“Kitchen Stories" and Other Realities
by Jackie Ranken
I endeavor to respond to my urban, rural and domestic and travel landscapes in an authentic way. While at the same time reflecting on the past and all the influences I have had. Accepting the continuing challenges of showing work, I will endeavor to keep true to myself and enjoy life to the fullest.
I have shared many important experiences of my life, through photography. In particular a series of images that was to change my life was made with my aviator father, Dick Nell. In his old bi-plane he became my ‘flying tripod’ in a series of images called ‘Aerial Abstracts’. This was where I learned to ‘see’ the landscape in a different way. The idea of the series was to shoot straight down to the ground, without any perspective of what’s up or down. The problem was that the lower wing of the old bi-plane was getting in the way. We solved this issue by making the exposures at the top of an aerobatic loop. ‘While Dad is performing the loop, I look up and watch the sky then land roll out above me, I make my exposure when the subject that caught my eye comes back into view. The subject is now upside down and back to front, but what’s up when you are looking straight down? ” The subject matter in this series was man-made landscapes of dams, fence lines, sheep track and shadows.
I ask the viewer to enjoy the ‘idea of the photograph’ and accept the realness of what they are seeing. To be objective : ‘To be open minded, with out fear or favour, un biased and impartial” Collins Thesaurus. This is a good way to live life.
My most recent series is called “Kitchen Stories” and ‘Other Realities” explores how I can animate inanimate objects by documenting familiar, discarded or ‘found’ objects including kitchen implements flung, held or placed in the New Zealand landscape. As I throw these objects into the air I feel a sense of freedom and enjoyment. Much like my old days flying with Dad. The images are documents of their transformation – A Flying Pan or A Flying Bird-cage. The process of making the ‘Kitchen Stories’ series has liberated my image making process to include natural objects and artifacts –‘Other Realities’. Through these frozen animated moments, I hope to not only connect with the viewer’s memories but to challenge their perception of ordinary and familiar experiences. Perhaps the best response is a smile.
I like to incorporate Zen philosophy ideals in my life. The mindful approach to everyday life where beauty can be found in the simple and mundane objects around us.Shibui- Where objects appear to be simple at first, over time with continued observance there subtleties emerge and an aesthetic balance is established. I also practice this aesthetic when I am editing and printing my images as I look for ‘natural stark simplicity’.
Information of the camera capture process
The initial inspiration for this series came from a photographic teaching exercise where twelve different images needed to be made in a two meter square plot of ground. Before the session was to start I took a liking to an old spatula that I found in the kitchen drawer. I borrowed the spatula and it ended up being one of the twelve images. I enjoyed the incongruous relationship the object made with the landscape. So I kept exploring the technique until it became a natural part of my repertoire. The process of making the ‘Kitchen Stories’ series has liberated my image making thought process. When I throw an object into the air it is generally at about arms length. I am using a wide-angle lens, this makes the space between the camera and the object appear wider than how it appears to the naked eye. I pre-focus the lens and manually set my exposure. Making sure the shutter speed is fast enough to stop the motion of the object as it moves through the area of focus. I continue to toss the object in the air until I am satisfied or until I loose interest. I usually catch it on its way down or make sure it has a soft landing. I like the viewer to know that the initial captures were shot ‘in-camera’ because I like them to relate to the photographic technique above the post editing process.
YouTube Video - Kitchen Stories 4:31
Spatula over Lake Wakatipu
Spatula over the Lindis Pass
Spatula over McKenzie Country
Pots over Mt Cook
Things Over Lake Wakatipu
Early Work 2007
The throwing and holding of ‘Kitchen utensils’ in my landscape photographs became a habit. I would make sure to pack my favourite kitchen utensils on all road and photo trips. If the sky was blue and uninteresting, I would make it interesting by tossing a kitchen utensil into the frame. At this stage I was just experimenting and having fun. People would sometimes pull off the road to watch what I was doing. With practice I leant how and where to throw the object (above the horizon and separated out from other shapes in the frame), what shutter speed was needed to stop the motion of the object (+500th Sec) and the best angle of light ( front/side lighting). I also had to learn how to not be unconcerned about what other people thought of my antics and to just ‘do it’. The day I took a draw full of cutlery to the beach made my camera bag was very heavy. I like the way the cutlery stands up in the sand like soldiers. Some how the kitchen utensils once they are photographed take on personality.
2008 With the support of my husband and fellow photographer Mike Langford I made a giant step to enter some of the prints into the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Awards. “I just had to believe in myself, what’s the use of producing work if it’s not shared in some way? ”The prints won silver awards and helped me to gain some of my honours with this system. Although one judge on the panel said “Why would someone ruin a perfectly good landscape photograph by throwing something into it”. The majority of the judges fortunately enjoyed the ‘new perspective’. After twelve months or so I had enough images for an initial exhibit of the work. This was done locally in Queenstown. Framed colour prints 60cm x 40cm. Some of the work sold and the rest we still hang around our house.
In 2013 the larger body of work was printed and exhibited as monochrome prints at the Auckland Photo Festival and at the Ballarat International Foto Biannele in Australia. I wanted to make the work more personal so I wrote around the edge of the prints, describing where the objects were found and what I thought about them. I have added a unique texture overlay and border in order to the enhance the old time antique feel of the objects and to reinforce the connection of the viewer to their own memories.
Egg Poacher-Hawkdun Hut
Singing Cocktail Whisk
Flying Flat Grater
The Grater Wakatipu
Flying Bird Cage
The influence of making the Kitchen Stories series has resulted in a new Series that I call “Other Realities’ . This is where I photograph simple, everyday objects that I often find at the time of shooting ‘in the landscape’. Finding a feather that looks like it is dancing, or making a bird cage fly is all part of the fun. I prefer to make my photographs ‘in camera’ not assemble them in the computer.
Nevis Tree #Rankenhand
This image came about a little by accident, I was trying to find a unique angle to photograph this tree in the Nevis Valley. (Over the past 5 years this tree has been photographed by some quite famous landscape Photographers). I was shooting from a very low angle trying to separate the tree from the background mountains. The sun was creating lens flare so I was shading the lens. On review of the image I decided to leave the hand in to shot because it directed attention to the tree and it created an interesting foreground, balancing the composition. As a result of this image I now have quite an extensive series of #Rankenhand images made on my iphone published on Instagram
When I was on a travel workshop in Bali I bought this flying Deva and photographed her flying over the Patti fields.
Egg Poacher Over Uluru
The Egg Poacher has been one of my most favourite kitchen utensiles (because of her smiley face). Last year she travelled with me to the centre of Australia and went for a fly over the famous Uluru.. I find this a great way of making a unique image of something that otherwise has been photographed thousands of times. The more famous the land mark is, the better it is for me.
What’s important to me is that I enjoy the process of capturing the images and hope to bring a smile to peoples faces as they view them. My photography enriches my life.
Other Information about these prints
My connection with Japanese aesthetics is displayed by my use of the chock mark on my prints.
I have used a texture layer that was a photograph of frozen ground. It makes white or texture less skies much more interesting.
Paper stock-Moab Fine art 300GM paper, Using Ultrachrome inks.
Biography — Jackie Ranken GM AIPP, GM NZIPP, Canon Master
Jackie has over thirty years experience within the arts. Her interest began with photography at the tender age of 16. Her art practice then shifted to ceramics and painting gaining an Associate Diploma in Fine Arts.
Returning to photography throughout the next fifteen years she worked within the industry as a darkroom technician, freelance photographer, wedding photographer, commercial photographer and photojournalist, learning her craft.
In 1996 she began work as a teacher of ‘Fine art’ photography at Illawarra TAFE, Goulburn.
Now as an art photographer she combines her art practice with teaching and as a presenter in workshops and seminars internationally.
Currently represented by:
The Picture Lounge-Wanaka, New Zealand
Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography
2013 Kitchen Stories and Other Realities -Ballarat International Foto Biennale
2013 Kitchen Stories and Other Realities (Auckland Photography Festival)
2012 The Picture Lounge-Wanaka, New Zealand
2006 Skyline Gallery, Queenstown, New Zealand• 2005 Australian Photographers Gallery, Balmain Sydney.
2005 Hamills Restaurant, Queenstown New Zealand.
2003 Stills South Gallery, Sydney NSW.
2003 Photo Technica Gallery - Urban Abstracts, (She Saw) Sydney NSW.
2002 Goulburn Club - Favourites, Goulburn, NSW.
2002 Stills Gallery - Aerial Abstracts, Sydney NSW
2002 Gbn. Reg. Art Gallery - Human Constructs.
2002 New Contemporaries Gallery - Aerial Abstracts II, Sydney.
2002 Sturt Gallery - Past and Present, Mittagong, NSW.
2001 Goulburn. Regional Art Gallery - Aerial Abstracts and Reflections on Miles Franklin's Brilliant Career
2000 Goulburn. Regional Art Gallery - The Making of the Olympic Rings.
1999 Sturt Gallery - Teachers Exhibition, Mittagong, NSW.
1999 Goulburn Regional Art Gallery - Transitions Goulburn.
1998 Goulburn Regional Art Gallery - Community Images Goulburn NSW.
1997 Old Brewery Gallery - Teachers Exhibition, Goulburn.
1988 Goulburn Regional Art Gallery - Return to Goulburn NSW.
2002 Goulburn Regional Art Gallery.
2002 Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery.
2002 New South Wales State Library.
Rocks, grass, trees, water, clouds ,objects
Creative Field Guide to Landscape Photography I.
Creative Landscape Photography II
M. Photog. IV, Grand Master NZIPP, Canon EOS Master.
2013 NZIPP (New Zealand)Landscape Photographer of the Year
2013 AIPP (Australia) Finalist Landscape Photographer of the Year
2012 AIPP (Australia) Landscape Photographer of the Year
2012 NZIPP (New Zealand) Photographer of the Year
2012 NZIPP (New Zealand) Highest Scoring Monochrome Print
2012 NZIPP (New Zealand) Portrait Creative Category Winner
2011 NZIPP (New Zealand) Illustrative Photographer of the Year
2011 NZIPP (New Zealand) Canon Landscape Photographer of the Year
2011 NZIPP (New Zealand) Editorial Photographer of the Year
2011 NZIPP (New Zealand) Highest scoring monochrome print award
2010 NZIPP (New Zealand) Illustrative Photographer of the Year
2010 EOS Master Photographer
2009 NZIPP (New Zealand) Illustrative Photographer of the Year
2008 EPSON/NZIPP Photographer of the Year
2008 NZIPP (New Zealand) Landscape Photographer of the Year
2007 NSW AIPP (Australia) Landscape Photographer of the Year
2007 NSW AIPP (Australia) Professional Photographer of the Year
2006 NZIPP (New Zealand) Highest scoring monochrome Image
2005 CANON / NZIPP Iris Awards – Open Category Winner
2005 CANON / AIPP (Australia) Photography Book Award – Aerial Abstracts
2005 CANON / AIPP (Australia) Athol Smyth, Highest scoring Monochrome Image
2004 NSW AIPP Runner up Landscape Photographer of the year. Highest scoring print
1992 Associate Dip.Fine Arts- Ceramics/painting major Illawarra Institute of TAFE
1979 Mulwaree High School, Goulburn, NSW Australia HSC
You can reach Jackie at her Email.
All my life experiences have modeled me into a person who is ‘happy in her own skin’.