I’ve finally made it to the wonderful 45 year retrospective exhibition of Michael Kenna’s work at the lovely little gallery at Bosham, near Chichester.
It was pleasing to see the care with which the owner Luke Whitaker and manager Angus Heywood had put into choosing and hanging the 42 prints from Michael’s years of image making since the 1970’s through to this year.
Michael has always been the most intelligent and thoughtful of photographers and you can’t help but notice how consistent his photographic style has been since his earliest days. Quite remarkable in fact to have distilled your ‘vision’ into something so long ago and not feel the need to change it, only to refine it.
I’ve been shooting long exposures of the moon ‘rising and setting’ ever since I went back to using a film camera, a few years ago now. I was taken with an image by, once again, Michael Kenna, of the moon rising over the Chausey Islands off the French coast. I realised that over the years I had photographed the moon many times, but never as a really, really long exposure. The magic that happens during an excessively long exposure is quite wonderful and Kenna had started a whole ‘minimalism movement’ in monochrome photography with his ‘frozen water’ and also his many images by moonlight. Others had done long exposures before but Kenna did lots of it and made some outstanding pictures…as he still does.
My last post was about the recent Hasselblad product announcements and particularly about the slim little ‘body’, that Hasselblad is calling the 907X.
The Hasselblad press announcement stated that it would be able to take, in addition to the obvious XCD lenses from the X-1D camera, the H Series lenses and also the ancient V Series.
Here’s a look at what I think that means. Hasselblad, along with others like FotoDiox, Klipon and Cambo, have all been making Hasselblad lens adapters for sometime. But let’s start with the Hasselblad adapters currently for the X-1D camera.
Hasselblad just made a set of surprise announcements. They are going to be selling a Mark 2 version of their most beautiful looking digital camera to date, the X-1D. It has a better touch screen and I do hope it will fix some of the things they omitted when the original X-1D came out. I hope they’ve remembered that photographers need a proper ‘remote release’…you can’t rely on being tethered to remotely fire a camera. Also they must fix the small built in delay the camera suffers from. Pressing a shutter must be instant!
Although staying with the 50Meg pixel resolution, the X-1D also gets another new lens…fine, but the best news for ‘old dinosaurs’ like me who love their old V Series film cameras is that we haven’t been forgotten.
A few years back after I had bought an Epson photo printer, a R2880 model, I started printing my monochrome images and found them rather disappointing. This Epson model had 8 inks, but it only used 3 for monochrome as far as I understood it. It had an ‘Advanced Black and White’ mode that I used but sometimes I was aware of a slight colour cast and I didn’t think the darkest tones were ‘black enough’.
However I was still learning how to adjust my images in Photoshop and I hadn’t got a calibrated monitor for my PC.
I looked around and discovered the system devised by American Jon Cone called Piezography.
‘Back in the day’…well back in the late 1970’s, there wasn’t that much landscape photography around. You could see some in the extremely poorly printed books that appeared or else in the pretty rare exhibition.
The books were truly awful…I still have a few. Monochrome images were printed with no deep blacks at all. A sort of muddy dark grey was the usual. Exhibitions though were where you would need to go to see some high quality prints. These would be ‘silver prints’ of course done in ‘proper’ darkrooms.
However not many art galleries would show ‘mere photographs’, so London had the Photographers Gallery and elsewhere a few major cities like Bristol, Liverpool and Cardiff might have a gallery that was worth visiting.
We were living in North Wales for awhile in 1982-3 and became friends with a couple that had a small gallery nearby, and they sold photographs. They had an exhibition of pictures by John Blakemore and I was knocked out by these.
A couple of posts ago, in the blog on ‘Trees’, I showed a few of Beth Moon’s beautiful tree photos that were shot on infra-red film.
In 2012 Mitch Dobrowner won the Sony World Photography awards with his Storm portfolio. These were his amazing images of the giant supercells, tornados and rainclouds that can be found, mainly in ‘Tornado Alley’ in the American Mid-West, usually during the summer months.
‘Storm Chasing’ had been a pass time for a select bunch of American’s for a number of years but Dobrowner’s images introduced the phenomenon to non American’s like myself.
Here’s the most famous of his images I guess ‘Rope Out’:
I do love trees, but their beauty is pretty hard to capture in photographs.
I feel much of monochrome photography is similar to producing ‘line drawings’ and one of my favourite artists producing really great pen and ink drawings of trees is Sarah Woolfenden.
Here’s one of her exquisitely detailed pictures, of a Yew:
Incredible detail in Sarah’s drawing. Sarah has the artists’ advantage over the photographer…she can ignore the background. Us poor people behind cameras haven’t got any easy ways to eliminate confusing backgrounds, so we often turn to choosing subjects where the background just doesn’t exist.
We all have influences and it’s only fair to recognise them, but hopefully move on to produce your own work and certainly not copy others.
However sometimes it’s thrilling to get as close to those ‘influencers’ as possible and one way a photographer can do this is by standing in the same spot and seeing…and hopefully feeling…something akin to that felt by your hero sometime before.
One of my great influences is Michael Kenna and in 1986, Kenna was in Halifax and took a photo reproducing a well known image of Bill Brandt’s,’ A snicket in Halifax’ taken by Brandt in 1937.
Here’s Brandt’s image, taken from his book ‘Shadow Of Light’ (Gordon Fraser):