Saturday, 29 March 2008

Life... last night

"Joni, mate, one day you have to put your camera down and get your cock out."

- My friend Chris in the pub, when talking about women.

Some things that I hear when I sit around just have such a beautiful ring to them. I wish I could record all those conversations and transcribe them as easily as I can shoot. Hum, now that I read this I think I haven't learnt anything.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Photography is unnatural

Many times I read comments saying how much better real life looks like than photographs. For example, people say that "out of focus" isn't part of real life, that blur is something that photography brought to other forms of art or that a rectangular frame is something arbitrary and unnatural. I remember for example this thread on circular photographs which although cool, doesn't really relate to how we perceive the world around as relative to how a camera perceives it. I mean, compare these and figure our if they have to produce a similar image on the sensor, film or retina or not...

I always wonder if people who say that they don't see out of focus in real life have looked at their fingers. If I take the thumb of my left hand and place it ten inches away from my eyes not only I get a background that is out of focus (if you have normal vision) but also a background in which objects appear twice! Diplopia is a natural consequence of us having two eyes, and it's something that this far I haven't seen anybody try to do with a camera. Try a couple of times, it does exist. About the quality of photographs... well... I have always thought that for a moment they are much more precise than our own visual system. After all, the only part of our retina that is particularly sharp and able to perceive colour is the fovea, which is also extremely small. The illusion of a richly coloured world that is entirely in focus and sharp takes places when our eyes move around it constantly and our brain keeps on storing this information. But if you only have the amount of time that a camera employs in taking a picture, it beats us neatly in doing the job of rendering reality as it is, as no needs for scanning the scene are required. Everything gets in in one single neat click. And what about the arbitrary shape of photographs? Oh well, we have two eyes that share part of the visual field, so after all... rather a rectangle than a square...

Monday, 24 March 2008

Discussions... the perfect street photographer

Hugo Leglise today wrote:

For me, there's only one interesting point in that argument (tele vs. wide-angle): the paradox that most street photographers want their subjects to be candid and unaware of their presence, while also being as close as possible. Which ends up either in some kind of mystical invisibility cloak, either in plain dissimulation tactics. Add a dose of boyish smile or macho-man ruggedness for the after-taste.

So I guess the perfect street photographer is a mix of Houdini and Harry Potter, with a Robert Redford smile and Hannibal Lecter's looks.

What flavour of photographer are you? I certainly pull the smile in the worst situations, and the bit of confusing smalltalk can perhaps take place.

There goes Henri Cartier-Bresson in action:

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Semana Santa

I was shooting the Easter parades in Alicante the other day. After that, Fallas in Valencia followed. It was pretty strange to be shooting fill in flash during the day in colour. Of course, I haven't seen anything as I'm loaded with Fuji's NPC and NPH. Wedding film somebody told me. Easter is a strange time. I remember my father being nazareno and stopping me in the middle of some crowded dark street. Weather is not being great. Horrible thunderstorms stopped everything that might have been going on yesterday and today electricity went. It's back now. I'm not sure if the brotherhoods are going to risk taking out the hundreds of kilograms of gold and silver and the images.

I managed to meet up in Valencia (sequentially) first with old friend Fabrizio and then with my more recent friend Ana.

Photography discussions today seem to go back to Goya all the time. Welcome expressionism.

- El Aquelarre, Goya.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

In Alicante

I´m right now writing in a cybercaf in Alicante while drinking an Alhambra (beer from Granada) and killing all the annoying pop ups that tell me about the viruses this pc has. Arrival was a bit of a mess. Due to fog Easyjet diverted us to Valencia and kept on going about whether we would fly in a bit to Alicante or go by coach. Wow, the guy that runs this place looks like Fito from Fito y los Fittipaldis. Same hat. Well, back to the story. So Easyjet kept us in there hostage inside the plane for a couple of hours without food and with just a glass of water. Then I ended up in this closed airport at night fighting for getting room in the busses. The drivers didn´t know anything and there was no representative taking care of us. Brilliant. At least I ended up sharing the three hour drive with two beautiful girls from around here. Most things seem good here. Like the food. I just had yesterday caldo con pelota. Never seen that before. It translates as 'soup with a ball'... of meat. Nice. There´s also a cafe by the harbour called "Cafe del Puerto" which has the most beautiful waitresses I´ve ever seen. Oh, and nice metal pubs around here as well.

Today I spent the afternoon in the beach (how hard it is to shoot there!) and half an hour ago I was shooting (flash, colour, wide) one of the easter processions. Lots of blue and purple. Tomorrow I´ll go to the fallas in Valencia and meet up with mates. In a bit I go back to the street. By the way, I watched the final of the six nations yesterday. Wales won big time, so I guess the party in Cardiff had to be massive... and I wasn´t there! I had to watch the match with two Irish families...

So, everything is good around here, but the nine hour trip to Malaga is going to be annoying.

Oh, and in the plane a welsh guy on extasis was trying to make a trash metal band sing Welsh anthems. Good fun. Much better than just sitting around.

Monday, 10 March 2008

They're amongst us!

It seems to be that the Metropolitan Police is making large efforts in creating chaos and public paranoia. Their latest campaign (covered in B, Boing Boing and HCSP among others) suggests that if we see any sort of suspicious behaviour by our neiughbours, we shouldn't think twice, but report it to the counter terrorist hotline. You can find the whole campaign at the Metropolitan Police website. Their radio ad is the most orwellian thing I have ever heard. It reminds me of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by PK Dick, in which human-like replicants are infiltrated amongst us, and the Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. It says:

"How do you tell the difference between someone just videoing a crowded place and someone who’s checking it out for a terrorist attack?

How can you tell if someone’s buying unusual quantities of stuff for a good reason or if they’re planning to make a bomb?

What’s the difference between someone just hanging around and someone behaving suspiciously?

How can you tell if they’re a normal everyday person, or a terrorist?"

Answer: "The answer is, you don’t have to."

Just call. Of course, they have dispatched also lots of posters advising people to call them if they suspect that somebody is taking strange pictures. They always take special care for us.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Finishing things off

I just finished reading Doctor Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick. I can't help thinking that the perfect ending of the book is in the lines that come two pages before the actual ending of the novel. Once things are mostly solved, but still fairly open ended, Bonny Keller decides to escape with her lover to the city (San Francisco). Before that, most of the characters have lived in a placid countryside community, far away from large populations in a world recovering from a third world war.

"You're very good people, Bonny thought. So this is the city - this is what we've been hiding from, throughout these years. We heard the awful stories, that it was only ruins with predators creeping about, derelicts and opportunists and nappers, the dregs of what it had once been... and we had fled from that, too, before the war. We had already become too afraid to live here.

As they entered the kitchen she heard Stuart McConchie saying to Dean Hardy, '... and besides playing the nose-flute this rat-' He broke off, seeing her. 'An anecdote about life here,' he apologized. 'It might shock you. It has to do with a brilliant animal, and many people find them unpleasant.'

'Tell me about it,' Bonny said. 'Tell me about the rat who plays the nose-flute.'"

When you're doing something as open ended as writing, or shooting... when do you know that you're done and it's about time to put it all away and start something new?