Home again after what seems like quite a while in the Pacific Northwest. I’m still digesting what I saw and learned while I was out there, so be prepared for Pacific Northwest related posts for at least the next week or so. Just for the record my path home was car, boat, car, plane, car. Not tortuous, but it did involve a Viking Festival, which was a surprise.
I’m on the road this week for the first time in a while. There were a few back to back years where I clocked in excess of 100K miles but I haven’t done that in a while. Those years did teach me something about packing for business trips – pack as little as possible so you can carry your bag on, bring a minipower strip and have back-ups for important data and computer gear. All the obvious stuff. What people can’t teach you, and you won’t find in a book, are the things that are important to you. The small things that will make life on the road tolerable.
I have yet to develop a system that I’m happy with when it comes to packing for a photography trip. This is especially true since most of my photography takes place locally, or at least within a days drive, which means I can just put all and everything into the car without having to think to hard. When faced with a technical question I always start with Moose Peterson. Check out the videos below for comments from Moose on packing for travel.
and John Paul Caponigro on the Art of Packing and in the video below the Art of Travel
A visit to the Moeraki boulders is on my list of places to visit and I’ve been toying with the idea of an extended visit to New Zealand to photograph the boulders and all things New Zealand. My biggest fear about any trip is that I’ll not get ‘the shot’ and will have wasted my time which generally ends up with my doing a mountain of research before I go.
I’ve written about ‘virtual scouting‘ before and I continue to use this method while looking for additional tools that would be useful. One tool that I’ve been playing with recently is Trey Ratcliff’s iPad app Stuck on Earth. It seems to be a cross between Flickr and Google Earth. You can use the app to navigate to pretty much any interesting place on the planet and see what other photographers have achieved. I can’t wait for it to be available in other formats.
I’m continue to enjoy watching the 1983 BBC tv series ‘Masters of Photography’. This week I’ve been watching the interview with Andreas Feininger. Not surprisingly I was blissfully unaware of Feininger’s experimental photography, much of which we take for granted now. He is perhaps best know for his photographs of New York taken with a telephoto lens. Telephoto lens, what’s the big deal with that you say – I certainly did.
He started working with a telephoto lens in Stockholm. There, in order to get the images of the waterfront that he wanted he shot from over 3 miles away using a telephoto lens. At that time, around 1938, telephoto lenses were hard to come by and expensive, so he made his own camera. In New York working for Life magazine he used a 40-inch Dallmeyer telephoto lens, equivalent of ~1000mm,the compression of perspective that he got with this was quite remarkable. The image above is a good example of it.
In addition to his work outside with the telephoto lens, he took the idea inside to photographed close ups of nature, things that he found on walks on the beach. These are quite interesting in that they are not just records of what is in front of the camera, but he goes to some effort to stage the object in an effort to record what he feels about the object.
Take a look at the interview with Andreas Feininger in the video below:
Rare are the days when the photograph that pops up in lightroom is close to what I had imagined it should look like and a few tweaks and I’m done. More common are the times where I have some playing to do in lightroom and then photoshop but I know where I’m heading and then there are those images that I just wonder what I was thinking. Believe it or not, the image above started out in this last category.
The image out of the camera is shown below.
After a few moments of not really knowing what to do with it I started clicking through the presets built into the develop module. I haven’t been a big fan of presets preferring to know exactly what slider I was changing and why. Clicking around though it quickly became apparent that this photo should be black and white. The five built in presets gave the following ‘looks’.
|Look 1||Look 2|
|Look 3||Look 4|
I liked looks 2 and 3, with not a lot to choose between them for me. I chose version 3 as a starting point and made it a little darker and a little grainer. The image below was the result.
A little bit more clean up and I was done. I must admit that this experience changed my outlook on presets. They’re great starting points, to be pushed further or dialed back, and invaluable to get a quick sense of what different processing could do to your image. Even better if you make your own and share with friends.
My intersection with Bill Brandt came by way of Michael Kenna. In a number of places I’d read that Michael Kenna was deeply influenced by Bill Brandt and yet when I looked up his work, much of what I found was nudes. Being very English and uncomfortable with all that nakedness, I left it at that. More recently I steeled myself for another look and found, in addition to the nudes, an eclectic collection of photographs from portraits to a look at society life to miners of the North of England to landscapes. It seems to me that Brandt’s later photographs became darker and more extreme in contrast, something that I assume he pushed in the darkroom. A good example of this is shown below:
For fun click here to see Michael Kenna’s rendition of this image.
Many of Brandt’s images can be found on his website under the licensing section. Well worth a look. Also worth a look if you’re in or around New York is the exhibition of Brandt’s work at the MOMA ‘Shadow and Light’ that runs until August 12.
To hear Brandt talk about his work check out this 1983 BBC interview:
I’m continuing to play with black and white conversions of photos from my archive. The above photo is the latest image that I’ve played with and is one that was originally posted here and is also below. Check out the original and the new version – I’d be interested in your comments.