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Gallery: On the Road

Published by Debs Slater · June 4th 2012

The Gallery feature is a great way of challenging yourself and, if you are selected, getting exposure for your work. Every week a theme will be announced and you'll have until 6pm on Sunday (EST) to submit one photo on that theme. You may already have a photo that suits, or you could see it as a weekly creative brief. Either way, make sure the photo is uploaded to your 500px Profile and then just email me the link.
12 will make it onto the blog :)

This week's theme was...

On the Road

Next week's theme: A Kind of Magic

The theme is completely open to interpretation so get creative, get snapping and send a link to the photo my way: debbie@500px.com


     

Portrait: Magda Indigo

Published by Debs Slater · June 1st 2012

There are so many incredible images on 500px but we want to know more about the photographers, and stories, behind them. Our Portrait series interviews a talented photographer each week, allowing us to discover more about living life through a lens.

This week's interview is with flower photographer Magda Indigo.

FAN OF HYACYNTHS... by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
FAN OF HYACYNTHS... by Magda indigo

When and how did you fall in love with photography?
It goes as far back as I can remember. My family, grand-parents, parents, they all had cameras, used them all the time, and let me have a go... I grew up with it; the lens became an 'extensional' vision tool.

I studied the classics, which took me into the Arts; I studied Art History.

I devoted almost 20 years bringing up my children, of course photographing them all the time, got back into painting, exhibited till I discovered what a corrupt, money-based world that was!

I grabbed my camera more and more! This is definitely the best medium for me to express myself, my emotions.

Have you had any formal training?
Whilst living in Holland, I went on a course. It was interesting and great to learn to work in the darkroom, but ultimately I did not learn much about making creative images. I don't think my kind of creativity is something you can learn. Not sure where it comes from exactly but to be creative for me is not really a choice. I can't live without it. It is both my soul-food and a certain madness they like to call 'passion'.

Then I met Paul, my husband, who had studied at university under the wing of one of South Africa's best photographers. Paul's the greatest teacher, inspirational and with honest, objective and constructive criticism! A dream come true for any creative! He was also the best wet-darkroom printer; he created magic. I use it in the past tense because of digital photography.

THE FRIVOLOUS DAISY CHAIN... by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
THE FRIVOLOUS DAISY CHAIN... by Magda indigo

You say on your profile that you don't share your professional work on 500px, please can you tell us a little more about what you do professionally?
My professional work has involved everything from working with the BBC, the Ministry of Defence to campaigns for ad agencies, magazines, publishers, fashion, art-works, portraits and weddings (many of them Muslim!) I've photographed well known people such as Bill Clinton, Amitabh Bachchan, Michael Palin, Willem Vermandere and others. I'm now in the fortunate position of being able to rely more on sales of my own creative, photography, which I want to focus on rather than on commissioned work.

Who or what inspires your work?
I'm fiercely independent, individualist and intuitive and don't really study other professional photographers' work. I can appreciate good photographers. My inspiration is nature and people, and a love of life and beauty. I've often said, 'I don't talk to flowers, they talk to me.' I try to let nature's beauty speak to me and then show what I see to the world.

A FLOWERWORK ORANGE... ranunculus  by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
A FLOWERWORK ORANGE... ranunculus by Magda indigo

How did you arrive at your very distinctive black-background photography style?
Interesting question! In Flanders, where I grew up, most of the houses in the country-side used to be painted white, except for the bottom meter, which was tarred black... often a flower-border would sit against it. That was my inspiration. I wrote a blog post about the flower photography here. I moved the idea on from oils on canvas to soft pastels on black, from there to the studio-photography.

As photography is all about light, I wanted to learn; dived into the studio as often as possible, photographing anything, and one day, that was a flower. I was hooked. I knew flowers, the variation is so stunning, colour, shape, texture, it has it all. Days, nights, no time for food or drink or sleep, many different cameras, lenses, lights and plenty of flowers.

Everything has to 'wait' until I have the desired 'result'. There is mental and emotional nourishment, great satisfaction or sometimes enormous frustration at my inability and shortcomings. I don't always win!

For years I experimented in the studio, to get that Flemish painter's light. Well, I was born in Flanders; it must be in my blood. That was where the art studies came in; I had thought it boring at the time, composition and shadows' the 'rules'! You have to know them' then, you can break them, in a creative way.

Nowadays you see many images with a black background but it's something that I have always done. It's been 'my signature' for so long! Back in the days when I used oils, pastels (on black velvet paper!) and water colour as my medium, I often applied colour on a black background. It's something I've always done because I think there's purity in the way it brings out a subject and particularly its colours. I love colour, although I do shoot quite a bit of black and white too, where the focus changes to shapes and textures more.

LES BELLES BLANCHES...   Alstroemeria by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
LES BELLES BLANCHES... Alstroemeria by Magda indigo

What camera/s do you shoot with?
To me, cameras are just wonderful tools! It is the photographer, behind the camera who makes the photo! Give me any camera and I'll do you the job, that's a fact not a boast, been there, worn the T-shirt!

In choosing a camera, I have to like the 'feel' of it; after all, we'll have to be best friends! We've gathered a huge collection of cameras over the years and I shoot with whatever I feel suits the subject. I like my Hasselblads and my Nikons. I loved my Nikon F4s (film), did not get on with the D70 nor the D90, but I learned to work 'digi' with them; loved the D200. At the moment my main camera is a Nikon D7000.
Overall I like to keep things simple and lightweight. When I go out on a shoot I usually take one camera and a single zoom lens with a nice range. Equipment should never get in the way of getting the shot.

And your favourite lens?
Always loved 18-200mm because it gives me the full range that I generally need in one lens; it now is the AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm. For studio work I like my trusty Nikkor 60mm Micro lens. In the days of film I used to shoot with a 4x5' technical camera and a Rodenstock 180mm standard lens, which was super sharp.

How about other equipment needed to get shots like this' Lighting, tripod, filters etc.?
For my flowers the background is black velvet. I'm not keen on flash and favour continuous light. The light sources can be very diverse and I like experimenting and shaping the light using reflectors and cutters. No filters, can't stand them, many tripods, Manfrottos, Gizo etc...

I have been photographing for so long, so many different cameras, I must admit I hardly look at data, I set my camera at what I want at that particular moment for that specific shot. I know what I want from an image, if I want much depth of field I'll use a small aperture, if not a large one... and out it comes! Each image unique.
Use whatever is at hand! Be creative!

 PURPLE POLLEN-DUSTED ANEMONES... by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
PURPLE POLLEN-DUSTED ANEMONES... by Magda indigo

How important is post-processing to the end result; I see some have no photo manipulation whatsoever?
I am a purist and I respect photography so much. The scientists have worked for over a century to give us crisp, sharp images, the best lenses and look what happens: people go for blurred and scratched effects on images!

Generally I like to get things right in camera. Having said that, I do work for hours on each image, cleaning it up (because velvet and flowers get dusty!) and enhancing it subtly in Photoshop. Nature does such a brilliant job, who am I to mess with it?

How do you get your work out there? Was there any avenue in particular that led to your photographs becoming book covers?
I was 'discovered'! Other than publish my work online, I've not really pushed it out. Publishers and agencies find my work, word of mouth is great and they come to me, which is wonderful. Book designers have found my work suits what they are looking for: strong powerful eye-catching images of immaculate quality. The cover of a book is extremely important. It's got to stand out on the shelf and shout, 'pick me up!' I've been told that the beauty, creativity and fresh style of my images is what makes them stand out. The flowers I shoot sometimes have blemishes, a hole in a petal, they're real, edgy and not a cliché. There's a tension, intrigue, a story perhaps and, above all, a strong sense of reality and individuality.

LA VIE EN ROSE... by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
LA VIE EN ROSE... by Magda indigo

What advice would you give to amateur photographers?
All I can say is experiment, experiment, experiment... the camera, the lens, other people's EXIF data are irrelevant, because each subject, the material, circumstances, light source is different. Make it your own!
Learn from every mistake you make. Do you think I've stopped learning' I probably work harder at it than most, trying out different, new light settings and techniques constantly.
Never upload an image that is not 100%. Treat each site as you would a gallery, because that is what it is, you put up an exhibition! People come, visit and judge!

Accept that not everybody is going to like your work, just like you don't like all of theirs.'Your ideas also aren't always understood, but when they are, you'll get a compliment that will touch you deeply. And last but most important: have fun, enjoy it!

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
When someone wrote to me: 'I do not like flower photography, but, what you do with them is so amazing. You made me change my mind.'
And: "Beauty" is your work Magda. More important than you being a genius, is the fact that you are such a beautiful person, who spreads and shares so charming and warm and positive energy. Got only to say thanks for all that :)'
Also: 'You continue to inspire me and bring beauty and light into my days, for that I thank you!'

FRAYED EGOS... by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
FRAYED EGOS... by Magda indigo

If you could capture anybody or anything on camera what would it be?
Actually, I've done it. For a long time I wanted to photograph Willem Vermandere, a very famous Flemish Artist. Five years back I gathered all my courage, wrote and asked' we've been friends ever since with him and his family, seeing each other regularly and with great joy! Also, to photograph from, and on, the bridge of a Ferry... done! Lesson: don't ask, don't get!

Just so we can find out a bit more about the person behind the lens, could you tell me 5 things about you that are completely unrelated to photography?

  1. I love (creative) cooking.
  2. I love driving my sports car' fast.
  3. I love world/exotic, classical music, Italian opera, St Germain, Gotan Project. Anything that has the ability to move me.
  4. I've become more tolerant...
  5. ... and more intolerant.

BRING ME SUNSHINE... RANUNCULUS by Magda indigo (magdaindigo) on 500px.com
BRING ME SUNSHINE... RANUNCULUS by Magda indigo

What are your aspirations for the future, in photography or otherwise?
That I may never lose my creativity, keep 'inspiring' people, live in peace with those I love. To keep producing beautiful images, continue to learn in these technically exciting times, and sell all over the world.

To see more of Magda's work head over to her website or her 500px page.

Thanks to Magda for being interviewed and to you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below, feedback is awesome!


     

A Day With 500px

Published by Debs Slater · May 30th 2012

On May 15th members of the team here at 500px took part in the A Day project. As detailed in this post the aim of A Day was to inspire perspectives on humankind, today and tomorrow. All the photos uploaded to the site are going to be connected to others all over the world and preserved. This will not only give us a thorough understanding of what life was like on May 15th, 2012 but it will also allow future generations to see it for themselves. The website is due to launch in June, however a sneak peak is supposed to be going online today!

For us at 500px the project gave us the opportunity to snap a few shots of what a typical day at 500px HQ is like, along with using the project as an excuse to leave the office for an hour and wander to the iconic CN Tower :)

Here are a few shots from our team and their take on the project...


Ash Furrow

As someone who only recently purchased his first DSLR, I look forward to these types of community events because they present such a great opportunity to learn from other photographers. I moved to Toronto last year and still have fun exploring some of the neat spaces downtown that seem mundane to longtime residents.


Samantha Shea

I took some pictures of my feet for the A Day project. Sometimes you can see my little toe sticking out of the side. I probably need to get some new shoes. I documented my route that day which took me around the city, but I stayed focused on the ground, patterns and terrains, all outdoors on a nice sunny day. My favourite is the lobster.

Aday of Feet by Samantha Shea (SamanthaShea) on 500px.com
Aday of Feet by Samantha Shea


Eric Akaoka

These are my contributions to the A Day project. As a brand new member of the 500px team but a lifelong Torontonian, taking downtown photos with my new co-workers was an exercise in finding familiarity and common ground with then-unfamiliar people, while also looking to capture novelty and new perspectives on a city I know so well.


Debbie Slater

I documented my day from morning to night. For me (and many others) the internet is a huge part of daily life and I wanted to incorporate this into my images. From the photo of Facebook (definitely a daily habit), to the church at the top of my road with its message “There are some questions that can’t be answered by Google”, and a shot of my work computer displaying the internet-based company I work for.


Another Day

The A Day project aside, I actually think photographing a typical day in your life is something that would be interesting to do more often. Taking photos throughout my day really made me focus on what a typical day in my life is like right now. It got me thinking about the changes I would like to make to my life and what I’d like a typical day to look like in a few years time.

Perhaps by picking one date in the calendar, and every year documenting that date through photography, we will see how our life changes over time. By being more aware of my own day-to-day existence I'm inspired to focus on my goals so that hopefully, in the future, my typical day won’t start with Facebook. Still ending the day with frozen yoghurt would be just fine :)


     

Gallery: Starry, Starry Night

Published by Debs Slater · May 28th 2012

The Gallery feature is a great way of challenging yourself and getting exposure for your work. Every week a theme will be announced and you'll have until Sunday (6pm EST) to submit photos on that theme. You may already have photos that suit, or you could see it as a weekly creative brief. Either way, make sure the photo is uploaded to your 500px Profile and then just email me the link. 12 will make it onto the blog :)

This week's theme was...

Starry, Starry Night

Next week's theme: On the Road

The theme is completely open to interpretation so get creative, get snapping and send them our way: blog@500px.com


     

Portrait: Veselin Malinov

Published by Debs Slater · May 25th 2012

There are so many incredible images on 500px but we want to know more about the photographers, and stories, behind them. Our Portrait series interviews a talented photographer each week, allowing us to discover more about living life through a lens.

This week's interview is with Bulgaria-based photographer Veselin Malinov.

insignificant....2 by Veselin Malinov (vale_en) on 500px.com
insignificant....2 by Veselin Malinov

When and how did you fall in love with photography?
It was maybe 4 years ago and it all started from a vacation in Portugal. I had just won a Canon IXUS 55 from a contest at my work; it all came together from there.

Have you had any formal training?
No, I haven’t. I started to learn about 2 years ago and I’m still nowhere :)

You don’t just focus on one topic of photography but instead photograph landscapes, street scenes, horses etc. Which is your favourite subject to photograph?
My specialties are street and landscape photography.

People and ghosts by Veselin Malinov (vale_en) on 500px.com
People and ghosts by Veselin Malinov

Who or what inspires your work?
The endless nature and the small details.

Your snowy landscape shots, above the clouds, are breathtaking. Where in the world is that?
:) This is The Black Peak (or Cherni Vruh) of Mount Vitosha, only a 30 minute drive from the capital of Bulgaria: Sofia. But despite the car you still have to walk maybe 2 or 3 hours to get there, it’s 2290 meters above sea level.

Also, who is the brave friend photographed in most of those shots, stood so close to the cliff face?!
All of them are just people that I don’t know, but I was waiting for them to get there a long time, I pictured the composition before the shots.

first among equals... by Veselin Malinov (vale_en) on 500px.com
first among equals... by Veselin Malinov

What camera/s do you shoot with?
Canon EOS 550D.

And your favourite lenses?
My favorites have not yet been bought by me, you know, they cost a lot. At the moment though I’m using a 24-105 f4 L lens and I’m pretty happy with it.

How important is post-processing to the final piece?
It is important but you don’t have to go overboard. If you are using a lot of processing, you haven’t done your job with the camera.

ride the lightning by Veselin Malinov (vale_en) on 500px.com
ride the lightning by Veselin Malinov

How do you gain exposure for your work?
500px! You guys rock! As for other sites, I have my own website, I've had some exhibitions and I have one coming in 14 days, a big one! I have also won 3 contests so far :)

What advice would you give to amateur photographers wanting to capture landscapes?
If you don’t have the passion, don’t start.

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
Winning the golden medal in a FIAP contest last year (for Urban Chaos) and first prize and a bronze statue this year; with one of my clouds shots.

Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?
No doubt, Urban Chaos. This was the first picture I took that moved me.

Urban chaos - FIAP Golden medal 2011 by Veselin Malinov (vale_en) on 500px.com
Urban chaos - FIAP Golden medal 2011 by Veselin Malinov

If you could capture anybody or anything on camera what would it be?
I want to do a photo shoot with the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Just so we can find out a bit more about the person behind the lens, could you tell us 5 things about you that are completely unrelated to photography?

  1. I graduated in psychology.
  2. I love football.
  3. I have a beautiful and sweet girlfriend.
  4. I like traveling
  5. I love music

What are your aspirations for the future, in photography or otherwise?
I would like to start making some money from my photography, but in my country things are little bit different. I love photography so it would be my dream come true to make a living out of it...
…keep on tryin’, till I reach the highest ground.

Musala peak by Veselin Malinov (vale_en) on 500px.com
Musala peak by Veselin Malinov

To see more of Veselin’s work head over to his website or his 500px page.

Thanks to Veselin for being interviewed and to you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below, feedback is awesome!


     

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