Forget the net

Following up on the last post and that desire to now ebbs and flows, constantly. Some days, some weeks even, I won’t even look at a camera unless I have a job to shoot. It’s rare but not as rare as it used to be—it was a damn near impossibility at some point in my life. I still think about photography and frame images in my mind...but I don’t systematically act on it. I’ve been aware of this change for awhile now and it’s somewhat disconcerting—as though I once needed to shout from the rooftops but have now said my piece. Can we be done at some point? Can we gaze upon this world and shrug, content with the work we’ve done? God I hope not. The mere thought of it depresses me.

I was reading a post about pushed Tri-X and as I browsed the images, I thought about the control we now hold in our hands, about simple decisions we can make that disregard the quest for perfection. And I thought about the ease with which we forget about those controls, as we pursue the next shiny new toy. I love the X-Pro2. When I first got this camera I immediately grabbed onto the Acros film simulation, testing it in various scenarios. It’s still a favourite of mine to this day. But I sort of “forgot” how much I loved it on the X-Pro2 at ISO 2000 SPECIFICALLY—for me, this is where the simulation shines, achieving a perfect balance of grain/noise/detail. So I grabbed the camera, turned the ISO dial and switched to my Moriyama pushed Acros preset. To hell with a safety net.

I felt that giddiness, that joy and pulsing wave rushing through me again.
No silly, we’re never done.

Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f2 R WR

Artefacts I


The sprawling Irving Penn exhibit I saw in Stockholm lives with me still. Namely his simple yet effective skull images: just a few monochromes on a white background. Nothing fancy, no tricks...just the purity of a subject without artifice. Anytime I get mired in complexity, someone or something throws reality back at me—and I remember we don’t need sixteen lights or a huge Hollywood production. We just need the desire to see.

My dad traveled the world on a freighter ship in his youth, back when a boy could escape without so much as a backward glance. From the Arctic circle he brought back a hunter figurine; from Africa, a couple of strange acrobats. Much later, while on a business trip somewhere in Canada, he bought me a necklace carved in caribou teeth. All of these sparked my imagination—the concept of political correctness still lost to a much distant future.

Then there’s the other necklace I found in my mom’s jewelry box one day, the one I wore on stage for years; the creepy baby teeth hidden away, slowly dissolving in the drip of decades. I wanted to see these artefacts again, to record them like Penn’s skulls.
Without makeup.
Without ruse.

Shot with the GFX 50S and GF 120mm f4 LM OIS R WR (Acros film simulation)

Prime Fire

I guess it’s tradition now—the quiet, solitary walk into the woods, on the first morning of the first day of every year. Do anything often enough and it becomes a ritual, transformed from mundane to quasi-mystical. It sounds hyperbolic I know. But I do sense something like a second layer covering the world on each of these very private annual outings. Perhaps it’s the weight of all that has passed...or all that lies ahead. What’s ever clearer to me is that we are accumulations, drawers overflowing, the good and the bad pushed into one great big pile. And every year we lay it on—a little thicker, deeper. A mess but still a treasure trove. This is where we dig for inspiration after all—the spark to the bright lights or black fire.

I came very close to writing a diatribe on the Madness of King George today—a metaphor to release the anger I felt at witnessing the barrage of insanity, after just a few days of turning off the news. But that black fire... it’s damn hard to contain. If you’re not careful it will consume you whole. Then I read my friend Ian McDonald’s blog post, slightly in awe of his intense organizational skills, and thought “ok...breathe”. Our world still turns, despite the sonic booms.

I’m not officially back yet (the holidays end on Monday for us) so I’ll keep upcoming projects for the next post. Instead, here’s a journal of sorts—a very messy visual hodgepodge of our holidays.

2018 is in.
Let’s get crackin’.

Gratuitous & Full Circle

Here we are, on the cusp of yet another Christmas Day—which also means the year is almost over as well. Captain Obvious here, offering invaluable insight to the masses since’re quite welcome ;)

I want to say a quick thank you to all those who’ve already purchased the new 1EYE, ROAMING books—I’m very grateful and hope you’ll enjoy the journey. But beyond products: a huge thanks to all of you for being here, period. I’m well aware that this blog can veer into very personal territory at times, content that—while I try and inject knowledge here and there—isn’t necessarily educational. And admittedly, this year was a bit of a transition for me, moving away from difficult times in 2016 (on a personal level) and embracing new realities, new ways of working that impacted the time spent on the blog. I also went from a productivity-fueled Todoist workflow to an absolute repudiation of organization as a whole. Backlash. Now I’m back to a more balanced approach with Things; I might write about this in the New Year, we’ll see. Ideally, I’d like to come back to a more regular publishing schedule—but no, this is not a resolution. Resolutions are where goals go to die. It’s a psychological issue I’m sure.

I didn’t know how to end 2017, what note to strike on this last post. Then yesterday I started messing around in the studio and picked up my dusty old X100—the original one, no bloody S, T or F (I’m paraphrasing a Star Trek TNG reference here in case you’re not as geeky as I am). Anyway, this somehow made sense: shooting the little APS-C camera that started it all with its medium-format grandchild. It’s a bit like coming full circle if you think about it.

Alright, let’s go educational for a bit...if only to contradict what I just said. Here’s a shot of the setup:

That’s a Profoto A1 with Dome Diffuser on the C-stand, modelling light ON (just to check the shadows). The cable is a PC cord, dangling from a Godox X1T-F transmitter that’s currently acting as a manual trigger for the A1 (set to X-Sync). Obviously that’s plugged into the GFX 50S. The Deep Octa in the back isn't active and that's a white book leaning against a tape meter, to act as a bit of fill. Whatever works right?

I’m using the GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR lens (boy that’s a mouthful) with the camera set to 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 100. One last note: the image at the top was processed from a colour JPEG (Classic Chrome) to black and white in Capture One 11. But the ones below are straight out of camera. I don’t do this very often. A few shots in I switched to my Moriyama preset on the GFX—Acros with +3 shadows and +2 highlights—and that was it. When I opened the files in C1 they looked exactly the way I wanted them to. Sure, I could’ve tweaked a few details here and there...but I thought it would be fun (and certainly different for this site) to go straight from camera to blog. 

Is it superficial to end on tech and gear porn? Perhaps. But I’ve always believed there’s a poetry to these machines that’s part of our equation—part of the urge, the madness, this thrust to look and seize and possess the world. It all begins in glass and metal. In these objects that call us to action, through soft lines and whispers.

With this, I’m off for the holidays. Allow me to wish you and your families the very best. Have fun, be safe. Let’s refuel and get ready to rock the other side of this one.
2018 here we come.

Shot with the GFX 50S and GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR