Norsk landskap*

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Photographers
Norsk landskap*
My photograph, unlike most of what follows.

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.”

[also]

“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.

To catalog text.
To a selection of photographs.

Norway, Buskerud, Hol, Ustaoset

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Words
Norway, Buskerud, Hol, Ustaoset city

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 always 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.

Rural road construction at dusk.

Some construction on state road 7, railway tracks in the back.

*Just made that up. Not the thing but the phrase. Suspect I’ll be using it some.

#runningman has a worse* camera

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Images
#runningman has a worse camera

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.

Brown puddle in low green vegetation

It all looks decent enough on the internet anyway..

old=Fujifilm X100S (is being missed, terribly)
ancient=Ricoh GR Digital III

#runningman


*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.

..the communication

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Words
the communication

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.

Etc.

To an extent a bit like talking to oneself on the way home from work. Yet not.

Two trees, a stream in the background, in black and white.

Landscape photograph, odd proportions, no colours.

*(If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to ..)

Mona in heart and other compositions

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From the archives
Mona in heart and other compositions

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.

River seen from a bridge at dusk.

Stream doing what streams do.

Overpass and things that are under and around it.

Anno 2013. Finding out stuff. Some insignificant successes.

Please, not another square

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Words
Please, not another square

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 very much worth mentioning (and an attempt to get away from), 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 quite 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 notice 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.

Six favs, six months

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Six favs, six months

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.

Yea, well. Let’s say it has emotional value.

Like the previous, emotional value. Lots of it. Half–decent photograph too, I think. Hope saying this is redundant but feel free to disagree.

Squares are the people I’ve wanted to get to know better but was too shy and insecure to go and say “hi, I think you’re cool”. And when our ways accidentally crossed there may have been a brief moment of genuine communication right before, again, there wasn’t.

This I can say. Found a polarizing filter, had to try it. Seriously though, I do find cruise ships somewhat interesting, but then,.. It’s complicated.

It was a decent thursday. And I got to puzzle some images together. And I’m fond of this place. And if you click that link the only way back is your browser’s back button.

No vis..

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Words
No vis..

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.

What to think of Streetrepeat?

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Photographers / Words

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:

  1. Nick Hannes
  2. Hugh Rawson
  3. Katarzyna Kubiak
  4. Giulia Thinnes
  5. Kanrapee Chokpaiboon
  6. Efthimios Koustas

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.

Ohwell..

Confirm or excuse?

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From the archives / Words
Camera on a tripod, outside in the wind, on a mountain.
Landscape, camera, wind.

I used to know someone who would be present in nature while I ran around like a madman attempting to make it stick to film. Can’t rembember bothering to stop much and ask myself what it was I was trying to find, or capture. Just went on, searching, framing, adjusting, releasing the shutter, collecting fragments of reality as it passed. As if I needed them in order to confirm—or excuse, not really sure which—my existence, by being able to provide proof that it happened. And how. If not for others, then at least myself.

I’ve known several of them, people of presence. And contrary to what I can tell about my intentions when running around with a camera I do remember having great respect for them because of their ability, and a sense of envy even for what I so obviously lacked. Can’t say I recall noticing the inevitable void between us though, the incompatibility, that didn’t happen until later.

None of this was photography’s fault of course, it served merely as medication for the symtoms.

 

Moss and grass, mountain in the background.

Photograph 06-0712-II-04: Moss, grass, mountain.

It would be awfully comfortable to just lean into that Winogrand quote, and perhaps I did, at the time, the one about photographing to see how the world looks photographed. Important as it may be it doesn’t address the underlaying question, in my case; why the need for a crutch, I mean camera, to avoid being present? And how is it connected to an attempt to capture the present in order to look at it in the future, when it has become something fundamentally different?

Later on, but while still attempting to make the world stick to a small piece of film, the sense of need for such a crutch became more apparent. Eventually how it was practically inconceivable having to be without one and thus became obvious that hadn’t it been for photography, something else would have had to be there, in its place.

 

Rural road with barrier in autumn.

Photograph 07-0424-CL-1_05: Road barrier.

The reasons behind this particular need, which I’m leaving beyond the scope of this space, didn’t start to unfold until years later. Perhaps around the same time as the camera equipment increasingly got thrown into bags to be forgotten or sold off at the local classified sites.

And now, looking back, several years ol.. I mean wiser, it feels a little odd how it has been the photographs that have provided answers to many of the questions they fought to suppress all those years ago.

Here’s a bit of a downside though. Photography that aims to confirm, provide proof that someone was in a certain place at a certain time, or appears as if it does, the I was there category of photographs if you will, tends to be quite uninteresting. Unfortunately this is true for many gigabytes of images on my harddrives. But I like to believe that even the most boring ones have some potential, if nothing more than provide an answer to a question no one has though of asking, yet.

Go away, both of you

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From the archives / Words
Apartment building, grey sky, naked trees, view over fjord and island in the distance.

Sure the subject matter is close to heart and all. And one of it I don’t think is terrible. But really, I can’t stand these two photographs.

Perhaps what I dislike the most about them is how they represent if not my greatest flaw when it comes to getting things done, then certainly one on the top–10 list; the tendency to postpone whatever it is I should be doing while waiting for some pieces of my puzzle to fall into place. That is, perceived better pieces and a different kind of puzzle. Someone elses even. More often than not related to equipment, a better camera or optics that can do this or that. Instead of carrying on with what I should be doing, photographing.

Or it’s the fact that they’re twelve years old now and looking at them somehow emphasizes how little has happened in those twelve years. Not that it’s entirely true but then it is, on some levels.

I guess the two were a not–unlikely intro to photographs that came later, but with all the waiting for stuff to fall into places it took a bloody long time before that particular later happened.

So go on, get out of here. Can’t stand the sight of you.

More of the same, only different, but not much.