Wednesday, 28 June 2006

The Umbrellas

Sunday, 25 June 2006

The Cross

It's Sunday, so here's a kinda relevant shot for the masses. I remember Laurence Aberhart once said, when referring to one of his images, that Christian imagery is everywhere in New Zealand art. Some people actively seek it - like my friend and fellow photographer David. Others, like me, are happy just to come across it when we're out and about. Naturally this was far to good (and obvious) to ignore. I even used on a Christmas card a couple of years back.

Saturday, 24 June 2006

The Asmaran

Sometime before arriving in Namibia I stopped off in Eritrea for a while - my birthday was Egypt, Christmas in Tanzania and sometime between the two was Eritrea (naturally I do know the exact dates, but I like to pretend I'm not at all anal. OK?).

Those of you who avidly read my post on Namibia may have noted my comment about being economical with my shooting prior to arriving in that country. By way of contrast, during the 8 days I spent in Eritrea I took only twenty six photos - not even a roll of film. It wasn't for lack of subject matter rather that I wanted each shot to count. Suffice to say, looking through those twenty six images now, many didn't really count at all, not in any greater way than a tourist snap, but then that's what I was. What follows is a bunch of those photos, in chronological order!!

Without wanting to consult my journal (which is packed away in the top of the wardrobe) I remember having a horrible time just prior to Eritrea. We left Dahab on the Red Sea coast, climbed Mt Sinai after nightfall, spent the night up there sleeping badly, walked down on an empty stomach, long hot boring taxi ride across Sinai Peninsula into Cairo to hit the outskirts and be told by our taxi driver that the law stops them taking us any further, find a bus to get us to Cairo centre, find a room, go in search of dinner, get accosted by touts who I'd already had enough of prior to departing Cairo a week earlier and let them get the brunt of my tiredness and hunger, another late night and an early rise to get us to the Airport in time to catch a disgustingly early flight to Eritrea.

So we arrived in Asmara reasonably early in the day which gave us plenty of time to settle in and explore a bit. This shot is the view from our hotel window. It's the St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral (yes I kept notes of all the photos I took, what's it to you??). Eritrea was once an Italian outpost/colony/thing and there are reminders of that heritage all around Asmara - like the pizzaria where we had most dinners, the cafe where we drank coffee and people watched, and the cinema where we saw some really old war movie from memory.

These two ladies were in the market. I was wandering through with my mate MC, and we looked somewhat out of place I think, what with us being two tall white guys. Anyway the girl behind the counter nicely offered us some of the food the girl in front was eating. They had no English, we had no Tigrinia, but I tried some of her food and by crikey if was yummy. No idea what it was, a kind of mushy bread and chili paste. Mmmmmmm.

Asmara was, and presumably still is, a small city with everything in walking distance - especially if you're happy to do the miles I was happy to. This is a shot of the suburbs.

And another, from the hill on the way to the cemetery.

And a really unflattering photo of MC in the suburbs.

This has thrown me somewhat cos it's out of sequence with my memory - maybe I should consult that journal. Anyway it's somewhere along the road between Asmara and Keren, Eritrea's 3rd largest town.

This is a street in Keren. Even on a day trip, arriving late morning, and meandering around town, the place was still small enough that we could see the whole town, play with some of the local kids, upset a few adults just by being there, and not getting lost, we still had about an hour to kill before the bus back to Asmara.

By coincidence - I think - we arrived on camel market day, where the locals buy and sell um ... camels. Cool. Even though by then I'd already done a day trek on a camel and had discovered a certain dislike of them - at least as far as being a passenger on one went anyway.

I think MC decided this was bougainvillea, but he was basing that on his growing up in Papua New Guinea where bougainvillea is in plentiful supply, and he said that while it looked like bouganvillea but he didn't really know for sure. It was pretty. That was enough for me.

Back in Asmara, this is in the Medeber market. You can't really see it in this shot, but it was the first time I'd really seen such industry. They made all sorts of things from all sorts of materials, nothing was wasted, it was truly a society of recyclers.

This is the port of Massawa. The reason Ethiopia was determined not to allow Eritrea independence, as it was Ethiopia's main port - now they have none. It was an exciting trip, not least becuase Asmara is 3000m above sea level, so it's a bit of a drop down to the coast (which is at sea level give or take a tide or two).

It was also interesting because I had diarrhoea, and after trying to hold on finally had to get them to stop the bus so I could do my business. I got off, and by luck, just up the road was a railway viaduct I could squat behind so as to hide myself from the glare of nasty passengers. After I finished and was getting back on the bus, one of the locals who'd taken the opportunity to stretch his legs informed me I was lukcy to have missed the landmines which hadn't been cleared away since the civil war days. Nice. Thanks for telling me after I could've blown myself to bits ... arsehole.

This is heading south in to Ethoipia. It is the general area of the famous mid-80s Bob Geldolf drought which allowed many people to discover not only that Ethiopia existed, but to place it on the globe. Needless to say it wasn't in drought while we were there.

Somewhere out there is Ethiopia. We spent the night here before crossing the border.

And this is the border crossing. Yes I am a terror suspect after having participated in the highly illegal act of photographing border posts. But come on!! It's so cool.

And that was that. I wanna go back - of course. Spend longer. Take better photos. See the National Museum which was being refurbed after the independence.

One of the coolest things was that the day we arrived in Eritrea was the day they introduced their own national currency - the Nakfa, named after a town that was the stronghold in the border wars. They'd been using the Ethiopian money up to then. So I have a mint collection of first edition Eritrean notes - probably worth a huge 20cents, but I don't care, cos you don't have any Eritrean anything. Of course, when we crossed into Ethiopia they refused to change our Eritrean money as they had no idea what it was.

Here is a good resource on all things Eritrean.

Friday, 23 June 2006

The Hidden

I saw this the other week when walking around trying to find sports grounds to photograph. I've walked by this gate many times, but never before had I seen it open or even been aware of what was behind it. It was quite exciting for the brief moment it took me to see it, decide to photgraph it and then try to photograph it - by which time the excitement had worn of (I'm so fickle). Mind you I wouldn't turn down a house with a tennis court.

Thursday, 22 June 2006

The Vanity

Yeah well I was going to post yet another Microphen original earlier today but then I decided I didn't actually like that shot and the version of it I do like I don't have scanned and didn't have time to scan it, so I ended up posting nothing.

In its place you get a Stephen Langdon original. Shot on 665 Polaroid using a Mamiya RZ67, at Weta Workshop here in Wellington. Stephen is an Auckland-based photographer and was down here for a few hours today to shoot Richard Taylor for some Italian magazine. You can see more of Stephen's work at Reload, or in your Sunday Times magazine most weeks (if you live in lil' ol' NZ).

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

The Chippie

There are times as a photographer when you see a shot that just has to be taken purely for reasons of colour and nothing to do with subject. These shops in Wanganui were across the road from some shots I was taking for an on-going project, and it was the first time I'd noticed them despite having driven past on numerous occasions. Mmmm red.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

The Rooms

About a year back I was cruising around the AK, looking at galleries, going to beaches, walking in the hills, drinking bad coffee, and taking the odd photo.

For some reason I decided to photograph some of the rooms I stayed in. These are the results.

Monday, 19 June 2006

The Mud

Last week I did a wee road trip to visit galleries and say 'hi' to famous and influential people, and to photograph a race course or two.

I discovered that sometimes it pays to do your research before you leave home rather than working on guess work alone. So no new race courses just yet.

Sometimes you don't need to worry about the research though. You just turn up, play a game of hockey, then wander round the rest of the park snapping pics of grass and seagulls.

So here is my second take on the sports field theme.

Mmmm sprig tracks in soft ground.

Halfway line on a rugby pitch. They have the entire circumference of the field they can wander on at and yet they choose to wander on at halfway. Bloody conservative those rugby boys you know.

Oh look, the seagulls think they're peoples. Ooh and what a mess that goalkeeper made.

Sunday, 18 June 2006

The Journal

Just a wee advertisement for the latest New Zealand Journal of Photography. It should be in all good magazine shops shortly.

Inside is a 'review' of the book Contemporary New Zealand Photographers by respected photography writer Bill Jay. Rather than review the book, he looks at what is wrong with New Zealand photography and gives some pointers as to how we can gain wider, i.e. international, acceptance of our work.

Anyone trying to become a contemporary New Zealand photographer/artist should read it, and take notes.

Oh and there's other stuff in there too, but it's written by Kiwi's and being the culture snob I am I haven't read it yet.

I hear the next issue of the Journal is going to be a pretty special one too - due September I think.

Saturday, 17 June 2006

The Namib

Please note: this is a long post cos I’m in a ranting & lots of photo mood, and if you’re a Luddite (like me) still on dial-up give it some time to load.

The other night I went out for dinner with JRK and a couple of friends after JRK’s opening at Photospace. Amongst our group – okay there were only four of us so we barely reached group status – was a woman who grew up in Namibia. Now that’s a country you don’t here much about, but one that conjures up pleasant memories for me. Seeing as I didn’t want to be seen as a sycophant, and the fact that I’m a cynical smart-arse, I didn’t say “Oh Namibia, that’s my second favourite country on this wee planet of ours” (after NZ, naturally).

I could have said that, but I didn’t. Instead, through my somewhat alcohol-affected mind, I tried casting my mind back to early 1998 and the few weeks I spent travelling through Namibia. It was hard; hell, I have enough trouble remembering last week let alone last century. However I have photos, so for your benefit and entertainment, and my nostalgia, here are some of them.

Oh Namibia, land of contrast. It has coastline and sand dunes, hills and desert, animals and people (seven of them at last count), towns and cities (well one city, but we bypassed it). There were two main things that I really loved about Namibia, 1) the space, and 2) the heat.

The whole country is like the Aussie outback where you drive for a day and never see any other human, or even evidence of them (except for the road you’re driving down of course).
Yeah, the space. Big sky country and other such cliches. Oh and the heat!! It was the first (and admittedly only time) I’ve been in 50°C and it was truly lovely. Being desert it was a dry heat, none of this horrible tropical clothes-stuck-to-you-all-day-I’d-rather-be-in-a-sauna-cos-at-least-then-I-could-jump-into-an-ice-bath humidity. (I even went for a stupidly long walk in it (all in the name of photography though of course - the one below to be precise), without adequate water or sun protection, but didn’t actually need it - at least I didn’t feel like I needed it and I came back alive and well so arguably I didn’t need it.)

(Naturally I’m completely ignoring those couple of days where it was so foggy we didn’t actually know what we were driving through or that we’d made it to the coast until we were almost in the surf.)

Okay so what did we see?

Sand dunes. Desert. Deserted towns. Game. Sand dunes. Desert. Game. Um sand dunes. And um desert. Um more sand dunes. And um more desert. Sunsets. Some sunrises even (yeah, I know, who'd thought it!!) Oh yeah and deserted towns. And game. Oh and a bicycle. And a lizard. Three hundred and twenty one photos in twenty four days. Not a high daily average, but as I'd been shooting little more than one roll a week up to that point, I went crazy wild (comparatively speaking).

Eighteen months, and a few more countries later, I arrived back in NZ and applied to study photography. Of the six images in my portfolio, three or four of them were shot in Namibia. If only I’d known how to take photos back in 1998, I could have got me some cracking shots, real beauties.

Completely forgotten by me, and presumably everyone else, I did appear to have a brief flirtation with night photography. The results are as bad as you'd expect for handheld shots, but it was interesting to rediscover these - well interesting for me anyway.

I did see more stuff and do more things, but you don't really want to know about it. I can tell that you're incredibly bored now. If not let me know and I'll try harder next time.

Just as an aside, previously in the evening I met a woman from Yugoslavia but seeing as that is the least favourite of the country’s I’ve visited I decided against getting into a long conversation about what an ugly country it is and how all of it’s inhabitants are intolerant racists (not the I’m one to generalise mind you), and what a service to the world Clinton did when he bombed Belgrade. Hey, but that’s another story, for another time.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

The Goals

Okay, one last shot from this series before I go and shoot some more - maybe. Oh and thanks for the feedback ... not. I'm really not that precious. If you think it sucks, tell me. If you kinda like it, tell me. If you think it's the best thing I've ever done, you're an idiot. But I put it out there to gauge reactions and I've had none. Is that good or bad?

And yes, it is my blog, so it is all about ME!!

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

The Posts

So, in case you didn't guess, here are two more images from my new 'possible' series exploring the desecration of fields of grass by hoards of (generally) young men chasing a bloody ball around - one they threw on the field in the first place!! I don't know why they didn't just keep it in their car and not ruin the nice green grass with their anti-social behaviour. But I'm here to take photos, not to pass judgment on these young hooligans.