Adox Silvermax 21 ISO 100 Review

I found another new film to love. I don’t know about you but I can stare at that white wall all day. It’s weird how the wall seems to get cleaner as the series progresses. By the time it gets to XV it is nearly pristine. I tried to take the photos all at equal distance but was pushed back by some hedges in a few of the frames. Took these at a retreat I went to a week ago. Happy Palm Sunday!

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Two Recent Photo Exhibits in Hong Kong

The trend of increasingly high quality photo exhibitions in Hong Kong continues with these two new shows. The first set of photos are from Vincent Yu’s Hiroshima vs Japan 311 (Soliloquize) at Jockey Club Creative Arts Center. It’s a touching tribute to the twin nuclear atrocities of WWII and more recently the 311 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Departing from his usual photo journalist practice of using a Canon 5D MKIII, all the photos here were taken with the Hipstamatic app on an iPhone. According to Vincent his carefully composed images were actually taken very rapidly. Also unique to this exhibition is the handmade spot lighting which was completed in the early morning hours on opening day. Whereas the photos from Hiroshima are shown as prints the 311 photos are shown in video slide show format. The pace of the slide show is brisk mimicking Vincent’s working method.

The second exhibit is Daido Moriyama’s Searching Journeys show at Simon Lee Gallery. In contrast to Japan 311, Searching Journeys is in a big ambient light filled space. Most of the works on display are large prints from black and white film negatives arranged into two massive walls. These photos show normal everyday life in Japan free from any reference to war or disasters. It’s Daido street photography at it’s best. There are a few rare colour photographs also shown but they are dwarfed by the much larger and more well known B&Ws. Being in the gallery surrounded by these large prints is like being inside Daido’s recent photobook Labyrinth. Here you have the luxury of walking right up close to the print and staring at the photo grain if that is your kind of thing.

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Nikka Whisky Distillery with Fuji X20

This past winter I had the privilege of visiting the Nikka Distillery in Hokkaido Japan.  It’s amazing how something so traditionally Scottish such as whisky making can seem so indigenous to Japan.  I guess it’s the Japanese respect and love for craft that makes something foreign their own.  The founder, Masataka Taketsuru studied chemistry at the University of Glasgow in 1918.  While in Scotland he married his wife “Rita” and moved back with her to Japan in 1920.

After working initially for Suntory he eventually started his own whisky distillery Nikka which is now owned by Asahi Breweries.  There’s an amazing amount of things to see at the distillery including a free tasting of three products: Taketsuru 10, 17 and Nikka Apple Wine – all very good especially when had with beef jerky.  It was the first time for me to visit a whisky distillery in winter.  Be sure to click on the panorama photo to see the full winter vista from the tasting room.  Both Hokkaido and parts of Scotland gets up to 2 meters of snow.

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Black and White Film Review: BRF400 Plus

Thought I’d give something other than Tri-X a try so here’s three shots from my roll of BRF400 Plus.  Not sure whether it’s due to accidentally putting the fixer in before the stopper, but the photos have an amazing range of textures.  From silky smooth to concrete grit BRF’s got it in spades.  Will definitely pick up another roll and develop it properly next time to see if the texture is still there.

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“Iris Garden” Stories by John Cage and Photos by William Gedney published by Little Brown Mushroom

“Iris Garden” brings together the work of three artists: John Cage, William Gedney and Alec Soth. This photobook is a visual enigma that contains stories within stories.  Every reading reveals something new and unexpected.

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The leaves of the book are not bound together and are seemingly disordered, but there definitely is a pattern at work.  The book cover serves as an envelope / folder that holds everything together.  Tucked inside the front cover is a William Gedney photo of a house with white picket fence. This is followed by a single sheet of white legal size card (240mm x 340mm) folded horizontally. On the “cover” of this card is the first story by John Cage:

ONE SUNDAY MORNING, MOTHER SAID TO DAD, “LET’S GO TO CHURCH.” DAD SAID, “O.K.” WHEN THEY DROVE UP IN FRONT, DAD SHOWED NO SIGN OF GETTING OUT OF THE CAR. MOTHER SAID, “AREN’T YOU COMING IN?” DAD SAID, “NO, I’LL WAIT FOR YOU HERE.”

Unfolding this card reveals a photo of a reposing man’s leg jutting out the window of a Volkswagen Beetle.  On the back of this photo is another story:

When I told David Tudor that his talk on music was nothing but a series of stories, he said, “Don’t fail to put in some benedictions.” I said, “What in heaven’s name do you mean by benedictions?” “Blessings,” he said. “What blessings?” I said, “God bless you everyone?” “Yes,” he said, “Like they say in the sutras: ‘This is not idle talk, but the highest of truths’.”

We then encounter the first mini book held together by off white card stock.  On its cover is a photo of a bunch of apples / potatoes on a board sitting on a wooden chair. Inside are stories and photos on three more pieces of folded white card stock.

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“Iris Garden” is packed with information that is seemingly unrelated and dishevelled.  And yet the artistic sensibilities of Cage, Gedney and Soth find concordance.  The stories and photos are about families, neighbourhoods both near and far, and personal spaces. Through the works of Cage and Gedney, Soth is able to articulately reflect on the role of the artist in the modern world.  To find inspiration one needs to be fearless and not be afraid of being bored.

Scan 5Scan 6The entire sequence of items in “Iris Garden” is as follows:

  • Folded full bleed photo tucked into front cover
  • Folded white card with story on cover, photo inside and story on the back
  • Off white coloured mini book with three folded white cards inside.  All printed with photos and stories
  • Folded white card with stories and photos on inside and covers
  • Folded off white card with story on cover, photo inside and story on the back
  • Folded white card with photos on inside and covers
  • Off white coloured mini book with three folded white cards inside.  Printed with photos and a story
  • Folded white card with photos inside and on covers
  • Folded full bleed photo tucked into the back cover
  • Single card with book details also tucked inside the back cover