Friday, 26 March 2010

New SoFoBoMo site is live

After quite some effort behind the scenes, the new Solo Photo Book Month (SoFoBoMo) website is live. Still some design tweaking going on and quite a lot of content to develop (hopefully with your help). New design, new logo, lots of new features added and planned.

Go check it out, go register, get involved.

Past participants are already in the system, you just need to go through a simple password reset process to get your account active on the new system.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Art of books, books of art

It has been occurring to me that there are possibly conflicting goals in the creation of a book of art, namely the function of serving up the art as the subject and the nature of a well-designed book as an object of appreciation in itself. At some point, one has to yield to serving the other.

As SoFoBoMo approaches, it's a conflict playing out in my thoughts about how to design a book. Until now, I've kept mine pretty simple, directed at serving up photographs in a simple manner: the old-fashioned one to a page, white border approach. But I've been toying with the idea of putting more effort into the design of a book as part of the work itself: spreads, bleeds, multiple images on a page etc. Something that might be more engaging to a viewer. Might that detract from the photography? Or might the photography serve as content to support a wider book experience? And can some fancy graphic and typographic design further enhance that experience?

My own collection of photobooks doesn't help in this regard. They're all pretty much traditional art books - all about the pictures, not the book as product. So they're all simple. And that's good, if you're serving up a collection of art photographs. One exception is the "History of Japanese Photography" which is as much an art history book as a book of art. It has all kinds of chnages in layout, white space around text, insert images, spread, bleeds, different background colours for images. But the overall experience sometimes feels a little forced - design for the sake of it, getting in the way of viewing the pictures. But not by much, I don't feel like I want the wh0le thing as simple text pages followed by simple pages of pictures. A balance to be drawn.

Difficult stuff, this, once you're past the basic mechanics. If I get the right idea, (one of) my SoFoBoMo contribution might be rather more novel than before, something of an experiment.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Hyporeality learning

Hyporeality 87, Manila, March 2010

As I take more pictures for this series I'm learning some useful things about my photography:
  • This is turning out to be some of my favourite work.
  • It is making me think clearly about the relationship between forms and colours in a way sharp photos don't.
  • It makes me more reactive to the things around me. Better results seem to come from a looser shooting style.
  • I expect this work to continue for quite some time - it is a method and style easily translated to other places and subjects.
  • It's fun to do, which keeps me wanting to do it.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

It's not real...

...but it's fun.

Picked up via The Daily Telegraph come Thad & Sarah Lawrence. The 365 sets (Flikr - here and here) brought an instant smile to my face. Worth checking out their personal gallery on the commercial website, too.

Happy mistakes

Unexpected mistake, Manila, March 2010

Sometimes getting it wrong yields interesting results.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Hyporeality continues

Hyporeality 77, Manila, March 2010

Hyporeality 78, Manila, March 2010

I went out at the weekend and took some more of my Hyporeality shots. I'm enjoying taking these, they're quite a challenge to look at and are helping me figure out a whole bunch about my photography along the way.

Expect more here, so much so that I've given them their own label.

Now showing

Picked up via Harvey Benge's blog, comes Stephan Zaubiter's "Cinema" series. Some interesting stuff. I immediately saw this work as a sort of "where are they now?" update to Sugimoto's "Theater" series.

On comparisons

So the latest from Luminous Landscape is this short piece on making comparisons, in response to the minor debacle that was the comment on dynamic range comparisons. I'm kind of glad the later response went up, gives some balance and avoids me posting a rant against the original.

I agree that in print there are likely (I've not seen so can't say from experience) visible, visceral differences in output from DLSRs and Digital Medium Format (DMF). Large prints are almost certain to make that more apparent. Just as I can clearly see differences in the formats I shoot regularly once print size passes some threshold. All well and good.

Thing is, that goes no way to dispelling the myth propounded in the first piece that DMF has a larger dynamic range than DSLR. Unfortunately for LL, this is a measurable quantity and it doesn't matter what constraints you put on the range (such as the base signal to noise ratio), it is still directly measurable. And as comparisons over at DXOMark will show, there is precious little difference in modern DSLRs and DMF.

Another problem I had is that LL was using DR as a proxy for usable detail, although it is nothing of the sort. DXOMark has a separate measure for this (and the merits of that could be argued) in its tonal range measure. Again, objectively measurable. The one problem here is that when doing print comparisons, they re-base to a shrunk print - the lowest common denominator. It would be useful to see that also done for larger size (but then that would mean up-scaling lower resolutions, with attendant problems).

The biggest problem I had with the LL position is that they are using the subjective stuff, and ropey assessment of measurable values, to debunk the science as it doesn't agree with their conclusion. Unfortunately it doesn't work like that. Just because you don't agree with the measurements doesn't make them wrong. But likewise (to the chagrin of the measurebators) the numbers don't make the subjective preferences (opinions) wrong either.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Harvey Benge on editting

From a few days ago come these words of wisdom from Harvey Benge on editting for a photobook. Worth reading, especially with SoFoBoMo 2010 (Solo Photo Book Month) on the way.

Monday, 1 March 2010

A garden is a novelty

Green web


Sticky blanket
All: Manila, February 2010

This is the fist time I've had a place with a garden, and with the warm, dry weather, I can see me having fun photographing the bugs.

An interesting challenge

Floating leaves 2, Manila, February 2010

After my initial efforts picturing the floating leaves in digital, I reckoned it would make an interesting subject for a short series using the large format camera with the goal of producing some nice prints for the wall. And so, at he weekend, I decided to start on that effort, while the idea was fresh.

turns out it's quite a challenge for a few reasons. For a start, I've not done any close up work like this with the LF camera. there is the difficulty of working with the camera pointed at the ground, mounted low. Not too easy. Especially when it's suspended out over the water.

I also didn't realise how much the leaves move in the wind. In the course of the 45 minutes or so of fiddling around, they did 2 complete laps of the pool. With the narrow field of view I'm working with they traverse the ground glass in about 5 seconds. This will be a challenge of weather and shutter speed, too.

Needless to say, I didn't get a single exposure in. Instead i decided to bring it indoors and spend some time in the evening practising the set-up required. Below is a shot of part of my experimenting.

Staring at the floor, Manila, February 2010

With a 210mm lens mounted and working at about 2-3 feet above ground I'm getting out close to full bellows extension, hence the front standard hinged forward.

Another thing I've learnt from the digital trials is the difficulty of the white balance for these shots. It looks like I might have to get a grey card to help.

Fortunately there is no time limit on this - I can shoot almost any day while I'm living here, so plenty of opportunity to try things out. And I won't be exposing a single sheet of film until I'm happy I've got the technique sorted.