photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Back on the street

pero, si mangia bene!

in Photography , Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Following my recent heavy exposure on the Inspired Eye blog, I decided I really ought to get with this street photography thing. So, on a recent visit to Bologna, I took along my black Olympus E-P3, taping over all the logos with genuine Street-O-Vanish black tape, and attached a (black) 35mm equivalent lens to the front. I packed several black dark blue shirts and of course shades, and slung my discrete street shooter Domke bag over my shoulder. We are talking Instant Cartier-Bresson here. No messing.

Well. It’s actually not very easy, this street photography stuff, especially when it involves actual people who may well not want their photo taken.  This being Italy, most people are quite happy to be centre stage, but those who are not, really are not. Still, most of them are in Palermo, not Bologna.  Also, I’d never been to Bologna before, so the unfamiliarity of the location didn’t help, and Bologna is a pretty unusual city.

Over 2 days I took 110 shots with the 17(“35”)mm lens. I took another 40 or so with the 12(“24”) and 45(“90”) lenses but these don’t count. As far as I can tell 110 over 48 hours is pretty pathetic for a street photographer.  But then I’m not really a member of that august set.

What I was trying to do here is to take shots with people - random people - as the principal theme and subject. I quite often use people as part of a composition, but generally they’re far off and anonymous. So are many here, but that’s because I didn’t get close enough. I can’t say I really enjoyed it, although at the same time I soon got over the awkwardness. It’s just that it’s far, far too late for me to venture into a new strand of photography.

But anyway, here’s a small selection, so you can judge for yourselves. In keeping with the spirit of the thing, these are largely straight from camera, apart from two where I’d decided on the crop in-situ.  I’ve also avoided the temptation of converting to black & white - I haven’t paid anywhere near enough dues for that!


Oh, and I nearly forgot…


Il palco panoramico

stretching it

in Photography , Wednesday, March 12, 2014

And finally, for now: a wider view of Venice.  The finale of my slightly more than a month-long series of series documenting my tiresome obsession with Venice draws to a conclusion with a set of wide angle shots. This I feel is my most incomplete series, and possibly my most rushed, as it draws only from one visit, last December. It’s not the most obvious location on the planet for this approach, especially if avoiding clichés is desired. So I’ve decided to let the clichés have their day.


All photos created using the Hasselblad XPan II with a mix of Kodak Ektachrome E100G and Fuji Provia 400X slide film.  Processed using a steam-driven Babbage Engine.



Serial photography

getting ones ducks in a row

in Photography , Thursday, March 06, 2014

There comes a point, surely, when any amateur photographer asks the question “now what?” - now that I’ve got thousands of photos squirrelled away, that I’ve learnt what all the knobs and dials do, forgotten it, and learnt all over again. Now that I’ve bought and read all the HOW TO books. What next? The answer often seems to be, buy a new camera, or software, or something. Oh, and blog about it. But surely even Gear Acquisition Syndrome loses its allure over time? Maybe not for everybody, but for me just making semi-random photographs which a new camera every 3 months doesn’t really bring much satisfaction. The next step, if you can avoid the gear trap, is often to embark on projects. Such projects are greatly loved by the photo magazine industry. Every month, garish covers scream “SHOOT LANDSCAPES! / GARDENS! / PUPPIES! / BARE LADIES! / BITS OF TOAST!” or whatever, but all too often this is a thinly veiled cover with a gear selling pitch barely concealed beneath it. My feeling is that the biggest step comes from getting away from concentrating on the mechanisms of photography, and getting into the actual product of the creative process. I’m sure there are plenty of different ways of doing this, but I’m increasingly attracted by the idea of the photo series. By which I mean creating coherent sets of photographs, each of which may well stand alone, but which together reinforce each other through some form of common theme, structure, or intent.  This is one reason that I find online photo sharing sites quite unsatisfying, as they’re pretty much all focused on the latest upload, on displaying single shots, and leave the photographer no significant control over presentation and layout.  On this site in recent months I’ve tried to take a “series” approach, and even if this means nothing to anybody else, it gives me some sense of purpose. As an aside, I long ago realised that it is extremely easy to attract visitors to a photography site - just be controversial about gear. This post is by far my most viewed, and remains perched high on top of the weekly rankings. Heavens only knows why people find it interesting. So if I wanted eyeballs over all else, I’ve no doubt I could get them.

Anyway, all this web stuff is all very well, but it doesn’t set the bar very high. Getting a photo published here and there in OLYMPUS magazine is neither challenging nor exactly earth shattering. The next step is to have the nerve to submit a printed portfolio to a real, honest-to-goodness magazine, and one with good artistic credentials at that. Is it over-ambitious of me? Probably, but you have to start somewhere.  So I put together a series of photos which I actually have a strong connection with. There aren’t that many subjects that I really connect with - and the name of this website is a good pointer to one of them. Combining this with what some have described as my “signature”, more heartfelt panoramic format, putting together a series was relatively easy. At least it was easier than writing the description, CV and covering letter. I’d finished the actual prints before Christmas. I finished the covering letter last night, and the whole package went in the post this morning. One small step…

Planche contact

The contact sheet

Obviously there is perhaps more than a passing resemblance here to the work of Stuart Klipper, whose praises I’ve sung on this blog. But, in my self-defence, I only discovered his work on the day I took the first photo in this series, and indeed had it not been for an unfortunate encounter with a gale in the Arctic, I’d possibly have made a similar series some three years ago.

I’ll let you when the rejection letter arrives. It will be in French.