Monthly Archives: January 2018

The bricks of the Yellow Brick Road weren’t made out of gold, they were just painted yellow.

How important is truthfulness in photography?  In photojournalism at least the importance is obvious. A photograph, as Susan Sontag writes in her essay In Plato’s Cave (On Photography, 1977), “passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened.”  Well maybe not so much nowadays, at least not exactly as it happened..

Manipulation of images isn’t a new thing of course but it wasn’t so easy in analog times, and there was always the physical negative to fall back on if required, unless it had been destroyed, in which case it may have called into question the authenticity of the printed image.  With digital imaging and sophisticated and capable image editors today we are not so sure, and presumably it will only become more difficult.

Well, in this case , a well known photographer has apologized for the offending staff’s transgression (now there’s an excuse of I ever heard one..), however it led sleuths to discovering interesting things about some of his other photographs, such as people or objects being removed.

If a child has been removed from a photograph because it made for a more effective photograph does this mean that the event photographed didn’t happen?  If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around…? I would say yes and no, but more precisely, the photograph has now portrayed a different reality of the event. Some might say that, well, the child could have been removed from the frame during the composition which is true but in that case that is exactly what should have been done.

Another interesting instance was this Nikon competition where a badly photoshopped image won, and led to all sorts of great fun! Some competitions now require the original RAW file to be presented together with the final image. In the future will there will be some sort of 3rd party authentication or guarantee for photographers selling prints perhaps?

The offending images may still have all the qualites of a beautiful photograph, the perfect Flickr algorythm, but they have lost their luster to those that know. Sacrilege! You can picture in your mind the owners of the artist’s prints upon hearing of this fiasco rushing to check the ones they have on the wall were unaltered “real” photographs. It brings a smile to my lips..

The episode does raise more questions about the ability to use photography for portrayal of “reality”. I say “more” because photography has been used to selectively manipulate opinion since day one. I suppose I am a bit of a cynic when it concerns the business that is the art world (art or Art?).  “Legalized money laundry tis all it tis”, I can hear the wizened old guy say as he spits from his creaky rocking chair to the dusty road beside him, some of it landing on the edge of the porch, spittle clinging to his beard like morning dew..

The bricks of the Yellow Brick Road were not paved in gold, they were just painted yellow, and at the end of the road the Wizard of Oz turned out to be a just a man after all.

Best!

Jordi

shibuya

3F 7F 6F, cranny in Shibuya. Leica 3f / Summitar 5cm.

This image has only been adjusted slightly for contrast/exposure level and contains everything and nothing more (except pershaps some dust from the scanner that I missed..) that was in the camera’s viewfinder at the time of pressing the shutter;-)

Why??

That was someone’s question on one of the wonderful video demonstrations by master woodworker Paul Sellers. In the demonstration Mr. Sellers uses a square, a pencil and a chisel to make a mortise and tenon. Mr. Sellers calls himself a lifestyle woodworker, and has his shop in Penrhyn Castle in North Wales where he gives demonstrations and apprentices a few people every year.  In addition to teaching how to make furniture, he teaches how to make your own tools, such as a rabbet plane, how to sharpen your chisels or re-tooth an old saw blade.  His pieces are in the United States White House Collection.  He uses a handsaw made in the 1700’s.  How cool is that?

Well that simple (and lazy, albeit humorous) one word question, “Why?” got me thinking.  Why should you work with your hands taking three or four, or maybe ten times longer for each mortise and each tenon, and each dovetail until weeks, or maybe months later you have a piece of handcrafted furniture made by you, when if you just bought a dozen or so power tools and a shop, you could turn it out much quicker and with much less effort?  Better yet, why not just shop at a furniture store in a couple hours (or a few minutes online) for less than a fraction of those power tools? Why just get one piece, when nowadays with how cheap the stuff is from China you can probably buy a set for the whole house at IKEA? Who cares, when you move just throw it out.

There is the obvious that we have way too much cheap stuff that we don’t really need, as well as the environmental aspect, but there is another. Our Cheaper Faster More is often made in deplorable conditions that we publicly condemn, yet support with our dollars. Even where the working environment is clean and safe, there are other consideration such as the grey line between free choice and that of wage slavery. I recommend checking out some of the interesting photographs of factories in China by Edward Burtnynsky to get an idea.

I see a similarity with woodworking and photography. Mr. Sellers is using tools over 100 years old, many of which will keep working for generations into the future.  Film photographers everywhere are using cameras forty, fifty, and even 100 years old.  Meanwhile the scrap heaps are full of plastic electric tools and plastic digital cameras made only a few years ago. Mr. Sellers is lovingly and painstakingly making beautiful furniture that will last, and enjoying taking the time to do it. Film photographers are lovingly and painstakingly taking the time to make beautiful photographs (well, hopefully to the photographer at least..). And more importantly, enjoying it.

P.s. You can see Paul Sellers’ website here.

usa today bananas

USA Today and old banana (the banana isn’t fake), Portland Oregon. Leica IIIf / Summitar 5cm

Night ride

Stepping out from Shibuya Station one night,

I raised my camera to my eye,

and panned while clicking the shutter

to catch this cyclist speeding by.

I didn’t intend to put that into a poem but when I wrote the description it it kind of ended up that way:-)

Film: HP5+ developed in HC-110 preparation HIMG_3900

It has been quite some time since my last post. It’s not that I haven’t been shooting film, it’s that I have moved back to the US and have been busy getting everyone settled. And, I left me scanner behind and do not have a darkroom here yet. Most of my stuff is still in Japan.. I have recently enrolled in a darkroom class in order to use the lab and have met some great people there. I am really looking forward to getting back into printing again and hopefully learning some more. I have spent most of my efforts up until now focussed on camera work and film development, and although I enjoy printing I have approached it in a kind of haphazard, as needed way.  I look forward to sharing more of my latest on this blog soon, and in the meantime I might put up a few from the past that I haven’t shared yet. Thank you for looking.

Best!

Jordi