We did get out some, the thirtyfive and I. In another country and not a whole lot, but enough to burn a few gigabytes of data to a harddisk. I like the term *tourist stand, a bit like a light stand, about position. Or positioning. Stay tuned.
Some places have a stronger pull than others.
During a less–than–likeley–ever–to–be–realized moment of fantasy I looked up this place in Iceland. It’s fairly remote, the last time I was there the only way to reach it could hardly be described as a road. A double track with ambitions perhaps. For all I know that may have changed though. The search engine came up with several informative—for the potential tourist—and less informative pieces. I clicked on the images tab. The first few captured the scenery, there was birdlife, the odd man–made structures in the landscape, people looking out towards the ocean. Then the 4×4 shots, the I conquered the landscape with my vehicle, my extension photos.
Looking at them it felt overwhelmingly obvious how I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything meaningful to the image search, were I to realize my moment of fantasy and travel there and later upload the photos I would make to the internet. Somewhere the search engine could index them. Or perhaps it was more like a moment of 21st century apathy, no not apathy but hopelessness with a twist.
After not looking for a while it started to make sense again. Make sense to go and see, to breathe and smell, to touch the rocks and the weather, to experience, to be. And—perhaps—to record. Even if there are way too many records already. Not to contribute to the image search result pages but see if they might initiate a thought or two. A question worth asking.
Not that kind of stars, but stars that use only a small amount of energy and in return they don’t shine particularly bright. Or for long. Same applies for the hearts I believe, and thumbs, for that matter. I wish there was a way to replace them, with something like a nod, but I guess that would be difficult to illustrate so that we all understood what it meant. Or—and I know I am being demanding here—words, even sentences.
No, better snap out of it. On we go. With stars and stuff.
Many years ago I learned about a project, carried out by four photographers (or artists, not sure how they would have categorized themselves, if at all). They went out in an attempt to redefine the *norwegian landscape photograph which, at the time, was suffocating in waterfalls and other epic–ness.
A brief disclaimer; the photograph above is mine and apart from being influenced by the work of the four photographers, as well as others who came before and after them, it is unrelated to what follows, which is a description of their work.
“In 1987 the four photographers Johan Sandborg, Siggen Stinessen, Per Berntsen, and Jens Hauge took a trip around Norway in a Volks-wagen bus in search of the ordinary Norwegian landscape. Every time one of them called out “Stop!” they halted the bus, got out, and came to consensus about motif and angle of vision before a picture was taken. On this 18-day trip they drove more than 7,000 kilometers and took altogether 134 exposures with an old-fashioned Japanese large-format camera. The result was Norsk Landskap 1987 [Norwegian Landscape 1987], hereafter called NL1987, which consisted of 44 framed color photographs, a montage of postcards sent home from the trip and a map of Norway on which the route and the sites of exposures were drawn in. The project was shown in an exhibition at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in 1987.”
“Many people also had problems with understanding why it was necessary to photograph these ugly places when Norway had so many beautiful ones to offer.”
—Christine Hansen, in an essay for Norsk Landskap’s 25th anniversary exhibition catalog.
Ustaoset is a small village in the middle of Norway. Its claim to fame, if it is at all famous that is, came with the railway between east and west. And a skiing event, large for its kind I believe, although I’m not sure if that type of skiing is very popular outside of Norway. And huts. And Hallingskarvet, the short montain range just above it. Not very many people live there though, according to 2014 numbers, only 36 of them.
I have driven through Ustaoset only a few times and it strikes me as an intersting place, perhaps because when I get there I’m usually coming down from Hardangervidda and the view and surroundings tend to be impressive, not to overstate. A place I’d like to see more of, preferably in early autumn, with a camera and a tripod and some compositional balance*, clothes that keep me warm, good shoes and healthy feet and all the time in the world.
*Just made that up. Not the thing but the phrase. Suspect I’ll be using it some.
Replacing old with ancient, in digital camera terms at least, #runningman’s image quality just decreased, considerably. It turns out that’s quite alright, if not for the better. Battery life is still adequate, pixel count has gone down and with it, file size is lovely, colours are wonky in a good way and the optic is good. Best of all though, the older, worse camera of the two is much smaller, lighter, and no drama worth mentioning will happen should #runningman trip with it in his hand and land on it.
old=Fujifilm X100S (is being missed, terribly)
ancient=Ricoh GR Digital III
*Update: I probably should address worse, in the context that the best camera is the one you have with you, cliché as it is. And how if there is going to be a camera while running, as long as the image quality is acceptable, small and light is number one on the list of qualities for #runningcam. Well, the Ricoh GRD has plenty acceptable image quality and the title of this little piece is nonsense. For a different usage, other criteria would apply.
Aperture has a workshop. They ask:
“Do you know where you’re going next with your photography–or where it’s taking you?”
Good thing you asked, Aperture. Honestly, I have no idea. I do know this, though:
I photograph because it is the communication, the one that is. Even if it exists partly, mostly, exclusively even, in a void*.
An empty room, where the images and what they carry bounces between the walls, slightly altering meaning and/or perspective with every change in direction.
Where much of the content exists outside the visual, making it hard if not impossible to give meaning to others than the one who was there, thought that, felt like so.
To an extent a bit like talking to oneself on the way home from work. Yet not.
*(If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to ..)
Although there is reason to believe that both Mona and the artist behind the work with her name are real people of flesh and blood who got up in the morning, ate breakfast and went to school, based on the information available it is not possible to say whether their paths crossed only briefly or if they ever had a relationship of some kind. If they were classmates, played in the school brass band together, etc.
Mona in heart is in the middle, yet at the edge. She was visible only to the few who drove through the underpass, the vast majority of drivers who travelled on the road above never had the opportunity to wonder about her existence.
Mona in heart might still exist, under more recent layers of paint. The work will likely never be recovered.
Anno 2013. Finding out stuff. Some insignificant successes.
Perhaps it’s as simple as this.
That I need to accept the fact that in my near future there is a square 120 film back, a 55mm lens and a camera that can move it around. Up, down, and to the sides. Well, not necessarily to the sides. And by the look of this shopping list, no kidneys in my abdomen.
Guess it isn’t. That simple that is.
They do keep messing with my head though, the damn squares. Even after I had manually convinced myself that they were little more than a somewhat pleasant byproduct of proper, serious work. Right.
Not that I would mind terribly to continue shooting squares, with the 35mm PC Nikkor. If only I had a square sensor to shoot them with. One that was 36x36mm with sufficiently dense pixels. Wouldn’t need a lot. To my knowledge, a sensor of that size does exist but in the context of digital photography it’s prehistoric, yet the price it seems to collect on used markets is impressively healthy. And the pixel density, well—it’s not a lot. Besides, what platform would mount such a thing on one end and a Nikon F lens on the other? Now that I’ve argued against it a little, without so much as having seen, let alone used one, I’m actually a little curious about it. As in what it would be like to work with one, what kind of output one migth expect, that sort.
I would mind a little though, because somewhere in the back of my head the plan was to stop chimping. A new chip, whatever the proportions, wouldn’t help much. I want that 120 film back, want to go about with a light meter, want the smell of chemicals in my nose, to release a shutter and not instantly see an image on the back of the camera but have to wait for processing to see what the result looks like, want to look at negatives on a light table again. Also worth mentioning, the fact that the photograph above, like most of the squares I’ve made for a long time now, is a composite of two images. Two reasons for that; A) the horizontal coverage of a 35mm lens on a sensor that is 36mm wide feels just right to me and B) I don’t seem to care much for cropping a square frame from a rectangular. Lately though I don’t seem to care at all for composing an image from two, and moving beoynd that was the other part of the plan.
Oh, and this is not GAS (aka. Gear Acquisition Syndrome), just to get that out of the way. Well, not for the sake of equipment at least.
Speaking of equipment. I’m finding it interesting to note how talking about gadgets is often easier than the whys and the what–ifs and the hows regarding the work itself. Wonder what to make of that. Actually finding it a little embarrassing, the fact that I’m approaching it from this angle, but regarding this particular issue—frame proportions—I’m having trouble putting my finger on what it is exactly about a square frame that attracts me. Apart from how it feels right somehow. Whether or not it adds qualities to static landscape photographs (or removes them) may well be debated, but it’s one that I haven’t even come to terms with myself.
Guess the search for components that fulfill the need and match each other is about to continue then. And not another word about it here until something constructive has come out of it. Should that ever happen.
For the lack of having anything to say, and the fact that it’s late may already, six favs are up.
Afraid this time the selection will look more like a chaotic shoebox, one that’s been stuffed with random images from random people. They are all mine though. And they can all be clicked for more pixels. If that’s of interest.
I have no vision, I just like to imagine that I do. Pretend.
(It’s enough now, you can stop writing.)
I do, however, like the associations that come with the image of a trail, or road. How it hints at not being here anymore, but somewhere else. Around the next turn. And how I don’t know anything about this elsewhere, yet. Wanderlust.
Wanderlust vision would make a potensially successful instagram account, or similar. I’m sure there are many already. I’m also sure there are more intriguing ways to deal with photographing wanderlust (or whatever, really) than continually push the results to a feed. Perhaps just photograph it (whatever the subject), to a medium as stable as possible. SSD disks, film even. Then go on like Vivian Maier or Garry Winogrand or some brave rich guy who went looking for unknown territories in the mid 1800s, only to die from their films—processed or not—notebooks and whatnot. Then have some people find it and have a go at making sense of it all. Or not. Not at all.
That is, Streetrepeat as in here, on Instagram.
Streetrepeat “is an Instagram account [..] born out of a fascination for the amount of repeated patterns in street photography, particularly on Instagram.” It takes a popular (apparently) theme, finds three photographs by three different photographers and posts them one after the other. That’s the short version, more to read at their site.
As for what I think about it..
I can certainly admit to finding it interesting on some level, and the selections are generally very nice. But I’m not sure about what it leaves with me with, the sum of it. As if by placing three variations on a certain theme in a sequence—however great the individual photographs may be—somehow punctures the experience, before it even happened. A kind of everything has been photographed, you can’t come up with anything new attitude, force–fed to the viewer.
On the other hand, looking at some of the photos for a bit longer than the usual IG attention span I feel they are indeed catchy, easy on the eyes, well composed and post processed, but a little too easy on the eyes perhaps? For those images the additional two do help them grow, I believe, or act as a crutch, depending.
Also on the other hand, via Streetrepeat I’m seeing a bunch of photography I might never have seen otherwise.
Like the ones from the screenshot above, by:
Then there is the Instagram effect. In my case, the nasty aftertaste I sometimes get when returning after spending wasting time on the tech giants’ playground and not concentrating on myself and my work.