photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Xavier Roy

Mais ou est Brigitte Bardot??

in Book Reviews , Monday, July 07, 2014

Over the years, a late spring long weekend on French Mediterranean coast, specifically in or around St Tropez, has become something of a tradition. Although I’m not that much into the boutique shopping, or gawping at the ultra-rich (well probably mid-high net worth actually) individuals with their floating gin palaces and Bentleys and whatever, it’s no great hardship. The beach is relaxing, the food is good, and the surroundings are gorgeous. Usually, during the shopping breaks, I manage to sneak off and indulge in a little photography. I very quickly got bored of “street” photography, the denizens of “Saint-Trop” are rarely photogenic to my mind, but instead I like trying to find hints of the past quiet, isolated fishing village, away from the glitz, the painfully bohemian and the tourist tat. So this year, I was delighted to come across an exhibition by French travel-street photographer, Xavier Roy, who’s book “L’Autre Saint Tropez” I had read about. The exhibition was a more general sample of his travel photography, with some local stuff mixed in, and it kept me entertained for quite a while. I was also able to buy one of the last copies of his St Tropez book, and get to chat with him and get my book signed. I came out with a grin plastered all over my face.

Xavier Roy: L'Autre Saint Tropez

Xavier Roy’s photography is film based, black and white, and quite timeless. His style is subtle and the delicacy of his compositions takes a while to sink in. I mentioned to him that I thought it was quite a challenge to peel away the superficial in Saint Tropez, which he agreed with. Some of the most successful images in his book make use of off-season fog to soften the ambience, but others revel in the harsh summer light. Others in turn are quite abstract, in particular a set of dense, blurry, disorientated grainy views over the bay at dusk, which to me very effectively communicate the torpid, quiet Mediterranean heat.

© Xavier Roy, click to visit gallery

© Xavier Roy, click to visit gallery

There are many more facets to the collection, much of which is included in Roy’s web galleries. They’re well worth a visit if you’re into this kind of contemplative street / travel. Actually I would say his style is better deployed on the photos he shows from his travels to Asia and especially Latin America.

Anecdotally, I was particularly struck by the cover photo. It’s not a million miles away from something I attempted two years ago, but without the distant figure which makes all the difference between expression and technique. Never too late to learn I guess - and I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity to try again next year.

Drm 2013 06 01 EP33368




The Inspired Eye

inspiring reading

in Book Reviews , Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Although I might, I suppose, be classified as a “landscape photographer”, I’m finding published landscape photography more and more tame, repetitive, formulaic and sterile*. Certainly there are people out there pushing boundaries, but very, very rarely am I surprised. So despite being an avid reader, and least so far as online reading is concerned I find myself more attracted to other genres for inspiration. And one monthly digital publication I can strongly recommend is “The Inspired Eye”, now at Issue 6.


The Inspired Eye is the work of two American photographers, Olivier Duong and Don Springer. And when I say “work”, I mean it. They clearly put the hours on, setting and maintaining very high production values, keeping to a tight schedule, and apart from producing a monthly magazine of well over 100 pages, which quite easily matches the quality of printed publications - they also run a lively blog, podcast and informative email list.

The emphasis is on “street”, and black & white, neither of which are my thing as such, but the variety and quality of the photographers (many if whom are largely unknown) makes for some fascinating reading and some rewarding discoveries. And sometimes some other styles creep in, and sometimes (gasp) some colour, even clearly neither editor is a huge fan of a more polychromatic approach.

But this kind of publication is what is keeping photography, as oppose to camera acquisition, alive these days, and it’s providing some great exposure to some deserving, creative and very interesting characters. It’s gritty, full of life, and if not everything appeals to everyone, well actually that’s good too. And there is very, very little talk about gear (although I imagine you get a discount if you own a Ricoh GR).

At $19.95 for a 6 issue subscription, you’d get an absolute bargain and you’d be supporting a really worthwhile venture.  Give a try, you can even get Issue 1 as as free trial.

Do I need to add “highly recommended” ?

* obviously I include myself in this wild, uninhibited tirade.


Instant Goth

Black, white and little in between

in Film , Friday, April 13, 2012

And finally the truly awesome Polagraph. This film was intended principally for document reproduction (like, I believe, Kodak Technical Pan), but it was a match made in heaven for graveyards, crumbling ruins, etc. Admittedly it is somewhat limited in application, but, oh to have used it in Venice.

Anyway, I’m in a bit of a hurry today, so I’ll let the pictures Speake Their Dismal Wordes.


Both photos taken quite some time ago at the Mount Cemetery, Guildford, England.


Instant Nostalgia

Revisiting Polaroid’s instant slide film

in Film , Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to for ages, I’ve finally done: revisting my small collection of Polaroid instant slide film photos. Instant slide was probably not one of Polaroid’s better known product lines, but I was a fan until it was discontinued some 10 years ago.  I mainly used it during the late 90s, when my photography was beginning to take shape. Back then I was strongly influenced both by my then over-riding interest in illustration and narrative as opposed to photography for photography’s sake (which I considered a bit pointless), and by my then girlfriend, an abstract painter who’s artistic education and skill was way out of my league.

I was also exploring early “cheap” digital cameras as the time, and loved the instant feedback (well, except for the huge Fuji thing I had which didn’t have an LCD), but not so much the quality, or indeed the cost of the batteries. So Polaroid instant slide film, coupled with my pair of Canon A1s, was a great alternative.

Apart from illustration I was very much into the early stages of the multimedia explosion, and in particular QuickTime VR, and so a lot of my photography was providing input to labyrinthine (in several senses) assemblies of navigable, interactive panoramas (and anybody who’s being following this blog can guess where that led!)

Polaroid produced several different film types, including Polapan, Polachrome, and seriously contrasty Polagraph.  Polapan and Polagraph were, as far as I know, the only positive black & white slide films made other than Agfa Scala. As far as I remember there was also a high saturation colour film designed for graphics, like Powerpoints and stuff like that. Very Old People may remember that there was a big market back in the day for outputting direct from Powerpoint to 35mm transparency. Anyway, digression.

So here, for your entertainment, a couple of shots from a deserted Borough Market, South London, July 1998, shot on Polapan 125, in these examples with a red filter to make it even gloomier.


Check back soon for some examples of the actual quite remarkable Polachrome, and the seriously gothic, graveyard-special Polagraph!


retail therapy

(in reverse)

in Photography , Sunday, October 23, 2011

This is time of year where the days draw shorter, where weekends get taken up with life’s trivia, and going out to take photographs just doesn’t happen.  And in fact I’m getting a but tired with all the trappings of photography, and can’t help but wonder what it’s all for.

So it’s a good time to re-discover the Ricoh GR Digital slipped into my jacket pocket.  This wonderful little cult camera is such a pleasure to use that it demands that photo opportunities be found.  Even after a hard saturday afternoon’s shopping.

Drm 2011 10 22 0012686

Caffeinated. Ricoh GR Digital in B&W mode, Ilford FP5+ simulation in Nik Silver Efx Pro.

I know of a least two great photographers working daily with this camera (and similar models), Mitch Alland, who’s street photography from Bangkok is endlessly fascinating, and Wouter Brandsma, who’s transformation of everyday trivia into photographic art is an inspiration.  Not really what I do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.