I am looking at you and you are looking at me - and we are interfacing. And to interface with Picasso through Irvin Penn's photograph is to be communicating with two masters at the same time - throughout time without time.
I find myself in a funny predicament - I had shot very little film as a young boy (I loved taking pictures when my parents and I went to Thailand which was absolutely great) and I love film now - I've been shooting more and more since April when I got my M7 and what strikes me with film is how wonderful the feeling is to know that the image is crafted - not just made but crafter: I load the film myself, I carefully choose what to shoot, I rewind the film myself, I develop the film myself, and only then do I enter the more digital world of scanning. The development of the film is a pleasure like no other - loading it in the spool blindfolded, mixing the chemicals in the magical movement of stirring every minute (as if one brews a potion), and then pulling out the negative and looking at the pictures for the first time - it is like magic indeed. And every time, the film comes out to life with a passion - with a soul.
This is what a lot of digital photography isn't about - it tends to be about quick shooting of many pictures, and the plastic-ifying of colours and textures. And this is where some digital software comes into play to create effects that mimic the dynamics, the imperfections, and the colours of film. VSCO (Visual Supply) is a company that has been creating digital tools for the photographers who want to instill soul into their work. One of their more unusual products (VSCO Keys, which I am yet to try) is quite different from other digital tools in that it enables one to get closer to the grafting of the filme with their hands - with movements and typing - it is reminiscent of writing in which the real tool are the fingers and not the keyboard on which it is written.
But it is not about VSCO Keys that I want to talk about but about their presets. In fact, not even about that, nor about VSCO Cam (Reloaded - which is an extraordinary deprture from other camera apps). I want to talk about their ambitious goal - to create beautiful things and to share them with the world - their VSCO Grid.
Their presupposition - when we were kids crafting - is what fills me with emotions - because photography for me is indeed about celebrating both the "beautiful" and the "broken" in life. Because we can be cynical but when we were kids, we were ballerinas - pure, elegant, spontaneous, playful ... - and that's what I aim for with my photography - to campture not the cynicism but the idealism, to encapsulate movement and dance without chains and restrictions, to translate darkness into light, to bend the borders of reality through a blend of realism and imagination, and to liberate the child hidden behind the mask of adulthood. To be pure. Thank you, VSCO!
You can visit my VSCO Grid at Traveller Between Spaces.
I was lucky to have the chance to play a bit with a lovely little camera for several days - Leica X1. It is a camera that has been introduced back in 2009 along side the M9 and the S2. It was the camera that no one expected and that came as a surprise. Looking at the current second-hand market, it must have been popular enough. In the past 3 years there must have been a number of them sold (I wonder if there are estimates) and they are now coming around to the second-hand market. And they are quite well-priced still performing lovely and available often at 50% off the original retail price, they are quite attractive entry into the 35 mm photography. There are a number of great reviews on this little camera (DP Review, Luminous Landscapes, and others) and I wouldn't venture into writing another one.
The few observations I have about the camera refer to the ever-so-discussed auto focus and the potential function as a street photography camera. I haven't dealt with auto-focus for some time and it was strange coming back to it - the feeling of lost control was almost overbearing and I often felt the pulls of my muscle memory to rotate the ring around the lens. The way I shoot the M9 allows me to oscillate between focusing and composing, multitasking between the two until I press the shutter. With the autofocus one can also do it. But in my tests, I felt that it requires some mental and muscle adjustments. I think I didn't spend enough time with the camera to manage this myself (I did get the X2 recently and will write about it as well) but I imagine that it will make for a lovely back-up camera (and if you are one of the owners of the new black-and-white Monochrom, the X1 or X2 would be a suitable colour back-up).
I am sitting in the car and watching her talk to her sister. And my heart skips a beat - not because of the topic or because of the approaching train that I need to take. But because I get that feeling of familiarity, the feeling of knowing what's coming, the feeling of verbal recognition - the déjà-vu. Because I've been there before - in that car, with those people, and in that conversation - but not in reality (or at least not in the conscious reality).
I arrived late after train-station hopping with a suitcase and a camera in hand. Checking at the arrival schedule, I wonder how long it takes to get out of the gate with a suitcase that she can't carry (and I wonder - what if there is no one to help with it). Of course, the idea is ridiculous (although the guys at customs might be more helpful than they should with other motivations). And she is there and she sees me first - and I am a tad confused (seems to be the norm of late) and we walk through the airport to the train station in a daze - perhaps it is the image of the bandade and the scar below, or the image of the flying byke (and worse - the flying E.). In the train, I rest my shoulder on hers and I feel her strength - way beyond my own - but that's again the titanium bone-support.
We walk to the hotel - and it is charming - with stairs shaped like a heart, escalator with a carpet on the wall, and a welcoming receptionist like in a movie - he explains how to get around the city, and so we do, leaving behind our baggage (and the metaphorical) and enjoying our conversation (in the midst of the football game - how dare we?!). And who would have known that she has hatched a cunning plan - and I would be her partner in crime (then again, when one brings a smile and tears and a smile again, one feels no remorse).
Day 2 starts with rain - as it should always do - because rain keeps the streets envigorated - people rushing to get away from the rain, people opening colourful umbrellas hoping for protection, people cuddling closer together under the same umbrella. And then there are the people like us who couldn't care less for an umbrella. And we walk looking for old books, new fashion cuts, and discourses on life (we are such cliches!). But then comes our chance to hatch the plan - to surprise our hosts with an arrival - and surprise we do - as they have just relaxed on the massage table, we barge in to their amazement - and they don't know if the massage oil fumes have not messed up with their eyes.
And that's when I see the tears, mixed with joy, and smiles - when salt becomes elixir that heals wounds and scars.