Archive for ‘photography’

February 12, 2017

Sohei Nishino – Dioramic Maps

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Diorama Map of Jerusalem by Sohei Nishino

A few days ago, a new photo friend Fred Zafran posted a link from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) about Japanese photographers

This interview series focuses on Japanese Photography. Watch established photographers who redefined the medium after World War II and still-emerging contemporary practitioners reflect on cultural landscapes and personal truths.

As is usually the case when I am referred to broad links like this one, I only have time to explore a little at a time. Today, I clicked on the first link and was truly moved by the Diorama Map project of Sohei Nishino. Nishino creates intricate map collages of cities using small section photographs. On his website are diorama maps of 21 cities including San Francisco (his latest, I presume), Havana, and Jerusalem. The planning, perseverance, and just plain grit it takes to complete one of these projects is impressive.

Thanks to Fred for this introduction.

 

February 11, 2017

Shoot-Thru Abstractions

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

I happened on this glass wall in the Shinkansen (the high-speed bullet train) station on our travels between Mastushima in the north and Kanazawa in the west.

There are many examples of shooting through walls and fences and other textures in the works of the great American photographers such as Jay Maisel, Joel Meyerowitz, Arthur Meyerson, Saul Leiter, etc… In order to break out of the cliché, you must look for light, color, gesture, and micro composition.

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

January 29, 2017

Jay Maisel 60 Year Retrospective

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In May 2012 I had the honor and privilege of taking the “Jay Maisel Workshop” in NY City at his home, the 35,000 square foot Germania Bank building in the Bowery. The workshop cost $5,000 for 5-days inclusive of Jay taking us to his favorite NY restaurants for lunch and dinner. To describe the workshop would take far longer than I have today at this sitting, working to get out a quick post. A few years ago, Jay stopped giving his workshop and ultimately moved to Brooklyn.

However, last night was the opening of a small show representing a 60 year retrospective of Jay’s work. It was great to see Jay and a few other luminaries in the photography world.

If you read my blog, you know that I’ve been talking about personal documentary projects lately. Here are my personal documentary photos from last night. Also at the opening where photographers Gerd Ludwig and Douglas Kirkland with his wife Françoise.

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Jay and an image of his daughter Amanda, taken in 1969. The epitome of personal documentary photography.

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Gerd Ludwig – National Geographic photographer

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Douglas Kirkland

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Jay and Françoise Kirkland (the wife of Douglas Kirkland)

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Michael Richards, Jay and Jay’s wife L.A.

January 10, 2017

Personal Documentary Photography

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

I spent two weeks this past November traveling through Japan with Sam Abell, a retired National Geographic photographer and mentor of mine. Sam believes strongly in keeping a photographic diary. He uses all the same care and skill capturing images for his diary as for his assignments. He believes that there is great power in documenting your daily life and those around you. As an extension of writers keeping a written journal, it makes sense for photographers to keep a photographic journal.

In order to do this topic justice, I wrote a somewhat longer article that you can find on my Composition area of this site. Here is the full article – Personal Documentary Photography – What and Why.

 

December 27, 2016

Fortune 29: Medium-Good Luck

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

After a very brief stay in Tokyo, our band of 12 photographers led by Sam Abell and George Nobechi left for Nikko via bullet train, local train, and very-local bus. Our first stop was the expansive Thoshogu Shrine complex, the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu. This was where I was first introduced to Omikuji, Japanese fortunes. They are available to purchase from small self-service boxes, usually for 100 – 300 Yen (100 Yen is roughly equivalent to $1 US) located throughout the shrine and temple complexes we visited.

Omikuji are not like the simple “You will soon embark on a long trip” fortunes found in the American fortune cookies we get at Chinese restaurants. The fortunes are long and list specifics about many aspects of life including personality, relationships, career, studies, and the future. I was warned by George that they range from great blessing to great curse in 12 steps: great blessing, middle blessing, small blessing, blessing, half-blessing, future blessing, future small blessing, curse, small curse, half-curse, future curse, and great curse. The custom is that if you get a good fortune you keep it with you. If you pull a bad fortune (curse!), then you tie it to a tree or stand so that you will leave the bad luck behind.

From my first introduction I was intrigued, but apprehensive. I did not need any new curses to follow me around. Since most of the trip was organized around visiting the temples and gardens that Basho documented in his writings “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” there were plenty of opportunities to challenge the fortune gods to provide me with some good news. But I waited. I waited until one late afternoon at the Yamadera Temple. Overtaken by the spirituality and immensity of this mountain-side temple complex, I bought a little bell-adorned pouch containing a small polished stone and, of course, my omikuji. Later that day George translated Fortune 29 for me.

Fortune 29: Medium-Good Luck

After a very difficult struggle, your luck will turn for the better. You are tough in the best sense of the word with strong power for recovery. With unexpected help from those around you, your loving relationships will also be good. The trust and effort you have accumulated will be rewarded so that your luck in your career will rise and you will be blessed with good fortune. For your studies, right now is the time to test you. If you get back your roots, and work diligently, you will eventually see the light and things will come to fruition.

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

 

December 25, 2016

Caring

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

During my brief visit to Japan all I noticed at first were its similarities to every town or city that I’ve visited. In the big cities there is plenty of commercialism and in the towns lots of focus on tourist-oriented shops and restaurants, visitors, and people with their cell phones. With time, however, I began to notice the small differences.

When our group arrived in Kanazawa, we started to see trees strung up with twine and wondered about the meaning. At first glance it just looked like the trees were decorated as triangular caricatures of Christmas trees (it was November after all). After asking some questions, I learned that it is called Yukitsuri or “snow suspenders” and used to protect the tree branches from breaking during the heavy wet winter snows in the area.

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

I saw this caring for trees not just in the big important Kenrokuen Garden, but also in the small neighborhood parks and city streets. Stringing up the trees is labor intensive and done by hand with tall ladders, twine, bamboo poles, and a team of gardeners. I was quite taken by how they care for their trees and began to see it as just one manifestation of the general sense of respect one appreciates in the Japanese culture.

From my simple 2-week visit I cannot make any generalizations on how the Japanese culture compares to the California culture I live in. I do not know how their centuries old nationalism, homogeneity, and work ethic affects their daily happiness, sense of freedom, or creativity – three things I value highly. But I can take away a lesson about caring to remind myself to take care of the people and things in our lives in the same manner that I witnessed the care for trees in Kanazawa.

I hope that this is a lesson that I can also pass on to you with these simple images.

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi

Japan - Basho's Path November 2016 with Sam Abell and George Nobechi