Synthesis: technology as an enabler for art

_8A12416 copy1957, from the Havana series. VR on the 70-200/4VR required for slow shutter to motion blur car handheld; D800E to maintain extended tonal range and relatively small aperture for DOF

Much like genius and madness, the line between chasing the horizon for the sake of enabling art and chasing the horizon out of pure gearlust is a thin and often tenuous one. We don’t want to photograph with cameras that frustrate, impede or not inspire us. We certainly won’t feel like just that ‘one last shot’ or that ‘what if?’ experiment. But it is also true that composition is completely independent of hardware, too. Where do we draw the line? [Read more…]

Battle of the best 20/21s: Sigma 20/1.4 Art vs Zeiss 2.8/21 Loxia

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Images courtesy respective manufacturers, composited to roughly correct relative size – my samples had to return home before I got a chance to put them together in the studio for th usual product shoot, and I’m still awaiting delivery of my own personal lenses.

I’ve recently had a chance to shoot a) the best two wide angles available at the moment, and b) shoot them against each other on the same camera body. This is not a direct comparison. There are however limitations to the testing – very limited time* and no way to mount one without. Furthermore, the lenses were both final preproduction prototypes, which could mean they are either good samples because they’re hand adjusted…or there’s some variance, because…they’re hand adjusted. Tests were performed on a Sony A7RII body mounted on a Arca-Swiss P0 head and RRS24L tripod – i.e. sturdy – and released via IR remote. The adaptor used was a Metabones Nikon G-NEX model, tested and found to be good with various other lenses including the Zeiss 28 Otus. However, it’s worth noting that the shorter the focal length, the more sensitive a lens is to small skew because only very small movements are needed to change effective focusing distance. I’m sure many other limitations in methodology can be found, but remember we are aiming for the best we can do in field conditions without giving one lens or the other a sensor-based advantage. Observations must therefore be taken as preliminary.

*Literally, about an hour after dark during a recent visit to Sigma HQ in Aizu, Japan. Crops are 100% where stated; I will not be posting full size images because IP rights sadly don’t seem to mean a thing online.

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Last exhibition of 2015: Un/natural, with Stephen King

15_8B29622 stormcloud

I’m pleased to present my final exhibition of 2015: ‘Un/natural’, a joint show with one of my students – Stephen King*. It runs from 5 December 2015 to 9 January 2-16 at Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong. This follows ‘Connection’ at the Hong Kong Arts Center in June, and ‘The Idea of Man’ at the Rangefinder Gallery in Chicago last month in October.

You might have already guessed from the title image that this is going to be something very different from my normal work.

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Photoessay: everyday abstraction

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The cloud slicer

We frequently encounter everyday objects or miniature tableaux of objects that hold our attention for their texture, whimsy or simply pleasing nature; how often do we attempt to photograph and capture these? Personally, that answer is not really often enough, so I’ve been consciously going about attempting to do so whenever the opportunity presents itself, with whatever hardware I happen to have to hand at the time. The challenging part isn’t so much capturing the visually interesting bits: it’s excluding the ugly, discordant, incoherent surroundings that distract too much rather than provide contrast and context. Personally, I feel the resulting images actually work best with no context; that way we are able to enjoy them serendipitously without other considerations intruding and ruining the illusion of perfection. This is pure photography – a reduction of the world to nothing more than light, color and form, and a development on the ideas in this article. Enjoy! MT

Images from this series were processed with PS Workflow II.

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Survey: photographic print buying

_G007395 copy has been running for a little while now, with what I think of as moderate traffic and moderate response. I’d like to find out today how to make it better, by understanding my audience a little better. As such, I’d really appreciate your help with a little survey. The aim is of course to create more work that balances what my audience would like to see with the content I would like to create. And hopefully, we all benefit in the process. Thank you in advance! MT

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I will shoot what I want

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Silhouette of a woman.

On the face of it, this seems like a very obvious statement of intention. For most people, this is not even something that gets called into question (see this article on why we photograph). Perhaps it’s an odd issue I’m personally facing, but the discussion of all things photographic and creative is the purpose of this site after all. Of late, I’m stuck between four places: photographing the commercial, as specified by the client; photographing what appeals to me personally, which is almost always not commercially viable at all; photographing what the audience of this site wants to see and photographing what the art world dictates I should be doing.

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The difference between photography and most other art forms

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A study of red drapes

I’ve struggled a bit for a title to today’s essay. Through the course of my investigation into other forms of art – perhaps investigation is a bit too strong a word; meandering or exploration is probably closer – I’ve noticed that photography stands apart for two reasons: perception, and origin. They’re really one and the same if you dig a bit deeper, and this also applies to a lesser extent to its derivatives – film/ video, mixed media etc. I suspect I may open a can of worms with this piece, but I’m also hoping it’s going to provoke some interesting discussion below the line in the manner of some of the classic posts of old…

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Photoessay: The Dreamscape Project

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Sometimes – quite frequently, actually – I fin myself on an aircraft with not very much to do. I fly often enough and spend enough time in the air that I’m one of those people who will bother to try and find out the flight route in advance and pick the seat most conducive to photography on arrival or departure – assuming of course there isn’t an engine or wing in the way*. I’ve gotten some very satisfying images this way.

*Frequent travelers will know there’s always a tradeoff: the front of economy is usually blocked; the rear usually is noisy and has a lot of traffic en-route to galleys and toilets, and the view isn’t always clear because of the convection visible due to the engine exhaust heat. Or, you fly up front and land up bankrupt.

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Derivative works and photography

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Influenced by the architect? Surely. Created by him? About as much as it was created by Apple, because it was shot on an iPhone.

I originally wanted to call this article ‘is anything truly original?’ – however, I think that’s the concluding question I’d like to leave the reader with rather than the opening one. There has been a lot of debate recently – both in the comments here, offline amongst my usual correspondents and in various places on the internet about why a) photography is perhaps not perceived as ‘highly valued’ as other art forms; b) obviously derivative works and the creative value – or lack of – contained therein; and the greater question of whether c) the medium as a legitimate creative art form rather than merely a recording/ documentary one. Perhaps the biggest question is in the title: ‘but is it art?’

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_8B03521 copy - Tree and River

Today I’m pleased to announce both the next evolution for this site and my work personally:!

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