Be in the moment

This thought carries through all aspects of life, doesn’t it? Be in the moment at all times – with family or friends, when you’re playing a game, doing something creative, traveling – whatever the situation, be there at that place at that time. Soak it up.

I woke this morning to a world of freezing fog on everything. If it wasn’t warm-blooded, it had millions of delicate ice crystals extending from its edges. Simply lovely.

Considering the conditions conducive for fog are fairly constrictive, find a convergence of those with the right freezing temperature and you have a special moment in time. I’ve seen freezing fog many times and it usually lasts but an hour or two before temperatures rise or the wind picks up and the world returns to its normal winter grey void of any ornamentation.

On this occasion I happened to have a camera handy and within just a few meters of my home found some amazing sculptures. My everyday landscape was transformed into a magical land and given that it was winter and a workday, the street was silent. Just my wonderland and me.

With photography, the time to take a picture is when you see it. Waiting until later means the light and situation – or crystals in my case today – will not be there hence the composition and image that you saw will also not be there as it was when the moment was right.

As I came inside, it was just starting to snow and I knew the moment I had was over. And the “moment” I took to enjoy the sights? 10 minutes out of a busy day. Ten magical minutes.

 

The allure of various media, Part III

I finally went digital a few years back and color imaging was thrust upon me through the instant gratification window on the back of the camera. And to be honest, I like shooting in color, although I still convert a lot of my digital images to black and white as that’s how I saw them when I took the original image. While I miss playing with film, I’m finding that the digital images are overall OK. They at times seem to lack the depth of film, but perhaps that’s just me being nostalgic.

 

Despite being digital, my images are as I found them, beyond the normal adjustments of contrast and brightness – no different from what I would do in a darkroom. Years back I experimented with high contrast or Ortho images in the darkroom. I enjoyed the manipulation although today I’ve resisted the temptation to “Shop” images as digital manipulation has been called. I’m seeing some great stuff out there that doesn’t need altering. Perhaps one day I’ll expand into digital manipulation, but for now I’m enjoying capturing images from the world around me.

 

I have to say, though, that while I’m getting accustomed to finishing my images on a PC, I miss the smell of fixer. I’ve been looking for a candle that smells like fixer to light when I work on images at my worktable. My darkroom has been in storage in the States for the past seven years. I’m curious if and when I’ll ever unpack it…

 

Regardless, my mission is clear with whatever medium I choose to work in. In the words of Andre Kertesz, “You have to learn the limits of the medium, and then learn to work on the edges of those boundaries.”

The allure of various media, Part I

I have spent most of my life shooting in black and white. Besides being accessible and affordable when I was starting out, I discovered that black and white forces one to fully appreciate the essentials of composition – relying on lighting and textures to make the image versus leveraging the color inherent in a color photo. Don’t get me wrong – a good color image has to have the elements of composition present, but often color is relied on to make up for composition.

 

 

Up until a few years ago I was still shooting my reliable Pentax Spotmatic F that I bought when I was 15. Despite the fact I had been seeing my camera for a number of years on more than one photo shop’s antique shelf it still worked and met my needs. But, it was time to move ahead and catch up with the times, if for no other reason than to reduce the weight of my load as the Pentax was made in the days of brass and steel, as were the lenses.

 

 

I enjoy experimenting with photography – trying new techniques and methods to generate interesting works of art. Today, I work in three main media – so-called “analog”, or film, Polaroid transfer and digital. I liken it to how other artists choose oils or pastels or pen and ink for certain works of art. Certain images are meant for certain media.

 

 

Yes, I still shoot “analog” black and white images, primarily with my Diana camera. The Diana came out of China in the 1960s and was frequently used as a carnival prize. Every bit of it is plastic including the body and the lens, resulting in light leaks and not-so-clear images. In these days of automatic everything, digital and instantaneous imaging, it’s refreshing to pull the Diana from my bag and shoot with it. The loud snap of the shutter followed by the grinding click as I wind the film to the next image always generates a number of pathetic looks from folks around me. Still, being forced to frame an image (square, no less, as it takes 120 roll film) and shoot with a single shutter speed and effectively a single aperture (it has three but it’s hard to tell much difference between them) is a refreshing challenge. Certain images ask to be shot with this camera and I’m having difficulty in telling you specifically which ones as there’s such a “feel” to it. The images are ones that don’t require a great deal of detail and in fact are better viewed if the detail is less pronounced. The distortion that the lens creates gives images the “edge” they need. The results are always interesting – slightly out of focus, dream-like and grainy – perfect for the feeling I wanted to convey.

 

 

Void of a darkroom (more on that later) I develop the film at home and then scan the negatives into Photoshop for printing.

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