Jack Jansen

12_02_Book_008Jack has been a member of Corio Bay Camera Club for many years. Jack is currently the club Secretary and our immediate Past President. Here Jack discusses his photography …

How did you get into photography?

Like many photographers, I was given a simple camera to “play” with when I was young. Mine was a pre-loved Kodak Popular Brownie box camera. It was given to me by an uncle. I used it for a number of years until I discovered as a teenager that there were more exciting things to do than take pictures (or so I thought). I discovered many years later that that camera dated back to around 1937. I still have it. Many years passed before I took up photography again. In 1974, my then fiancée (now my wife) travelled overseas and bought a Rollei 35 on her Singapore stopover. The Rollei 35 was a fully manual “miniature” 35mm camera, with a lovely 40mm Schneider lens. We used this camera for a number of years to record our holidays and our children’s early years. Being fully manual, it forced me to start learning about how to get a correct exposure, focussing, depth of field etc. About five years later I bought my first SLR – a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm f2.0 lens and I was on my way. In the early 1980’s I joined Corio Bay Camera Club and this was where I really started to learn. I had to give the camera club away after a few years however when my wife returned to study, but I rejoined in 1994 after being invited to the Club’s 40th Anniversary Dinner.

What are your favourite subjects and/or locations?

Living where I do means I am reasonably close to the Bellarine Peninsula coast, on both the bay and ocean sides.  Over the years I have taken lots of photographs around Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale, St Leonards, Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. I like the fact that I can go back to these places numerous times and still find different ways to photograph what’s in and around them and sometimes even find new things to photograph. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled overseas a bit over the past fifteen years or so and have visited some of the world’s great cities and regions. These places are so different from our own country and I have really enjoyed capturing them. Being a relatively new grandparent, grandchildren have now also become a favourite subject. They are starting to get used to have a big lens poked in their faces.

Who/What inspires you to go out and take photographs?

That’s a difficult question and I’m not sure I know the answer. Sometimes it’s just that I’m running out of material to enter in club competitions. At other times it’s when we are travelling and I see something new or different.

What do you like to communicate through your photography?

I hope that when people look at my pictures they see something that they wouldn’t have noticed by casual observation; a different point of view or way of seeing a scene or place or object. How successful I am at that is for others to decide.

What sort of gear do you use/have you used in the past?

I used the Pentax K1000 for more than ten years, buying additional lenses along the way, until, in the early 1990’s, someone decided they deserved it more than me and broke into our house and stole it (among other things).  Fortunately it was insured. I replaced it with a Canon EOS 1000Fn with a couple of kit lenses. I was now in the world of automatic exposure cameras (and locked into the Canon system). In the early 2000’s  I bought a 3Mp Canon A70 compact to “try” digital but I was still firmly a “film person”. My first DSLR was a 6Mp Canon 10D. I thought the images were OK, but couldn’t believe the improvement when I replaced my old kit lens with an L series lens. The 10D was upgraded to a 13 Mp Canon 5D full frame camera a number of years later. The 17-40mm lens that I was using as a standard zoom on the 10D now no longer gave me the focal length range I needed so I bought a 24-105mm f4. I also use a 70-200mm and a 100-400mm f4.5 zoom. In 2012 I rejoined the megapixel race and bought a 24Mp Canon 5D MkIII. Hopefully that’s it for a while … but then again …

What’s your favourite piece of kit?

In 2013 I bought a Hoya ND400 9 stop neutral density filter (the B+W 10 stop was about double the price) which allows me to take long exposures in daylight. Since then I’ve been experimenting to see what I can do with it and having some fun at the same time. At our 2015 “Geelong and Surrounds” exhibition I put together a display of eight images on the theme of “The Passage of Time – Long Exposure Photography”  and got some favourable comments – so at the moment I suppose the 9 stop ND filter’s my favourite.

Which of your images is/are your favourite(s) – why?

That’s a bit like asking which of your children is your favourite. You love them all equally. One image that I do treasure is a shot of a ship’s bow that I took in about 1979. The ship was one of BHP’s “Iron” ships – I think it was the Iron Baron. There were actually two of them tied up side by side at Cunningham Pier at the time (there was no Smorgy’s or its later incarnations on the pier back then). The ship at the back provided a perfect black background, which accentuated the light falling on the bow of the front ship. The slide was selected for an interclub competition and won best slide. It was the first image that I had success with as a CBCC member and I suppose it spurred me on.

What do you think is your greatest photographic achievement?

With the advent and growth of digital photography has come the decline of the tangible photograph. We have thousands of images stored on our computers but relatively few of them see the light of day. A couple of years ago I decided to put together a book of some of my “best” images. This can now be readily done using one of many free software applications. The project took me over twelve months (on and off), deciding what was in and what was out and how they should be grouped and arranged. Often what was “in” yesterday was “out” tomorrow!  Eventually I decided enough was enough and uploaded it to the printing company. The result was a 160 page large format book of my photographs which I am quite proud of.

Do you have any favourite photographic books/magazines and/or websites?

Over the years I have bought a number of “how to” books that I used extensively.  Unfortunately they have all but become obsolete with the march of technology. However there is a book that I bought about twenty years ago that I still refer to regularly. It’s a book from the Kodak Workshop Series called The Art of Seeing.  I use it to remind myself of aspects of making pictures that sometimes get lost in the hurly burly of “high tech” photography. A magazine I subscribe to and enjoy reading is Black+White Photography from the UK. While it focuses on B&W many of the articles can also be applied photography generally. I also subscribe to a couple of (free) on line magazines: f11 http://www.f11magazine.com/site/ and BETA http://beta.org.au/. Both can be downloaded as PDF’s or as an eBook and make interesting reading.

Is there a photographer that you particularly admire? Why?

I tend to look at photographs rather than follow any particular photographer – there are just too many talented people around to zero in on one or two. I enjoy looking at the work of the “masters” from the early days of photography as well as modern day photographers. I also admire our newer club members who take the plunge and enter our monthly competitions, subjecting their work to the criticism of others.

Any final thoughts?

I’ve been a member of Corio Bay Camera Club for many years so I’ve seen many new members come along and progress in their photography from rank amateur to being able to produce winning images consistently.  I would really encourage all our members to submit images regularly into our monthly competitions. While we can learn from judges critiquing other people’s images, there’s nothing like having your own work judged to help you focus in on where you can improve. And there’s also the satisfaction of seeing your images getting better along the way – because they will …

Below is a selection of images that Jack has chosen, with his comments.

Ship’s Bow. The ship was one of BHP’s “Iron” ships. There were two of them tied up side by side. The one at the back provided a perfect black background which accentuated the light falling on the bow of the front ship. The slide was selected for an interclub competition and won best slide. It was the first image that that I had success with as a CBCC member.

Rotorua. Taken when we travelling around NZ in a campervan. It did quite well for me in club competitions. I was chuffed to see an almost identical image (taken by someone else) on the front cover of the June 2013 edition of Australian Photography.

Point Lonsdale Sunset. Travelling home from work on a summer evening I saw this amazing sky developing. I had time to get home and pick up my gear and get down to Point Lonsdale and take a range of shots. This was my favourite from that shoot.

Moorings. Taken at Swan Bay in the early morning a number of years ago. The area has now been “cleaned up” and as a consequence has lost some of its charm. This image won Slide of the Year in 1995 – my first.

On Guard. This chap was part of the Horse Guard at Whitehall in London. He was unable to move and proved a great subject. The look in his eye suggests to me that he was not too impressed with constantly having his picture taken.

Dreaming. We had a stopover in Hong Kong on our way to Europe in 2008. Because it was very hot we went to a (air conditioned) gallery. While resting and taking in the view this little girl just came in and put herself in a perfect position to have her picture taken. This image won Large Print of the Year for me in 2010

Light on a Stairway. This was taken in a converted castle in a small village in southern France (now an art gallery). Coming down the spiral staircase I thought the light shining on the steps would make a good image. This image made the Redbubble home page (for about 24 hours).

Park Bench. On a visit to Canberra we went to the National Carillion at Lake Burley Griffin. This bench was located nearby. Darkening the background allowed me turn it into a semi abstract and accentuate the flowing curves.

On the Edge. I was trying to take a picture of my three year old granddaughter in the below ground viewing area of the seal enclosure at Melbourne Zoo, but she was not being very cooperative. This little girl however was quite mesmerised by the passing parade of seals and stood there quietly. I think the image gives a sense of looking into space – will she step over the barrier into a brave new world …

Leaving. Taken from outside our clubrooms at Osborne House. I arrived early for a Click n Chat meeting. Corio Bay was like glass and this chap decided to go fishing.

Still Waters. One of the first images I took using my new ND400 9 stop neutral density filter. It was taken in daylight using a 60 second exposure at f22. The waves coming in were about 60 cm high, but the long exposure has given the water a smooth glassy appearance.

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Room 41 – Travelling back from Western Australia in 2015, we got into Eucla mid afternoon. I went for a wander with my camera and found these “budget motel” rooms.

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Flight – The Avalon Air Show occurs every two years. Living across the bay from the airfield means that often aeroplanes fly over our house, so I was able to catch this formation from my back yard.

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Red Alert – One from my “The Passage of Time” series. The long exposure has smoothed the water and turned it into a wash of colours. The shape of the bright red channel marker reminds me a little of Ned Kelly in Sidney Nolan’s series of paintings.

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Wave – Taken at Point Lonsdale back beach below the lighthouse. The long exposure has rendered almost everything “smoothed”. The only aspects of the image that are clearly defined are a few small pebbles on the beach.