Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A new road begins with The Arcanum - upping my game with Jackie Ranken


I am home in sunny suburbia. Winter has become summer and the days are long and warm.

The transition back into 'normal' life after 4 months in New Zealand has been relatively pain free.

No more travelogue. Back to photography proper.

OH ( other half) is at work, and I have time on my hands thanks to the early start that jet lag allows.

I am excited to have a new venture to help me ease back into the daily routine. To spur me on to reach new levels in my photography.

I have been accepted as a member of The Arcanum.

The Arcanum is a new way of learning using the old and traditional method of Master and apprentice. The academy is on line, and I am linked up with people all around the world. We have a library of videos to watch and get one to one Google 'hangouts' in which our work is critiqued by our master ( a bit like a skype call but one that can be observed live by other apprentices, and that is later saved to the Library for others to watch at their leisure).

I am a member of a group of 20 apprentices and have been lucky enough to be selected by the Canon Master Jackie Ranken, whose work I am in awe of. I am confident that she will help me to progress to a higher level in my work. The apprentices work together, give each other critiques and yet all can progress at their own pace.

Jackie Ranken lives in Queenstown, New Zealand, and my favourite work of hers is the series Kitchen Stories in which kitchen utensils find themselves in the landscape in beautiful monochrome images that are both clever and amusing. She is multi award winning, and I feel very privileged to be under her wing.

So far, we have introduced ourselves and said a bit about our 'genesis as a photographer' . We all have very different tales to tell and different interests and skills, which will help us all to grow and develop.

I have put forward some images for critique by my fellow apprentices. With their help I will select 5 to take in to my first critique session with Jackie.

'slippage' © caroline fraser

For this image it was suggested that I try upping the contrast, and try different crops.

Jackie has talked about the importance of borders, and I have added a white border to represent the paper. Immediately the image is lifted. I have also taken out a two week trial of Nik software Silver Efex Pro as used by Jackie to see whether I find it easier to create better monochrome images with this rather than Photoshop. I have yet to decide, but am pleased with the adjustments to the original image.

version 2

Next I had a discussion about the yellow leaf, bottom right in this image.

floating leaves © caroline fraser

The views in the group vary; some preferring to keep it, and others finding it distracting. Which just goes to show that you can't please all of the people all of the time, and in the end have to go with your own preference.

I find the square crop less satisfying, and as one fellow commented, the rectangular image is 'more about the reflections of the branches above' and the square is 'about the leaves'.

You take your pick. I'm going for the original.

square crop
All of this learning is about sharing and being willing to take the time to look at other's work. It demands more time in front of the computer screen.

But I have a feeling it is going to be time very well spent.


  1. Like you, I prefer the original crop in 'floating leaves'. The square crop kills the 'story'. As for the former (slippage) I like the second crop but the original contrast is not bad at all. In fact it lends itself to the photogravure look. In any case, great work from you. Good luck with your journey!

    1. thanks very much for taking the time to add your thoughts Sense of Oculus. Photgravure is something I know nothing about; I will explore further.......

    2. Caroline

      You may not be surprised to hear that I prefer the square crop.

      I think I agree with the above that I prefer the crop of the 2nd but on my monitor at least it s way too dark.

  2. thanks Fred. I agree rather dark, and not surprised! all comments greatly valued

  3. I reckon.. N.Z. has been good for you *Dr C. F. - Good thing you didn't bump into Oicie over there (!)_ Nice baubles too..

    Still Crookid.. ?

    Or.. Have you moved along... ?


    1. Of course still Crookid. Just not been to there for a while. Give me 2 weeks and I,ll be popping in for tea