Monthly Archives: March 2012

Objects that find other Objects

Whilst I’ve been busy upgrading my kit (ah ha you say), there hasn’t been much output photographically. There’s a big project looming, slowly the bits and pieces are falling together and that’s kept me busy. But sometimes, out on the bike doing this and that, I come across something that looks like something that I’ve photographed before, and so out comes the camera from the saddlebag (or a zippy ride back home to pick up said gear) and ‘snap’! Now an old picture has a friend and makes it nicer to view, just a bit anyway.  
How often does one see so many trucks (or buses) parked together?


Reaching up or floating away?




An exercise in surprise

How do we view ourselves? How do we think others see us? Maybe we all think in terms of how we’d like to see ourselves/others to see us, and we get the two confused.

I took a series of about 60 self portraits and learned that I utterly hated nearly all of them. This was a real surprise, I squirmed upon loading them on the screen. Who’s this guy? So there’s only one thing to it….take more…..and more and more. Why? It’s novel and unnerving, uncomfortable, and I’d rather be taking pics of lovely people or scenery. If it’s to be ugly, what about some graffiti even dirty shoes found on the street, but not me!  I don’t think anyone want’s to see these pics; and consequently the correct thing to do is what feels least natural, most polar opposite of the instinctive behaviour; to hide behind the viewfinder, or even to not take photographs at all. So I’m going to take more.

The anticipation is actually strangely exciting, both in the sense that I think the outcome will be novel, and because it’s challenging in an unexpected way. I’m expecting to find this to continue being outside of the ‘comfort zone’ and I don’t know why, it’s not like I have a poor self image or am abashed for some physical extra or missing bits. But through the lens is different to in a mirror, so much so that it felt as a rude awaking of the fact – pictures do distort reality, some realities more than others. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself! What a hoot!

Where there’s petrol, there’s fire

It’s not immediately apparent, but if you look carefully it can be seen that the ‘fire rotation thing’ in these pics we took is right smack in the middle of a diesel storage facility…..well a little to the left of smack in the middle, bit kind of close. I’d loosely group these sorts of images in a ‘contrasts’ category of pictures.

But that’s not the real purpose of this visual exercise….

I like contrast, and aside from the visual impact of such an image, I wanted to litmus test what would happen if I ‘lit a fire’ in the (sort of) middle of a fuel depot. Would security arrive? We hadn’t actually broken through any fences, or performed anything illegal as such, and there wasn’t any real danger. But I like challenging my own private notion of ‘an over regulated country’, where some uniform somehow appears right when one’s at the apogee of fun and adventure. The fire trail was clearly visible from the main road. Security cameras recorded our arrival (remember we hadn’t actually broken any laws or trespassed per se). I’m pleased to report that my feelings of said ‘over-regulation’ is slowly diminishing, and I’m warming to the feeling of fear-free-photography. This is the real reward of such an exercise.

sDocuments & Art

Anyone who fails to understand Photography,
will be one of the illiterates of the future

László MoholyNagy 

Much of my reading time has been about the technical bits of image making. Tech is easy, it’s logical, it can be learnt in customary manner and isn’t foreign. Want to achieve a particular look? Just place a light there, measure the ambient light and twist knob B. Take picture, adjust this slider in Lightroom and yeah, we get a nice picture. There will always be new technique to learn, new skills to hone. But because it can be learnt, because it can be practiced and even easily written about in blogs…’s not much of a challenge. But there are things I find really challenging….and that is consistently taking an image with a story, a message, an idea. Photography can record a visual, or it can record an idea or concept. Maybe I’m over simplifying, but I call the former visual documentation, the latter art.

Genius of Photography

BBC Six Part Series

Technical vs Art Rating: 100% Art

It’s not a silly name, just a bit cliché. But wow, what a fantastic six part series made by the BBC about, well…the genius of photography. This comprehensive series puts into light the artistry of taking images, and the mystery of interpreting pictures. There are things I don’t get….yet… like Joel Meyerowitz’s interpretation of Eugene Atget’s “Notre Dame”: something ‘yummy’ and ‘delicious’ – I’m sure Atget was just testing his new camera and snapped a picture of a tree in front of Notre Dame. Now the image is worth millions, but hey, that’s art!

However the series does show a glimpse into the indisputable genius of the art of image making, and begins with it’s most powerful statement: in 1928 Andre Kertesz took this series of images, the final one is entitled ‘Meudon’. The first photographs Andre took are about as unremarkable as the place itself, but something about them must have caught his eye, as he came back. The final images, the famous ones, Andre managed to change something ordinary, into something extraordinary.

With his final photograph (left), we can’t but wonder what the figure is doing, what he is carrying, where he is taking it.

“Photography always transforms what it describes, that’s the art of photography – to control that transformation”uncredited quote.

It’s just this understanding of how to control the transformation, how to plan for telling a story which intrigues me the most. Whilst this series doesn’t provide you with an answer in the traditional sense, like you’d expect from an instruction manual or textbook, it does undeniably prove (to me at least) that there is logic to art, even if there’s unpredictable and chaotic reasons why certain images evoke more emotions.

Blur/Bulb Magazine

Technical vs Art Rating: 101% Art

I stumbled upon this amazing magazine from the Czech Republic (I think originally) but now is run by volunteers in Croatia, USA, Canada and Germany. Photographic works seem to be from all the world (recently), and particularly from east europe. And let’s remember that some of the world best creative art comes from east europe!

There is a certain fluff factor with some of the work chosen to be featured, and a slight focus on non-erotic nudity. However aside from this, which may just be my subjective prejudice, there are no creative limits in the works exhibited in this collection. Non at all, intact some images have been jaw-droppers for me, and that’s a good thing!

What can you expect to take out of reading these magazines? A full frontal, in-your-face, sometimes confrontational look at creative photography. There are no guides on portraiture or journalistic technique, no fluff on landscape or HDR, just images which make one realise there are no limits, at least with some props and costumes.

Within the Frame – Journey of Photographic Vision

David deChemin

Technical vs Art Rating: 20% Science 80% Art

David deChemin is a travel photographer who I think excels most with his affinity towards people and cultures. Throughout the book are his images which I think are wonderful, and to a degree bring out the wanderlust is most readers. David explains some of the technical aspects of each shot, but what distinguishes the text and the writer, is the in in depth look at how David interacted with the very people he was photographic, before, during and after the fact.

I find taking candid photos abroad easier than back home. Perhaps it’s because as a tourist it is almost expected we wield a camera and therefore we feel less conscious of the fact. But some of this is ‘guerilla’ photography, taking images without implied or expressed permission, and indeed I’m sure some of the time we do deliberately in indirectly take ‘guerilla’ pictures of people, we cause some sort of offence and increase cultural barriers.

In ‘Within the Frame’ David details how to approach people, engage them, make them feel that photography isn’t evil. And all that without speaking more than two or three words of the same language.