Saturday, 28 December 2013

Lines and Light

As you might have guessed from previous postings, I like to photograph buildings. Often, I find a building at it's most fascinating when, on sunny days, it becomes clear how the architecture plays with light, be it in the way it reflects light,  breaks it, or lets it through. When lines and shapes are enhanced by light and by shadows. 

I just put up a new Polaroid set which reflects this, Lines and Light. The photographs were taken in Berlin, in Metz, France (some in the Centre Pompidou), and a couple in London.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Holga, Jaipur and Kolkata

A few days ago I finally got around to scanning in the remaining Holga photos which I shot in India on the recent trip. A selection of these is now up on the Holga page. [Click here to view]

I also created two new sets in the Travelogue section, one with shots from Jaipur and one with photos from Kolkata. The Kolkata section features shots taken in more unusual circumstances. For one, I was there for the last night of a religious festival, the Durga Pujas  So a number of the photos show the Durga altars that were set up for the festival, and which would be taken down the next day and sunk into the river. What made the night different was that at the same time the fringes of the cyclone Phailin, which struck the Bay of Bengal that day, raged through Kolkata. So while normal you'd have to queue for an hour to get into the makeshift temples to see the altars, now here was hardly a crowd (of course it also meant that you were soaking wet at the end of the night). 

Additionally, there are some photos taken in the two Jewish synagogues that exist in a Kolkatta. The city used to have a Jewish community of over 3,500, with most of the original Jewish settlers having come over from Iraq in the 18th century onwards. Today, that community has dwindled down to 26. Many thanks to Jael Silliman for showing us around the synagogues, the Beth El Synagogue, built in 1856, and the Magen David Synagogue built in 1884.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Rajasthan Revisited

In October I went on my 9th trip to India. The two-and-a-half-week journey took me back to familiar places – Mumbai and Udaipur – as well as a new place (Jaipur) and a city which I had last visited 26 years ago: Kolkata – or Calcutta, as it was still known then.

Jaipur was about sightseeing, but the rest of the trip was not - it was mostly about catching up with friends. As such, the journey turned out to be a study of contrasts: I went to villages in the mountains around Udaipair where at the best of time people subside on very little and where this year’s overlong rainy season destroyed the maize crops and thus the villagers’ income for the year. I visited a friend’s house whose family is living four people to a single room. In Kolkata I was shown around the (now empty) palace of the Maharaja of Burdwan. 

My stay in India coincided with a nine-day religious festival, Navratri, dedicated to the worship of the goddess Durga. In Kolkata, I spent a night visiting the Durga Pujas, and in Udaipur I was 'coerced' to participate in the traditional Garba dances which take place in honour if Durga

I also met two of the 26 remaining members of Kolkata's Jewish community, which once numbered more than 3000, and visited the two synagogues there (I also visited a number of Hindu and Jain temples).

As for the touristy bits, there were a few: the Amber Fort and the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, the Monsoon Palace in the hills above Udaipur.

I’ve said this in previous blog entries, and I’m mentioning it here again: India for me has always been about the people. Which is why, this time around, most of the photos I brought back are portraits or street photographs, with few exceptions. I had with me again a Polaroid and a Holga camera. Unfortunately, just like last time, the Polaroid films were damaged by the airport x-ray machines (despite taking a film with lower ISO) and the prints have a noticeable red tint. I also took a fair number if photos with the iphone, mostly using the hipstamatic app and choosing a black & white 'film'. 

I posted the following sets:

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The flipboard magazine....

"People in Polaroids", which I started a few months ago, and in which I collect portraits taken with Polaroid cams from various internet sources (mostly flickr), has meanwhile garnered over 57.000 subscribers.... wow.

Here is the link, again. You'll need the Flipboard app to properly view it.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Fragments: Signs of the Times

I put together another Polaroid set which I called Fragments: Signs of the Times. It is a collection of shots of the kind of bits and pieces of the the type of signs that humans leave behind in the cities and which, eventually, come to stand for a certain time, and possibly a certain place. This can be anything from street art and public art to human detritus or simple decorations. The city in question being Berlin, these fragments point to bin the distinct cultures and tastes that evolved in the two parts of the once divided city, of the free spaces that opened up on either side of the wall before and after its fall. 

If this sounds a bit highfaluting, it isn't meant to be... at the end of the day, it's about finding interesting motives to photograph, especially finding new motives to photograph in a city that I, and many other people besides, have been busy documenting of late....

I've been shooting the photos pretty much throughout this year, using various Polaroid cameras, and on a variety of Impossible Project films, so that the results come in different moods and colors (including black & white). I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Brighton and London by Holga

It took me a while, but now they are finally up, the photos I took with my Holga in London and Brighton back in May. The reason why it took me so long, apart from some issues with my aging scanner, was that I also re-arranged the set-up of the Holga page, and decided to try out a new version of the software I'm using to create the web pages (in case you're interested, I'm using Rapidweaver to create the web site, in combination with the Photographos and Photographos IV themes). The new version of Photographos offers some nice new features, such as a console to hide text and thumbnails and a good-looking mobile version of the pages, but it took me awhile to get the layout right. To cut a long story short, the new pages in the new layout are up since yesterday, and I hope you enjoy them.

A note on the films I used: I was trying out the new 120 films by Lomography. As you can see, the colours look great (better than Kodak, not quite as good as Fuji), but you also notice some light leaks on a few shots. Actually, on of the rolls unrolled in my hands as I unwrapped it - at least half the shots were waisted. Not so good... The black and white shots are from the trusted Ilford films - you can't go wrong there, still my favourite b&w films.

Here are the links then:

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Polaroids from London and Brighton

I uploaded a selection of the polaroids I shot while visiting London and Brighton a couple of weeks ago. I alternated between colour and black & white films, using predominantly the black-frame 600 UV+ film, which has become my favourite black & white film. The weather alternated between sunny and stormy and rainy, so that I ended up with pics of blue skies as well as stormy seas.... 
Brighton Polaroids
London Polaroids

Sunday, 2 June 2013

New Polaroid Portraits

I brought back new portrait photographs taken with Polaroid cameras from a recent trip to the UK, as well as some new ones from Berlin, and posted them in the revised People in Polaroids set.
[Click here to view]

Friday, 3 May 2013

Winter passes....

... eventually, and in case anyone is missing it already, here is a selection of Polaroids taken during this long, long winter season..... [click here to view]

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Flipboard Magazine Update

The magazine People in Polaroids which I created for the flipboard app a while ago has in the course of a week garnered over 1700 subscribers....

Here is the link again: The magazine is viewable using flipboard for iOS and for Android.

Instant Travelog Blog

Impossible Project, the manufacturer of the new Polaroid films, published this short feature of mine on their 'Instant Travelog' blog, about my trip to India back in January, together with a selection of the Polaroids I shot there.[Click here to view]

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Flipboard Magazine: People in Polaroids

If you are using the (great) Flipboard app on iOS or Android devices, you have noticed the app's new feature for creating and subscribing to so-called magazines, i.e. collections of links from the web that Flipboard users can create and share (if they wish), and which are presented in classy Flipboard style. I have started a public magazine myself which I call "People in Polaroids". It basically features people photography done with Polaroid or other instant cameras, and articles covering this type of photography. Here is the link:

The cover photo is by Heitor Magno.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

New Polaroid Set: Abandoned Homes

A few weeks ago I came across a vast area of houses being demolished to make way for a new, controversial strip of highway to be built across Berlin. The area was fenced off but a gate was left open so I slipped in and shot a couple of films of Polaroids, a selection of which I now uploaded.

In case you're wondering at the nature of these houses, they are really 'city cottages'. They are part of a typical phenomena in German cities: stretches of land set aside for gardening where city people can rent plots to set up a cottage and tend a garden. These places tend to be miniature worlds - somewhat akin to trailer parks and year-round camping sites, where people set up for themselves their own little homes away from home, often fancifully decorated in ways that people probably would not deck out their main places of living. This is not necessarily in the best of taste - there can be found a fair abundance of garden goblins and other similar pseudo-rural kitsch used in obvious attempts to create make-believe suburban utopias in the heart of the cities. 

In this particular area the cottages are now being demolished, the buildings are empty and only the shells remain (for now). These shells have become the canvases for urban artists to leave their mark and create imaginative, if temporary, pieces of art. This I find one of those phenomena typical of urban life: creation amidst destruction.

I used a Polaroid SX-70 Sonar camera for the shoot, with Impossible Project PX 70 and PX 680 CP films.

[Click here to view]

Saturday, 23 February 2013

People Section Updated

I have updated the whole Peoples section, bringing the layout in line with the other sections and hopefully making navigation easier.
At the same time, I updated a few sets, notably 

Up Close & Personal (2010-2013)
Faces of India

and added a new one, People in Polaroids


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

8 Exposures....

Impossible Project, the company that produces the new Polaroid instant film, has published an interview with me on their web site. Here is the link:

With many thanks again to the great Impossible Project team, not just for making the films (of course) but also for promoting the instant film community in such an active and supporting way. 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

India Revisited

If you'd ask me what my favourite country for visiting was, I'd say without hesitation, India. I've been fortunate enough to visit the country eight times in the recent years, initially for work but recent trips being for leisure.

Now India is one of those places where visitors come away either loving it or hating it. It is a place of extremes. It is rich in history and in culture, reflected in the temples and palaces but also in the mores and beliefs that mark everyday life. On the other hand, especially in large cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, the squalor and the misery are omnipresent - as are ostentatious displays of wealth. And obviously India has recently been making mostly negative headlines around the world. But defining India by its social and economic problems is doing it as much injustice as defining it by its palaces and temples. India to me has always been about its people - the openness, the generosity and the ease with which Indian welcome strangers in their midst. From each and every trip there, I came back with great experiences and new friendships. 

My recent trip to India, from Christmas 2012 to mid-January 2013, included a few firsts. One was that this was my first trip to Northern India, specifically to the Sate of Rajasthan. It was also the first time that I was travelling alone - although that is a very relative term: you're never really alone in India. Every day I found myself in good company, and I came back with experiences I would never have made hadn't I been on the road by myself. Despite earlier plans to tour around, I ended up spending a good deal of time in the city of Udaipur, which turned out to be a good decision. By spending more time in one place, I ended up not just meeting people but also spending time with them, and certainly the highlight of this trip were various motorbike trips around the city and the surrounding mountains with friends I had made there. 

Udaipur is not that big, and it is a good deal more laid back than the cities I visited previously. It features several lakes, several palaces - the huge City Palace, the Lake Palace on an island (now a luxury hotel), the Monsoon Palace on a hilltop and a few minor ones as well. It is prominently featured in the 1983 James Bond movie, Octopussy.

Winter is the main tourist season in Rajasthan as the climate is really agreeable that time of year, but for all that, I was surprised not to see that many tourists around the city - I guess most spend their time being driven around in air conditioned cars and buses. The most visible tourists were the backpackers, but if you stayed away from the places mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook, it was easy to avoid them as well. When I visited a graveyard where the local Maharajas (kings) have been buried over the centuries, I found the place to be deserted. When I asked the rickshaw driver, he simply said, 'Yes, empty. It's not in Lonely Planet, na.' 

I said earlier that for me, India is about its people. When I now think back on the trip, the most vivid memories are not the tourist highlights - splendid as they were - but the encounters I made, and the friendships that remain.

This was also the first India trip where I took a Polaroid camera with me. Unfortunately I had chosen to take a 600 camera with PX 680 film, which turned out to be a problem, as it reacted badly to the multiple x-raying at the airports - many of the colour prints ended up having a red discolouring. A fair number turned out alright though, and fortunately I also had some black and white films with me. 

In the photos which I uploaded, you will find a good number of people shots - Indians are not shy about being photographed, or for that matter, photographing others; and I made a deal with the people I photographed in that I shot one photo for them and one for me. Unfortunately 'though, the best photo I possibly took on the tour didn't stay with me for long: after having photographed an old priest in the Jain temple in Ranakpur, the gentleman grabbed the photo and ran off before I had a chance to shoot another one. I later saw him proudly showing the picture around. I guess he was happy with the result. 

Beside using the Polaroid camera, I also shot a number of films with a Holga camera. Unfortunately, here too, disaster struck as a malfunctioning camera causing blurred results. Only a handful of pics turned out ok. Because the Polaroid films were damaged, I shot more photos than I normally would have on the iPhone, mostly using the Hipstamatic app. I also put together a selection of those images. 

Here then are the links:

Sunday, 20 January 2013

India Polaroids

I recently returned from a three week trip to India. I spent half of this vacation visting friends in Mumbai, and the other half hanging out and doing some sightseeing in and around Udaipur, which is located in Rajhastan, in Northern India.

For now I have scanned and posted the Polaroids which I took in those two cities. I will write up a more detailed account of the trip - and of my impressions of India - in the near future. For now here is the link to the India Polaroids

More text and more photos to follow.