My Halloween Strip 2009

October 31, 2009


Some people are…

October 29, 2009

Some thoughts from today’s bus ride to work:

Some people are like digital images. They are pretty, colorful and sharp. There is some sort of automatic shadow lighting and they look all perfect and shiny. However, the highlights get burned out quite easily, they all look kind of the same, and most of all: They all seem to lack depth and suffer from chronic shallowness. It’s a quick impression that usually doesn’t last very long.

Fashion photography is similar: Pretty shiny images of beautiful models. Too bad, though, the impression is only meant to last about 10 sec. before we flip to the next page. The image just as the model is forgotten within a moment.

That’s all for today…

What to buy in October 2009

October 15, 2009

Steve McCurry (by Anthony Bannon)
steve mccurry
Steve McCurry is one of the photographers that I was always a bit ambivalent about. Maybe that’s because much of his fame was so much based on this one famous image of an “Afghan Girl” (1979) that he had become much of an icon of mainstream travel photography. Every guy with a big SLR + long lens seemed to try copying that style, the colors etc.

However, when I walked into Kinokuniya Book Store (Singapore) yesterday, I had a look at the Phaidon Edition of Steve McCurry. Phaidon has been publishing this great series of books, introducing icons of photography like Mary Ellen Mark, Andre Kertesz, and others. It turns out that Steve McCurry is an absolute master of color photography, and a great portrait photographer, too. Of course I knew that before, but looking at these fantastic color portraits taken in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I realized that McCurry was at the time able to record South-/Central Asian life in a way which is hardly possible anymore. At the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 the country was already wrecked by civil war. However, the general attitude towards the West (i.e America) was not yet as negative as it is today. As McCurry points out himself: Portrait images like he took in Pakistan back then would hardly be possible anymore. Too much china has been broken, I guess.

This edition only gives a glimpse into this famous MAGNUM photographer’s work. The great thing about this series is also, that every image comes with a comment about how it was taken (not technical!). That makes it a pleasure to read. It’s also printed in high quality (Phaidon is a fantastic publishing house!) for a very low price. You can either buy it at your local art book store, or order it here! Check it out, it’s worth it!

My October Strip

October 14, 2009

Camera Review: PENTAX 67

October 8, 2009

Pentax67 02

Today it’s about the dinosaur in my dry case: The PENTAX 67!

I bought the camera last year second hand in a camera store in Seoul/Korea, for an incredible low price. The Korean Won had dropped dramatically during the Financial Crisis, so it was a very good time to shop in Korea. The PENTAX 67 is a 6x7cm negative size Medium Format film camera (SLR) from the 1970s. At the time it was a popular option for professionals, not only because of the attractive 6×7 format and the quality of the Pentax optics; it was also the only Medium Format SLR with a prism viewfinder in the market. That meant it was possible to hold and handle it pretty much like a 35mm camera which gave it an advantage compared to the rather clunky Hasselblads or Mamiyas (I do not consider my Hasselblad “clunky” but some people might).

Well, actually, to me the PENTAX 67 is quite a brick. It’s big, heavy, and compared to my Hasselblad, the mirror sends shock waves through the camera, my hand, and the whole environment. The camera is loud, the film transport requires some new thumb muscles, and the frame counter doesn’t tell you exactly when the film is full. Furthermore, the opening mechanism for the film cassettes is sometimes jammed (or I’m stupid) and the whole procedure of changing a film can be quite time consuming.

But isn’t it a beauty?!!

No, seriously, apart from the (few) negative characteristics of this almost forgotten camera, there are some aspects which make me love the PENTAX 67:

1. The 6×7 format is just beautiful. It’s only slightly bigger than 6×6, giving you more space to compose, but at the same time it is more squarish than 6×45 which still gives you the feeling of harmony within the given space. I love it!
2. The optics are superb and the mechanics of the lenses work smooth and easy. The images come out super sharp, with a soft and smooth bokeh which is quite special and different to all my other Medium Format cameras or Leicas.
3. The viewfinder is spectacular: bright, big, and clear which is the perfect for composing. Even better, the prism viewfinder can be exchanged for a waist level viewfinder (see picture). I love that for the tripod.

The PENTAX 67 is not an easy camera, but it’s a lot of fun and a beauty of a beast! It’s not really a camera that works well without tripod, unless there is a lot of light available and you know how to hold a camera steady. However you decide to use it, it’s a very good tool for portraits because of its format, sharpness, and soft bokeh.
On a daily basis, I still prefer my Hasselblad or the Twin Reflex Mamiya because they are easier to handle; for the special moments, though, the PENTAX 67 is quite something to use. And because nobody seem to want it anymore, it is more than a bargain. Don’t miss it!
Maya 2009
Maya and Puji 2008
Ming 2008