Every move seems to get more complicated. I know, I am an expert. In the last 13 years we have lived in 8 different countries and are about to go to number 9. Furniture will take a beating, pictures usually arrive fine. Some glassware will break and some cloth will develop a smell. So how does one pack things that have a bit more sentimental value?
With regards to my camera equipment, I was able to carry a bunch over during a house hunting trip. I will now carry the rest with me on my actual leaving date. This only leaves some box cameras for packing. Each camera was packed in a ziplock bag with a silica gel drying package. Everything was put into a large bag and padlocked shut, kept at a friends house. This will keep them dry until I can pull them out.
With regards to my photography books, I have treated the same way. Each one is put into a large zip lock bag with a silica pack. They will each be wrapped in paper and then sealed in a new cardboard box. I will toss in a couple of silica packets in each box for good measure. Books can handle some temperature deviations however they do not handle moisture well. I am paranoid about keeping them dry as the smell of a fresh book is intoxicating to me.
I have other books, books which I read and give away which do not receive the attention my photography books get. While literature is interesting to me it does not fascinate me like photography books. I will miss these a great deal while the take the slow trek from England to Indonesia.
I love the phrase that Zach Arias coined, at least with regards to photography, of 'More Signal Less Noise'. It gets right to the heart of the subject when it comes to photography. Gear, technique, tricks, glass, light, exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, composition and medium can all become noise.
Sure, all these things are important to taking a good photography, but if they prevent you from taking a picture then they become noise. And noise, is bad. It causes stress, fear and kills emotional motivation which is essential to the creation of art.
Yesterday I was looking through my photography books, while listening to old YouTube episodes from Ted Forbes, and it suddenly struck me that my darkroom had not been visited in awhile. With out upcoming move to Indonesia, I will be packing it up very soon. I am in the middle of printing one project, and still working on conceptualizing a second all of which will be set aside for a few months as my belongings are loaded onto a ship.
So I dropped all the noise and went into my darkroom. A few hours later and I had six useful prints, three of which made it to my project. So, again, Zach's words of inspiration pushed me to stop studying and actually do!
This is one of the prints I was working on. It is for my second photography project I am putting together which is about London and the people who call it home.
I am still working on it as most of the pictures have been taken, but I have not decided how I want it to look.
This shot is pure street. It was cloudy and kids running all over the place. Bubbles were floating all around. I had my Leica M6, slipped on the 35mm lens and captured this shot. Framing is solid (the cut off of the buildings is only in the scan as the print has good space above the tallest building same with the bubble makers left arm). The Millennium Bridge can be seen in the background.
For the print, I dodged the bubble makers back giving it more texture, I then burned the top ⅓ of the image to bring out the clouds in the sky. That is it. The picture was perfectly composed, exposed and captured making the print easy to make. When I was standing there, none of this was running through my mind. I was in the 'photography zone' focused on the signal and ignoring the noise.
Just to the left of the frame is St Paul. One could argue that a more powerful image would include this, however it would have challenged the viewers attention. Now the viewers attention is taking to the bubbles and the laughing kids in the background. More signal less noise...
Looking through one of my favorite photography books "The Family of Man", I ran across a Henri Cartier-Bresson image of an Indonesian woman in a market. That got me looking to see when he went and why. Obviously in 1949 Indonesia was obtaining its independence from the Dutch. This was the end of an colonization that started in the 1602.
The story is one of legend, literally legend. As countries began exploring and expanding the European countries were fighting to dominate trade. While the English are well known, it was the Dutch that were the most successful. This success was driven by the first publicly traded company called the Dutch East India Company chartered in 1602. The company had broad ranging powers, they could attack, take war and colonize.
They did this is the area that is today called Jakarta and ruled over this part of the world until the Japanese take over in the 1940's. By 1945, two atomic bombs drove the Japanese to surrender and re-awoken the Indonesian desire for independence. It was declared, and while the Dutch fought it for another four years they ultimately got their much desired independence.
A news worthy event drew Magnum and specifically Henri Cartier-Bresson. He arrived with his characteristic Leica and shot some memorable pictures, many of which were shown in the February 13th, 1950 issue. One of these images made it into the Family of Man exhibition created by Edward Steichen.
This is one of my favorite images of my son Lucas. I took it with my OM-2 while testing a roll of Arcos film. I was taking pictures around the house, and I wanted a picture of my son but wanted him to fill the frame. If I put him in focus he would not fill the frame and if I filled the frame he would be out of focus. I opted to have him out of focus and snapped two images. This is my favorite one of the two.
I was doing a small review on the 'Immediate Family' book by Sally Mann (you can see it HERE) and the concept of focus came to mind. We value focus a great deal and there is an entire eye glass industry around giving us the ability to properly focus. The challenge is that we do not remember in focus. Our memories, like our dreams, are more nebulous and less sharp.
People move, we move, our range of sight is limited and only further impacted by changing lighting conditions. So we do not experience our world in perfect focus. Yes we can sit still and focus on something, but this takes concentration. If we required focus to live our lives we would look like the old web cam videos of a few years ago...start, stop, start, stop...
So then it makes sense that our photography should not require excellent focus but it seems our world has moved in that direction. The earlier photographs were taken with home made lenses, and were not able to give the focus or contrast of modern day lenses. As technology improved, the ability to get tack sharp focus was an indication of a good quality lens. That desire, to get a very sharp, contrasty and tack sharp focus became the professional daily bread and the goal of every amateur.
These days, a quality lens is rather affordable. Any lens made these days will give better focus, sharpness and contrast than lenses made eighty years ago. So why is it that we are searching for focus? Because it is the first thing our eyes will see when looking at an image. It is a powerful compositional tool. But this does NOT mean we should be slaves to it.
Focus is something we should play with, and while it may hurt composition, it may help transmit emotion. Leaving the viewer to sharpen the image with their own memories, imagination or experiences.
Sometimes the right image is just beyond focus.