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

A Tale of Resilience

One of the major differences between film and digital photography are the stories one can tell. In the digital realm to tell someone that you underexposed 10 or 12 photos 2 or 3 stops without noticing just means you are not very good at what your doing.

Alternatively, mistakenly putting a 50 ASA film in the camera and metering for a 400ASA film will extract humorous groans from those who have also done it. It becomes an more interesting tale when you compound the mistakes. In this picture which I shot two weeks ago I never noticed that the film was not the much faster HP5 that I thought it to be and I consequently metered and developed it as if it was. But what makes the tale interesting for those who like such things are the extraordinary details. Such as because the film was over ten years out of date I was reluctant to buy new developer and the internet said that Rodinal  film developer could be kept for a few years before it went off. I had an open bottle of it that had been hanging around for about a year and a half so I thought  why not give it a go, even though the chemical’s colour had shifted from light amber to almost black.

The fixer (just as old) smelt a little, but what the hell.

The end result is that the chemicals did their job and properly developed the film , but due to the massive underexposure  when I shot the film the negatives are seriously thin and it took a slow 3200 dpi scan to get a sort of image.

Considering everything, a 4-second handheld exposure, terrible lighting conditions, gross underexposure, old out-of-date film and failing chemicals, I was surprised to get anything and yet I still got a picture. And it looks like a very old photograph  straight out of the camera, which is cool.

Film, it’s amazing stuff.

Bronica SQa, 50mm wide angle, f4, 4 second exposure, Ilford Pan F, ISO 50.

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)

allentimphotos2, in his comment on yesterday’s post got me to thinking about the limitations of the entire social media like-thing, because pressing a like-button, actually is pretty meaningless on the one hand and a positive affirmation on the other. As his comment clearly ratifies, there are endless gradations of meaning in the simple word LIKE, much the same as love and art, both words which are in danger of having their meaning diluted to a level where they become nothing more than popular slang.

I haven’t thought it through clearly yet, but I think I’ll pursue this line of thought.

 

Selfies, it’s a common theme in mine and other photographers’ work and again, in line with the ruminations on meaning, I wondered if selfie pictures will remain relevant as social commentary in the coming years. Take the pictures from the last three days posts: All involve the concept of recording yourself with a phone, but what happens when this becomes a thing of the past, when technology makes it obsolete? I doubt a photograph of a person walking down the street with a selfie stick would make a lot of sense to an audience with no concept of what a selfie stick is and it most certainly wouldn’t evoke any thoughts of isolation, so the picture would/will become meaningless. Also, we know that the two women in todays picture are photographing themselves not me, but would some one in the not to distant future intrinsically understand that?

maybe….. but I doubt it.

 

Regardless, I enjoy photographing people photographing themselves and those who mean something to them, most of the images may end up deleted or never looked at, it doesn’t matter. It’s comforting for me to know, at some level, a large proportion of people share my passion.

 

50mm f2.8, 1/13sec, ISO250

Berlin Nights

During the weekend I was at a café in the Berlin Old Harbour area and as I’m preparing for my trip to Australia I thought I would experiment with the stitching technique under the worst possible conditions.

To take this picture I had to handhold the camera at very slow shutter speeds plus there are 26 photos in the stitch, which made it a bit of a challenge.

The effect is quite dramatic and I am very pleased with the result. It’s nice and punchy without being candy-coloured, which is a result of three or four light sources. It might have been better if I had used a tripod but who carries that much equipment to a bar, not me.

85mm, f1.8, 1/10sec, ISO1000