341 – Three for one. That’s what you’re getting today.
Post number 777 and to mark the occasion, three items, one from each of us. I suppose it was inevitable that the mention of threesomes would worm its way into our pre-publication discussions, leaving me (at least) puzzled as to just what kind of things go on behind closed doors in Paris and Provence. Best I don’t ask.
So, Pascal writes about cosmogony, Philippe weighs in with photography being the past and the future of humanity and my contribution is about (re)discovering something much more important than I remembered.
Last Monday, the SBH went to Singapore and, at the time of writing, is still there. We leave for home at 01:35 tomorrow (Monday) morning; someone’s idea of torture and an opportunity for Pete to make the first comment, hours before anyone else.
Anyway, as a backup – things do break, or go u/s for a variety of reasons – I’d bought my X100F, although it has seen very little use of late, especially since I’d bought the X-H1. Damn! I’m enjoying that camera.
All of a sudden, the X100’s top plate and body fell out (see last week’s Monday Post) and 72 hours with Fuji’s repair team saw it very rapidly returned, not only repaired and in working condition, but after one of Fuji’s famous a firmware updates as well.
So, I had a while to think about this extraordinary little camera and the images it records. They are measurably more spontaneous and quirky than those from any of my other cameras, quite possibly because it’s small, hides in a hand and can be ready shoot in a heartbeat.
I generally shoot RAW + JPG, in Fuji’s Acros black and white emulation. That’s boosted by the use of the “R” or red filter mode, to darken blacks and brighten the highlights. When there’s colour needed, I either quickly change the emulation to Velvia, or stick with Acros and do the colour work on the RAW file as a post processing option. Like the black and white JPGs, the X100 delivers excellent colour and clarity for such a tiny camera.
So, I’m glad to have it back and have promised myself that I’ll use it even more in the future. I’m sure you’ll see more of the results here soon. In the meantime, all of these images are from X100F. Welcome back I say.
Pascal, on a unified theory of the universe and photography.
Dear worshipper of Lucifer, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of possibility, it is the age of sheepishness, it is a season of Light, it is a season of selfies.
What the Dickens is he on about ?
Our hobby’s reality is closely linked to the evolution of technology and functionality. I once read that Leonardo covered all the windows in a church, save for the very center of its rose window, covered the opposite wall with a white sheet dipped in some egg-based magic solution and printed an upside down depiction of the piazza in front of the porch. Not sure whether this pinhole fable is truth or Facebook-truth, but photographic technology pretty much remained the same for centuries after that.
When it was picked up (with lenses !) in the 19th century, I think it is significant that William Henry Fox Talbot named his technique Calotype, after the Greek words Kalos (beauty) and Typos (more or less, Print). Daguerre and others also saw the potential for capturing the beauty of their surroundings but the process remained the domain of an elite few. Until dear Kodak put small cameras in the hands of the many, towards the end of that same century.
Initial use of photography was essentially studio portraiture. Ye ole Harcourt dates back to the very beginning and landscape discovery and recording followed in the 1850s, methinks. Then, with cameras and the ability to print accessible to the masses, all attempts at classification went kind of apeshit from the 20th century onwards. Today, it’s debateable whether we can still call it photography since no one actually prints anymore. And you could argue that the initial exponential expansion of uses has now fused to the sole role of social media ego-rating. I disagree.
While you could argue that photographic uses, in much of the 20th century mainly evolved in waves, it’s easy to see how much they have parallelised over the past few decades. Even within the restricted group of DS contributors, it would be hard to find two photographers with an identical approach or goal. Technology has been the great enabler for this vast expansion of our photographic options.
While the art world (still) seems firmly intent on focusing on proving that photography is as valid an art as any of the traditional forms, it too does so in a bewildering variety of manners.
Who you are today as a photographer is shaped by an increasingly high number of choices and events that occured from a young age to today. How pretty Miss Pickering reacted to your drawings when you were 4. How uncle Joe made you sit down and comb your hair for the sunday afternoon family reunion photograph. What gear Playboy was using when you first discovered the magical universe of the centerfold. What early photojournalistic memories remain most firmly imprinted in your memory (was that the remains of a young woman macheted to death in Rwanda, a son dying of AIDS in the arms of his parents, the surface of the Moon with a human being standing on it …) What lens was on that first camera you were allowed to use or were given by a dear relative. What marketing lies you chose to believe today. What comments your photographs are receiving on Instackr and Twitbook.
Free will or randomness? Balls!
Balls on a Galton board, that’s what we all are. Where we stand today as individuals is the unpredictable result of external forces and deliberate choices, each a left/right switch like the pins on the board. What’s fun is that the sheer number of humans and increasing number of choices in our lives (and technology is a major purveyor of choices) has created a series of “bell curves” for most of our behaviours. The atheist-to-zealot curve is a bell curve. Vegan-to-meat lover, also. So is the technophile-to-fine art tog curve. Uber rich-to-penniless, also. Or so it should be.
In fact, you can tell whether a phenomenon is left to its own devices or heavily manipulated, based on the shape of its distribution curve. Politics, easily Man’s most cynical invention, have elevated to an artform the deliberate ignorance of the most basic and fundamental mathematics in the name of various ideologies, skewing all the essential bell curves towards one end or the other, depending on the dominant flavour of the moment.
In photography, these distributions apply to your views on art, on technology itself, your use of your photographs, subject matter, frequency, know-how, creativity, … Each and every one of us lies somewhere (different) inside the envelopes of many such curves, depending on our personal world view and the outside influences that sway us most powerfully.
So let’s ponder a minute.
Minute is our influence on the outside world, here at DS. Minute doesn’t mean it can’t be deliberate and thought out. Plan our madness we must, if we’re to tug some of these curves in one of the directions we favour. I mean, if lies can split continents, hopefully our passion can also bring a few people together around common visions, right?
Once again, our fun-numbered posts are an opportunity for celebration and/or introspection about where we are and where we want to go.
It’s my impression (see what I did, there) that blogs that relay news releases and technobabble all day long are legion enough for one fragile Interweb. As Apple and Google duke it out to decide who best takes away the decision process from the photographic user base, my deepest desire is to pull the cover in the opposite direction, in a tug of war that can only be lost but can also only be fun.
First, I’m not denying the good of technology, even for art’s sake. One day, the best algorithm writers will be recognised as great artists in their own rights. Hidden Banskys.
Secondly, DS doesn’t belong to me anymore. We’re fortunate to have seen the crew grow far beyond the 3 founding fathers to highly creative individuals such as Adam, Adrian, Bob, Chris, Dallas, Leonard, Michel, Philip, Steffen and Steve.
So, Dear Lucifer, please accept my personal thank you for the Light that makes our hobby possible and dear readers, thank you for your time, conversations and insights. The future at DS, for me at least, is art, creativity and printing. I’ll be writing more and more about each of these topics in the coming months, in an effort to keep alive the spirit of the Calotype. At least up to #888, when who knows what the Ogdoad will bring?
What the Ogdoad will bring? Well, it depends. On what? On who wins the battle of the 777s. A battle between whom? Easy: Boeing and DearSusan
Once upon a time photography brought to people the first images of “the rest of the world”. Mythical, unlikely, unknown, or merely superb places. Moments of great import, or great feeling. Photography as a means to enlighten and delight. A giant step forward for mankind. DearSusan, the brainchild of Pascal, as a travel blog, is proud to walk a trail that has given us (for example) National Geographic. This is post n°777 of said DearSusan.
Alas, 777 is also the moniker of a large Boeing jet, that ferries millions from wherever to wherever and beyond. Which means that the readers of DearSusan (mainly) and a few other publications of lesser magnitude are now in a position to visit the exquisite places that photography and travel agents tell them they absolutely need to see. And, because said Boeing 777 is large and efficient, tickets are relatively inexpensive, and tourists flock to delicate places like locusts on the grain fields of Pharaoh. Many of these tourist-locusts carry cameras.
This has 3 negative consequences. One is that formerly fabulous places are so overrun as to be be over-expensive (think: Iceland), or ruined (think: the now walled-and-gated Eiffel Tower) , or both. The second one is that they make such places very unpleasant, with long lines, limited access, and zero photographic opportunity unless you are into animal photography (think: Venice). The third one is that they are so productive of pictures of all sorts that such locations are now so well known, so utterly visually familiar, that they lose the appeal that once made them unique. Nepal had to sharply limit how many climbers are now allowed to attempt scaling Mt Everest. And, should those allowed succeed take shots from the top of the world, I say: so what? I’ve seen them all multiple times.
But there is hope, for such is the effect that it is, once again, up to phography to give us the only way to enjoy Venice, or Iceland. Either as it once was, or at the hands of true masters of the art, who can make art while locusts are busy somewhere else.
We are headed for a world where pollution will be banned, and air travel is the one form of transport most addicted to liquid fuel (read with the highest pollution impact from fossile fuels), so cheap long-distance travel for leasure is likely to rapidly become a thing of the past. Whereas photography has a very limited C0² imprint: one photographer, many viewers. Only electrons are put to work, and they don’t mind.
There is another major advantage to photography over travel onboard a Boeing 777. Whereas both can let you travel the world, only photography can let you also travel across time. Pascal, in typical fashion said: the 777 isn’t fast enough..:-)
Universal, ubiquitous, free (on DS at least), almost carbon-free, travelling at will through time and space, combining, beauty, geography, history, style, how is that, for photography!
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