Abandon all hope all ye that venture forth in reading this post

My Cat
So my day was started as it is everyday. By my cat and his incisive need to do happy paws on my face, chest, neck, etc… It is 8 O’clock and for him it is up time. I do nothing because he is doing happy paws because he loves me and to discourage would be to deny his love, and no one wants to be deny love, especially the love of something so cute. So I lay and ignore the pain that often comes with this, when I haven’t bounced out of bed and ran to the food dish to divvy him his daily rations, he begins to chew on my hair. Being that there is little in the world that has such an annoying sound and even less that happens inches from my ear, I am awake. I have been watching as of late to see if this all happens at the same time every morning, or if it follows a more seasonal pattern with the coming of the sun or something and after much study and deliberation I feel that I can conclusively say that it is in fact at 8 O’clock sharp this interaction begins regardless of what time it was that I went to sleep or how long I have been sleeping. Ah to have everything as cut and dry as the life of a cat. We call them stupid animals but yet we are all striving for the same thing. Contentment. I am reminded of a story that I once heard and being as I can not remember all the details I will tell it as I remember (so quite possibly incorrect) A west coast native man lived on an island and was he was happy and alive. The sea provided him with all the food he would need and the forest provided him with the materials to build his home. He would fish when he was hungry and sleep when he was tired but basically he was at ease. The White man can and cut down all the trees, bought all the land and on it put a fish cannery where the west coast native man is now gainfully employed. He spends his 8 hours a day working so he can one day pay off that two acres of untouched coastal rainforest, that he gets to enjoy now on weekends.

Infrared
So after waking and eating and all these things that go on in the morning, I decided that a walk down to the Legislature was in order to try out the Hoya Infrared filter that is on loan to me from Jamie. I have read that the Canon 10D is capable of seeing all the wavelengths of the visual spectrum and not unlike the eye of most electronic devices it is also able to see things in the infrared area of the spectrum, but as to how well this is possible with my camera I have read completely differing opinions. So it is just one of those things that is best left to the experimentation. I have actually come across an interesting dichotomy in the availability of opinions when it comes to photography vs. independent film. In the independent film world every one is standing on the heads of the other to have there feeble and untimely dry and deprecating opinion known. (an opinion that almost always curses big bad ol Hollywood) where as photography, which incorporates so much of the same visual ideas and pulls on the same thoughts and feeling that are felt when composing a shot, has very little opinion slinging. I mean you can find a great deal said about equipment and the different facets of this film over that film, digital vs. silver halide prints so on and so forth But when it actually comes to the opinions of work on the grand scheme of things it is some times like pulling teeth to get thoughts that are not pulled out of the technical realm. I find that critiques are often checked at the technical aspects of the composition, little statements made about the detail contained with in shadows, and other such technical aspects of the photograph. I am taken back to Art history 102 where we would drone on and on about a silk screen that Warhol did. We would spend hours poking and proding at Worhal and his work of Marlin Monroe, or Smithson and his Spiral Jetty of rocks and sand that were in a Utah lake. But when it came to the first photographs, we discussed more the technical aspects of how the photo was made as apposed to the visual construction. We didn’t get in to the details of how Warhol actually did the silk screening, or how it was that Smithson brought these truck loads of dirt and gravel onto the banks of some forgotten lake in Utah. Nope the how was replaced with the why, where as with photography, the why was left to these single line statements and vauge jawings of things like “repetitious shapes of cement pillars”, when discussing Margaret Bourke-White’s Fort Peck Dam, taken in the mid thirties. Or with Weston’s pepper, “The textures and the shape of this pepper are slightly reminiscent of later female artistic nudes” and that was that. (pulled from my Art History notes) I was aware of Ansel Adam’s Zone theory, the idea of shooting film for the paper (a long story with in its self and being that is am like 6 to 8 hundred words of topic already I will refrain from its telling) long before I was heavily involved in photography. As is all to often true with most of my journal entrees there is little point to be made from all this. It is simply just my thoughts on some things. So anyway back to the IR filter… There was little online to be said about how well it worked so I was going to wait till I had a lot of extra money lying around (so never) and simply buy one to try it out. But Jamie had one and he was willing to lend it to me to try. So this morning after the cat was fed and the telephone answered (superpages telling me that my ad will in fact be white and they are simply cheap on the paper.) I decided to take a tripod out and try it. Now shooting infrared is something that is best done in the summer but and experiment is still viable out of season. I have been infatuated with infrared since I got turned on to film way back in February but have thus failed to try it, so I am slightly unsure of what can be artistically achieved out of this but I am totally ready to try anything once. What I discovered surprised me even though it really shouldn’t have because technically it is rather obvious but as I have said before I am very good at missing the obvious. So the Hoya R72 filter removes all light from the visual spectrum only allowing light of higher wavelengths in? Correct. So I slap on the filter turn on my camera and look though the view finder and what do I see? Nothing! Umm… I make sure that the camera is one and that there is nothing blocking the path, and I see? Nothing. I think about for a moment and I it came to me as these things often do. Oh ya, removes visible light :) So I am like ok I will fire off a shot.
And I did what I saw in the view finder was a shock, I could see the dark, dark, sky and the white clouds in a stark contrast to the dark surrounding area. I was like, ‘shit shit who the fuck is shooting at us’ (inside joke) and I spent most of the morning experimenting. Now one of the draw backs of this is the need for very long shutters and a tripod, which of course isn’t true with film (but I am not shooting film now am I.) so with these technical issues aside there is an entirely new world to be experimented with here. Some of the shots from this morning.


Camera: Canon EOS Canon 10D
ISO: 100
Shutter: 15 sec
Aperture: f 5.6
Lens: 28-80mm @80mm
Date Taken: Nov 18 2003



Camera: Canon EOS Canon 10D
ISO: 100
Shutter: 6 sec
Aperture: f 3.5
Lens: 28-80mm @28mm
Date Taken: Nov 18 2003

Again I think that IR shooting is something that is best done when there is a lot of alive things about to reflect the Infrared spectrum But it is a test.

Night Photography
So last night I was working away when a get an MSN from Jamie asking if I wanted to go out and shoot some stuff, and being one that will never turn down an opportunity to shoot things I heartily agreed. We went about the provincial museum area and near Jasper Avenue to catch some long exposures of traffic and the like. Here are some of the results.


Camera: Canon EOS Canon 10D
ISO: 400
Shutter: 15 sec
Aperture: f 27
Lens: 28-80mm @50mm
Date Taken: Nov 17 2003



Camera: Canon EOS Canon 10D
ISO: 100
Shutter: 4 sec
Aperture: f 4
Lens: 28-80mm @28mm
Date Taken: Nov 17 2003

Random Today
I was out and about till about 11ish and I am sitting at home after when there is a knock on the door, it wasn’t just a knock it was instead the musical knockity knock knock (pause) knock knock. Well you know what in mean. So I answer the door and standing there is one of our neighbors that I only see on occasion and only as of late. (I actually thought he was a worker as apposed to an owner, but I am sure that many think the same about me) This guy reminds me distinctly of this guy from Westlock Troy Billado (most of you have no idea who that but for those that do he was at first almost exactly like him) I was actually wondering if Troy was in Edmonton and had looked me up. However, Troy it was not, it was instead the neighbor from upstairs. He was in need of 40 dollars or so all so he could tow his car from some parking lot where it had died or so he said. Now I have never actually met this guy, I have seen him about like twice, and he thought that I was going to pull out my wallet and hand him 40 bucks. Not that I actually have 40 dollars in my wallet nor could I afford to hand that imaginary 40 buck over if I did. But I have no idea who this guy was. Alas I did genuinely feel bad that I couldn’t help him but he did set off huge alarm bells when he came to my door.

Street Photography
So I think that the style of photography that I like best is street photography. The type of photography that keeps me amazed and fascinated is the genuine and authentic style that shows us life as it is and is somewhat ironically the most technically void of the lot. I recall reading an article about a guy and the course that he took with street photographer Garry Winogrand. I recall reading this article in a technical mindset but I recall the non-technical things most vividly I remember that he used a manual meterless camera and set the aperture and shutter based on one of three different settings that he would choose based on the weather, sunny, cloudy, & very overcast/evening. This is often not the approach that you hear photographers taking, very often (I am as guilty as the rest) there is an extremely long and technically complicated commentary that accompanies a lot of work. I think that this has a lot to do with photographers asserting that this is a skill not a talent. That of I confuse you with a complex and in-depth explanation of this shot you will be more amazed at my talent and appreciate the photo more. Which is not to say that this idea is based in fiction but there is in fact a great deal of truth in the above statement. I think this is why street photography is often not included. It seems to me that it is the 1990’s “alternative rock” of photography. But, before this turns into a lengthy essay about the artistic position of street photography in the world of art and photography (all subjects that I am far from an expert on) lets get back to the article. Winogrand would take this manual camera set the appropriate aperture and shutter depending on the conditions, load up a roll of 400 speed Black & White and go out into the street and shoot. Winogrand would be quick, decisive, and invisible. Just a guy totally separated from those around him that were going about their daily business, but was taking there picture. He would take these 10 or so rolls and label them with a prewritten notes on the weather, and stash them away. He would stash these undeveloped rolls of film away for at least a year, if not longer. The idea is that he wanted to remove any memory of the day when he looked at the negatives as to not taint his perceptions of a good picture with his memory of the day. He didn’t want to choose a picture simply because it was taken on a day that he felt in a particularly good mood, or in the opposite not choose a shot to work with because he was in a bad mood. Such a drastic separation from the technical world of today, where you are told to develop your film as soon as possible and that it will be no good if you don’t etc… He would process the film in huge batches and print every single negative on a full 8X10 (No contact sheets for this cat) He would spend hours exposing the paper and then develop them in bulk. Then out of these stacks of 8X10s he would choose which shots where worthy of further exploration. When he died there was over 300,000 exposures that he hadn’t even seen. The point of this story? I am scared shitless to try street photography. It may be that I am far too Canadian or a wimp, but the idea of wondering around and blatantly taking photographs of unsuspecting strangers is quite frightening to me. I mean what if they saw me, what if they get angry, what if they feel violated by my deliberate disregard for their personal space? BUT this afternoon the desire to shoot overcame the fear if only for a second and I went out and tried my hand at street photography. I walked out and down jasper to city hall and back home taking photos as I went I tried to not think about the photograph I just took it. I often look at an something and think about how I will approach the photo, I look at the different aspects of the item and then experiment at taking the photo. This is so far separated from street photography that it isn’t even funny. If you see something you need to shoot it NOW!!! That should be the mantra that I recite as I go out and about. But, I do think I tasted what it is that keeps a person doing this sort of thing. I haven’t the foggiest idea how to describe the feeling; it was almost… it was almost like I was a machine making split second decisions as to what to take and how to take it. It was as though the camera was an extension of my sight and the shutter was simply a blink of an eye. The camera would come to my eye, focus, choose the composition, click the shutter and be back at my chest in what seamed like a heart beat. I felt like I was invisible. No one looked at me nor noticed my quiet intrusion; however as is true with all photography one may take a hundred pictures and come up with a single gem so these are the best of my day if only to illustrate what I am rambling on about.


Camera: Canon EOS Canon 10D
ISO: 200
Shutter: 1/90 sec
Aperture: f 4
Lens: 75-300mm @95mm
Date Taken: Nov 18 2003



Camera: Canon EOS Canon 10D
ISO: 200
Shutter: 1/30 sec
Aperture: f 4
Lens: 75-300mm @75mm
Date Taken: Nov 18 2003

But I realize that I have been yakking for like 3 hours and I am working on the sixth page in word so I will save some of my thoughts and leave it at that.

Weston “the camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.”

4 Replies to “Abandon all hope all ye that venture forth in reading this post”

  1. Street photography is great fun … it reminds me that I have a roll of black and white taken on the Quay in New West that I have to get developed.

    I really enjoyed reading this … it has inspired me to go out and take more pictures – thanks!

  2. super blog. terrific pics. thanks. love the one of parliament building in the snow. almost makes me miss alberta winter ;)

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