Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pictorialism

After over three decades, I finally have a word for what kind of photographer I am. A pictorialist.

Pictorialism: an approach to photography that emphasizes beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality.
- Encyclopædia Britannica

Some teachers and writers of photography tells us that the single most important thing the photographer has to decide is what he wants to photograph. I've long protested against that. Some of the greatest artists in photography: H. Cartier-Bressson, André Kertész, Bill Brandt, seem to not have cared very much what they happened to have in front of the camera that day, they all had a large range of subjects; whatever lent itself to an interesting picture.

Nudity in life, media, and art

What is it about nudity?, article.
"Perhaps the concern, for some, is based upon fear of the erotic. But let’s remember that modesty is learned in childhood. Likewise, shame of our bodies and discomfort with our desires. Nudity is a natural state; sexuality is a necessary one."

BigLittleWolf (a woman) has written a very insightful article there, I think, and with many excellent examples of nudity in art and photography.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bella West photography

Found via the British Journal of Photography, I think that Bella West is a really outstanding portrait photographer.

We've been talking about composition, and here is one of the rare photographers who not only thinks and feels deliberately for compositions, but is also fabulously good at it.
Just see the black-and-white (slightly sepia) portrait of the girl here. It's deceptively simple: you might think it was like: just put a girl in front of a wall, and click the shutter. But no, it's not like that. I'll bet you lunch at the Ritz that Bella considered the outline of the form of the girl (again deceptively simple), and she considered her position in relationship to the subtle features of the wall (it's a beautiful wall too). And she considered carefully her position in relationship to the frame itself. You'll notice that she is almost centered, but not exactly, her personal space is bigger in front of her. And there is quite a lot of headroom above her, a bold choice but it makes it a completely different picture than if the frame had been tight around the subject. The girl owns the space around her, it is part of her.
It's an amazing picture.



Update: Tommy said:
Eolake, I figured it out. I've watched her slideshows several times now and it's humbling. I've taken what I have called good pictures (actually my camera takes good pictures). But, after looking at Bella's pictures I realize the difference is that I take a picture of what is in front of me and sometimes it comes out looking good. But, it's nothing that I have ever planned to capture or staged specifically or composed.
I'm beginning to understand the term a little bit more now and I have a lot to learn.
Thanks, again for sharing this photographer with us.
-

Canon EF Lens Technology

This is unfortunately not a documentary, merely a promotional fluff piece made by Canon, but if you're interested in lenses, you might find it interesting anyway.
(Many, if not most, of the amazing technologies they talk about are also to be found in lenses from other makers.)

Ladies' room

[Thanks to Terry.]

In a Chicago hospital, a gentleman had made several attempts to get into the men's restroom, but it had always been occupied.

A nurse noticed his predicament.

Sir, she said " You may use the ladies room if you promise not to touch any of the
buttons on the wall."

He did what he needed to, and as he sat there he noticed the buttons he had promised not to touch.

Each button was identified by letters: WW, WA, PP, and a red one labeled ATR.

Who would know if he touched them?

He couldn't resist.. He pushed WW. warm water was sprayed gently upon his bottom.

What a nice feeling, he thought. Men's restrooms don't have nice things like this.

Anticipating greater pleasure, he pushed the WA button. Warm air replaced the warm water, gently drying his underside.

When this stopped, he pushed the PP button. A large powder puff caressed his bottom adding a fragile scent of spring flower to this unbelievable pleasure.. The ladies restroom was more than a restroom, it is tender loving pleasure.

When the powder puff completed its pleasure, he couldn't wait to push the ATR button which he did with haste.

Next thing he knew he opened his eyes, he was in a hospital bed, and a nurse was staring down at him.

"What happened?" he exclaimed. The last thing I remember was pushing the ATR button.

"The button ATR is an Automatic Tampon Remover.. Your penis is under your pillow."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Another good camera deal

Here is another camera deal with many of the same qualities of the Canon 500D thing I just wrote about. A Panasonic G1 with two lenses. It's very compact, cutting edge technology, and high quality. And if the deal is still up (it was down for a few days), it's a really good one too. (I'm guessing the deal is so good because most people will want the GH1 model instead, which has video, but for many that's not important.)

gayness

It seems these days that being gay is a mainstream and open thing. But I think really not. Because, look at Hollywood. How many actors do we know who are openly gay? I can't think of any at all. And yet by the laws of statistics there must surely be hundreds.

I'm guessing that the belief and feeling (rightly or wrongly) in Hollywood is that the anti-gay feelings in the country are still so strong that coming out as gay is very likely to ruin your career.

The PEN story

Neutralday pointed me to this cool stop-motion commercial.

Science fiction, Canon A1000


I guess people born after 1980 take Moore's law as a given. That everything electronic gets both a lot better and a lot cheaper year after year is just a fact like there's food in the fridge and the sun rises. But I keep getting amazed.

Recently I bought a friend a Canon A1000 for an anniversary. He was very happy, and still is. He is now busy snapping all those sights he'd seen before and wished he'd had a camera.

He is really pleased with the camera, and you can't say anything to that: a few years ago, a ten-megapixel zoom-camera with image stabilization would have been pure science fiction at any price and size. Now you can buy one in pocket size for $200! It's insane.

Hell, most of the greatest photographs in history were taken with cameras with less image quality and almost none of the capabilities of this little thing. I mean, if I was not a camera fetishist and have more money than sense, this camera would be all I ever needed myself.

Campfire jump

[Thanks to Ray for the pic.] I remember the first girl I kissed. She jumped over the camp fire, so I must have done all right.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Ivars Gravlejs

What can you say?
(Same guy as the 78 Rules guy.)


"i tok picture of palmtree in Warsawa"

Björk


I wonder if Björk as a child had a relationship with a grown man. A few of her lyrics hint at it, for example these two songs from the Sugarcubes time. (Both good songs by the way. Videos: Birthday and Deus.)

Birthday
She Lives In This House Over There
Has Her World Outside It
Scrapples In The Earth With Her Fingers And Her Mouth
She's Five Years Old

Thread Worms On A String
Keeps Spiders In Her Pocket
Collects Fly Wings In A Jar
Scrubs Horse Flies
And Pinches Them On A Line
Ohhh...

She Has One Friend, He Lives Next Door
They're Listenening To The Weather
He Knows How Many Freckles She's Got
She Scratches His Beard

She's Painting Huge Books
And Glues Them Together
They Saw A Big Raven
It Glided Down The Sky
She Touched It
Ohh...

Today Is A Birthday
They're Smoking Cigars
He's Got A Chain Of Flowers
And Sows A Bird In Her Knickers
Ohhh...

They're Smoking Cigars
They Lie In The Bathtub
A Chain Of ... Flowers

--------------

Deus
(female voice)
Deus Does Not Exit.
But If He Does, He Lives In The Sky Above Me,
In The Fattest Largest Cloud Up There.
He's Whiter Than White And Cleaner Then Clean.
He Wants To Reach Me.

Deus Does Not Exist.
But If He Does I Always Notice Him.
Getting Ready In His Airy Room.
He's Picking His Gloves So Gently Off.
He Wants To Touch Me.

I'm Walking Humbly Down A Tiny Street
Pulling My Collar It Gets Bigger, Woooh

(male voice)
I Once Met Him,
It Really Surprised Me,
He Put Me In A Bath Tub,
Made Me Squeeky Clean,
Really Clean.

(female voice)
To Create A Universe
You Must Taste
The Forbidden Fruit.

(male voice)
He Said Hi. I Said Hi,
I Was Still Clean.

(female voice)
Deus Does Not Exist,
But If He Does He'd Want To Get Down From That Cloud,
First Marzipan Fingers Then Marble Hands,
More Silent Than Silence And Slower Than Slow,
Diving Towards Me.

My Collar Is Huge Room For Two Hands,
They Start At The Chest And Move Slowly Down.

(male voice)
I Thought I Had Seen Everything,
He Wasn't White And Fluffy,
He Just Had Side Burns,
He Just Had Side Burns,
And A Quiff,
He Said Hi.
I Said Hi. I Was Still Clean,
I Was Squeeky Clean.
I Was Surprised.
Just As You Would Be.

(male voice & female voice)
Deus, Deus, Deus, Deus
(female voice)
He Does Not Exist

Sunday, July 05, 2009

78 rules

[Thanks to tOP] This feels like one of those books from the fifties giving the (really) basic rules of photography.
Except there are some pretty surrealistic ones mixed in, like:

... And here I've been photographing onions lit from the front my whole life!

Other faves:


... Anyway, I think the whole thing is meant to be humorous, but who can tell these days?

Update: the man's own photos.
"i took pictuire of tv how woman speaks on the phone"

Tommy said:
We've had discussions about composition recently. I think that example number 56 might be an execellent example of good composition. You're eye kind of travels around and then goes right to the desired subject, the fly. Additionally, it's in perfect focus with that slight blur in the background to emphasize the subject even further.
My only complaint might be the lighting, the subject, the fly, could have been side lighted much like the onions. (grin)


Eolake said...
Yes, the funny thing is that advanced photographers will often invert the rules with more interesting results. For example, placing the person in smack in the middle of the picture is either done by a rank amateur or as a deliberate provocation by an artist. :-)

A self-portrait I had in an exhibition thirty years ago had a sharp tree in the background, with my head stuck in front from the side, out of focus but filling most of the frame. I kind of liked that one actually. The tree was this big beautiful weeping willow we had, I like those.

Canon 500D (T1i)


If you are the kind of person looking for a really good all-round camera, but also like the physical burden of it to be minimal, I think one of the best bids for it right now is the new Canon 500D (called T1i in the US, oddly).

I've just ordered one. I almost bought that Olympus Pen I've written about endlessly, but while the Canon is not quite as compact as the Olympus, it has several advantages: most importantly, much faster autofocus (an archilles heel for the Olympus Pen). A much bigger collection of lenses, of which I have a very nice selection already. A bigger and higher resolution LCD screen. And better low-light performance due to the larger sensor.

And the Canon, amazingly, is barely heavier than the Olympus, if it is at all. Through much use of plastic (which does not bother me), it is really small and light-weight.

The same is true for the two "standard" zoom lenses, the 18-55mm and the 55-250mm. They are both really small and light, and cheap, and yet very high quality optically. Really, surprisingly good. Just like the 500D, which amazes reviewers at this point, you get the same image quality as cameras weighing and costing twice as much.

This is all quite plasticky, so it's not for the rough-and-tumble world of the professional photographer, but for the discerning weekend photographer, it's ideal.

I should add that competition is very hard in this market, and all these cameras from different brands are really good. And Nikon is bound to soon come out with a replacement for the D60 camera, which will be as good as this Canon, at least. But for now, this is just a good tip.

(Note: amazingly, on Amazon UK currently, there is just 15 pounds ($25) difference between body only and body with kit zoom (which like I said is excellent). So I took the latter, at that price you might as well take one as a backup.)

Update: you might wonder why would I want this one when I already have the excellent Nikon D90? Just one reason: size and weight. When the Nikon D90 came out, it was the smallest camera you could get which could make good, usable pictures at 3200 ISO. Now this Canon has the same, but in a smaller package. I'm keeping the D90, because it's still a more professional camera, for example it takes five pictures per second if needed, the 500D only goes up to three.