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Main Blog - Searching4theShot

March 3rd, 2017

Hi there! My main blog site is now called searching4theshot and is located on WordPress here

Please click the nice button below to take a look at my latest ramblings as it seems I am unable to use html to link directly to the blog here.

~Richard

What you feel, or why a painting is like a pizza

March 3rd, 2017

What you feel, or why a painting is like a pizza

How I quickly learned to appreciate contemporary art ...

Read more by clicking the button below to go to my main Blog site at www.searching4theshot.wordpress.com

~Richard
http://www.reevephotos.com

Haiku - Time Marches On

March 3rd, 2017

Haiku - Time Marches On

Sometimes I feel that life is just accelerating out of control. Today is March 3rd and it seems that Christmas was only a few days back...

Read more by clicking the button below to go to my Blog site at www.searching4theshot.wordpress.com

~Richard
http://www.reevephotos.com

The Butterfly Effect - a sculpture

March 2nd, 2017

The Butterfly Effect - a sculpture

My ceramic sculpting has taken off with this multi media piece that recently sold at the Allinson Gallery...

Read more by clicking the button below to go to my Blog site at www.searching4theshot.wordpress.com

~Richard
http://www.reevephotos.com

Vermeer Revisited

March 2nd, 2017

Vermeer Revisited

Several reworkings of The Girl with the Pearl Earring...

Read more by clicking the button below to go to my Blog site at www.searching4theshot.wordpress.com

~Richard
http://www.reevephotos.com

Is this Street Art?

March 2nd, 2017

Is this Street Art?

Sometimes I see things on my travels that make me scratch my head and wonder if they are art installations...

Read more by clicking the button below to go to my Blog site at www.searching4theshot.wordpress.com

~Richard
http://www.reevephotos.com

Going LoFi in a Digital World with the Recesky TLR 35mm camera

January 31st, 2015

Going LoFi in a Digital World with the Recesky TLR 35mm camera

ABSTRACT: In the world of ever more sophisticated digital cameras, with huge pixel counts and, more importantly, larger sensors available to all devices, including cell phones, there is still something magical about using traditional film cameras. Demanding a more sedate level of anticipation with the accompanying uncertainty of how the final image will turn out in print puts back a certain charm into photography that is sometimes lacking in this point-and-shoot world. Richard Reeve discusses how he discovered and built his $20 Recesky 35mm Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera and why it’s part of his standard photography kit.
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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some type of Luddite or traditionalist harping on about the good old days of film photography and how everyone now thinks they’re a fine art photographer just because they own an iPhone; I am as much a geek as many other photographers, with my main choice of hardware being my trusty Panasonic GX-1 with the “new-fangled” m43 format rather than the more usual DSLR. That being said, I was fascinated to stumble across the Recesky TLR camera that could be built in a couple of hours and use widely available 35mm film - for about $20.
I had dabbled with a Holga using black and white 110-film over the last couple of years, learning with my daughter as she went through her photography classes at school, and maybe that helped pique my interest to temporarily put away the Panny, turn off the laptop and go back to real basics. Additionally, with the use of widely available 35mm color film which could be processed cheaply locally, this opened up a lot of creative possibilities using the quirky plastic lens system with its quirky vignetting effect.

There is quite a lot of information available on the internet regarding the Recesky camera, and its more up-market, but similar version, the Gakkenflex, some of which can be off putting to the reader since it over dramatizes the complexity of the task at hand. In reality the whole exercise of building the camera took me only a couple of quiet hours and is very straightforward providing you do your preparation work, read all instructions carefully and, most importantly, take your time.

Sourcing the camera kit is easy - just type Recesky into Amazon or eBay and you will find several sellers. You should be able to get this for $20 or less including shipping. The kit comes in a styrofoam box and you should be very careful about unpacking this and making sure all parts are present, as some are very small, easily lost and not replaceable. My kit only had instructions in Chinese so I printed out English instructions on the internet and read a few “diy” blogs (see below) before I started. One thing I recommend is that you dedicate a couple of quiet hours to this as you don’t want to be disturbed when fiddling with small plastic components and springs and you certainly don’t want your part-completed kit sent flying by children or pets.

Construction is fairly straightforward, once you relax into it and realise that you may have to do, undo and redo pieces a few times to get it right. The main thing to remember is to not force anything and, if you are unsure, to refer not only to the instructions but to the growing number of youtube videos available. The most difficult part is putting together the shutter release mechanism. It is quite surprising how a couple of cheap springs, a pinhole and and a plastic flap can make a fairly reliable shutter.

Once all the parts are together the Recesky is fairly robust, for a cheap plastic camera, with the exception of the flip up viewfinder mechanism which seems to fall apart quite easily until you work out how to open it carefully. This does not affect the camera’s operation though, since if the 4 parts detach they can just be snapped into place, but it did frustrate me to start with.

Loading a 35mm film (ISO 400 recommended, but it’s not critical) is easy, although, as with Holga cameras, you have to experiment a little with your particular build in order to get the the film tension correct to ensure it flat on the focal plane, but it’s not totally critical. I added a small piece of card from the film box between the end of the film spool and the camera body to make the film fit more tightly and increase the film tension. Close up the back and you are ready for action with your half-sized, fake Rolleiflex.

The first thing to notice on the outside of the camera is that there is no film counter. Instead the take up spool has an arrow embossed on it. When winding the film on the arrow needs to move half of a revolution to have advanced the film a full frame. Therefore you need to be in the habit of either remembering to advance after every shot so that you are ready to take your next picture and not get a double exposure (unless you want to do that!)

The Recesky is a TLR (twin lens reflex) so you don’t see exactly the image you are going to get as there will be parallax effect between the viewing lens and the camera lens. This is not a significant problem for distance work but gets problematic with close ups. Focusing, such as it is, can be achieved by winding the lenses, which are meshed together, in and out and viewing the scene through the “ground glass” (plastic) viewfinder. Note the image is upside down so it takes a bit of getting used to moving and tilting the camera in the opposite direction to what you think. Also the viewfinder is very dim so the camera is best used in bright sunlight if you want to rely on the viewfinder to compose your shot.

Once you have run through your film it can be developed quite cheaply at many drugstores, camera shops or big box stores, since it uses standard 35mm film. This is a huge advantage over the Holga cameras with their 110 film format, which we had to wet process ourselves.
Maybe it’s just me but the other thing that I like about this whole activity is the introduction of an anticipatory element to the creative flow. Instead of simply pressing the arrow and looking at the image on the camera LCD you have to wait until the entire film is shot and then wait hours or days for the photos to be produced. I also suggest you also get JPG versions on a DVD too if you can unless you want to scan the negatives or prints yourself to a higher quality format.

The images that the Recesky produces are quaint, often unexpected and have that natural retro feel, with vignetting and soft focus. Even mundane objects take in a different appearance and it is for this reason that I will often use my digital and my Recesky when I am on a shoot, to compare the imagery afterwards. I guess no two cameras are truly the same although the Recesky camera body is significantly more light proof than the Holga, so you don’t get that light bleed effect for which the latter is so well known - or at least I don’t.

The other thing with the Recesky is that it is relatively compact so you can pop it in your jacket pocket and take it wherever you go. It’s also fascinating to see the people’s expressions when composing a shot with the camera - usually a look of bewilderment as they assume you are, in fact, using some hi-tech equipment, radar detector, measuring device or 3-D camera. Some people’s curiosity will even get the better of them sufficiently to ask what it is!

So, in conclusion if you want to try something a little different from your normal routine, don’t want to spend too much money that you could spend on glass for your digital equipment, but are prepared to put in some time and patience, then why not give this a go and join the fun of not being entirely in control of how your final art will reveal itself!

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Richard has several of his Recesky images available for sale as prints and cards on ReevePhotos.com at Recesky Shots where he also runs the Recesky Group. He also regularly adds Recesky information to his Recesky Pin board at http://www.pinterest.com/rreevephotos/recesky-shots/

Useful Recesky references:
http://www.lofico.com.au/blogs/news/7629867-recesky-diy-tlr-tutorial
http://receskytlr.blogspot.com/2012/03/recesky-manual-pdf.html
http://all-my-cameras.com/2013/10/15/the-recesky-diy-tlr-camera_en/

This article first appeared in Eye on Fine Art Photography Volume I, issue 2 ( http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/696468)

An Introduction to FineArtAmerica Groups

November 10th, 2014

An Introduction to FineArtAmerica Groups

An Introduction to FineArtAmerica Groups

Joining or even running a Group on Fine Art America can be a great way to promote your work and get involved with similar-minded artists. Richard Reeve provides his brief perspective on how these groups run and describes his “typical day” as a Group Administrator.

What are FAA Groups?

My favorite place for displaying art is the online site fineartamerica.com (and it’s sister sites such as pixels.com), for which I will use the abbreviation FAA throughout this article. FAA is a particularly useful print on demand (POD) site as it has all the tools that we naive marketeers can find useful for selling our art, with very little technical knowledge required. Having said that, there are several ways that this site can be used to get more people to see your art, and one of them is to participate in FAA Groups, either as a member or an administrator.
In my opinion FAA Groups exist for two main reasons: firstly, for like-minded people to get together and share images, discussions and critiques around a common theme, and secondly, to promote the work of the group members to a wider audience.

What Sort of Groups are there?

FAA has thousands of different groups on the site, covering a huge variety of topics and themes. Some are very much into the promotion purpose and have extremely broad subject matter for images that will be appropriate to submit, if any at all. Others offer niche themes where one can receive critique and discussion on individual artwork. There are many that fit across this spectrum of aims. At time of writing I administer a couple of Groups: Quintessentially British, an active group promoting images of “Britishness”, and a much more niche group specifically devoted to the work of Analog Photographers - Recesky Holga and Diana cameras. But there are many general groups, depending on your tastes, and any FAA member can join any of them with a simple button click.

Who benefits and how?

You should already be able to see that there are potential benefits of such Groups to any FAA member. I consider Groups to be mini-communities that exist within FAA and help each other out one way or another, in addition to the main discussion boards. The most significant benefit is that you get another place to display your work on the internet. And every time your image is displayed on the internet it increases your chances of getting it in front of a potential buyer which can’t be a bad thing, can it?

What are the downsides?

To be honest, there are very few, if any, downsides to joining multiple groups on FAA. In fact, the only one I can really point to is that you may receive a significant amount of email from your Group Administrator(s) telling you what is going on and asking for member’s comments and input. Otherwise you have very little to lose other than a few seconds of time when you read the group requirements and consider which of your images meet them before submitting your images for acceptance.

Why manage a FAA Group?

Now to the $64,000 question; “what’s in it for the Group Administrators”? To be honest, I think this is a difficult question to answer. Personally, aside from the additional exposure that my images also have as being a member of my groups, I feel a sense of achievement at having brought together a group of like-minded artists, albeit virtually. In the end though, all group participants and, to be honest, even non-participants gain some value as every time any group image, discussion, or contest is posted on the web the whole FAA site gets another (small) boost on the internet searches.

A “typical day” in the life of one FAA Group administrator

Up at 6am to fix breakfast and have the first cup of tea of the day, followed by a quick peek through emails and logging onto FAA for the first time. I tend to go straight to my group discussion board to see if there has been any activity from the group members and post responses as appropriate, if they are short. Otherwise, if there are specific actions for me I may leave these for later in the day when I have more time. Next, a quick look to see how many new images have been added and finally, I check to see where the group is standing in the “most active” ratings. FAA has a way of sorting the groups by how active they are, and my goal is always to try to keep the group on the first page of the “very high” rankings and, if possible, in the top half. I do this to try and increase exposure for everyone’s work.
If there haven’t been too many images added overnight I will process them at this point, as described below, otherwise I leave them for the evening.

My next look at the group comes around 6pm when I get back from work, and I will spend time over the next few hours checking the discussions, following up on any actions such as featuring images on the group home page, commenting, and liking (favoriting) images and then going through the images submitted during the day so that I can add them to the group. I am always amazed by two things at this point; the diversity of images that the group takes and the fact that some members insist on submitting images that don’t meet the group’s aims. This is one of the things that causes me the most annoyance, as the groups aims are very clear, and I have no qualms in rejecting these images immediately. One of the other activities I make a point of doing is pinning those images of group members who allow it, to the Pinterest sites Quintessentially British and Recesky Shots in order to potentially draw in an audience. It’s a bit of an obsession, but I always include the title and artist name with © sign.

The main administrative activity for me though is trying to keep the balance of a highly active group, but without bombarding the members with too many emails and messages. After image promotion I tend to concentrate on the group’s discussion boards, offering activities to stimulate conversation, such as commenting exercises, image critiquing, setting up mini-portfolios, discussions for contests, offers for features, news about free software, marketing tips, games, and just about anything I can think of. Some of these work, but many seem to fall on deaf ears, which is a shame. I use bulk emails only rarely to notify members of what is going on, such as when we are having a contest or member participation has waned.

In all, I probably spend around an hour per day managing one Group, and more at the weekends when I have a little more time to deal with the longer term “strategy” and maintenance of the group, such that it is. Although it is time consuming, I do find the exercise forces me to look and comment on new images, and running a group has certainly made me think a lot more about promoting art for myself and others, which s a good thing overall.
How can you help as a Group Member?
I recognize that we are all busy, either with full-time or part-time promotion of our art, but just entering one message into a discussion board of the group each time you add an image or group of images goes a really long way to thanking not only the administrator but also benefiting the group as whole.

Conclusion

If you want to increase your exposure (pun intended) on fineartamerica.com / pixels.com then joining one or more group is a good way to do this. But it’s not just about submitting your images and standing back, it also requires some participation to support the administrators that give up their time to manage these groups on your behalf and make it all worthwhile.
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Richard currently manages two groups on Fine Art America: Analog Photographers - Recesky, Holga and Diana groups. When not promoting the work of group members his own images can be seen at www.reevephotos.com


This article first appeared in Eye on Fine Art Photography, May 2014

Getting Quick Responses with a QR Code

May 15th, 2014

Getting Quick Responses with a QR Code

Getting Quick Responses with a QR Code

You have probably seen these weird looking blocks of black and white squares on packages and leaflets, and even on the billboards and buildings, but do you really understand what they are and how you can benefit from them?
Richard Reeve briefly describes what these are and how you too can use these to promote your work and even incorporate them into your art too!
What is a QR code?
Over the last several decades we have all become used to barcodes, with their characteristic zebra-stripes, being printed on all our packaging to make stock control easy in the supermarket and beyond, but in the last few years you may also have noticed the quiet arrival of a new variant of this object in the shape of a black and white set of dots in a square shape. This is a new form of 2-dimensional barcode called a Quick Response code, or QR code, which is able to convey a lot more information than the old stripey barcodes in a format that all users of common modern technology can use without a laser in sight. These squares of high contrast are not only used to identify a product but can also provide a quick link to a website for further information. Unique QR codes can, in fact, be created and used by anyone to allow quick access to anything accessible by a URL. This means we can now use them to drive potential customers to our online art portfolios, or even specific artwork, blog postings, or anything else without worrying about spelling errors or mistyping of long web addresses.
How does it all work?

The first thing that anyone needs to be able to use a QR code is a smartphone with a camera and access to the internet. The next thing to do is to download an app that can read QR codes and then you are ready to start your journey. There are many QR code readers available for iOS and android users, some free (usually with a few, fairly unobtrusive adverts) and others that cost a few bucks. Just search your app store for “QR reader” and see what’s available.
Once you have this installed all you have to do is start the app, line the camera up with any QR code you find, and let the camera focus on it. You don’t even have to press the shutter button as the phone will do the rest for you. As soon as the app recognizes the QR code it will use your web browser to open up the page to which the QR code has sent it, and you can view the site. It really is that quick and easy!
How to generate a QR code
It shouldn’t take you long to realise the potential for this as a marketing tool for your artwork. This little black and white square offers a foolproof way for people to quickly locate any page you want from their phone. All you have to do is generate your code and use it somewhere where others can find it.
Again, the web comes to our rescue, and a simple search for “QR code generator” will provide you with a wealth of choices. I use the google generator app so I will explain how this works, although other generators are very similar.
Go to the web page, and in the URL box type the web address where you want the QR code to point. This could be your FAA site, personal site, even a specific gallery or image web address (just copy and paste from the address bar of your own site). You will see a QR code instantly generated for you by the software. You can even check the image now by pointing your QR scanner-equipped smartphone at your computer screen to see it work instantly! Next, you save this code to your computer, usually as a PNG file for later use. With google you can also choose how big you want the image to be and also if you want margins (white space). It’s all personal choice and depends on what you want to do with it.

How to use a QR code

Now you have your personal QR code downloaded onto your computer - what next? Well, as a PNG file you can load it into your image processing software, word processor, or any other application that will accept an image. How you want to use this is really up to your own creativity.
I started off by printing it on cards and stickers to put on the back of my photographs and exhibition entries, along with my printed name and web address. Then I progressed to a self-inking stamp from VistaPrint (since this QR code can be uploaded as a logo) for a more professional look. By experimenting I found that the color of the image really has no effect on its usability so I have also created a few abstract images based on my QR code for my FAA gallery. Finally, I like to include it in any written work I do too. I have even defined this as one of my brushes in GIMP so I can include it in it any image I want as a watermark or overlay.
The bottom line is that QR codes can be interesting abstract images in themselves and can be used in any way you want knowing that every appearance is a subtle advertisement for your work!
Conclusion
If you are prepared to invest a relatively short amount of time learning how to use QR codes and a little more time thinking about how you can use them creatively. You could find them an inexpensive way of driving a few more potential customers to your online galleries.

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Richard has incorporated a few QR codes into his images available for sale as prints and cards at http://goo.gl/K5qEb or why not try scanning the QR code to the right with your smartphone?
Useful QR code resources:
Background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code
Create a QR code: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com
Download a QR code reader:
for iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/qr-code-reader-and-scanner/id388175979?mt=8
for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.scan.android.client

This article first appeared in Eye on Fine Art Photography Volume I, issue 4