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Hello

basile morin tshirt rouge
I am a French designer, photographer, calligrapher and painter, born in 1977, living in Laos since 2005.

Studies and trips

Born in Compiègne (France), I lived in Noyon, Paris, then Beauvais, where I obtained my scientific qualification before starting engineering studies at the University of Technology of Compiègne at the age of seventeen.
As a student, I lived in Compiègne, Paris, Lyon, Troyes, then Groningen in the Netherlands thanks to the Erasmus program, Villingen in Germany to support my "Diplomarbeit" (equivalent of a thesis) in industrial design, and finally Toulouse.
From there, I made several trips to Asia, notably to India (6 months), Thailand (3 months), and Laos, a "favorite" country where I settled in 2005.
Here, I manage a guesthouse that I built with 7 rooms, on the banks of the Mekong. Many photos of my region, animals and locals, integrate this site!

Artistic talent

peinture op art Art has always played a role in my life, from a young age. My parents accommodated in an independent annex of our house the Spanish painter Julio Maruri (Wikipedia). As a young child, I was enrolled in his painting classes, and I remember that in elementary and middle school I spent my allowance on the purchase of small pots of oil paint to color figurines modeled in clay cooked or in salt dough.

Around the age of 19, it was only natural that I took up brushes again to paint with gouache abstract patterns on Canson paper. Then, creations on canvas were born in the process and, after my studies, painting became a daily activity.

Dilettantism

For fun, I hooked up to word games around the age of 25 to find anagrams of some meaningful words. Little by little, the accumulation of these heterogeneous finds became denser to begin to form a collection (in French).
Later, by serendipity, while strolling on the internet I discovered ambigrams, creative objects mixing the poetry of words and their visual forms. Immediately galvanized, I tried to draw some By dint of fusing the letters, I naturally acquired the techniques and sharpened my skills in a self-taught way. This original passion for symmetrical words has never left me!

Ambigrams

Ambigrams (Wikipedia) are symmetrical calligraphic creations, which can have several interpretations depending on the angle of view. Graphically, these words elicit a double reading and can sometimes be deciphered upside down (by rotating 180 degrees) or through a mirror (by axial symmetry).

The words I draw are mainly in French and English. Sometimes I work on proper names or logos.

My works have been published in calligraphy books, exhibited in art galleries, printed on t-shirts, tattoo-engraved and shared by European national newspapers. As gratifying as it was unexpected, the French Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filipetti, started following me on Twitter!

See my ambigrams

Paintings

My paintings are part of the "op art" (optical art) movement, exploiting visual perception, optical games and illusions.
Most often, they are abstract mosaics made up of more or less regular geometric plots. These colored and uniform patterns generally harbor peculiarities which make the paintings special.
I mainly work with acrylic, suitable for homogeneous solid colors, with rapid drying.

An analysis of my work was carried out by art critic Francis Parent (Artrinet).

See my canvas

Photography

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Background
My practice of photography has ancient origins, and intensified in 2017, after the purchase of a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera and several lenses adapted to my interests (landscapes, architecture, wildlife, portraits, and more).
Previously, I used a Canon EOS 550D APS-C type SLR, which allowed me to acquire my skills, with passion but without necessarily claiming the masterpiece.

Before 2010, I used to take digital photos with compact, light and inexpensive cameras. In 2002, I acquired a Canon analog SLR camera, to which I was very attached, and which two years later was stolen in an airport with a bunch of films to develop containing all the memories of the trip. Horrible return flight!
Previously, in 2001, before the arrival of digital SLRs on the market, I was one of the first to use a Sony Mavica digital compact working with 3.5 inch floppy disks :-) Good toy, with its display screen in the back, at the time when printing on paper, slow and restrictive, was the norm.

Equipment
Today, one of my favorite accessories is an ordinary tripod, quite simply because it allows you to take long exposures (up to 30 seconds) to capture a maximum of photons in low light conditions, and so to deliver details that are often indistinguishable by the eye.
Some living animals, frozen in adequate stillness, sometimes allow themselves to be photographed for a significant period of time, with this tripod. In dark interiors, or outside at sunrise and sunset, when the landscapes bathe in a soft and fragile light, this 2.2 lbs (1 kg) Manfrotto carbon device is a formidable companion.

architecture When traveling, I usually go with a load of twenty to twenty-two pounds (nine to ten kilos), that I can carry on my back from morning to night, in order to have on hand the optical system perfectly compatible with the subject to capture.
So, I have three main lenses that together cover a huge focal range, from 11 to 400 mm. Concretely, a Canon EF 11-24 mm f/4L USM lens that weighs 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg), a Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L II lens weighing 2.2 lbs (1 kg), and a zoom Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM weighing 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg).
For small insects, my Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM fixed focal length macro lens does me a favor, but weighs down my bag by an additional 1.5 lbs (700 grams).
Finally, in low light conditions, I am still able to capture certain moving subjects in sharp focus thanks to an ultra-bright Canon EF 50 mm USM lens opening at f/1.4.
With the padded backpack, tripod, emergency batteries, ND filters, memory cards and above all the bottle of water essential in hot countries as when hiking, all this makes volume to carry!
But this physical effort is also the price to pay to make the most of the moment. Because when I am somewhere, my eyes are continually on the alert, on the lookout for anything I can encounter, either a huge panorama or an intriguing scene far away.
I glean relentlessly, contemplate the sceneries with ecstasy, and my equipment encourages me to visit everything in this spirit of "creative hunting".

paysages So dopamine, pleasure hormone, constantly feeds me. I experienced moments of intense emotion in the company of a camera. Indeed, to contemplate an ephemeral spectacle as a "passenger" is an attitude less exciting in my opinion than that consisting in going through it with the possibility of freezing this event materially on a physical support, to make it potentially eternal. In one case, we take advantage of the moment without thinking, in the other we feel like an active contributor, capable of influencing the "play" performed in front, of making it more personal, intimate, like a property to be acquired.
The photographic approach makes the moment tasty, and nourishes the soul as a good meal satisfies the stomach.

Post-processing
paysages After the still uncertain shots, I use the content of the original files recorded in RAW format, consisting of raw data from the sensor. If you are not familiar with this technical aspect, it is sufficient to have in mind a digital "development" process akin to that of printing film on paper. Indeed, RAW images allow, unlike JPGs, to vary exposure (essential property) in particular, without loss of quality or alteration of colors. In photography, it is very common for example to have recourse to the underexposure of the subjects (a method which darkens the scene) in order to preserve the details contained in the over-bright areas, such as backgrounds that are too contrasted, appearing otherwise "burnt" (completely white).
No camera today is technologically sophisticated enough to match the range of light shades discerned by the human eye. Paradoxically, we manage to create thermographic cameras to film in total darkness, but to capture what humans themselves see in broad daylight, science has progress to make :-) Also, to make the recorded scenes faithful to the reality (that is to say to the eye), it is often necessary to carry out a "post-processing" on a computer via dedicated software. Sometimes specific techniques, such as high dynamic range imaging, are needed to make the subject real, authentic.
I frequently use Lightroom and Photoshop, always trying to be as honest as possible in my digital "developments". In particular, I take care to moderate the color saturation. According to the initial RAW file, the post-processing phase can be decisive, and considerably transform the visual appearance of the original photograph. From a dark, indistinct conglomerate, I can generate via Lightroom a fine image, rich in color and subtle in its areas of light, thanks to the relevant dosage of the sliders of the software. But it is imperative to respect the real "picture" encountered, without disguising the truth, that is to say always with wisdom and sometimes humility. Preserving the original contrasts, the tones as they were at the time, and ultimately all the intrinsic characteristics of the image, this sincere and delicate approach conditions in my opinion the link that the photographer maintains with his productions.
So I try to stay consistent with myself and with the world when I work on screen these moments of exoticism.

Wikimedia Commons
vie sauvage Life is short, and photographs sometimes disappear with humans. Most people have photos that they keep discreetly in their private sphere, without really sharing them, except sporadically to a few friends in rare circumstances. One day, these batches of personal images pass in a drawer that we forget, then a cellar or an attic and, finally, many visual documents are lost forever. Some of them undoubtedly deserve a more glorious fate! And that's what I'm trying to do by uploading my files to the Wikimedia Commons peer site, to make them searchable and usable by anyone, according to the ethical rule of sharing under a Creative Commons free license.

For having handled several years this multimedia activity, I can attest to the rather time-consuming import work that it involves, and sometimes even difficult when it comes to identifying an unknown beast or a rare plant. Writing the descriptive captions, in two languages if possible (English, French, in my case), properly categorizing the subject within the large collective library, possibly creating the category if it does not exist, all this process represents many hours spent in front of the computer, in addition to the time required to design each image.
Many agree that the Wikimedia project, like Wikipedia, is like real work for the motivated volunteers. However, I find pleasure there, and recognition. First of all, the pleasure of interacting with people from all over the world, because images, unlike texts, have a universal aspect by nature. Then, the satisfaction of discovering, of cultivating myself through the consultation of numerous documents uploaded by others.

personnes I also learned on a technical level, thanks to the FPC section (Featured Pictures Candidates), where participants criticize and vote to elect the best images on the platform. I contribute both as nominator and as judge (or critic). Regarding my own photographs, the gaze of others helps me to assess their aesthetic impact, or their interest. For example, I ever changed my mind about an image, after having received disapproval from others, rational and justified. Or conversely, appreciated more a photograph when a majority of voters showed their enthusiasm.
Internet users who evaluate the nominations at FPC generally examine them in detail, sometimes even detecting tiny dust spots. Thus the status of Featured Picture, awarded by a consensus of demanding observers, is a guarantee of relatively objective reliability, because it testifies to a technical quality and an emotional impact that is both consistent and shared. For these various reasons, I am a constant follower of the site. And participating at my own pace suits me perfectly.

Prizes, honors and rewards
This photograph of a cat playing with a lizard reached the sixth position among the international finalists for the Picture of the Year (2018 edition), competition organized by Wikimedia Commons.

paysages On this collaborative site, my uploads are regularly awarded Quality Images (more than 600), and even better, Featured Pictures (more than 200) at the end of a voting process spread over 9 days. Once out of the lot, some photos are admitted to competition in the prestigious "Picture of the Year" challenge, which brings together over a thousand nominations every year, on different themes. Sometimes my landscapes reach the top of the ranking thanks to the enthusiastic votes of the many participants able to propel them to the final.
I also won 6 times the bi-annual Wiki Science Competition organized upon the theme of Science, sometimes with money as reward. For example, this photograph of a bioluminescent beetle won the national first place for the category "Wildlife and nature" in 2019.
Today, many websites, blogs and international media display my photographs while respecting the copyright. For me it is a pleasant form of openness and recognition. I am occasionally informed by email that this or that animal I have captured with my DSLR will be on the cover of a magazine dedicated to the subject. This equitable path of rewarding sharing of course encourages me to continue.

Tastes
Regarding my preferences in photography, I am particularly sensitive to light when it is subtle and revealing vibrant colors, for landscapes and architecture. One of my major concerns is also to communicate the atmosphere.
When it comes to portraits and photos of people, I like the spontaneity, the natural attitude, the genuine smiles, and the scenes captured on the spot.
With animals, I simply try to approach them... discreetly! And without getting bitten :-)

See my photographs


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© Basile Morin    |     contact : basile.morin@gmail.com