Photography evolved

So I have been thinking for a long time about moving to medium format, and finally with the close of my last exhibition I the pieces came into alignment and I made the transition, or rather, expansion. From a number of reputable sources, I decided to go with 6×7 as my format, and the Mamiya 7 as my camera. Long story short the merits are the most portable of medium format bodies with some of the highest quality glass available.

Currently I only have the F4.5/150mm lens, which is best suited for portraits and at some distance, so framing is something I need to get used to. In the market for a wide angle lens for street photography, thinking 50mm over the 43 ultra wide.

Since I need to share these wonderful photographs with the digital world, I bought a medium format compliant scanner as well. With the death of Nikon’s superb Coolscan series, I set my priorities on high DPI and Windows7 compliant, buying the Epson v750-M Pro. I only digitally print up to A3-nobi anyway, so ridiculous resolution is unnecessary. The true drool-inducing project for this camera is going to be oversized analog prints anyway.

Baby steps, baby steps.

Oversimplifications

The mind feels safe when presented with simple, everyday concepts. There’s probably a lot of entry level psychology behind that but let’s let it be and accept it as fact. (There, it’s working already, don’t you feel good?)

So, complicated things are best explained in analogy until the pathways are paved to freeway levels of delineating this is why ancient religious texts speak in parable. Something as ethereal and co,plaited as divinity or the human soul and how to care and feed it needs some concrete metaphor that the ignorant human mind can digest. Sure, I may say that I understand the concept of Kharma but flicking off someone on the highway or fantasizing about my friend’s wife doesn’t usually carry the immediate causative feedback as touching a hot iron kettle. So we start with the esoteric “Dharma” and immediately liken it to an eight-spoke wheel. Why? Because there are eight basic elements on the road to Enlightenment and we needed an unmistakable positive symbol (the most primitive icon of technology, the wheel) to associate it with. With the wheel comes progress and balance in it’s eight spokes. All good things… see, you’re on the road to nirvana already.

Hatreds never cease by hatreds in this world. By love alone they cease. This is an ancient Law.
Dhammapada

To change the subject, let’s talk about suffering. Suffering, Buddha teaches is inherent of mortal life and unavoidable. One may only break free from the suffering of mortality through entry into Buddhahood, breaking the cycle of rebirth.

Leaving aside the belief in Buddhahood or rebirth, there is practical wisdom (read: easily digestible metaphor) in the way one approaches suffering. To be among men is suffering, for one is constantly confronted with their imperfections in everything from their character to the devices they design and build. Take for instance this bus I’m riding in. It gets me a long distance cheaply and more quickly than most means. However, due to the limitations of infrastructure it is built to seat someone seventy percent of my size, has poor circulation, is hot, shakes violently, etc. So the physical discomfort of this bus is one of many kinds of suffering my mind and body must endure. If I were extremely wealthy, I may have a helicopter or private limousine which is relatively much more acceptable to the human body. However in that meager improvement to my physical comfort I’d be alienated from my fellow man, the empathetic disadvantages are incalculable. This brings me, finally, to my point: which is that everyday suffering is a blessing for providing a culture foundation for strength of character. Focusing on the suffering is an opportunity to grow; a start towards deeper connections with people.

Notice how missionaries always speak of how kind and compassionate natives of remote and inhospitable environments are? They have been through so much suffering every day of their lives, they are truly grateful for the simplest elements of human life: water, food, shelter, health, and fraternity. Pity the isolated prince who knows not the suffering that surrounds him. This has been many men as it has been you and I. As it was also Siddhārtha, the Buddha.

The year with/without Christmas

Some things seem over the years to lose meaning in a sense, things like Christmas. As a beloved childhood memory, Christmas was a glorious five weeks starting with Thanksgiving and ending with the trip to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Day. The songs, the lights, the decorations in town. The magic of everyone being kind and considerate to each other, the different crackle in the air. But as I grew older and focused on increasingly daunting pursuits, that magic seemed to fade, like a dream after waking. Christmas changed from a season to a couple of weeks to detox from the stress and bustle my 180bpm lifestyle, punctuated with a couple customs to share with a significant other. As much as I didn’t want to lose the magic of Christmas, I stopped seeing it and wondering what that meant of my soul.

Rooted in religion, commercialized by the 20th century America, adopted by the world’s shopping malls, Christmas means so many things that it’s become fettered in my mind with cynicism. But beyond language or divinity. But beyond language or divinity, the message still rings true with me, like a lone candle left burning after a storm. Peace on earth. Goodwill towards men.

Successes and failures

That’s probably too strong a word, but maybe it caught your attention.

The private exhibition this time was mixed. I didn’t have a clear vision until late into the development of the show and a lack of feedback in the development process ended up curtailing the end result.

Some criticisms I received from others:

  • the overall show was too busy
  • there was a lack of consistency
  • the quality of some prints was lacking
  • mixing color with black and white took away from the overall quality

I agree with all of this. And to be honest I had doubts about a number of these things myself during the development process, but I put faith into the feedback from my teacher and ultimately didn’t get the level of input I wanted so I ended up with a lot of inconsistency. In reflection I should have listened to my instincts and been more assertive/inquisitive. But this is happening a lot lately. I expect to receive guidance for something and I don’t get it and then it pans out I should have gone with my instincts. In this case though I was paying a sizeable sum of money for professional guidance so I guess I expected a bit more.

So things I need to stick with next time:

  • unified, strong theme from the start (no archive dipping)
  • follow my own belief for which material to use
  • push for direct and forthright feedback from professionals about specific elements I’m unsure

This applies to everything

I have a lot of theories that form the framework for my philosophy. Like most people, they’re a cobbled amalgamation of experience, stories, consumed media and things I don’t quite correctly remember someone saying.

One thing that I currently put stock into though is the process for learning something, in particular a craft. Without going into too much detail, a cornerstone of the process is being to judge quality dispassionately. In the critical evaluation of an expression’s fulfillment of the art form, growth may be obtained through practice. Without the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, there’s no basis to evaluate one’s work and all that ends up being produced is garbage. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough critical ability to evaluate music right now, and it’s impeding my composition. Without this I just paddle around in circles modifying the same elements over and over feeling that something is “wrong”, but not knowing what to do about it.

With software engineering, and to a lesser extent mechanical and electrical, I can tell you what is done well and what is not. It’s easier to build these skills because in science right and wrong is a lot more cut and dry. With photography, from an implementation standpoint I can hold my own, expression-wise things become a little fuzzy. In any case, musically I’m hamstrung by this and I need to grok the difference between “good” and “bad” when it comes to rhythm and timbre.

Tell me what you think!

こんにちは!ブログがもっと機能するように徐々に第三者の観点から利用してるつもりです。今日気付いたのはコメントするために、当ブログのアカウントが必要です。簡単言うとそれは僕しかないので、意味ない!昔はそうじゃなかったけど、恐らくアップグレードはどこかでそうなちゃった。とにかく、今日ルールと設定調整したら、誰でもコメントをかけるようになったので、ぜひ好きな写真とかあれば、何でも軽くフィードバックしてください。何か問題があったらお手数ですが、メールください。

よろしくお願いします。

Photographs from the heart’s eye

昨夜搬入帰りながらかなり重要なことを気づきました。最近写真展の客さん評判を心配したけど、気づいたら、評判は重要じゃない。そもそもこの写真展の趣旨は大切な友達を感謝するためです。そして写真展を準備しながらその人たちのことを愛情込めて賛辞として作りました。それでもう成功です。

This is important so I’ll say it in English as well.

Recently I’ve been worrying about the critical reception to my show since I’ve invested so much time and money into it. But when I was on the way home from the installation last night I realized something: it doesn’t matter what sort of critical reception I get. The original motivation behind this exhibition was to celebrate my friends; the ones that pulled me up and helped get my feet under me here in Japan. And when I was preparing for the show that’s what I did; I fondly thought of the people in the pictures, all they’d done for me, and I made these photographs as a tribute to them. So the show’s already a success.

Thanks for helping make it one. 皆さん本当に有難うございました。

Now we wait

写真を搬入済みです。ギャラリーのスタッフの皆さんが凄く親切で助かりました。写真の張りが終わったら鍋とビールをエンジョイしながら僕の展示について色んな質問を聞かされました。感謝です。

じゃあ、これ以降はお客さんの受け取り次第ですね。ちょっと心配します。とりあえずこれ以上言わないので、どうぞ自分で先にみてください。それ後に感想を聞かせていただきます。

Gallery back online

写真のギャラリーを復活しました。サーバー上にの問題だったけど、壊れてたのが今日気づいただけ。自動的にその通知がほしいけど、なんだろう。とにかく、またギャラリーを見えなかった教えて貰えば助かります。迷惑を掛けましてすみませんでした。

The gallery is back online. There was a server-side problem with one of the database tables being crashed, though I just realized it today. I suppose it may have been down for several weeks. Ideally, I’d like to receive some automated notice when it goes down…hmm. Anyway, sorry for the trouble, if you have trouble getting into the gallery or the random image on the sidebar again, I’d appreciate it if you let me know. Thanks.

一言

明後日「この視点から」を開催します。今週末締め切りぎりぎりまで告知交流です。年末だからか、写真の仕上がりが完全に終わったからか、よく分からないけど意外と落ち着いています。写真展についてこの気分が始めてですから、ちょっと気になります。

とにかく、明日は搬入でと明後日からはお客さんとの関係育つです。皆さんに会うように楽しみしています。

The long road in

明日は暗室のラストだ。色んなことを注意して仕上がりましたけど、まだ完成は一歩先の気がする。写真に全精神を打ち込みたいです。プリントと心が繋げないと、伝わりたいメッセージが暈ける。

写真。心。ディスタンス。

そのギャップを埋めるために意識を鍛錬しないといけない。まず瞑想して答えを探します。

寒空の慰め

開催は後二週間弱です。毎晩一種の進行です…広告、プリント用意、またはネガの棚卸。今回の展示は七割モノクロのプリントを出しますが、幾つかこう見たいのカラー写真も展示します。これは2008年の正月、一人で角館に旅して、孤独に包まった。本当に美しかった、あの誰もいない寂れた城郭都市。