October 15, 2006

What the Duck????

Filed under: Something different — Tony Bridge @ 2:15 pm

Kia ora tatou:

After the drudgery of workaday tidal waves and reading my heavy-duty posts, may I present:
What the Duck, a series of comic strips for photographers.

Artist Aaron Johnson describes WTD as coming about as a blog filler, and says it has since continued at the demand of tens of people.

Check it out. Some wryly accurate observations on the trials and tribulations of being a photographer. Kind of like Larsen for photographers.

Ka kite ano


May 1, 2006


Filed under: Something different — Tony Bridge @ 6:36 am

Kia ora tatou:

The portrait is one of the oldest genres in
photography. You may be interested to know that, while recording the landscape was the reason photography came into being as a technology, the portrait was the economic engine that drove its development. When people realised that they no longer had to find a (very expensive) professional painter to have their portrait done, that it was now affordable, they flocked in their droves to the nearest professional photographer, to have their likeness recorded. For the first time in human history, it was possible to have an accurate record of themselves and their lives. Needless to say, average portrait painters went out of business overnight.

The portrait is somewhat of a fraught area. It carries a lot of baggage, both social and historical. In addition, there is the issue of photographing another human being. An insensitive and are un-aware approach can do a lot of damage. When we make portraits, we have immense power; the power to make our subjects feel good about themselves, or the power to destroy. Portrait photography is not an area for the psychologically jackbooted.

No wonder so few of us like having our “photo taken”…

Which brings me to the point of this post.

I had the singular honour of mentoring Virginia, as she produced a body of work for an exhibition and later for her associateship. Virginia is one of those wonderful people who is interested in everything, but especially the human condition. Her life has been a road containing more than its fair share of potholes, but she remains deeply interested in people and the lives of those around her. She is one of those wonderful human beings who are able to see beyond her own difficulties, take life by the throat and give it a really good shake. She has a real concern for others and an intuitive understanding of what makes people tick, not to mention a ferocious intellect and a razor-sharp wit. In other words, all of the things needed to make a fine portrait photographer.

In our initial discussions, she expressed interest in making photographs of the women in a dragon boat team with which she was involved. The thing that makes this group of women so special is that they have all survived breast cancer, and the psychological trauma of the disfigurement that so often goes with it. She wanted to photograph the women and show their courage and nobility, and perhaps give them a new way of looking at what had happened.

Virginia is one of those wonderful photographers who are idea-driven, so I taught her the basics of studio photography and loaned her a Mamiya C330 6×6. We felt that the formality of using a twin-lens reflex would give her photographs the right feel. We both agreed it had to be black-and-white. We also talked about shooting angle and the importance of correct camera positioning. Because she wanted to show her respect for his subjects, she chose a fractionally lower camera angle to demonstrate this.

Then she went to work.

From time to time, she would get in touch, and we would look through what she had done. I would suggest ways in which she might refine her technique or make slight adjustments to the lighting. From the start, there was no way I could or would comment on the content of the pictures she was showing me. They were and are so extraordinarily powerful, that I was moved every time I saw them. I still am.

Needless to stay, she completed the project, and has produced a series of images which bear testament both to her own talent and commitment, but as importantly, to the extraordinary courage and fortitude of the women she has photographed.

Something special has happened here.

Ka kite ano

March 15, 2006

After cataract surgery-seeing again for the first time

Filed under: Shout out, Something different — Tony Bridge @ 12:57 pm

Kia ora tatou:

As a few of you may know, I had cataract surgery on my right eye yesterday. The procedure was utterly painless and quite fascinating. It is all done under local and I was one of about 6 being done. A bit of a production line actually. I admit to a degree of dread at what the resiult might be. What if the difference was only minimal?

I spent last night with a patch over the eye, and I went down today to have it removed. I admit to considerable excitement ( and a little trepidation) at what I would see when I had it removed. I was not disappointed. The revelation was quite extraordinary. I have been told how wonderful the difference is. They were right. It is utterly astonishing.

  • Everything has got about 2 stops brighter
  • Colours are richer, especially yellows and reds
  • My perception of contrast has improved 1000-fold. Suddenly everyone has incredibly-textured skins, and wrinkles are highly evident, as is the microcontrast in fabrics and tar seal. I walked around in a daze for a half-hour, studying the roadway, leaves in gutters, and thinking how old some people looked. (Don’t worry-I still love you all!)

How to show you all this…

I have made 2 images, a before- and after-shot. That might explain it.

The one above is before as my left eye, next in line for surgery, sees the world: the one below afterwards, as my right eye now sees.

My friend Mark showed me a webpage talking about Monet’s reaction and perceptions before and after having his eyes fixed.

You can read about it here.

Ka kite ano

February 14, 2006

Back to the Future

Filed under: Something different, Technical posts — Tony Bridge @ 8:04 am

Kia ora tatou:
I would like you to have a close look at the picture at right. You will notice the long Canon lens poking out of the cloth. You will notice the idiot with the white cloth over his head, a bit like like having to survive one of those Vicks Vaporub inhalation kits some of us were subjected to as children…you may even notice the cloth itself.
For those of us who have used a 4×5 view camera (and some still do), the cloth is an essential piece of kit. You put it over your head to be able to see the ground glass screen clearly. It is known as a dark cloth. Freely available from any supplier of this sort of camera equipment.
Using a digital camera is a pain when you want to chimp your shot. The screens are never bright enough.
I happened to be out with a group and one of the party had brought his monorail along.
Trying to review a shot, I had ,a brainwave, and asked if I could borrow the cloth. It worked brilliantly.
Every hi-tech digital photographer should have one, if for no other reason than to start a conversation….
Many thanks to Kevin Russell for the loan. Speaking of which, if you are looking for a mint Linhof kit…..
ka kite ano

February 2, 2006


Filed under: Something different — Tony Bridge @ 12:19 pm

Kia ora tatou:
I want to share a story.
A few years ago I did a workshop in portraiture. Among the students was this guy called Garry. He got right into it and made some good images.
Over the next year or two he worked through my classes, getting better all the time. I remember one night when he confessed that he always had trouble sleeping after class because he couldn’t stop thinking about how to make his pictures. I told this was good thing.
I think it was Matisse who said” Art is not something you do, it’s something you have to do.
Anyway, he beavered on, getting better all the time until one day over a beer, he asked me what the next step was, where he should go with hiss photography. Why not have your own show? I suggested. He looked shocked and stunned and then a glimmer of joy crept over his face as he started to think.
Garry has been working away for the last year-and-a-half, photographing shopkeepers around Christchurch, where he lives. And the images have gone from very good to fantastic.
His show opens at Our City Otautahi on May 29 and continues to June 24
It’s a wonderful thing when the student overtakes the teacher.

January 27, 2006

The camera looks both ways

Filed under: Shout out, Something different, Thinking about Photography and Art — Tony Bridge @ 10:13 am

Kia ora tatou:
Enough of the gear stuff. I want to share an image with you.
A good friend, Lindsay McLeod (or is that MacLeod), used to tell his students that” the camera looks both ways”. What he meant was that when we make a photograph, it says as much about us as it does about the subject and our feelings towards it.
Often when we photograph, something has moved us to do so. Ostensibly (I’ve been at that thesaurus again), it may have been the weather, the light or even a half-hidden memory from childhood. Or it may be something deeper. And reflecting on our own inner selves may lead to new directions in our photography.
I would like to suggest that one of the best ways to improve our picture-making is to keep this in mind.
Take time to look at the image. Minor White, one of photography’s great teachers, would make his students study an image for at least 3 minutes before he asked them what they thought. The point is, it takes time to understand what you have done and more importantly, why you did it.
When you have looked, ask yourself what attracted you to make that photograph. Was it light, the subject, your feelings, a memory from childhood. Note your thoughts. Better still, write them down.
Then ask yourself what the image tells you about yourself. This is the hard bit.
Money where my mouth is time.
I made this picture late one afternoon last November. I was walking back to the car after finishing a wedding in New Plymouth. I decided to make a few images for myself. As I was walking along the boardwalk I saw a group of unicyclists practicing on the seawall. I asked if I could photograph them. They carried on and I probably made about 20 photographs. This one took place near the end.
It was one of those moments when time, space and intention (the core artistic concerns of my work) all come together. I knew I had captured something significant.
It was only later, and in the months afterwards, that I have come to realize that I had made a photograph of my life as it has been for some time.
The unicyclist balancing on the knife edge of the universe is me.
A moment later he fell off.
Ka kite ano.

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