Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary

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Hong Son Doong (reposted)

(Link to video corrected.)  I have in the past posted links to videos, particularly videos featuring exceptional outdoor and nature photography. It has been a while since any posts. I recently came across this extraordinary video shot largely with drones, in HD resolution, in what is sometimes considered the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong in Vietnam. (Make sure HD is on and watch fullscreen.)

This video was shot by Ryan Deboodt (click for Ryan’s website), who has apparently been filming in this area for a while. The photography and cinematography is excellent. The images of the cave are mind-boggling, but the views of all the flora are just beautiful. I was particularly impressed by the views which show (tiny) people exploring the cave, which helps to define the awesome scale of the place. With the added music, the video (about 6 min) is very relaxing.

Here is a terrific website about the Hong Son Doong cave with a wealth of information and information. Ryan Deboodt’s website features extraordinary still photography from the cave.

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Hong Son Doong

I have in the past posted links to videos, particularly videos featuring exceptional outdoor and nature photography. It has been a while since any posts. I recently came across this extraordinary video shot largely with drones, in HD resolution, in what is sometimes considered the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong in Vietnam. (Make sure HD is on and watch fullscreen.)

This video was shot by Ryan Deboodt (click for Ryan’s website), who has apparently been filming in this area for a while. The photography and cinematography is excellent. The images of the cave are mind-boggling, but the views of all the flora are just beautiful. I was particularly impressed by the views which show (tiny) people exploring the cave, which helps to define the awesome scale of the place. With the added music, the video (about 6 min) is very relaxing.

Here is a terrific website about the Hong Son Doong cave with a wealth of information and information. Ryan Deboodt’s website features extraordinary still photography from the cave.

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Ghost Ranch Country at Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

In the midst of editing and posting images of the area around New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch. where Georgia O’Keeffe painted and lived for many years, I have stumbled across this announcement from Santa Fe that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has just opened an exhibition of O’Keeffe paintings of the country in and around the Ghost Ranch.  (Museum website here.)

Georgia O’Keeffe, Ghost Ranch [“Untitled (Red and Yellow Cliffs)”] Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe New Mexico. Published in the Albuqerque Journal, December 7, 2014.

 This painting [“Untitled (Red and Yellow Cliffs”)] and others like it have long inspired me. Scenes like this abound in the Ghost Ranch area, but I can imagine that O’Keeffe was painting cliffs much like the ones pictured in the background of my image for the December One Four Challenge.

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Not How? Why?

We tend to focus too much on the “how?” questions of photography – What gear do I use, what lens was that, how did I post-process this image? – and not enough on the “why?” – Why did this image move me? what was I envisioning or wanting to say? why did I compose frame as I did? I confess I’m far too guilty of the gear-fetish that afflicts many of us. But this is a very good article that appeared today in Medium: “The Mechanical Fetish,” by Raphael Shevelev.

I continue to be dismayed at how many photography publications request, and print, details of photographers’ equipment. Yet, I don’t see literary magazines demanding and revealing the kind of pens, pencils, typewriters, paper, computers, printers, word processing programs used by their authors.

What is this fetish with mechanics all about?

think it is largely fueled by asking the delusional, wrong question: “How did you do this (so I can replicate your steps and show off my creativity?)” The right question might be “Why did you do this?” and other variations of inquiry about observation, interpretation, philosophy, mentation.

Medium, Sept 26, 2014.  Raphael Shevelev’s Website.

In the course of Raphael’s article, he references another Medium pice by the photographer Jann Alexander, “How to Talk to a Photographer Like She’s an Artist.” In that enjoyable article, Jann Alexander touches on some of the questions photographers get asked that completely miss the essence of photography as art today. For instance: “Are those the real colors?”  (“They’re the colors I saw.”) “Did you Photoshop that picture?” (Of course; photoshop (or Lightroom and Aperture) are today’s tools of the photographic artist. Once upon a time, we used film and chemicals. Today we use technologically advanced tools.)

Many people who look at photography, according to Alexander, fail to appreciate the essence of the photographer’s art.

As an artist first, whose paintbrush is a camera, my prints are my vision of what I see, and how I choose to show that to the world.

I certainly agree with that, but I think all too often we photographers tend to undermine ourselves by focusing on gear, cameras, hardware, software, the “how” of making images, rather than the “why” questions and our photographic vision.

These are both thoughtful and enjoyable articles. Check them out.

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What I’m Reading … Sebastião Salgado, Genesis

Sebastião Salgado, Genesis

Genesis, Sebastiao Salgado Sebastião Salgado’s photography is stunning and spellbinding, and his latest book, Genesis, is a masterpiece: A large-format collection of over 500 pages of spectacular black-and-white images shot by Salgado over a period of 8 years on 32 expeditions into some of the world’s most primitive and beautiful places. Sebastião Salgado is to be admired for his work as a humanitarian photographer of great sensitivity as well as for his mastery of the photographic medium. Salgado has described this evocative book as his “love letter to the planet.” I believe that is a very apt description. Looking at these amazing images certainly creates a great sense of pleasure and deep respect for our planet.

Sebastiao Salgado, Genesis, 520 pages. Published by Taschen, 2013.  Designed and edited by Lélia Wanick Salgado.

Genesis, Sebastiao Salgado

Salgado, born in Brazil and now living in Paris, ranks as one of the most significant living photographers today. Genesis, which I discovered recently at the Library, is his latest project to be published. The book is huge, a fantastic volume published by Taschen. In addition to the 500 pages of images, an insert includes extensive commentary on the subject and place of each photography.

Genesis, Sebastiao Salgado

(At Taschen here. At Amazon here.)

This is from Salgado’s website:

Genesis is a long-term photographic project, in line with the main bodies of work carried out previously by Sebastião Salgado; for example, the series of reportages presented in Workers or the series on the theme of the population movements around the world, that appeared in Migrations. This new project is about our planet earth, nature and its beauty, and what remains of it today despite the manifold destruction caused by human activity. Genesis is an attempt to portray the beauty and the majesty of regions that are still in a pristine condition, areas where landscapes and wildlife are still unspoiled, places where human communities continue to live according to their ancient culture and traditions.

And this from Taschen, the publisher of Genesis:

What does one discover in Genesis? The animal Genesis, Sebastiao Salgadospecies and volcanoes of the Galápagos; penguins, sea lions, cormorants, and whales of the Antarctic and South Atlantic; Brazilian alligators and jaguars; African lions, leopards, and elephants; the isolated Zo’é tribe deep in the Amazon jungle; the Stone Age Korowai people of West Papua; nomadic Dinka cattle farmers in Sudan; Nenet nomads and their reindeer herds in the Arctic Circle; Mentawai jungle communities on islands west of Sumatra; the icebergs of the Antarctic; the volcanoes of Central Africa and the Kamchatka Peninsula; Saharan deserts; the Negro and Juruá rivers in the Amazon; the ravines of the Grand Canyon; the glaciers of Alaska… and beyond. Having dedicated so much time, energy, and passion to the making of this work, Salgado likens Genesis to “my love letter to the planet.”

Genesis, Sebastiao Salgado

Recommended: New York Times, April 20, 2013, Interview by Dominique Browning.  And Slide show.  (Login may be required.)  And a fascinating TED Talk by Salgado.

Genesis, Sebastiao Salgado

Salgado’s photography represents styles very consistent with what I have been interested in: Deep and richly textured black-and-white, with sharp contrasts and powerful details, and deep focus (depth-of-field). (Salgado was still shooting with film when he began the expeditions depicted in Genesis; he changed to digital for the later images.) I’ve read reviews of Genesis that take issue with a few points about layout, specifically: (1) the fact that there are many full double-page images that span the binding; and (2) the inclusion of many spreads with a large number of single images on the page. But I think these are quibbles; it doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the work at all. One can spend, literally, days studying these images, both the powerfully moving content and Salgado’s exquisite photographic technique. A wealth of information about the images and Salgado’s expeditions is included in an insert booklet.

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What I’m Reading … Ralph Nelson, Botanica: iPhone Photos

Ralph Nelson BotanicaI’m a sucker for collections of botanical and floral images. Botanica, by Ralph Nelson, caught my eye at the library, and I was completely blown away by it as soon as I picked up the book. These images would be outstanding on any measure, but they’re all the more remarkable by virtue of all having been done with an iPhone!

In Botanica, Nelson does not discuss technique beyond saying all images were shot with iPhones 3GS, 4, and 4S. But Botanica was a (successfully funded) Kickstarter project (Kickstarter page here); on his Kickstarter page, Nelson says that not only were all images shot with iPhones, no cropping was done and no apps were used, with no editing beyond basic traditional photo techniques. That’s unbelievable! These images are awesome. The detail is amazing, the rich textures and colors are vibrant. Without any cropping, I’d say Nelson’s mastery of photographic composition is spectacular.

Here is a selection of more botanical images shot with the iPhone. [Update: Ralph Nelson has asked me to clarify that the images featured here, which are to be found at his website, do not actually appear in the book, having been shot after the book was published. Still, both the images in the book and those shot later and featured at Nelson’s website are all great!]

Ralph Nelson, Botanica

Copyright Ralph Nelson.

It is difficult to do justice to this collection in a few images. At Nelson’s website, you can see galleries of his botanical and other images, and also download and view PDF galleries of selected images.  (Also included among the iPhone work are abstracts, ocean and beach images, and other images.) Nelson is also a prolific photographer, and his site includes a great portfolio of sensitively and perceptively done portraits of celebrities.

Ralph Nelson, Botanica

Copyright Ralph Nelson.

Nelson is now retired from his career in film cinematography, and his work and career has been highly lauded and recognized with many awards. These photographs pay tribute to his talent and experience.

Ralph Nelson, Botanica

Copyright Ralph Nelson.

Botanica: iPhone Photos, by Ralph Nelson. 162 pages, 78 images. Go here to buy Botanica from Amazon. Go here to buy direct from Nelson. Go here to Ralph Nelson’s website.

 

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