The Cat that wasn’t a theme

I have grand ideas for this project, the 100 themes, but I realised that if I just don’t start straight away I might not get started at all. So, I picked the easiest theme of them all, #23: Cat. Well, until I realised I mixed up the lists… I had a list open on my android with the backup themes. Well, so, I’ve obviously re-written this post. I can’t decide if I should just add it to the list or just retract it. Bah, screw it!

I have one, see, a fussy cat. And he loves staying close when something is happening, so he’s a fairly easy motif. I just made two of him! Thank you Jed for giving me some pointers about masks in Photoshop.

Inte Helt Överraskande Måndag

Inte helt överraskande blev det måndag igen, och inte helt överraskande blev den så som måndagar i allmänhet blir: ganska tråkig, ganska dålig, ganska deppig. Saker har hänt under dagen som har fått mig på otroligt dåligt humör, jag blir så trött på all idioti och fjantiga, ogenomtänkta kommentarer och smaklösa skämt. Helst skulle jag vilja hitta en stor säck att ta ut mina aggressioner på. Ovanpå det finns det vissa saker som känns väldigt otydliga och ovissa, och det gör mig ledsen och frustrerad. Saker känns helt enkelt inte så stabila.

Sen kunde man ju hoppas att kvällstidningarnas eviga spådomar om vädret kunde slå in… ”En veckas vargvinter men sen blir det mildare!”. Hallå… Det är inte ens februari ännu! Få mig inte att hoppas i onödan! Är trött på att halka runt och frysa och vara trött.

Lyssnar på just nu:
Det blir en hel del Foof. Fick ju tag på biljetter till juni, woot! När jag är på lugnare humör blir det Lisa Hannigan.

Tittar på:
Klar med fotodokumentären och råkade se första avsnittet av BBC’s miniserie Sherlock Holmes. Hur de lyckats få det att kännas så traditionellt och ändå så modernt och originellt är något jag inte förstår, men bra är det! Läste om böckerna många gånger i mellanstadiet, kan vara dags att läsa dem igen?

Läser:
”Kreativ Fotografering med Rätt Exponering” av Bryan Peterson. Lagom intressant, lagom teknisk. Går igenom de olika kombinationerna mellan slutartid och bländare för vad han kallar en ”kreativ, korrekt exponering”, och tar upp en del matnyttiga saker. Det som dock stör mig är att han beskriver en bestämd uppfattning om vad som är just kreativt och estetiskt tilltalande. Det förtar liksom lite hela tanken med boken, tycker jag. Bara för att man KAN få ett pariserhjul att se ut som en självlysande godisklubba betyder inte det att alla tycker det är den mest kreativa exponering, eller?

Sara doesn’t duck when I shoot

Sara is an easy target, simply because she never seems to mind that I use her as a test dummy. I know a lot of people who hate having their picture taken, including myself. It’s really great to have someone to practice on, and it’s even better when it’s a friend, because while you are practising you also get to document your time together, memories are kept.

Sara, on our sunny January afternoon walk

I regret not taking more photos of my friends during the years. That is about to change, though! People are being very encouraging, like sweet ‘Fairy who’s agreed to have her picture taken. I even heard a rumour that her boyfriend Janne might be in on I too!

Practise, practise, practise!

Challenge: 100 Themes

I’ve been thinking about challenges lately, I think they are a good way to get some drive when you want to engulf yourself in something, in this case (to no one’s surprise by now) photography. The creative and talented Tess is considering doing this 100 Themes Challenge on Deviant Art, so I think I found my project. I will blatantly steal the list and apply the themes to photography instead. Thank you, Tess and Deviant Art!  😉 Tess is going to use all sorts of creative and crafty mediums to do the list, a big mix of everything (photography, sketching, sewing, paper craft, jewelry making), so cool, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Here is the link to the challenge on Deviant Art, all of you fantastic drawing artists, check it out! (Ping ping, Lania!)  Or why not my gifted writing friends? (Ping ping Oakfairy). And you awesome photographers, go for it! (Ping ping, Mia*).

The challenge has no time limit, but I think I’d like to at least confine it to this year. I’ve decided that the themes does not have to be followed in a certain order. I’ll pick at random, that seems suitable.

Here is the list of themes:

1. Introduction
2. Love
3. Light
4. Dark
5. Seeking Solace
6. Break Away
7. Heaven
8. Innocence
9. Drive
10. Breathe Again
11. Memory
12. Insanity
13. Misfortune
14. Smile
15. Silence
16. Questioning
17. Blood
18. Rainbow
19. Gray
20. Fortitude
21. Vacation
22. Mother Nature
23. Cat
24. No Time
25. Trouble Lurking
26. Tears
27. Foreign
28. Sorrow
29. Happiness
30. Under the Rain
31. Flowers
32. Night
33. Expectations
34. Stars
35. Hold My Hand
36. Precious Treasure
37. Eyes
38. Abandoned
39. Dreams
40. Rated
41. Teamwork
42. Standing Still
43. Dying
44. Two Roads
45. Illusion
46. Family
47. Creation
48. Childhood
49. Stripes
50. Breaking the Rules
51. Sport
52. Deep in Thought
53. Keeping a Secret
54. Tower
55. Waiting
56. Danger Ahead
57. Sacrifice
58. Kick in the Head
59. No Way Out
60. Rejection
61. Fairy Tale
62. Magic
63. Do Not Disturb
64. Multitasking
65. Horror
66. Traps
67. Playing the Melody
68. Hero
69. Annoyance
70. 67%
71. Obsession
72. Mischief Managed
73. I Can’t
74. Are You Challenging Me?
75. Mirror
76. Broken Pieces
77. Test
78. Drink
79. Starvation
80. Words
81. Pen and Paper
82. Can You Hear Me?
83. Heal
84. Out Cold
85. Spiral
86. Seeing Red
87. Food
88. Pain
89. Through the Fire
90. Triangle
91. Drowning
92. All That I Have
93. Give Up
94. Last Hope
95. Advertisement
96. In the Storm
97. Safety First
98. Puzzle
99. Solitude
100. Relaxation

In Search of Photos and Bunkers

My father has always taken a lot of photos. He stopped for a couple of years when he felt that all he did was to photograph the same motifs over and over. The last couple of years though he’s found his way back to it, and even took an evening class to get the hang of his new camera. I’m proud of my dad, and I feel very lucky that we have this common interest. It’s something that makes me really happy.

Just like me he likes to have his pictures and files in neat order, and he started a never ending project to scan some of the old negatives. I got all his photos on an external hard drive and it’s been pretty amazing and funny to go through them all, seeing pictures I never even knew was taken, pictures from when I was a kid that I’ve never even seen.

We went on road trips a lot for our vacations, and I have probably seen a lot more of Sweden than I can possibly remember. However we also drove down to Denmark, I think more than once. We went with my friend Richard and his family, I went to pre-school with him when I was six.

It’s hard to estimate when this trip took place, but if I should guess, I’d date it to 1986. There are pictures of me in an amusement park, from the same trip, watching a Swedish pop group perform a song with which they’d just won the Swedish Melody Festival, and this was the summer after that competition.

I was seven, and one of my sharpest memories from this trip is when we went to the beach to look at bunkers. They were huge and some of them had toppled over and I got to climb around in them! It was awesome and I felt like I was a character in an adventure book.

I of course have no recollection of where this was, but conveniently someone spray painted one of the bunkers with the name of the location; Kolding. But what on EARTH am I wearing? I look like a pinkish-red smurfette!

Funny thing is, 24 years later I find myself hunting for bunkers again. Maybe this is a hobby of mine; maybe it’s just been latent. I know I felt just about as excited as I did when I was seven. And I got to climb around in it. And obviously red is my bunker-hunter colour.

Photo by Jed, September 2010

Bears up close and personal

Russian wild life photographer Sergey Gorshkov has spent six years following the bears in the forests around Kurile Lake in Kamchatka, Russia. He also visits the Okavango Delta  in Africa several times every year. He likes to get really close the animals, my mind boggles at the thought. He says himself: “’I have got as close to the bears in the wild as you could in the zoo. It is only now, looking back I realise how dangerous it was” (quote from the Guardian, which has also published a series of the photographs).

The Russian Geographical Society has a nice translated interview with Gorshkov, that I found to be rather inspiring. he beliefs that photography can change minds, and talks about the impact a photograph can have, how some photographer’s work have actually lead to sensitive geographical areas being turned into a nature reserve. This is his advice to budding photographers:

“You shouldn’t seek popularity and fame. You should enjoy what you do, and then, when you start taking good pictures, you’ll certainly get noticed. You shouldn’t keep pictures which are of no photographic value. Out of a hundred shots you may keep just one, which is really worth it, which is the best. The rest should be deleted. Keep and show only your best photos.  And you should learn to wait and be patient.”

Bloody Monday Recap

It’s bloody Monday again and as usual the weekend was at least one day too short, I hardly had time to enjoy the daylight. Right now it’s still dark when I go to work and dark when I go home, but in just 2 weeks at least there will be a bit of light in the horizon at 7:30 am, and it’s almost silly how much I’m looking forward to that. I need light to wake up. In other words, I don’t wake up properly during the darkest months because I don’t get any daylight. That’s life working in a bunker for ya.

I was going to post a neat chart on the daylight hours in Stockholm through the year, but then realised that maybe few people would find that as interesting as I do…

So, here’s a bloody recap of general stuff that’s been going on:

Gaming:
Very little time for gaming last week, I think I logged on to EQ2 once to check my sales! I want to play Dragonage again and also have a bundle of games I need to finish on the X-box, I haven’t even opened my copy of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. But, Jed finally started playing New Vegas and that looks awesome. Seems to be a game that sucks you in with a lot of details. Many scorpions have been shot. I love the pet bot, E-de. Reminds me of playing my fixer in Anarchy Online.

Watching:
Still have two eps left of Genious of Photography, I want to see them NOOW. But I don’t know when I’ll have time next. Am scouring the net for good little vids about photography. Any tips?

Movies:
I saw one! “Due Date” with Robert Downey Jr. So much better than I expected, not at all as cliché as you’d think a road movie would be. Worth it.

Listening to:
“Tears and Laughter” by Tall Tree 6ft Man.
And some Colin Hay and Muse and Amanda Palmer.

Misantropic topic:
People who try to give you a problem to solve but they don’t really know what the problem is, they just don’t want to deal with it. Deal with it!

Reading:
Searching for Cartier-Bresson’s “The Decisive moment” and found a copy on Amazon for 800 DOLLARS. Yeah… not getting that one. Wonder if I can find it as an e-book. Just started part two in the Scott Kelby series about digital photography. Looking forward to more tips about travel photos and portraits. Talked to my dad about the books last week and we discussed actually doing little assignments. I need to start mailing my dad more.

Bad conscience:
I need to start mailing my dad more. I have loads of photos to show him!

Crafty things:
Went on my silver clay course last week and made a wicked pendant that I love. It really was right down my alley. Bit scary working with such an expensive material though. But the end result was very shiny and satisfying. I will definitely start investing in that hobby, but first I want to get some traveling done this spring.

Things I want to do soon-ish:
Try a couple of new recipes. Take some nice photos of the things I cooked. Sort my old photos (I have paper copies form the age of 8 and onwards, yay…).

image

Stockholm Central Station

Last Monday I made myself a promise to bring my camera with me one day, take it outside the apartment and actually take some photos. It”s hard sometimes to find the motivation during the darkest winter months, when you work through all the daylight hours. There is always the couch and the X-box and the cat and the warm blankets waiting at home after all. Well, I did what I said I’d do, and decided to spend an hour at the Central Station in Stockholm after work. It’s a beautiful building, and 200 000 people pass through it every day, so I thought that I would get at least one photo.

These were all taken with my Canon 400d with the 50mm 1,8 lens… and no tripod *sigh*. This is a part of the ceiling in the main waiting hall, which I took mainly because I love it so much:

0,8 sec at f/8,0 ISO 200


People were running about being stressed, so I decided to disregard the poor lighting and try to get some ghostly effects with a long shutter speed. The funny thing is that a lot of the people ceased to exist entirely. In all of the photos below there a lot more people there, but they are barely visible. It was like some of the people were fading away, forgotten. It felt oddly suitable.

1,0 sec at f/8,0 ISO 200

1,0 sec at f/8,0 ISO 200

10 sec at f/14 ISO 200

Sharpness

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

I’m partly writing this post to comfort myself, because I am an expert at taking un-sharp photos, and thus I’m preparing myself to maybe post the blurry photos I took yesterday (I really need to invest in a proper tripod). I’m also writing it because I’m getting more and more interested in the history of photography and this is a funny side note I found while surfing websites in search of some of famous photographs.

As mentioned before I’ve been watching a documentary on photographic history, and find myself fascinated, hence the scouring of The Internetz for the photos. I felt I wanted to follow up some of the things I thought was inspiring or appealing.

I stumbled on a picture in a blog called Iconic Photos, and felt rather pleased with myself that I actually recognised it, because I wouldn’t have just a week ago.

It was great reading a bit about Henri Cartier-Bresson, but what I’ve spent way to much time on this evening is the link it referred to at the end of the blog post.

At one point someone posted the picture in a Flickr group for public criticism, where people vote if it should be deleted or not. But it was posted without any mention of its background or who took it. The poster named it “Mario’s Bike”.

Of course, hilarity ensues when some of the members in the group votes for it to be deleted because it’s too out of focus and un-interesting and badly composed and what-not. Helpful comments suggest for the photographer to try and use a tripod next time, should he have the chance to get a hold of Mario and take the photo again.

I mean, imagine some of the greatest and most influential photographers in history getting their work critiqued on today’s various Internet forums… (clicky)

After a few comments like that of course it’s revealed that this is an early photo taken by Cartier-Bresson, considered a classic, and the people who voted for it to get deleted gets slapped on the fingers for not knowing this. War commences.

Now: the first thing that I find interesting is how the act of posting this photo on Flickr in the way that it was done inspires such a great debate on the old “What is art?”. It really goes in all directions; it’s as heated as a debate on democracy.

The second thing is that the critique towards the photograph is the same as it was back when it was first taken. As a pioneer of photojournalism and being an advancing figure within the snapshot aesthetics and street photography, he faced the same assessment from his contemporaries.

But no matter what you think of the photograph, Cartier-Bressons did have a style that has influenced generations of photographers. He was part of a paradigm shift. He very decisively approached photography differently from those before him, he said: “I suddenly understood that a photograph could fix eternity in an instant”. He was the man who defined the decisive moment.He is a part of the canon.

For me I suspect itbecome art when it makes me think and wonder: “This made me feel something, how did this affect me?”. Personally I like the photograph very much. It does impress me and it does make an impression on me, because it makes me imagine the moment when the picture is being shot. Did he take it accidentally, on his way down the stairs? Did he stand there waiting for the right time? I like all the motion and the curves of the railing and the cobble stones. I find the perspective pleasing. And I don’t mind that there are no specifically extraordinary sharp spot to rest your eyes on. As Jason Wilson says: “the beauty just has to be enough”. (<– It’s a very good article, go read it).

All this makes me want to get out of the house more often with my camera, and there is no question about it: I will spend a lot of time taking blurry pictures. But maybe, sometimes, I will also catch something that might be worth keeping, even though it’s a bit un-sharp. Because if you don’t even try, in fear of failing, you’ll end up with a lot of nothing. I also feel I need to read “The Decisive Moment”. I think I must.

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”

Ansel Adams

I stumbled on a picture in a blog called Iconic Photos, and felt rather pleased with myself that I actually recognised it, because I wouldn’t have just a week ago. It was great reading a bit about Henri Cartier-Bresson, but what I’ve spent way to much time on this evening is the link it referred to at the end of the blog post.