When I take photos I am usually drawn first to the quality of light. I’m addicted to light like some people are addicted to chocolate. I have a memory for it like some have a memory for wine. My favourite light is the fading twilight, with its distinct mood and feeling. (But I rarely take photos at this time, as I feel that the twilight mood doesn’t translate well in photos, for me at least.)
Another motivator for me is seeing the world with fresh eyes. I think that is why many photographers are drawn to travel. David Byrne said in the movie True Stories, “I really enjoy forgetting. When I first come to a place, I notice all the little details. I notice the way the sky looks. The color of white paper. The way people walk. Doorknobs. Everything. Then I get used to the place and I don’t notice those things anymore. So only by forgetting can I see the place again as it really is.”
Because I live in the country and work in the city, when I go to the city it often seems fresh and new. I notice things that I probably would pass by if I lived there.
I incorporate photography into my daily life—at supermarket parking lots, gas stations, hockey rinks—wherever I happen to be. I rarely set off anywhere with the sole purpose of taking photos.
My photographic vision has evolved over the past few years, especially since I joined Flickr. I still use a lot of juxtaposition, but my eye has grown more refined and I think there is generally more complexity and ambiguity in my work. I’m interested in the human-altered landscape and the power of images to make a statement or tell a story. On the other hand, digital photography has made me a poorer editor. I take so many more photos now than I did with film—it’s so hard to keep track of them all. And hard for a pack rat like me to delete any of them!
Adorned with charming, white wooden houses and a vibrant cultural environment, Mandal is an idyllic and lively coastal town in the South of Norway.
Yet there’s squeaking and creaking in rotten wood slamming against rusty metal, as a historic construction is waving goodbye.
On behalf of nostalgics and immortalizing – as far as technology can – a piece of history, I have captured the vanishing silhouettes of old shipyards as they’re being demolished, leaving solely a void of remembrance.
These five photographs are part of a project exploring my hometown by night. Although always fascinated by industrial scenes and urban decay, it was not until I realized that this town is losing historically significant buildings at a rapid pace, that I decided to make it my purpose, with this particular project, to preserve memories of these monuments.
Modern architectural accomplishments are replacing the old, but it takes half a century to bring soul to a building.
Gamle Båtservice, Mandal 2012 © Tone Bringsdal, all rights reserved
We see the suburbs as ugly; we lament the loss of natural beauty.
We rush around by day filling every second, yet feeling completely unfulfilled.
And while we sleep wondering what it’s all about and perhaps dreaming of what once was,
the silent beauty of the landscape returns; altered, yet still there.
People have described my work as dark and menacing, with a foreboding quality, but I think this is more to do
with the viewer’s own perceptions, formed by influences like human nature, upbringing and a paranoid media;
which push the idea that bad things happen at night. For me, these are places that have a certain magic to
them, rather than menace.
While the urban landscape is full of activity by day with people and cars, my photos are absent of these so
as not to distract the viewer. There is a distinct absence of people because human nature first draws our
attention to figures, and away from the landscape. The focus of my photography isn’t on people but on place,
on the landscape itself.
My series ‘Suburbs at Night’ is an ongoing exploration started in 2009 that attempts
to seek out these spaces and the landscape that remains, although forever changed, still timeless.
I have long been fascinated by the urban landscape, and the photographic opportunities that it affords the careful observer. Finding “beauty in the ordinary” drives much of my photography and I aim for a minimalist aesthetic wherever possible. This might explain my increasing use of black and white images, captured both digitally and on film. Less is more.
The first two images are taken from a series on Car Parks, where I made images in empty car parks at night using a phone camera and high quality digital camera. I was interested in whether images from devices with very different optical characteristics could be brought together into a cohesive whole.
The third image was made on medium format film at night in a deserted industrial warehouse area. I like the disjunction between the illuminated street scene in the background and the illuminated window panes in the foreground. The image could be a collage of unrelated elements but it was real.
The fourth image was made near the Sydney Opera House. It was a sunny late afternoon and the area was full of tourists and wedding parties queuing to have their photographs taken on the Opera House forecourt or nearby Botanic Gardens. Amazingly, no one seemed to notice this stairway, touched by the sun but still dark and foreboding in convict-era granite. It thought of Eugene Atget and the streets of Paris. Were it not for the electric street light, it could have been taken in the 19th century.
I was attracted to the final image (another stairway … am I developing an obsession?) because of the strong graphical elements created by the stair rails, light towers and shadows of an industrial area of Helsinki, Finland.
More work by Marcus Brownlow