Being somewhat of a closet Luddite, my working methods are sometimes stuck a few decades in the past, hence I often find myself hauling around a Large format film camera over hill and through dale to make landscape photographs
The slow contemplative process of making photographs with the large format camera is wonderfully well suited to working in the landscape, as it forces a degree of involvement and attention to detail that simply does not exist with digital image making.
As an added bonus, the processed transparency serves as a physical record of the scene, having been acted on directly by the light reflected from the subject. That has to be something special, doesn't it?
Sadly, my preferred film, colour transparency, is no longer being commercially processed in South Africa, so for the moment this side of my work is indefinitely on hold. Unless someone wants to volunteer covering the costs of shipping my film overseas to be processed?
The photographic portrait is a strange thing: on one hand it pretends to be a truthful representation of the person in front of the camera, on the other hand it illuminates the experiences and ideas of the one behind the camera.
I don't believe a portrait can truly capture the personality or identity of the person being photographed, its interpretation will always be too heavily swayed by the biases and preconceptions a third person brings to the image: the viewer.
What it can do though, is give us just enough of a glimpse to get us wondering.
Making the inanimate animate. That is really what photographing objects is all about:
Shaping with light
Implying gesture through angle and position
Creating character with space and context
Whether you are photographing a car or a coke bottle, coaxing the viewer to imagine something beyond the things in the frame...
There is a trick to photographing a places, or even a thing in the place: translating your binocular view into something that still makes spacial sense in a two dimensional photograph.
Because the photograph is simply not capable of describing depth and distance the way our wonderful visual systems do, any photograph that aims to make a successful rendering of a place should give the viewer enough clues about distance and depth to allow them to understand how the space fits together, or perhaps few enough to give the space a sense of mystery.
Being fairly new to the idea of photographing landscapes digitally, I'm still very much in the finding-my-feet stage regarding the process. In some ways its great: instant feedback, quicker workflow and a lot less stuff to carry around.
I'm still not entirely won over though, since the process feels artificial, and compared to my much loved transparency images the images seem a little less real,both in appearance and because they lack a physical original. A noticeable reduction in backache is welcome though.
From the darkroom
Not merely a relic of days gone past, the darkroom is a contemplative, creative, playful space for making images. Few other image making experiences compare to the hands on, slightly smelly, traditional silver based processes. If I had to choose only one way of making images there would be no contest
One of my most recent shoots was for the Jean Daneel Bistro in Napier, making images for their new website. My favourite type of commercial work is working directly with business owners, helping them to create visuals to promote their businesses.
In my ongoing attempts at getting to grips with shooting black and white large format landscapes I have been spending some time wandering around some very pretty scenery, lugging around a very much oversized camera bag in search of likely subjects. One of these missions led me into Newlands forest on one of the few not-so-dry days we’ve had this year.
N.B. This post will verge on being a little geeky: if you have trouble telling the difference between reciprocity failure and D-max it may be a little... obscure.
Colour landscape photography has always been my thing, particularly shooting transparancy film on a large format camera. The much lamented dearth of large format E6 processing service around Cape Town has, however, put the brakes on that particular pursuit. Shooting colour neg is also and option, of course, but not one I have taken on just yet. So for now I have decided that having a serious go at shooting my large format landscapes on black and white film is something to put some effort into. The image accompanying this post is one of the first successes (i hope) on this new adventure.
One of the universal truths about being a professional photographer is that not all jobs are created equal. An equally universal truth, is that the less-equal ones come along somewhat more regularly than the more-equal ones. Now don't get me wrong, every photographic job gives me a little bit of a thrill, and I'd much rather spend my day photographing breadrolls, or business men in expensive suits talking about capital expenditure and market share, than work behind a desk. But these jobs are small thrills, like sliding down a sanddune on a cardboard box, the job I'm sharing here is more of a full on loop-the-loop rollercoaster...
As anyone who as ever had the dubious honour of sharing and office space with me will attest, keeping a tidy workspace is not one of my strong points... A recent shoot at Sign & Seal Labels was somewhat of a shock to my system...
Fair warning: If you are a devout and faithful follower of Order of Digital Photography this may shock and offend. Also Language in this post may stray out of the web friendly sRGB space and into the more colourful and saturated ProPhoto RGB realm...
The recent bout of incessant South Easters we've been subjected to here in the mother city has drawn my attention back to this shoot I did a couple of months ago as a demo for full time students at the Orms Cape Town School of Photography. I intend to treasure it as a permanent reminder that wind, sand, and cameras do not always go together so well...
recently had the opportunity to do a family shoot for the Cullom family. Claudia is a regular on some of the part time courses that I teach, so having a photographer in front of the camera added a little extra dimension to the whole affair... I would have to make sure the rookie errors were kept to a minimum!