Nowhere Now Here

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Over the years I have noticed a trend in my photography. To be fair, I notice many trends. It is sort of how I work: I make photos over a long span of time then see where the pictures settle and read them like tea leaves. It gives me a perspective on what I am doing that I don’t have while I am out doing it. But I digress. It is a lot about feeling, mood, perspective or whatever other abstract ideas you want to associate with what guides us through the creative process. I tend to be more in a black and white mood, for lack of better words. I love the simplicity of black and white. It pares the world down a bit to more essential elements. It makes things a bit simpler, a bit quieter… in a way. And that is a big part of what is driving me. I appreciate that simpler rendering.

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I think part of it is also the timeless nature of b&w film/images. Colour is date able, by which I mean, you can generally tell when a colour image is made by its palette. The colour films of the 1970s look like the 1970s, just as the colour palettes of today’s images have a distinct look that is temporally anchored. Black and white eschews this dating to some degree. And I appreciate this too. That I am more easily able to make an image that is not anchored to a particular time, because sometimes the image I am making is not about a specific time at all, and if that is the case I don’t want that association to be baked into the photo. If that makes sense. But I do just like the concept of time as this slippery, amorphous, crazy notion of a thing and so if there is a way to set it aside just a bit, to make a photo that isn’t necessarily of a certain place at a certain time but perhaps somewhere sometime, then I enjoy doing that as well.

So there it is, just some of my thoughts hammered out in a bit of a stream-of-consciousness manner.

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Onward Ever Onward

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Callac Lake Jan.2019

One of my photographic interests has been to collect an exposed roll of every type of black and white film.  For years I used almost exclusively just Tri-X. And I love Tri-X, but every roll of Tri-X I shot was a roll of some other film I didn’t and asking myself the question what would this look like with another film. I got a bit tired of not having good answers. What are the differences between Delta 400 and Tmax 400? How about Tmax 400 and APX 400? What does that Adox CMS 20 II look like? Or the Copex Rapid film? I think it is true that there is not enough time in the day to use every roll, which is why it has been a project that hopefully will never end. Unfortunately 35mm takes me half of forever. But I have been using my Nikon more and more. I can keep that trusted camera loaded with weird films and have been carrying it with me everywhere, trying to move faster than I normally do but not too fast that I produce a bunch of ho-hum images.

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Wood Ducks Home Jan.2019

It is nice when I do finish one of these rolls though. I just got through a roll of the Washi S. It took about a month or so. I also underexposed it a bit because I thought it was ISO 80 when it is really ISO 50. Ooops. But that is ok because the results turned out interestingly enough. Deep shadows, high contrast, no grain. And that is one of the benefits to a project like this, it nudges me in directions I wouldn’t have gone without that nudge. Would I have tried a roll of this out otherwise? I highly doubt it. And hence I wouldn’t have made these images either. Anyway, just thoughts on this ongoing experiment. Now the Nikon is loaded with a roll of Lomography Berlin 400 film.

Onward…….

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Susan New Years Eve Mont St. Michel 2018

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Tree and Birds Jan 2019

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A Place To Feel

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Photography to me is an emotional endeavour. I am a pretty rational, analytical and logical person, or at least I try to be.

I do love to think and analyse things, situations and people. It is not that I am unemotional; I just value analytical and rational thought in such times over emotional thought.

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But that changes when I get out into the world with a camera. As I said above, photography is an emotional activity for me. I try to photograph based on feeling rather than reason, emotions as opposed to logic. Sure, some analysis is necessary, I still meter and do the requisite math to calculate the long exposures I am fond of, but I get that work done as quickly as I can and it is only a means to an end. I don’t aim to make photos that represent technical achievement or superb rational execution. I like to try to make photos that reflect how I felt in a certain moment and that usually involves photos that contain some sense of the wonder I see and feel about the world when I am out in it as a photographer.

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Perhaps that is why I have taken so well to pinhole and the old world photography processes. These types of photography are less about analysis than they are about intuition; they are less about documentation than they are about a slightly ethereal memory of being somewhere. It is then easy to dream, and dreams tend to be driven by emotion.

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Anyway, the idea for this reflection came about due to a thought I was having regarding the difference between looking at the situation rationally versus emotionally. I was leaning towards the rational perspective, unsurprisingly. Then I sit down at the computer and start editing and looking at images and realised that they showed a very different version of me looking at the world and I found that interesting.

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New Life

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I’ve burned my bridges

And I am free at last

All my chains

Are in the past

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The day is wide open

The sky is blue

The world is a miracle

And so are you

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The New Life starts here

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Racists, bigots and stalkers

Banging at my door

I’m not fighting with them

Anymore

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Friends, Family and Pretenders

How do you do?

I can make it

With or without you

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Citizens of the world

Child, woman and man

The keys to the kingdom

Are in your own hands

The New Life starts here.

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In The Quiet Of The Crowd

QP3It occurs to me that these days one must go farther and farther to escape the crowds. I witnessed how larger and larger numbers of people are travelling and places are getting more and more crowded. In part this is driven by the internet and social media. It is easier to publicise a place and we are drawn like moths to a flame to the places that sites such as Instagram subtly tell us are the “it” places that one must visit in their life. Look at Iceland, look at New Zealand, sure. But even on a smaller, more local scale I see beaches and trails becoming more packed. I don’t know what I think of this. On one hand I find it repellent and annoying to navigate crowds of people when my goal is to get somewhere away from people. On the other hand, I can hardly fault these people for wanting to get out into beautiful places. They are doing the same thing I am doing and I can no more fault them than I can, or should, myself. But at the same time the increasing numbers present issues. The more individuals through an area the more wear on that area, the more litter, the more people climbing through alpine meadows off-trail, or scaling sea stacks at the beach disturbing the natural bird life. We slowly erode that which we love.

siena3On a photographic level the unwanted wanderer has long been a bane to the photographer wanting to get “the shot”. I remember struggling with this in my early days, waiting patiently and sometimes not so patiently, for that man in the red raincoat to get along his merry way and out of the frame I have been composing for the past ten minutes. But that was then. These days I rarely experience the issue and in large part that is because of the world of photography that long exposure and pinhole has opened up to me. When you are making 10 second, or eight minute exposures, crowds not present much less an issue but actually they create an opportunity. So many times the essence of a particular landscape image to me is based on the unpredictable blur of people moving within the frame. Now my struggles laughably tend toward the opposite end of the spectrum. I set up to make a long exposure of people within a landscape and I get a minute into a four minute exposure and they get up and leave the frame, barely registering as ghosts at that point. I want to run in and tell them to not get out of my way.

QP1The photographic aspect of this issue is a fun one to wrestle with, the non-photographic aspects of growing crowds though has me a little concerned at times.

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Between No Longer And Not Yet

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Morning broke on the day I looked most forward to, and it did not disappoint with its glorious Tuscan sunrise.

I selected and squeezed three oranges into four small glasses, took my coffee outside and made a couple of Photographs.

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San Gusme was just appearing through the morning mist. I knew then that the magic here cannot be held at bay by Glass. It strikes deep and massages a tired soul. Once again the peace was overwhelming and my eyes filled with tears of bliss and joy. The anticipation of what lay ahead made my head spin.

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Breakfast devoured we headed west to Siena to pick up the famous and scenic SR2 to San Quirico d’ Orcia. Driving through fields of curvaceous green plains. This is where the Unesco protected Val d’ Orcia begins.

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About 5km south hot sulphurous water bubbles up into this picturesque pool in the centre of Bagno Vignoni.

We then headed 15 km further south to the tiny and beautiful (aren’t they all) village Bagni San Fillippo. A tiny path through the woods took us to sets of warm, tumbling cascades. Mudpools and Sulphur mountains. A most glorious spot.

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It was fast approaching lunchtime and we headed for Monticchiello, a sleepy medieval hilltop village. Just inside the main Gate (doesn’t that sound brilliant – inside the village gate) stands the small and highly regarded Osteria La Porta. It has a small terrace  with the most overwhelming panoramic views of the Val d’ Orcia. This is the place to have Lunch.

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We drove unhurried to Pienza, making several stops en route to enjoy and marvel at this wonderful scenery and to make photographs.

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We could see our next stop from the terrace of Osteria La Porta.

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Pienza is small and boost several Renaissance  buildings that should not be missed. We spent several relaxing hours here and strolled without a care and without any hurry through this beautiful village. Exploring with eyes, heart and soul.

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I also found a plaque that stated that the Val d’ Orcia was an idea by several Renaissance painters. I for one will be forever grateful to them.

So we slowly made our way back to the Villa for our last night and a scrumptious BBQ.

I thank whoever needs thanking for making this trip possible.

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Marketday And Other Stories

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Thursday morning and we were greeted by a beautiful Rainbow to bring in the day. Running low on supplies and a needed trip to the chemist for potions and lotions due to my encounter with the Giant Hogweed, we headed for Castelnuovo Berardenga. Thursday is market day.

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I decided to take the Rolleiflex, loaded with Kodak Portra 800 and Berrger Pancro 400, with me. Boy did that caused some interest. The Tuscan folk really appreciated this camera. Words like “fantastico” drifted my way wherever I went.

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A little crowd gathered and examined the old machine. Several wanted to have their photo taken. I felt very humbled and enjoyed the little place very much.

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Buying supplies from the market.

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Supplies bought and a quick hello to the local baker and we were on our way.

 

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Tomorrow we will be heading south. The day I looked most forward to on this trip.

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We also finally found Abbie’s resting place. We gave Abbie to our good friends James and Penny and she lived with them here in Tuscany until the ripe old age of 14 ½ years. She was a special dog and seeing her place under that Olive Tree made the whole trip even more special.

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