Blurb Australia: Learning Digital Photography….Again

Say what you will about digital photography, but I would never have made any of these images if I wasn’t using a digital camera. As you can see, these are not great images, but they are snapshots that reflect a certain place at a certain time and provide my journalistic mind with tidbits of visual memory that I so desire. I’ve only had this little camera for a few days now, haven’t made anything great with it, not sure I ever will, but I already know what this little camera is and what it isn’t. I also realize it was never intended to be more than it is regardless of our expectations, desires or ideals. These images were made on an hour-long walk from my hotel up toward the old parliament building here in Melbourne. I had no plan other than to get out. I was locked in with the hot, midday sun and subsequent harshness that accompanies this time and place.
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This camera isn’t a Leica, nor does it replace a film camera. No digital camera replaces a film camera. This camera doesn’t provide a negative. I can see the images as I make them and I can shoot endless photographs by just adding more and more storage media. A film camera doesn’t provide an instant preview and limits me, in a good way, with limited exposures based on how much film I can carry. My film cameras fire at any time with ZERO hesitation. This little camera does not. My film cameras are built like tanks, have hyper fast autofocus(some) and require no computer time unless I want to use them in tandem with technology. This little camera requires the computer, and in most cases, a significant amount, as do all other digital cameras. My 35mm film camera is indestructible, has the best meter, autofocus and ease of use of any camera I’ve ever had. This little camera doesn’t come close but it is 1/3 the size, weight and girth of my film camera and can be carried for days on end without a thought. This little camera is also inconspicuous, and again provides an entirely different set of parameters because it’s DIGITAL.
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These tools are polar opposites.

This camera will never be an M6, 35mm and TRI-X no matter how much you want it to be. You can’t set this camera on square format and get a Hasselblad no matter how much you want to be able to do this, and no matter how much post processing you provide. These are simply different machines. Having said all this, my new little camera is great, I’m glad I have it, and it will find it’s way into the rotation like a knuckleball pitcher. Did I mention the size, weight and style?
Will I make bold proclamations about “this is finally the camera that kills film?” Why would I even want to do that? Who wants to kill film? What benefit would that serve the photography world?
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If you want a film look but a film camera. If you want to shoot digital this camera is a really good option at a good price and is easy to use. It doesn’t entirely get out of your way when you are working with it, but it’s pretty darn good. I’m already happy I have it and look forward to actually using it when I have time to focus on “real” work, images, places. I’ll take it to New Mexico in June and see what is what. Until then I’ll continue to get used to it and I’ll continue to use it for my little, color sketchbook.

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I think these images are further proof that wandering around attempting to make great images is really damn hard, at least for ME. They remind me why I don’t shoot street much. I need interaction with those I’m photographing. I want to spend TIME with people getting in and out, closer and closer, talking, shooting, talking, shooting attempting to break though mental and physical barriers. It’s time consuming, laborious, challenging but I NEED it. I don’t get that street shooting. It’s a bit random for me, detached and I fall pray to things like window reflections and SHOOTING PICTURES OF MY FEET.
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Melbourne has been great, attendance at our events has been high and our little voyage has only just begun. After my work requirements today I will be back out on the street, learning my little beast and searching for those little things that drive us.

Blurb Australia: More Melbourne

Looking forward to hitting the streets of Melbourne once again today and kicking things off right with the Blurb Photo Safari. Oh, did I mention I figured out the camera? Or at least I have a better understanding of how it actually works. That is always nice when you are actually trying to make images……

I’m used to looking through cameras that literally have NOTHING to see inside the viewfinder. My two main cameras have been models with NO electronics. No meter, no auto anything so when you look through the viewfinder you see…well….your subject. Now, when I look through my new little baby I feel like I’m in a flight simulator. Will just take this old dog some time getting used to.

The first image here FEELS like Melbourne to me. That architecture and that sky, which I’m basing on exactly ONE half day in the city. I looked up, saw the building and said, “Not exciting but it kinda feels right.” The rest are themes started on yesterday’s post. I’ll be out again this afternoon with the crew from Blurb and a rabid following of local photographers. See you there.

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Sustenance

Go on the road long enough and your mind will begin to play tricks on you.

I recently returned from a three-week work trip which took me from Vancouver to Savannah and many, many points in between. As you know, I normally have a camera in hand along the way. This trip, because of it’s pace and requirements, forced me to pack my gear away during transport. I would get to my destination for the day, unpack my leather “Dan Bag” and also unpack my gear and THEN head out into the day, days that were primarily about giving presentations for Blurb.

Every now and then, I’d get a second or two to shoot, and I mean every now and then. Over a three-week period I shot two rolls of film, which should give you an idea of how packed these trips were.

Creatively speaking, I was desperate, starving. I feel this unbelievable pull to be making things, so I do what I can to satisfy this need as I’m plodding through daily life. I write, I sketch (poorly) and I make the occasional photograph. And I talk to myself, daydream and think of the future. I’m not sure what else to do.

I love doing these trips because I love being in the field and I love unlocking OTHER people and their creativity. The creative world is constrained today, constrained by an odd assortment of baggage, history, tradition and learned behavior. My job isn’t to talk about Blurb, that would be too dry for me, but rather my job is to shake up the playing field. I present ideas, show people things and then get out of their way. It’s fun.

But the meter is still running the background. The creative meter, which comes in the form of a whisper or a memory or a reminder. These pictures I make on the road are like decaf coffee, in theory they are fine, but they leave me a bit flat. Perhaps it’s because I’m not as connected to them as I need to be, or because I can’t stop and consider them in the field. There is no time.

They are photographic empty calories but I find them essential to my current existence.

What Gets me Through

These are not great images but they are what gets me through. Always moving here and there. I need an outlet for the constant pull of the viewfinder. Like a sketch book, things to remember for later, or a list of visual notes. I snap here. I snap there. I don’t proclaim these as anything, other than necessary, and perhaps one day their addition will add up to something meaningful. Like a fortune teller’s cards or bones or stones. Toss them and see what you can see. No pressure with these, at all. In some ways the actual photograph holds the smallest value in the equation, losing out to things like walking, exploring, retreating or escaping. These are my little secret. A hidden life. My inside joke. A seven day trip. Work. This running dialogue is my intermission. A time to stretch. Deep breath. My mind wanders and starts again. Engage, disengage.

What gets me through.
understanding, know that I’ve won
countless times wary
barrel of the gun
clear film from above
waiting
lose it all, even what I love
tropic of cancer
vignette of this of that
solitude is sanctuary
where do you go?
it’s not what you do
true
what gets me through