Gone Fishing

(Not really. I’ve never been fishing… by choice – maybe once on a work team building exercise in Chesapeake Bay!)

I’d planned to write entries, and have them queued up, but other things got in the way.

Back next week.

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The Blooming Night

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Taken in March of 2009, using Hasselblad 503cw, Zeiss 80mm T* + extension tubes, Ilford SFX 200. In the garden of our apartment in Japan.

Infrared sensitive film this time. Also, extension tubes. These move the lens further away from the focal plane of the film, allowing you to focus much closer. Which is nice for small things. Unfortunately it also makes the depth of field really shallow – not much of the picture will be in focus. With an infrared pass filter in front of the lens you can’t actually see anything, and therefore you have to focus, then put the filter in place. Would be a great time to use a tripod… didn’t have one of those. Oh, the filter cuts out a lot of the light, making the film roughly four times slower, and as a consequence you need to leave the shutter open four times longer.

What i’m trying to say is that this is a ridiculous way to attempt to take a photograph, and i should be happy there there is anything there at all. But, if you don’t experiment, and try stupid things, you never get surprised.

The flowers are camellias (椿) and i think they were white. There is something called “the Wood effect” (named after Robert W. Wood) that causes vegetation to “glow” in IR images – it reflects far more IR light than visible light, and is therefore much brighter. However, it’s unlikely that is what is seen here… it’s just white flowers.

The World Will End On A Pleasant Day

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Taken September 24th, 2016, using Canon Powerhot G11, Holkham, England.

Clouds on the horizon.

Well, i suppose it was inevitable. Most of the pictures published in IWTFY are part of what i think of as my ‘photographic journal’, pictures that i take as part of going about the process of living.

This particular, somewhat innocuous (one might even say, “saccharin”) shot was taken while back in England caring for my mother. Over the course of a couple of years she had started to fall regularly, breaking on different occasions, her pelvic bone, hip, and arm. Each of these falls had associated head trauma, which left her disoriented, and to some extent partially detached from reality.

I’d been spending weeks at a time with her. Looking after her, getting her back on her feet, etc. Wanting to spending some time with her while she wasn’t suffering or struggling, we decided to spend a few weeks with her over summer.

Near the start of that trip we travelled down to London to see friends. Around lunch time on the morning we’d left i got a call saying that she had fallen again, this time breaking her arm just below the shoulder, and was back in hospital. Physically it didn’t seem very serious, but she’d hit her head again, and was very confused.

We stayed in England visiting her in hospital. Some of these visits were quite surreal, as she floated in out of a dream reality. Eventually we returned to Germany as there was no sign of her being discharged. She was moved into a managed care facility for a few weeks before being allowed to return home, and i went back to England to look after her.

A month of so later, she decided that she could cope again. We’d convinced her to sell the house, and move in my sister. But then my sister decided that she would move back home with her family. It seemed we had the perfect plan to keep my mother close to her community, maintain her independence, and keep her safe.

My wife flew over to help out. One morning we drove out to Holkham for a walk. On the way home we bought lobster, and had it with salad for lunch. A few days later we returned home, leaving her in good spirits, and with a plan.

She fell again, breaking a bone in her neck – this time in a hospital carpark after a friend had taken her for an appointment, and died a week later from complications.

The Person You Aren’t

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Taken in September, 2008, using a Canon 10D, EF17-40 ƒ4L, in Yokohama, Japan.

I don’t remember very much about this picture. It was taken in one of the Yokohama red brick warehouses, probably on the same day as visiting the Triennale. Like many such contemporary art collections, it was somewhat disorientating.

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Around this time i’d started to experiment with composition that was wildly off level, rotating the camera up to 45º. The idea was to look for other shapes or geometries within the frame that would be stronger than the natural orientation. Instead of seeing the scene naturally in the image, the viewer is forced to re-evaluate what they are seeing, maybe find something that they would ordinarily have missed as they try to make sense of what they are seeing.

At least, that was what i think i was trying to do. In reality it became a bit of a running joke among my friends that they were ending up with cricks in their necks…

The Silver Astrolabe

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Taken in 2009, using Hasselblad XPan II, in Odaiba, Japan.

I’ve written about this shot before, as part of a short series on portrait composition with the XPan. People generally say it doesn’t work… but i’m really glad to have experimented with it – if for no other reason than it being interesting when creating the layouts in the book.

No more luck getting Sean to post his shots that inspired this one, but here is one of my favourites of his:

Japanese Napoleon

Still like the composition. Framing up agains the wall gives a furtive / concealed feeling. The silhouette is strong enough that you can’t tell if the figure it moving away, or closer. Maybe i’m about to get caught in surveillance?! (No, the person was walking away.)

Odaiba is an odd kind of place. It always feels semi-deserted at the weekends, with strange events happening in the TV company building, and elaborate wedding parties held in the hotels (probably where the person in this picture had been). The hotels are massive, bubble era, edifices that always feel deserted, and rather ridiculous for their grandiose opulence.

The Universe Isn’t Open For Business Today

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Taken in February 2015, using Hasselblad XPan II, Fujifilm Acros 100, in Uji, Japan. This is the Phoenix Hall of Byoudou-in.

Most famous for it’s representation on the Japanese 10 yen coin, Byoudou-in is one the last major temples around Kyoto that i had on my list to visit. Should probably have got around to it sooner… Having given up on central Kyoto, a trip to Uji (15 minutes out of Kyoto, towards Nara) seemed like a good bet. Yes? No. Despite getting there early we were told that we’d have to sign up for a tour of the main hall, and wait a couple of hours.

The place, like Kyoto itself, was overrun with bus tours of tourists. It popular to single out for opprobrium the Chinese, Taiwanese, Koreans,  Thais, etc. that are the new tourists in Japan. And, admittedly they do descend like a hoard, in their air conditioned, isolating, buses, laying commercial waste to all that they find before them… but the truth is, it has been like this for as long i’ve been traveling in Japan. There are fewer gaps in the onslaught than before. Oh, and it used to be the Japanese themselves.

I remember being at Eihei-ji, one of the most important temples of Zen buddhism in japan, in the early nineties, when coach loads of Japanese tourists arrived and proceeded to clamber over railings, ignore signs, trampling anywhere they liked to take gormless pictures, and generally being the stereotype that they now disdain in Asian tourists.

All part of the cycle… right?

The Cloud Bodhisattvas (flying musicians) in the museum are really beautiful pieces of Heien (?) Era art and worth going to see.

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As an aside, all of the black & white film shoots in the book are things that i’ve developed, with varying degrees of success, myself. This particular set of films gave me no end of problems. For some reason they didn’t wash evenly, leaving what can best be described as large “splotches” on the emulsion. After re-fixing and washing they were recoverable. I ended up with a makeshift drying system, built from bend paperclips and coat hangers, to dry the already cut negative… so very professional.

Schedule

I’m trying to post every week day, and take the weekend off. There are a lot of entries to get through… not entirely sure i’ll make it to the end. Will keep going while i’m having fun – writing is good for me!

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