Trinidad, California, July 2016
Just this week I returned from a 21-days, 1400 miles trip from San Francisco to Seattle, across Oregons Coastal Route and all the way up to the Olympic Peninsula, which is the US farthest point nortbefore Canada and now I’m very, very slowly try to crawl from a massive jet-lag. I’m wide awake somewhere at 3 in the morning and wander around the house and am disoriented and for a moment don’t know if I’m still in California or already back in Germany. I briefly watch the news to add some fear and terror to this sense of displacement… Couldn’t make much sense of what I’ve seen in the US, but I also can’t suck much sense out of what is currently happening in Europe. Boris Johnson is foreign minister of Britain? And maniacs with strap-on bombs and machetes are roaming the street. I still hope, that our plane passed some kind of distorted dimension-portal and this effect that the world has jumped off the rails will be wearing off soon together with the jetlag…
And here I am again with the results of my being overwhelmed by reality and putting up the camera and shooting away to hold off the effect of this massive assault of sights and light and sensation that America is. It is at once totally strange and absolutely familiar. My whole education comes from american movies and books, it made a loud swooshing sound when suddenly this imagined reality coincides with the actual reality around you and everything turns into a giant mess of absolutely new and absolutely cliché… – and leaves me with about 5000 digital files and 8 roles of Tri-X that I’m now slowly, very slowly trying to recover and make sense of…
What did you do, what did you see? I will not know until I have looked at the pictures…
j j j
Aschau, July 2015
I’ve been on holidays. In the mountains. As I was nurturing my constant shooting-crisis (why shoot? empty pictures? relevance?) that I’ve had for a while now when shooting on the street, working in the solitude and emptiness of the mountains came as quite a relief. So I shot mostly landscape, cows, dead wood. I was much more at ease with myself, compared to how I feel when I run the streets of a city. I’m not exactly a country type of guy, but this change of pace came at the right time for me.
Apart from just sitting there and looking at the mountains, I also brought some nurture: I brought a rather ripped-off reprint of William Klein’s “Life is Good and Good for You in New York”: The original seems to be out of print for a while now, and they also couldn’t get hold of the original printing block, so they just re-photographed the book. While it is certainly better to have this book than not having it all, the smaller format and the shrinked double-pages take away a lot of the power of the original. Still, one of the greatest…
Also brought Susan Sontag’s “On Photography”. If the book had been about food, it would have certainly have spoiled my appetite to the point of starvation. I’m not sure why she felt compelled to write a book on photography, when it is so obvious, that she didn’t like any aspect of it. She makes some valid points though; it rips some of the more pompous talks, that has become the cliché, when photographers talk about why they do what they do. It’s like a cleansing ritual – you probably have to go through some adversity like this book and when you come out on the other side and still want to shoot, than you’re really dedicated.
j j j
And of course, I have to bow down: I didn’t know the shot before, if I had I had probably never posted mine. There are so many things you can learn from studying great photos:
- the shoe in the upper right corner does the trick here: opens up the triangle onto which the composition is based.
the vertical (the frame)/horizontal(the shadows, the direction of the walk) tension works great here
keep an eye on you shadows, see, if there is actually something in there to add more interest
contrast works better, the grain in the first image is distracting and gives the image an unclean look…
is it only me, but the fashion in the 60ies was way cooler: most elegant ankle…
cutting is an art, I am almost sexually aroused by the slip of skirt above the calf…
Fastest gun in the east, Winograd has laser-eyes to be able to spot all this and frame it right…
j j j
Valencia, April 2015
18% grey. This is what you’re camera is trying to achieve when you put it into any sort of automatic mode. Does not matter if it’s aperture, shutter-speed, if ISO is fixed or you allow it to float: The camera will always strive for something in the middle, not too bright, not too dark.
How do you think can something interesting come out of this? How many guys you met that were lukewarm actually managed to keep your interest for more than 2 minutes? Good looking, yes, maybe, but boring nevertheless. Not too many things, that are not too much of anything, too much darkness, too much light, way too fast or grinded to a screeching halt – nothing that is in the middle of everything ever came out interesting. And still, you tell your camera to do just that: Start something interesting with 18% grey. How’s that gonna work out?
Instead be brave, be bold, don’t shy away from underexposed pictures, blurry shadows, outblown highlights: Images can be faulty, as your vision is faulty, imperfect too. The emotion lurks in the shadow, love has to burn into you, pain is too dark to be bearable… And get out of automatic, damn.
j j j
This is what sometimes happens: You get mad at people when they somehow don’t seem to “get” your picture. You blame society as a whole, the steady decline in attention-span, Flickr as a place of cat-images and superficiality.
This was a subtle image that sums up a problem almost every advanced western society has to deal with: when these three kids are grown up to make their own money they will have to support the pension for at least two elders. It’s devastating demographical math in a picture.
And the image is not even badly composed, has strong straight lines (transporting these kids into the future), has some balance and gestures.
Problem here is: it wasn’t well placed. I just dumped it into a pile of more obvious pictures I brought back from Japan an it just drowned there. It is a good picture, but I let it down. I didn’t put up the fight for it that it deserved.
There is a lesson here, of course, but for today I prefer to bath in self-pity and curse the world for becoming more superficial every day…
j j j