. There was also a great market, where I some beautiful souvenirs. Here is a photograph of the Christmas market, which looks just magical. I was there in September, so didn’t see any snow.
You can also access an online 3d app that shows you Tallinn Old Town:
Tallinn Old Town is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The aim of the 3d.tallinn.ee is to allow anyone interested in this Medieval pearl to access the Old Town by using 3D computing technology.
Today’s post is a feeble attempt to try and catch up from over three months of not writing. The bad habit of missing days started with a day here or there but now I find that I haven’t written for weeks. There is really no excuse, perhaps except that I have been caught up with a number of art projects, which should count for something 🙂
My subject today is the place I live, the capital city of Australia, Canberra. As an attempt to make up for missing 84 posts, at the end of this post are 84 places worth visiting around the region, some of which have already been written about. Although it is a numbered list, it is not a list of best to worst, it is only as list of places as they came to mind.
Last week Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory was determined the best place in the world to live, according a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Canberra led the regional ranking while Australia topped the overall country rankings, followed by Norway.
The OECD ranked 362 regions of its 34 member nations in its survey. Seven areas were assessed: Health, Safety, Access to services, Civic engagement, Jobs, Education, Environment and Income.
One of the things I love about living in Canberra, is the many bushwalking trails both in Canberra and in the region. Only yesterday, we walked up Mt Majura, to do some exploring as part of a project I am developing for Long Time No See? On our way back down the mountain we came across some other walkers who were doing the Centenary Trail, having walked from Parliament House. This trail certainly looks challenging and perhaps something to pursue.
You don’t have to be in Dragør to experience this work. You can also use the app with the landmark building images in this blog post.
There will also be a printable version of the map for Walking Backwards into the Future.
Please note that this article and map is a work in progress!
Technical specifications Walking Backwards into the Future uses augmented reality, and to view it you must have an internet enabled mobile device running iOS or Android (tablet or smartphone). You must also have the “Aurasma” app installed.
This article is the final in a series of 3, by Garry Benson, which covers all the technical steps for succesfully taking shots of artwork suitable for print publication.
On the left, the untouched image – on the right colour corrected image. The original was shot using the ‘Loo Paper’ alternative.
Many digital cameras behave like color slide film – the best images are often slightly underexposed, particularly when bright scene elements are involved. But this means you have a lot better detail in shadow and highlight areas that you can access to if you have access to image editing software. Use exposure compensation to feel out your own camera’s exposure sweet spots, but count on some variation with photographic conditions. When in doubt, bracket your exposures by about 1/3rd of a stop either side of your meter reading.
Most on-camera flash units are too good! They pump out a very strong blast of light, so if you’re close to an artwork and want a subtler light try adding a few layers of loo paper or kitchen roll. You need to experiment to work out the best exposure but make sure that the flash sensor (under the words FZ150) isn’t covered up as it measures the amoiunt of flash light needed.
Sooner or later, you’ll have to deal with other digital recording mode issues like white balance and in camera sharpening, but it’s usually safe to accept camera defaults for starters. Digital cameras have more to do in preparing to take a photo than film cameras. Like film cameras, they have to focus the lens, however they also have to take a pre exposure to get proper colour balance!
The good news is that they are able to achieve better exposed, better colour balanced and in many cases better focused images than film cameras. The bad news is that this takes a fraction of a second and could cause you to miss a great picture.
What can you do about it? There are a couple of approaches that are very effective. The simplest is to just push the shutter button half way down and keep it there until you are ready for the photo, and then press the rest of the way. Pressing halfway signals the camera to immediately choose focus, colour balance, and exposure. The subsequent delay when you take your shot is now quite small, comparable to film cameras. When I am shooting I keep the shutter button half depressed, and I get great shots, even action.
Invest in large memory cards for your camera. One of the most important reasons for using a massive memory card is to enable you to shoot at your camera’s highest resolution. If you paid a premium price for a 24 mega pixel digicam, then get your money’s worth and shoot at 24 mega pixels. Why not squeeze more images on your memory card by shooting a lower resolution and low quality compression settings? Because you could be missing out on a great picture and the quality will suffer. And if you take a beautiful picture at the low 640 x 480 resolution, that means you can only make a print about the size of a credit card.
One of the great hidden features on digital cameras is the fill flash or ‘flash on demand’ mode for when you want it (the name may change in different cameras). By taking control of the flash so it goes on when you want it to, not when the camera deems it appropriate, you’ve just taken an important step toward capturing great photographs. How many flash settings does your camera have? In ‘flash on demand’ mode, the camera exposes for the background first, then adds just enough flash to illuminate your subject. The result is a professional looking picture where everything in the composition looks good. Wedding photographers have been using this technique for years.
A huge gallery exhibition like Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth is a challenge – there’s no alternative but to go with the gallery lighting.
Photographing art in a gallery situation will often present difficulties. When you have work in a gallery it is usually illuminated by spotlights and the colour balance is very ‘warm’, similar to the light you see at sunrise and sunset. Unless you have supplementary lighting or have a good flash unit on your camera, don’t submit these types of shots. The colour isn’t true, often spotlights create lots of shadows and you’re just not doing justice to your artwork.
This image was presented for publication. Notice the blue daylight streaming in from the left; the fluros in the ceiling and the fact that to avoid reflections in the glass the photographer had to move to the left. See below for hints on shooting images through glass.
The solution is to turn off all the spotlights, house lights, fluros etc and just use your camera flash that is colour adjusted for daylight. If you have the luxury of a remote flash head setup place two of them either side of the camera at 45˚ and turn off your in-built camera flash. A cheaper solution is to use your camera flash, place some large sheets of white packing foam (save them when you buy a large item like a new fridge or 50″ LCD TV!!) close to the artwork at 45˚ and they will help ‘fill’ in the shot.
I scrunge up Alfoil on the other side and glue it on the foam sheet – this is for sharper, broken light and is also good for portraits. Oh, and if you’re using reflected light (off walls or ceiling) check the colour – white walls are best but any other colour will change the colour balance. If you’re shooting in daylight any stray window light will be OK as long as it’s not too strong or ‘modelling’ (from one side).
In a gallery open to daylight and no spotlights but fluorescent lights there’s another problem. Unless the fluorescents are special daylight ones the images will look greenish – again, turn off the fluoros and use your flash. One last hint; make sure you are taking the shot lined up to the centre of the work, both vertically and horizontally.
I was shooting a documentary in the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands in Central Australia when the producer received a call from her book publisher – all the gallery shots of paintings were unusable due to the mix of fluoro, spotlight and daylight on the images. Could I help? Well I waited until midday (good daylight balance), turned off the spots and fluoros and shot with a ‘soft’ flash (some layers of loo paper over the flash head) to soften shadows.
Softening the flash effect also helps when photographing works under glass but inevitably glass is a problem. The best solution is to demount the work but galleries (and artists) get a little twitchy when this is suggested. The next best solution is to buy a Polaroid filter.
Sometimes you can use reflections to get a more interesting image. This poster in Avignon was interesting but with the reflections added it achieves a different result…
Polarizing filters need to be rotated to alter the effect they have on reflections. Slowly rotate the filter while looking through the lens and most reflections will magically disappear – but be careful you’re not lit or you’ll be reflected, camera and all.
The old images of ancient photographers hiding under black drapes seems crazy now, but a large (say 2 metre square) piece of black velvet is perfect for blocking out the shiny bits of your camera and tripod, not to mention my shiny bald spot! And it provides a perfect ‘black hole’ background when photographing small objects.
And the most desperate solution if you don’t have a filter? If you have a pair of good quality, clean and scratch free Polaroid sunnies you can use them as a filter by holding them over the lens and rotating them to block reflections. Definitely the last option as the quality of sunnies glass is not as good as the quality of your lens.
So as you can see by the above, the whole process of taking your own great photos of artworks is relatively easy – not! But why not try it, get some experience by shooting lots of images and like this once 15 year old trainee you will gradually learn how to take your own great images of your own great artwork. Just another hint – don’t forget to delete all those crappy experimental shots so only you know how bad they were!
This series of three articles covers all the technical steps for successfully taking shots of artwork suitable for print publication.
Traditional printing methods use patterns of dots to render photographic images on a printed page. While pixels on a monitor are square and in contact with the adjacent pixels, printed dots have space between them to make white, or no space between them to make black.
Colour photographs are printed using four inks, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK), and four separate dot patterns, one for each ink. A dot per inch (dpi) refers to printed dots and the space between them, while pixels per inch (ppi) refers to the square pixels in a digital image.
Digital and film photography are far more alike than they are different, but digital image recording opens up many new, valuable and perhaps unanticipated opportunities. For starters, assume that everything you already know about getting good pictures still applies.
With the cost of another shot at nothing, why hold back? The pros typically take dozens of shots to land a few keepers. Now you can do the same – and there’s no better or faster way to learn. Instant feedback is one of digital photography’s most powerful advantages.
Before digital cameras became affordable for the consumer market, choosing what photos to take was a matter of finances and processing time. Everyone envied the contributing photographers for glossy magazines that had deep enough pockets to afford taking a hundred exposures to get that one keeper for the cover.
Digital photography has made it economically feasible for the amateur photographer to feel more relaxed and experiment by taking numerous exposures and sort through them quickly without the long processing time. Should you take the photo? Take 10 and choose the best!
In reality it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the photographer. You can buy the most expensive camera on the market, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll take better pictures. Novice photographers – and photographers who have no interest in editing their digital photographs – should generally leave their cameras set to capture JPEGs. If you save them as RAW files and high res JPEGs you have the best of both worlds.
However, to take advantage of the high resolution and quality of the camera’s sensor and image processing system it is pointless to shoot with anything other than the camera’s highest resolution and quality settings. When you take a picture in a JPEG format, the camera does things to it before it’s saved. The image sensor converts analog to digital, adds any specifications that were made, like white balance, sharpening, contrast, image effect, digital zoom, etc. After all of that is done, the image is saved to the memory card.
In a lot of cases, that is the best way to go, because the camera is very smart about interpreting the surroundings and adding the right specifications. Always shoot with the image size on the largest image setting possible and the quality setting on Fine (or Super-Fine if the camera offers it). As I said above that’s why most pro photographers shoot the largest possible images in RAW format (unedited in camera) and JPEG.
Don’t burn your digital images by doing too much post-processing and always maintain the original file as every time you work on a JPEG file (for example) you lose quality as soon as you save it (see the Hints that I’ll include part 3). It’s easy to reduce the size of image files post-capture if you want to send them in emails or post them on the Web but ALWAYS use the ‘Save as…’ command or work on a copy of the original. Be careful – it’s impossible to put back image data that wasn’t recorded in the first place because the camera was set on Small size and Normal (or Basic) compression.
Part 3 looks at practical explanations on exposure and white level as well as some handy hints for artists looking for publication opportunities.
Walking Backwards into the Future
Augmented Reality in Copenhagen, by Tracey Benson
Proposal for Mapping Amager and Sharing Copenhagen: AR guided tour and presentation
Walking backwards to find the future combines a guided walk around the island of Amager with the use of augmented reality. This work has been created by Australian based media artist Tracey Benson to explore the transect sites of Dragør, Amager as a potential tourist. This work seeks to build knowledge of the location from afar – past journeys and memories, present events, spaces, places and histories. The work would be ready for use by participants at the Dragør/Tårnby transect and formally presented at the Eco Creative Camp by the artist.