31 January 2015

Never have anything to do with anyone who is known by three names, especially three first names

As a rule, of course, yes - don't read their books and avoid them if you can - they will only irritate. And they will be Men. Manly Men. Or at least men who want to be seen as Men.

But of course there are exceptions - one might be* Michael David Murphy, ex-photographer and now (?) photography show curator, interviewed here by Blake Andrews. Why listen to him? Because he has this interesting observation:

"I have a hard time when photographers say they want to "see their work in a gallery."

What's the matter with wanting to be in a gallery?

There's nothing wrong with galleries, or the desire to be in them, but it shouldn't be the end goal. It seems too narrow of a focus. Maybe your photos would work best if you teamed-up with a street-artist who could wheat-paste them on that huge underpass, you know?"

He has other insights too of course, but this is the best one in this interview IMO: he's right - photographs are not necessarily best appreciated in a gallery, pace Jonathan Jones (warning: link is not for the easily offended). A book? A projection on a building? A projection onto a face, or back or shoulder? Or, indeed, plastered across an underpass or over a building? Why not. 

* I say "might" as I've only ever read this one interview with him so YMMV. 

27 January 2015

Some of Mr Charles Traub's dos; don'ts are also available

  • -Do fifty of them—you will definitely get a show
  • -Do it big, if you can’t do it big, do it red
  • -If all else fails turn it upside down, if it looks good it might work
  • -Do Bend your knees
  • -If you don’t know what to do, look up or down —but continue looking
  • -Do celebrities—if you do a lot of them, you’ll get a book
  • -Connect with others—network
  • -Edit it yourself
  • -Design it yourself
  • -Publish it yourself
  • -Edit, When in doubt shoot more

More here

Callum, Shrewsbury Coffeehouse

Callum and the other staff at the coffeehouse make the best coffee for miles around. I went there today after dropping off some leaflets advertising my photography business at various hotels and shops in the area (I didn't bring enough leaflets - that will teach me to be pessimistic). And all through the day today, prior to dropping the leaflets off or prior to asking Callum if he'd allow himself to be photographed, I was a bit nervous, a bit scared, thinking that I would be rejected. And yet ... and yet people couldn't have been kinder or more accommodating. All the venues where I dropped off leaflets were happy to have them and accepted them readily. And when I asked Callum if he minded if I took his photo he was delighted to have been asked - I'd thought "it's the wrong time, they're too busy, his boss won't like it" etc etc and none of that was true at all. 

"What would you do if you weren't afraid?" 

Why photograph? Roma's answer

"Take photos of what you would write about in your diary, in song/poem, or a heartfelt letter. If the subject of your photograph isn’t in one of these three things, don’t fucking photograph it."


26 January 2015

Why Photograph? Blake Andrews, Roma and a raison d'etre

[Psychobabble warning - if phrases like "Working with introjects holds an important position within relational integrative psychotherapy" have you reaching for your revolver, I'd skip to another site at this point].

This is a great read and got me to thinking, again, about why it feels as if photography has chosen me, why it feels as if I have come home when I have a camera in hand and a reason to use it, or even just a fancy to do so.  I think it boils down to a sense that photography satisfies both my male and female internalised parents: what I mean is, my mother and father were fairly gender-stereotypical in some ways - my mother a liberal social worker, my father an empiricist, a scientist (a research chemist, he worked at the Chorleywood Flour Milling and Baking Research Association - FMBRA - he's at the link - NJH Dodds. I once tried to read a university thesis of his - I couldn't understand the first line - there's probably a thesis in that itself). My mother encouraged the arts, my father the sciences, although there weren't strict demarcations - they both belonged to the Chorleywood Community Arts Centre for example, and whilst there my dad made a bust of the local lollipop man; he also liked a bit of photography himself, having a Rolleicord and darkroom equipment that once or twice he may even have had time to use).

Anyway, anyway. Photography - I think it satisfies the internalised scientist in me (f-stops, focal lengths, hyperfocal distances, the inverse square law and not forgetting, in times past, actual chemistry in the darkroom), as well as the fluffy liberal arts major (the Art baby, the Art, the Search for Meaning in an Essentially Chaotic Universe). Shall we say then that, for me, photography represents at least partial resolution of the following condition, a condition that can, at its worst, lead to chronic low-level depression and lack of self-esteem:

Berne (1961, in Erskine, 2003) defined Parent ego states as “a set of feelings, attitudes, and behaviour patterns which resemble those of parental figure” [sic]. Parent ego states are an actual historical internalization of the personality of one's own parents or other significant parental figures, as perceived by the child at the time of introjection. »The historical accuracy of the portrayal is not particularly relevant.What is important is the parent-as-experienced by the client. A person introjects not so much what his or her parents “actually” thought and felt and did, as what he or she experienced them thinking and feeling and believing about the child, about themselves, and about the world« (Erskine, 2003, p. 105).

Psychotherapy with the Parent Ego State - Zaletel, Potocnik, Jalen.

Me? Chronically depressed and with low levels of self-esteem? Well, at times my world-view isn't exactly rosy, though for the last few years it has improved - maybe this coincides with photography giving me purpose and meaning. I tend towards the dour but given a camera and a photographic rationale - these go a long way towards ameliorating this. Pretty much the whole way in fact. So sometimes the photographs reflect the melancholy in my Celtic soul (see below) - so be it - whatever gets you through the day brother.

Photography is a unifying and life-affirming activity for me and makes me feel whole, as if I am satisfying some internal gap or missing element. When I am immersed in it there is nothing else I would rather be doing. Nothing.

And now, here's a picture:

Last Light, Aberaeron

Japanese (Photographic) Style

An interesting discussion between Western photographer in Japan John Sypal and Blake Andrews on the latter's blog. When discussing the differences between Japanese and Western photographers, there is this exchange: 

JS: You know, I've never ONCE heard a Japanese photographer ever comment on form or structure of a single picture- - instead it's an overview of all of them at once in a set.

BA: So the Japanese editors don't admire single images? What about some perfect moment like Capa's dying soldier? Would they have no understanding or appreciation? The set is more important? That's the diaristic thing? The photographs are more about the photographer than the moment? I think that's one of my hangups with Moriyama or Araki. Few of their photos stand up and say "Look at me. I'm special." It's more of an overall mood.

JS: I haven't met every editor so I can't really say- but I'd argue that Araki and Moriyama have made plenty of truly incredible photographs that stand alone magnificently- but at the same time, the entirety of their output serves as "work" as much as single pictures do.

All of which goes a long way towards helping explain my reaction to the Moriyama exhibition at Tate Modern a couple of years ago - reaction one, reaction two, reaction three. More reactions can be found by searching Mrs Lemon's for Moriyama. In essence, though, I was somewhat unsettled by the unstructured nature of Moriyama's photos (and to a lesser extent Klein's - they were exhibited together) and the seeming compulsion to take them no matter, it appeared to me at the time, what was in front of the lens.

Clearly I was, and maybe still am, missing a bigger part of the picture, or rather, pictures. 

25 January 2015

Oh not another fecking selfie?!

Yeah, well, like I said before, I've joined this group on Flickr and, so, you know, 52 selfies in a year... Of course I'm going to have to do something a bit more creative next time - get some colour going and what have you. In the meantime, you're stuck with this, a study for the shot I put up on Flickr earlier - I actually think I prefer this one but I've been fiddling all evening with the various versions / photos and it's time to get some distance now. The camera is a decaying Rolleicord, long ago left to the ravages of time but a camera that my father used in the 1960s, and possibly 1950s, and as far as I remember up until his untimely death some 37 years ago this month. Which is a surprisingly long time, now I come to think about it.
There are no layers used to create the image of me - the camera is focused on a computer screen in a darkish room.

Samsung CLP-410 series printer - review


Take your pic (sic). Either way, you'll be waiting so long for your documents you'll configure your print jobs again only to realise that no, it really does take that long to spool and you'll likely have to chuck out the duplicates you've mistakenly printed. That said, unlike any inkjet printer I've ever used, it is able to print two sheets in a row without jamming / running out of ink / producing acid-coloured nightmares / inducing printer rage in any of a dozen other ways, so there's that. Interestingly, in the fairly cold room I use it in, it gives off a good amount of steam which makes one think that speed of use isn't the only thing Samsung have borrowed from the Victorian era.
Overall, for a cheapish printer, the fact that it can print more than one page at a time without an error means that I'd likely buy another one, stupid though that makes me.

20 January 2015

Film vs. Digital: Taking out the mechanical Nikon

I got a film back from the chemists today, or rather, I got the pictures and a disc of digital conversions. Note that this is a local chemist, not a professional lab, so bear that in mind before lambasting my poor efforts. This post includes a few pictures from the film and some observations about using a film camera (an FM2) for the first time in some years.


1. It takes time to finish a roll. Because it costs money, I'm not blasting out shots left right and centre - there has to be a decent possibility that I'll want to keep the shot, although because it was an experiment and a learning experience I was interested to see what the limitations of the camera were. 

In Leighton redwoods (you could smell the cordite of the hunters from here).

2. The chemists are a bit mingy with their megapixels - a lot of the shots are less than 1mb in size despite being labelled "Hi Res", thus post-processing is limited in scope. I miss the RAW files. 

Keaton, Shrewsbury Coffeeshop, straight out of camera - and a bit of a red cast? (Compare with the B and W version from a few days ago, below - this one is less clinical, no?)

3. I must admit, I like the look of some of the photos in the sense that the grain is more humane, and they feel right in their softness (see above) - not out of focus exactly, more a sort of ethereal quality. Probably nonsense - I ought to see if there is a test on the web somewhere - which is film, which is digital sort of thing. But for now, anyway, yes, I like them, especially the areas of bokeh such as the lights top right in the photo above. Yep, exciting. Ridiculous but true. Maybe its the thrill of the unusual - I hope not, because that, of course, doesn't last. Fingers crossed. 


5. For some reason, when I picked the film up I thought it was black and white; the colour has been a nice surprise, although I wouldn't say that the colours are incredibly accurate - in a few of the pictures I've played about with colour balance a fair bit (the one above for example - it's less green than it was). I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the name of the film stock - it's Kodak print film and it's 400 asa but other than that I'm not sure - Colour Plus maybe? I know I should know - next time I'll be more observant. I thought it might have more latitude than it does - the cupboard doors in the photo above are mirrored and are reflecting a blue sky but you'd not know it from the photograph as they have burnt out almost completely. 

6. Even though I was more careful in choosing my subjects and getting the settings correct than I might usually be with digital, there are an awful lot of pictures that didn't make the cut - the above are the only ones I want to show out of the 35 I got back. Whilst some of the others don't make the cut in part because I was experimenting and therefore deliberately going further than I otherwise might with one parameter or another, nonetheless it remains something of a salutary lesson to shoot a roll of film and see how much waste there is. 

7. An FM2 shutter and winding on mechanism together make a fair old bit of noise. It also isn't a very comfortable camera to hold with anything other than a small 50mm mounted. Focusing, too, takes some getting used to, though I was prepared for that. 

8. Am I looking forward to finishing the current film and getting the results back? Absolutely. 

This Year's Cat Photo

Local Artist Caitlin

11 January 2015

Ignus Lux Sanctum?

Here we are then - your guide to how long you have left before the earth becomes a spinning orb of beautiful pure intelligence pulsing light out across the universe:

The price of everything and the value of nothing

I'm paraphrasing, but Eddie Ephraums makes a good point in the latest edition of Black and White Photography magazine: how many of us put more value on our equipment than on what it is we produce with this equipment? It's a male photographer thing of course.

(By the way, is it just me or does B&WPM desperately need a new website?). 

Herzog on Film

Film isn't the art of scholars, it is the art of the illiterate. It should be looked at straight on, without any prefabricated ideas....

Studies for Self-Portrait No. 2 2015

Some pictures taken in pursuit of a self-portrait for the Flickr group I joined at the end of December.

9 January 2015

Ingerland: Artist's Statement

Artist Statement

My work explores the relationship between Jungian archetypes and midlife subcultures.
With influences as diverse as Caravaggio and Miles Davis, new insights are synthesised from both traditional and modern layers.
Ever since I was a postgraduate I have been fascinated by the ephemeral nature of the human condition. What starts out as yearning soon becomes debased into a manifesto of power, leaving only a sense of nihilism and the chance of a new order.
As momentary replicas become transformed through diligent and critical practice, the viewer is left with an epitaph for the possibilities of our culture.

(With thanks to David James Ross for collaboration) 

Welcome to Shrewsbury

2 January 2015

51 Years of Lessons: The Metaphors (2)

Each image is a metaphor for a year in my life, taken chronologically, as before, and as before all the pictures were taken on a short walk from the house today, all in the space of about 90 minutes. I didn't delete so many this time (maybe six?) and the rules were as before - don't think too much, try and get them as close to how I want them to appear as I can straight out of camera - although I've done some work on a few of them, as before, I do try and keep this to a minimum. Each one is reflective of a theme, emotion or lesson that came to mind when I was thinking of my age at the time. No pictures are missing, but 3 are misaligned - 14, 30 and 35; this is only of consequence with 35. I was more careful about getting them in the correct order this time, and I've not gone for different sizes except for, obviously, nos. 31 (an exceptional year), and 28,29 and 30 (no one needs to see those at a larger size). 26 is also larger than the others as it represents a time of expansion. As before, I'm not going to explain the metaphors / lessons represented, nor explain how the subject matter, proportions or colour / lack of colour reflect the thoughts I have about the particular years of my life. Next time, however, perhaps I'll try and add a word or two. Maybe.

As before, the idea isn't to take 51 masterpieces. The idea is to loosen up, to relax, to have a bit of fun, to explore what's possible with a little camera and a short walk. To enjoy the photography and to see if I can't go a little deeper into my past and see how it has a bearing on my present, to perhaps understand a little more of why I am as I am. That being said, some of the photos (51, 42, 31, 20, 19, 16 and 10) I actually like as standalone pictures - they're not likely to make it into a museum any time soon, but they have some merit. 

Thanks for dropping by. I hope 2015 turns out to be a good year for you.  




















































Mr and Mrs Macbeth