The troublesome digital image*

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Words
The digital image*

It’s not here but remote. Untouchable. Interpretation but then, so are images.

As it comes out of the recording device the digital image is sterile. Of course, as soon as it’s visible as an image it has been interpreted, be that by the camera or another interpretation software, but more or less all the default settings default to sterile. So in an attempt to make the digital image come to life, so to speak, we make changes to the settings, tweak the colours away from Adobe’s or the camera maker’s or XRite’s defaults looking for good looking imperfections. Well, I do.

And being the internet photographer that I have become, I invest in plugins and presets and whatnot and use them to chase imperfections that are supposed to imitate a different kind of image. A non–numerical image. Analog. A certain film even or a particular process, ancient or not. Or I might attempt to cough up an imitation myself, from scratch; an RGB curve preset that pushes some blue into the shadows and ever so slight red to the highlights, a hue shift to make the skies less blue and more cyan.. Or something different, as long as it looks like something it isn’t, bonus points if something I can try to convince myself I made on my own.

Then I debate with myself what excactly it is that I’m doing. If I’m forcing the digital image into clothes that don’t fit it, never did, or simply adjusting parameters in order to approach an end results that I like looking at, no drama needed?

I met my former photography professor a few days ago. Asked him if many of his students were still working with analog medium and those who did, what their motives were. His reply; yes, and romance. Then added, that they found the analog image to be a much better looking image. I didn’t disagree. The conversation didn’t last for long, I wish the situation had been different but it wasn’t. I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold one for long anyway, a conversation that is. Digression.

But it spelled out loud and clear how my own relationship to images, digital and not, is indeed dictated by romance. I say this not as if it were a good thing, but perhaps that was obvious? Not that there is anything inherently wrong about a romantic relation to images, only as long as one can work with it. And then, but only then, I feel like it should—indeed—be said as a good thing. But now I’m touching on too many subjects with hardly enough focus for one.

Image, digital, attempting.

*Then there is the aspect of authenticity. I won’t even try to go there but hadn’t it been for this piece—which made sense when I read it a while ago, much sense—I might have titled this the digital photograph. And although I don’t agree with all it says, we now have this. I’ll leave it at that.

Frames: Svartefjorden

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Frames: Svartefjorden

I’m in this valley twice a week, if not more. Normally wearing running shoes, sometimes accompanied by a borrowed dog. It has become a place of significance. So has dog, significant.

One photograph doesn’t describe it, the valley. Of course it doesn’t but then, of course it does, only to a very limited extent. Also, now would be a good time to ask; why describe it, but that’s a digression, for another time perhaps.

It is possible to photograph the valley from above, covering a good part of it in one frame but that’s at a distance, an overview, and somehow disconnected from the place itself.

(Which reminds me that I photograph too much from above, looking outwards, disconnected from the subject.)

Two photographs would be better—than only one—but two isn’t a good number of photographs, unless they’re a diptych but that’s more like one made from two so ..

Three are alright, five are even better, seven may be just a little too much and eleven most certainly is, it’s not as if this is a very long valley.

Oh, I forgot to mention that they have to be a prime number. Must place the OCD somewhere.

But what if they are ten to begin with, the photographs, and one of them excuses itself fairly easily but then the rest competes for the remaining slots? Fight for them. Nine photos, two too many—if not four—and none of them is about to leave voluntarily.

Also forgot to mention that three of the nine are verticals. Are verticals ok by the way? Or just troublemakers?

It probably would be easiest to simply toss the verticals, then toss one more, end up with five and move on. Forget about this set of photos and how it occupied an insignificant amount of time in april 2020.

But what if one of the verticals really has the essence of the place? One of seven is—yes what is that? Too symmetrical, or not symmetrical enough?

And what’s with the cheesy frames?

Yes, the frames. I sometimes miss my prints since a previous lifetime, now is one of those times. And now that I think of it, I also miss the tiny darkroom and the old Durst and the smell of fixer and where did I hang my films again?

The cheesy frames are a an attempt to imitate how my prints used to look in a previous life. Copied with only one mask in the negative carrier, leaving room for a black border around the photo. The attempt is not successful by the way, but the frames do remind me of this time long gone.

Then every other film was an HP5+, shot at ISO1600 and push–developed in one of the Ilfotecs, can’t remember which. Sometimes nice photos turned up on the contact sheets, it usually had more to do with light than anything else and I didn’t have a clue about light back then. Now I have something that resembles a clue about what makes light good and a much greater tolerance for when it’s bad. Sorry—dull, not bad. Except holes in the sky, which can under no circumstances be forgiven.

Now the HP5s have been replaced, mostly, by a tiny camera since many digital years ago. And the black border from the negative carrier is nowhere in sight, only its imitation.

Misery called, he would like to have his colours back

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From the archives / Words
Misery called, he would like to have his colours back

I honestly have no idea how the image above of the rooftops through the trees appears to others whose gaze might sweep by, by coincidence or not. How could I? I just know that it brings back memories of one of my least elegant periods to date. Don’t think miserable would be an overstatement.

Some ok photographs happened though, during the misery, at least they feel right somehow. Almost as if they are tangible, carry a substance, something worthwhile, contrary to a lot of the images made since. A lot. In that sense I’m fond of it. Others too. Like the one overlooking the reservoir with the spruce trees in the background and the lone—what was it—birch? And a few more.

Overview of lake and woods, black and white photograph

The grey sky balances so much better against the grey trees and the grey reservoir than it would if it were grey with a touch of blue on greens and grey with a touch of blue.

Then it’s interesting to note how the memory of where and when a particular image was taken becomes a set of filters on top of it. How the image, a recording of a subject of certain shapes an colours, takes on the associations of the circumstances in which it happened. And time. How time makes it all sort of blurry and far away without managing to completely wash it away, the set of filters, whatever they might consist of. And it’s ok.

Panny, my lightmeter.

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Today the Panny was my lightmeter.

Observation: The 15mm Panny in a vertical position has a horizontal field of view not so unlike the 75mm on the Pentax, horizontally. Then, to imitate the comp while the film awaits processing, all I need to do is crop a 5×4 out of the vertical frame.

Why? Well, and this is a bad answer, the film hasn’t been processed.

As for metering light like this, it remains to be seen how the expired–for–more–than–a–decade–ago Astia takes it.

Stay tuned! (Actually, don’t)

Stykkishólmur*

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From the archives / Words
Stykkishólmur*

In 2015 my family and I visited Stykkishólmur. I took some photographs. They didn’t turn out any good but one way or the other the place stuck with me. Then, during the time between then and now, the images have somehow confirmed what seems to be the core of my photography; to provide comments on this and that, perspectives, answers perhaps, to questions that didn’t get asked at the time, questions that hadn’t yet reached the surface and possibly never would have been asked hadn’t it been for the photos and their commentaries.

The order here is a bit messed up, I see that, but that’s all right. As long as there is movement, some movement.

Fjord, islands, the unspectacular.

And Stykkishólmur. In a restless kind of way I wanted to love the place. Restless, not as in not genuine, but hollow. Either way, at the same time I was terrified to risk it, whatever it was, enough to suffocate whatever might have happened hadn’t it been for the fear of reaching for, or out, or..

I do believe it is a lovely, lovable place though. For what it’s worth.

A house on a hill.

*Stykkishólmur is a village on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland.

At least we’re moving forward

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Other
At least we’re moving forward

Random thoughts going through the mind:

  1. Must remember to bring the loupe, if I’m going to have the slightest chance of focusing that old thing I want to bring out to the woods, to see what can(‘t) be done with it.
  2. And the glasses.
  3. Appearance is everything. Appear as.
  4. Why don’t you do as your dreams tell you? Literally.
  5. Answering the door might not be a bad idea. Remember that.
  6. Today is a good day for list posts, isn’t it?
  7. In that case.. on second thought, it probably isn’t.

At least we’re moving forward.

Aren’t we?

Six months, six images

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Six months, six images

November already? Well..

July: Just resonated somehow. Certainly no favorite though.

August: Because landscape. Doesn’t need to be pretty and well composed but we knew that.

September: From the I was there category of images. Nobody’s favorite category of images.

October: Because who doesn’t love a good moon? No need to raise hands.

November: Not a word.

Some of the six months since last time have been quite dry, in terms of lens based activities. Also, my favorite images these days are eight years old and not the ones that have appeared lately and since this is about recents I’ve adjusted the tag. And this was a terrible sentence.

And here’s a new years resolution, if a tad early. If nothing worth saying to say, shut up. Now may this post creep downwards in shame and forever be forgotten.

Man with no horse

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Images / Words
Man with horse

I used to always want to be the one with the Horseman 612, an expensive Sekonic, and a large bag full of 120s. It was probably more about the Horseman than what might have been produced with it. There never was one, a Horseman, and the only Sekonics in the household are the most affordable versions. Not that there is anything wrong with them, except that the one that needs a battery tends to eat it up fairly quickly. The bags however—fairly large ones, considering—are indeed half full of 120s, but exposed and unprocessed for the most part.

Not sure where this was supposed to go. I still wouldn’t mind the camera, although a 612 wouldn’t make much sense. But I must admit to rather liking the idea of having a camera called Horseman.

No relation to what I’m going on about here, in spite the fact that I called them Horsemen.

Then, there was the dead horse..

Monolith

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From the archives / Words
Monolith

I know..

No, strike that.

I have an idea about what I’m looking at. And I do wonder what you are seeing.

Then there is the underlying element that if I communicate what I’m looking at it will influence what you see. And as much as I’d rather not—influence—there really isn’t any way around it, is there?

In 2011 I started photographing places where people live, from afar. I called them Homes, the images. Here is where I might choose to get into the details about the project, if the words were ready, but instead I will say that the one above might have made the cut had it been square, and taken from a slightly higher viewpoint. Might but probably wouldn’t, it doesn’t quite sit. I don’t miss it terribly, from Homes I mean, but nevertheless, a little fond of it.

So, homes, just not Homes, is what I’m looking at.

What might you be seeing?