a photo blog about everyday life
Month: <span>June 2012</span>
Month: June 2012

Coffee Syphon

On a recent trip to Toronto, Allen picked up a coffee syphon for my birthday.  I can’t say I’ve ever brewed a finer pot at …

Lancaster to London

“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

It rained all morning the day I took the 2 1/2 hour train ride from Lancaster to London. It was a high-speed train, and it swayed from side to side as the scenery whizzed by in both sides of my peripheral vision. Reading seemed impossible. In fact, avoiding motion sickness seemed impossible. So I occupied myself snapping shots out the window. Most of my results came out as blurry as expected, but I was quite pleased with some of the shots. The way the water played on the window, and the blurry, vibrant whisps of countryside and rail stations captured by chance, seem to pay proper tribute to my anticipation of adventures to come.

American Warewolf in London

I’ve been to Europe 3 times now and every time, I’m reminded of my first photography hero, the late Henri Cartier-Bresson who is considered the father of modern journalism and a master of candid photography. He was the author of The Decisive Moment and helped start the “street photography” movement.

Back when I started getting my portfolio together with the idea of applying to art school in mind, I found myself trying to make images like Cartier-Bresson and a slew of other bystander photography or street photography greats like Brassai, Robert Doisneau, Joel Meyerowitz, and Gary Winogrand just to name a few. My all time favorite photographer in this category is Robert Frank, originally from Switzerland. He took an outsider’s point of view on post-war America with his famous photo book, The Americans. The book was initially refused publication in the US because of it’s skeptical depiction of Americans.

On this trip, I was the outsider, and I couldn’t resist the urge to try my hand at street photography again. Travel always brings that out in me. Here are some of my results from Lancaster and London.

No Smoking, London
No Smoking, London
Brewer Street, London
Brewer Street, London
Diamond Jubilee Weekend Old El Paso Style
Diamond Jubilee Weekend Old El Paso Style
Shortcut to Kings Cross
Shortcut to Kings Cross
Tate Modern
Tate Modern
Windows, Lancaster
Windows, Lancaster
Bargain Book Time / Closed, Lancaster
Bargain Book Time / Closed, Lancaster
Passageway Glimpse, Lancaster
Passageway Glimpse, Lancaster

Fox for a Turtle: Still Searching for the Arcades

While we were in Manchester, Graeme took us to the beautiful Barton Arcade. I took some candid shots as we reflected on the days of Baudellaire and the flâneur, a literary type from nineteenth-century France portrayed in Baudellaire’s poetry as a man of leisure, an idler, an urban explorer and a connoisseur of the street. Allen lamented that the Barton Arcade seemed less grand than the arcades he imagines from Walter Benjamin’s beloved and unfinished Arcades Project (which is largely responsible for giving the meta concept of the flâneur scholarly importance). I guess this gives us an excuse to go searching, like modern day flâneurs, through the streets of Paris for something that resembles what Allen has in his imagination about Benjamin’s arcades – an impossible feat to be sure, but a journey that must be undertaken one day!

Fox at Edwards Shoes
Fox at Edwards Shoes

Barton Arcade in Deansgate Manchester is a beautifully restored piece of Victorian architecture originally built of iron and glass in 1871. The arcade was restored in the 1980s and now showcases high-end shops, and numerous office suites. There are three tiers of balconies inside with ornamental balustrades adorning the U-shaped shopping arcade and two octagonal domes rising from glass pendentives. It is said to be the best example of this type of cast-iron and glass-roofed arcade anywhere in England.

Benjamin writes about the creation of arcades in the city of Paris as an architectural change rooted in the rise of capitalism. Arcades consisted of passageways through neighborhoods, which were covered with a glass roof and braced by marble panels resulting in a kind of interior-exterior for vending purposes.

These passages were “lined with the most elegant shops, so that such an arcade is a city, even a world in miniature. Within these arcades, the flâneur is capable of finding a remedy for the ever-threatening ennui. He is able to stroll at leisure; one might even go to the extreme of allowing a pet turtle to set his pace, observing the people, the building facades, the objects for sale–entertaining and enriching his mind with the secret language of the city (Baudelaire). I can hear Paris calling for us.

Barton Arcade, Manchester
Barton Arcade, Manchester
Barton Arcade, Manchester
Barton Arcade, Manchester
Graeme, Jaeho, Allen
Graeme, Jaeho, Allen

High Speed Retro: Fun with Instagram

Although I had fun playing with the Instagram ap on my iPhone during my recent UK trip, I have to admit feeling slightly apprehensive about taking the phenomenon too seriously within artistic practice. Aesthetically speaking, Instagram and it’s predecessor, Hipstamatic, seem to follow in the footsteps of the Lomo, the analog camera with numerous incarnations at the center of the Lomographic Society, which professes a motto of “Don’t think, just shoot.”

Unlike the Lomo however, Instagram produces digital images well suited for social media platforms whose users demand instant gratification. It’s easy to take a shot, apply jazzy, retro-looking filters and share the results over a variety of social networking services in seconds flat.

A recent New Yorker article has this to say about the Instagram phenomenon:

“Instagram’s “Most Popular” feed is filled with sunsets over cities and beaches and points in between. It might be said, though, that all Instagrammed photos emphasize photography as an elegiac or twilight art, one that rushes and fakes the emotion of old photographs by cutting out the wait for history entirely, and giving something just a few seconds old the texture of time. We are creating a kind of instant nostalgia for moments that never quite were.”