Linkfest… not

Fake lomo, Helsinki (C)2002 Kevin Bjorke. Yeah, I know it's too sharp I spent a good chunk of today letting search engines search. I was looking for blog sites that seemed interesting to me, and sad to say there was a lot more searching than finding.

Lots of typical sites — meg upon meg of toycam and pencam and pincam photos, lots of grinning heads, brightly-colored market stalls, pigeons and rainy windowsills. But little — very little — of work and thought that seemed as if someone had worked or thought very hard.

Nature of the beast, I guess. When everyone got desktop publishing, we were buried in paper. Video cameras, buried in home movies. And there are some regions of light in the swampy fog. But also a lot of swamp.

One problem seems to be the technology — people are so caught-up in the latest tool, and their blogs are largely expressions of fashionability (which thrives on conformity). There is a broad, deep culture of “me too!” that is at once central to the nature of blogging and at the same time inhospitable to independant, demanding, work. The blogiverse seems to be more about quantity that quality. Why have three amazing photos when we can have 780 mediocre variations on the same obvious idea by 600 people?

If it floats your boat, great. But among those 780 photos are the three amazing ones. I, for one, will tire after the first dozen, which puts my chances of seeing even one of the amazing shots at something like ((777!772!)/(780!769!)) which is only about 4%

That’s a lot of googling.

Remember The Treasure of Sierra Madre, the explanation that gold’s value lies not in its inherent qualities but in the thousands of wasted hours spent looking for each tiny nugget?

There are some glimmers of hope — I found a few sites worth blogrolling, a few veins that might be worth tapping. I’m not entirely discouraged yet.

If anyone knows of any 3D computer animation sites, let me know.

It’s Good to be Anti-Social

(C)2004

I'm hardly the first person to observe the irony that novellists, whose stock in trade are observations of human behavior and character, work almost always alone (not counting corporate potboiler writers and their assistants, whom I'm reluctant to label "novelists"). So too street photographers of the portraiture variety.

A couple of nights ago I watched (again) Bruce Gilden on Egg. When Gilden talks it's all about people — yet he moves through the street alone, violates people's spaces, then carries on with a smile and a complement. Is it anti-social? Is it deeply social? Is it pretended intimacy, siezed before the subject can grasp what's going on, and pinned to the wall by Gilden's flash unit?

3 min read

Formats

Self-Portrait (C) 2004 K.Bjorke

Three rolls TMax 100, Rodinal 1+50 8 mins; three rolls Tri-X @ ISO 250, Rodinal 1+25 11 mins…

Sooner or later I will figure out how to make a photo that looks like over-exposed and over-developed Tri-X in Rodinal. And then hopefully I’ll be able to shoot it with something as lightweight as the old Canon G-III (f/11 @ 1/500… you won’t find a better camera or lens, and certainly not one within an order of magnitude of the price. And even then, it’s grained-out Tri-X fer Pete’s sake — you HEGR-heads really think you’re going to tell the difference between 130lpmm and 135lpmm on Tri-X?). Until then I guess I’m stuck keeping the film cameras around, eh?

My trick in printing this on the computer has been to use Vuescan with auto-levels set to their far extremes, store a 16-bit file, and then do the final contrast-range adjustments in Photoshop before downgrading to 8-bit. I’ve just had to accept that I can’t get my head around Vuewscan’s whitepoint/blackpoint adjustments enough to get predictable quick results. I’d rather burn the disk space for 18MB-per-frame scans and then do the work with a tool I feel I can control.

Headlights

San Francisco, 2004

I’ve been using strobe more and more. Outdoors in daylight especially.

Looking at Briank Finke’s website (thanks Jörg) reminds me that with enough strobe anything can look fantastical. The same saturated color can be seen from Martin Parr, for example.

Not just in color, either – strobe is clear in Diane Arbus, Bruce Gilden, and Jeff Mermelstein…. strobe is like no other light. You can make it look “natural,” sure. Should you?

A collision of “what I saw” and “what I made” is at the heart of its charm, no doubt.

Collections

(C)2003, 2004

Three rolls TMax 100, Rodinal 1::25

Picking through proofs I’ve found a stretch of photos that I’d essentially forgotten — the ones that were made in the weeks immediately preceding the arrival of my DSLR. Like this one. Funny how I can tell myself that materials are secondary to ideas but it’s surprising, looking through these shots, how many ideas that seemed important at the time were completely dropped when the New Toy came along.