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photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

A ecumenical matter

Thou Shalt Shoot Film

in General Rants , Monday, July 26, 2021

Recently, one of my millions of dedicated, enthusiastic followers sent me a link to an article on a theology professor discovering that his life was being slowed down by film.  I had no idea that film has now graduated to becoming an ecumenical matter, but so be it.

I’m not a regular reader of the National Catholic Reporter, and I had no idea Film v. Digital had ascended to such lofty realms. It does seem they’re just getting started though, as the points presented have, well, to be fair, been covered somewhat extensively elsewhere.

I’m a bit perplexed by the Teaching that “(film) also challenges the photographer to cultivate a spirit of hope, because you will not know for a while whether what you had hoped to accomplish in your framing, focus and exposure will result in a successful image”. More like a feeling of dread, as far as I’m concerned. Like, “did I remember to take the lens cap off?”. Digital, rather, encourages in me a spirit of hope, as the small screen on the back of the camera is sufficiently saturated and low resolution that it allows me to believe that I actually have a shot with great colour and perfect focus ... until I see it on my computer screen. Fortunately nobody on Flickr knows the difference either.

Of course, we inevitably get to Film Slows You Down.  As the Lord tells us, Thou Shall Not Apply Undue Haste In Thine Film Photography (Paul’s Letter to the Batley & Spen Camera Club). This may well be the case (although not so much if you’ve got a Canon EOS 1v), but it isn’t always such a good thing. Tell Ansel Adams that it was absolutely great that he was slowed down by film while frantically trying to capture the moon rising over Hernandez. Tell Robert Capa that using film at Omaha Beach had “profound spiritual and practical implications”.

And who has not been slowed down way too much because they couldn’t find anything to photograph and therefore couldn’t finish the roll?

Oh, it’s easy to mock, isn’t it? Just as well, otherwise I’d have very little material. I don’t really have any view on whether or not photography brings you Closer To God, although since one of the two doesn’t exist, it does seem a bit far-fetched.  But the article itself just once again recycles all the tired tropes about film, conflates them with photography in general, and appears to exist only to attempt to cast what seems to be a guilty pleasure (a Franciscan friar fiddling with cameras!) as a spiritual revelation. It’s certainly an original take on justifying Gear Acquisition Syndrome!

 

Photogallery: Provence

...mais oú est Brigitte Bardot? **

in Photography , Thursday, July 15, 2021

My ongoing lack of any significant new photography is having the side effect that I’m able to spend some time revisiting and evaluating my ridiculously large archive.  The latest result from this is a new gallery of photos from Provence (and adjacent regions) taken at various times between 2010 and 2019.

I’ve more or less restricted the selection to towns and villages. With one exception (below) they are devoid of people - this is the result of careful framing and patience, as the reality was quit different.  I’m not sure why I don’t like people… but I do like the photo below, and I remember being very careful with the framing and timing.

Everything is in colour. I know “street photography” is supposed to be in black and white, but I see the world in colour. I’m much more a follower of Harry Gruyaert or Franco Fontana, rather than HCB et al.

** elle est dans le mouton!

 

The best camera is ...

... the one you don’t have with you

in Photography , Monday, July 12, 2021

My process of self deconstruction as a photographer continues. I’ve just returned from a two week vacation, on which I did not take a camera. Admittedly it was basically 2 weeks on beaches in the south of France, but still, that did include several days in the Camargue and a 5 days in St Tropez, both places I’ve roamed with a camera in the past. This time, I just didn’t feel like it.

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The Camargue, some years ago

Taking a camera seemed more like pain than pleasure. Having the camera (and associated paraphanalia) or indeed cameras, plural, would mean that I would constantly be looking for opportunities to use them, rather than just relax and let the world go by. I would not avoid stupidly taking a camera to the restaurant, “just in case”, and then having it hanging awkwardly off my shoulder all night.

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Also the Camargue, also some years ago

Of course it was hard letting go. Several times before leaving, I nearly lost my resolve. Indeed I even indulged in some tradition pre-vacation GAS, buying a new shoulder bag. It’s just over there, on the couch, with the sales tags still attached. Maybe it will come in handy one day. 

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Still the Camargue, not this year

But, I told myself, I’ve already got all the photos of St Tropez I’ll ever need. Les Saintes Marie De La Mer is actually not all that photogenic (really, it isn’t), and I’ve also got stacks of photos of the Camargue I haven’t even looked at properly. Any photos I would take would anyway be for an audience of precisely 1, so why bother.

For the first few hours, on the drive to France, I was practically in a state of panic, but pretty soon I got over it. I didn’t miss having a camera, in fact it was a genuinely liberating experience. Actually just before leaving I bought a new iPhone mini, but I didn’t even take that. I decided to wait until I returned to migrate from my old, battered and stumbling iPhone SE.

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Saint Tropez, some years ago

Fresh from this experience I’m just starting to feel a little more positive about photography, although I still haven’t discovered any purpose to it.

Leave your camera at home - you’ll see the world through new eyes.

 

 

Car Parks

pay and display

in Hasselblad , Monday, June 14, 2021

I’m still not really sure that the Hasselblad X1DII is for me. This is convoluted with the fact that I’m not really sure any more that photography in general is for me.  However, inspired by an article I read on the web, I decided to take the X1DII along with me on a shopping trip last Saturday, and dedicated half an hour so to taken a few photos.

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Needless to say, photos of car parks, whatever their compositional or other merits may be, are not going to be of much interest to anybody but photography nerds, either from the point of view of comparing resolution of brick walls, or from an appreciation of water towers or other concrete structures. Otherwise, anybody seeing this stuff (which is nobody, so far), is essentially going to be thinking, if not saying, WHY are you photographing that stuff???

Why indeed. I have no idea. I’m somehow attracted to these forms and the contrast they make with bits of nature poking into the frame.  I didn’t actually make a terribly good job of it, there was one shot in particular when I missed a key component - then again I doubt anybody else would notice. I have no “photo buddies” to chat about this stuff with either online or in the real world, and it really is getting to feel completely pointless.

As far as the X1DII is concerned, the impressive resolution obviously doesn’t really show through here. However, the delicacy in colour rendition and tone transitions I think does show, as does the dynamic resolution under the glare of midday sun. What you can’t see here - I hope - is the endless fight against sensor dust, which the X1DII is completely unprotected against. A far cry from the Olympus “Supersonic Wave Filter”.

This one’s from a different car park.

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The X1DII appears to be a solution looking for a problem as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

Oh, and another thing

bullshit red alert

in Unsolicited, rabid opinions , Thursday, June 03, 2021

You know, if there is one thing that the photo chattering classes go on about which really makes my blood boil, it is “storytelling”.  There’s a fine example here, if you can stomach the smug, pseudo-intellectual self-congratulatory vibe on that site.

With very few exceptions, in my opinion, single, still photographs cannot “tell stories”. One standout exception I could think of is Bill Anders’ “Earthrise” photo. But even that is not telling a story, rather it is intensely evocative. Elaborately staged photos, on the lines of Crewdson, can just about tell stories, but there it is more a case of hinting at a story, where the audience’s imagination is left to fill in the gaps. In a wider context, representational art can also hint at a story, or refer to a known story. But can a painting or a sculpture actually tell a story, any more than a photo?  I think not.

A sequence of photos might tell a story (but not a sequence of random snaps in London as in the linked article), but that’s sliding towards movie territory. Movies and naturally the written or spoken word can tell stories (astounding revelation, I know).

But all these identikit “street” photographers banging on so earnestly about being “storytellers”, when all they are doing is just constructing some pseudo-artistic babble to justify buying another (Fuji) camera…. Well, I’d say “words fail me” although obviously they haven’t.

Why is simply enjoying taking photos not enough for everybody? Why do people taking photos of mountains decide they have to be “Fine Artists”, and why do people taking photos of random stuff in cities insist of being “Storytellers”? Obviously photography can be art, but just saying it is isn’t enough.

Honestly, the bullshit level is gone way beyond critical.

 
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