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This is a copy of the description I had originally posted on the flickr page
Thought it would be nice to have it here after all.
There is still no "about me" on this site anyway.
And the little description felt a bit long for flickr.

Well,
I started shooting at around four or five. I was allowed to use my father's Praktina FX, (the first system camera in the world). I have two of them now. Every few years I take them out of their case and shoot a little bit with them. It is slow and very bare bone photography. No light metering. No way to precisely set focus. Not even by looking through the lens.
After firing a shot, the mirror needs to be brought back into position in several turns of a dial.
But the lenses are pretty amazing. Imagine a F2.8/180 Zeiss Sonnar. Designed in the 30s. Yes, Zeiss in Jena manufactured some pretty nice lenses for that camera.
My father had a Zeiss Jena F2.8/50.
I remember spending hours staring at the world through the finder of the camera and just shifting focus. Moving around that layer that was allowed to become the main element of the picture I could have made.

I have shot with many small cameras. A small nikon about 20 years ago. Then an Olympus Miu.
Eventually decided to find out what it would be like to shoot with a Leica. I really wanted to buy an M camera, but it felt too much like a weapon at that time, and with about $2000 for the body, it was also incredibly expensive.
I ended up buying a Leica Minilux. The one with the Summarit 2.4/40.
And I loved what happened to the world. I was so impressed by the way the lens of this camera rendered the outside that my review on Amazon read like it had been written by a crazy person.
My little silver minilux was eventually stolen. I found someone who sold me his black one. The man did not understand how much I loved the little camera.

I tried other film cameras as well. Some were borrowed. Some are still part of my collection. My creative director let me use his Contax G2 for several weeks. It is an incredible camera somehow.

I bought the Yashica Electro 35GS. It was through the LOMO people. It even came with a sticker that it had been part of the equipment of USS Midway.
I wish it managed to focus properly. And the color rendition. Hmm... Well...
The camera is more of a historic artifact than a working machine.

I also purchased a Graflex Crowngraphic. The suitcase it is stored in might weigh something like 20 pounds? I never had the courage to actually shoot film with it. Only polaroids. Pretty great polaroids though.

And then there was also the Hasselblad. I love the 501CM. It takes beautiful pictures. It is a solid, heavy, incredible object.
One to take to the moon indeed.
I hope for a proper digital back for it one day. Not the ones available now. They do not seem right. They just do not seem right.

Yes digital changed things. Changed everything.
It became more and more difficult to handle film. I also found out that the seemingly trusty store on the corner that had been handling and scanning my 35mm films, has also been scratching the negatives because of unclean equipment.
All my scans were actually retouched to cover that blunder.

I have been developing all of my film with Duggal since. They do a great job. Obviously.

So back to the smaller cameras.
I eventually bought a Canon S70. It felt a bit like the Olympus miu. The clamshell design made it possible to keep the camera on me at all times. And probably most of the pictures here were taken with the S70. It was a trusty little camera. And I have to say that I enjoyed the shape of it, the quiet operation and also the dynamic range. But the chip was pretty small. And the barrel distortion was a bit of a joke.

I actually wanted a Leica again. Even a small one would be nice. And so typically, I got a D-Lux 3 for my wife.
Then, in January of 2009, I finally bought a D-Lux 4. At the camera store in the A terminal of the Frankfurt Airport.
The camera had just been released a short while before that, and the first firmware made it shoot in some crazy color. Especially the reds were pretty, how do I say it... bad.
Software updates eventually fixed the little guy. And I also discovered that a wide angle extension could actually be applied to the lens. (Okay, let's not mention the barrel distortion on that one. It was so horrible, no wonder Leica never endorsed it.)

And so I shot with the D-Lux 4 a good bit. And it is a fine camera. We got to know each other better and better. I can only recommend it. It is very nice for macro photography actually. And also rather nice for very quick jotting down of visual ideas. Oh, and the ability to record HD movies should not be underestimated.
A stealthy, very quiet little friend, that D-Lux 4. And the wide angle extension is a bit of a secret gem. (It does not show up in the EXIF data. So some of the info that comes with the pictures here might be not completely accurate.)

In September of 2009 Leica announced the M9. And it felt as if the circle could finally be closed. I could at last get a "proper" Leica. I could shoot in what could potentially feel like film again? And I could get access to that kind of lens quality I had somehow briefly experienced with the minilux. (Silly, I know.)

It took me almost a year, (actually 364 days,) to finally manage to buy an M9. I could have bought one sooner, of course. I could have paid more. Or I could have bought the silver edition I happened to come across in Frankfurt Airport again.

So I have an M9 since 9/8/2010. (Or 8.9.10) And the two lenses I use it with are a Voigtländer Nokton F1.1/50 as well as a Summicron F2/28.
The Nokton is incredibly difficult to handle properly. It is capable of producing such shallow depth of field, that precise shots need a setup that results in photographer lag. Or they are just lucky.
The Summicron is much wider, not as fast, and so incredibly forgiving.
It is also much smaller. And it is lighter. It is pretty lovely.

I somehow know that the camera journey is not going to end here. But I am happier than ever with the quality I am getting out of the M9.

It is not as quiet as I had expected. Compared to the virtually silent digital cameras I have used before it has a pretty noisy shutter.
But because it has pretty much no detectable shutter lag, I keep messing up pictures, because I fire off too quickly, having been trained by my randomly focussing pocket friends.
Oh yes, the manual focus. It is actually much better than I had expected. I am learning to estimate distances again. (Though I had to shoot completely static objects, like trash in the street, for more than a week, just to give myself an introduction.)
Now I am beginning to admire the ergonomics and the logic behind the Leica rangefinder.

I can feel how that sense of wonder and connection to the world is slowly being brought back somewhere between the shots.

And the M9 somehow gave me no buyer's remorse. It surpassed my expectations many ways.
I feel like I have some catching up to do. I can not hide behind the faults and limitations of the equipment. The things I want to shoot in the street, I suddenly seem to be able to shoot somehow. Well, almost. Hopefully soon.

Anybody who says that the camera equipment does not matter at all, most likely uses better equipment than the person they are telling that it does not matter.
Photography is obviously not only about technology. One should not be tempted to believe the marketing of camera manufacturers completely.
I would not be surprised if more personally relevant moments are captured on phones now than on actual photographic equipment.

But there is still some strange magic to making pictures that are based on reality. They appear so close to it, that they seem to be part of it. And yet they are really not.
I do believe that photographs are actually made, not simply taken.
And I just love making photographs.

looking at things...

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The shutter on the old Praktina did not really want to close. I had to let it find its way again and again and again. Eventually it somehow remembered how to get from right to left. I have let the camera sleep by itself for too long, displayed on a small tripod in a glass case, with the olympic lens attached, waiting to take another shot, for months. Maybe years actually.

There are boxes with film in the refrigerator. And there is a box on my bookshelf in the office as well. The film must be not only expired by now, the seasons must have turned the chemistry on it into a run away reaction.
I dare not to put any of it in the cameras.
Some actually still have the old film in them.

The Praktina was empty. I took off the back and looked at the sleepy cloth shutter.
It eventually got to where it needed to be.
I think it did.
How would I dare to remember what 1/1000 of a second looks like.

I looked through the lens. No matter what the camera was pointed towards, it looked suspiciously like an object from 1954. Somehow the world was a different place in that complicated glass. A grainy world. The ground glass made everything look as if it were a super 8 film; perhaps bad 16mm.
It makes perfect sense that the Leicas from the same period must have felt incredibly bright and clear.

A battery arrived today.
It is such a pathetic symbol of what is about to follow in the mail.

The Praktina would never ask for batteries.
It asked me to shoot with it. Even with no film in it.
It taught me to see the world as a potential picture.
Somewhere in the early 70's when I assembled objects on the table outside of the kitchen, and then shifted focus with the aperture wide open.
Again and again.
And again.

And objects would melt.
Then they would reassemble themselves.
Then melt again.
Soft cloudy objects.

It was brilliant.
Magic.

Even without film.
The best moments that were never recorded.
Only seen with intense focus.
But I guess that's the way things work sometimes.

A new group of pictures of the bear just went live on The Morning News. (Thank you Rosecrans Baldwin.) The whole set is a bit darker than the previous ones. Some of the images contain, more or less hidden hints at places that open doors to stories. Some of the clues are much more obvious than others. But perhaps that's how most of the world around us works. There appears to be a very familiar layer, one that responds well to our predicted views of it. Then there is the stuff which we expect to be surprising and new. Then there are the things which fool us and do not open up to us until much much later. And then... some never do. And perhaps most never do. It is perfectly possible to reduce the world to a place of one point perspective, a one dimensional string of events and places and encounters, (a straight line for some, for others a spiral, or a knot.) And yet every, even the thinnest string is made out of billions of little particles which just "happened to be" in that right place at the right time. And it is not like they would be the only ones that could have been there and then. It is a little harder to imagine that each one of the particles of the universe is somehow as central to it, as the thought that crosses the mind of the reader right here and right now. And each particle is as much dependent on previous generations of itself and shaping to future ones?, just as that thought... (Though they might actually be all at the same time?) The world is a mysterious place. And it is perfect, just the way it is and was and is going to be. And it is much, much more complex than any image or thing or... word? We seem very aware of the mystery before we learn to expect and learn to read and "understand." At some point things become business as usual. But secretly they never are. Or so i can only hope.
The Morning News will run a new feature with fifteen new photographs of the little bear in Helsinki. The gallery is not up as I am writing this, but knowing my recent days I will not have the time to write this entry tomorrow. (You are probably reading this entry "tomorrow" anyway, so it probably really does not matter. I like the new series very much. Those who would like to see which five pictures did not make the cut can take a click over to my flickr page. oh and I obviously did not take 20 pictures. (it was more in the hundreds.) A big "thank you" (again) to Rosecrans Baldwin for being so patient with me.

2x

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(the piece shot here twice in one frame is called "Gangway" (2001) and is by the incredible Thomas Demand.

please bear with us...

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By the time you read this, there might be a new gallery of pictures of the bear over at The Morning News. The gallery this time is actually very different than the first series of bear pictures published by The Morning News. And no, the photographs are not all taken in Paris. And if anybody is reminded of a particular "conversation"... maybe it's a good start... hmm... size does matter... and so does context... and time... and...

meanwhile elswhere...

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Did I mention how great the Machiel Botman show is, over at Gitterman Gallery? Many of the black and white photographs in the show, taken over the last twenty five years or so, feel like encapsulated, breathtaking intimacy. Some feel as if they were of very own familiar moments, as if the people in them were one's own dearest friends, the memories were of one's own family, that favorite bird, the beloved secret tree. Not sure how Botman does it. He seems to be a bit of a miracle man... The exhibition coincides with the publication of his new book... published by Markus Schaden and his publishing house. The book is called RainChild... a limited edition of the book was available at the exhibition. I just have managed to completely overspend on (beautiful) art recently... and so I just could not afford to get it too... I had however managed to track down a copy of the limited edition version of Botman's first book: HeartBeat, at a book dealer in Amsterdam. Or at least I thought I had tracked down one of the 15 existing copies of the book... it just happens that the book dealer never replied to any of my emails. Hmm... I wonder why? And so I emailed Botman, who lives in Amsterdam, directly (I know, I should have probably contacted him through the gallery?... well, we actually do have a mutual dear friend.) and asked him if he knew of the last available "HeartBeat", and if I could maybe get it through him somehow, I meant if he could maybe contact that book-dealer who did not want to call me back. (Who knows?) He replied that he himself still had the very last copy (15/15) of Heartbeat and that he could even make a special box for me if I wanted... (yes, I wanted.) I met him for the first time at the exhibition opening of his current show... I brought the payment for the book with me. He had left the book at his hotel. (and it was okay, I did not seriously expect that he would bring it to the vernisage.) This morning, while going to meet a friend in a near by cafe, I ran into Machiel Botman in the front of my home here on the upper Westside! He was hailing a cab. (And!) He happened to have the book with him... And so he gave it to me... right there in the street. New York is such a tiny little town sometimes... when things go well it is.
I don�t even know how many times I called the box office to make sure there would be tickets available for tonight's event. Should I just have made the assumption that if none of the people I would like to join me for the lecture could make it, then not many people in the city in general would be able to make it tonight? Seriously, nobody I asked had time to join me. I almost felt, as if I were trying to convince my friends, one by one, to watch my bloodthirsty dog. And it was not even a secret what I was being let go alone for. There were the �meetings�, the rope jumping class, one guy even cancelled on me because he really wanted to finish a conversation he had about a closed envelope in the lobby of the agency. How very sad. It was not until I was in the cab, stuck in traffic going uptown on eight Avenue that I realized that I should have called a completely different set of friends. But it was too late, and I do not have a cell phone... oh well... And I actually somehow imagined that they would have also have heard of the Elliott Erwitt lecture at the Guggenheim. And so I expected to see them there, it would be a small miracle, but they would be there. So many picture takers and posters went to the Photobloggers event at the Apple Store� so at least somebody should make it to the Guggenheim� when I entered the very tastefully decorated room under the Museum, there were maybe thirty or so people waiting for the event. I could have sworn that one of the most prominent online couples was right there in the center� until the little man spoke� and turned out to be a woman. The intimate setting felt perfect for a very friendly conversation. The cream colored chairs were as friendly as the color of the carpet. The circles of the Frank Lloyd Wright design extended all the way to here. Even a shark fin shaped window with nothing but mild light behind it felt perfectly in place. (That strange plastic watch hanging by a rubber band did not...) The little photograph projected onto the screen in front of us was of a little boy in a sailor uniform, underneath it the name: �Elliott Erwitt�. Jennifer Blessing read a short and very well focused introduction, pointing to Erwitt's travels, his connection to Edward Steichen, Robert Capa, Robert Frank... some minor announcements, some volume adjustments and the evening could begin. Elliott Erwitt took the stage. He was clearly not the youngest person in the room, but he was very relaxed, he had brought with him a disarming smile and a very friendly and warm voice. He explained how the picture of the boy in the sailor suit was the most recent flattering photograph of himself he could find. He thanked the audience for showing up� this made me laugh. The lecture was not really a lecture. It was a rather relaxed conversation, a very organically selected slideshow of Erwitt's "hobby" work. The photographer operated his powerbook with true grace, and we went from image to image, from story to story, from sequence of images to sequence of images� there were the occasional background anecdote, sometimes just the image� waiting for the slow audience to find the not really hidden funny point� The laughter would sometimes arrive ten seconds after the slide was turned on... proving to me the slowness of even focussed aperception. Elliott Erwitt appeared as warm and human in person as the world he presented slide after slide. It felt like a great confirmation of that Schoppenhauer statement that we do not really enjoy the world; we enjoy ourselves in it. And so what we saw, image after image, after image, were little pieces of Elliott Erwitt, sometimes taking shape as on screen stars of the 50�s sometimes turning into little dogs, or even people in a nudist colony. No, he was not all these people, but he was the one that turned them from an uninterrupted steam of moments in their lives, into these iconic frames, uncropped, often taken without any knowledge of those in the frame� these were his moments, his people now� and looking at them was as much fun as listening to him telling us about them. And some images were never taken. And the images we saw were taken as part of his hobby. Many were taken between assignments. Many were taken on the way to his studio. It was as if he were showing us drawings he had made on the train and we all imagined that this was his actual work... he smiled when he said that he made his living with photographs that were not shown tonight. Good and inspiring experience, I really wanted to just walk up to the man and thank him� I didn't do that though... There was a line at the end of the lecture, of course. People with their books ready for the signatures, some with just the program, just to have something, anything to get signed� I did not get a signature, or even a handshake... and yet I took with me some of the fun and good advice� Barking at dogs can actually make better pictures. (It got me a good bite in my shin when I tried it as a child.) One should not necessarily refrain from taking a picture because somebody says so. Many interesting pictures were not supposed to be taken. Sometimes it is a good idea to cough while pressing the shutter� sometimes it is not a good idea at all. It is sometimes more difficult to shoot at home� People who sue for being depicted in a particular picture, sometimes are not in it at all. Driving is dangerous for a photographer� It is a really good idea to keep the stuff for years and to keep the copyright� Oh, and Black and White is here to stay� as long as there are those who like to shoot in Black and White� I walked home across the park. There was a bicycle race, the joggers were as unique and as sweaty as usual� The sun had already set, and so the skyline of Midtown was just beginning to become darker and to be punctured by more and more little lights turned by those who had to work overtime. And the park smelled like a freshly watered plant as well. It was all good then and there. I am really glad I went� Oh and I also remember why I was so panicked about getting, or not getting the tickets. It is a barely related story, of course. This one time when I missed a lecture here at the Guggenheim because I found out about it too damn late, was when I was led here by a person with a slightly instable personality� that was years and years ago. Us not getting tickets to the event felt like losing a child in a fire: and I was made the one who had had the water, I was the one who had failed to use it... I was the one responsible for the death of the child... (The only child� the last child to be ever born in this universe...) Those were really cruel times... Going to this nice little lecture under the Guggenheim alone this evening was probably a reward, given to me by the universe. It was remuneration for several hours of horrible, horrible suffering somewhere in 1998� I do feel much better now� Wuff� . (Sorry� just had to do that�) : ) Oh and Elliott Erwitt has a Website... and it is called... Elliott Erwitt dot com and it also is very nice to pay a visit to... really... (p.s. choose "Latin" as your language...) ; )
The little guy watched me for a really good while. And when I came too close, he just let out a really loud chirp and hid his entire body in a crack of a large boulder. I think it was a chipmunk. Tiny guy, with two darker stripes. He watched me out of his stone safety for several minutes. It was a bit surprising to me to see a glimpse of a deer just several hudred yards or so from the George Washington Bridge. I walked closer and closer, whispering promises that I had neither gun nor bow. Suddenly a very loud sound that could have been the break of a large truck went off right next to me. I had not noticed that there was not only one deer there, but apparently two, of maybe the same age. I had come to close to the one I did not even see and he warned the one I saw. Both quickly disappeared in the green of the park. But I waited a little, and eventually their curiosity was stronger than their fear. The guy to the right was the more courageous one, the one to the left was really afraid of me. We kept a good distance. I think the animals were comfortable in my presence. They continued their meal... This lady fed on plants not far from the entrance of the park. She was larger than the two males I had seen before. She was as obviously interested in me as they were. She posed so very well... so calmly... Oh, and then there was this little guy. He let me take pictures of him from a distance of about two to three yards. He watched me and ate and watched me a little more... He was a brave and healthy looking rabbit buddy... I promised all of my models that I would be back with some more professional equipment. They seemed to be quite okay with that.
Wanted to write something, but I could not, was not able to... so here are some pictures... in no particular order, really... they were just the ones I wanted to post in the next few days... or so... but why keep it back?... there is more... Stories happen anyway... ...

The old lady can now have a laugh...

When that last film tore in my 50 year old Praktina FX, I had to just put her aside and hope that somebody would be able to open her body in complete darkness and maybe salvage some of the shots. I was not really disappointed. It had happened before. I remember sitting in a bathroom by Lake Tahoe, trying to push some torn film back into its metal home in complete darkness. (Not only is it not really possible to do this successfully without any tools, it also creates most scratched and injured negatives.) It was not really the camera's fault that the film tore. I had obviously behaved too much like a spoiled 21st century snapshotter and failed to keep a log of my exposures. The camera does have a counter, of course, but it is not the most reliable device on it... I should have just stopped after 36 shots... so silly of me not to... so silly of me not to pay attention... It was very natural to think of the camera as a person. She was an older, wiser partner on the shoot, she was fragile, but she remembered my being just an unborn little worm, I was really still the kid here... I was the one had a much too short attention span, I was the one who had been spoiled by automatic, auto exposure, auto focus and now even the heartless digital photography. The closest place that could help us turned out to be a pharmacy with a one hour photo counter. A very friendly lady helped us salvage some of the shots. There was at least one brief moment of surprise, especially when the camera fell apart in her little table-darkroom, I was able to explain that the back of the camera detaches, so it can accomodate a roll film magazine, again, the camera was so much more advanced and professional than we were... she was just old... one should just understand. Most of the film was salvaged and put in a very special little black box, probably made out of polypropylene, such a modern material, itself younger than the camera. After an hour or so... (well it was obviously an hour,) I was able to pick up my newly shot tests from the good old picture creating device. The friendly lady at the counter seemed rather impressed with the results. Some of the exposures were maybe not perfect, but overall... wow, what a nice camera I had there, I should definitely take good care of it... (It really felt as if I were picking up the results of an older aunt's blood tests. The old lady was maybe wrinkled, but hey, the sugar levels and the cholesterol were very impressive.) Oh, yes... this was the regular reaction. The camera was clearly great, just a little old, and silly me should not press that silver button when staring at the sun or into the dark shadows under trees. I had somehow forgotten about the magic of the camera and its Zeiss lenses. I was quickly reminded of it as I browsed through the 30 or so completely strange looking prints. The pictures did not even look as if I had shot them. They were like memories of the camera, taken long before I was even born. The world I had taken the camera into was one where digital gadgets recorded pixels with cold blooded optimal exposure, pre programmed in some lab in Rochester or Tokyo or who knows where... The old one eyed lady here, somehow dreamt of rather magical locations she created her own, strange planes of focus and remembered colors and strange artefacts. Many of the images also appeared strangely flat. I must have set the exposure to some very wrong value and the completely automatic giant one hour photo machine probably made some pre digitized laughing sound as it spit out this old looking and completely analogue material. Usually the story ended here. Sometimes the pictures would come with that free photo CD. Each one of the shots was then burned onto a somehow clumsy compact disk. The photo store on the corner would save some space by turning up the compression on the scans. The JPEGs were maybe 18MB in size, but the information on them looked very much like the faint prints that came back with the negatives... So usually the story would have ended here. I would have just put the images into their special box... This time the story continued with the help of a rather friendly and not very big Nikon scanner... it is a scanner I had recently ordered to finally dig into the rather large archive of my older 35mm material... The scanner arrived late yesterday and so the first pictures I wanted to see through it were those faint, and rather dreamy Praktina FX exposures... The very first scan is the first photograph below. What follows is a zoom into the scan, not even to its fullest resolution. The two last images are also a rather dreamy test exposure from the 50 year old camera, now scanned in, as well as a slight zoom in onto some of the quite interesting kind of detail... Clearly the camera came out as a winner here. The images have a very strange but much better quality to them than I could have ever expected from the prints I was given to see. It looks like there are boxes and boxes of rejected negatives stored here which I will now have to look at with this fresher kind of scanner lens... I counted about forty or so rings on this stump below, btw... (Pictures taken with a 1954 Prakina FX and a Carl Zeiss Biotar 1.5/75 lens... I should proably just step aside...oh wait... I hand focussed these shots and estimated their exposure settings does this count?...) Oh, and please don't think that I want to say that 50 is "old"... it is just relatively significant in "camera years."...

Stuff

"Mommy, why does the man have so much stuff?" "He is from New York, you know..." The kids were very bright, the mother was very friendly, the grandmother was very quiet and did not even make a sound when I hit her really hard with my somehow extended monopod stick. (By accident, of course.) We met at the drinking fountain in the park. I was taking pictures of the water being blown away by wind. My face was wet from trying to drink out of the fountain before realizing that the wind would just blow the water in unpredictable directions. I helped the family to get their Sprite out of the very well protected, racoon proof coke machine. And so we became 2 minute friends. We were all so very excited about finding the park. I told them about me not having a car and walking all the way. They were very excited to be there, also for the very first time. The grandmother quietly rubbed her arm. It was a very nice encounter... Oh, and I also explained that I had so much stuff because I did not have a car (I paid the pedestrian fee at the park entrance,) and so I had to carry everything with me... I really had a very heavy bag. I must have looked like a reporter for the national geographic in 1954, who's mules and assistants were taken by landslides, or mines, or who knows what... well, they were just gone. There was a giant black 300mm Zeiss Sonnar Lens attached to my 50 year old Praktina FX, a bag filled with various lenses and other rather heavy objects was attached to me. I was on a mission. I wanted to shoot on film again. I was very serious about it. Well, I was serious and I also did not really trust myself. I still brought the digital camera along with me, just to make sure that anything was recorded, just in case I really managed to completely mess up. There is pretty much nothing automatic about my good old Praktina FX. I measure the light with an external meter, the focus the aperture, they all need to be somehow figured out. The camera will probably need to be calibrated soon, because the focus I see in the frame is not quite the focus that makes it to film. This would maybe not be so much of a problem, if the camera came with some bad lenses, where such things would not matter, but the equipment is rather serious, the lenses I have are "magical", they have serious names, their technology is often from the 30's, they tempt to be very specific and exact... My favorite lens is the most famous one, I guess, it is a Biotar 1.5/75 and those who know their lenses will know that these numbers are amazing. It is a portrait lens, it was designed to slightly soften the features of a face and also to allow for a really shallow depth of field. A portrait lens is most wonderful, once one realizes that everything in the world is worth having a portrait taken and so all trees and birds and anything, anything appears to be the most important magic object in the world. So no wonder that I was fascinated by the bark of a tree, or that I made sure to bracket that simple looking weathered stump of a tree... (I can only guess the focus that's why...)... It was a bit frustrating when the film actually ripped inside of the camera, on maybe the last frame, just when I came across a little guy who really wanted to have his portrait taken... well, not really... I think I will have to start this story again, maybe from a completely different angle... "Mommy, why does the man have so much stuff?" "He is from New York, you know..."

from the inside out...

The wind was of the soft kind. It was a gentle wind, stroking my face, telling me to go inside, or he would blast me off that balcony. And so I gave in. I used to be able to tell the wind to stop. And it would... really... it was a game I played as a boy. I would stand in a corner of a windy place and I would tell the wind to pick up, or to calm down... really... and it would... well, eventually... please don't think I was a strange boy. I am sure there is some other boy somewhere, doing just the same thing... (let's hope he is younger than me...) So the wind made me go in... I am now in a very dark room, the planes look like lost stars, and the buildings around here are blinking back, just to make sure no plane decides to land on some roof... do these lights really work? Tried to take some pictures of other birds today, but they get really scared of me with my big stick. Oh, I might not have mentioned it, but I decided to use a monopod, an extendable carbon-fibre stick, to get a camera up into the crowns of trees, to get closer to some birds. The close up picture of the pelicans are not taken with a telelens, these are actual close encounters of the camera, on a stick, held up right into the beaks of the birds. Weird, I know... but it works really well with the pelicans. They do not care about me or about something that looks like a fishing rod, held in front of them... they really did not mind... The smaller birds did mind. The singing birds would just flee in panic, when I appeared with that huge black stick, the camera attached at one end... and so I enjoyed just shooting from within the crowns of the trees, the birds did not really matter that much at some point, it was just as if I had this recording eye and I could lift it into places that were rather intimate locations for the feathered buddies... and the photographs look different... they are images of trees, but they are shot from the inside out...they are shot from the perspective of the tree... and I do not think many people shoot trees this way... it feels different... it is a very different world...it is a very secure, more quiet, very complete world... enclosed into the world we seem to know so well... and yet we never really do... And there was no wind during the day... just the sun, birds, trees... and oranges were $1 for 1kg... and so I had many oranges today...

Familiar landscapes... (x)

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As a boy, I would sometimes get my eyes very close to the carpet and look at the legs of chairs and tables and imagine them being large modernist buildings on the vast planes of Carpetia. At other times, I would imagine that the ceiling of my room were the floor and that the crazy mess of my many started playful experiments just glued itself to what was now the ceiling. At other times I would look at things with one eye, objects placed on a table, and I would play with the depth of field of things. The pepper would be in focus, then salt, then these became blurry and there was my dog, looking at me with the very clear message that it was time to go outside... It might be time to revisit some of the experiments of the weightlessness of the observer, (sans dog,) and see what happens when we explore a bit more of what appears to be the familiar, in ways that take out of the equation the little fragments that give away the source... Let's hide the source, let's make proportions disappear, let's remove the sense of location from the shots. Let's explore some familiar landscapes... and reduce them to just that... landscapes... can this be done without making the images appear like yet another silly photo-experimentation?... Hmm... does it matter?... Also... how much different will images of seemingly familiar landscapes be from any image of any thing... How much do we assume to know about what we see in photographs and how much is really there? Can we escape the urge of the mind to put whatever we see into some box of things we already know? Does our overly saturated, daily trained visual mind play tricks on us anyway? Do we always only see what we know, in any kind of photograph, or even in general? Let's see what happens next...
"...(...) There arose a universal consciousness of history that extended even to people in those strata of society who had previously lived a life of magic - the peasants - who [with the introduction of cheap printing and a universal education in the 19th Century] began to live a proletarian, historical life. This took place thanks to cheap texts: Books, newspapers, flyers, all kinds of texts became cheap and resulted in a historical consciousness that was equally cheap and a conceptual thinking that was equally cheap - leading to two diametrically opposite developments. On one hand, traditional images finding refuge from the inflation of texts in ghettos, such as museums, salons and galleries, became hermetic (universally undecodable) and lost their influence on daily life. On the other hand, there came into being hermetic texts aimed at the specialist lite, i.e. a scientific literature with which cheap kind of conceptual thinking was not competent to deal. Thus culture divided into three branches: that of the fine arts fed with traditional images which were, however, conceptually and technically enriched; that of science and technology fed with hermetic texts; and that of broad strata of society fed with cheap texts. To prevent culture breaking up, technical images were invented - as a code that was to be valid for the whole society." Flusser in "Towards a philosophy of Photography" (Fr eine Philosophie der Fotografie.), pages 18ff, Reaction Books ISBN 1 86189 076 1. "Technical Images" are images created by machines, of course, many are camera generated photographs, the images that work as a very nice "glue" across groups of culture feeding on various accessible (popular) or less accessible (hermetic) texts... complex cultural ideas feed photography as successfully as science as successfully as political messages as successfully as low end down dirty gossip (though often there is no strong distinction betwen some of them, of course). Photography is the universally accepted way of objective visual communication. Flusser continues: "...technical images were to introduce images back into daily life; second they were to make hermetic texts comprehensible; and third, they were to make visible the subliminal magic that was continuing to operate in cheap texts. They were to form the lowest common denominator for art, science and politics (in the sense of universal values), i.e. to be at one at the same time 'beautiful', 'true' and 'good', and in this way, as a universally valid code, they were to overcome the crisis of culture - of art, science and politics." Yet, photography is not only cheap to produce, it is becoming cheaper and faster to produce. It is becoming more and more accessible, thus saturating more and more all of the branches of culture. Photographs are the perfect filler, the perfect validating document, the perfect illustration, the perfect memory builder, because they appear to be so similar to what we perceive as our reality. They give us the illusion to be carriers of that thing called "truth." This is, of course, an incredibly tempting quality about them. "Technical images absorb the whole of history and form a collective memory going endlessly round in circles. Nothing can resist the force of this current of technical images - there is no artistic, scientific or political activity which is not aimed at it, there is no everyday activity which does not aspire to be photographed, filmed, videotaped. For there is a general desire to be endlessly remembered and endlessly repeatable. All events are nowadays aimed at the television screen, the cinema screen, the photograph, in order to be translated into a state of things." How long will it take for us to realize that what we perceive as the magic of truth carried on the surfaces of photographs is as much of a subjective creation as many other forms of human expression. How long will it take us to realize that photographs as well are very highly manipulated messengers of a point of view of a person or a group? And to maybe try to ask this question in a different way: are we as fascinated by the magic of photographs as our ancestors were by the paintings and sculptures in (the trusted environment of) tempels? Are we turning into not just consumers but worshippers of technical images? Will the future be decided by those who can speak to us with more "truthful" and more powerful visual confirmations of their actions? Or are at this stage already? Are we far beyond? What does this all have to do with the strange title of this entry? (Or is the title not strange at all?)
It was last week, I think, that my iPhoto library forgot that it was one. I still have not managed to reorganize this portion of my photographs that were in it in a way that would make sense to me or anybody else. One of the things that happened is a little issue with the date marker on all of the files. All of the photographs seem to have been taken on January 20th 2004. It is very interesting. My new (and still very incomplete) iPhoto library looks as if this particular tuesday in January were quite possibly the most eventful day of my entire life. Not only did I manage to find myself on two continents, in about a half a dozen countries (or more?), some of the people in the pictures managed to change by years in just split seconds. A friend gave birth and raised a son. Buildings went from being incomplete skeletons to fully erected and inhabited complexes, while others, rather large ones, were simply erased (thousands of lives lost). It all happened in just split seconds, or so it now appears, all on January 20th 2004. Just like that. Weightlessly. The "objective camera" meticulously recorded a reality, now compressed into minutes, where there used to be years. On one hand it appears that thousands of photographs would probably only fit into a 24 hour day when taken by multiple photographers, wild professionals, with their cameras pointing at what was interesting, what mattered... but on the other hand, when taken as a simple mathematical exercise, if even my little Leica Minilux can shoot one single photograph per second, then I am not even touching its theoretical limit of almost 90 thousand photographs a day. (86400 if I really just kept the button pressed and never had to change the film...) So on one hand, thousands of images look like a serious amount of material. But on the other hand, how many images do we really see during a regular day? A two hour movie, for example, with its 24 frames per second, would contain 2880 images... Clearly they are only bearable to us because the differences between them are so miniscule that we can focus on "the big stuff", the large changes. Our brains must be somehow bored when watching movies, compared to reality. Not only are we in a shielded environment, watching a little color rectangle flickering at a frame-rate much lower than what we usually experience, the stuff is made to make sense to us. It is usually just a relatively simple story, connected, with a relatively predictable development, often just stretched between images we had already seen a hundred times in some previews on some other flickering screen. It is not just the number of images we look at, it is the logic between them that makes them easily or not so easily digestible. Watching a regular movie is probably not really a huge challenge. The number of images perceived is probably similar to the number of chapters that will eventually make it to the DVD (we just perceive as "moving pictures". Movies are written by people who want to sell them to other people, so there has to be a logic which can be pitched to that person that will eventually pay for each frame. There are, of course movies like "Memento", which also simple, challenge the brain by mixing up the order of some DVD chapters... How many injuries would a movie cause that were made out of 2880 completely different, individual frames? Each made to be there for a reason. At the current state of my iPhoto library I am basically looking at more than four full feature films which claim that everything in them happened at the same time, in the same location, in front of the same lens, shot by the same person. The idea of all of these things happening at the same time is a bit much to handle... And yet as much as it would be possible to watch a 2880 frame movie with different images, because of the ability of the brain to jut shut off whatever it is not interested in, (So for most of the audience, the experience would probably just get incredibly boring after a few minutes,) it is very possible to not think of everything happening at the same time,. There is a physical distance of the images, dictated by the mere fact that each one of them has a certain presence anyway... No two images can be even in an iPhoto library in the same location at the same time... But wait, how does it work in the world around us? Is there a movie operator somewhere that projects reality around us, just to make it palatable for us in some way? What is the frame rate at which reality happens? How many images are packed into a single second of the real real world?... Could one say that if each one of us perceived just one (moving) image per, let's say a second... there would be still billions of images per second rushing through just the human brains here on the planet. And clearly we are not the only seeing beings... The pigeon that just rushed here by my window did so with definitely very open eyes. Oh, and to top this all, I think only toddlers think that the world only exists when they actually look at it... (peek a boo...) No wonder that we want to see the same thing over and over again as a child. It is no surprise that we crave to see some thing others see and travel or go to movies or watch tv?... Is it in need to simplify the things around us? Is watching the oscars really like having a glamorous version of a collective memory about the past year of frames shown to the public? Much of what we look at, is somehow a memory of a past experience, something that happened in a controlled and known environment... Something that was created by a person, a committee or groups of those... Do we experience the world by comparing it to the one we already know?... Is this what makes it digestible for us?... Is the moment in which a character is introduced as important as the moment when the same character is familiar to us and blurry in the background of some real or movie scene? How do most of us perceive Museums? Are we at any point in time really truly aware that the images that happen to share walls in a room can actually be expressions of ideas that happened years and minds and continents apart? Are we ever truly able to see any image from the point of view of the person who created it? Are we ever able to see the image and the circumstances happening outside of the frame? What is the difference between what we think we see and what we think we would see... and see anyway?... I think I will go back to organizing my little image-library now... I feel as if I were the glue between the now so baked together frames. Each image stored in the database triggers at least a little hint of a memory, and in a different way in me than in anybody else. (After all some younger version of me was the one who made the decision to push the button.) By sorting the frames, my brain will be forced to give additional value to certain images... now, from the point of view of the more current me... Hmm... it feels as if I not only haven not answered anything... it feels as if I had not even asked the right questions... Should I read this entry again?... maybe not... maybe I should not... let's see how much time I can spend avoiding the present by sorting the glimpses seen by cameras I owned in the past... (oh, and yes, the title of this little entry is a just slightly modified version of a title of a book here on my shelf...) And what does one do with little glimpses like the one below?.

In the name of...

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If everything were easy, and free, and at our fingertips; if there were a solution to every little "problem" ("issue"), and the solution came in the shape of a little pill; if there were no resistance, if there were no danger, no danger of failure even, if things came to us incredibly easily and in unlimited abundance; if we could not only cut all corners but actually have somebody cut all corners for us; if there were no need to weigh words in any way, because they were all weightless and free; if there were no breaks on our cars, and no bottoms to our credit limits; if we were allowed to just take over whatever, whenever, however, with ease, no resistance, if it were just all ours for the taking, ripe, sweet, easy to use... what would be left to do... and how many would die for it?

baked and happy

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We traveled at what was almost the speed of sound. Europe was on the menue again, or I was on the menue for europe. Mr. roll arrived under a plastic cover. I could not resist, I had to take some pictures of him... at least as long as he was still in shape to have them taken. I tried to keep him fresh for a while, I think... but he eventually dried out and turned back into crumbs... a lot happened then. a lot.

One last time.

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Everything magnificent had been said and done and given and taken and given again. The top was off now, the sun setting, one last hello, one last wink, one last smile. This was it, the key turned, the gas pressed, wheels set in motion. We were heading towards a very important moment. Well, or... from now until it happens to all of us.

familiar landscapes...

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Certain rooms were built to pretend to be outside, others were created to simulate a disarming warmth. Architectural wombs.
Windowless, glowing, well insulated little chambers of beauty.
How rich does it feel to walk through rooms that have blood colored walls. Not the fresh kind blood, not the blood that smells like torn apart iron, blood that was permitted to mix with oxygen, just a little, enough for us to feel the right amount of ownership over the large and very deserved kill. Frame it all with wood, exotic planks reduced to straight frames, and the air humidity better be measured, because we might break into a damp sweat of accomplishment.
Here we go, there is another one. Welcome to a chamber of sweet secrets. Here is a place that nature would never manage to create, at least not without the help of a superior being, one that is able to create a visual grammar, put things into an emotional, historical context... the past looks primitive, the future looks bright. The present is a blade.
Make sure not to step on the glass.
All yours... to look at.

refrigerated...

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there were some really old rolls of film in the refrigerator... for about a year now... so it was really time to have them developed, before they managed to do it all by themselves. It turns out that the slide film, which is maybe ten rolls or so, can not be developed by my local photoshop here down the block, so I will need to seek more expensive professional help, and there will be loud laughter in the back-rooms of some place I choose, as the experts take a good look at the now certainly pretty old looking material. The film started doing something to itself chemically, and so the images are a bit out of focus and have the look of old 50's magazines. There were some pelican pictures on the rolls (oh, surprise) and some shots of that snowstorm that hit New York... last January. One of my favorite images on the rolls was the one below. I am not sure how I took it, but it looks very much like the reflection of an american airlines machine, ready for takeoff. The scene is reflected in some really weathered surface... and I do not know where it might be... hmm... maybe a sun protective coating on an airport window?... not sure... -- update... ahem... found a different version of the image... and it is now very clear what airport we are looking at here... (okay, i made it very easy...) Take a look...

what a head...

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Yes, this is the actual head of this particular bird. Yes, this is what a pelican head looks like, when it is not trying to look like a pelican. Yes, the bird almost landed on my head. Yes, this was a large bird. No, I did not think he would land on me...
It does appear as if the head of the bird were closest to the dinosaur ancestors we imagine populating the skies at some point in this planet's past... it is interesting to see such a strong visual connection in a living, moving, flying animal...

visiting

gigantic, bigger than life. powerful, strong, sometimes just driven and pulled into a frenzy. a beautiful voice, in a very compact package, after all. visiting, passing by, here, just for fun, or maybe looking for something in just the wrong place, for now, in a location where the larger guys hang out, and more than that. but for now... gigantic, bigger than life, powerful, strong...

Packed

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What are you taking a picture of, heh, heh?... She really wanted to know... no she did not really want to know, she just wanted to say something that would put me on the defensive side in front of her other teenage friends. And she never made it in to the frame... the R train was going at full speed, it was shaking like crazy when I decided to do what I used to do as a boy on the couch... imagine that the ceiling was the floor. Turn a room into a place with hanging furniture. Now I was turning the subway car into a sardine can filled with human bats.
If only somebody turned off gravity, could we possibly fit more humans into a subway car?...

Mona Lisa Visitors 2003

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The catalogue section of the site now contains "Mona Lisa Visitors 2003", a new series of 23 photographs shot in 15 second intervals in front of Leonardo DaVinci's "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre in Paris this September.

Vik Muniz in Worst Possible Illusion

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Tomorrow, watch PBS tomorrow... Chris just reminded me about the upcoming PBS airing (or is it called cabling or dishing these days?) of Worst Possible Illusion the Anne-Marie Russell (and Paige West?) movie with and about the Brazilian artist, sculptor, photographer, illusionist... Vik Muniz.
Chris and I have seen the movie when it was shown one single time at the Walter Reade Theater more than a year ago. (No, Chris is not my boyfriend.) This was also the first time that I saw Vik Muniz speak (as far as I remember, he is the narrator of the movie.) I was most relieved to see that this artist who's work I have loved and admired since I first saw his solo exhibition at the ICP a while back, turned out to be a pretty normal and sane guy. I mean he could have been an insane, self centered machine, eaten by years and years of OCD... it was good to see that he appears to be able to keep a good distance to his work, he seems to have fun doing what he is doing, this is all good karma, this is exactly what art making should be like. Good, healing, brilliant. (Why do I have to think of Chuck Close just now... and his idea that painting can be like golf?)
I must have never written about Vik Muniz here, because it would be so much fun to write a real post, and to create some sort of layers of meaning, translations, twists and turns in language to describe the work. (Take a look at his work and you will see what I mean.)
But now there is no time for lengthy posts, the movie will air tomorrow, it is a really quite excellently made movie by Anne-Marie Russell, produced by the quite great and quite Mixed Greens...
You will like this movie, I promise. Vik Muniz is a truly amazing artist, who manages to step aside and smile at the process of creation of art itself.
The movie really helped me understand a lot about art and art making in general. If you would like to know a bit more about Vik Muniz and his work, before watching PBS tomorrow at 10pm or if you happen to not live in a place where there is PBS or a TV or... hmm ... visit Vik's new and truly improved site,
go to vikmuniz.net.
(Or you could also start out with this little flash site...
Can one tell how excited we all are here?...

natto dessu yo!

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Not sure why I never posted this rather odd photograph of a sly chipped bowl of freshly scooped out natto, next to a little hotel ashtray with roasted coffee beans, on a haywood wakefield nesting table with a lamp mostly present as a reflection in the wood surface and of course as source.
I really like natto very much. I can not buy much of it at a time, because I end up eating the whole pack quickly.
What natto is and what it does next to coffee beans? Hmm... Some other time, maybe... (I actually already wrote a little about natto here some times ago... just search for "natto", you will find the tiny entry.)
Picture taken April 2002. Hmm... Natto is gone, coffee beans are gone, the containers, the table, the lamp, even this weird sofa are all still there, in the same place. I am not there now. I wish I were.

cameraless 5 6 7

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Too early to show maybe. Too early to talk about it at all. Just grasping the idea, really. Ideas of images that focus on exposure rather than a composition of the image, really. There is now a series of seven 4x5 polaroid photogram images. I only scanned three of the seven so far, it takes time to scan them well enough. Here are the low resolution previews. These three are the darkest ones, they are the ones that barely saw any . They are the ones that I barely saw when I was making them.
I was in the darkest room. I did not attempt to make it even darker than it actually was. It felt as if there were no at all, as if the room were enveloped in darkness. It took several minutes to get used to the darkness. And this is when the little crack between the door and the frame turned into a major source, this is when things became more and more visible. This is when it was time to end the exposure on the images.
There is a fast way of taking photographs. There is a way to expose things for 1/6000 of a second, or less... Each photogram here is several minutes of perceived darkness... of sensing, waiting, thinking, wondering if the time was too much or too little. Photograms created in a very dark, not very interesting place. The images are particularly interesting when examined close up. Maybe I will zoom in on details...
There was no lens involved here, no camera. Not even a camera obscura...
Hmm... pure chemical photography.

Diagnosis Cancer.

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Tom Lindsay used a pinhole camera to document his fight with cancer, a second time fight, a fight obviously filled with very painful, long lasting procedures yet also quite incredibly serene and peaceful plateaus of time. He chose a camera obscura to document his ordeal because of the unique quality created by the long exposure times and the unique quality of focus of this age old image capturing device. What we are allowed to observe here are not the split seconds, not the "definitive moments" we are so used to from the pages of popular publications. These images were not shot in order to impress us or a magazine image editor, nor to maybe make it to the cover of a publication. What we get to see here are very slow, melancholic, intimate time periods in a very wide grey zone between life and something beyond. The distance to the situation observed is very much condensed, the observer is allowed to come closer and to stay longer than usual. These are more intimate observations, more private angles, closer encounters with reality than what we are used to seeing with our own so seemingly awake eyes.
The Exhibition, which consists of 29 black and white photographs and commentary by the artist, unfolds in four distinct acts. This extends the time observed and slows down the tempo even further, creating an even deeper feeling of intimacy to the photographer and patient. There is not even the thought of a destructive disease in any of the images at first, then cancer takes over more and more till it suddenly becomes the center of the stage and the director of the project. Only in the very last frames does this unwelcome intruder somehow loosen it's destructive grip and we are allowed to see images that not only show harmony but also speak about it. Many of the images seem to be filled with thoughts of the beyond of what we know as life. And maybe it is the quality of the images, maybe it is the very honest commentary by Tom Lindsay, that somehow turns death into this "thing called death", into just another character in a play, somehow personified and disarmed and eventually just barely there...
Take your time to slowly stroll through an extraordinary online exhibition of autobiographical documentary pinhole photographs by Tom Lindsay, entitled: Diagnosis: Cancer.

Pinhole Day 2003?

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Yes, I own a Pinhole camera and I think I might even almost know how to use it. I really hope I will be able to participate in the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, which will take place on April 27, 2003... Hmm...
It would be nice to upgrade my equipment to a Zero Image camera, perhaps... and definitely find out more about the genre on the Pinhole Visions site...
But I have the feeling that I already have what I need. Now I can only hope that the time will be right, that I will not forget, and that I will not be alone. Will you take a picture too?

pretty big...

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How silly is it to link to an eBay auction from a blog? How much sillier to point to an eBay auction where I would like to bid but will not. And yet this item is really so exciting and beautiful and really pretty big as well? Take a look at this eleven by fourteen camera, custom modified to be even better. Oh, how exciting. Would anybody like to buy this one for me? I can offer half of my blogshares... Deal? Take a look: Customized 11x14 Korona View - Beautiful!!...

Naoya Hatakeyama

The first time I saw Naoya Hatakeyama's work was 2001 in the basement of the Japanese pavillon at the Biennale in Venice, He was one of the artists representing Japan. The pieces had a amazing level of energy. The Japanese pavillon had two levels entitled "fast" and "slow" and the photography was put in such flawless context with the architecture that one could have thought that at least the downstairs (slow) of the pavillon was built to accomodate the works. The pieces displayed in Venice were from Hatakeyama's Underground series (1999)in the lower part, and in the "fast" area the Untitled (1989-97), 70 C-prints on aluminum (Portraits of a city) and Untitled/Osaka, ( an amazing Diptych (one, two) 1998-99.
Vincent Borrelli, one of my really favorite art book dealers and a photographer who had his pieces shown at the MoMA, among other places, has later sent me a very fascinating book with the title:"Naoya Hatakeyama". It is a signed copy, and Naoya signed it in Nrnberg, Germany, on July 24th 2002, which was a cloudy day, or at least this is what the signature says.
The book is a really fascinating one to own, as it not only contains representative pieces of some of Hatakeyama's photographic series, but also little text fragments putting the work in a very interesting context.
One of the main series in Hatakeyama's work are the portraits of Limestone quarries, of really breathtaking images of industrial architecture and landscape. Here is what Hatakeyama writes as an introduction to the "Lime Works" chapter of the book:

...When I learned that Japan was a land of limestone, my appreciation of its cityscape underwent a subtle change. Japan is dependent on imports for most of the minerals it uses, but when it comes to limestone it is totally self-sufficient. Every year some two hundred million tons of limestone are cut from the quarries scattered about the country, half being used to make cement and the rest entering our lives in such forms as iron, glass, paper, ink, plastic, medicines, or foodstuffs... IN the texture of concrete I can feel the trace of corals and fusulinas that inhibited warm equatorial seas two hundred to four hundred million years ago...
If the concrete buildings and highways that stretch to the horizon are all made of limestone dug from the hills are all made of limestone dug from the hills, and if they should all be ground to dust and this vast quantity of calcium carbonate returned to its precise points of origin, why then, with the last spoonful, the ridge lines of the hills would be restored to their original dimensions. The quarries and the cities are like negative and positive images of a single photograph... (Naoya Hatakeyama)

A true poet who takes photographs to illustrate his profound observations.
I saw more of Hatakeyama's work in Miami, during the Art Basel, Miami Beach. Lothar Albrecht, the intelligent gallery owner from Frankfurt am Main represents Hatakeyama in Europe and actually most of the world. LA Gallery was offering some of the last pieces still available for sale from the river series. Hatakeyama took pictures of a river that runs straight through Tokyo. The river is now very much a concrete channel, but Hatakeyama made the series of the images from the river so beautiful that what might appear as a flaw is suddenly another piece of visual poetry. The camera in all of the shots is placed precisely on the line where the artificial river bank has been placed. The artist cuts our field of vision in half. There is a river world below and a human world above the equator of the photograph. This effect is even amplified when there are several of the images hanging next to each other. Hatakeyama's Tokyo gallery, the really excellent Take Ishii Gallery had nine of the larger versions of the river series images next to each other and it was an incredibly radiant display.
The shots are taken from various angles at various times of the day and night, yet their visual impact is first contained, almost like the river itself and then multiplied by the series.
Lothar Albrecht also showed some of the "Slow Glass" photographs by Hatakeyama, pictures he created while he was the resident artist in < a href="http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/ UK" target="_blank">Milton Keynes UK. He shot photographs of places in and around the city through the wet windows of his car. The images appear to be out of focus at first. The interested viewer can discover that the focus is not on the big picture, but on the images created by the drops of water on the glass, acting as lenses. An incredible perspective. The series is called "Slow Glass" as its idea is based on the concept of a material with the same name invented by the British author Bob Shaw. Slow Glass would permit to look through it and see events and moments it "remembered".
While in Milton Keynes, the photographer also created a large series of portraits of the location itself. I think the complete installation contains 49 photographs of residential areas in the city. The images oddly enough look as if they were not of actual residences but of to scale models of the same. Hatakeyama used a simple technique he describes in the book to achieve this effect. The car used to make the slow-glass pictures was involved again and a intelligently placed tripod, allowing us to feel like giants in a foreign and yet oddly familiar place.

Hatakeyama's sense of detail is incredibly refined and it appears that his ability to create exceptionally intelligent work is growing as he progresses in his career. There are only a few publications available about his work, the main being "Naoya Hatakeyama". Other books are a bit more rare. There is "Lime Works", and a few other titles available via photoeye.com.
Hatakeyama is one of the most important Japanese photographers of this generation. And yet much of the work by this artist seems still relatively affordable. Will this change once he will find a Gallery in the United States, or will it just happen, as more and more people discover his work?
I feel really lucky to have discovered the work of Naoya Hatakeyama, as it is a true source of inspiration and an encouraging hint, that subtle and intelligent art will continue to exist.

Blanked out

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Should have probably read the instructions for the film I was using. Left the negatives emerged in an 18% Sodium Sulfite solution I mixed myself, but for much longer than the 1 minute minimum, and so when I went to wash them in water as I was supposed to, the pictures just went down the drain, leaving me with nice pieces of clear film. Another reminder that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to chemical photography. I am just still a pretty analogue kind of guy. As the pictures vanished of the film, I just smiled. Really, I did.

smoking...

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Ricardo Gomez Perez is from Venezuela. He is an award winning photographer and he recently took some very interesting pictures of his Caracas. Oddly enough, everybody in the shots seems to be smoking. It would be difficult to take shots like these in New York. Take a look at Ricardo Gomez Perez panoramics.

Walter Smith printfilmprintfilmprint

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Walter Smith takes quite exceptional pictures, and seems to shoot some interesting moving pictures as well, but somehow all his skill is devoured by the interface of his flash driven site. The design looks really great, I like the little arrow, and I also like that the way the typography cuts into the random cover images once the user finds out how to activate the popup. The user also soon finds out that moving the mouse to the left or to the right triggers subsections of the site (Print or Photo). It all feels very much like a fun interface at first, but then the pictures that pop up are so tiny, the sections jump, the logic of the interface feels puzzling. Oh. I think I am going to maybe request a portfolio, just to look at the images in person, on paper, human size.
Or is it me? Is the site navigation actually great? Am I not intelligent enough to see the brilliance of the information architecture? Tell me.

Kimm Saatvedt takes great pictures.

Kimm Saatvedt is a photographer with a good sense of humor. He was educated in San Francisco and he takes his funny and sweet photographs in Oslo, where he and his girlfriend kjersti live. The Site is definitely worth a visit or two. And the Friend of the Month feature will have me coming back for more many times. (Kimm will be added to the photo category in the slowly growing links section of this site, of course.) Oh, here is the link to the site. I put it last, because it will now take over your screen. Enjoy.

Jrgen Geerds posts New York Photographs

Jrgen Geerds has posted a new gallery of photographs taken in New York City before September 11th 2001. The series of images contains shots of famous New York City landmarks, some pictures were taken from New York City Landmarks. What might at first sound like a collection of images that millions of tourists take of the City every year turns out to be a quiet and very intimate portrait of a melancholic New York. The images have silence in them and they have a sense of thoughtfulness that is often only visible to New Yorkers who not only know the city well, but who also take their time to view this complex organism with more patience. This is no action photography. These are well calculated and composed shots. Take your time when viewing them. Short attention spans will miss the whole idea.
Worth a visit: Jrgen Geerds Photo Collection.

The lady from Saarbrcken

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Most of the photographs in the box are portraits. The box is a bit of a fmaily album with pictures taken in Photo studios in various German cities. The picture here was taken in Saarbrcken, in Studio Rembrandt. I am not sure what it is, but I really like this picture. I think this young woman might be my favorite in the entire collection. I could not find a second picture of her. I think she looks quite beautiful. The picture is also about 8x4", also mounted on a hard grey cardboard.


Portrait of a young woman. Original vintage print mounted on grey cardboard. Inscription: Atelier Rembrandt, (Crest- S-G/ST-J), St-Johann-Saarbrcken, Bahnhof Str. 67.

A box filled with pictures 01

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It must have been about 10 years ago. I found this old cookie box filled with photographs in the street in Frankfurt. Somebody had thrown out the memories of an old family. The photographs are about one hundred years old. Some are quite beautiful. I would like to share them with you. First here, and later in a special section of the site. (Click to enlarge)

Original Print on grey cardboard. Inscription on the right Atelier A Herla, Elsenborn Truppenbungsplatz. (Studio A. Herla, Elsenborn Military trainingsfield.)
Image of a bridge in a Military zone. about 1903.

Round Corner Photography

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Mario Lalich has a very nice flash site with exciting photographs. Rounded corners everywhere, smooth movement, minimalistic interface. (o = one, t = two, ss = snapshots, b = bio(graphy), c = contact, i = index page). The images are obviously high quality, some are quite funny, the snapshots look like much more than that. Each Gallery has 17 well picked images. I will definitely add Mario to the link section. Thank you for the link, Sophia.

The roll is in the mail.

Aboot 66 people know that I am one of the participants in the The Film Exchange Project, a great little project organized by photojunkie from Toronto. I really wanted to shoot some unique pictures using a new stereo extension for my praktina, which I had found on eBay. I eventually realized that using the extension to take the pictures with a camera without a proper TTL meter was a complex experiment, and that the chances were quite good that none of the pictures would have come out. So I had to use the ContaxG2, the camera which does not belong to me and which I will need to give back quite soon, but which at the same time is the most reliable piece of professional photo equipment I could get hold of. My little Minilux is still at Leica, being fixed, and I just received a card yesterday informing me that the part needed for the repairs needs to be rdered from Germany. Maybe because it is a black Minilux, maybe because the shutters brake this often.
I will not disclose too much about the pictures I took, as you will soon see them on the site of AtlantaGeek he is going to be the curator of my roll, while I will be very happy to curate the roll of Hillary@Cluttered Life I really like her cover today.
So things are in motion. I am really looking forward to the further development of the project.
I also really need to thank David of Ten18 for giving me the keys of his downtown apartment so spontaneously. David used to have a close-up view of the World Trade Center. And he still has this great view of the Woolworth building, the first highest building in the world, the first electrically illuminated building in the world, the building that defined the look of all skyscrapers in New York from 1913 through the 60s... And the building in which our office used to be, until September 11th 2001. So even if some of the photographs will be empty and of buildings or the sky, they will be quite personal and almost intimate. I am giving away too much, am I?
(A special thanks also to Colleen, for taking me to the roof of the current Organic office on 21st street, where there also used to be a great view of the Twin Towers, and where there is still a view of the Empire State Building. Which reminds me that I had found an old roll I had taken after we moved there, which I had scanned and which I should pick up now and also reminds me that I should really post some other pictures quite urgently.)
So please come beck in 2 hours or so. OK? )

Camera Lucida Article available online

What I did not know was that the New Yorker has actually the Lawrence Weschler article about the David Hockney discovered controversy about the use of camera lucidas by some of the old masters. It was until recently impossible to unearth this article and some sites were flooded by requests just because they talked in some way about camera lucidas. Some of the readers might remember the camera lucida lilies I had posted here recently. There will be more camera lucida drawings on this site, of course. In the mean time read the article. Many of us like the work of Lawrence Weschler very much (and David Hockneys too, of course.) His Boggs : A Comedy of Values, is one of my favorite books. (You know Boggs, he is the artist who makes drawings that look like money, just better, and uses these to buy things. The transactions are part of the art. And all of it is illegal. Mothers day is coming up, bet yourself this fantastic book.)
I also like what Weschler did with McSweeney's Issue 6, the art issue of the magazine that is art itself. I am getting a bit confusing again, am I not?

We just had the best dinner in months. I will need to write all about it. A great restaurant, which you might really enjoy. Unless you are a tourist, of course, then stay away from there. It is a horrible, horrible place... More in a few minutes/hours/days. ; )

Josef Sauter warps time.

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Just came across a fascinating little journey through 70s Germany by Josef Sauter. Enjoy this sweet little photo-story. It is a story, isnt it?

More 600x250 images

There are more images in the 600x250 section now.

The Film Exchange Project

Many really good things come from Toronto. Photo Junkies Film exchange Project might need to be added to the list. He could have put the project on nervous but making blogging part of the project gives it the extra edge. So what is it about?
The project is analogue, simple, and pretty brilliant, (if not a bit dangerous). Strangers with a blog and a 35mm analogue camera can sign up to shoot a roll of film and then to send it to another stranger with a blog. Exposed, not developed. Every participant gets an exposed roll in exchange. Each one of the participants has the other photographers pictures developed, scans them in and curates a little 12 picture exhibition on their blog. (You know I will be shooting a 36 exposure film for this one)...
It is a WinWinWin situation, not possible with Lawyers, but quite awesome with analogue photography bloggers.
What came to my mind was the photo pickup scene in Short cuts (1993), remember?...

Lets Photo

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Anybody who read this Blog for more than a day will know that I love my Leica Minilux. It is my second one and it is currently broken. Most of those who are a bit interested in digital photography will also know that Leica just announced the new and great Leica - Digilux 1. The camera is not available to the public yet, but it can be seen at Leica Demo days across the country. I also wanted to see the new Leica - M7 and maybe even the legendary Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.0 Lens, the fastest standard Lens for a rangefinder camera in the world.
The Leica store into which we ventured was The Photo Village, Inc. The store itself was an experience, as it is a tiny place with very experienced staff and a collection of the strangest little leica and minox items. Yes, they had these mini-classics, micro versions of classic cameras. All real and working, no toys.
The store was now all about Leica. The first camera I took in my hand was an M7 with the Noctilux on it.

I love my little minilux

When I bought the minilux back in November of 2000, I was so blown away by the sudden improvement of my photographic skills, that I wrote the following review on amazon: (I had to actually edit it, because the original text was talking about running out in the morning, just to capture the magical . I used to do that indeed, but who needs to know that?) : )

Other point and shoot cameras might look sleeker at first. They have more buttons you can press, and might have some special function that makes them especially desirable. (Rarely the ability to take great pictures though, it seems) The minilux follows a simple philosophy: create a camera does not look intrusive and takes the best pictures possible. Leicas have been the favorites of photographers worldwide, since Oskar Barnack decided that maybe taking pictures on 35mm film would make photography more portable and more spontaneous, thus inventing, the ur-leitz-camera, lei-ca. Documentary-style photography was born. Take a look at books with photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson or Alfred Eisenstaedt. The most important part of ANY camera is the lens. The Leica Summarit 2.4/40 lens on the minilux is excellent. It is very fast (bright) 2.4(!) so you will find yourself taking more natural looking pictures without a flash more often. (Also remember: zoom lenses can never be as bright and as sharp as this lens.) The camera has a meter built in, so before you shoot, you can find out what might be the appropriate settings for the particular environment. It is up to you to decide if you would like to overwrite these settings by changing the aperture. (From 2.4! to 16) Measure again, and you will know if your new aperture setting makes sense. If it is too dark, the camera will automatically turn on the back ing on the display and charge the flash for you. Just in case you would like to take a picture right away. The camera is full of great, very positive surprises. Even the holding strap has the perfect length, so you can shoot spontaneous, yet perfectly sharp snapshots right out of the palm of your hand. The active auto-focus works great under any conditions. If you do not want to use the auto-focus, you can always overwrite it. The camera just takes great pictures.
This camera is a perfect gift, for yourself or for somebody you care about. It might change the way you see things. It might make you appreciate every day a little more. It worked for me. Really.

took pictures of two befriended

took pictures of two befriended clouds, but because my camera is analogue, this post does not contain a link.

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