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Pedestrian Photographs by Jack Toolin

10 May

Pedestrian Photographs were made in the first years of living in San Francisco after moving from Pittsburgh, PA – this was the mid ‘80s. It’s commonly known that Pittsburgh is/was an industrial city – I grew up not far from the steel mills. What is less known is the quality of light in the area: it is often overcast, giving a softer light and sense of atmospheric perspective that attends humid weather. This is the cultural and photographic atmosphere that I grew up with and in which I began photographing.

Adjusting to the light in the San Francisco area was challenging as the light was brilliant and contrasty – no more pretending to be a landscape painter of the Northern Renaissance. 🙂 I adopted the shadows as compositional elements and displayed the intensity of the light by turning the lens towards it instead of away. I discovered that if I used elements on the street to block the sun I could capture the brightly lit scene without getting glare. I was shooting with a Hasselblad C and a Mamiya C330 at the time.

As for content, I sought out the peripheral, industrial sectors of San Francisco and Oakland for my photography. My attachment to these areas stems from my Pittsburgh childhood and was encouraged by the photographs of Lee Friedlander, Lewis Baltz and the like. I was, and still am, drawn to these areas that are both heavily developed but largely overlooked … spaces that people pass through rather than reside in. In the ‘80s it was surprising that so much open space in a large city was available to wander around in, though a different type of wandering than what Golden Gate Park provided. Today these areas (SOMA, China Basin, Mission Bay, Mission District) have been largely transformed by technology businesses and condominiums.


David Grim

7 Feb

I originally started taking photographs when I turned thirty and had dreams of making my own short movies. I couldn’t afford a digital movie camera at the time, and the technology was new and unimpressive. Instead I decided to learn some basics with a still-shot camera, and that is how I ended up with my first Canon G-series Powershot. After a few years I found myself encouraged to show some of my work in a coffee shop, and then in galleries… and in this fashion a decade-and-a-half progressed in what seemed like a blink of an eye. Today I’m still taking stills, although aiming for a certain element of narrative tone and cinematic atmosphere in almost every shot.
These particular images are drawn from a series of night walks I’ve taken over the last several months through various neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, PA (USA). I feel it’s important for me to point out that, while I do use in-camera filters to achieve a certain feeling in my shots, I do absolutely no post-processing. It’s not that I have anything in particular against Photoshop (in fact I hold the skills necessary to make that program sing in high esteem!). But I am striving for immediacy in my work, encouraged by my knowledge that I have to find what I am seeking “out there” rather than in the comfort and safety of my home after the fact. I feel like this approach adds some creative tension that would otherwise be missing from my work. I’ve always worked better when I set some arbitrary parameters for myself.
I love exploring the underbelly and the back end of my city in the dark. Luckily I’m blessed with the size and bearing that seems to intimidate bystanders from interfering with my reveries. I have the feeling that one of the reasons people seem inclined to take time with my photos is the simple fact that many wouldn’t feel comfortable going where I go at such times as I prefer. At any rate I have a great time getting lost in the stories in my head as I wander through these alleys and gritty industrial nether-zones. I never fail to delight in the unexpected at the periphery of our everyday lives. To me there is nothing more authentic than a glimpse behind the face that society presents. I feel like my wanderings are full of such gifts, and I can only hope to capture and share them with others.

London Urban Photography by Dimitri Hon

27 Mar

Having worked across a few architecture and commercial real estate publications over the past few years, I seem to have developed a counter aesthetic to the way the built environment is portrayed in marketing materials and industry media. I like showing places for what they are, usually with very flat, two-dimensional head-on angles and more realistic degrees of saturation etc, as apposed to the glitzy way the developers would like you to see them. That’s not to say I think these places are always ugly – just that you can find the more interesting parts of a skyscraper or shopping centre if you go around the back to where they keep the bins or where the access ramp for the deliveries is.

After seeing the work of Chris Dorley-Brown and Michael Collins (and subsequently an entire clique of Flickr members) I had a kind of realisation that there was this particular style of documentary photography (usually from north-western Europe with a few exceptions) that was appealing to me and seemed natural. These neutral, matter-of-fact images really pushed me in the direction I’ve taken in photographing the spaces we occupy or the weird, dead-spaces in-between places. Something that is quite common in cities – a lot of it is planned but there are always awkward gaps and accidental vistas between these planned areas.

The social implications of the built environment are constantly wheeled-out and argued over and are more often than not used by developers themselves now as a form of coercion on local government and residents alike. I’ve never consciously thought about the larger issue when taking pictures but my own cynicism of the industry is clearly there in the background. It’d be wrong to say that’s the main driver behind these pictures though, I genuinely just find these sort of places interesting and strangely beautiful. Most the time.

Vietnam – By pw-pix

8 Jun

Vietnam and it’s people were very photogenic. So very different in many ways
from my native Australia and other countries I’ve visited. My head and hard
drive are filled with good memories. Images from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City & Hoi An

Things I’ve learnt by S2art

27 May

Having worked with cameras and film now for more than 1/2 my life, I’ve seen my fair share of changes in photography.

The last 10 years or so have been very exciting, and I never would have thought that film would become an alternative process, as one of my friends recently pointed out. For several years though my focus was on digital output. In that time I’ve ridden that roller-coaster ride of digital.

I continue to juggle the two mediums, how successfully I’m not sure, but I feel satisfied about what I’m making.

I’ve watched communities grown and shrink, I’ve rediscovered my joy for film. In the process I’ve learnt to appreciate the time and effort involved in the ‘process’ of shooting film. I’ve also learned to appreciate the spontaneous nature of digital and following gut reactions.

The act of sifting though hard copy proofs instead of staring at a screen has proved to be a great benefit as well. My current body of work has been going on for many years since the late 1990’s. Now of course I have the luxury of using tools such as google to research and plan a shoot in advance the way I never could  have when I first started the project.

The result is a project called Bridge. Bridges are in ample supply despite Melbourne’s lack of waterways. They are both a metaphor and a symbol. This body will grow as I dip into my film archives and rediscover many images and continue to shoot more images.

Part of the series Bridge, which began in the mid 1990s

Flinders street bridge elegant and ageless.

Several bridges allude to the function of this urban environment.

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