Sunday, 1 May 2016

Goodbye Blogspot, hello Wordpress

I have decided to end this blog here at Blogspot, and to continue at Wordpress  There are a number of reasons: better support for mobile devices, better layouts, a dedicated app, a community, a non-Google company...
All the old entries have been moved to the new site, and from today on, entries will solely be poster there,

Click to head on over now

Saturday, 9 April 2016

People of Bologna (and Ferrara and Padova)

I recently spent a week in Bologna in Northeastern Italy, from which I returned with a nice collection of street photographs. Bologna is a city of colours and textures (and light and shadow), and I tried to reflect these aspects in the photos I took, which is why I shot primarily in colour during the day. I resorted to black and white for the evening/night time photos. I added two sets to the People sections:

I also made a couple of day trips, to nearby Ferrara and Padova (Padua), and a few of the pics in the colour set were taken in those two places. 

All photos were taken with a Fujifilm X-T10 using primarily a 35mm prime lens. 

More links:

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Personal Portraits 2015

It's been a little over a year that I reverted back to digital photography, abandoning, for now at least, the lo-fi analog cameras which I had been using for many years before. This is a good time then to look back at the photos taken over that year, and particularly the portrait photographs. While much of the photography I undertook this year was either street or architectural, I selected the portraits for a 'best of' review which I posted here: Up Close and Personal 2015.

The photos included in that set feature portraits of friends, acquaintances and random strangers who agreed to pose for me.

I have been playing around with three cameras, the nicely compact and versatile Fujifilm X-30, the Leica X2 which takes great pics but is in dire need of a view finder, and the Fujifilm XT-10, which has become my favourite camera. All three cameras, plus the iPhone, are represented in this set. 


Sunday, 6 December 2015

India By Night / Faces of India 2015

In November of this year I returned to India, my 11th visit so far. This time I did not travel around much but for personal reasons I decided to stay in Kolkata for the better part of the trip, with a few days also spent in Mumbai.  This time was the first time that I did not take any analog camera with me to India; indeed I decided to travel light and take only a single camera, the Fujifilm X-T10, with two lenses, the 35mm and the 16-50mm. 

Each camera which I took with me over the years was different and unique, be it the Diana+, the Polaroid cameras or the panoramic Holga camera I had with me last year. With the versatile X-T10 I was looking for something which would coax out something unique out of it, and I soon found it. The brilliant 35mm f1.4 lens is of course perfect for night photography, and I was more than spoilt with opportunities to shoot at night.

My stay in Kolkata was timed to coincide with two back to back festivals, Diwali and Kali Pujas, a festival dedicated to Kolkata's patron goddess Kali. During the nights leading up to and over these two festivals, people were out at night, celebrating and having fun. Obviously this was a perfect chance to capture lively night scenes, and I had great fun doing so. Add to that also a couple of evenings spent in Mumbai's Juhu Beach and Marine Drive areas where people gather after nightfall to hang out, relax and have fun. India is a country of colours, hence I decided to shoot mostly in colour, I broke out the black and white filters only rarely.

All these night time activities have resulted in a set which I have now uploaded: India By Night

All this doesn't mean that I wasn't out in the day time taking photos, so I added a second set, Faces of India 2015, with portrait and street photography from Kolkata.

As in the previous years, I came back from India with the fondest memories, leaving me very much looking forward to the next trip back there.

Enjoy the photos. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Paris by Night

I recently spent a short week-end in Paris. It's a city I've visited and photographed before, so I decided to do something I haven't done before, in Paris or anywhere else: I took the camera with me on a night outing. The camera being my camera of choice at the moment, the Fujifilm X-T10, this was the first time I gave it a serious try-out with low light photography, and it performed marvellously. I shot at high ISO, 6400, which adds a bit of graininess but that works just fine. Sure, some shots came out blurry, but most photos come out technically great. 

All the shots are people photographs, taken around the areas of Marais and Saint Germain, both in the street and inside cafés and bars. Some people I shot with their permission, most without. I now put up a selection of those photos here: Night Out in Paris. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Neighbourhood Watch (Folks of Many Shades)

I live in Neukölln, a part of Berlin that until a few years ago was mostly a working class district, with a high percentage of 'guest worker' immigrants (that is, mainly first and second generation Turks and Lebanese, and a sprinkling of East Europeans), and an unemployment rate bordering on 30%. When I moved here some 15 years ago, nobody wanted to live here. Anyone who could afford it moved out, even more so if they had kids who reached schooling age. Rents were low and the district was going down the drain. Shops closed one after the other, only to be replaced by game parlours and betting places. There was one single decent restaurant around (a sushi place of all things), and you could count the amount of decent pubs on the fingers of one hand. The area was known for drug trafficking, for youth gangs, for schools who could not find teachers to teach, for heaps of dog shit on the sidewalk, and for people walking their beer bottles every hour of the day. Its fifteen minutes of fame came and went when national media  outlets started branding parts of Neukölln as 'no-go areas'. Oh, and David Bowie named an instrumental track after it, only he managed to spell it's name wrong ('Neuköln', on the album Heroes).

Much of that changed several years ago, when neighbouring hip Kreuzberg became crowded and expensive, and students and young new immigrants (sorry, 'expats', as the Americans, Brits, French, Israelis and Spaniards like to be known) realised that Neukölln's low rents beat its bad reputation. What started slowly is now in full swing: gentrification. That's both good and bad. Now we have decent pubs and clubs, plenty of no-fuzz restaurants (old and new) serving good food, and a mix of languages, ethnicities, fashion statements and gender fluidity to rival that of London and New York. And people clean up after their dogs. But, inevitably, this also means rising rents and unscrupulous landlords trying to force their old tenants out. There are even plans to build posh walled estates in the middle of those supposed 'no-go-areas'. 

Yet, the district is still far from being upmarket. Walk the streets and you still find discarded furniture and appliances just tossed on the sidewalk. The game parlours are still there, as are the smoke filled corner pubs with the all-day drunks. There are still plenty of people trying to make ends meet, running the gamut from homeless to jobless to those working their arse off in low paying part-time jobs. 

Nowhere is the 'clash of cultures' more evident than on Hermannplatz, a busy square between Neukölln and Kreuzberg. It's ugly and not very inviting, but for about a year now, a market is being held there on four days of the week, with stalls selling traditional Berlin food such as 'Currywurst' (sausages with curry powder ketchup) and doener kebab (which is now as traditional to Berlin as the bagel is to New York) besides stalls selling vegan, Korean or Spanish food as well as hip(ster) coffee brews. And it's here that a very colourful mix of Neuköllners both new and old hangs out: the hipsters, the homeless, the drunks, the yuppies, the refugees, the artists, the retired, the students, the housewives, the jobless and the working, from all corners of the globe.

I pass this square every day on my way to work, yet for some reason I had never stopped to take photos. This changed a few weeks ago when I was sick for a week while being on vacation. Not feeling up to criss-crossing the city, I took my camera to Hermannplatz, sat down and had coffee and observed the people. And I started taking photos. First I took candid shots, the way I usually do in Berlin, but then I decided that I might get better results if I asked permission of people. Surprisingly, I found a number of folks who were not only willing but happy to pose - much like the gentleman pictured on top, who quite happily chats with me now every time I run into him. The same goes for the lady posted here on the right. 

A number the people I photographed, with or without permission, live on the fringe. You can tell that they struggle to make ends meet, yet the ones I talked to seemed content, if not happy; or at least wanted to appear so. Moreover, you can tell that what they want to display, behind all their idiosyncrasies, is dignity and pride. And this is how I hopefully manage to portray them. 

(Yes, there is also a fair amount of homeless people, hard-core alcoholics and a few lone junkies hanging out here, and to paint a true picture of the neighbourhood, I would have needed to include their portraits. But I'm not a reporter, and I do draw the line at photographing people's mysery just for the sake of it.)

I've been taking photos in the square and the neighbouring streets almost every day now for the past two months, usually on my way home from work, which explains why many of the photos reflect a soft, late-summer evening light. Because I wanted to use an unobtrusive camera, I mostly used the compact Leica X2, and to take advantage of that special light, I shot all photos in colour. 

I've now uploaded a selection of the photos, and you can see the full set here:

Saturday, 19 September 2015

As Summertime Ends

With summer drawing to a close in these parts of the world, it's time to wrap up those summer photo shoots. I've still been out and about in Berlin over the last sunny weeks and captured more street photographs, a selection of which I added to the sets I uploaded a couple of months ago: The Singer On the Couch and Scenes of Summer, the former being in black and white, the latter in colour. As before, the bulk of the new colour photos were shot with the Leica X2, and all the black and white ones with a Fuji, this time the X-T10. These are the final additions to these sets, and I must say I'm happy how they turned out.

Apart from the images which I added to these sets, I also shot a bunch of street photos around my neighbourhood, most of them with the Leica X2, which I will be adding later as a separate set - these photos really stand on their own and don't really fit in with the happy-go-free images of the other two sets.

So, here's to a good summer almost past. Enjoy.

The Singer on the Couch (black and white set)
Scenes of Summer (colour set)