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Anti-adventure photography

in Photography , Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Following the world of photo blogs, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by the constant flux of fantastic images from fabulous places, taken by ultra-cool world traveller photographers wielding priceless gear. Locked into a day to day existence which largely means being sat at a desk all day doing largely pointless things, this can get depressing fast. I’m sure I’m not the only one bemused by the seemingly endless stream of exotic “workshops” being offered at prices that seem to start at unaffordable and head swiftly upwards.  Yes, I’d love to travel the world and take photos (well, I think I would, mostly), but I have neither the money nor the time, or perhaps the drive. But every now and again I can, a little, so when opportunities arise, hopefully I can make the most of them.

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And the best way to make better photos is to make photos often. Not just on vacation. Not just on the odd weekend or day out, but everyday. “But there’s nothing to photograph here”, is a frequent complaint, and certainly one I’ve made. And it’s wrong. There’s always something to photograph. If you can’t find it, you’re not looking.

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My daily routine involves working in an office in a superficially nondescript suburban dormitory village, which had most of the life sucked out of it decades ago. Oh, but thousands of years ago it was a strategic Neolithic settlement. And hundreds of years ago, a refuge from bandit country. Nowadays most of that past is concreted over, though. Oh, and when I get to go out, it’s usually midday, with a harsh, burning sun directly overhead. Hardly an auspicious location for an aspiring landscape photographer. Not much joy for a street portraitist either: the streets are largely deserted of pedestrians.

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So, basically it’s challenging in lots of ways. And yet most days around lunchtime I venture out with a camera, generally sticking with the same body/lens combination for weeks on end. Operating the camera becomes a more and more automatic, tactile process. And sometimes I get photos that, despite the odds, I quite enjoy. They’ll never get many faves on Flickr, and they’d get ignored on 500px. Some scenes I’ve shot many times over, noticing how slight changes in light and time of day can make a big difference.

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Most of these walkabout shots get deleted. But they all help me to hone my compositional skills, and to coax some kind of coherent image from the jumble of the soulless concrete boxes so beloved by many Swiss, from the vestiges of the older village, or the in-between times. Sometimes they quite surprise me. And getting more and more instinctive about composition, especially in uninspiring circumstances, will only help when I have the opportunity to photograph something I care about. And then again, despite myself, through roaming the streets of this unremarkable, dull, unloved, half-deserted village I can’t help but develop a strange attachment to it.

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All these were taken using the 17mm f/1.8 lens on the Olympus E-P5.

Posted in category "Photography" on Tuesday, August 05, 2014 at 09:01 PM

Marmot Heaven

in Photography in Ticino , Tuesday, August 13, 2013

And now, as a blessed relief from negativity and ranting, I present a handful of alpine marmot photos, taken around the Ritom area, Ticino, last sunday afternoon.

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All taken with an Olympus E-5 and Digital Zuiko 50-200mm f2.8-f3.5 or 150mm f2.0 lenses. Yep, they still work.

 

Posted in category "Photography in Ticino" on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Helios

in Photography in Ticino , Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A grim morning in downtown Giubiasco. Helped along by another good dose of high contrast black & white (not to mention underexposed) Ricoh grit.

Posted in category "Photography in Ticino" on Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 05:57 PM

Black, white, and grainy

in Photography , Monday, October 08, 2012

On a well known photography gear forum, which I imagine I’m not the only one to far too regularly seek out as a displacement activity, yesterday I came across a question asking “is the Ricoh GRD any good for anything other than grainy black and white ?”. It’s a valid question - the vast majority of GR photos you find on the web are indeed black, white, grainy and often gritty. Auteur street photography dominates. And yet as far as I recall, I’ve only ever published low ISO colour stuff. Probably another reason why my genius is chronically ignored and overlooked.

So I thought I’d give it a spin. Using a “recipe” suggested by another contributer to the same forum, I made a settings set with ISO 1600 (gasp!), hi-contrast black & white, with a pinch of classic square format to taste.

The first three photos here are taken at the “Ala Pelera” watchtower above Camorino, part of the Fortini della Fame built in the early 19th Century in reaction to political instability in Lombardy, as well as famine in Ticino.

Ala Pelera detail 1. Ricoh GRD IV

Ala Pelera detail 2. Ricoh GRD IV

Ala Pelera detail 3. Ricoh GRD IV

The next two were taken in the woods a little way from the watchtower, same general area as my previous post.

Tracked. Ricoh GRD IV

Pipeline. Ricoh GRD IV

So, there we go. I’ve now joined the Ricoh GRD grainy black & white club. Lavish praise cannot fail to follow.

Resizing and framing done in Filterstorm Pro on the iPad. Otherwise straight from camera. Filterstorm is a pretty amazing application, but it’s fairly complicated, and I’m not sure if I’ve got the workflow properly sorted out yet. The uploads seem to be very compressed.

Posted in category "Photography" on Monday, October 08, 2012 at 07:44 PM

Journey through the Past

in Photography in Ticino , Friday, October 05, 2012

There’s some pretty remarkable stuff hidden away in the steep woods that rise to the East of Giubiasco. Today, while searching for feeder pipe which comes down from a dam much higher up, to the small hydro power station at the foot of the Morobbia valley, I found the remnants of a seemingly long disused funicular railway. Maybe it was used during the construction of the pipe, some 100 years ago. Who knows. It’s not telling, and very few people seem to care about their history.

Feeder Pipe. Ricoh GRD4, via Filterstorm Pro

Ghost. Ricoh GRD4, via Filterstorm Pro

And later, following a new-looking sign, I discovered a really overgrown, long disused trackway leading back down to the old village - and the truly horrendous hodgepodge of unimaginative, sterile concrete bunker architecture which I’m sorry to say only the Swiss could love.

Posted in category "Photography in Ticino" on Friday, October 05, 2012 at 07:11 PM

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