Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Changes In Life

Thinking in 'the moment' and 'living in the present' are things we value highly, phrases brought down from on high by buddhist teachings and espoused by people who teach everything from business studies to wedding photography workshops. I'm currently reading a book all about the concept of time and our relationship to it. It's a fascinating and absorbing read.

It leads me to a place that I've often found myself. I find it very hard to connect the me that I am today with the me that I was before. So the me that lives in California seems quite distant to the me that lived in Paris. The me that lived in Paris was disconnected from the me that lived in London. And all of them are utterly disconnected from the me that was born and grew up in Nottingham. One of the oddest things about connecting with old school friends on Facebook is trying to figure out the thread that binds us from twenty five years ago. And it's not always easy. Old school nicknames are not something I've heard through all of these lifetimes.

There is a certain joy and wonder in that other worldliness too though. I remember, early in my time in Paris and I was on the Friday night 'roller'. This is the craziest thing in the world, where thousands and thousands of roller bladers take to the streets of Paris every Friday night. They ride a different route each week, they organise it themselves and they now even get help from a rollerblade mounted division of the Paris police force. This was my first ever ride out with them and we ploughed around the streets of Paris that were closed in a rolling road block just for us. We started on up a hill which seemed to go on for miles, rounded a corner, then another and came out in front of... the Arc de Triomphe. We then took a left and started riding down the Champs Elysées. So here I was, riding in a group of maybe 8000 roller bladers, on a Friday night, riding down one of the most famous streets in the world. Closed for everyone except us. It was an amazing moment of the present connecting through to the past and elevating that moment into something altogether wonderful.

I have similar moments here in California. The little boy from Basford, Nottingham. Living in California, working in Silicon Valley. When I moved here I wanted to buy a convertible. I just did. It's the first time I've lived in a place where the climate allows me to have the roof off a car day after day. So I bought an inexpensive two seater and I LOVE driving it. I pull out of my garage and let the roof down...


Often times the sky is blue and the sun feels good in my face. Right now the cherry blossom is popping out all over and everything looks fresh and rather beautiful.

On the route to work, when I was a teenager, I took the bus along Valley Road in Nottingham. I passed under road signs for familiar districts like Beeston and Radford. At the moment I hop on the 101 freeway, which, if I were to continue straight on for 400 miles would dump me into Los Angeles. If I were to hop off at the next junction and take the 101 northbound it would lead me up through San Francisco onto the rugged northern California coastline, into Oregon. It would then traverse the entire western edge of Oregon and into Washington state where the road would round the Olympic National Park and deposit me into Olympia, WA. And I would still be on the 101 freeway, 1128 miles later. So, not even counting the southbound part to LA and San Diego, the 101 is 300 miles longer than the famed 'Lands End to John O'Groats' drive in the UK. Scale in this country is awesome in the truest sense of the word.

daily 2.jpg

Doesn't matter how stressful life gets and, given the global economic meltdown, it is pretty stressful, if we look hard enough there are things to wonder at. We just have to learn how to see them, in the moment in which we live them.

Normal programming will resume soon...

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Different Way of Seeing

It's been an odd year. Hunkered down is probably the best way to put it. Between February and October of last year I was on the road for about 150 nights. This year, so far, one. One night on the road. There's not particularly any reason for it, it's just the way the chips are falling this year so far. Hand in hand with the lack of travel is a decline in the opportunities to shoot.

Last week I went to Vegas. Three words: hate the place. Always have. I can do about a maximum of three days in the place then I'm ready to poke my eyes out and scrape my tongue with a hedgehog. Anyway, this ain't no city review. All y'all that love the place, have at it, it's all yours.

So, over the past few weeks a friend of mine, Chase, has been posting iPhone pictures to his Twitter feed. I've been fascinated with what he's been doing with his images. Totally at the opposite end of the technological spectrum from his normal gear but with every bit the same passion, eye and flair as everything the man does. So I was sitting on the plane waiting to depart for Las Vegas and I took a picture of the rain and the wet plane out of the window. Using the Camerabag app I was able to turn it into a little mini Polaroid then, using the iPhone Facebook app I could caption it and upload it to my Facebook account. And I was hooked. After that I couldn't stop taking pics and posting them.

iPhone 1.jpg


There is something gloriously simple with this. With the iPhone and Camerabag there is no 'quality' of image with which to concern yourself. There isn't any decision to be taken about glass or the characteristics of a certain lens. It is what it is.

iPhone 2.jpg

The Green Glow of the MGM Grand

The image that you take is distilled down to it's purest elements: color, light and shade. The other factor that comes into play is that the format is square. Square is a format I've always loved. The first medium format camera I shot with was a Bronica square format camera. After that I got a smoking deal on a Hasselblad 500 and shot hundreds and hundreds of rolls of FP4 and Velvia on that thing... I still have it. It still sits near my desk.

iPhone 3.jpg

Blue skies, fluffy clouds and palm trees

iPhone 4.jpg

Light fitting, The Signature Hotel

iPhone 5.jpg

My little piggy

I think the creative mind needs to break off and head off in a different direction once in a while, see things in a different way. Sometimes it's good to strip things down, take away the details of the technology and break everything down to the bare essentials. Sometimes it feels good to be so free, to take one, maybe two shots, get it in the bag and post. Done. (I won't be selling the other gear just yet).

Images all shot on the iPhone v1, processed in camera with Camerabag, watermark added with Aperture.