Stay Sharp

Thursday, July 12, 2012

DFW (Depth of Field Wanking)

Enough already. Since tilt-shift photographer Naoki Honjo came out with his photo book "Small Planet" in 2006, the market has now produced softwares as well as modes in most new cameras where even the minions can play this "fun" streak of the mini-me world. I have tried it, looks fun I have to admit. At that time, in 2006, this was a stunning and over the imaginary realm piece of new ways to see photography. I remember seeing his book at Kinokiniya back then and thought it was brilliant. But this has already put a stamp on a certain time and in less than 5 years the "miniature" style will have an early twenty hundred chain locked in on all these images and with a smile the tilt shift wankers will try to talk around the topic, a thing if the past...that's how we did it back then. Naoki San might be the only one with a pleased smile since he was one of the few first. Admit it now, it's a fad boys. I could say a word or two about the Holga and pinholw boom as well but gracefully draw back my sharp fangs of critizism, might be rather boring hearing me rant in the favor of all anti-social elements and hack on popular stuff we all have the freedom to play with. A tilt shift lens used for what it was intended for is a fantastic piece of mechanical and optics and I have had my eyes on Canons TS E 45mm and 90mm F/2.8 lenses since they came out in 1991. See, it's not a new thing people, over 20 years on the market. I'm juggling with the thought that I would not use it enough for the price they ask for it. I would use it for architectural photography and maybe portraits to a certain degree. Still haven't got it, maybe one day.

Since you now as well can shoot video with your trusted DSLR and since you can do it with the fast F lenses (prime, not tilt-shift lens) means that even here we have a depth of field wanking of a higher class. Since the DOF (depth of field) is so small there is mainly a constant jumping between in / out of focus. Looked really cool the first 100 you tube posts but has come to look almost cheap now since you know that it started with creative and innovating young skateboarders, bmx, artists and musicians. Now Red-Bull, Mercedes Benz, Sony and most top 40 hit videos contain a slip or more of katana sharp f-stop masturbation. Same thing all over again, something is born on the streets and the big corporations tags along and make it their thing to tell us they are also young and cool…indeed. Look back on the 80's photography. Check the fashion magazines, top of the range modern publications and the Camera manufacturers year books from back then when people were trying to be funky and going full bukake with all the new 35mm film brands, using lightning with all kinds of color shit, glass panels and filters infront or around the scenes. Looked mighty fresh and cool then, now it just look cheap and tacky. Maybe just me, but I believe and trust my instinct that a strong and timeless image has just a few elements baked in the mix, simplicity and strong imagery comes from thinking outside the box, go hard on less-is-more and don't fall in the trap together with the sheep of no imagination. Be your own man. Out of 100 images I get around 5 good ones I can honestly say I am proud of and really have the right intended feel to them. Small percentage but better than 100 mediocre post-produced over the top "stunning" hallucination dream world imagery you see in most media today. I have a slight confession to make to my fellow photo peers. Here we go, I've been doing professional photography since 1999 and never used Photoshop! How's that for a fact? Don't even know how it works and I never felt I needed it so I don't. Got Adobes Lightroom back in 2004 and I remember fellow media minded folks telling me that only the true pro's use PS. Back then if you wanted to be in the club amongst the "true pro's" you'd better carry your shit in a Domke bag or two, and nothing could be screwed in your gear if it didn't have the name Manfrotto on it. Love Manfrotto (Domke not so much) but tripod less is always better. Just another example of wanking in the spotlight of a shining blind wannabe. Now Lightroom has become the benchmark of good and solid post production work and even if I don't hang in those circles anymore, I'm sure the same software uber folks are going rebel and rough with an installed Lightroom these days and swear that it's the bomb, always have been. Comedian Louis CK said once talking about FaceBook, Twitter and all the social media stuff- "we use all the new stuff since its there, it's available. You can say no you know!"

Wikipedia on Canons tilt lenses:

"Shifting allows adjusting the position of the subject in the image area without moving the camera back; it is often used to avoid convergence of parallel lines, such as when photographing a tall building. Tilting the lens relies on the Scheimpflug principle to rotate the plane of focus away from parallel to the image plane; this can be used either to have all parts of an inclined subject sharply rendered, or to restrict sharpness to a small part of a scene. Tilting the lens results in a wedge-shaped depth of field that may be a better fit to some scenes than the depth of field between two parallel planes that results without tilt.
Unlike most view cameras, the shift mechanism allows shifts along only one axis, and the tilt mechanism allows tilts about only one axis; however, the rotation of the mechanisms allows the orientations of the axes to be changed, providing, in effect, combined tilt and swing, and combined rise/fall andlateral shift. The tilt and shift functions cannot be independently rotated. The lens is supplied with these functions at 90° to each other (e.g., providing tilt and lateral shift); they can be changed to work in the same directions (e.g., providing tilt and rise/fall) by removing four screws, rotating the front of the lens 90°, and reinstalling the screws."

Couldn't had said it better myself…lol.

I wonder what still active and strong impact photographers like Salgado, Reza, Annie Leibowitz, Steve McCurry, James Nachtwey and the like have to say about this fad. I don't even want to think what the grand master old timers would say if they were around. If any of you above mentioned read this blog (wow, that would be something…!), would love to hear your comments please.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Red River

They use the cyclo here to the fullest

Back "home" in the North after a week in Hanoi. What can I say…so much to take in, a week drains your inner abilities to see the daily spectacle infront of you and I am really pleased to have had the chance to explore this small but filled-to-the-rim city for the last week. Not sure what tales I will have from this place. A little like visiting a fishbowl or compound since I got the impression that "all is one" and there is limitless concepts of what lays beyond. All good for the visiting man, but not a position I would drop my anchor.  But then on the other hand there are not many places that I would. Love my week in Hanoi, now new shit to tackle.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Copper K-Tora (BTW FTP)

More Hanoi. More and longer walkabouts in a city that seem to have stopped in time and not changed much since the early 90's when I was here first time. For the locals I can imagine huge differences in life styles. That's what I have been told by the native sons and daughters of this the one "we" system anyways. But the street scene and facade is pretty much the same. Less bicycles and more iPhone stores. Being neighbor to Laos, Cambodia and China you are in the communist belt of south-east Asia but you don't feel it in your long daily strolls mostly staring into a viewfinder, as you don't feel the behind the scene in any of the red star nations. You scratch the surface and it might seep out, I don't wanna go there. Like it as it is, being a solitary ghost just checking out this and that. Some of the friendliest and most easy going people I have come by have been from really oppressed and controlled nations. A must and need to be on the right side of life, to have an ability to roll with the punches I believe. What do I know, just an express visitor pampered from birth with equal rights and freedom of deep self thinking. Scandinavian rights to topple what you have in front of you with help and support from the toppled to be. During my walks, thoughts like, what if the country had been untouch by foreign interventions and was to develop on her own stance to the world back in the days when history was forged by outsiders? The international fusion cuisine,  French quarters and croissant with a hot espresso for breakfast would be harder to come by for sure. How would nations with a similar past have looked today if different hands of cards were dealt? Singapore, Hongkong, Thailand and Malaysia are decennia ahead of Vietnam in terms of development but is this for the better one may ask? I think it is, but respect and listen to any ideas and thoughts steering in another direction. Again, as Scandinavian you were told very early in life to question things, be against is good and the ball of dialogue was then possible and could be set in motion. Standing there in the shadow with all senses intact but wrapped up good with the heavy blanket of fearful respect to Big brother - "Can we be more? Do we want to be more, Why…not? Is controlled happiness true happiness" These are the big question(s) that keeps popping up in my have-a-ticket-out-of-here-on-Wednesday mind.


Saturday, July 07, 2012

…and a Vespa

An early morning walkabout under an overcast sky in a still sleepy Hanoi.

Red Bed

Friday, July 06, 2012

Minimalistic in Hanoi

In Hanoi working on a project for a major Airlines inflight magazine. More about this later on. Woke up early and hit a half awake city I have been absent from since the early '90s when I back-packed from here to Ho Chi Minh city a.k.a Saigon. The huge trees that lines most roads are still here as well as the more than chaotic traffic and street hustling. Love it. A total mess that flows with willpower and honking horns, socialistic communism hand in hand with a bright shining capitalist approach. Embarrassing to admit, but I was searching in vain for a convenience store in the neighborhood, these symbols of "life" that has become a such a sure thing in our more and more simplified lives in the so called developed world. If you want a bottle of water here you will have to get it from the lady squatting on the street corner. Still pretty convenient when you think of it. I will spend a week shooting in the city and have decided on a minimalistic approach when it comes to my choice of gear. In these parts of the upcoming SEA regions bigger is better (talking camera gear) since it symbolizes success and status. But with these new Micro Four Thirds System cameras you can be booth candid and stealth and "tourist" looking i.e give you a more easy approach to the street and all the goodies out there. Don't get me wrong here, I love to work with my DSLR gear and there is a high trust factor getting a prime lens on a sturdy body, sure. But you can if you dare to break new boundaries get what you need in a way that you want it with a whole range of very decent tools nowdays. I am waiting for when the magazines will start getting mobile phone shots in print. The day will come of it hasn't already (too early for proud editors to admit this, sure it happens though!).

p.s Note the Minolta strap, you don't see these around anymore.

To celebrate with being on assignment again I post this shot from this mornings walkabout of freshly steam scalded then smoked canine cadavers for sale as condiments to whatever dish suitable. Mans best friend...