Friday, 28 April 2006

The Compact

So there I was, wandering the library, picking up my weekly supply of CDs when I saw this on a shelf staring at me. Naturally I was drawn to it. Partly because it had a pretty picture on it - and I'm a sucker for pretty pictures. Partly because it had a title I couldn't ignore - as you'd probably expect. Partly because it immediately made me think of my beloved Phoenix Foundation - Horse Stories/Horse Power, yellow bird on white cover. And partly because it was released by Loose Music, who have been known to release some damn fine music in their time (and you can download an album for free!).

Never having heard, or even heard of, the band I knew I was taking a bit of a gamble. But I was willing to pay my $1 for that gamble. Naturally drawing connections between band name, album title, and record label I made certain assumptions about the sound I was likely to hear. And I was right on the money. The one place I did go wrong though was assuming the band was American when in fact they come from a wee town called Melbourne. You may have heard of it, it's near Sydney I think.

As they made a point of not thanking me - I quote "thanks to ... anyone who bought this record - rather than burning it, borrowing it, or even just plain humming it" - I feel it my duty to inform you about this band's existence, and implore you to support them by purchasing their CD (rather than borrow it from the library as I did!!).

And who says you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover? Eh?! Stupid people, that's who.

Oh yeah, and if you interested they're kinda alt-country, a bit Mojave 3, a bit Low, a bit Jayhawks, a bit Josh Rouse, a bit other bands I like. Just bloody nice music mate.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

The Explorer

One thing I learnt from Anne Noble is that "film is cheap so explore your subject". Not just with your eye but with your camera. While I agree that film is cheap, it's the cost of processing that I object to, so unless someone else is paying for it I tend to still shoot conservatively. That just means I do most of my exploring with my eyes first, then take the camera out and get a shot. What has changed these days is that I don't like leaving a half shot film in my camera so if I've started shooting a roll I tend to finish it that day. That's quite an easy thing to do when you're only getting twelve shots per roll though. Consequently sometimes I do explore areas too.

And you end up with two shots that have a completely different feel to them and you wouldn't even necessarily know they were shot at the same place on the same day if you came across them randomly flicking through images - which you'd be unlikely to do as my photos are supremely organised.

So the moral? Film is cheap, shoot lots, but get someone else to buy it for you, or better still blag it off your pro photographer friends who no longer shoot it.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

The Motel

This image was taken in the same small town you tend to drive through and ignore - until you need dinner or coffee or a toilet - as the previous shot. But on a completely different occasion, a couple of years earlier, a couple of days after I bought my Hasselblad. I decided to overnight in this town as there was a road east of it which I wanted to tackle and didn't know how long it'd take me to do the drive so wanted to start it in the morning. Being one of those small towns you tend to drive through and ignore - until you need dinner or coffee or a toilet - it closed down completely in the evening. (I didn't make it as far as the cafe/restaurant masquerading as a delicatessen - don't even know if it was around then.) I just made it to the New World with minutes to spare - they closed ridiculously early, 7.30 or so!!. So I took photos - naturally enough seeing as I'm a photographer. This one was from the door to my motel room. That may have been my balcony, or maybe my neighbour's. Anyways I like the shot, and I just noticed my car in the background - nice.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

The Tower

Sometimes you're driving home from a few days in Auckland and you get round Lake Taupo (if that's the way you've come) and head on south trying to ignore the fact that dusk is falling on the Desert Road and that you're getting hungry. So in some town you stop and hope to find someplace open for dinner that isn't takeaways. Being a Monday you could well be out of luck. Down a side street you spot a cafe/restaurant masquerading as a delicatessen. You're confused, but seeing as it's well after 5.30pm and they're still open, albeit without any staff out front, you guess they may be open for dinner. Indeed they are. You order something off the blackboard (probably the pasta) and follow that up with dessert and coffee - you've got to sustain yourself for the next 4 hours of dull, and dark, road ahead - before leaving. As you head to the car (parked across the road from the cafe) you notice what you parked in front of. You look at your watch and figure it's not too late so you can spare the time. You open the boot, pull out your blad, your lightmeter and a jacket (it is the middle of winter after all). While the patrons you left in the cafe stare out the window wondering what you're up to, you wander around the 'park' and size up the best angle remembering you've only got an 80mm lens which somewhat limits options (but not necessarily in a bad way). You find a spot, set up the camera, take a meter reading, open the shutter (once again cursing the fact that you left the cable release in the 4x5 case, which this time around is buried under all the gear you're bringing down for a colleague) and stand holding the shutter release in for 4min while the film does its thing trying not to move cos your tripod is, naturally, buried with your 4x5 case, and trying to ignore that fact that you're getting cold. When you've finished that exposure you realise that there is more to this 'park' than you thought, so wander around more and find a better spot for a shot. So once again you set up the camera, take a meter reading, open the shutter (this time only for 30sec) and stand holding the shutter release in while the film does its thing trying not to move cos your tripod is, naturally, buried with your 4x5 case, and trying to ignore that fact that you're getting colder. After 30sec you say quietly to yourself "thank Christ for that!", and head for the car. You notice that the patrons you'd left in the cafe have gotten over staring out the window wondering what you're up to you, though they do turn and look when they see movement near your car, but turn away again when they realise it's just you. You put your gear away and jump in the car, turning the heater up, and putting on the new Sonic Youth album you bought in Auckland the day before - partly cos it's really good, and partly cos it's the only decent driving music you've got. Sometime after arriving back in Wellington and getting some sleep you drop the film you shot into the lab and sometime after that get the prints back. Flicking through them you find 4 or 5 out of the 12 aren't too bad so they get thrown in a pile of other shots from other trips, while the rest go back in their envelope and slowly get buried under more envelopes and random bits of paper, before some months later being rescued and 'filed' in a more correct place (a box full of envelopes). Sometime later you go through that first pile of shots and pick out a dozen to be scanned. Sometime later, a couple of years later, you find those scans in amongst all your dissorted CDs and figure it'd make a nice shot to go on your blog. Sometime later still, a couple of months later actually, you finally post it on your blog along with the story of its creation - as best as you can remember it anyway.

Have you ever noticed looking through your photos all that extra information about the where/when/how of the moment gets recalled just because of a single image that was (generally) a split second in time? Sometimes I find that very surprising. Sometimes I find it wonderful. A photo truly is a memory. And even though I've got probably over 10,000 shots in my personal archive I can probably recall shooting 75% of them, have vague recollections of maybe 20% of them, and no recall whatsoever of the rest. Weird, eh??!!! But cool.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

The Family

What with it being Easter and all. And, like you know, a time for family and crap like that, I thought I'd post this snap. I took it last night after a day of having the family round to sort out bits around the house - earthquake strengthening, making doors open, gardening, making even more mess for me to tidy up etc.

The guitar hero is my neice and one day she may be able to not just look the part of the guitar slinger, but play the part too.

I like hanging out with her especially when people comment on what a lovely/cute/etc. girl she is and I just smile and accept the compliment knowing that I've had absolutely nothing to do with how she's turned out (well none of the good bits anyway, just the evil nasty bits).

Thursday, 13 April 2006

The Picture

As a special treat for this Easter weekend you get not one but three extraordinary images from me.

All three are stills of movies. I set the camera up in the back row of the movie theatre and pressed go as the opening credits start and stop at the end of the final credits. That way I film the film you see.

The first film today is Michael Winterbottom's stunning In This World pseudo-documentary. I had to see it twice for this project, and it was even better the second time around.

The second film today is Osama. To be honest I can't remember anything about it except that it was the first Afghanistani film made after the fall of the Taleban. Some people loved it. I guess it didn't move me much - but that might be just cos I'm a heartless kinda guy.

The last show today is Shattered Glass, the true story of an arrogant young journalist who put fame ahead of truth - only in America eh?! Not a great film but okay entertainment if you find it sitting all lonely on a shelf down at the DVD store.

The top two shots were published in Lumiere Four (albeit in black & white), and while they have stopped doing a printed version of the magazine their website is running hot with all the film reviews you need, plus other reviews and interesting conversations. Thanks Tim.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

The Wall

A few posts ago a random comment about shooting walls appeared so I thought I would share this shot with you. Oddly enough I got strange looks to. But then I usually do when I pull out the 4x5 and start ducking in and out of the dark cloth. It's a wall. It doesn't exist anymore - except in photos like this one.

Oh, and a big shout out (I can do that cos I'm so hip) to Jodi who responded to my "you need to comment more" comment in an email. Come on people, you all need to comment more!! Tell me how fabulous I am. Or how much I suck. Whatever ...

Saturday, 8 April 2006

The Winner

In lieu of any other winners I can proudly announce that Mr. Crowchaser has won my inaugural competition - albeit in the vaguest possible way (some would call it subtly). Please contact me to collect your prize. Where's your blog man, crow chasing sounds like the type of enterprise blogs were made for.

In lieu of any other entries I can proudly announce that that is likely to be the last competition on this site. Where was your sense of adventure, interaction and inclusivity people?!!

The Line

It's kind of sad that after 20 odd posts I'm already starting to repeat myself but hey. I've even gone so far as to shoot the same location for two separate exhibitions so why not repeat myself here? As I told a friend the other day, it's kind of like songwriters referencing one of their songs in another song. Anyway I shot this one summer in Hamilton. Just liked the colours and blur and stuff.

In other news, after spending lots on some not so great scans from a local lab I'm now close to buying my own scanner, so I may be posting here more often.

And in other news, the reason for spending lots on scans from a local lab is that I have work in a show at Aaron Laurence Gallery in Wellington, opening Tuesday night - that's if the prints arrive from Auckland in time. Come along if you're around.

Thursday, 6 April 2006

The Nostalgia

One of the fun things about moving house (and not working) is that you get to go through all those boxes you'd left with your parents 10 years ago when you went on your OE. And all those boxes you'd left with your parents 5 years ago when you came back from your OE.

You find those books you thought you had and couldn't find - but not those ones you thought you had and still can't find. And all those LPs and tapes you'd forgotten you had - and some you wished you still didn't. And you find that crap you wrote years ago on random bits of paper, in note books, and on the computer when you thought you were a poet/wit/short story writer. Plus letters, and exam papers, and photos and all sorts of rubbish you really could live without but can't quite bring yourself to throw out (though I have done a lot of that, and there's still more to be done).

At the moment I'm listening to music I made back in the day when I had visions of being a big rock star - back in the day when that wasn't really possible in NZ. Some of it's fun. Some of it sucks. One thing is certain. The 'real' band I had was not nearly as much fun as the other stuff I did with mates. Fortunately (for you guys anyway) I can't transfer stuff from the tapes to my computer so you'll just have to imagine the noise, the stupidity, and my way out of tune (even for a Kiwi) vocals. But one day - long after I'm dead - the recordings will be 'discovered' and my dream will come true - albeit for 15 seconds (give or take).

Anyway the photo (okay so it's a digital snap of a laser copy of a 6x4 print cos I don't have a scanner and couldn't be arsed finding the neg even if i did) is one I took of my band who shall go nameless cos the name sucked big time - truly a random word blindly picked from the dictionary - during a practise session, though of course I'm not there cos I was taking the photo and seeing as I was the front person (see that's how sad we were) it is kinda lacking as far as a record of the band goes but tough, there's nothing you can do about it now. (Did that sentence make as much sense to yous guys a it did to me?) The back in the front is Julian. He was the lead guitarist/secondary song writer. We never did vocal harmonies, but if we did he would've been doing them. The guy crouched behind the drum kit is Noel. Just to draw more connections, he was Phoenix Foundation's first drummer, and I think they started about this time - probably mid-1995. The other guy was Michael Bass Player, he was there somewhere, probably behind the door. And just to give you a fuller history, we got together in mid-94, practised regularly, and had our one and only public performance at the old Bodega opening for The Bats on 5 December 1995 (from memory). [Actually it was 2 December 1995 - ed.] No recording of that performance exists. We never played again.

Ahhh .... the nostalgia.

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

The 'Naki

Here's another shot from another road trip from another year. I took it somewhere along State Highway 3 between New Plymouth and Hawera. Just stuck the camera out the window and clicked - not a great thing to do when you're driving. I've done that road over a dozen times since and still haven't worked out where this place is. Still I liked the shot so much I used it on a business card - now a collectors item for those of you who haven't chucked it out.

Sunday, 2 April 2006

The Mighty

When I do roadtrips I like to take different routes so that I can see different parts of the country. Sometimes it's hard. I went to Wanganui and Palmerston North yesterday, and from Wellington you are very limited to the number of ways to do it - and I've done them all before ... lots. But when I was in Auckland a while back I discovered a route south that didn't involve State Highway 1 (well not all the way anyway). This lovely bridge is along that route. It takes you over the Waikato to some other place.