Saturday, 2017-03-18

Fotografiska, March 2017

Ren Hang — Human Love

Whatever one thinks of Hang and his significance to photography there’s no doubt he was a talented artist. He managed to transform the human body into art - disturbing, sculptural art. There is little eroticism in his work, more interest in creating sculptures from bodies.

Cooper & Gorfer — I Know Not These My Hands

Vast, photoshopped canvases of Nordic minorities in traditional garb - or modern recreations thereof. This left me entirely cold.

Patrick Demarchelier — Lumière

Standard B&W magazine portraits from the 90’s, fun for nostalgia’s sake but shopworn and almost devoid of meaning outside the significance the subjects have in the wider cultural context.

Monday, 2017-03-13

The Hollow Crown by Dan Jones

Fast-paced narrative history about the last of the Plantagenets and the ascension of Henry VII. Very readable and a good overview of the period.

Sunday, 2017-03-12

Drive-By Truckers, Södra Teatern Kägelbanan 2017-03-12

Finally got to catch this band live! It was a good crowd too, which is fun as as far as I know DBT are pretty unknown in Sweden. I hope we didn’t disappoint by being Swedish and reserved.

Great support by Ellen Sundberg.

Friday, 2017-03-10

The Fall of Japan, by William Craig

A chatty and personality-driven account of the last weeks of the war in the Pacific. Skippable.

Tuesday, 2017-03-07

Three books by John McPhee

Back in the days of yore, when what we now call “longreads” where simply New Yorker articles, giants such as John McPhee bestrode the Earth, writing detailed inimitable books about subjects like geology.

The Control of Nature is about mankind’s attempt to control vast amounts of material propelled by gravity - water, in the form of the Mississippi River; lava, i.e. most of Iceland; and the fast-rising San Gabriel mountains, which inconvenience Los Angeles properties by insisting on eroding.

In each of these cases, Man in his hubris has erected vast structures and machinery to protect material values threatened by Nature, which is essentially the theme of the book. McPhee is not optimistic on Man’s chances in the long run.

The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed is about a bunch of New Jersey dudes trying to build a new airship. The effort peters out shortly after the events covered in the book (early 1971) and now the only mention of the company involved cite this book. So it goes.

The Crofter and the Laird - McPhee spends a summer on the remote island in the Hebrides wherefrom his ancestors sprung - Colonsay. The book paints an elegiac picture of a world in decline, so I was happy to read that the island has actually increased in population according to Wikipedia.

Monday, 2017-03-06

Lloyd Cole, Södra Teatern 2017-03-06

A return to the same venue as 4 years ago but sadly with not as good a show. The songs were limited to the “glory days” of 1983-1997, and this undersells Cole as a songwriter. He’s continued to evolve within the guitar-based singer-songwriter tradition he inhabits, so just singing songs so familiar as to be threadbare was a bit of a cop-out.

Tuesday, 2017-02-28

February

100mm test - skyline

Hammarby sjö

Feb 2016 | Feb 2015 | Feb 2014 | Feb 2013 | Feb 2012 | Feb 2011

Friday, 2017-02-24

The Camera by Ansel Adams

(Page numbers are from the 12th paperback printing in 2005, but according the foreword the text is unchanged since 1980.)

I recently revisited this book after some years. I remember it to be the most interesting part of the series (Camera, Negative, and Print), and the part that probably has the most relevance to modern day digital photographers.

As a side note, if you’re starting out shooting large format film, I doubt you can find a better treatment of the subject. Chapter 10 “View-Camera Adjustments” contains an extensive discussion on stuff like tilts, swings, and rises.

The most intriguing chapter is Ch. 7, “Basic Image Management”, about visualization. Chapter 1, confusingly called “Visualization”, is actually about different sorts of cameras.

Some interesting nuggets follow.

On different lens viewing angles

In general, I do not find the normal lens especially desirable, functionally or aesthetically. The angle of view and depth of field characteristics do not seem favorable to me in interpreting space and scale. (p. 57)

Long lenses have the effect of significantly reducing the depth of field of a subject. This makes them the obvious choice when selective focus is desired, but more often the lack of depth of field is a problem and requires the use of small apertures. (p. 59, my emphasis)

“Sharp pictures of fuzzy concepts”

This oft-quoted sentence is worth quoting in context:

[…] in discussing mechanical or optical issues we must not lose sight of the much greater importance of image content — emotional, aesthetic, or literal. I believe there is nothing more disturbing than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept! (p. 73, emphasis in orginal)

Camera bags

People who just toss their stuff in bags willy-nilly grind Adam’s gears:

Although many small-camera photographers use lightweight, soft-sided camera bags, these provide little protection against bumping and jarring the delicate equipment. I am always surprised when I see several cameras, a gaggle of lenses, filters, meters, et cetera, rattling around in a soft bag with a complement of refuse and dust. (p. 172)

Instead he recommends a hard case with dividers or foam inserts, particularly one that can be used as a standing platform.

Illustrations

Most of the images in the book are black and white (d’uh) images in full sunlight. Part of this is probably because these images would be clearest using the printing techniques of the time.

Tuesday, 2017-01-31

January

January, dark outside, time for portraits!

Jan & Hedda

Karin

Hanny & Niloofar

Jan 2016 | Jan 2015 | Jan 2014 | Jan 2013 | Jan 2012 | Jan 2011 | Jan 2010 | Jan 2009

Exhibitions, Jan 2017

Salongsmåleri?!, Waldemarsudde

A fascinating view into the genre of salon or Academy art, as defined by the Paris Salon. Characterized by large canvases, and attention to (not always accurate) detail, this style of painting fell out of favor when Modernism came along.

In the same exhibit the photographer Miss Aniela showed huge prints of digital composites in the same vein, although these were “pure” images without the intellectual baggage of the classical paintings, where you needed to have some sort of mythical background to excuse showing nude young ladies.

The interesting contrast was between the very polished digital photographs and the photorealistic paintings, where the brushwork and texture made them almost more lifelike than the photos ostensibly taken from “real life”. Made you think!

Fria Fotografers Filial, Kulturhuset

In the 80s a gallery in Stockholm had shows with non-established photographers, without explicit curation. The concept is back in probably the most central space in Stockholm, and it was worth a visit. It’s an interesting cross-section of what experienced photographers consider good enough to show. Among the dross of cheesy travel pics (hi from Cuba!) and just-in-time ruin porn from the ongoing Slussen rebuilding, there was some good stuff.

Jens Olof Lasthein - Meanwhile Across the Mountain, Galleri Kontrast

Panorama images of life in the Caucasus, mostly of everyday life. Interesting glimpse into a world forgotten in the eyes of the West.