Archives

August 2004

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Aug 31

In their latest series, Davis and Davis use found dolls and other little toys to talk about serious things (see, for example, this statement). I find that a bit strained, but the photos are great anyway. (seen at spitting image)
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Aug 30

Joel Meyerowitz is one of the most important contemporary US photographers, and his own website could almost serve as a prime example of what you’d like to see. There are a few more interesting sites to look at: Check out Legends Online; and also don’t miss Images from Ground Zero, where Joel Meyerwitz was allowed to take photos. In that context, it’s interesting to read this interview with Joel Meyerowitz about his Ground Zero photography.
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Aug 30

Robyn Cumming’s photography reminds me of Jan Saudek’s, except that it is much tamer.
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Aug 28

If you’re interested in photographs of abandoned industry Industriekultur-Fotografie is where you want to go. The site is mostly in German, but they added enough English keywords for you to find your way around if you do not understand German. (thru gmtPlus9)
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Aug 28

Joni Sternbach emailed me to tell me about her own website.
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Aug 26

“The fact is that electoral democracy has become a process of cynical manipulation. It offers us a very reduced political space today. To believe that this space constitutes real choice would be naïve.” - Arundhati Roy discusses Public Power in the Age of Empire
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Aug 25

I’m aware of the fact that the film vs. digital discussion has reached the levels of the LP vs. CD discussion: it’s getting immensely annoying and nerdy, and the discussion is becoming increasingly irrelevant for what most users can actually see (or hear in the case of audio). But while I was looking for something completely different I came across a couple of pages that I want to share. They’re all very technical but they contain a wealth of information: This page has a fairly detailed comparison of film and digital, without containing too much information. A good starting point. If you want to know more than anybody would realistically ever want to know, you might want to look at this page. On the same site, they got an introduction to resolution, which is also quite detailed. Oh, and there is this page that also compares film and digital cameras. The interesting bit of information to take away from that - if I understand the page correctly - is that Fuji Velvia 35mm film has something like 21 Megapixels or so (provided you use the same lens they used).
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Aug 25

With Agfa-Gevaert just having announced it would stop producing film, today’s news of Ilford’s business problems might look as yet another piece of shocking news for photographers. If indeed Ilford, the maker of supplies for black-and-white photography, was to disappear that would be quite a disaster. However, it remains to be seen what the actual outcome will be. A while back, Polaroid filed for bankruptcy protection, but now it seems the company will survive.
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Aug 25

Regardless of how you look at this it’s quite depressing.
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Aug 24

The Littmann 45 Camera is basically an old Polaroid camera converted into a 4x5 rangefinder, available at what I’d consider a ridiculously horrendous price. As they like to say here: We report, you decide.
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Aug 23

When you say “classical French photographer” people inevitably think of Henri Cartier-Bresson. That’s quite unfortunate as there are many others. Willy Ronis is one of them. This site has lots of photos, unfortunately it’s only in German. Click on “Bilder” to see the photos.
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Aug 21

Sometimes, I am satisfied how this weblog has turned out. At other times, I’m not.
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Aug 21

The idea that you can say something about the relationship between the US and Europe by comparing photos of their respective upper classes is utterly preposterous.
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Aug 19

Tonight, I watched the movie The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia, which, as the title indicates, is about Shelby Lee Adams’ photos of people living in Appalachia. With a subject matter like the one Shelby Lee Adams is showing it’s probably not surprising that critics have accused him of exploiting the people he is portraying. Is he? It’s interesting to watch the movie - find a very nice article about the problem here - simply because it confronts you, as the viewer, with your own preconceptions: Why is it bad to show mentally retarded people living in Appalachia? Because it is stereotypical per se or because it re-inforces your own stereotypes?
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Aug 19

“When he saw the horrific abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, Joe Darby knew he had to blow the whistle. But coming forward would change his life?as well as his family’s?forever, and for the worse. Because back in his own community and in the small towns of America, handing over those photos didn’t make Joe Darby a hero. It made him a traitor.” - story
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Aug 19

I don’t want to get too deep into the US presidential elections - for obvious reasons - but this discussion of some of the TV ads sponsored by Republicans is worth reading (also read story about the actual facts). I’ve heard people here refer to criticism like “The Conintern propaganda machine is running full tilt.” as “shrill”. Let me just add one thing: I grew up about one hundred miles from the border of a Communist regime - unlike all those anti-Communist crusaders here who, I bet, never actually met a real Communist - and I think the characterization of the Republican machinery as a “Conintern propaganda machine” is entirely justified. You know, I could even dig into German history a bit and come up with even less flattering descriptions for what can only be described as an utterly disgraceful and - in the end - undemocratic campaign: Nazi spinmeister Joseph Goebbels would have applauded the Republican smear campaign that’s spewing out hatred and lies across the US these days.
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Aug 17

Gail Thacker uses Polaroid 665 positive/negative black-and-white film for her very creative photos.
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Aug 17

“It’s hard to say just when the word ‘hero’ went bankrupt. But in the aftermath of 9/11, America became, to its own mind, a nation of heroes. We spread the word around like butter on toast. […] The men in these photographs are soldiers who were wounded in Iraq. […] No one has the right to say that these men are not heroes. But I also suspect that few people understand the contemporary hollowness of that word better than they do.” Verlyn Klinkenborg in the introduction to The Damage Done. (Thanks, Stan!)
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Aug 17

I’m getting increasingly miffed by all those newspapers that require you to register before you can read something online. I simply do not want to give away my information just to read something. Which reminded me of the book Database Nation that I read quite a while back and that I can only recommend. PS: If you look at the Amazon page, you’ll have to excuse those “critics” who claim that technology doesn’t have anything to do with politics or that you can’t blame technology or whatever else it is they say. This whole Amazon review system is really just a joke. It might work for novels - even though there still is this kind of bias where reviews that diss a book get bad ratings - but for books like this one you can’t have a bunch of non-experts comment on the book as if they knew what they are talking about.
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Aug 16

“You just can’t trust a man who’s never been embarrassed by himself.” - Norman Mailer in a discussion with his son (Thanks, André!)
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Aug 16

Stephen Wilkes is another commercial photographer with a very nice portfolio. His Bethlehem Steel and Ellis Island projects are particularly noteworthy.
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Aug 13

sketch-book n. 1. A pad of paper used for sketching. Also called sketchpad. 2. A book of literary sketches. (2b. Conscientious’ new category in the spirit of 2.)
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Aug 11

Elizabeth Scanlon Thomas is an American who has lived in England for 15 years. Read her account of what it was like to come to the US for a funeral.
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Aug 11

Today’s winner of Conscientious’ Journalistic Race to the Bottom Prize is - surprise, surprise! - Britain’s BBC. Check it out: Rapist scoops 7m on Lotto Extra - that’s two completely pseudo-news item in one big story. A sex offender and a lottery winner, all in one. Well done, BBC!
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Aug 11

Check out Cristian Stan’s “Eidolonia” project. I have no idea what it is all about but the photos are quite intriguing.
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Aug 11

Robert H. Frank’s article How not to buy happiness (pdf version) is quite interesting. Just bear in mind that Mr. Frank is an American economist. (seen on eye-imagine.co.uk)
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Aug 10

Most people will probably remember Andre de Dienes for his early photos of Marilyn Monroe even though he did lots of other subjects, including surrealist nudes.
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Aug 9

This entry doesn’t really contains anything new for regular visitors of this weblog. I just thought it would be interesting to look at how different photographers work with panoramic photography. I’m going to exclude all those photographers who use a camera that allows taking panoramic photos - such as the Hasselblad Xpan. Instead, I will focus on more unusual ways to produce panoramas. I do not intend to say that it’s easy to take a good panoramic photo with the Xpan. It’s actually quite hard as composition has to be re-learned. But often, I find that such a panoramic format doesn’t really add anything to what you see. Panoramic landscapes are like normal landscapes; you just see more of the scenery. And I think those people who try to go beyond that usually use different ways to get their panoramas. It’s almost like what makes me like certain cover versions of known songs better than others: If an artist just re-plays the song, it’s boring. If the artist interprets the song and makes it sound different it’s getting interesting. Curiously enough, digitally stitching doesn’t necessarily produce interesting results - unless the photographer is willing to exploit the digital process and manipulate the results. The most well-know photographer doing this is probably Andreas Gursky even though most people probably think his photos are just huge. In a similar fashion, Tom Bamberger’s digital panoramas are quite interesting and somewhat disturbing. Making the decision not to stitch and to just go with imperfect overlaps or connections usually is fairly bold but the results can be quite stunning. Susan Bowen produces her panoramas using toy cameras, by overlapping “frames” inside the camera. Her photos are almost the exact opposite of those of the digital stitching camp but they’re equally if not even more interesting. David Hilliard and Joachim Knill don’t use overlaps but, instead, put photos next to each other to achieve panoramas. If you compare these two, you’ll find some differences in how they achieve their respective effects. Joachim Knill’s panoramas don’t match up that well so his panoramic sceneries get additional tension that ordinary panoramas of the very same scenes would not have. David Hilliard, on the other hand, involves people closely and thus has to work somewhat differently. In his panoramas, optical distortions are almost unavoidable and he uses them to great effect.
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Aug 8

“I stage photographs of teenage girls, imagining they have run away from home, gathered together, forming packs in the woods where they live like wildlife. I imagine a world devoid of men, where girls are independent and free, where perfect moments follow one after another. At the same time I create this narrative, I allow it to unravel, so the pictures have only a trace of my directorial hand. Ultimately these photos are about how the girls interpret my request for paradise.” - Justine Kurland.
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Aug 6

David Hilliard could easily take the individual photos that comprise the panoramic sets and stitch them together electronically. But he doesn’t do that: “This sequencing of photographs and shifting of focal planes allows me the luxury of guiding the viewer across the photograph, directing their eye; an effect which could not be achieved through a single image.” I think what one could learn from this is that good photography has a lot to do with imagination and not with obsession about techniques.
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Aug 5

Besides some commercial work, Peter Adams has been doing a very impressive series of portraits of famous photographers.
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Aug 5

I sense a lot of loneliness in Eunsuk Joo’s photos.
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Aug 4

Henri Cartier-Bresson is dead. The New York Times has an extended obituary, as has The Economist. It’s hard to say something about HCB that hasn’t been said already. Given he was a master photographer I think it is enough to let his photos speak: Selected Portraits, assembled for a show in the National Portrait Gallery. A small selection of his work at Peter Fetterman Gallery; another small selection. Also see these selections on Magnum’s website: photos of HCB, landscapes, and an amazing retrospective.
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Aug 4

Bernard Faucon, represented by Agence Vu, is a master of staged photography. And everything is done in gorgeous colour.
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Aug 3

William Eggleston has been named the father of colour photography. You can think about his work whatever you want but this weblog would certainly look quite different without Mr. Eggleston’s groundbreaking work. The Observer has just published a very nice article about him, a must read for anybody interested in photography (even for those who hate Mr. Eggleston’s work). Compare this older Salon.com article. (thanks, Mark!)
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Aug 3

In Esquire magazine, Ron Reagan lays out the case against George W. Bush in a very eloquent and elegant form.
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