Archive for the ‘blogosphere’ Category

Minor self-pimping

Friday, December 18th, 2009

One of my photographs is included in Pictory’s “showcase” on San Francisco. Please take a look.

If you follow the tumlbemalog I do with Karl, you’ll know that I was fairly critical of Pictory’s first offering. Either Karl or I, or both, will probably post some sort of follow-up on 1/125, at some point, but right now I’m pretty slammed with work and other stuff, so it might take a couple of days.

Colin Pantall’s blog: Endless wittering about photography

Monday, October 19th, 2009

In the same way, I wonder if photography and art isn’t degraded by the internet, if looking at pictures on the internet isn’t remarkably similar to watching 2 minutes of All About Eveon youtube and checking out the number of stars on IMDB and imagining it’s the same as watching the movie.

Colin Pantall’s blog: Endless wittering about photography

I would accept this as a valid concern, were it not for the fact that this is almost exactly how the vast majority of museum-goers look at photographs, too. They glance at them briefly, they read the little placard next to them, they may or may not make some brief technical or aesthetic observation to the person they dragged along with them, and then they move on tot he next one, and dispatch with equal speed and dispassion.

The only difference between this experience and the experience one gets on flickr is that (a) the image is often larger, (b) you don’t usually drag your spouse or friend with you to the internet, and (c) the offhand remarks on the internet are often persistent and can be perused by all who come after.

Of course, you don’t have to behave this way when you go to a museum or gallery, and some people do not. However, those people are the exception.

Snap Judgment: The Photobook on Eugene Richards’s The Blue Room.

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

The photographs included in this review remind me in principle on the old Buddhist practice of meditating on dead bodies…This passage describes the effect well:

Richard’s photographs contain empty structures, and these structures appear to be mere shells. What is left standing has the the paint peeling off and the doors remain open as there is no real reason to close them anymore. The wood floor boards have become so rotten that they are collapsing under their own weight. The wall paper is yellowing, if there at all. Sometimes even the wall boards are gone, revealing the stucture’s skeletal timbers, like flesh that has come off the bone. There are decaying carpets and stair cases leading to nowhere.

Eugene Richards – The Blue Room « The PhotoBook

Snap Judgment: All White People look Alike

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Oh, snap. Read the damn thing.

But at the end of the day, after we've gone to bed and have nothing better to do than think about the pictures we have taken, we will realise that the significant glances aren't so significant after all, that there is less dynamism in our pictures than there is in the bag of old socks that we photographed for our typological metaphor of our feelings of inadequacy and loss.

It doesn't really matter who our group of people are. If they are portrayed with one common, overriding feature that defines them above all else (and especially if the photographer shares that common feature), whether that feature is class, age, gender or income level, then we end up with a series of images that are no better than waxworks of stereotypes trying to look good for the camera.

Colin Pantall’s blog: How not to Photograph: All White People look Alike.

Snap Judgment: Blake Fitch at Exposure Compensation

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009


I have three quick responses to Miguel Garcia-Guzman’s post on Blake Fitch and a quick trip to her site:

1. Fitch’s site is one of the worst examples of bloated flash interface I’ve ever encountered.
2. Garcia-Guzman describes Fitch’s work as “Simple but interesting images full of life that look spontaneous and fresh. Images that convey the significance of casual moments.” I disagree. They look to me like images from a clothing catalog. As though Fitch’s first name were not “Blake” but “Abercrombie &”
3. Fitch says: “My focus has been on my youngest sister and cousin. I hope to have captured the simple moments in her search for her own identity as it becomes publicly displayed.” This gives me some of my internet acquaintances would refer to as douchechills. What a horrible thing to want to do to someone.

I’m sure I’m missing the point. I will try to return to this at a later date and attempt a deeper understanding.

Blake Fitch | [EV +/-] Exposure Compensation.


This is the start of a series of rapid-fire reflections on posts in the photo-blogo-sphere-o-thing. These are not necessarily reasoned responses, they certainly aren’t carefully edited, and they definitely aren’t based on full knowledge of the subject. Thus: “Snap Judgment.” I nonetheless want to do this as a way to force myself to read and think about posts that I’m otherwise all too likely to star in google reader and then forget all about.

Please feel free to correct erroneous assumptions on I may make. And know that I don’t intend to offend.

The Black Triangle

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

This interesting passage came up recently in my google reader, via Merlin Mann:

Afterwards, we came to refer to certain types of accomplishments as “black triangles.” These are important accomplishments that take a lot of effort to achieve, but upon completion you don’t have much to show for it – only that more work can now proceed. It takes someone who really knows the guts of what you are doing to appreciate a black triangle.

There’s some cute backstory to that term relating to game development, but I think the concept applies very nicely to some aspects of photography. I’m thinking of types of photography or photographic techniques where technical fluency is not easily achieved but is absolutely necessary before going on to intuitive practical application with consistent results. Some examples I’ve been wrestling with over the last few months include controlled lighting, infrared, and black and white processing.

With each of these areas, I’ve experienced a moment that oscillates perfectly between, “Oh my god, I can’t believe that just worked,” and “Oh my god, I’m such a tool, why am I excited that that worked.” I’m not talking about Minor White infrared landscapes or Ansel Adams prints here, I’m talking about, “Oh, wow, I managed to focus and expose that correctly.”

It’s different for things like manual focus technique or even composition, where I tend to improve steadily with practice. Instead, I have to engage in this carefully planned, supplied, and fought battle with my own ignorance, and when I achieve victory, I don’t really have anything to show for it, except some bullshit shot or print that demonstrates that yes, I have the technical capability to use this technique — but that has no other virtue. And I don’t even have anyone handy to issue me a fucking gold star.

But at the same time, even though the result may be worthless in itself, there is this intense sense of both accomplishment and of the scary/exciting prospect of what is to be done next.

So next time you see an aesthetically pointless but technically correct image in someone’s flickr stream, just think of it as a photographer leveling up. : )

portrait therapy: andreas reeg | Mrs. Deane

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Mrs. Deane: Andreas Reeg

Mrs. Deane has a nice write-up on a documentary project by Andreas Reeg. I really like this passage in particular:

Somehow the photographs correspond to my own hands-on experience of meeting people in the world, in their environment, and not isolated and disconnected. Reeg presents me with slices of situations that seem likely and natural to me, whereas a lot of portraits fail to come across to me as "likely", even if they try mimicking real life by getting their subjects to do things like sit on a bed or stare out of a window. To me, such 'unlikely' portraits smell too much of camera and set-up and the ego of the photographer, triggering all the wrong images and associations in my mind.

This does a pretty good job of encapsulating a distinction which is sometimes very tricky to articulate. Of course, it doesn’t really resolve the issue, because of course how do you explain to someone what makes a photo “smell” a certain way? It is tricky…and it points back to the more or less perennial problem of the relationship between photographic representation and “reality” however defined, or the even more difficult and slippery “authenticity.”

portrait therapy: andreas reeg | Mrs. Deane.

I don’t know about impossible, but…

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

I’m pretty sure the combination is illegal in Utah.

I recently received a press-release in the mail where the photographer claimed affinity to both Wittgenstein and Foucault. Is that combination possible!?

Couldn’t have said it any better (Conscientious)

Interesting pictures of boring things

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

I subscribe to quite a few photography blogs, and there are quite a lot of posts floating around promoting this or that photographer and/or exhibition and/or photo-set.

A lot of what I see coming through these channels is either rather familiar or tediously arty. But I also see, fairly often, images that belong to a group that I think of as "interesting pictures of boring things." Here’s an example, via Conscientious.

Images of this kind are sort of risky to inflict on average viewers, because the intrinsic banality of the content may mask (or, indeed, totally annul) the quality of the photography — not to mention, of course, that if there isn’t also some purpose or meaning at work, it’s just a technical exercise. So, when they fail, they fail hard. But when they work, they can be very, very impressive.

Anyone have any examples of this (either of their own, or links to other photographers) they’d like to share?

BTW: I’m not talking about effects-heavy, bokeh-heavy, or macro-tastic shots of mundane objects, so please don’t post those.