Another Street Sign

With the way the talking heads in the media are ranting and frothing at the mouth about religious fundamentalism you would be pardoned if you thought it was a new phenomenon. Of course it’s not, the ebb and flow of violent pious beliefs is a historical fact.

One day’s crackpot is tomorrow’s martyr.

On a lighter note; a sure way of recognizing a photograph shot with a medium format film camera is the so-called waist-level shot – so named because the camera is held just above the waist and you look down into the viewfinder to focus and a fine example of what happens is this picture.

The picture was shot about 22years ago so it is also a fine example of the continuity of religious bigotry.

If there is one thing that I find exceptionally hard to understand it’s the large swaths of angry people who believe that their belief in a loving god demands that they abuse and persecute those who don’t have the same beliefs, when in fact such overweaning narcissism is an anathema to all religious teaching with the possible exception of Satanism.
Bronica SQA, 80mm, Kodak Tri-x, asa 400

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On Film, Ism’s and Rituals

Once a site of resistance, the Peace Wall in Prague is now a place where insignificant individuals desecrate symbols of resistance for reasons of narcissism. Let’s face it, the mass of tourists who feel a need to write on walls such as the John Lennon Peace Wall are those who come late to history via a homogenized journey but want others to think they would have risked life and limb if only they had been born earlier, or in a less salubrious location, or under an oppressive regime, or didn’t have to go to uni, or….

The folk law version I heard from the locals back in the mid 1990s was that during the communist era someone did the original graffiti/paintings and the authorities painted over them, and then more were done, the authorities would removed them and back and forth it went. Finally someone who was caught repainting the J.L. mural was badly beaten, which resulted in the violent protests of record.

Ironically, Wikipedia gives a different, more homogenized and palatable version, but by the 1990s tourists had begun to do what organized oppression could not, they were taking the wall away piece by piece, paint chip by paint chip as souvenirs to put away and forget or were tagging what was left with rather stupid minutia.

The wall looks much different today, I guess because it’s now a site of entertainment, an ode to the corrosive power of any dominant ism no matter the label

The reason for these pictures is that I have begun to regress and have once again fallen in love with film. Not for the nostalgic reasons so popular today or because film is better, but for the ritual of loading film, taking light meter readings and being restricted to the amount of shots (12 in the case of this camera) to a roll of film. These actions slow everything down, makes me more selective and contemplative about composition and why I want to shoot the image. It also costs 30 to 50 cents a shot and a lot of work goes into making the final picture so each image is important. The process is therapeutic you might say, in its own odd way.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lennon_Wall

Bronica SQA, 80mm, Ilford HP5, developed in Rodinol. 1994

Experimental Accidents

Doing experiments like the one currently under discussion is more often than not boring for those with a less technical interest in photography than myself, but such experiments in fact make life as a photographer so much easier.

This picture was shot on Friday night under terrible conditions. The lighting in the room is tungsten, flat, and I deliberately underexposed by three and a half stops, in this and other photographs I shot during the evening. The results from this exercise were mixed, ranging from the just plain awful to this image, which, while I like it a lot, is the result of an accident rather than careful planned execution.

The grain/noise in this image is undetectably the same as film I’ve shot in this location over the years and it was achieved primarily in camera. A minimal amount of post-processing was done with Silver Effex Pro, free B&W software from Google.

Why is this important? Because I am once again resurrecting the book project that is/was Unreliable Truths, but this time I will have the help of a friend who will edit it and try and knock it into better shape, which means all new pictures will need to look the same as those shot ten years ago. Yes, I could manage it in Photoshop if I had the patience to endlessly experiment to get the right look, but it’s simply easier to get it right in the camera….

 

35mm, f2.5, 1/20sec, ISO400 (3.65stops underexposed)

Exposing Experiments

I’ve had a friend who is also a photographer visiting me in Berlin the last few days, so naturally we talked about photographic trends like the ubiquitous selfie/selfie stick and all the other happenings in the photographic world.

As we discussed these things we looked at images I had shot in Vienna and when we saw this image (which was grossly underexposed in the shadows and consequently never processed) we both agreed that it was a shame the underexposure made it useable and yet it was indicative of the quintessential Vienna café society I had heard so much about.

After she had left Berlin I thought I’d process the picture just to see what would happen and found the result very interesting.

What I’ve learnt.

Digital sensors are so remarkable it’s very hard to make a picture with the coarse grain of high speed film in camera . Normally lots of post-processing is required.

To get a photo with soft, course grain, that resembles high ISO film, early experiments have shown that it is imperative to grossly underexpose to create the film like characteristics that the digital revolution disposed with.

The whites are already in place so only the mid-tones and blacks are going to be excessively noisy/grainy, which is what I’m after

Post-processing of this image was very basic; I increased the brightness until I had details in the dark shadow areas, cropped, toned it and added a faux border for effect. Even the most basic free software can do this.

50mm, f3,2, 1/125sec, ISO100

ANARCHY-PRIDE-HITCHHIKE

ANARCHY-PRIDE-HITCHHIKE

 

If any one thing exemplifies the reason I needed to reorganize my library of images it is today’s post.

Having spent the week moving pictures around and doing very little else I decided that the last post of the week would be a photograph from my favorite shoot of 2015. My memory for pictures is good, but reality and memory are two different animals. The picture is from a large group of individual portraits I did in a single evening. In my memory the shoot took place around February/ March whereas it actually took place in November 2014. As this was a very specific set of pictures I knew where to find the folder but more obscure shoots under the old system would take a lot of looking to find.

It’s easier now, although the filing system can and will be further refined. But it is the sheer volume of images that has surprised me, not that I’m blind to the amount of times I press the shutter release, but the massive amount of people, places and objects that needed to be properly categorized for easy access has been mind bending.

 

This picture was shot with Ilford HP5 6x6cm roll film using a Bronica SQA camera with a 50mm wide-angle lens attached. The film was developed with Adonal (A Rodinol clone) developer and pushed 1 stop to help alleviate anticipated problems with fogging, because the film was very old and very much out of date. It may not have been my favorite shoot from 2015, but it is still one of my favorite shoots in recent years.

Remembering The Big Apple

Still sitting in a room sorting bits and bites.

This picture was shot around 2002 in New York, on the ferry to Staten Island, a trip I like to take every time we visit the Big Apple. You get a great view of the city as well as the Statue of Liberty and as the ferry is fee, it’s easily the best value in NY.

The camera I was using at the time was an EOS RT, a wonderful camera thats shutter curtain has since stopped working properly because it hadn’t been used in years.

That’s the way of machines, use them or loose them.

I’m currently doing huge backups in conjunction with sorting the library. It always sounds excitingly fast in a movie, in reality it’s as slow and tedious as watching oil-based paint dry.

EOS RT, 50mm (that’s what I was mainly using at the time) Classic Pan 400ASA film, developed with Rodinol.

Cultural Differences

I’ve been preoccupied with doing other things than taking pictures today so it’s necessary to retreat to the archives.

This picture was shot in California in about 2005 (I’m ambiguous about the date because it’s from unlogged film stock, which means I was on holidays), and I thought it ironic at the time and a real sign of cultural differences.

I’ve never seen such a sign anywhere else in the world.

Under new management, new ownership, yep, all the time, but new corporate ownership, how is that a benefit to the customer?

It simply means that any guarantee problems you had with faulty items just got so much worse. That you’re going to hear a lot more from a recorded voice saying “please stay on the line, your call is important to us” and yes, that call is important to them, because it’s a revenue stream.

Canon Eos 5, Foma Classic Pan ASA400