Liberation

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Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented? Well, who are you not to be? As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence liberates others.

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Simple Pleassures

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Over the past couple of years, my appreciation for the simplicity with which the world is rendered by black and white film has grown. I have exposed many a roll of b&w over the years, but more often I find myself appreciating how much quieter black and white is. Sure, the scenes can still be dramatic, but there can sometimes be a brashness to colour that I don’t seem to find as much in black and white film. It makes for a simpler, quieter world…. at least how I use it. And I guess that is the chicken meeting the egg. Is the world really that much softer of personality in black and white, or do I see and record such a world when I am in a black and white film mentality? Am I finding what I seek, or seeking what I find?

There is something to be said about how a film or a lens or a camera influences and feeds how you think, look and photograph. The technical qualities of a specific camera, or roll of black and white film aside, it is important to be aware of the mental process that is engaged when using a certain piece of equipment.

Is the world simpler and quieter in black and white, or do I make it thus because I was in a mood to go looking for it and chose the right equipment to pursue that? Yes and yes and sometimes no.

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Berlin Trilogy

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On October 17th, 18th, and 19th, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of “Heroes”, and in collaboration with Arts Brookfield and WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Jonathan Meiburg, Emily Lee, Sadie Powers, Lucas Oswald, and Josh Halpern (Shearwater and Loma) were the nucleus of an all-star lineup performing Bowie’s entire “Berlin Trilogy” of albums  (1979’s Lodger, 1978’s “Heroes”, and 1977’s Low) at the magnificent Winter Garden Atrium at Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan.

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Shearwater Manchester Nov 2012

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https://shearwater.bandcamp.com/album/shearwater-plays-bowies-berlin-trilogy-complete

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Boys keep swinging. Me in my Hometown 1978

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Heroes

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Sound and Vision Home 2019

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Spiral Scratch

Damn. Pete Shelley gone. Woke up this morning to Rain and Wind and this very sad news. The Buzzcocks were and are a big part and firm favourite of mine, and I was fortunate to be able to meet with Pete a few times and tell him so.

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Pete used to call at our flat in the early 80s at Old Lansdowne Road Didsbury Manchester. One of the girls I shared with was Carole Morley and Pete had a crush on her. Whisked her off to Paris at the drop of a hat. I remember him so well as if it was yesterday. A real Northern Gent. I lost touch through the years and this image is the only one I could find in my archives. I am often amazed that not more get lost through moving house, county, city, country. I remember when I first arrived in Manchester and Homosapien was one of my favourite records. I also recall that XL1 had some sort of floppy disk to use with a Sinclair ZX. The original release was packaged with a computer program which featured lyrics and graphics which displayed in time with the music. Non amazing now, but was a big thing then. Travel on well punk pioneer and ace Mancunian songsmith.

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R.I.P., Pete.

http://www.berndkugow.photos/

Fear

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The truth – I have always been afraid. It is a painful feeling, fear. It sits deep in the bottom part of your stomach and hurts. But it is the energy of survival. I have always been afraid of fear and at the same time grateful for it–afraid of its pain and grateful that because of the pain I can take steps to eradicate it by overcoming that which frightens me.

One who is afraid reacts to it as any animal. If one is a rabbit, one runs into one’s hole and hides. If one is a turtle one pulls back into one’s shell. We have all known people who react to their fear in this fashion. Some call them shy. Some, wrongfully, call them cowards.

But some people react to fear as a wolf reacts. We get angry. It is easier to be angry than to be afraid. It is less painful. The frightened wolf attacks whatever frightens him. But it is fear, nevertheless.

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Fear has been given to us so that we may recognise that which endangers us in this complex world. To avoid injury of one kind or another we need to recognise the danger, whatever it may be. Fear permits us to ask ourselves: what are we afraid of and to evaluate it. It gives us an opportunity to say to ourselves, we don’t need to be afraid of this person or that situation. It is something we can handle. It gives us an opportunity to understand that the other person may be as afraid of us as we are afraid of them. It gives us a chance to deal with our fear.

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Fear is also the stuff of courage. We cannot be brave without fear. One who faces unreasonable danger is not courageous unless that person has first felt fear and overcome it. He is only foolish. I know of no persons who are brave who are not first afraid. So, at last, fear is our friend. Listen to it. It speaks loudly to us. It is not to be ignored. It is to be cherished as our protective partner.

In the end, fear is a gift.

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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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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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From The Beginning

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Back to front, I know. Maybe the morning is the end of the day after all. My previous post was about our last day in Tuscany and this one tells about our first full day, the waking to a wonderful sunrise with sunbeams of warm light caressing the mist beneath the olive trees. The silence, just birds singing, a gentle warm breeze with the promise of a brand new day.

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The awe-inspiring drive down the Cypress Avenue heading towards Siena and the touristy bit to tick off first.

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I dislike being a tourist; don’t like sightseeing popular/famous/fashionable places, traipsing around with other foreigners.

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I like wildness, oldness, natural places, authentic life, the path less travelled, which will come next.

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And yes I made some touristy snapshots. I wouldn’t call them art, rather a reminder of what I saw.

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We all need snapshots, but the ones that matter the most to me are the images not photographed uncountable times.

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So we headed for the Piazza del Campo, did the touristy bit and found ourselves in Contrada della Torre. Siena has 17 Contradas and 10 take part in the famous Palio.

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This district was gentle and removed from the madness of tourism.

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We aimed for a corner cafe to get some water and coffee.

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Across the small piazza was a Restaurant high with activity. Italian sing songs, uncountable hurrahs and a dance by an older couple very much in love. A most humbling experience to be able to witness this anniversary celebration.

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So back to the Piazza del Campo

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the hustle and bustle.

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Find our car

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and back to the Hills of Wine and Olives, ready to discover what tomorrow will gift us .

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http://www.berndkugow.photos/

 

Destination Curiosity

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A couple of thoughts on curiosity, and how it drives and influences how I work as a photographer.

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The effects of my curiosity are both sweeping and subtle, in regards to the decisions I make with my cameras and where it will take me.

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One aspect of it is that I am always trying to do something different, or looking back on things I once experimented with but never explored thoroughly before heading off in other directions. So I make a point to come back and revisit some of those ideas.

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Recently I decided to start working more with the very basic Daguerreoytype Lens and an unusual new film. Ferrania P30.

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I am always curious about rendering the world through such images as opposed to images that are familiar in both sight and photography.

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This is easy enough to do, and these images aren’t the point. It doesn’t really matter if a photo is any good or not. In this case it was about being curious, asking myself questions and then answering them by making pictures. Hoping to capture that elusive lost Image.

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Sometimes I get the shots, sometimes I don’t but ultimately it is not why I am there, nor is it why I pull out that camera. Which itself might sound crazy.

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I don’t solely use my camera to make photos, I also use my camera because it is a sort of meditation and a justification to linger a bit longer.

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Sometimes we get so hung up on how best to make the photos and we fret and worry and ultimately distract ourselves.

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I know this is very abstract and I also know it is easier to say when you have several decades of experience doing as much photography as I have and I know it is easy to claim not to worry about the pictures when you have a whole hard drive full of images you love. I know abstract advice isn’t easy, but for me this is my driver. And maybe that truth doesn’t work for anyone else. I cannot comment on other photographers approach, just my own.

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I can offer insight based on that, invest myself in being there with a camera in hand. I make photos, and by the time that shutter fires that goal has been met, my destination has been reached and the story has been told.

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