Ukrainian photographer Oleg Oprisco’s dream-like photography invites you to his dreams and will make you think of your own. Using old Soviet cameras like the Kiev 88, the warm, soft-focused images are both haunting and beautiful, both qualities often imitated by digital photography in a clinical way. (photo above by Oleg Oprisco)
Tag Archives: photography
(Photographs by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky)
The body of work that Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky came to my attention this past weekend. His photographs of pre-revolutionary Russia captures a time that would capture the beauty of this vast land shared by its different peoples from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. The stunningly beautiful portraits are of an ever-changing country and its people.
The three-filtre method he learned from Adolf Miethe has brought to life the vibrant colours of tapestries, landscapes and lives of people before the first world war and before the Russian Revolution in 1917. As a person who enjoys photography and the particularities of the different processes, it is fascinating how the colours translate on the computer screen; they are rich and unexpectedly moving like a beautiful impressionist canvas at the Musée d’Orsay. Whether Prokudin-Gorsky is an impressionist or a realist is another discussion. (I tend to be emotional and overly invested when it comes to photography.) It is not a surprise that upon seeing his photographs that czar Nicholas II commissioned him to explore and photograph Russia complete with his own train car equipped with its own dark room.
Seeing these colour photographs is a humbling experience because a lot of times, one assumes that the black and white images that are in museums and galleries are indicative of realities they captured. There were lost colours such as the hues of blue lakes and skies and the sun-kissed cheeks of farmers on a picnic after a day’s work. With new perceptions of reality through technology and other advancements, we forget that we behold the same blue sky and the same hunter green pines on the horizon during a road trip. Just looking away from the computer or smartphone screen for thirty seconds would suffice to take in the view.
I wanted to share this ad for the Polaroid SX-70 camera out of nostalgia but also as a reminder of how tasteful advertising can be.
The music, colours and the fashions render the ad dated. However, the simplicity and beauty of the ad make the piece a short film worthy of re-watching, even just to relive the magical feeling when the ghost-like images appear on the iconic instant prints.
There is a lot of dialogue regarding the resurrection of Polaroid film. With the oversaturation of images around us, it feels like the cache of the Polaroid is out of fascination with analog, and not the appreciation for the process. People just enjoy contact with and the tactility of prints, like myself. I know that I am not alone.
New York City is a giant ball of energy that cannot be summed up in a few words. The streets hum with the eventual white noise that becomes that backdrop to the metropolis. It is the big city of big cities. Inspiration and aspiration become a two-headed mystical creature, fuelling people’s everyday grind.
The Metropolitan Museum’s permanent collection never ceases to amaze me. The standout exhibition, in my humble opinion is Hipsters, Hustlers and Handball Players: Leon Levinstein’s New York Photographs 1950-1980. I have never heard of the photographer nor of his work. However, upon entering the modest white room in the modern art wing of the expansive museum, it is clear that his work carries the grandiosity that would shame the biggest of installations.
I tried looking for more information on the man and found that there is very little known about the photographer. He lived a very quiet and solitary life, continuously occupied with his work. He refused any prizes or any recognition from his contemporaries, a move so bizarre given the rise of commercial photography and the luxurious life that his fellow photographers led at the time. Here I leave his work to speak for itself, as he has during his lifetime.
Having half of something is better than nothing but having both halves is better.
My fascination with film photography is undying, persistent to say the least. The main limitation attached to analog is the finite amount of photos that one can take on a 35mm roll from Rite-Aid or Shoppers Drug Mart, etc. The 24 self-made portraits-at-a-bad-angle-with-only-your-half-shaved-chin-showing are not enough for our digital times.
Olympus, the Japanese camera manufacturer, addressed the issue of costly rolls of film and processing with the introduction of their Pen series into the market. With the camera, a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film can potentially have 72 exposures! It’s just like magic but with fractions. The Olympus Pen F was fully manual, meaning you cannot just ‘wing’ your photographs and deleting was not an option. (Think commitment.)
Many other manufacturers followed suit with the concept of half-frame cameras. Ricoh and Canon had successful half-frame models. Lately, I have seen a renaissance of these cameras in their cheap camera reincarnations at Urban Outfitters like the Diana Mini and the Golden Half (biblical puns for the win!). I would favour buying the originals on eBay but brick and mortar stores are still the easiest way for consumers to buy what they want, when want.
The half-frame camera’s 72-shot offering is no contest for the onslought of SD or other multimedia cards that can store thousands of images. Olympus’ Pen series digital cameras is the most beautifully-designed on the market, just my humble opinion.
It is interesting how our consumption of data in photography can be deemed equivalent to our consumption of junk food. We are digitally-speaking obese. If we cut our consumption in half, we can have twice as much. Is this enough of an incentive to cut down?
There is a shortage of sublime photography. It could be that humans are becoming more visually driven to the point that photographic images that were once magical are just the norm. The mentioned norm includes bundles of digital data that depicting the debauchery of a Saturday night or an album of ‘candid’ photos of homeless people. Awe is divorced from the Image.
What people do not know is that even today, serious landscape photography is done with large format cameras that would put the weight of a portable heater to shame. Field cameras that people imagine to have been left for dead in favour of expensive digital camera gear. The truth is, the resolution on a large format film is so much better than the best digital camera on the market.
Ansel Adams’ landscape photography was done on a field camera. The detail and the poetry in each of his prints still outdo the best landscape photography of the digital age. The most advanced digital camera that costs as much as my education and a half could not meet the a large format’s image quality.
A lot of contemporary photographers use a compromise between analog by capturing the wanted image on a 4×5 format film and then using a high resolution scanner that could be the equivalent of 100 megapixels.
The 35mm format film was conceived for photojournalism before the digital era. It was a very convenient way of transporting film supply while on task without hassle. With the speed that news has to travel in cyberspace, it is so hard to conceive that photojournalism once involved people carrying film cameras, processing the rolls of film, doing enlarged prints of each frame, photo editing, then again editing, and then printing. Digital photography has increased the turnover for news. Can you imagine tabloids pre-digital? All of it was and is still junk but think of the physical garbage that one generates for one photo of a celebrity committing adultery. How many frames were wasted to get that one Fergie-toe-sucking photo to start that scandal in the 1990s? I digress; I think that tabloid culture would not be where it is, if it were not for digital.
Photography that moves and that entrances the visual mind is done frivolously. It requires practice, careful study of the craft, patience and the proper equipment.
As for me, 35mm is still my preferred format. This is out of convenience and the kind of photography that I do. Street photography is capturing life in the city, no matter how big or small. It is compelling to see good images depicting the lives of people when they are in transition from home to work or to school. Perhaps to meet a lover or to secure a business deal. Either way, I feel that film’s tangibility is the most attractive element to the craft. I am currently experimenting with 120 film because of the bigger and higher resolution prints that it makes. I guess, in photography, size matters.