LVI

Reality Check – Obscurity Knocks

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Today has been my birthday and it was made special by the friends and family that remembered and made me feel special. Thank you to you all and especially my better half Susan who came up trumps in presenting me with an antique compass, which I will treasure and use. Since I am not digitized as of yet, I shall enjoy my analogue world and stem the digital tide a little longer.

On that note I also like to mention the three things I so very much enjoy in life. Photography, music and great food and a quality Brandy (OK OK, it’s four – sue me).

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Even though music and photography are different. In music you start with a note, you add another note and another and another, and you build something.

Whereas in photography you start with the world and then narrow it down to what you want to show.

Reality Check

So there you have it. The two opposite ends of the line, and I am a servant to both.

TO6

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The Outpost

TO4

TO3

So I decide to drive 280 miles to Dungeness, it’s the longest day of the year, it’s Wednesday, it’s hot, it’s 35C, empty and all mine.

TO1

The coast fascinates, it pulls with some invisible force. We go as far as we can, to the edge of our land and congregate at the border. Some step across, just a few feet, before retreating to the security and familiarity. But what brings us?  Why do we gather at such a place? I have my list of reasons and when I think about them on a cosmic scale they feel pretty silly. Because it’s beautiful. Because I like the sound of the ocean. Because that is where all the roads end.

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But I wonder if there is something deeper that brings us. I have no clue what that is though.

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And like everyone else, I gather here and linger, pulled by something far older than myself.

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I trudge the gravel, photographing anything that sticks out.

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The faint smell of oil oozing from dozens of decaying engines on rusted frames

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Once used to winch boats onto the shingle.

TO5

Scattered shacks break the desert landscape, all with a presence that demands a photo to be made.

TO11

Tide and time

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Take a step, you move in time

TO8

And it’s not always back

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The Outpost

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It’s a magical place. Once there, everything becomes simpler.

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Confusion disappears

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Clarity returns.

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A journey I will remember for a very long time. In fact I guess it will stay with me for all time.

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No Life Without History

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Hattie  2011

Looking back through decades of my images (I was hunting for two in particular), it did strike me just how many moments I have experienced, documented, forgotten and remembered.

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Abandoned Dance 2012

Regardless of what I did with any of those experiences after the fact, one thing remained common among all of them. I will never experience any of those moments again. In that sense, photography becomes a document of that which we will never again have. This is a potentially dangerous line of thought, I know. One should be careful how often one looks back. But despite that danger, I am helped by what these images remind me off.

SO2

Masks 2014

I think we have a lot of trouble valuing the future. And we got awfully caught up in the present. Looking back is often where we best realise the value in what we have had, or experienced.

SO3

Boy and Puppy 2013

Going through the decades of collected photography I was first startled by all the things I have seen in these past years. In truth, I have seen much more than that but I have been making images from my life for about 35 years now, which is way more than half my life.

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Mike and Anto 1990

So there is much I have done that has not been documented by me. It is a heady record of sights seen, friends had, trips made, quiet moments spent and the turning, turning, turning of the years.

SO5

Simone 2013

It was a bit sad too, I admit. Images I looked at and remembered well surprised me by already having aged five or six years. Was it really that long ago so fast? To see photos of yourself younger, or people you knew who no longer live. These can be melancholic pleasures.

SO7

Jesper and Ken 1988

But I think this is OK, at least in measured doses. This reminder of time slipping by, of things loved and lost, of no river being stepped in twice; is what helps me colour the present more vividly, this is what helps me float through the little dramas of today that I really have no business allowing myself to become entangled by.

SO8

Dorset 1984

Why do I want to spend those precious moments angry at traffic, or frustrated by the things that need attending, ruing the weather? The answer is that I don’t. I only get that particular moment once and if I am lucky, I’ll make a photo in it to remind myself later how valuable a bit of time it was.

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Gilbert, Pierre, Jean-Dennis, Susan – Chartres 2011

And as the title promised  – A Life needs a history.

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Unknown

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Ahimsa

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Sometimes I make images whose concept is wrapped up around a word, but that word doesn’t exist. Or at least not fully. Or at least not in the language I want it to exist in. I often equate language and photography and try to think of them in similar ways.  Photography is a form of language, after all. And the ways I think about one reflect the ways I think about the other. Too often it is easy to mistake the limits of one or the other as set. We get comfortable within those bounds and aren’t terribly curious about what may lie outside of them. We don’t venture off into the unknown; sometimes we are not even aware there is an unknown.

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Such is the process of discovery, and I suppose only a fool thinks they know themselves completely and thoroughly. How can you know what is not all there?

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Still A Long Way To Go

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We chose to adhere to abundance
We chose the American Dream

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Liberty –
How we abandoned thee

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And the fading glorious night
Never seems to bring you home
You think that this is your road
There’s still a long way to go

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Cold comfort in the dawn
The dawn that brings you round
A pale light that you’ve found
There’s still a long way to go

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Time is all we have

I hope I have enough

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We cannot turn back the clock
Cannot go back in time
But we can say

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We will not listen to
Your bullshit and lies
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Picture Yourself

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A fraction of a moment

AM4

Everyone is already a photographer. If you possess a curiosity in making images, you are a photographer. Ignore elitists and gear heads. Photographs are made by people for people and need to be seen in order to live.

AM6

Lately I have partaken in several interesting internal q&a sessions on reality. It makes for some outwardly placid but inwardly lively moments. I find myself fascinated by how thin a veneer our concept of reality is. We think we know the world and then suddenly something happens to show us whole other ways of seeing, thinking or perceiving things around us.

AM7

On a simpler level, Infra-red and pinhole photography reminds me of this. I see the scene before me in one way with the two eyes I was born with. Then I set up my pinhole camera with its wide, soft view of things and its ability to render not a fraction of a moment but a string of them and I am in another place, seemingly as easy as that. We build our realities bit by bit, over the years and decades as we age, learn, collect experience and evolve as people.

AM3

If we know how, we can step from one to another. Maybe not in the grand fantasy sense of the notion but still certainly in a way that can dramatically change the world we inhabit.

 AM8

And sometimes I stare at the night sky, see those stars a million light years away

And it makes me feel small like a bug on a wall, but who gives a shit anyway?

http://www.berndkugow.photos/

 

Blue John

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Blue John

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I have been fascinated by this very unique semi-precious stone for ages. The rarity of it and that it can only be found just a 20 min car ride from here is a bonus. So off I went to finally descend into the underground to see where Blue John comes from. I arrived at the mine on a miserable Thursday morning and had to wait some 20 min for the next guided tour to start. 297 steps down and 297 back up again. Our group was maybe 10-12 people and mostly retired folk that dictated the pace of our trip and that was fine with me. The slower you walk the more you will see and discover. Our guide was also one of the miners who mine the Blue John during off season. He told us that there will be only about 2-3 years left of the Stone. He said something that resonated with me. “You can’t take out what isn’t there.” A lesson here for us all me thinks. Once re surfaced and my mind made up to purchase a little piece of Blue John I travelled a short distance to the town and bought a lovely silver necklace for Susan with a most gorgeous piece of Blue John mounted.

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Great trip, great adventure and a nice memento.

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The images were made with my Nikon and Ultrawide 18mm Zeiss Lens.

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And for a moment,

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All you do is feel.

http://www.berndkugow.photos/

 

Memories We Forget We Had

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The ability to delete digital photos on the spot has its advantages but it also carries some huge risks. How well suited are we in that moment to really decide whether an image I made is gone to be wiped away forever?

M1

Every time I travel somewhere I always come home excited to pore over the photos I made and pick out the so-called winners, or keepers. The rest of the images then get consigned to some folder or other where typically they gather dust, either actual or virtual. But it never fails that I find myself back among those images some months later and sure enough I will find three or four or even half a dozen that suddenly I really like.

M3

The problem comes from the expectations we have in any given moment. Looking through those images right after the trip, my memories are fresh and with them come certain expectations of what I want to see, or don’t want to see. I measure the value I place on my images against these expectations. But over time those memories and expectations fade and as they do, I will see and value different things in those photos.

M2

All of this is just a long way of explaining that this image of Aber Falls is very much in that category of images I initially passed over but on a fourth or fifth revisiting I finally noticed it and finally began to appreciate certain qualities of it. I made these with my Hasselblad and my Nikon, not a digital camera, but if I had might I have deleted it since it initially escaped my notice?  Probably not, but maybe. It took me over two years to get around to liking these images and now I really like them. They possess a quiet and serene calm to it that appeals to me.

M4

So yes, be mindful that memories change, values change, what we can see or not see changes. The photos we like or love will change.

http://www.berndkugow.photos/

Wounded Landscape

 

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Going places we cannot see

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But even here the ocean doubts the horizon

And as nature speaks quietly and softly

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Humanity will eventually destroy itself

With technology – whilst the earth will continue to endure

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And survive.

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I need another place
Will there be peace
I need another world
This one’s nearly gone

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Invisible light captured with infrared film

There is light between heaven and earth we can only imagine unless of course…….

you can think of the things you are not thinking of.

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We have two lives

The second begins when we realise we only have one.

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