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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.

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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.

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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.  :)

 

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 Amazon.de 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.

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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.

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Penguin Parade

Featuring Pygoscelis antarctica

in Antarctica , Monday, September 16, 2013

Chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) are almost certainly the cutest of all penguins - except for all the others, of course. But really, they’re cute. Not quite as entertaining as Adelies, not quite as exuberant as Gentoos, not quite as big as Emperors, but sweeter than all of these combined.

And here’s a selection.

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With the unflappable support of the Olympus Optical Company’s E-5 photographic apparatus and assorted, and somewhat heavy, lenses.

 

Slough of Despond

Deception Island, Antarctica

in Antarctica , Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keeping in tune with my general aura of grim despondency, the first set of non-panoramic photographs I have put together from last winter’s Antarctica jaunt features that slough of despond, Whaler’s Bay at Deception Island. In much the same way that I was drawn to decay and desolation at Pyramiden, at the other end of the planet, and indeed at Argentiero, in a very different climate, I find Deception island quite fascinating. It seems that vestiges and faded memories of human presence seem to attract me much more than the thriving activity. Deception Island, and Whaler’s Bay in particular, depresses quite a few people - there remains an aura of wanton, reckless destruction from whaling times, and the residue of the last sequence of eruptions contributes to a dark atmosphere. It’s not a happy place.

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Whaler’s Bay has been considerably sanitised since my first visit. Although I appreciate the idea of cleaning up the environment, in particular when it comes to dangerous substances, it does seem somewhat at odds with preserving Antarctic history. I’m not sure how justified it can be to present some kind of squeaky clean vision of the past, in particular erasing Argentinian graffiti from the oil tanks.

Deception oil tanks

Whaler’s Bay oil tanks in 1987 …

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… Whaler’s Bay oil tanks in 2013.

 

Heat Treatment

ice is nice

in Antarctica , Thursday, August 01, 2013

It’s getting to the point of being very, very hot right now down in Canton Ticino, so a little bit of ice is just what we need.

Some more Antarctic rough cuts, this time various bits of ice floating around and getting in the way.

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And the technical details are, all Olympus E-5, with either the 50-200mm or 12-60mm lens.

 

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