Tag Archives: black and white

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.

 

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Marcus Brownlow

3 Nov

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

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