tirsdag den 27. marts 2012

The Pike Drive-in

The Pike Drive-in by Carl Weese was the third print I got in my small fine art print collection, and for now it is probably the one I am most found of. I bought it at one of the print sales at The Online Photographer. The Online Photographer (or TOP for short) is my all time favorite photo site and the only blog I have ever cared to return to more than a few time. Actually I do not think I have missed visiting TOP many days in the last couple of years. If I know just a little about photography today, then most of the credit should go to Mike and the other writers at TOP. I have bought quite a few of the books recommend and also a couple of the prints sold.

For someone sitting in Europe there is a little of the same desolate very American-like feeling about this print as there is about my Motel Bien Venido print. There also is some of the same rectangular angels that is all over the Motel print.
Everything else is different of course. This tells a great story with very few means - for more about the story and for more pictures yous should definitely visit NY Times Lens. It is sad, but also a little humorous. It has a tight simple composition that is both effective in telling the story but also is just damn pleasing. Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer surely had a hand in selecting this photograph for the print sale - Mike likes a simple line-in-the-middle composition instead of the all beaten to dead golden rules and two-thirds.
As you can see, this is a black and white print. But not just any black and white print (whatever that is these days) - it is a platinum/palladium print. I will not try to describe the process, but this print is a contact print of the 8 x 10" negative. It is just amazingly beautiful in real life! The tones, the details and the physicality of it is just very different from an inkjet print.

The reason for me to write this blog post just today is that today The Online Photographer had a link to Kickstarter. I had of course read about Kickstarter and had previously visited a few projects. I am fascinated about the idea of it, and just a few weeks ago I had decided with my self that I should find something interesting to back. I just hadn't gotten around to do anything about it.
So when I read at TOP that Carl Weese was doing a project at Kickstarter, I knew right away that I had to back that. And the project is about visiting and photographing some of the few remaining drive-in theaters! And you get prints as gifts! Not palladium prints, but still.

søndag den 25. marts 2012


Taking photographs started as a hobby more than 20 years ago when I bought my first SLR. After some years the hobby faded away until it was revitalized 7 years ago when I got my first DSLR - after that the hobby was as much about editing photos as it was about taking them. But again it faded away until 2-3 years ago when I began to get really interested i looking at photographs - and of cause looking at the masters is a lot more interesting than looking at my own mediocre family snapshots.

Photography is fantastic! It spans documentary, journalism and many kinds of art. It has an intense history of less than 200 years. It both shows something of the real world and something of the photographer, and sometimes even magically of many other things. We all know photographs, and look at them as a natural thing even though they are always a strange two dimensional and distorted slice of some time ago. Most photographs are understandably immediately but the good ones have many subtle mechanisms that make them work.

The book PHOTO:BOX, edited by Roberto Koch is a book that at the same time

  • Shows 250 fantastic photographs that you can spend hours looking at
  • Tells about the history of photographs and also some about the history of many great photographers
  • Learns you something about looking a photographs - mostly just by the selection in the book, but also from the many comments about the photographs in the book

The book is organized in themes like War, Portraits, Travel, etc. This organization does not matter at all. What matters is that the layout is a repetition of one page of text about the photographer and about the photograph that is shown full on the opposing page. The print quality is so-so, but that is not what matters in this book

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Photography has been my on and mostly off hobby for 25 years. The last few years I have not taken many pictures, but I feel the urge slowly rising to begin taking photographs again - of cause starting with the need for a new camera.

But now and then I revisit some of my older photos, and a few times a year I also print some on my Epson printer that mostly sits idle in the office. Some months ago I bought a quite nice and very cheap A3 frame with passepartous in IKEA, and that inspired me to find one of my own photographs to print, frame and hang in my house.

I ended up printing and hanging two photographs from a 2008 trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. The Zhangjiajie is a fantastic place in the Hunan province of China (one of my daughters is born in Hunan). However, at our visit in 2008 it was so foggy that we could see very little and I thought that none of the perhaps 50 pictures I took was any good.

But revisiting them 3½ years later I tried a very different approach. I made a dark almost monochrome interpretation with a gritty structure of the fog sharpened to give a coarseness to the pictures. The pictures have a very simple V and A composition, and both have a lot of depth.

I like them as they show in this blog, but this is the first time I really worked with a photo to make it work in print, and they are a lot nicer as print, hanging in their IKEA frames above my Chinese sideboard.

Ansel Adams: Classic Images

I started my collection of photograpic books about 3-4 years ago. I basically have books in three categories:

  1. Books about - and sometimes by - a single photographer
  2. Books that are collections of photographs by different photographers
  3. Books about understanding or about taking photographs
The first book I will write a little about is "Classic Images" by Ansel Adams.
This book is the catalog of an exhibition that also visited Copenhagen. Unfortunately I never my self got around to visit the exhibition, but I got the book as a gift from a friend that did.

If you are just the least interested in photographs you of course know Ansel Adams - many of his photographs have been iconic for more than three quarters of a century. When I visited New York for the first time some 25 years ago I bought a large poster with the same "Moon and Half Dome" that is on the cover of this book - it still makes me mad to remember how the poster was badly curled by a porter at the hotel, so I never got it on my wall.

Adams is mostly know for his majestic pictures from the US national parks in the first half of the previous century, and then of cause for his invention of the zone system.

Most of his pictures has an immediate beauty and drama that makes you want to travel to the US and visit the parks right away. The book has a great introductory essay, and as it describes, the feeling was something that Adams was very aware about; the reason was of cause that he him self loved the parks. For me though the most interesting about his pictures is the fantastic drama combined with usually a very simple composition. This drama and the simple composition is actually more interesting in some of his pictures that are not from the parks. It is not hard to understand, and if you like taking photographs it will make you want to mimic some of that drama. Not that easy to do though.

You have probably only heard about the zone system, if you are interested in black and white photographs. A very, very simplified description of the system is, that a photographic print should contain an equal amount of the very darkest tones, of the very lightest tones, and of all the zones of gray tones in between. This technique it part of the reason of the great drama of Adams photographs, and for many it was a guiding technique to use in the dark room when printing black and white photos.
It can be used with color photographs, and I my self invested in the LightZone program some years ago. It is build around editing with focus on the 11 zones. It was very interesting and invited to a new and different view of you photographs. It was also kind of frustrating and my conclusion some 4-5 years ago was that the zone system was not for me and probably not very rewarding for that many color photographs. I think that most photographers agreed, and despise initial good reviews the company that made LightZone eventually folded.

The book is hard bound and of quite good print quality. You really can see the zones although the blacks could be blacker. If anything the book would improve if printed in a larger format.
But with the book in hand you will immediately immerse yourself in all the great and stunning photographs. This is what a good photo book is about!

mandag den 19. marts 2012

Motel Bien Venido

For about one and a half years ago I started my small collection of photographic prints. That was something that I had been thinking about for quite some time, and it have given me great pleasure, that I finally got around to it. I really enjoy looking at he pictures that I now have hanging on my walls. I am intending to slowly expand my little collection but also intend it to be nothing fancy.
I will one by one show my prints here, and the first I will show is Motel Bien Venido by Walker Pickering.

As with several of my other prints, I bought this at 20x200.com. That is 20USD for a 8"x10" print in an edition of 200. And they have lots of great art.

This is the statement from Walker Pickering about this photo:
This project came about largely because of my restlessness at home and constant urge to travel. My wife and I moved around the country a few times over the course of several years, and I became less and less satisfied with making photographs at home once we settled down.Nearly West has been my catharsis, while also allowing me to imagine my own life in each of these places.

I like this photo for several different reasons:
Even though this is a rather crowded composition it still clearly have that wast, lost, time-has-stopped feeling that many of us Europeans connect with many parts of the USA. This is of cause partly because there is no people in the pictures.
It has a strong sense of being a little stranded, but moving on shortly. This is a single frame in a road movie.
The very rectangular composition is almost to much, but for me it works together we the theme of the picture. The round hill is OK, but the only part of the picture that does not work for me is the power lines over the hill - they don't fit with the composition.
The color scheme ties it all together - it has a great feeling of a 60'ies snapshot. I am however nagged a little about it being almost to perfect with basically only 3-4 tones all together. Perhaps a little to much cheating has been going on?

My aquarium, day 11

I am keeping a journal about my aquarium (in Danish) at AkvariePlanter.dk, but I will show a photo here now and then.
Day 11:

Jesper's blog

This is the first message in my new blog. Don't expect much to happen here - I am doing this just for fun and I will mainly blog about some of my hobbies and interests. Currently this is mainly aquariums, photography, reading, computers and gadgets.