Photographs: Art or Technology?l

This week we had a photography- friend arrive on a flying visit from overseas – 48 hours on the ground, including the seminar in which he was participating. We took him down the Great Ocean Road – a glorious coastal road – last time we drove it was in a rented Porsche, top down, for the full experience. But that was February – there was no desire to repeat it in July!

We left at 8am and arrived back at 10pm – it is a long drive… with some choice stops along the way for refreshments and to absorb the views.

Our friend had most of his camera kit with him – 2x semi-professional digital bodies and multiple lenses, including the extraordinary 14-24mm fish-eye. I had my, um, phone camera!

At the end of the day we were happy and exhausted. Our friend had over 750 shots, I had about 120 – mostly variations of Gibson’s steps, the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge in the late afternoon light.

We talked at length about the camera gear, tempting me to invest in some new technology. My last significant purchases were Nikon F801 and accessories back somewhere around 1990! Film! Yet it did give me some fun playing around with black and white developing for a short window. I haven’t used this camera for at least 10 years.

I’ve had a couple of the early digital cameras – mostly with very ho hum results in the early days.

In recent years I have been the proud owner of a very modest Panasonic Lumix point and shoot – 7MP, 10x optical zoom, super little Leica lens. It has been a brilliant camera to fling in my handbag on overseas business trips – always there to capture some little treasure to bring home as a memory of the trip.

I’d like to think that I approach my photography a little more seriously than just taking happy snaps, but I’m not too precious about it. My aesthetic has refined over time, and I particularly enjoy the experience when I venture out specifically with the aim of taking photos – it changes the way I view my world around me, and I really value that.

I was browsing through my photos this week, and uploaded of my travel-related photos to try out the photo section on Google+. My brief trip down memory lane of my travels in recent years was largely the result of my trusty Panasonic P&S. And while I didn’t have the range of lenses and manual settings, I have somehow managed to capture some very pleasing shots. I guess it comes down to understanding light and composition better now, after all this time.

While I have been briefly tempted this week to get back into ‘the gear’, the burden of lugging it all over the world and worrying about it being stolen etc seems too onerous – just not worth the effort.

I’ve decided I’m going to stick with something ‘middle of the road’, that gives me enough manual control to make my hobby satisfying, but is easily transportable and can be with me at all times – that fits better with my priorities.

So while all the photos above have been taken on a mobile phone, maybe I’ll look at updating my trusty Panasonic – it’s is looking pretty battle worn now, the body showing evidence of it’s adventures from many scratches and scrapes!

While the technology is necessary, for me it just a tool for me to exercise my art!

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Going on a Banksy Hunt…

Banksy's skeleton car

I spent a total of 19 weeks living away from family in London during 2007. Much of that time was spent by myself, and I ended up walking and exploring – the main task being to locate Banksy pieces. It really started just as something to do to keep me active and to soak up the essence of a different city. Armed with a Banksy Walking Guide that I bought on eBay, I set out on a number of days and walked for miles, finding many stencils around the East End. Some had been buffed; some were hidden behind fences; some just sitting there just like the picture in the book.

Oddly, you could even recognise others who were doing a similar thing and conversations started as you pointed someone to an obscure Banksy that they had missed – a temporary camaraderie in a strange city!

Subsequently, I have also found a few Banksy stencils locally in Melbourne, funnily most are just in the streets around my home and on shop fronts that I walk past each day.

Today I’ve just posted the last of my Banksy photos to Flickr – Banksy’s skeleton car on display behind the Old Truman Brewery back in November 2007 – not sure about it’s current status. You can see all my Banksy collection in an online set, Going on a Banksy Hunt if you are so inclined.

It has been an interesting exercise  to seek out and learn a little about Banksy. Clearly there are many more Banksy streetart photos that are chronicled on Flickr and other online sites, and many people that know much more about Banksy than me, but it has been an interesting journey.  So just saying…

Street Art and Doors

I have loved taking photos for many years. It has just been a hobby, something to distract from the routine. But it has made me stop and view the world around me from a slightly different angle. I love the textures and small details, and it is only with a camera in hand that I slow down and look up!

In early 2007 I participated in a National Gallery of Victoria guided walk around my home city of Melbourne, down into the subways and past dumpsters into stinking alleys. I saw the street art around me of which I had previously been ignorant. So now as I walk around my local inner city streets I deliberately take detours down alleys and dead ends to seek out the art works – the ‘pieces, the paste-ups, the stencils that sometimes tell a story and other times are just appealing to look at; the walls and alleys that are ‘curated’ and collaborative artworks that are appearing all over my local streets. And I’ve found it is a great reason to get out and explore a new city or find new aspects of an old one.

Extraordinary woman. Unknown artist. Shoreditch, London, November 2007

Don’t misunderstand me, to those who tag my house periodically… pox on you! That’s just plain vandalism and it costs me a sweet fortune to get it cleaned off. But to those who pursue their craft with the right permissions, I think I envy you a little – your art enables me to feel a little anarchic and a little rebellious, but vicariously and without the heights!

Other objects I like are doors & gates. As eyes are like windows on the soul, doors are the ‘windows’ (oops, sorry) of the city… they tell you a little something about those who live there. Well, it’s a nice thought, and I have a few photos of doors. Well, it’s also a bit of an obsession really. No-one else gets it! You will also likely see some textured and abstract photos.

Anyway, as an exercise to nurture my soul a little, I decided to post a photo on Flickr each day this year – my #365photo challenge to myself. Will I succeed or not? No idea, but so far, so good – up to D13! My intention is to focus on finding some new street art and posting it, but the pressure of finding new stuff everyday is probably unsustainable, so will mix with a few photos that I have gathered over the last few years, mainly from time spent trawling East London in 2007 looking for the elusive artwork of Banksy, plus a few doors from my travels.

So, the Flickr photostream itself will hopefully evolve throughout the year and today I have added a few photos from it to this blog (in the right column) – each day they should change as I add another to my #365photo challenge.

Enjoy, or not – as you please. It just is.