All the talk from the US about building a wall reminded me that in November it is 30 years since the Berlin wall came down. I was working as a freelance and spent a week in Berlin. This pic was at the border crossing at Rudow. The man was chain smoking, pacing up and down and looking at everybody that crossed. He told me he was waiting for his daughter. I asked how long since he had last seen her. He stopped, looked at me and said 26 years. If I had been a good photojournalist I would have waited and taken shots of him and his daughter, it would have made a good story. I did not do that, preferring to leave him to enjoy the moment in private.
I have been interested in the relationship between still images and sound for many years. A few years back I worked on a “photo film” what would have been known as an audio-visual presentation before digital imaging. In the 1980s audio visual was part of my professional work when AVs were used by organisations instead of videos.
Things have changed a lot in 30 years! No more banks of projectors rippling through 35mm colour slides, you would not believe the noise! And high quality audio recording and editing is so much easier in the digital age.
Recently I have become aware of the mismatch between landscape images and the ‘soundscape’ that accompanies them. Often the image of the beautiful scene is taken amongst the sound of tourism; dogs barking, kids yelling, traffic noise, ice cream vans and the general noise that lots of people make. Play that over the landscape and it kills the tranquillity of the image.
As an offshoot, I have started to hear more, strange really because I guess we all think we can hear what is going on around us. But there is redundancy, the shutting out of ‘noise’. Earlier this week I heard an amazing song from a Blackbird. I have not heard a song like that for 20+ years and never one with such an extended repertoire. I hope you enjoy it.
This is a useful chart to show the relationship between depth of field, aperture, shutter speed and noise or grain for film.
Went to Calumet, Birmingham to hang the Jewellery Quarter exhibition on 01 April 2016. The photographs are from a 1983 project and it is good to see it on the wall after all these years. The exhibition runs until 30 April at Calumet, 100 Hagley Rd, Birmingham, B16 8LT. It is best to check opening times before visiting – 0121 326 7636
I am looking for other venues, please email me if you can help.
When you meet others interested in photography there are always same old questions; do you use film or digital? FX or DX? What is your favourite film /paper? And occasionally, which photographers do you like?
A few years back I went to a local camera club and was greeted by a committee member. We sat down and started to talk about photography. He asked me what camera I used and I replied. His response was amazing he said that it was only a DX and that I would get nowhere without an FX. What he meant was I would not win points for club as images from a DX camera would be judged inferior. I never went back.
I started teaching photography over 30 years ago and have very clear memories of the first class at a local college. They were a bunch of keen amateur men eager to move into professional photography. One guy asked, “what is your favourite film?” to which I replied whichever I need to do the job. His response was very strong saying there was only one film to use – Kodachrome 25, i.e. a 25ASA colour slide film. I tried to say that although that was a very good film it was not appropriate for many situations. He was adamant that it was the only film he was ever going to us because it was the best.
The point here is that the continual arguments about the best film, camera, paper, software is largely irrelevant. The best camera is the one you have with you and know how to use. If an image appears before your eyes it is no use thinking I should be using an XYZ and all I have is an ABC. It is the image that matters so learn to get the best from what you have.
I use film and, shock horror, a digital camera. When I use film I make silver prints. When I use digital I use an ink jet printer. I choose the medium to get the results I want. There is no way on earth I could have got this shot with film – it was taken on a digital camera and 25,600 ASA in available light.
I could have taken a load of supplementary lighting down the mine and spent several minutes setting up the shot but I would have got something very different to this. In fact I deliberately chose not to use flash as I feared it could have caused the subject to experience temporary blindness which would have been inconvenient and dangerous.
Think about the whole photographic process from original idea to end product and make choices based upon the image you want as the end result. Do not get stuck in the technology, find what works best for you, which will require some experimentation, and stop listening to what others think is best. Most of all stop worshiping the equipment and enjoy the photographs you produce because in the end if this photography lark is not about the image what is the point.