These past two weeks I’ve been reminding Sweetheart occasionally about the deadline for our weekend. Deadline meaning the date I can’t cancel anymore.
Not because I don’t want to go on weekend with Sweetheart, au contraire. As an outsider I’ve noticed how Sweetheart’s eldest daughter was sliding downhill again. I’m not going to elaborate but Stella suffers from severe psychosis. She barely manages to live alone and her 3-year old, Star, a burden. Sweetheart is in fact a foster-parent for her own grand-child.
Yesterday evening Sweetheart told me over the phone Stella was thinking of going into admission because she couldn’t handle it anymore.
Sweetheart’s kids are more than willing to take care of Star so their mother can enjoy some time off but they are not experienced enough to handle Stella in crisis.
The obvious thing to do was to cancel our weekend which I did while on the phone with my Love.
After that I drove Little A. to boarding school and then, later that evening, Sweetheart phoned again. We talked some more about out “lost” weekend and then suddenly she said, “hell, I could have asked my sister to babysit”.
Not even an hour later Sweetheart phoned me again telling me her daughter was feeling 100% fine again.
This morning Sweetheart contacted her sister and she was more than happy to assist the home front so we could enjoy our weekend.
I choose a different destination, something more desolate, a little rougher when weather isn’t very good.
I’m taking Sweetheart to Zeeland, no, not New-Zeeland, but Zeeland in the Netherlands. We’ll be staying in a posh hotel not far from Zierikzee and Middelburg and near quite some interesting places to visit. It is about nature, below sea-level polders, cute little villages, a few interesting towns and desolate landscapes where I’m thinking long exposures if we/I have time.
So what will be in my camera bag?
The Ricoh GR II of course. I am really enjoying this little yet powerful camera. Being limited to 28mm is quite a challenge.
As backup I’ll be taking an Olympus OM-1n for black and white and an Olympus OM-10 for color. A 50mm f1.4, a 28mm f3,5 a Vivitar 200mm f4 and some film. A light meter of course and a tripod.
I’m thinking though that the Ricoh will be my main camera. I’ll be using it in both native 28mm and then the cropped but not interpolated settings of 35mm and 47mm.
Already I’ve had some fun with my newly acquired Ricoh GR II. Performances are stellar and one can configure the camera in any way possible.
The fact the battery is loaded in camera, with a non standard USB cable, an USB/AV, is a huge advantage. I don’t need to get an additional battery as I already own two power banks. Also I can load the camera in the car while being on the road.
I’ve been doing some soul-searching.
I am fed up with going to the woods and shoot an umpteenth tree or hollow road. Let’s face it, when I stay within 100 kilometers from where I live landscapes will not differ that much. I’ve been at every spot several times and they simply don’t appeal anymore.
Past weekend Little A., my youngest daughter, told me she wanted to become a vegan and she told me why. I told her I was fine with that but thought it was better to start as a vegetarian. Said I would not mind supporting her during her time at my place. I don’t eat that much meat anymore and vegetarian stuff can be quite delicious.
I would never be one for 100%. Hell I enjoy eggs and bacon as much as the next guy. Not to mention Sushi, I’ll kill for it.
But I would not mind sticking with vegetarian stuff for most of my meals. Maybe add an extra day being strictly a vegan.
Not every day though. I lack the conviction and motivation and I am way too much a hedonist.
What has this to do with my photography? More than you might think.
In fact, I love taking pictures and I try to be good at it. Sometimes that happens but most of the time not. I like to believe that I learn from my mistakes.
I have a few analogue camera’s, 35mm and medium-format, and I love to shoot with film because it gives me something I cannot obtain with digital gear. I like to use them when I am really out shooting. Like when I am alone and discovering a new place or so.
Sometimes though I like to shoot digital because it feels like the right thing to do in that given situation. Or when I’m lazy or when I know I’m going to shoot a lot. Let’s face it, going out to shoot some wildlife is easy when you have a 300mm lens and mount it on an Olympus OMD M-10 where it becomes a 600mm.
I love to shoot film but there is nothing wrong embracing new technology. I’ve never use my digital camera’s simply because I can shoot 1000 images without any cost.
Why doing 10:1 macro on film when the job is done easier with a digital camera. In the end it is the result that counts.
I wanted a quality camera I could have with me on all times. Digital was the right choice because I want this camera to be also useful in the evening or when light is dim.
So I’m still into analogue photography but I’ll be posting digital images on my blog as well.
So, this morning I dropped Sweetheart off at her place much earlier than normal on a Sunday morning. Her youngest was leaving for a week and well she kind of wanted to wave her out.
Sunday morning means flea market in the surrounding streets where I live. There used to be cattle too, and pets, but that’s the past as laws made it impossible to sell animals on markets. Well, except for poultry.
Apparently the legislator does not consider chickens, pigeons, geese, duck and whatever as animals. Go figure!
Today the flea market is only 30% flea and the rest is your regular street market stuff, like bakery stuff, vegetables, flowers, meat, clothes and bling bling.
A bunch of street photography opportunities right at my doorstep.
It took me 45′ minutes to get revved up enough to gather my courage and overcome my fear.
I grabbed my Ricoh GR II and hit the streets.
I felt so uncomfortable and was afraid of even lifting the camera up. It is something I hope to overcome with the workshop I signed up for.
Quickly though I noticed people where not at all paying attention to me. They where even not aware I was taking pictures.
Some I stole, pointing the camera from my hip, hoping the wide angle would capture it.
Wrong, I know.
Then I saw this old, grumpy looking guy walking towards me. I stopped, held the camera against my chest, pointed to him, while I was looking elsewhere. When he was close enough I focused and shot and I find it to be a very good one.
I showed my camera and gave her a big smile and the young girl in the orange stand posed for me. Hell, I felt good and it gave my self-confidence a boost. I tried it a few times more and it worked.
Back home I realized I had made a connection with the orange-girl and then, coming closer, would have given a much better result.
The duck gave me written consent, I can use the image everywhere.
I shot 24 frames and twenty of them fall under street photography. They are not all keepers but for my first real street photography expedition I did well because I overcame some basic fears.
The grumpy old man is my best one albeit I am not sure if I haven’t overdone the post-processing. I do love the brooding dark atmosphere though, something I’ve been putting in most of my recent images, digital or analogue.
This afternoon I went out again. It had rained, the streets where empty but there was some lovely light.
I really enjoy the Ricoh GR II and the 28mm focal length although one needs to get used to it.
A short while ago I mailed a local art group asking how to apply for membership. They exists for ages already and back in the eighties my mom was a member.
My mom used to paint landscapes.
I thought it would be nice to be able to interact with kindred spirits.
After clicking send, it dawned on me that I had no real showcase for exhibiting my photos. This blog is far from being a representation of my work.
I had this web space I bought last year for a project that never took off. So I bought a new domain name and linked it to the web space.
Then I installed Koken, a free content management and web site publishing tool for photographers. It is slick and easy to use. I used the standard theme. Some extensions are not for free like an e-shop or some themes.
You get far already with the free version. All you have to do is create a database, download an installation PHP file and run it. Maybe some hosting companies do not allow such external installations but mine did.
The people from the local art group never replied.
I guess that is a good thing. After all I am a loner and doing stuff in a group is not really my thing.
Now I have my own website. It is still growing and I will show only my best work. Content of the site will thus evolve with me but changes rare.
So without further ado I invite you to visit my web site. Feedback, thoughts and ideas are more than welcome. Follow the directions and click on stephanpot-photography.be
About nine months ago I signed up for a Street Photography workshop. It is in two parts. One evening, April 20, at out cultural center some theory is given and then a Saturday morning practice on the streets of Antwerp. The tutor is Glenn Huyben and except for his images on Tumblr I don’t know him.
I don’t know what to expect from this workshop let alone how it will influence my photography. To be honest I don’t even remind what made me sign up.
Yet I am looking forward to this workshop albeit street photography is not my thing. I feel shy and approaching people, invading their personal space, somewhat frightening.
Yet I love to walk the streets with my camera and there was a time I simply loved shooting bicycle races. I know, that is not exactly street photography, but I liked the action, and the possibilities of creating a great shot.
One thing I am almost certain about is what camera to take with me to Antwerp for the practice session. That will be my Olympus OMD M-10 with the Lumix 20mm f1,7. It is small and thus rather unobtrusive. I can choose between color and black and white as I think street photography can benefit from both. Think Saul Leiter for example.
I might choose for film though. Then it will be the Olympus OM-1n with a 28mm lens and HP5 at its native speed or pushed. Option 2 would be the small Nikon FG-20 with a Nikon 50mm f1.8. Well, it all depends on how I feel and what I want to accomplish.
Recently I have been talking with Sweetheart about a social documentary photography project. Belgium (and Europa) has been inundated by refugees.
That could be an angle but I am not really interested because it is way to easy. I would prefer to make a documentary about the poor or the underprivileged natives as I believe it is a forgotten problem.
A few days ago I noticed a can of tuna in Stella’s apartment. It was white with blue lettering and clearly relief goods from Europe. I remember being struck as I imagined this stuff in a war zone, in a refugee camp but not in my country.
The problem with this is that I have no experience in this domain so I fear it will be very hard to get help from social organizations. So I’ll have to find another way in order to meet someone who is willing to trust me.
My goal is to tell a story, to make people aware that forms of poverty are everywhere, even close to us.
While writing this I think my original idea for a project like this came from our visit to the Boris Mikhailov exposition a few weeks ago. His images of the lost ones after Ukraine became “free” touched me very much.
We’ll see. I guess Sweetheart will come up with some more ideas as she is well acquainted with the social sector.
I think pieces are starting to come together. Maybe this is finally the right time for me to start such a project because I now have the right mindset.
We’ll see what comes out of it.
Another thing I am quite sure about is this. I’d rather do social documentary than street photography.
The 5 posts of next week will all be digital images. They were all taken with my Nikon D300 and the Nikon 24-120mm VR and transferred to black and white. I made them last year when, during a short period, I tried to do some street photography. To be honest I used only the long side of my lens helping me to keep in safe distance from my subjects.
All these images were shot an hour before an important bicycle race would start. The eagerly waiting spectators “easy” targets.
I’ve been watching some Youtube videos on street photography. Chuck Jines of course but I have been following him for ages. I recently discovered Valerie Jardin and she also offered me a few useful insights.
Street Photography Magazine is the place for street shooters to showcase their work. It’s a window into the world of experts to learn from them firsthand. And it’s a tool to share tips tricks and techniques to reach the next level in creativity and technical skill.
For not even 2 bucks a month you get access to a wealth of information.
One of the things that caught my eye was a link to Eric Kim‘s website. There is some lovely photography to be found on his site.
He also offers some interesting ebook and some of them are free. One of them is an excellent one on streetphotography.
“Learn From the Masters of Street Photography” can be downloaded via this LINK and in various formats.
Thank you Eric for your time and effort and for sharing this with the photography community for free.
Check out Eric Kim’s website and if you are into street photoghrapy, I think the magazine is more than worth the 2$ per month.
NOTE I am in no way affialiated with Street Photography Magazine or Eric Kim and I did not receive anything for sharing this information on this blog.
Sweetheart and I enjoyed our day off from work and I took her to Antwerp for some cultural fun.
It was Sweetheart’s first time at the Antwerp Photo museum. We visited the Boris Mikhailov exposition. He is a socially and politically engaged photographer from Ukraine. Is is mostly documentary photography. Some of his photographs are extremely poignant, showing poverty and despair in its harshest forms.
Most of it was shot in film.
After that I took Sweetheart to an old cafe in the shadow of the Antwerp Cathedral. It is called “Elfde Gebod”, literally the Eleventh Commandment and is filled with a zillion statues of religious figures all originating from antique shops and old churches.
We ended our day at our local Sushi Restaurant and then we headed home and enjoyed our evening together but even more each other.
Solitude in one way or another has always been a part of my life and it is a very strong emotional trigger. I guess that is why, for example, I simply adore the work of American painter Edward Hopper. His works touches me and it fuels my imagination.
Recently I discovered the work of photographer Richard Tuschman and fell in love with his project “Hopper Meditations”. These photographs give me the same vibes, the same shivers as Hopper’s work.
Gregory Crewdson gives me also these vibrations albeit the solitude he portraits is enveloped by and almost uncanny look and feel. His photographs transcend the movie stills and become almost 1-frame movies.
Where does my fascination for solitude come from?
I remember standing at the window of our apartment. I was a kid and must have been between 10 and 12.
It was already dark outside and I was fascinated by falling snowflakes illuminated by a street light on the other side of the road.
Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, an elderly man appeared. He stood there, under the lantern, wearing a long beige raincoat. He looked up at me and for a second a saw myself standing there.
I’ll never forget the waves of different emotions overflowing me. Fear one day Iwould be poor and homeless, uneasyness for the emotion of sheer solitude, something I hadn’t experienced yet.
This happened some 45 years ago but that moment is still very present. I guess that is why I feel a strong connection with this type of art.