Jul 252008
 

These are images of yesterday, Thursday. As I have nothing for today yet and plenty of time at the moment (I’m currently on the train from Vienna to Carinthia, a four hours ride), I felt the temptation to use one of them for today. Well, I resisted. There is still time and I intend to get lucky 🙂

The Image of the Day was taken only seconds after I left my appartment, while still on the same floor. This is something I really believe in: One should never dismiss a subject on the ground that it has been used before. I had quite some Images of the Day made in this very staircase, and while I would not spend an hour shooting images here, a few every few days tend to be fun and the routine is productive as well.

The umbrella has not been arranged by me, it was simply there, someone seems to have forgotten it. As always when I have a new lens, I currently use the Nikon 85/1.8 almost exclusively, and as always with fast primes, I mostly play with shallow depth of field.

This image surprised me quite a lot in post-processing. The original out of the camera was dark and moody, but when I clicked “Auto” in Adobe Camera RAW, I found that I liked this light look much better. A comment on SmugMug, my photo hosting site, described this as “a very lovely shot”, and indeed there is something serene in this shot that I did not anticipate originally. Well, some people may be disturbed when their images begin to acquire unintended sense, but I am a great believer in the process of discovery. I think it’s honest. I believe that much of what we see as coherent in the work of other artists is only what has been arranged that way.

Let me conclude with two more images, the first one being a morning image as well. This is another product of Puch, the Austrian manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles and cars, that I have already written about or its products shown more than once. Just like the car recently, these scooters were old-fashioned in the Seventies, but I remember having seen a lot of them in my youth, all of them in the posession of old men.

The last image is from the afternoon. This is a park along the street where I work, and there are always flowers. I tried to get a nice distribution of verticals and asense of depth. Nothing special, but I like it.

The Song of the Day, “True Love Tends to Forget“, is from Bob Dylan’s 1978 album “Street Legal“. Funnily enough this was the first Dylan album that I bought. Hear the Song on YouTube.

Jul 162008
 

Remember the dream, or shall I say, the series of images that flashed through my mind when I woke up last morning? Remember that I told you about it in “638 – In The Grove”“? When I went to work yesterday morning, I was constantly on the lookout for vertical compositions that had elements of those dream images.

Of course I did not find anything that even remotely matched what I had seen, but given that I was in Vienna’s streets, it did not come unexpectedly that there were neither flower-strewn beds nor sailing boats around. That was not what I was looking for anyway. I was looking for structural similarities, and what I found was vague at best.

Here are five vertical images that have been shot with the dream images in mind, plus a fancy car and another vertical that I could not resist to take when the sun went down. I present these images in unedited form, and I do that for two reasons: firstly, I was too lazy to edit seven files, and secondly, this is not about any single image, this is about a series, inspired by a dream.

The images are mostly in the order they were taken. What I was after, was roughly a pattern of vertical stripes in the background, and a foreground that covers the lower third of the image, but in an asymmetrical way. The Image of the Day was my first attempt. Compared to the dream of the bed and the window, the relation between foreground and background is inverse: here the background is sharp, my hand, used as an impromptu foreground is out of focus.

This does not matter for my purpose, but I believe that one of the two should be out of focus. All images were taken with the Sigma 70/2.8, mostly wide open, to provide for a shallow depth of field.

While working, I found this base concept inspiring, although I did not stick strictly to it. Most images keep only the verticals, and the foreground is replaced by part of the sidewalk, asymmetry provided by the perspective.

What’s the point of all that? For me it was interesting to see these dream images at all, and trying to respond to them was only natural. Why do I share it? Sure, this is as “work in progress” as it could possibly be, but in a way I think this is interesting. It’s more or less a kind of unfiltered visual thought.

Now for something completely different. I often photograph and write about bicycles, and many of them are products of the former Austrian company “Puch”. I had almost forgotten that they had also made cars, but when I saw one on the streets, I simply had to take an image. This is a “Puch 500”, basically a licensed “Fiat 500”. I have never sat in such a car, much less driven one myself. They were almost extinct before my time.

The day ended with wonderful late sunlight, and I had to record this as well. This is the view through my living room window in Vienna.

The Song of the Day, “Series of Dreams“, is the last song on the 1991 official “Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3“. The song is from a collaboration with Daniel Lanois and U2, as far as I remember. See the video on YouTube.

May 172008
 

It’s Friday, I’m sitting on the train, and here is another bicycle portrait. In a comment, Ted Byrne recently asked me to present my images of bicycles in some kind of collection, on a separate web page, in a photo book or something like that.

Well, I’ve already thought about that, and it would have been an interesting SoFoBoMo project. Trouble is, that SoFoBoMo rules require at least 35 images shot within a 31 day interval between first of April and last of May (that’s what Paul Butzi, who invented SoFoBoMo calls a “fuzzy month”). 35 good bicycle images, that’s quite a lot to be shot in a month. That would have required finding more than one bicycle per day on average. Suffice to say that I gave up on the idea.

I registered on Paul’s SoFoBoMo announcement page, but ever since then I’ve held back. I lacked a project. Part of the problem is my weekly travel from Vienna to Carinthia and back. Now that I think of it, bicycles wouldn’t have been such a bad idea. You find them in both places 🙂

Another idea was to photograph portraits of strangers on the train. After all, I spend eight hours a week traveling, and most of the time I could ask someone. Let’s see, that’s four weekends, probably five if I position the “fuzzy month” well, though creating the last images in the very last days would mean to severely press my luck. What if I didn’t find anyone on the last weekend? OK, that means four weekends, nine images per weekend, and that could mean at least three people with three images, but better two images per person, probably 17 people and a self-portrait as the last image. Still, quite a lot, probably manageable, but I soon found out I had another problem: On most weekends I need that travel time to catch up with my daily blog!

Finally there is the fact, that I am not even excited by the idea. It would have been an interesting project, but probably not for me. I enjoy having silence and peace on the train, I enjoy working here, and when it’s busy in the compartment (just as it is now), then I hear music. Sacred music by Mozart at the moment. You see, I’m probably not the type for this kind of assignment 🙂

Still, reading Paul Butzi‘s blog, Paul Lester‘s and Gordon McGregor‘s (all three have finished their books by now), seeing the SoFoBoMo site, and not having a book of my own, that’s unsatisfying, to say the least.

There are only two weeks left now, I still have no project, not a single image, the only thing I have is an InDesign training DVD that I’ve bought, eight hours of training and I’ve seen not a single minute so far.

Anyway, this lack of a book is nagging me. I was already sure to give up (oh that bitter taste of defeat!), when I thought about it again today, and suddenly I saw the whole idea of a project from a new angle.

It’s hard to find unrelated objects of a kind, at least 35 of them in one month, and then take good images of all of them, images that also combine to a meaningful sequence. It’s even harder when you have a day job, and my weekly travels contribute to the problem. I can take landscapes on weekends, but in Vienna I do mostly street photography. How do you select a common kind of object?

So what, did I think today, if I don’t spread picture taking at all? What if I select a single day in Vienna or in Carinthia and do all my photography in that one day? Impossible? Maybe, but probably not if I re-think the concept of a project.

A book, regardless of type, literature or photo book, is by its very nature a sequence. What if I center the project around a naturally sequential concept?

So what is sequential? Order? The passing of time? A journey? Life?

Every book is a journey and so is life. That looks promising. I still have no clear vision of what I want to do, so let’s inspect some options.

I could let time pass, but stay in one place. Well, that’s fine for a year, with seasons, different weather and all the small changes that happen in a year, that may even make an interesting book. Probably this could even be done in a city like Vienna, standing at a busy corner. Something like “From Dawn Till Dusk”. It needs a busy, interesting place with much variability during the day, some luck, and it could well work. “Naschmarkt” comes to my mind. It’s the biggest market in Vienna. People begin working there at sunrise, and at night it ends with a big cleanup. I’d have to ask the shop owners, but I am quite sure most would agree.

What about an abstract, conceptional journey from far to near? Think about a forest seen in a distance. Now the same forest, a little nearer, nearer still, a group of trees at the side of the forest, a single tree, a branch, some leaves, a single leaf, part of a leaf, concrete to abstract. If this is not enough to yield a minimum of 35 images, I could use the same concept for two, three, maybe four such “journeys” and make these parts of the book. A forest, a mountain, a village, a river. “Inspections”. Nice title 🙂

What about a real journey? Well, rather a short trip, I guess. Something like walking from one end of Vienna to the other. If I carefully plan my way, I’ll hardly have trouble finding interesting places, but even if not, if I have to use something “unrelated” for part of the trip, then it will still be related, simply by the fact that it is there, on my route.

I have not decided yet, but it is clear that I better do something this weekend in Carinthia (that would be Sunday, I think) or during the next week in Vienna, though that would almost certainly need a day off from work. In any case I have to have the images ready before next weekend. That will leave me eight more days to produce a book. Crazy? Sure. Funny? Certainly! Possible? I have no idea 🙂

It seems like SoFoBoMo is not over yet. Stay tuned.

The Song of the Day is “At Last“, and the version I mean is the one by the ever so fantastic Mary Coughlan. It’s on her 2002 album “Red Blues“. Of course I have no video, but there is one of Etta James‘ version. It’s different, but it will give you an idea. While Etta James is very much Rhythm and Blues, Mary Coughlan is strictly Blues. Well, both are great and it’s a great song.

May 112008
 

As a child I have lived in an old house with yellow walls. Warm, yellow walls on a summer day, this still evokes the feeling of comfort in me. We may not remember the first two years of our childhood, but there are unconscious kinds of memory as well.

Something of that must have gone through my mind when I saw this bicycle leaning against a wall. The warm orange of the body and the yellow of the saddle only added to the feeling. And, did you notice? It’s a Puch!

The Song of the Day is “Marlene On The Wall” from Suzanne Vega’s 1985 self-titled album. See her perform live on YouTube.

May 012008
 

I love old things. I saw this bicycle on Tuesday, and I immediately liked it. It’s a Puch. This company and its bicycles and motorcycles are part of the Austrian history. Technologically, Puch was always first class, and certainly better than their marketing. My first bicycle was a Puch. Today even the brand is gone.

This image has been taken with the Nikon 50/1.2 at f1.2, post-processing was done entirely in Adobe Camera Raw.

The Song of the Day is the Jerome Kern composition “I’m Old Fashioned“, and like so many times when one deals with Jazz standards, it’s a good idea to first hear what Ella Fitzgerald made of it. I have all the Songbooks in one collection. It is fairly expensive, but well done. This song is on disc 15. On the other hand, when you simply want to get an impression of the song, why don’t just check out Sara Gazarek’s version on YouTube.

Jan 302008
 

I am more than a day behind now. The problem is, that something new and amazing is brewing up, and I am a tad short of time at the moment 🙂

There are two images for today (well, Monday that actually was. Grumble!), and let’s begin with this one. It may have a story, but I’m not sure which one. A woman opening a door, a sign directing pedestrians away from her, and then this overly bright and bluish light??? Sigma 70/2.8 at f2.8, 1/100s and ISO 3200. Some Photoshop treatment 🙂

Had I known more about the story behind #1 (which actually was #2 chronologically), I would have made it Image of the Day, and then maybe not. The bicycles were just too sweet. You know I love bicycles as a subject, and these two perfect circles leaning on straight lines, the composition with the lights of Café Raimund in the background, the slants, this is so geometrically rich that I impossibly could have dismissed it. Sigma 70/2.8 at f2.8, 1/100s and ISO 1000. Noise was higher than to be expected from that ISO, because I have severely pushed the foreground and completely re-lit the scene after the fact. I could have used flashes while being there, but then I probably would not have taken the image at all 🙂

The Song of the Day is “In Circles” from the 2000 album “Silence is Sexy” by Einstürzende Neubauten.

Jun 122007
 

Here we are with another one of my bicycle portraits. Hey, this is the first time in weeks that I could manage to get the Image of the Day posted and blogged the very same day that it was shot. Feels good.

I shot this image in the morning in Lerchengasse on my way to work. I have cloned out a very distracting window in the background, made some selective adjustments to saturation, but otherwise … only kiddin’. Of course this image is heavily edited and that is as it has to be 🙂

It’s again the Nikon 50/1.8 at f1.8, post-processing was done in Photoshop.

The title is a line from one of the very greatest songs in Rock history. It’s the Rolling Stones with “Let it Bleed“, a song from their 1969 album of the same name.