Getting 'Smushy' on blip
"Smushy" is perhaps not a word that many people would use to describe their photography style, but if you're a follower of Rainie's very popular journal, you'll know exactly what she's talking about!
Kiwi Lorraine Gibb is a star not only on blip, but in the wider world of photography. This year she was awarded a silver medal by the prestigious Federation Internationale de l'Art Photographique, and has a number of other NZ photography awards under her belt.
Looking at her images, you'd be forgiven for thinking that she was born with a camera in her hand. In fact, that may not be far from the truth.
"Ever since I can remember, I've had a camera slung around my neck," she says. "My parents and sister had cameras and it seemed natural to follow."
She's been a blipper since 2010, encouraged to join by friends in Christchurch. "I was shown the journal of legendary blipper hpx, and then two friends (pcc and dups) started blipping, so I caught the bug and joined."
Seven years later, she fears that if she misses a day, "that could be the end, so I'm not prepared to let that happen!"
It's not just the sense of community that keeps her here, but the learning of new things every day through blip, both on a cultural and geographic level.
"Having met blippers in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Ireland, there is no doubt that these virtual friendships are much more. It's like meeting old friends," she says.
Lorraine took that to a whole new level last year, when she and her husband Doug (who sometimes features in her blips) travelled to Ireland, Britain and Italy.
"I'd followed John Gravett's journal for years and drooled over his amazing landscapes - haven't we all?" she says. "I took the plunge and booked his Autumn Tuscany workshop, but unfortunately that was later cancelled. However, John offered me a week long, individual workshop in his beautiful Lake District.
"I jumped at the chance, and had a fabulous and memorable week, being taken to places that I would never have had an opportunity to see. I learnt so much, from camera settings through to photo processing. We went out in all weathers; John had me happily tramping up and down hills, wading in water and venturing into dripping caves to get that 'perfect shot'. I don't know about perfect, but I came away with multitudes of images that I love."
Landscapes are not only one of Rainie's photographic strengths, but also a love of hers. However, she reveals that it is the antithesis of these grand, wideangle images that has started to sneak into her affections.
"My passions have changed over the years. While I love landscapes and seascapes, I've grown into macro photography. I love fungi foraging, or finding a little critter to see what macro reveals. Of course, my flower photography is a mainstay, too.
"I get my biggest kicks out of creating soft, 'smushy' images - they excite me. As time has passed, I think they've become softer."
"Soft and light go hand in hand"
Flowers work best for this type of photography, she thinks. Her Lensbaby is what she uses for this work, although recently she has been using extension tubes attached to a 50mm lens, which yields a similar result. And her advice?
"To get the softness, use your widest aperture, say f2.8. With this type of photography, not too much processing is required - maybe a crop, sometimes a wee rotate, and a very soft vignette. Light is another important factor; soft and light go hand in hand.
"I do love in-camera movement too; you can achieve wonderful and exciting effects with this. When taking my 'Impressionist' photographs, I attach a piece of glass smeared with Vaseline to the lens to give great results. Remember though, the direction of the smearing is important. For horizontal subjects like sea, rivers or hills, smear vertically. With trees or buildings, smear horizontally. The main thing, as with all experimental photography, is to have fun!"
Joining a club is a great way to learn
Over the past few years, members of Lorraine's camera club have no doubt been grateful recipients of such nuggets of wisdom. She's a firm believer that joining a club will help improve anyone's photography skills.
"Just do it!" she urges. "I've made many friendships through our club but, apart from that, the opportunities that clubs offer are immense. Field trips, workshops and competitions all help you to push boundaries and gain experience.
"Entering competitions may be daunting initially (I didn't enter for three months, and just sat back, watching and learning) but they're an excellent way to grow your photography. The critiquing from the judges is a great way to learn. Sometimes I took knocks, but that made me stronger and more determined to achieve.
"Our club uses only accredited PSNZ (Photography Society of NZ) judges. Very generally, they'll be looking for images that are in focus and sharp, but not over sharpened.
"Any bright bits that are distracting, particularly around the perimeter, will lose points. Adding a vignette (be careful not to overdo this) to lead the eye to the subject will help, too."
Choose the right equipment when travelling
As well as having helpful hints on the technical aspects of photography, our intrepid globe-trotting blipper also has some words of wisdom for people undertaking travels with a camera. Having a partner who is happy to stop the car, turn around, find a safe parking place and wait patiently while you pursue your passion is invaluable, she says (perhaps slightly tongue in cheek!)
Whether you're travelling alone or as part of a group, your equipment is an important consideration while on the road, especially where weight is concerned.
"On our extended trip last year, I was forever changing lenses. I wished at times that I'd brought one good lens that covered from wide to zoom, though I think I might have become a little frustrated being constrained to a single lens. I took my 10-22mm, 70-200mm, 50mm and a set of extension tubes (which I could probably have done without, as I don’t think I used them once). Left at home were my macro and Lensbaby."
Now retired, Lorraine and Doug live outside Timaru. When not working in the garden or dealing with their calves, they often visit their grandchildren, Ella, Harry and Lexi, who also feature regularly in Rainie's blips☐
Remarks collected by Tanya Lunn (aka TMLHereAndThere)