photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

two photos

out of 6500…

in Photography , Monday, December 30, 2013

I made about 6500 photos in 2013. Seems rather a lot. The trouble it’s a lot easier to amass photos, especially digital photos, than it is to edit them. I still have a considerable number of digital photos from Patagonia in January 2013 to go through, although I’ve done most of the film scanning.  This last year, apart from local stuff, I’ve photographed in Argentina, Antarctica, Venice (twice), Tuscany (twice) and Sardinia. As for the local stuff, well my collections from the Verzasca and Maggia valleys, as well as various other areas in Ticino, have carried on growing.

It’s difficult to come up with a “top 10” out of all that, but there are a few which stick in my mind, and so which I could qualify as my favourites for 2013.

This first shot was taken in a blind alley in Venice on March 1st.  I’ve made a big print of it and I find it quite captivating. By sheer chance I stumbled across the exact same scene last week when I was back there for a few days. Typically for Venice, I was nowhere near where I thought I was.


There are a couple of “panoramic” shots of Antarctica which I’m fairly satisfied with.  The one below competes with a few others for my favour, but at the moment it’s top of the pile.


And that’s it.

Of course, there are many more photos which I’ve made over the year which I’m pleased with, but no others have really gotten under my skin. Partly because I just haven’t given them time to do so, partly because many work better as part of a set, but perhaps also because churning out the same pictures year in, year out, with slight technical and technique improvements (I hope) doesn’t really excite much.  I could easily add to this list and make a “Top 10” but I’d be forcing the issue.

Probably we all take far, far too many photos, and this starts to dilute the experience of being there, wherever, or whenever, “there” may be. I think it is better to move away from “capturing the moment” and closer to “enjoying the moment”. Obviously if photography is a means to make a living then the parameters might be different. But when it is rather a scramble to produce some fleeting, intangible popularity through social media “likes”, then maybe there’s a danger of completely disconnecting with the very motives that drive many of of us to photography in the first place.

And with that cheerful thought, my best wishes for 2014.  :)


Isola Nova

Exhibition by Philippe Calandre

in Photography , Monday, December 23, 2013

Earlier this week, I was fortunate to come across a captivating exhibition in Venice, called Isola Nova. Presented by the Wilmotte Foundation, “Isola Nova” is the work of French artist Philippe Calandre, who’s work is a combination of photography, painting and video. Isola Nova presents a series of imagined new islands, drawing on both the real and the imaginary, combining elements of the real Venice with steampunk-like industry, set within a lagoon of dark, restless seas and skies.

Calandre utopia3

Utopia 3, from Isola Nova, by Philippe Calandre

The work is also reminiscent of the original Myst game, with its small, mysterious islands hiding disjointed artefacts and baffling technology. But there is something fundamental about this vision of complex yet contained worlds which strongly appeals to me. I am always drawn to islands, wherever I find them, and the real islands of the Venice lagoon are mysterious enough to me, never mind the fantastic creations of Isola Nova.

The originals are printed quite large.  The photography is meticulous, exquisite - ands largely irrelevant. This is photography as an raw material for creativity, not as the end point, and in my opinion this is truly deserving of the label “art” in a way which very, very little photography is. It’s also sort of the way I first got hooked on taking photography seriously, as an input to illustration.

I guess Isola Nova would not be to everybody’s taste, but if by chance you happen to be in Venice before Feb 15th, and you can find your way to Fondamenta dell’Abbazza in Canareggio (it’s not that hard, but it’s a bit off the tourist circuit) then really, the exhibition is well worth a visit.


Antarctica - In slow time

Stuart Klipper, again

in Antarctica , Thursday, December 05, 2013

A while back I made a bit of a mistake. I wrote about Stuart Klipper, and in particular his book, “The Antarctic: From the Circle to the Pole”, here, and I was pretty enthusiastic about it. The problem is I didn’t realise quite how rare it is, and a few days after my post, coincidentally or not, Amazon and all other vendors (for example the excellent Longitude Books) were out of stock.  Bugger.  I did manage to get to take an order, but every now and again they send me a stream of undecipherable Germanic e-commerce babble which I assume means they’d love to take my money but they can’t. 

So I was pretty surprised not to mention happy to discover Amazon UK suggesting that I buy it new from a 3rd party vendor for just £7.22. And it’s just arrived.


Over the past few days I’d been enjoying Joseph Holko’s Antarctic images, and feeling a little intimidated by them.  They’re dramatic, full of contrast and vivid flashes of colour, and sharp enough to cut through steel. They grab attention. I despair of ever being able to get anywhere near this standard.  But although I don’t in way want to dismiss them, I’m not sure I ever actually remember Antarctica looking like that.  Antarctica looks the way Stuart Klipper photographs it. It’s mysterious, unattainable, incomprehensible in it’s alien vastness. It’s really not the world of highly saturated dramatic icebergs and penguins that we’re getting increasingly subjected to. Stuart Klipper lets Antarctic speak to us, rather than impose his vision on it, and it makes a huge difference. He doesn’t go the uninvolved, dispassionate lengths of the more conceptualist art landscape crowd, there’s still a considerable emotional attachment involved, but you get the impression of a photographer who has taken his time to take a long look before pressing the shutter release.

Of course, Holko will sell, and Klipper probably doesn’t much. And Holko is a photographer, while Klipper has at least one foot in the “artist” camp. These are just observations, Joseph Holko is a fantastic photographer, and I’m just using his work to contrast with Stuart Klipper’s, I’m not being judgemental. But although I certainly don’t claim any artistic merit for myself, I do feel that my own photography is somewhat validated by Klipper’s. Sure, I’ve tried to go for the in-vogue ultra-impact approach myself, but I’m not comfortable with it and I think it shows. Which is probably why in my heart of hearts I prefer my XPan work. Not specifically because of the format, but because it’s on slide film, and there’s very limit scope in pushing that beyond what-you’ve-got-is-what-you-get.

Anyway, I’ve got a book to read tonight.