Regular readers will know that Tokyo is one of my favourite destinations both as a city and a photographic locale. Sushi is inseparable from Japan, and probably the only food I could eat every day without getting bored. I’ve visited Tokyo at least once a year for the last ten years; almost every time I shot at Tsukiji Market, the clearinghouse for a huge portion of the high grade seafood caught. It didn’t occur to me to try to curate these visits into a coherent documentary until before my last visit; at the same time, I found out that Tsukiji was going to close and be relocated to a new site in preparation for redevelopment for the 2020 Olympics. It would be the end of an era in more ways than one – and most of the proprietors I spoke to inside the market sadly agreed that things would never quite be the same again. Tsukiji is in so many ways an insular community unto itself, and a Tokyo institution. Today’s presentation is my tribute to that: a reasonably complete journey of fish to sushi, via Tsukiji.
One from the archives for today – I thought I’d posted this a long time ago, but turns out it sat in the ‘draft posts’ folder. Oops!
Inspiration begets inspiration. At least that’s my own theory of creativity. If you’re in photographically inspiring surroundings, it’s unquestionably easier to make an interesting image than otherwise – or at very least feel that you’ve got far more possibilities to hand. There are some assignments where one must fall back onto professionalism and the motto of the US postal service* to get the job done, but then we also have those where you couldn’t stop shooting even if it were forbidden. This assignment was most certainly the latter, and appropriate given the subject was the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s new library space – which in itself is presumably meant to be inspiring to its students.
*Come rain, come shine, dogs be damned etc.
I was having a discussion about the presentation of landscape and color use the other day with one of my students – which in turn got me thinking about why we see so few modern landscapes that work in monochrome, typically unless the shooter is trying to imitate Ansel. My theory is that it’s much, much harder to make a compelling image of nature without color – there is the tendency for the scene to look dead, rather than vibrant and alive. You also lose all of the delicate color gradients in skies and the like – which further deadens the scene. But as with all monochrome, surely we could also use these properties to imply a sense of timelessness, surreality or detachment?
Today’s images are I think a little darker and sadder than the previous two (part I, part II) – but not quite over the edge into full-blown depression. I see it as being analogous to one of those portraits where we want to enhance the lines on the subject’s face. I can see the final presentation of this series going in waves, with grouping and pacing a mirror image to the way we have different moods depending on the day – though I feel the impact of this particular set is lost in color, and mixing the two is somewhat odd unless the presentation medium is conducive (e.g. separate gallery areas, or sections in a book – but not as a continuous scroll or all at once. The ‘break’ is required to prevent a jarring visual discontinuity. What do you think? MT
I’ve been continuing to work on the Paradise Lost project for some time now; at some point I will have to curate a consistent body of work to a theme and declare the thing ‘finished’, but in the meantime I’m still experimenting with the presentation. As mentioned previously, I’m treating this project as an ‘open book’ so you can see what goes into the creation of something like this. My current dilemma is a question of mood: is it a happy retirement, or a sad one, or a melancholic one? Or perhaps somewhere in between the three?
Today’s post is a little sampling of the forests in the Nilgiri mountains in India – with quite a range of altitude, you get a wide range of flora from tropical to almost alpine and trees clinging to sides of steep escarpments, in places transitioning into tea plantations – complete with tigers, elephants and other wildlife to match (which also rendered large areas off limits – both for reasons of wildlife and human-life preservation). We didn’t encounter any of those, but we did spend quite a bit of time traveling through the predominantly montane forest. I of course also continued the Forest project of gigapixel-plus stitches, which I’ll probably never show digitally – the effect is completely lost. Nevertheless, I’ve always found forests to be very relaxing and tranquil places – and I hope the effect carries through on screen, even though digital media isn’t the best way of reproducing a fractal subject. What should of course carry through is the tonal palette – I’m pleased because this is about the closest I’ve gotten so far to almost full transparency, thanks to the CFV-50C. Enjoy! MT
And for something a little different today: the images do not follow in any particular sequence, nor do the contents of the images themselves make a story that makes any kind of immediate sense – this is of course deliberate. There is a narrative here, but I think it’s an extreme example of the message being far more dependent on the interpretation of the audience than the presentation of the photographer – so I shall leave these images without titles (probably much to the great relief of half the audience). If the images make too much sense, look closer – and form your own conclusions… MT
I have this habit of shooting against the sun at dawn and dusk – I think it must be a natural aversion to having the light source directly behind me, which it otherwise would have been had I been facing the other way. I didn’t consciously curate the images this way, but it turns out pretty much everything from the early morning and late night sessions in Ooty were shot contra-jour; there’s something about the light hitting the mist or dust or other particulates trapped between hills and creating nicely recursive (and slowly vanishing) layers into the distance. I could probably have used an EVF in some of these situations to avoid going temporarily blind… Enjoy! MT
This series contains more images from an unusual but highly rewarding assignment last year – documenting the work of landscape architect Charles Jencks, both at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation and the Crawick Multiverse. Both of these are cosmologically-inspired ‘built landscapes’ with features that reference various features of our universe, and best appreciated with time (no pun intended) – it can take some walking not just to see everything, but to get a feel for how the various elements come together and relate to each other. This was one of those rare assignments with an open brief – both intimidating and extremely satisfying at the same time because of potential scope and expectations. Fortunately, all went well. Today’s photoessay focuses on sculpted curves in the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Note that the changing hues of grass aren’t due to profiling or color mismatches – it was shot over a couple of days and was quite windy (as you can see from the sole long exposure) and light changed fast with the flow of clouds as a result. It isn’t the same as walking through it, but that’s not physically possible for most of us – enjoy, and bonus points if you can spot the smile in the landscape! MT
There are times when you shoot to push the envelope; others when you need to work to an objective, and still others when you feel like but shooting with no particular objective in mind in more of a meditative state. We tend to default back to habit – which can result in some very similar images to ones we’ve made before, but also a sort of liberation where you shoot ‘in flow’ and almost let the environment do the driving. This was one of those times – I present nothing too serious or deep today: just a series of individual (or are they?) Tokyoites. Enjoy! MT