Photos Selected for Exhibition at Photoplace Gallery

I was delighted to discover this week that two of my images have been selected for PhotoPlace Gallery’s juried exhibition, "Travel: Places and Faces". Juror Krista Rossow selected one of my photographs from Cuba to be exhibited in the Middlebury, Vermont gallery of PhotoPlace, and one of my images from Senegal to be displayed on their online gallery. The selected travel images are all beautiful so I am honoured to have two of mine included. My image chosen to be hung in the PhotoPlace exhibition gallery is titled, ‘Colourful Cuba’ one of my favourite photos from my trip to Havana last year:

 'Colourful Cuba' my image from Havana to be exhibited as part of PhotoPlace's upcoming Travel exhibition.

'Colourful Cuba' my image from Havana to be exhibited as part of PhotoPlace's upcoming Travel exhibition.

I took the photo on the malecon after the weather cleared following a heavy rainfall. Using a wide angle lens and a low angle I was able to capture the pink car in front of the beautiful white Orthodox Church. Using a fast shutter speed I was able to capture the splash from the car as it drove through the puddle. Here is a photo blog I wrote with some other photos from Havana, the capital of Cuba.

My image chosen to be displayed on PhotoPlace’s online gallery is titled, ‘Preparing for the Tabaski Festival’ and is one of the photographs I took last year whilst living in Dakar, Senegal:

 'Preparing for the Tabaski Festival' my image from Senegal selected for the online gallery of Photoplace.

'Preparing for the Tabaski Festival' my image from Senegal selected for the online gallery of Photoplace.

I took this photo on Yoff Beach, which is close to the centre of Dakar leading up to the Islamic Tabaski Festival which is held every year in August. A photo blog I wrote about my time at Yoff beach where I took this photo can be viewed here.

Travel: Places and Faces - About the Exhibition

The gallery exhibition will take place between November 7th and December 8th 2018 at the PhotoPlace gallery in Vermont at: 3 Park Street, Middlebury, VT 05753. The ‘Call for Entry’ for this particular exhibition was as follows: Every place has its own smells, sounds, and ambience, whether amid the energy of a city or the serenity of a mountain lake.  Capturing the particular aura of a place and of those who inhabit it is the great challenge of travel photography. For Travel: Faces and Places, we especially seek photographs that capture the unique quality of a place or its people, whether across the world or in the next town. Tell us about the places you've been and the people you've met.

It’s always nice to have some recognition, it’s a shame the gallery is so far away as I would have loved to attend! More of my travel photography can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like any more information about any of my images please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Dealing With Distracting Backgrounds in Photography

Photography backgrounds are very important since they add different elements to a photo. As you strive to choose the right camera and lens, you need to also think about the background that will be right for your snapshot. Backgrounds come in different forms, colors, materials and sizes. There are also ordinary, digital, fixed and movable backgrounds. Sometimes you may find that your photos do not add to your story, give any valuable information about your settings or even stand out in any way.

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Common photography background problems

Photography background problems become an issue mostly when you don’t have a backdrop or off-camera flash and you decide to shoot outdoors. It is common to select a good background only for someone to pop their head, hand or even an object immediately you press the shutter.

This is something that happens a lot and it has the effect of shifting the focal point from the real one.

It is also common to find elements that seem to protrude out of the person’s head or shoulder such that it completely changes the nature of the shot. Sometimes, your background may have strong lines which may compete to make your image busy or clash so that you get an unexpected background.

Dealing with distracting backgrounds in photography is necessary so that you get enhanced photos that are good for either personal or commercial use. The following are some of the ways to do it:

  • Take an inventory of your surroundings

Every time that an object that doesn’t seem fitting in your photo’s background, it should be a clear reminder that you failed to judge well on what you wanted to include or exclude in your image.  In this case, you need to watch out for unsightly images like broken benches, rubbish bins, dead trees, poles and other sticking objects especially directly behind the subject. You should also assess your environment for distracting highlights, busy backgrounds and bright colors.

  • Move your subject or change the shooting angle

Moving your subject or changing the shooting angle should be the next option if you have assessed your surroundings and still feel that there are a lot of distractions. You may also need to rotate around your subject or simply get high up or down low to either make the ground and the sky your background.

  • Blur or blow out the background

Sometimes it is hard to avoid distracting backgrounds and it becomes necessary to blur or blow them out. This is done by widening the aperture or using a lens with a long focal length which throws the background out of focus with the depth of field. With this, it will be hard for someone to really make out what is in the background.

  • Keep it simple or fill the frame

Making your subject stand on a plain wall or an open ground is also a good option to avoid distracting backgrounds. It is also possible to fill the entire frame with your subject and avoid the background altogether.

  • Create or buy a backdrop

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The importance of getting the right background in photography cannot be underestimated and it may be necessary to create or buy a backdrop for in-studio and outdoor photo shoots that require creativity and professional appearances. Places like Denny Manufacturing offers some interesting abstract photography backdrops that you could consider even though you are free to create your own vinyl, paper, muslin or any other background.

In photography, the background has the ability to enhance or destroy the appearance of your photos and you need to control it in order to turn your snapshots into beautiful photos.

This blog was written by Wendy Dessler, Outreach Manager on behalf of Denny Manufacturing. More of my travel photography can be found on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  I have written several blogs on photography techniques such as: Taking Silhouette Photographs, Taking Abstract Photos, and Using Negative Space in Photography. If you are interested in writing a blog post for my website or collaborating in any way please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Grande Mosquée de Yoff, Dakar, Senegal

This time last year I spent a couple of months in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. For much of that time I stayed in the beach town of Yoff. At the west end of the beach is the Grande Mosquée de Yoff, a beautiful large white mosque overlooking the ocean. Click through the slideshow below to view some of the photos I took around Grande Mosquée de Yoff:

The town of Yoff is built along the broad beach at Yoff Bay which faces the Atlantic Ocean, directly north of the centre of Dakar. Here is a previous photography blog I wrote about Yoff Beach and the people that live there. The large mosque is built right on the beach just metres from the ocean.

For much of the week the mosque seemed relatively quiet without much activity, almost ignored by the locals. However on a Sunday morning the mosque is full of locals who attend the weekly service and then often congregate on the beach afterwards. The beach is a fascinating place and great for photography, it is full of life and activity on a daily basis. During the time of the Tabaski Festival you will see children leading animals to the ocean for a wash. At the far end of the beach, past the mosque is the fishing village full of traditional, colourful wooden fishing boats. The surf at Yoff beach is also very consistent and is home to a couple of surfing schools and cheap friendly hostels. During the summer the beach also has some some of the best sunsets I witnessed in Senegal.

More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my website, my Instagram, and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Natural Light Portraits in Senegal

Some natural light portraits I took of a friend in Dakar, Senegal. The portraits were all taken with a Canon 5D2 and a 50mm 1.4 lens in and around Dakar. The model, Fatima is a photographer and model from Dakar, she is available for photos shoots and collaborations. Click through the slideshow for some of the natural light portraits of Fatima taken in Dakar:

All of the portraits of Fatima were taken in Dakar, either on the Northern coast of the peninsula or on the island of Ngor. The colourful braids seemed to be the fashion trend in West Africa at the time of my visit with Fatima’s pink ones only available from Ghana.

I have written several other photography blogs about my trip to Senegal including:

More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my website, my Instagram, and my Flickr account.  Fatima, the Senegalese model in the portrait images can be found via her instagram at @fatou.gueye.bello. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com

Picture a Healthier World: Art & Photography by Geraint Rowland

Some of my travel photography and abstract artworks are now available as greeting cards and prints via 'Picture a Healthier World'. The organisation supports global health & human rights through art.  The images are available as folded greeting cards or as prints in various sizes and with a range of frames.  For a look at some of the images I have for sale via 'Picture a Healthier World' click through the slide show below:

About the Organisation 

Picture A Healthier World (PAHW) is a growing, global community of artists with a shared belief in our limitless capacity to change the world through art.  The organisation raises exposure for artists' work while turning their art into meaningful health and human rights services around the world.  Sales of the artwork go towards bringing health services to communities in need around the world.  Currently, profits support the following initiatives led by UNICEF: clean water, measles vaccinations and school supplies.  

You can find out more about Picture a Healthy World on their blog.  My artwork & photography available via the organisation can be viewed here.  More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  For any questions please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Tabaski Festival in Senegal

The Tabaski Festival occurs every year in Senegal and The Gambia as well as much of West Africa.  It is the same Islamic holiday that Muslims in other countries celebrate and call Eid al-Adha.  For the festival which this year is held on August 22nd, every family has to buy and then slaughter a sheep or ram.  Last year I was in Dakar, the capital of Senegal for the month of August, the following photos were taken during this period in the lead up to the Tabaski Festival. (Click through the slideshow below to view all of the photos).  

What is the Tabaski Festival in Senegal?

The Tabaski Festival is the biggest public holiday in Senegal.  Senegalese people return to their families from different parts of Senegal and even from overseas to celebrate the event.  If you visit Senegal during August, you will see sheep everywhere.  Penned on roads and pavements, tied to posts and cars.  On the beaches you will see children washing the sheep in the ocean and playing with them on the sand.  You will see them tied on the top of buses, riding with humans inside the buses and just about everywhere else that you look.  There is even a national beauty contest each year in Senegal to determine the countries most beautiful sheep.  In Senegal, the government runs a program codenamed Operation Tabaski to provide animals for those families that can not afford one.  Incidentally, I know in the photos the animals sometimes appear to be goats but I was reassured that they were in fact sheep.  After some online research I learnt that one of the ways to differentiate between the two is by their tails: sheep's tails hang down, goats tails are smaller and point up.

On the day of the Tabski festival following an important morning mosque service families return home to slaughter the animal and prepare it for the family feast.  In total up to four million animals are sacrificed every year in Senegal for Tabaski.  The entire animal is apparently used with nothing wasted, not even the intestines or horns.  The day following the festival however I did see a large number of sheep carcasses on the beaches of Dakar.

Tabaski Festival is based on Islamic beliefs and could also be referred to as the feast of sacrifice. According to the holy Koran Prophet Ibrahim was commanded by God to take his son, Ishmael up on to a mountain and slaughter him as a sacrifice. Although Christians and Jews argue that Isaac was the son to be sacrificed and not Ishmael, all sides agree that Abraham was obedient to God and was ready to kill his son when a ram was provided as replacement instead.

More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like me to be involved with an Instagram takeover please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Island of Gorée, Dakar, Senegal

On my first day in Senegal I took a ferry from the capital of Dakar to the infamous Island of Gorée.  Located two kilometres from the main harbour of Dakar this beautiful but haunting island is one of the must see destinations when visiting Senegal.  From the 15th to the 19th century, the island of Gorée was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast.  Click through the slideshow below to view some of the photographs I took on the island:  

Between the 15th and 19th century Gorée Island was ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French.  Gorée is a small island 900 metres (3,000 ft) in length and 350 metres (1,150 ft) in width sheltered by the Cap-Vert peninsula.  You can easily walk around the island in half a day exploring the small streets, viewing African arts and crafts and learning about the horrors of the slave trade that existed on the island.

The architecture on the island is characterized by the contrast between the grim slave-quarters and the elegant houses of the slave traders.  One of the oldest houses on the island is the House of Slaves built around 1780 - 1784.  The house is now a museum and tourist destination used to serve as a reminder of the human exploitation that occurred there and as a sanctuary for reconciliation.

All of my photographs from Gorée island were taken using a Canon 5D Mark 2 and a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens.  I have written previous travel blogs from Senegal on: 'Street Photography in Dakar', 'Sunsets of Senegal', and about the 'Beach at Yoff in Dakar.'  More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my website, my Instagram, and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Travel Portraits by Geraint Rowland

During my travels I often capture people around the world in a candid manner in their natural environment.  As my confidence has grown and my photographic skills have improved I have begun taking more portrait photographs.  These are often what are called 'environmental portraits', a portrait taken in the subject's usual environment and which normally include the surroundings as well as the person.  More recently I have also started taking 'head shot' style portraits, a tighter cropped image where the focus is on the persons face only.  For my head shots I normally ask the person for their permission first.  Click through the slideshow below to view some of my travel portraits:

With the majority of travel portraits above I asked for permission for the image to be taken. Often in touristy areas you are required or asked to pay for such portraits as was the case in Cusco, Peru, and Havana, Cuba.  The image of the Mexican girl in the Day of the Dead makeup and the final image of the Bolivian lady were the exceptions as both were caught candidly.  The beauty of head shots and or tightly cropped portraits is that you minimise the clutter in the background of the image.

All of the portraits were taken using a Canon 5D (Mark 2 or 4) and the majority were with the Canon 50mm 1.4.  Other lenses used were the Canon 85mm 1.8 and the Sigma Art Lens 135mm 1.8.  All of the images were taken using natural light and without the use of a flash.  The images were often taken with a shallow depth of field to create a pleasing background and draw attention to the persons face.  Images of people from around the world fascinate me, I think that they tell you more about a place than a landscape ever can.  In the future I want to focus more on portraits and improve my skills in this area of photography.  

More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like any more information about any of my images please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Instagram Takeover of the Ffotogallery Platform

I am currently taking over the Ffotogallery Platform Instagram (15 - 23rd July).  I started my photographic journey eight years ago at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales when I enrolled on two evening courses.  Via Ffotogallery I enrolled on two courses: 'Introduction to Photography: Beginner' and subsequently 'Introduction to Photography: Intermediate'.  I enjoyed both courses immensely and have been taking photos ever since.  I was therefore very excited and honoured to be involved with such a project.  Below is a slide show of the travel images I chose for the project (NB: I will add to the slideshow as the week progresses).

Ffotogallery Platform is an online project created to help emerging photographers and lens-based artists make their work accessible to a wider audience, including industry professionals and peers through Ffotogallery's network, and to help create links within the photographic and artistic community.  Selected participants are offered a one week residency on the Ffotogallery Platform Instagram account (@ffotogalleryplatform).  The Platform launched in January 2018 as part of 40:40 Vision, a year long celebration of events, projects and exhibitions to celebrate Ffotogallery's 40th Birthday.  

The online residency involves uploading between 1 - 4 images a day to the Instagram site belonging to Ffotogallery Platform.  I was asked by the organisers to focus on my street and portrait photography as they believed these would translate well to Instagram.  So far the project has been very useful for me.  It has increased my reach and exposure noticeably on my own Instagram account (@Geraint_Rowland_Photography).  In addition it has given me additional experience in the photo selection and curation process.  This is beneficial for both online presentation and future exhibition considerations.  I hope to carry out further Instagram takeovers in the future.    

More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like me to be involved with an Instagram takeover please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

LGBT Pride Parade in Lima 2018

A couple of weekend's ago along with a couple of Peruvian photographers I attended the Pride Peru Parade in the downtown district of Lima.  The event was very interesting, with some great opportunities for some street photography and candid portraits.  Due to the low dull light I found the portraits I took worked better in black and white.  Click through the slide show below to view some of the portraits I took at Lima's Pride March:

Amongst my favourite portraits from the Pride Parade in Lima were: a tender moment from this couple as well as this touching goodbye.  A Transexual applying applying lipstick and a fallen angel walking through the streets of downtown Lima.  There were over 3000 people in attendance at the 2018 LGTB Pride March in Lima with no known problems.

More portraits from the Peruvian Pride event can be found on my websiteInstagram, Flickr and Facebook Page.  If you are interested in collaborating on future projects, or would like to purchase a print, please send me an email: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.