Parce que la nuit

I put my fingers through her silken hair and found a stair,
I didn’t waste time, I just walked right up and saw that
Up there, there is a sea
— Horses, Patti Smith

Truth be told, I rarely imagine Patti Smith in reds. It’s always white and black and grayscale in my mind, New York undisneyfied, swamp-like and convulsing. But there is blood, impossible to avoid. Veins polluted by dark magic & infected sex myths
lost,
fallen,
sublime.

Whips cracking for screaming banshees
& dead lovers
with Polaroids.


Shot with the X-T3 and XF 35mm f/2 R WR


Spring Forward

The camera battery died two kilometres in and I turned back. It had three bars when I left, suddenly dropped to two and flashed red seconds later...this cheap knock-off has clearly reached EOL. Still, 4K isn’t bad for a leisurely afternoon stroll on these muddy and icy dirt roads where you either sink or slip—like navigating an annoyingly flat version of parcours.

The sun shines today but it’s a tease: we’re bracing for yet another snowfall.
On Sunday we’ll spring forward, destroy our circadian rhythms again and drive back through a complete whiteout. Slow, steady and fingers crossed all the way.

An hour lost and no end in sight.


Shot with the X100F


​The Icy Depths

I’m not shooting enough these days. Personal stuff I mean. The calendar says March 1st— but it’s been a long winter that has yet to relinquish its hold. There’s ice everywhere: thick and blue and hard as hell. That’s what happens when the weather goes from snow to rain to -20ºC in less than 24 hours. Repeatedly. It’s been the winter of broken bones.

A friend of mine—who lives in a much warmer climate—asked me how I approached street photography during these months; I replied I just...didn’t. It’s not very courageous but there you go. I just figure I’ve given enough to this season at this point in my life? Bring on warmth and colour.

Still, there’s the itch. Not enough to make me drive into Montreal and find parking and fight off the orange cones and try to remain upright...but enough for guilt to set in. So this morning I put everything aside and gave myself a challenge: express winter. Just go with it. I had grids of abstract images in mind (influenced by an old EXPO 67 book I’ll probably talk about in another post) so I grabbed the GFX 50S and the 120mm f/4 and shot both outdoors and indoors (indoors images were lit with the Godox AD200).

The guilt isn’t gone...but at least I have a few frames to show.

Have a great weekend everyone :)

P.S Some are much more courageous than I am: Eric Delorme explored Pointe-Claire in a post entitled The Village. In freezing weather. He rebooted his blog after a workshop we did together last Fall and it’s well worth visiting if you have a chance.


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


I

II

Hard February Light

I’ve never been crazy about winter—and the wild weather swings we’ve been experiencing these last few years haven't helped the situation. But every February, when the sun deigns to show up on late afternoons, our living room is—for lack of a better word—ignited: for about an hour the low-angle light rushes in through the front window and every object explodes with contrast. And every time I’m literally stunned by it. Sometimes I’ll shoot a few frames, sometimes I’ll just take it in. But I never fail to notice—even after all these years—and it never leaves me cold. Time and again I’ve found myself actively searching for this same mood, out there in the field.

The truth is, the more I look at light, the more I study its character and the way it shapes our world...the more I realize softness is rarely the element that grabs me. I like intersections, the play between extremes, broken shafts of luminescence and crisp edges; I like unexpected angles and dark pools and half-truths. Basically, I prefer hard light.

In our quest for the ultimate modifier it’s easy to forget how a single bare light source, on its own, can still be extremely interesting. There’s no outer or inner baffle, no white or silver coating to consider...The entire exercise becomes solely about distance, angle and placement; about allowing the light to bounce off its surroundings and hit obstacles, accepting interference and unevenness.

Last weekend we took a quick overnight trip to my in-laws—a location you’ve seen time and again on this blog. Except this time I brought a flash with me, just for kicks: the Godox AD200 (with the fresnel head). I didn’t bring a light stand or an assistant (!) but simply wandered around the house like some lunatic, holding the flash in one hand and the X-Pro2 in the other—old school. Sometimes I’d drop the flash on the floor or a table, mostly using TTL to keep manipulations at a minimum. I didn’t try to hide the nature of the light, didn’t try to blend it with the (barely-existent) ambient or use it as fill—I went all in. In my mind this was the February sun swirling around, or a table lamp or an oddly placed flood of some sort. It wouldn't be soft and it WOULD cast shadows. But life is full of shadows.

I don’t know how you feel about the results but personally, I like these a lot. They brought me elsewhere and they’re miles beyond what natural light would’ve given me in these circumstances. The next day however, the sun came out...and it was all gloriously just there for the taking.

One last detail for today. All these images have one thing in common: they were all processed in Capture One 12 on an iPad Pro. Wait...what?? Nope, I don’t have access to a super secret build of C1 on iOS (I wish). As part of my minimize friction/embrace mobile year I ordered Astrolab’s Luna Display—a Mac dongle that turns an iPad into a second display. It can be used to extend screen real estate...or to transform that iPad into a mobile wireless monitor in its own right. I’d tried software solutions in the past but they were always pretty terrible and useless. To be honest I’ve had a few disconnects here and there while using the Luna Display, but this is likely due to the iMac being in the basement of our house (I know for a fact the Wi-Fi signal isn’t great there); I’ll be adding mesh to our setup which should alleviate problems. But boy oh boy is this thing impressive: I can work on C1 remotely, from anywhere in our home, with zero lag. I even did remote typing tests to see how well it worked and I never missed a beat. Plus I’ve activated the Retina Display option so I’m working on the iPad Pro in full rez. This definitely fills one more piece of the puzzle. Kind of fun to be working in Capture One with the Apple Pencil too. Btw I blame/credit Macstories’ Federico Vittici for this one...that guy makes me spend way too much money but damn, he’s like an iPad workflow god (check out this post if you feel like geeking out on the subject).

Next up: a look at the new lighting kit.
Later.

More visual ramblings

I found a pile of old Time-Life photography books while cleaning up this weekend—a series from the very early 70s. I’d bought it at a garage sale a couple of years ago but it ended up in the back room, largely forgotten. As part of the newly-trendy Kondomari “joy” thing, they’re now sitting on a shelf in the studio, next to my desk.

I was browsing one of the books on Sunday—The Art of Photography—when the sun came out. Abstract miniatures suddenly appeared around me, assembled from light and random objects and shadows.

I ran for the X-Pro2 and imagined 1971...grainy, blurry and shameless.


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