Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Category archive: Digital photographers
As revealed in this earlier posting, I recently visited Tate Ancient, which is only a walk away from where I live. I should go there more often.
One of the big reasons being that it is a wonderful place, not just to learn about Art and all that kind of stuff, but to photograph photographers. All who frequent this blog know that photographing photographers is an obsession of mine.
Photographers like these two:
The blue-haired lady on the right was photoing the sculpture that can be seen more clearly, behind the man on the left.
Note that neither of the cameras seen in action here are of the old school and conventional sort. No, they are iCameras. There was a lot of this going on, not just picture making, but note taking.
The weather in London today was particularly fine. The light was bright and washed clean by recent rain, and the atmosphere was neither too hot nor too humid. There was bright blue sky, but there were also plenty of clouds. I had a bank to visit and electrical items to obtain, all doable on Sunday if you are in Tottenham Court Road, and then I and my companion went south towards the river.
I photoed tourist stuff, hereinafter termed touristuff. I love to photo touristuff. It changes from year to year, and it is arranged in hightly photogenic clumps such as you could never enjoy if you merely bought a single touristuff item:
Those queens seem now to be very popular, but popes less so. But those decapitated lady bottle openers are a new siting, for me. It’s amazing what can look sexy, even after being guillotined.
I photoed books, under Waterloo Bridge. Books in large and sunlit clumps, and particular books, with particular titles:
It seems that the Conan The Barbarian books were written not by just the one writer, but by a team of writers. I did not know this. I wonder how that was organised.
I photoed Art. I photoed a lady all in white, photoing Art under the Queen Elizabeth Hall. That’s if you reckon middle of the range graffiti to be Art. Is this a possible future for brutalist architecture? Painting such concrete relics would surely make sense.
And I photoed people sitting on Art, in the form of giant green chairs, next to the Imax Cinema roundabout near Waterloo station
Apparently these big green chairs used to be down in that strange circle of pedestrian space that surrounds the bottom of the Imax Cinema, inside the roundabout.
If my walkabout this afternoon is anything to go by, Art is becoming less about Deep Significance (of the sort that has to be explained with Art Bollocks essays next to the Deeply Significant Art), and more about fun. Bring it on.
And bring on the day when they have exhibitions of Touristuff in Tate Modern. I hardly ever go inside Tate Modern, but I bet that would be more fun than what they put there now. And it might also be more Significant.
So, what is “Xxxx”?:
Taken by me, when out and about yesterday early evening.
Trawling through the archives this evening, I came across this fine feline:
Photoed by me, in Battersea, about two months ago.
Back here in evil Britain, hundreds of black cats are being abandoned by their owners because, according to the Daily Mail, these black cats don’t look good in SELFIES (their capital letters):
Today the RSPCA announced a rise in the number of black cats being abandoned by their owners, and attributed it to them not photographing well.
A spokesman for the animal welfare charity said that more than 70 per cent of the 1,000 cats in its care were black, and blamed the trend for people taking pictures of themselves with their phones.
He said: ‘There are a number of reasons for us having so many black cats, including the fact that black animals tend not to photograph as well as other cats with more distinctive markings.
Other cats are also easier to tell apart, he said.
The spokesman added: ‘There is a national problem with rehoming cats of this colour.
‘We really are puzzled as to why this still happens but we would urge people to never judge a cat by its colour and look at its personality instead.’
This story is everywhere. I sense hostility towards digital photography, and in particular towards the evil practice of taking photos of yourself, an evil practice which now has its own word.
However, a selfie is when you take a photo of yourself. Owners are including themselves in their cat photos on incidentally. Often only the cat is in the picture. These photos are not being taken by cats, so they are not selfies.
Cats don’t take photos of themselves. If they had been caught doing this, on video for instance, I would definitely have learned about it and passed the news on to you people. All that is actually going on here is that black cat owners are finding it hard to photo their black cats and are consequently abandoning their black cats, and obtaining other cats, more like the one in my picture above, that are easier to photo. That’s a wicked enough story as it is, without misreporting it and put your mistake in capital letters. Socks, Daily Mail. Pull yours up.
Next up, an Italian shooting champion is on trial for using live cats as target practice. I sense hostility towards shooting champions, but it may just be towards Italians.
Finally, Cats is being revived, in the Millenium Centre, Cardiff:
The highlight of the evening was the singing which included lots of harmonies ...
Which is what you want. What with Cats being a musical show, consisting mostly of people dressed as cats, singing, and trying to be harmonious about it.
Rachel Howells continues:
Cats is at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday 9th August and includes many matinee showings so you have no excuses not to miss it.
Once again, we see the mainstream media getting their facts in a twist, this time because of faulty grammar. No excuses not to miss it? It would appear that, at least when it comes to their online content, the writing and/or editing at the South Wales Argus has gone to the dogs.
Bizarre day today, and am only now shoving whatever I can think of to shove up.
I went trawling through the photo-archives, and came up with this weird selfie shot from 2006:
Two cameras I no longer use. My previous pregnant-out-the-back telly. Some book about Something For Dummies.
I haven’t yet finished showing you photos from that Adam Smith Institute Boat Trip, that I got in on and took lots of photos of, at the beginning of this month, and which I have been showing here, now and again, ever since then. I’m hardly even close.
For instance, it’s taken me three quarters of a month to get around to it, but, of course, there were other photographers present besides me:
I chose these pictures simply because they fitted the bill subject matter wise, and because they look nice. I did not choose them to illustrate any particular point about digital photography.
The result being that they do illustrate a particular point about digital photography. Consider the stats.
There are two regular old school digital cameras to be seen snapping (1.1 and 1.3), three if you count mine. There is also just the one big tablet being used (3.3).
All the other photographers are using mobile phones.
Usually, when I photograph photographers, there are more regular old school dedicated digital cameras to be seen. But this is because I am photographing lots of “photographers”, i.e. people like me, who see themselves as more photography-minded than regular people.
What this boat trip illustrates is how much regular people now use their mobiles to take photos, in among all that networking and connecting and chatting and socialising. It isn’t so much that mobiles have replaced those tiny, cheap digital cameras, although yes it is that, a bit. But it is more that mobiles can now take photos, so now they do. A lot of photos are now being taken that would not have been taken at all, before mobile phones learned how to take photos, by people for whom mobile phones are essential, and photography with mobile phones began only as an extra.
And you can bet that many of the photos that the above people were taking were already flying off into the big www beyond, to work their propaganda magic, promoting the ASI, its Boat Trip, and the people who went on it, before the trip was even over.
Young people these days are quicker off the mark than I am. That’s their job. And being slower off the mark is mine.
It was posted in August 2012. Better, far better, late than never. I found this in their list of top twenty postings, top in popularity, presumably.
Another of those Things That Have Been Encouraged By Digital Photography. The Art is temporary, but the pictures of the Art will last far, far longer, on many, many hard discs.
Was in the Westminster Bridge Parliament Square area this afternoon. Photoed many photoers photoing. Few of the pictures are of much current interest. Although, give it a decade and there will surely be a dozen absolute crackers. I mean, will a mobile then be a thing you carry? Surely they’ll just be in your earings, or something. With the screen on contact lenses. Again: or something.
But I did like this one:
It’s the square gap in the lid that makes it.
Better blogging tomorrow, I hope, even though I actually promise nothing.
And me photoing the two of them, of course, last night on Westminster Bridge. Time and again, I only really see what I have photoed when I get home and really look at them all.
So, example, when I photoed this spikey-haired guy, I thought that all I was doing was photoing a photographer who was photoing Big Ben. I was doing that, but it turns out I was doing even more than that:
See the bottom left of his screen.
Was he doing this on purpose? Does he share my fascination with other photographers? I have another shot that is very similar, and in that one also, there is that same photographer, in the bottom left hand corner? The fact that he held that exact shot, with the other photographer present and photoing, says to me that it might well have been deliberate.
I think that this …:
… is a spectacularly beautiful photograph.
It is the work of Mick Hartley, whose photos I admire more and more.
What I so especially like about this one is how the colour of the waterlily is contrasted with the black and bleak colouring of the big circular leaves. Usually, in photos of this sort, those big leaves would be bright green. But the indoor setting and the industrialised Kew Gardens ceiling turns the water in which the lilies float into something more like crude oil, giving the whole thing a very distinct atmosphere.
It brings to (my) mind those scenes in Schindler’s List where a little girl in bright red appears, in an otherwise black and white movie.
In general, colour is a big deal for Hartley. From time to time, he features photos at his blog (by him or by others) where there is a big expanse of bright colour and a relatively drab small object or objects in the middle. The opposite of the waterlily photo, in other words. But maybe I just notice these particular photos because I particularly like them.
There was a time when self-consciously artistic photographers seemed deliberately to turn their backs on the huge opportunities offered by colour photography. Digital cameras, which could do colour from the get go, and which have enabled regular people to revel in colour photography whatever the Black and White Photosnobs might be saying about colour photography, have put a damper on all that. At first, posh photographers sneered at digital photographers partly because of all the colour. But now, Real Photographers are, more and more, people who got started with photography because of cheap digital photography.
I’m absolutely not saying that I dislike black and white photography, or photography of very drab and monochrome colours (like when it’s nearly dark for instance). I’m merely saying that bright colours are great also. And these two things are especially diverting when combined in the same photo, as above.
I like to browse through Jonathan Gewirtz’s photos from time to time, and on my latest browse I came across this photo, of a brightly lit building in Urban Florida. Miami? Don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.
What particularly got my attention was the fact that Gewirtz included in the picture: his own shadow.
I have taken the liberty of reproducing this detail here. “Copyright ©2011 Jonathan Gewirtz” is what it says just before saying “jonathangewirtz.com”, but I trust my little except does not break any rules. (Rules often being the point of copyright violations, I’m guessing. Maybe this particular copyright violation, on its own, would not be a problem, but once the line is crossed, by anyone ...) If Gewirtz wants this little piece of his work removed, he has only to say and it will be removed forthwith.
Okay, with that out of the way, the point that I want to make here is that I suspect that this thing of including your own shadow in pictures is a practice that has filtered upwards to the Real Photographers like Jonathan Gewirtz, from us digital amateurs.
Your own shadow in the picture often starts as a mistake, but then you think: well, okay, that’s my shadow, but what’s so wrong with that? I was standing there, with the sun behind me. I mean, did you think this wasn’t a photograph, and that someone standing there throwing a shadow into the picture wasn’t even there? Did you think that God took the picture? Cameras gobble up whatever they see in that moment, and in this moment, for instance, my shadow was part of what it saw. Often, the shadow is all there is, and very amusing it is too.
The crux of the matter is, I think, who the picture is for and what the point of it is. Is it for someone else, someone paying? Is perhaps a happy couple being photographed on their wedding day? In which case, they are the point, not the photographer. Likewise if the point is to photo this dish of salad, or that house interior, or this beloved pet or that sports team, well, the Real Photographer is not being paid to insert himself into the scene, and he will be careful not to.
But if, on the other hand, you are a snapper who is just having a bit of fun, then why shouldn’t you, the snapper, also become your own snappee?
But the thing is, when Real Photographers are out having fun, the way Jonathan Gewirtz presumably is when taking photos in Miami or wherever, just because he likes to, they are liable to take their ingrained Real Photographer habits of self-effacement with them. So, interesting that Gewirtz did not do this, at any rate not this time.
I’ll end with a slice out of one of these photos:
The crooked forefinger being mine.
On Saturday, having dropped Goddaughter 2 off at Westminster Tube, I took a stroll over Westminster Bridge and snapped snappers, just like old times. And the rising tide of people photoing with smartphones rather than just with dedicated cameras was unmistakable. With about the next but one iteration of the smartphone, will there be any small digital cameras left? Soon, it will likely be as above. Big old Real Cameras, and lots of smartphones.
Or then again, maybe instead of all phones having cameras in them, some cameras will have phones in them, and small, cheap digital cameras will carry right on as if nothing had happened.
I know I’ve been saying lately that I don’t show faces of strangers here like I used to. But honestly, if you look this gorgeous, you are going to get noticed and frankly, you look like you want to be noticed. And then when you do this, right in front of me, about three yards away, what is a digital photographer spotter and digital photography blogger supposed to do? Just ignore it all entirely. Can’t be done:
Click and enjoy.
Photographer with two cameras rather than just one, taking a selfie with the other one, which is a smartphone with a great case. Great semi-transparent bag action. A woolly hat. Tick tick tick tick. That second camera says she’s well on her way to being a Real Photographer, closer to it than I’ll ever get. She’d surely understand.
These snaps were not snapped yesterday. I found them while trawling the archives looking for something else entirely, and was reminded. They date from … well let’s just say: a while ago.
Indeed. Yesterday, late in the afternoon, walking along the south side of the river, near the National Theatre (see below), I saw, and photographed this:
Which, for me, was a first.
I took lots of shots where the photographer had only one leg on the skateboard, but with the other leg touching the ground and pushing him forward. But eventually I got the shot I was waiting for.
A Happy Easter to all my readers.
The pictures below were taken on April 16th 2004, in (on?) one of my regular snapping zones, Westminster Bridge (and nearby places), from which, then as now, you get great views of both Parliament and the Wheel, depending on which way you look.
Most of the things I was photoing then haven’t changed that much, but … I was just then starting to realise that my fellow digital photographers were an object worthy of my detailed and prolonged attention, which they have been ever since. That summer of 2004 was the moment when I first got seriously stuck into this category of photo. There are still lots of pictures of people just wandering around, being people. But, the photographers were just starting to figure strongly in the archives. It took me a while to realise that the cameras mattered at least as much as the people using them, that aspect getting steadily easier as zoom got zoomier.
The privacy concerns associated with just shoving recognisable pictures of strangers up on the internet have only grown since then, but I reckon that pictures this old are not such a problem in that way. Recognisable pictures taken yesterday, that I tend not to do these days, or not so much. But pictures of people taken a decade ago, well, I’m more relaxed about that.
The little squares zoom in on the cameras. Click and get the original pictures as taken that afternoon, which would appear to have been exactly as sunny as today is.
Mostly silver rather than black, mostly much bulkier than the equivalent cameras look now. But of course there is one exception to all that. Picture 3.1 shows a kind of camera that looked then pretty much exactly as it looks now. Black. Shaped like an old school camera. These are the cameras that are actually just regular quite good digital cameras, but which enable you think of yourself as the beginnings of a Real Photographer. My kind of camera, in other words. Cameras in this category look now exactly as they looked then. Nothing has changed with those.
Except what they can do.