Photography should be about picture-making. That is, after all, why we get into it in the first place (well, most of us). This blog is for photographers, people passionate about making photographs, who want to share ideas and concepts, approaches and attitudes. And yes, there will, from time to time, be gear stuff. Oh, and by the way, while you can download and share this blog, all the material on it is copyrighted. All rights reserved, etc.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Gotterdammerung. The time between.

Kia ora tatou:

They say that all roads lead to Rome, and in the sense this applies to photographers. The images, we make on a given day, are, in a sense, the product of every image we've made before, and the results of every experience or awareness that has occurred before. Maori talk about facing the future, with both eyes on the past. Examine this concept, and you realise there is a lot of truth in it for we photographers. Our photographs are the product of everything we've been and seen, and have the capacity to show us the point we are at.

This is a fairly personal post, so you sensitive souls out there may want to stop at this point.

A long time ago, when I was at university, I remember studying a German poet (it was Schiller, I think), who used the phrase Gotterdammerung. Put loosely, it means twilight of the gods. It has another layer of meaning, namely, the idea that this is time when the old ways are done, when the gods will have their final conflict, and something new will be born. What does this have to do with the picture? Read on.

Some years ago, when I was coming up through the ranks in photography (yes, I still am), I met a photographer called Nan Gee. Her work totally blew me away. It was raw, visceral, and had a level of courage that was quite extraordinary. For a time, we became friends, and from her, I learned much about what photography could be. She was totally passionate about her work, committed, and prepared to forge on, no matter what. Alas, the wheel turned, and she stopped working.

Her pictures used multiple exposure and a working method that owed much to the gods of coincidence. She would often talk about "dreaming in" to an image. What she meant (and it took some time for me to grasp this) was the idea of being still within yourself and allowing the image to find you. It is very easy when you first get to a scene, to have a head full of clutter, and absolutely no idea of where to start. Minor White, the great American photographer, once said in reply to a student " be still within yourself, until the object of your interest of firms your presence". I guess that he is saying the same thing. Time and again, while on a workshop or field trip, I have watched students rush back and forth trying to lock onto something. It is really important to take time to allow your scene to come to you.

I was down at the Okuru estuary last night, just before sunset. I think this has to be one of my favourite places in the whole world. There is a real sense of the universe stretching away to…… somewhere. It is a place to dream, to lose yourself, a place where Possibility has the power to become Reality.

I fossicked around for a while, shooting a bit of this and a bit of that. Then I realised that I needed to step away, to allow the scene to talk to me.

I took the two-cigarette break. I really had to, in order to see what was unfolding before me. I made a few photographs to start with, then after a time, gave up and just stood there watching the light. As the day drew to a close, I was in that wonderful space between day and night, where the light is neither one nor the other. It is a space Between. I allowed myself to let go, and just experience the moment. I think that is really important. Often, when you do that, things will come to you.

The estuary stretched away to the horizon, and all the tones in the scene began to blend together. The purples and blues melded together into a moment that appeared somehow timeless and eternal. It seemed to me that the land lay open under the changing light, and that in a way this reflected where my life was at. Gotterdammerung.

I wanted to record it, to interpret the moment, to give myself something to reflect upon at a later time. So I made a series of images, and after downloading them, set for some time staring at this one. Naturally, the camera, and capturing all the data, had given me an image that was a lot lighter and brighter. It didn't really reflect what I was feeling at the time.

After thinking about it for some time, I reduced the exposure, flattened the tone curve, and slightly desaturated it. I allowed estuary and sky to blend together, to produce an image that was more of a question than a statement, which reflected the realm of possibility in which I seemed to be. And seem to be.

I allowed myself to dream in.

Gotterdammerung. The time between.

Ka kite ano

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Freeman Down Under 2007

Kia ora tatou:

If any of you missed the Freeman workshops last April, well there is good news and bad news.
The good news is that he is coming back to do 2 workshops on February –March next year.
The bad news is that it is in Martinborough, one of the country’s finest wine-growing regions, and a week doing the workshop can be hard on the liver. So much pinot noir, so little time! Curiously there is a boutique brewery right in the middle of the area, that makes stunning beer (stunned is what you will be if you have too much).

There are 2 workshops of a week each. I will be doing a 2-day digital intensive just before they begin, useful if you are a bit digitally… um… tender. I will be focusing on working with RAW and how to get the most out of the new Adobe Lightroom.

Interested? Then get in touch with Michael Anderson. You can email him here.

You can read about it in more detail on my workshops site.
Ka kite ano