Thursday, 25 December 2014

Signs of the Times

Last year I published a set of instant photos entitled Fragments: Signs of the Times, which I just updated with a selection of photos taken throughout 2014. Fragments is a collection of images depicting public art, graffiti, posters and other symbols (both permanent and temporary) which epitomise Berlin at a certain instant in time. The permanent structures tend to reflect much of Berlin's late 20th century history, especially its division, as they symbolise, and sometimes directly address, the tastes, affiliations and beliefs typical of West and East Berlin respectively - not just pre- but also post-fall-of-the-wall. The more temporary displays - graffiti, posters etc. - on the other hand reflect moods, tastes and opinions of the moment in time when the pictures were taken - current then, but history a couple of weeks, months, years down the line.

All the photos except one were taken with Polaroid cameras and a variety of Impossible Project films, both colour and black and white. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Berlin Digital

It's been a while since I posted any exclusively digital sets, obviously because I have more than ever been concentrating on analog photography for the past two years. I still enjoy shooting on the iPhone, though, and recently I put together two collections of images which I shot around Berlin on the iPhone. 

The first one is called Angular Designs and is basically a collection of architectural photographs focusing on the indeed very angular approach to designing buildings in Berlin. Whether it's down to regulations, cost restrictions or architects' lack of imagination, many if not most of the buildimgs built from the middle of the 20th century until today rely heavily on a purely angular form.  Curves are a stylistic element found few and far between, and although notable exceptions exist - Sony Center, Haus der Kulturen etc. - there doesn't seem to be as much architectural diversity found in Berlin as in other cities - nor as much extravagance. Which doesn't mean that it has to be all boring. It isn't... but you get the feeling that with all the building going on, there should be so many more buildings with a distinctive 'wow' effect factor. Put that down to Prussian bureaucracy and desire for order, going so far as to actually stipulate the ratio of glass to stone that can exist in a building's façade...

I guess if I want to put together a collection of curves and round shapes in architecture, I will need to look abroad mostly.....

The second set I added is simply a collection of black and white photos from the last four years or so. Some of the photos are presented as they were taken, but on a number of them, I also applied a fair amount of post-processing using various apps on the iPhone. The set also includes a short series of night shots which I entitled Night Hawks, a theme I may want to explore further in the near future.


India Travelogue Updates

I have updated the Travelogue section on India, with sets of new images from Odisha, including the video posted in the previous blog post; Idols by the Sea, a set on the last day of the Durga Pujas on Juhu Beach in Mumbai, and an expanded section on Kolkata. The sets include a number of the Holga and Polaroid shots from those sets I posted earlier, but there are also a number of iPhone shots as well, as ever most of them taken using the trusted Hipstamatic app. 

This should be the last posting on India then, at least for a while..., ;)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Station to Station - video

Station to Station - By Train Through Odisha on Vimeo.

I shot this video on the iPhone while taking a train ride from Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, to Kolkata in West Bengal. I left Puri a day before the cyclone Hudhud struck the area, on one of the last trains out of there.
In Kolkata, I edited the movie in iMovie on the iPhone, often while stuck in a car in traffic. As soundtrack I used the track 'Longing' by the Indian band Indian Ocean.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Urban Geometry

Urban Geometry is the title of a new set which I've recently added to the Polaroid section of the site. In it, I explore the geometry found in modern architecture and urban development. I shot these images chiefly in Berlin over the course of 2014.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Holga Panoramas From India

For my last trip to India back in October, I packed a new camera, a Holga 120Pan, i.e. the panoramic version of the Holga camera which shoots 6x12, 180° images. I didn't have a chance to try out the camera beforehand, so I didn't know what to expect, especially after having had mixed results with my first attempts using my other panoramic camera, the Belair 6-12 (read the blog entry here). However, after having finally developed and scanned the films, I must say that the camera exceeded my expectations. Granted, the light conditions were pretty much excellent in India, but the results are technically very good: no vignette, only a bit of darkening towards the left and right border of the exposure, and with the Holga's trademark blurring toward the edges, which adds to the magic of the images. 

I shot one black and white Ilford ISO 400 film and for the rest a mix of Kodak and Fuji ISO 160 colour films. I shot the black and white film at my initial destination, Mumbai, while I used the colour films for the rest of the trip, chiefly in and around the city of Bhubaneswar, which is in Odisha, a state on the East coast of India. Additionally there are a few images from Chandannagar, which is close to Kolkata and which used to be a French colony. 

I finally uploaded a selection of the photos to the Holga section of the site, click here to view.

Also, I put together a selection of the best portrait pictures from the trip, taken with the various cameras I had taken along - the Holga, the SX-70 and the iPhone. This set can be found in the People section under the banner Wonder If I Know Him Now.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

I Wonder If I Know Him Now: India Revisited

This past October I returned to India for what was my tenth trip to that country. While revisiting familiar places, I also spend time in a corner of India which I haven't been to before, namely Odisha, or Orissa as it was formerly called. This western state lays claim to some of the oldest temples in all of India, if not the world - temples up to 2000 years old; but for all that, it is not really a tourist destination - at least not a place where western tourists flock to. As such I saw but three westerners during my stay in Bhubaneswar, and while Puri and its beaches attract a number of backpackers, they are vastly outnumbered by the Indian tourists and pilgrims. Puri is home to the large 12th century Jaganath temple, one of India's four holy pilgrim sites. Bhubaneswar is home to a range of temples, some of them dating back to BC, including the imposing Lingaraj temple with its 54m high tower. Other holy places nearby are the caves at Khandagiri and Udayagiri, hewn out of the rock by Jain priests in the second century BC, and a more recent Buddhist pagoda in Dhauri, honouring the warrior-king turned pacifist Buddhist, Ashoka. The largest temple in the vicinity is the Sun Temple in Kornarak, dating back to the 13th century.

Odisha is not as spectacular as Rajasthan is, the northern state I visited on my
last two trips to India. Rajasthan boasts glamorous palaces and colourful cities which Odisha doesn't have. Odisha certainly has magnificent landscapes, but in the end, to me as an outsider at least, the region seems to be very much about the holy places, and thus about religion and spirituality. Obviously, India is by nature a very spiritual country, or should I say, Indians are a very spiritual people. Not all, of course, but many, even those who are not outright religious, consider themselves to be spiritual. This is reflected in their outlook, their customs big and small, their food, their adornments (which are never just adornments but always symbols of something), and not to mention the many religious festivals held throughout the year. Odisha, with its high concentration of temples and pilgrims, and it's lack of worldly attractions, seems very much like an epicenter of this spirituality; and indeed, there was not a single person from Orissa who I met who didn't, by word or by deed, displayed their affinity towards, or veneration of, all things religious and spiritual. 

Religion is not something I generally think highly of. I believe it is at the root of most evil perpetrated in the world, as it constitutes the greatest single cause of hatred and intolerance; and certainly India had and still has its fair share of strife caused by religious intolerance. Yet it is very hard not to be charmed by the outlook on life which rises out of the beliefs of many of the Indians whom I met over the years. For starters, their attitude is generally a very inclusive one, at least with regard to visitors (whether or not the same tolerance that is granted outsiders is shown to members of one's own family or close friends is a different discussion). It's also very life affirming and optimistic. And it even produces effects that you wouldn't normally think - such as the fact (as some people claim) that the preponderant veneration of the goddess Kali in  the city Kolkata leads to women in Kolkata being generally more empowered than in other parts of India.

This makes India a good place to visit as the people you meet are open and welcoming, tolerant of one's quirks and differences, curious in a good way and ready to become friends. I've stated this in previous posts, but to me, visiting India is more about meeting people than it is about seeing great sights. And this time, even more than on previous visits, that fact is reflected in the photos I took. Yes, I also photographed temples and other sights and aspects, but 90% of the photos I took are portraits. Indians in general are happy to be photographed, all you need is ask. I asked pilgrims and priests, families on the beach, passers-by on the street. Sometimes, I didn't even need to ask as some, mainly youngsters, happily volunteered. The result is an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life.

On the last two visits to India I had chiefly taken colour polaroid films with me, but each time I was unhappy with the resulting  exposures as most of them were discoloured - whether by the heat or by the airport x-ray machines, I don't know, but I found the resulting red discolouration more than just a bit distracting (see my earlier post here). Thus, this time around, I packed but one colour film and seven black and white films, including Impossible Project's new Pigeonhole film with its round border, which I found perfect for portrait photography. This decision paid off as I came back with many more worthwhile polaroids than I did on previous trips. 

I put together a selection of the best instant photographs, focusing on the portraits, under the title: I Wonder If I Know Him Now: Faces of India 2014. I have yet to develop a series of Holga films which will follow later, which, together with a selection of digital photos, will focus on other aspects of the visit.


Finally: the title of this blog post and of the set is based on a poem by the Kolkatan writer and artist Rabindranath Tagore:

I wonder if I know him

I wonder if I know him
In whose speech is my voice,
In whose movement is my being,
Whose skill is in my lines,
Whose melody is in my songs
In joy and sorrow. 

I thought he was chained within me,
Contained by tears and laughter,
Work and play. 

I thought he was my very self
Coming to an end with my death.
Why then in a flood of joy do I feel him
In the sight and touch of my beloved? 

This ‘I’ beyond self I found
On the shores of the shining sea.
Therefore I know
This ‘I’ is not imprisoned within my bounds. 

Losing myself, I find him
Beyond the borders of time and space.
Through the Ages
I come to know his Shining Self
In the life of the seeker,
In the voice of the poet. 

From the dark clouds pour the rains.
I sit and think:
Bearing so many forms, so many names,
I come down, crossing the threshold
Of countless births and deaths. 

The Supreme undivided, complete in himself,
Embracing past and present,
Dwells in Man.

Within Him I shall find myself –
The ‘I’ that reaches everywhere.

(Translated by William Radice)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Optiko Magazine

Optiko is a UK based magazine dedicated to analogue photography. They have recently published their issue number 5 which spotlights instant photography. The issue features two black and white polaroids of mine, namely The Woman By the Merry-Go-Round on the Beach in Brighton and Nelson On a Stick.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Berlin in Black & White

These past months I've been heavily shooting black and white instant films. One of my favourite films has turned out to be Impossible Project's new 'Hard Color' film with its solid colour frames and stark contrasts, a combination I really like; but I've also been using that other favourite film of my, the black framed one.

I've put together the best of the urban-themed photos which I shot around Berlin in a new set entitled 'City Polaroids: Berlin in Black & White' [Click here to view]. I've always loved black and white photography for its seemingly time-bending quality, that is, the fact that it couples memories of old classic photos with contemporary realities such as (post-)modern architecture and contemporary urban scenes. Or alternatively, how it evokes a sense of a lost past when photographing historic places or old buildings, a theme I explored in an earlier set, Another Time [read the blog entry here].


Saturday, 26 July 2014


I added a short set of Belair photos taken in the Swiss alps, using again the 58mm lens for maximum wide-angle effect. Enjoy. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Wide Angle Bucharest and London

I recently uploaded a series of photos from London and Bucharest (Romania), all of them taken with the Lomography Belair x 6-12 camera and using a 58mm lens. Contrary to the Berlin set posted earlier, I used the camera primarily to shoot buildings and vistas rather than the more intimate street scenes I captured in Berlin (see my earlier blog post here).

Here is the link: Wide Urban Angles

More of my Belair photos can be found [here].

Friday, 18 April 2014

People Polaroids

I've uploaded a new set of portraits taken with Polaroid cameras. The set also includes several shots produced with Impossible Project's Instant Lab camera, from original shots taken with the iPhone.
The photos date from last summer until now. Most were taken in Berlin, but there are also a few from India and a couple of other places.

For more people photographs, click here.

For more instant film photographs, click here.

For more info on the Instant Lab camera, click here to view the Impossible Project site.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Flipboard magazine now available via browser

For a while now Flipboard, the app that allows flipping magazine-style through Twitter, Facebook and other social media entries, has allowed users to 'curate' their own magazines, made available to other users of the app. At the time I set up a magazine entitled 'People in Polaroids', which meanwhile has garnered over 91,000 readers. Until recently, these magazines were only available within the app, but recently Flipboard made them accessible via browsers as well. If you don't use the app, here is the link to the web based version:

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Wide-Angle Urban Poetry

I recently uploaded the second batch of photographs taken with the new Lomography Belair x 6-12 camera. Unlike with the first batch, the Brighton pics, I had with these rolls figured out how to hold the camera to properly format the images, which, guess what, vastly improves the results.

All of the photos were taken in Berlin between January and April, 2014. My first approach to shooting with the camera was to take advantage of the camera's ability to shoot panoramic 6x12mm and 6x8mm exposures, and the 58mm lens' wide-angle capacity, to take wide panoramic cityscape pictures. Later, I changed tactics: rather than take more panorama shots, I went for close-ups, thus being able to take in complete scenes and/or objects from close proximity, which allows both for a certain intimacy while providing the 'big picture' at the same time. Coupled with both the camera's and the lens' inherent distortions, the results are to, for lack of a better word, poetic...

Overall I'm vey pleased with the Belair, despite some technical, or rather mechanical, issues. Of these I plan to write later as I'm yet to write up a review of the camera. 

Here then is the link: Wide-Angle Urban Poetry
See also Brighton Winter for more Belair shots. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Brighton by Belair

I spent this New Year's in Brighton in South England. I had just before gotten me a new camera, the Lomography Belair x 6-12 camera. It's a medium format camera, using 120 film. It comes with exchangeable lenses and settings that allows one to shoot either 6x6, 6x8 or 6x12 exposures. I did not have a chance to test the camera before leaving for Brighton, so the films I shot there were pretty much my test run. I decided to use the 58mm lens and either the 6x8 or 6x12 mm size settings to take full advantage of the camera's panorama abilities.

My experiences with the camera are mixed, and I will be posting a review later to explain. Suffice to say at this moment though is that overall I'm happy with the results, especially considering the less than perfect weather for most of my stay there. Some of the images are formatted not quite right as the shift between what you see in the visor and the result is quite considerable. Also a couple of rolls did not roll up properly, so there is some light leakage on the last exposures on those roll.

Having said all that, here then is a selection of the best Belair pics from a few moody, wintry days in Brighton: click here to view