Feb 082009

It simply had to happen. Today is the first day since November 21 that I have not shot a single image. Wet snow, a constant drizzle, fog below, clouds above, I don’t even feel bad about it 🙂

I spent a lot of time though, trying to get back into my bookmaking workflow, checking out Shutterfly (as recommended by Mark Hobson), trying to create a template, and so on and on and on. I guess you know how much time runs into those things, especially when you do them only once a year.

Basically this serves three purposes (“among my purposes are such diverse things as”): SoFoBoMo ’09 is nearing, by then I want to have the process worked out, and this time I won’t stop at the PDF, this time I want to hold a book. #2 is that Mark Hobson recently teased everyone to make a real book, and #3 is of course that Ted constantly buggers me to finally make that god-damn bicycle book 🙂

Speaking of Ted, this is another image from that morning in fall 2007, when we met to shoot the sunrise at Firenze’s Duomo.

The Song of the Day, “Sisters Of Mercy” by Leonard Cohen, is part of the soundtrack of Robert Altman’s 1971 movie “McCabe & Mrs. Miller”. I am not sure if it was written for the soundtrack or not, but Cohen’s music greatly contributes to the overall atmosphere of this masterpiece. See a video on YouTube.

Jul 042008

Yesterday’s food is from the can. I was short on time in the morning, and when I left for the train, the light was utterly flat and uninspiring. I could have delayed photographing to the evening, but on the other hand I had plenty of time for post-processing while on the train.

I always carry a bunch of files with me in a folder “TODO”, and for lack of anything better to do, I began processing some of them.

The decaying house front is not far from where I live. When I am late and take the way to work via the Underground, I always pass by, but this particular image was taken about a year ago, in the afternoon. I used my Nikon 50/1.2 and was on the way to a concert where I wanted to use this fast lens.

The next image, a garbage can in Mariahilfer Straße in Vienna, was taken last August with the then new Sigma 20/1.8. It was early morning on a bright day with blinding sunlight, and I liked the contrast between the modern design and the traces of … uhmm … neglect.

The final image, the Image of the Day, is from that Sunday morning in Florence/Italy when I was photographing with my friend Ted Byrne. This image was taken while Ted was on the other side, making the first image that he posted from Florence.

This is one of those images that I always wanted to process. I tried it one time and did not particularly like the result, so it went back into the “TODO” folder. Much to Ted’s annoyance I took all my images that morning from the tripod and I really took my time. Just as I was satisfied with the framing, a white car drove by to park in front of these poles, right in my image. I pressed the shutter only a second before. The sidelight is from the car’s head lights. While the original would have been nothing but a failed attempt, this side light makes the image, and that’s also what was so hard to bring out in post-processing. I was just a lucky man 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Lucky Man” from ELP’s 1970 debut album “Emerson Lake & Palmer“. See something like a video on YouTube.

Apr 122008

This is the image for Friday, but it was not taken yesterday. Yesterday was one of those travel days. No time to take pictures in the morning (at least nothing worthy), no time to take pictures on the way to the train (I’ve tried, it was better but still not good enough), and then for almost the whole time on the train I saw the most spectacular weather outside. Fantastic light, dramatic skies, I could have taken hundreds of images, and instead I sat there, sub-par images loaded in Photoshop, trying to ride dead horses. Goodness, that’s tough!

Fortunately I have a folder titled TODO on my hard drive, and there I found this image that I always had wanted to work upon and that I never actually had. It’s from my trip to Florence, Italy, where I met Ted Byrne. See here on my blog (read in reverse order) and there on Ted’s (reverse as well). And while we’re at it, here are some more images of that day, images that I have not even processed yesterday, images that I have shown on the Radiant Vista forums, but never on my blog. Hope you don’t mind when I throw them in 🙂

Back to the Image of the Day. There is always the question of whether it is ethically acceptable to show images of beggars or not, but this is not an image about a beggar, It is about the shadow of power looming over the outcast, it is about being a stranger in a world that does not welcome you, it is about being outside, about being rejected as “The Other”, but as an old song says: sooner or later we are the others, or in Italian, “tanto prima o poi gli altri siamo noi”.

Umberto Tozzi is well known for his poetic lyrics, but it is much well known that Giancarlo Bigazzi, with whom he had a long collaboration from the mid-seventies up to the 1991 release “Gli altri siamo noi”, was a driving artistic force. About this song Bigazzi later said that Tozzi had written neither a single line nor note. They ended up in court, and such is human nature, that this is neither uncommon for long-standing artistic collaborations nor for friendships or marriages.

Anyway. The lyrics to this song are quite challenging in the Italian original, and although there is an English version of the song, it is very much different, thus I’ll try it with Irene’s translation to German, translated to English by me:

I have never been lonelier than this,
but at night I wish it would be Monday soon,
to go out with the others and paint the town.
With the others, trapped in themselves, the others
who open up in the sun like the flowers that dress
when they wake up, when they go out, when they go away,
when they arrive.
We are like those shrouded angels,
the eyes in their faces like mirrors,
because the others are us.

Walls tumble under the breath of an idea,
Allah or Jesus, in a church or a mosque,
We are the others, but here on this same way,
like cowardly heroes, we leave behind what connects us
to those who wait and ask themselves why they were born
and suddenly die.
Maybe they are swallows, leaves from Africa,
who smile at us in melancholy,
and all of us are victims and hangmen,
sooner or later we are the others.

When they sing, when they cry,
the others are us.
When they’re born, when they die,
the others are us.

In this world we are the others.

We stay in comfortable deserts
of apartments and tranquility,
far away of the others,
but sooner or later we are the others.

In this now so small world
we are the others.

We are the others
between Indios and Hindus,
between youths in drugstores who don’t carry on,
Working class families, forced on vacation by robots,
gypsies from the east in ghettos on the outskirts.
All of us are victims and hangmen,
sooner or later we are the others.

South Africa,
the others are us,
when they shoot,
when they hope,
the others are us.

In this world we are the others.
In this now so small world
we are the others.

Bigazzi, Tozzi or what, I find this quite impressive, don’t you? See the video on YouTube.

Mar 092008

After the huge amount of work that I put into yesterday’s Photoshop tutorial (I actually finished it tonight at 2am), and due to the fact that I have taken no image at all today (the first time in what? A year??), I needed to resort to my TODO images.

This one is from my trip to Firenze, Italy, where I met Ted Byrne. I took it the morning we were shooting the sunrise at Il Duomo. This is river Arno, and although I had the image on my TODO list, I didn’t need to do anything at all.

Nikon D200, Nikon 18-200 VR at 200mm, f8 and 1/80s.

The Song of the Day is “The River Sings” from Enya’s gorgeous 2005 album “Amarantine“. See the video on YouTube.

Dec 102007

When I posted yesterday’s image, it was already 6am, thus I was not exactly hyper-active today. I processed two of the Firenze images and posted one of them on the Radiant Vista.

The first of the two, titled “Meanwhile Two Bridges Downstream”, must have been shot at about the same time as Ted’s first Ponte Vecchio image, maybe even some minutes earlier. I had positioned myself so that the sun just glimpsed over the roofs and then shot a bracketed burst of seven exposures from the tripod. From these I created an HDR image and tone mapped it with Photomatix Pro’s default settings. The result was of course horrible, but that’s not the point. I never use the output of Photomatix Pro as the final result. In this case I even combined it with one of the medium exposures, using the tone-mapped layer mostly for the sky and the normal exposure elsewhere. Photomatix has a setting to automatically correct water ripples, but, honestly, it does not work. The rest of the post-processing was complicated but conventional, basically a lot of more or less local adjustments.

The second image is from immediately afterwards, only now I faced west. The bridge where I stood had beautiful street lamps, and I used one of them as foreground, the church of San Frediano in the background. There is only negligible post-processing.

Unfortunately Firenze is a memory now and today was another unfriendly, wet day with fog, first low, but when that went away, above it was another layer of high fog, and the most of the sun that I saw all day was a milky disc around noon.

At 4pm I decided to finally tackle the problem of today’s image. I took the car and drove over to Wörther See, the most mundane of Carinthia’s many lakes, where in Reifnitz I shot this image of some landing stages. At that time it was already dark. The image is a 97 seconds exposure with the Nikon 18-200 at f14, 112mm and ISO 200.

The last image, the image of the Day, is another HDR image, this time only the tone-mapped layer and diverse contrast and color adjustments, a blur, some vignetting, etc.

Actually this was the first image that I shot today, shortly after 4pm. The idea was, to make a pleasing image of a drab, wet day. I knew there would be no good light, no colors, none of the ingredients that make photography so easy, only a bleak landscape that can’t decide if it’s late autumn or early winter. Consequently I was reduced to line and shape, and when I saw the shape of this field, I was hooked. I could have stopped and driven back at that moment, because I knew I had what I was looking for.

The Song of the Day is “Rainy Day” from the 1997 John Lee Hooker / Van Morrison cooperation “Don’t Look Back“. Rain, rain, no more, no more, no more, no more. Yeah, that’s it!

Oct 092007

This is one of the images from Sunday morning, when I was out shooting the sunrise with Ted. Actually you can see the ghost of him in this image, on the right side, just in the middle, standing left of the trash can. Well, it’s probably a little bit small in this size, and I only recognized it when I worked on the image.

It was a magic moment. The sky in the east had only lightened up a little, when suddenly a cloud up in the sky began to glow. I was working from the tripod, shooting the Battisterio while Ted worked on the on the facade of the Duomo.

The Song of the Day is “If It’s Magic” from Stevie Wonder’s 1976 masterpiece “Songs in the Key of Life“.

Oct 082007

Hello again, I’m safely back from Firenze and my meeting with Ted Byrne. The trip down there was unspectacular, though I would have preferred a little less rain. Actually we had rain for almost the whole drive, with a little sun near Bologna. Anyway, rain stopped shortly before Firenze and from then on, including today’s journey back, we had beautiful weather.

We arrived just in time for dinner with Ted, so I had not much time for shooting on Saturday. This is one of the two images I keep, taken just before dinner, just out of the restaurant Nanamuta where we met, a hotel on the other side of the street.

Dinner was fine and so was finally talking with Ted. If you’re watching his blog, he’s got internet access again and just has begun posting again.

The other keeper is a street scene from after dinner, shadows and light, the last image I shot on Saturday. I had considered wandering around on the nightly streets for a little longer, but decided against it. Ted and I had arranged to meet for sunrise on the corner of Firenze’s cathedral, and I imagined that some sleep would not be completely out of place 🙂

Firenze, one of the centers of Rinascimento, and I come back with a piece of modern architecture? Well, this shall be remedied with Sunday’s image. I have not decided yet, but I guess it will be one of those from the morning session with Ted.

The Song of the Day should probably be one of the pieces on Mina’s new CD “Todavia“. I bought the album on the Italian highway and heard it in the car, but I would not be able to offer you sound samples and none of the tracks would match this image anyway.

Instead it’s “She’s So Modern” by The Boomtown Rats. I have it on the collection “Loudmouth : Best Of The Boomtown Rats“. Hear it on YouTube.