June 21st, 2018
The most important thing for a photographer is eyes to see.
Who needs glasses?
At last after a 3 month wait I attended the appointment with a renowned eye specialist and had a productive 5 minute exam and explanation from him. Yeah :-).
But the process to get to this pivotal point involved lots of travel people and paper work, plus hurry up and wait...
Arriving in plenty of time for this appointment I waited the obligatory 10 minutes past my allotted time, before being called into the inners sanctum along with three older ladies all of whom had waited a long time for this day and a consultation.
We were ushered into a dimly lighted corridor doubling as a secondary waiting room, by a lady dressed in a white coat she looked of a Grocer from the 1960,s.
This nameless lady looked to me like a "Susan" based on Susan's I have known in the past. This Susan lady is in charge of the preliminaries, something I have had done at least 5 times in the past working my way up the ladder via Opticians Optomologist and lots of other Opto,s to the ultimate specialist, they have all the files which if read would inform why I was there.
The three ladies and I waited a good 15 minutes making small chat waiting for the white coated "Susan" lady return with drops to put in everyone's eyes their purpose to dilate the pupils and blind us for the next 6 hours.
Picture this dim lighted corridor with 6 chairs three are filled with ladies one by me a man. Susan returns with notes in hand looks around and asks "Who is David"? Duh, who really needs glasses here?
We seated patients all looked at each other somewhat amused, then I said "OK no prizes here, if they won't own up to being David, I will be David for the afternoon" Miss white coat not amused and place drops in all our eyes before disappearing again.
Maybe a job is boring and repetitious but one should have some consideration for those who are having tests are apprehensive and not familiar with the medically set procedure. If one made the most of every moment, was more caring and considerate to others everybody's life would be better for it. A lighter mood from the staff would make a much more positive and less scary time for the customer/patient.
After my 5 minute exam and consultation I did get some answers and was asked which of two procedures if either I would like to have done at a later date.
From there I was taken to a secretary who handed me several bits of paper with the details and a date was booked.
I am now in a bright room pupils fully dilated and squinting the secretary asked what date is good for me, I could not read my diary so she booked me in on I think a free day, then handed me more papers apparently in English and French saying sign here, here and here, as she marked an X in the right place.
"What am I signing? “I asked. To which she just said "You are signing that you have read the agreement and fully understand the procedure and giving your permission for the next stage” It really messes up the system when I refused to sign until a time when I can read the small print.
What did I learn from this experience?
When in the medical system hurry up and wait on the conveyer belt until it come to the end.
There are many white coated people who enjoy putting drops into people's eyes.
Don't sign anything you cannot read.
I went for an eye appointment not a sex change, and white coat Susan needs glasses.
To be continued......
May 29th, 2018
No idea why but when I show some of my photographs people ask “How long did it take you to take that photograph”?
Take a look at the photograph I took of the Robin on our gate. It took just 750th of a second to shoot that photograph, and days of watching listening and waiting, resulting in 5 great photographs.
Without thought and planning or a little luck any photograph is just a snap. Also if you edit a photograph too much it becomes just a picture. Whenever, wherever possible I try my best to edit in camera using an exposure often overriding what the meter says, and use filters on the lens to enhance when necessary.
I observed the two Robins over several days and sat on a bench with camera on a tripod so the Birds would be used to this, and when not observing put three pieces of wood in the same place as a substitute.
After time the birds grew used to this being there and I found their routine. The female would come through the hedge land on the ground see all was clear before flying to the nest to feed the chicks.
The male with bright red breast would fly onto the gate hop around look before flying into the nest. The time between each visit depended upon how quickly the birds found bugs. Their speed in catching and returning to the nest increase as the rain began and they mimicked the rain by trapping on the grass with their beaks as worms came to the surface.
I found they were happy with me sitting there provided I did not wear a blue and white striped shirt and black trouser, but preferred it when I wore pastel colours to blend with the house siding.
Several days went by without any photographs being taken, just observation and familiarity with their routine and they getting used to me, while I study and read up on Robins.
American Robins are common birds across the continent. You’ll find them on lawns, fields, and city parks, as well as in more wild places like woodlands, forests, mountains up to near tree line, recently burned forests, and tundra. During winter many robins move to moist woods where berry-producing trees and shrubs are common.
Female robins choose the nest sites, which are typically on one or several horizontal branches hidden in or just below a layer of dense leaves. Nests are typically in the lower half of a tree, although they can be built as high as the treetop. American Robins also nest in gutters, eaves, on outdoor light fixtures, and other structures.
Our pair chose an arbour covered with a Virginia creeper building the nest about 8 feet off the ground.
Early morning light is wonderful casting long shadows to add depth or highlight areas in this case the red breast and leaves. Patience timing and lighting all important and came together at 7am and I am not a morning person.
With my camera set on a tripod remote shutter release in hand and pre manually focuses in the gate all set up it was a waiting game. As always taking the photographs is such a thrill especially when the results turn out so well. More will be posted on http://davidmatthews.me and
There you will also see four chicks in the nest this was taken without disturbing them or annoying the parent bird.
Again observation and when both parents were well away from home I just sneaked into the arbour and with wide angle lens held the camera above my head took 2 photographs, then made my retreat to the safe place. The birds are still working hard feeding their young.
May 4th, 2018
Springs Early Risers.
Winters in Manitoba Canada can be harsh, for people animals and plants.
Overnight lows as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) occur on several days each winter, and the temperature may remain below −18 °C (0 °F) for weeks. Southern Manitoba falls into the humid continental climate zone.
As the white colourless winter fades into a brown spring life one again peaks through. Geese return from the south animals awake from hibernation and the first flowers of the year spring up wild on the prairies.
The wild Crocus is the Provincial flower of Manitoba getting harder to find on the Prairies.
The prairie crocus (Pulsatilla ludoviciana)—also known as anemone patens, the pasque-flower, the windflower (because of its furry petals) and the gosling plant—was officially adopted as the official flower of Manitoba in 1906.Interest had first been aroused by the Manitoba Horticultural Society. A subsequent vote among schoolchildren put the crocus in first place, the prairie lily second and the wild rose third.It carries one flower with purple petals and yellow stamens, on top of each stem, other are white or blue. Exposed to Chinooks the Crocus thrives on well drained soil, growing about 4 inches tall in April early May.
In search of Springs Early Risers
My personal challenge for this year was to find and photograph the elusive flower. I went for many walks to places I thought they may grow but to no avail.
I posted a request on my Face Book page asking if anyone could point me in the direction of wild Crocus. I had many replies and eventually found a perfect spot but not the best of lighting conditions.Thank you to all who gave me tips on where to find these ever elusive flowers, your secret is safe with me.
I followed one lead, on the lower side of the hill it was boggy muddy and hard walking, at one point the mud seeped into my boots and I squished the rest of the way uphill. I was rewarded, the ground there dusty a light breeze blowing the soil but behold a host of crocus.
The lighting was flat and using a white reflector set to photographing the flowers. I lay prone eating dust I should have worn old clothes but heck I was focused on crocus, and dirty clothes not a problem, that is what a washing machine is for.
Being so close to an object is always a challenge so used aperture priority to maintain the maximum depth of field. This in simple terms means a way to have the maximum amount in focus.
Auto focus tends to search a lot in these conditions so I reverted to manual focus, and enjoyed the experience.
Back home I found the photographs a little flay due to the soft light and via an editor just increased the Gamma. To get the results I wanted.
The results and bigger selection can be seen on http://davidmatthews.me
It was well worth the effort I already have an award for one of the photographs and another will be featured, on Television Global News by Meteorologist Tiffany Lizee
April 25th, 2018
Who is David Matthews?
An interview I gave to a magazine a few years go.
Where is home?
Home is where I am who I am with and what I make it. Roots are where I come from.I have been called a transient higgler.
.When did you first realize that you wanted to get into photography and how long have you been involved with it?
I was eight years old and my parents bought a Brownie 127 camera while on holiday. There was something about holding the camera and creating an image that felt good. Four years later I captured a lorry crash into a house and with the help of a local photographer I had this published on the front page of the local newspaper with a circulation of 100.000 and a buy line "Photograph by David Matthews". I was hook knowing so many people could see my work, and the bonus I was paid for use the photograph, the payment was larger than my folks had paid for the camera.. .
Are you formally taught or self taught?
I am most totally self taught, helped by mentors over time and being thrown in at the deep end. Sink or swim.
Are you satisfied with your choice of getting involved with this profession? Is there anything else you would rather be doing?
From the first moment I held a camera in my hand, I never wanted to put it down and I honestly don’t think I could ever stop my addiction for photography. I cannot think of anything else I would rather do, and am grateful to have been able to follow my passion..
What is your favourite part of heading out for a photo shoot?
I love the feeling of when I head out and it excites me because I don’t know what joys of nature I’m going to be able to capture.
When you’re out photographing, what do you find most challenging?
Photography is most challenging and rewarding I have been involved in. I am constantly chasing the next photograph, the weather in all conditions, and into the night.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Wow, Do I have to choose one or can I choose four? Each season brings me joy and challenges, spring a new awakening summer of relaxation recreation Fall the harvest and colour change, winter the bleak colourless world.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
I’m motivated, have determination and addiction because every day is different and you never know what you’re going to capture. I constantly look out for potential places to be photographed as and when the weather conditions are right. To find that one unusual angle and show the world as I see it is my delight.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
In my journey as a photographer, photojournalist and industrial commercial photographer all challenges are wonderful. I have recorded history covered horrid events and now enjoy sharing the beauty I see.
What has been the best source of information along your photography journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
Reading books retaining information and putting it into practice, and the joys of working creating in camera and a dark room. Many well known photographers have been an inspiration to learn from and develop my own technique and vision.
What advice can you share with someone who would like to break into the photography scene?
The advice I had was Don’t’ do it there is no money in photography. Mostly they were right but did not understand the satisfaction creating any image has for me.
Photography is so rewarding love what you do love you see and try and capture that moment in a unique manner and never grow up, never give up, enjoy the moment that way you will never be working.
Your use of light and color is truly exceptional. Is there a secret you can share that may help explain how your photos look so vibrant and interesting?
I’m very fortunate to have traveled the world observed many different events and lighting situations. Vibrant and interesting is a compliment maybe the best thing I can share is when no to take photographs. Unless it is a record shot just recording a moment of event do not take photographs between 10 am and 5pm especially in the summer when the sun is high a flat light and increased ultra violet haze. .
What is your favourite image?
The last one I took, and the next one I take. Some are more appealing than others but the excitement of each is a joy. I do not have an overall favourite I am still waiting to take that perfect Photograph. Oh and I believe you do not take a photograph you create a photograph.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favourite lens?
Um I think it is a black one! Over the years I have used many different cameras and lenses, the make model size to me is not important it is how you use the tool in hand, and paint with light. Right now I am using Canon EOS DSLR, mostly with an 18 to 55 mm leans.
What is in your camera bag?
Two cameras a cleaning cloth, spare batteries, a couple of graduated filters, also UV, neutral density and polariser filters. I prefer to edit in camera than any photo editing programme. ,spare memory cards, a couple of lenses a remote shutter release a flash light and a packet of mints.
What is your favourite photography accessory?
My favourite accessory is an elasticized neck strap it helps ease the weight of my equipment.
What’s your photo editing software of choice? How important is post processing to you?
I always shoot in raw so that I can get the best available image quality available and not lose details in my images therefore I use Light room or Photoshop to process my images. I don’t use any other form of editing software.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that ‘tipping point’?
Right from the first moment I was able to photograph a beautiful sky landscape and animals, I have been addicted and always wanted to see and get better.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
In the future, I would still love to have a camera in my hand; health permitting and I would like to have improved with my photography
April 8th, 2018
Thank you all for the responses emails and comment on my last blog post, this has been most encouraging especially as I am more an image creator than a writer.
Thank you Karen K, for this inspiration.
I'd like a part two to this one and go a bit deeper with where you get the ideas for composition/ angles, whatever... how you open your eyes to the possibilities
It's not about a how to for other people... talk about how you do it for yourself. I always wonder about that with artists - how they view their world and present it in their chosen medium. The difference between being able to "recreate" and being creative
How does my mind work how do I see and record the world around me?
Wow a BIG question.
The simple answer is; this develops over time, experimenting, learning from mistakes and perseverance, much like any other skill in life it is learned and developed.
One of the first extensions of hand eye coordination is as a child one learns to use is a spoon, which progresses to other tools and mindsets. My choice of tool is a camera and accessories; my canvas is the world around me and my pallet painting with light.
The technical aspect is not important at the moment as most people have a compact camera or phone that will in 90% of cases take and expose a reasonable photograph.
What needs to be learned and acquired is an eye for beauty around us, there is no right or wrong way to capture the moment or beauty; however you see the photograph is right for you, it is how you see the world, and wish to portray your vision to others. I use three words before every photograph.
“Think compose expose”.
First think and look at your subject, is this a wide angle shot or a close up? What is the most important aspect? I have looked at a scene that has so much in the photograph it is just confusing many items and no centre focal point. Select your subject, even if what started as a panoramic photograph is whittled down to just an ornate door or hinge.
Avoid what I call the family holiday snaps, Have you been bored by sitting through a slide show with commentary such as. “This is Doris on the beach in Mexico but I cut her head off. This is Doris on the end of the pier in Brighton, well she should have been in the photograph but I took this after she fell in the water! I can think of nothing more boring than people explaining what should be there.
Today it is not so much slide shows more one on one showing photographs on a phone, but the principle is always the same.
“Think compose expose”
Think is this of interest to others and is one photograph telling the entire story?
Compose do I want the beach only the subject or both and which is my focal point? Maybe put Doris off to one side of the frame and show he expanse of the beach.
Expose, ie press the button, today automatic camera will give you the best average exposure possible.
Angles are very important this is one of the first points I teach when running a class, and as a practical experiment we go outside and take photographs while crawling around on hands and knees, no photograph can be taken higher than 2 feet off the ground. This makes one think and see the world in a different way. Dogs eye view.
Photography is not just taken from a standing eye level position, get down and dirty; get high and mighty, shoot through something maybe a window or tyre swing. Be bold be different be unusual. Make people look twice at your work.
The average time a person looks at a photograph is 2 seconds, yup only 2 seconds, choose to make the viewer think make a double take maybe turn their head and view for 5 second you have a winner, then possible chance of selling your work.
Photography is taking a three dimensional world and making it two dimensional, there are ways to fool the eyes into with an image on a flat piece of paper and make it look more realistic. I wrote about this in my first E Book back in 2009, “Improve your photography by 5.45 this afternoon.”
F- M- B.
Foreground. Middle ground. Back ground.
I order to make a photograph look deep and interesting especially with a wide angle lens is to have all three of these components in one photograph.
Choose something right in the foreground such as flowers a bush a tree. Look toward the middle to an interesting point, maybe a boat car person, finally ensure there is a back ground such as mountains trees, house.
Three positive points at different distances from the lens give the impression of a three dimensional photograph. After all life is an illusions use it all to your advantage.
Photographer Ansel Adams said.
“Photographs are not taken Photographs are made.”
Ansel Adams would visit the same place dozens of times and maybe never take a photograph. He had a vision for each landscape in the right light, and would sit for hours waiting for the right moment. This was pre digital using a large format camera and often only took one photograph that day.
This answers the most asked question “How long did it take you to get that photograph”? The photograph was probably taken in 125th of a second, in reality it could have taken days month years of planning and waiting.
Be creative go in close, fan back do the unexpected, Think compose expose. Be you, be different, and study other photographers to give you ideas that are ideas not to be copied but put your own slant on the world.
If you have questions I always do my upmost to answer in person in a reasonable time, and always happy to hear your comments.
Ha I was going to finish there,,,,, But remember do not take criticism to heart take it as a learning curve to help or ignore. Everyone is a critic, only you have your unique way of seeing and recording the world. Family is mostly always encouraging outsiders can be more open and objective.
Above all enjoy what you do seek to be different, see the world from high and low close and far. I would be delighted to see any of your photographs and if you would like constructive pointers happy to do so.
Until the next time keep thinking composing exposing. Practice makes perfect.
March 30th, 2018
How do you know where to take photographs?
The secret of any good photographer is to always be on the lookout for a good place to take photographs and record them in your mind or if forgetful write in a note book. .
Now that may sound obvious but I first saw this place at dusk in the rain and it looked gloomy boring but at the first sign of a hoar frost I knew where to go. I remembered the trees and hope the frost would be prominent also the fence leading into the photograph and the covered uncovered wagon and red wheels.
I have hundreds of places in my mind to visit as an when the weather sun etc is right. There is more reflective light here than one would think auto would over expose, so I walked to the wagon and took a meter reading from the green area, set the camera on manual and here is the result.
This has proved a popular photograph due to the rareness of hoar frost and covered wagons. I have sold this photograph in many forms as a print, a framed print, on canvas, and shower curtain.
Look for the unusual the different place angle scene, be different show others the world that you see. That is what I try to do with my photography. A photograph is not just taken it is made.
Take and make your photographs with thought and care. Be unique experiment and if this fails to live to your expectation you have learned a valuable lesson. That is the time not to delete but save so later you can look back and see how much progress you have made. It is said the first 1000 photographs anyone takes are awful. Keep at it and learn as you go.
People are sometime neglected or just casually snapped. People are characters to turn into something special. Get to know the person relate understand and then photograph. Choose the location background and pose to enhance the person but not distract from the main subject.
Subtitle difference makes a big difference. Study some photographs on line the style you like and adapt to your situation. We all learn from others, don’t copy put your slant your personality into every photograph.
One of the biggest compliments I had in the past few weeks is a lady wrote to me having seen a few my photographs in a magazine. The lady said. “I knew these photographs were yours long before I read the buy line Photographs by David Matthews. I recognized your signature style unique to you.”
A wonderful compliment having worked hard for years to accomplish a style, I am still not sure what my style is. I can only put this style down to practice thought composition knowing how to use my camera, and showing others how I see the world.
Be unique be you show others what you see. Think compose and expose. Above all have fun in expressing your view on the world.
March 21st, 2018
What a great compliment, the biggest of my career.
I am so happy to receive my biggest compliment ever on my photography for this particular photograph. This photograph turned out to be extremely popular with photographers and non photographers, a view point I had never taken any notice of until this particular day.
Wherever I go my camera comes with me, this day was just a short trip into the country to get eggs and have coffee with Daniel a farmer friend. More often than not I have places to photograph in my mind but today I passed this set of tress as I have many times before and never saw a photo opportunity.
This dull Saturday morning light made them look totally different as if in another place, another world a new discovery. It was a sunless cold day projecting a flatness to the countryside, but bright enough to need sunglasses to shield eyes from the glare.
The flatness of light made depth difficult to judge until I came across this trees fading into a vanishing point. The lack of a visible horizon grabbed my artistic eye and I was encouraged to stop and find the right position to shoot a few photographs. I tried several positions but this one proved the best. There is no distraction of blue sky, and just a little detail in the snow covered foreground adding more depth, to me an exciting opportunity to capture the bleakness of the moment, yet make it appealing to a viewer.
Normally the rule of thirds apply this is where one chooses how much foreground and background to photograph. Balance is important, the general rule is to have one third sky two thirds foreground or two thirds sky and one third foreground.
Rules are just guidelines general practice to add uniformity, I have always been a rebel and today these rules were made to be broken. Looking through the viewfinder these one third proportions did not look right throwing the image off balance so I broke the rule and went half and half. The roots of the trees are only just below the horizon, helping make the photographs more unusual. Neither sky nor foreground played an important role this photograph the main focus is the leading to a vanishing point.
Another thing to note with paintings or photographs an odd number balances better than an even number.
Weather and lighting conditions is always a fun challenge to any photographer. For this photograph there is far more light then one would first imagine due to the complete whiteness and its reflection of light.
In these conditions underexpose will give a correct exposure without making the snow look blue or dirty. I bracketed my exposure and in this case found it require 2 stops underexposing. Many cameras today have a plus and minus exposure setting don’t be afraid to use it. I suggest taking a photo first on the auto setting then over or under expose depending on the situation the nice thing today is the results are immediately available to view, and the right corrections can be made.
The contrast between the silhouetted bare branches of the tress stand out well on the landscape, far more interesting than a summer shoot in full bloom with a multitude of distracting colours.
For display this looks best on Canvas with no boarder or frame which would stop the eye from expanding beyond the image.
I had some wonderful reactions and feedback on this photograph. I posted on several websites and Face Book pages. The comment that made it all worth so much was from Giordano who lives in Italy he said “Really this artistic photo taken by you is wonderful, in my opinion. Thanks a lot because you shared it: seeing it, I became happier”
Making one person happier by looking at my work made my day and I hope I can help make others happier when they view my portfolio. It is always great to hear from people, please make a comment I will do my upmost to reply in person
March 16th, 2018
In bed sound asleep, when suddenly I hear a high pitched whistle and a lady talking. I am up and getting dressed omitting underwear as the 911 lady sends out her second page. Then the sound of a siren on my phone, this is a back up to the call sending a text with as much information available at that time. No time to spare, the only information they have is a location of a structure fire.
This Instant adrenaline rush is naught to ninety in seconds and out the door to be hit by the cold air minus 30c. Frantically scraping the van windscreen enough to see and drive the 7 blocks to the fire hall. The window should be fully cleared before driving off, speed and safety count, and at 2:30 am in our small village the only other people awake were firefighters responding.
People are arriving from all directions in various state of undress in different vehicles or on foot. Inside one man on the radio talking to 911 as we all jump into our turn out gear we listen and shout to each other any relevant information, politeness of please thank you go out the window at this point and no one is offended.
I was assigned to drive Pumper #1 with three passengers. All three fire trucks left the hall along with our Ambulance. The radio between the trucks is hot as a basic plan is made until we can see and assess the situation.
I was uncertain as to the exact location and the co-pilot was checking the map, as one local born and bred firefighter came onto the radio and said. “It is past Jim’s place first left at what used to be the old Williams farm".
As we reach the top of a hill we could see the flames, and one of our personnel was already on scene and able to describe the exact problem enabling us to arrange set up before arrival.
It was a farmer’s barn ablaze with essential equipment for his livelihood housed within, including flammable liquids. The barn was under trees which were now alight and spreading to grain bins. With each engine in place, the fight began.
The barn was too far gone to save at this point so we went into a defensive mode stopping further damage. There are no fire hydrants in the country and water supply limited to what we can carry; the 1200 gallons will not go far today. Thankfully we have a back up of locals who at a moment’s notice will bring water to us in all types of containers to dump into a holding tank from which we can pump.
In such cold conditions we were fighting the fire and loosing precious water to stop water freezing in the hose pipes because we had to let it trickle even if not in use. At one point I was second on a hose behind the main hose man. This helps with moving the heavy hoses and as a safety lookout for the main fighter. It was during this time I was able to take two photographs, on my cell phone not the best camera to use but in the circumstance the only thing I had with me and the only few moments I was hands free to do so.
Our feet were cold on the snow our faces frozen with the spray back of water, and yet the heat from the fire made out bodies hot.
We were fortunate to have a never ending supply of water and to take shifts at different tasks and rest so that no one got exhausted. This fire took over 4 hours to bring under control; we were still there at dawn when the clear up and further dowsing could be completed, and the owner could take stock of his loss.
We are a small village with many dedicated volunteer firefighters. We are not as we have been called “Farmers with hoses” or “the people who put the wet stuff on the red stuff.” Everyone one our team has at least a year’s training to level one; this includes a practical and written exams. Level one is the basic standard all firefighter professionals must have.
After working hard for hours during the night, fighting this fire, it is back to the Fire hall and no matter how tired we are, we have to clean and prepare all the equipment for the next call. All of our crew have day jobs to go as well. They barley have enough time for a shower and coffee, before going to work.
Next time you see an emergency vehicle on the road, pull over for them; they are going to a potentially life and death situation. Just think of where these dedicated folks come from, the hours of learning, practice dedication, lost of sleep, and their families who worry about their safety as they selflessly protect others often unknown to them.