Photoessay: Museo Alfa, part III

_Z737692 copy

Continued from parts I and II

In the early days, there really wasn’t that much difference between the race cars and the road cars; often one and the same would be seen at Monza, Le Mans or Spa or the other endurance road courses. The predecessor to Formula One differed a little since those were purpose-built single seaters. But for the most part, there wasn’t anything like the massive differences we see today – even a high end sportscar like a 911 GT3 is still quire different from the actual GT3s that go racing; to say nothing of touring cars, NASCAR and rally – those are basically completely different cars that merely happen to share a deliberately similar looking body. I found the machinery from the early days of racing absolutely fascinating and thoroughly frightening at the same time: notice the lack of seatbelts, tiny brakes, minimal cockpit enclosure, those thin bias-ply radials that would be small on a Prius, and the seat made up entirely of the fuel tank (!). The roll bar is your head, protected by a a very impact-resistant pith helmet. Things got a little better later on, but that spare tire looks to be an unrestrained projectile in the event of a crash. Motorsport is still dangerous today, but nothing near as binary as it used to be. Either you were the champion, or you became one with your machine – permanently. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, mostly the 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Museo Alfa, part II

_Z737381 copy

Continued from part I

I think of this set as being full of very distinctive details of a particular era – yet there is crossover and overlap and transition between them. Even though the continuity is present, there’s a very clear looping back to the historical cars after the late 80s/ early 90s – at this point we see a divergence. The exotics retain the volume of recent vehicles, but gain the curves, lines and surfacing of 40-50 years prior. The mass vehicles just start looking a little melted and lose that sharp definition of the Bertone-era; where Alfa is in the present day is yet another mix of those two: more definition, larger volumes, but also more adventurous curves. As a designer, it’s interesting to see these particular details evolve and get re-referenced from other cars in their history; also to see what was kept and in doing so, signals a brand’s particular identity. Sometimes the most unusual or distinctive elements land up reused in the most unexpected places. Plenty of food for thought here… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, mostly the 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Museo Alfa, part I

_Z737187 copy

I had the opportunity to spend a day photographing the cars at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo just outside Milan. It wasn’t just the famous cars that were interesting – there you already sort of knew what to expect, so it was more a case of finding interesting angles. The real treasures were the ones you didn’t know about – the lines, the curves, the detailing all speaking to a time when a lack of mass production and regulation allowed for a lot more variety. Can you imagine a car that wasn’t symmetrical left to right today, due to hand beaten panels? Or with red front lamps? Coming from a time when it’s getting increasingly difficult to differentiate between one brand and another…let’s just say it was a refreshing change, and yes, they really don’t make them like they used to (rust jokes aside). MT

Part one of several, probably.

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, mostly the 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]

Photographic maturity

_Z734126 copy
I am immature enough to know that a giant farting cloud elephant is not that interesting to most people and of zero photographic merit other than it exists and was captured in its transience; but I am mature enough to know that I like a window seat on an airplane because looking out helps pass the time, and occasionally you see things like this that give your inner five year old some joy. I also know that it matters not one whit what I shot this with so long as it looked like the intended farting elephant. (Side note: I have been photographing seriously for nearly 20 years now, nine of them as a full time pro. I’ve shot all the things I’ve wanted to shoot, worked with all the people and companies I’ve wanted to, and probably quite a bit beyond – in short, I have the luxury of knowing what I want to do/be/shoot as photographer.)

The journey for every photographer involves a few things:
– Figuring out what it is you want to photograph [motivations]
– Figuring out how you want to present it, or your [style]
– Seeking affirmation
– Not needing affirmation
We’ve discussed the first two items at length here before. We haven’t discussed the last two – and I think it’s about time we did, having firmly felt that I have been sitting in the final category for some time now. Right about after leaving Hasselblad and shifting my primary focus away from the photography industry to watchmaking, actually. It’s no coincidence that once you stop worrying about something, you feel increasingly liberated as to what you can ‘get away with’; it’s the gift and curse that the amateur fails to appreciate compared to the professional. There is fundamentally no need for the amateur to care what anybody but themselves thinks of their own work – yet most do, more intensely than the pro whose paycheck is dependent on client affirmation. Why?

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Ponte Vecchio

_Z734987 copy

I can’t exactly say why I was so fascinated with this bridge during my time in Florence, but I do know it yielded a great variety of interesting images as light and perspective changed. Originally built during Roman times, it’s been updated and renovated repeatedly until its current iteration dating from around the mid 14th century. The latest addition in the mid 16th century by the Medicis linked the Palazzio Vecchio (Florence’s town hall and administrative centre) with the Palazzo Pitti, and is the covered topmost structure – the Vasari Corridor. The bridge itself is lined with goldsmiths and jewellers – and increasingly, watch dealers – I was a little surprised at this, but it seems this has actually been the case since the 15th century. The watch brand boutiques are therefore merely a quite apt modern take on things… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, mostly the 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Museum

IMG_E4658 copy

There are some places you visit where the weight of accumulated history is so great that you can’t help but feel it everywhere you go; at times you feel like you’re walking through a living museum of sorts. Part of that is probably because of the accumulated objects, part of that is because of the people who’ve been living with those accumulated objects for so long that they’ve become a part of them in a way. There’s no denying that culture and society are both path dependent and self-reinforcing; yet I wonder to what degree popular culture is making things oddly homogenous across a much larger distance than before. ‘Culture’ is an interesting term because it’s come to mean similar things across the world: the arts, the erudition and gentility. I suppose we should be thankful it isn’t the size of your bank balance or number of nuclear missiles…MT

This series was shot with an iPhone 11 Pro and edited in-phone, except for the second image, which was shot with a Nikon Z7, a 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Florentine patchwork

_Z734381 copy

One thing any place with extensive history seems to enjoy is a patchwork of evolutionary architectural styles and weathering; all of this combines to create a distinctly unique signature that we recognise as being ‘of a place’. The longer that history, the more disparate elements combine – in such a way that could not possibly have been predicted by those who put up the structures could have envisioned at the time. Whilst we’ve had discussions here in the past over how architects build and design with sensitivity to their immediate environment, there is literally no way they could have foreseen what comes in the years that follow. However one can only assume that the following architects would continue to be sensitive to their relative surroundings, thus creating a sort of thematic continuity that whilst perhaps is not seamless – is at least somewhat harmonious. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, a 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]

Alternate theories of inspiration

_3500161 copy
Anachronism

What do photography, food, time and EDC objects have in common? If you can answer this to your satisfaction, then you probably don’t need to read the rest of today’s article. In the past I’ve talked about the more systematic approach to composition from a structural/ compositional point of view – the Four Things – and how to translate an idea into an image. Both deal with the mechanical part of arranging the elements in your frame and ensuring that they are ‘read’ in the expected way by your audience, they don’t really deal with something a bit higher up the food chain: where do the ideas come from in the first place?

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Vault and arch

_Z738247 copy

Today’s set is an abstract whistlestop tour of Milan’s interpretation of that most fundamental of architectural features: the arch, and it’s compound, the vault. I’ve always found the interplay of light off the curves and textures to be very compelling as a regular but abstract arrangement, probably because it has many surfaces and lines intersecting at nearly perpendicular. What’s more interesting is the range of interpretations present: from the small-scale to the monumental; from the ornate to the functionally minimalist, every combination of those two axes and everything in between, with the possibility of two or three dimensions to add even more variety. Photographically, flattening or enhancing that sense of depth through the use of shadow and camera position/perspective yields some rather interesting results, as I think you’ll agree. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, a 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]

Photoessay: Old normal

_Z739329 copy

It’s hard to imagine this set was shot just a month before COVID threw a wrench into everything – I wonder if we’ll ever see the same kind of energy and vibrancy again, or if we do, how long it’ll take to overcome the collective paranoia that the person coughing next to you might be about to give you a fatal disease. If nothing…it hopefully marks the start of a better respect for hygiene, personal space, and a recognition that a lot of jobs don’t require everybody to be in the same place at the same time. Maybe we’ll see decentralisation, affordability of real estate, more international cooperation and some sort of balance between universal basic income and people doing their part. Or maybe we’l just have a greater divide between those who can afford healthcare and those who can’t, and more power grabs by governments instituting states of emergency over the slightest thing. We can only live in hope, and be thankful to have been fortunate enough to remember that freedom not so long ago. MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, a 24-70/4 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

[Read more…]