Paris – Mois de la Photo (Day 1)

After a long silence finally some news: Art Academy school commenced again (we are now in our 2nd year) and this year a weekend was planned in Paris to visit “Mois de la Photo”, featuring 100 photography exhibitions… This event goes through every 2 years in Paris. In total 10 students (from year 1 upto 7) joined in together with our teacher Frank Michta. Below you can find the flyer for the event (organised for 1 month from 27.10.10 until 30.11.10 – in case you missed it you will have to wait another 2 years, sorry!):

Flyer from “Mois de la Photo 2010”

 We left on Saturday morning 06:30am (was a bit hurting on Saturday) and drove together with a minivan to Paris – where we arrived only 1 (immense) traffic jam and 4.5 hrs later. Quickly checked into hotel and went off straigth away to visit our first exhibition of the day: “La France de Raymond Depardon” – immense prints from a 8×10 camera – what i loved here whas the immense detail in the prints, and the color combinations – nice job done documenting France! After a taking a quick grab-shot from the surrounding “Bibliotheque Nationale de France”

Patterns of bibliotheque Nationale de France

 and taking a quick (but delicious!) sandwich bite we went onwards to the “Espace Photographique de l’Hotel de Sauroy” where photographs from Jacques Borgetto, Francoise Nunez, Bernard Plossu and Sophie Zenon were shown. Entrance to the exhibition can be seen below:

Entrance to the “Espace photographique de l’Hotel de Sauroy”

 Beautiful black and white photographs! After this – time for a drink (ah ja – we are Belgians after all) in a cosy Paris bar:

Wall painting in a Paris bar

 As can be seen Paris is not too far from Belgium (for the un-educated: Grimbergen is a Flemish abbey beer). After this intermezzo we went to the exhibition from Sally Mann in the Galerie Karsten Greve – a famous American photographer known for her large format, black and white photographs of her kids (posing as if they were adults) and for her landscapes suggesting decay and death. While I really liked all her photographs, i was drawn to the “imperfect” ones, the toned and texturized ones… After this one we had a quick visit to Galerie Pierre Alain Challier (“Peinture ou Photographie?”) followed by the Cultural Institute of Mexico showcasing pictures from Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Agustin Jimenez and Luis Marquez. Again mostly black and white photographs, liked in particular the frame with the fisherman shown below:

Fisherman from Luiz Marquez

Finally we went to Galerie David Guiraud showcasing works from Elliott Erwitt and that was it, the day had flown by! All the galeries were closed, finally we found some time for a nice dinner in a Japanese restaurant, not without first entering a galerie showcasing some “Light” art – especially the below optical effect was a nice sight (the colors are actually painted on the wall/staircase!):

Optical effect on staircase

 After this back to the hotel for some well-deserved night rest (or so we thought – a room was quickly changed in an after-bar were we could sip on some wine (ah ja we are in France after all!) and talk some more about the things we saw…
This was a long post, but seen the long silence… Anyways part 2 of the visit (exhibitions visited on Sunday 21st November) will be the subject of the next posting!

Peter Bialobrzeski

We continue our visits to (mostly photo) museums – yesterday evening went to a talk by Peter Bialobrzeski, a photographer which came onto my radar through one of my Flickr contacts Thomas Birke (a fantastic large format photographer in his own right). The images i had seen from Peter reminded me a bit to this other magnificent (large format) photographer Andreas Gursky (i still remember looking in awe to the details in his huge prints).

Peter explained how he evolved from a newspaper and magazine photographer to fine art, almost by accident. It all started by combining commercial projects abroad with personal ones, thus at least saving on the financing of his personal projects. Peter walked through the different books he has published (i didn’t know he did so many!) from “XXX Holy Journeys into the Spiritual Heart of India”, his first personal project (loved how he talked about Karma here, and how he tried to portray that), “Neontigers” where he tries to give us a glimpse of the future, “Heimat” where he concentrated on his homeland and is creating some painterly photos influenced by his admiration of some master painters, “Lost In Transition” where he returns to Asian megacities trying to portray how old city blocks are pushed away by modern skyscarpers at an astonishing speed, “Paradise Now” still at these Asian megacities showing how nature is being affected by our modern lifestyle, and finally his last book “Case Study Homes”, a smaller book where digital pictures of Manila’s slum houses are collected. And how did he manage to publish all these books? – like said almost by accident: the personal projects where first noticed by World Press Photo where he won the 1st prize in Arts and Entertainment stories (2002), marking the beginning of his Fine Arts “career”. Of course, the fact that he is incredibly talented helped as well.

What i liked about the talk was that i have been in all the cities he was talking about (Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Manila), thus basically was seeing (and was wondering about) the same things that he saw, but never had the idea to photograph it the way he did… basically i learned i should keep my eyes (and my mind) open! As a downside i think i can say that my drooling over large format cameras has not lessened, on the contrary… these things are however quite expensive (not yet talking about the film), but if you see the results it seems to be worth it. In these ages of digitalisation it seems however silly to spend a lot of money on analog cameras? (as you can see i am having quite a dilemma here hahaha).

Anyways appreciated the efforts of the Antwerp photomuseum, in bringing another fantastic photographer to talk about his way of thinking.

Fotofestival Knokke-Heist 28.03 – 13.06.10

Took again some time-off from my “web re-designing”, this time for a visit to Knokke’s fotofestival: some renowned photographers exhibited their work, while in the surrounding galeries some more nice photographs could be seen. Started off with Tim Walker’s fantastic works – his majestic set-ups and brilliant ideas really impressed me, also it was quite interesting to see his diaries/scrap books with sketches of the ideas brewing in his head: exactly what we are required to do in the Academy (i start to understand why) although i have to admit mine is at present merely a collection of cut-outs of nice magazine pictures and here and there a newspaper clipping with some personal remarks…
Anyway then onwards to Cecil Beaton’s classics, fantastic black and white portraits – here i was especially impressed by the immaculate lighting. Having completed these 2 exhibitions i proceeded to the galeries which i had marked in the programme overview: “Geukens & De Vil” showing Peter Lindbergh’s work (“Stars and Models” – fantastic image of Kate Moss in the display window), “Arstudio” showing work from a Belgian photographer Peter Berghman (“Onderweg”) and finally “Absolute Art Gallery” where i have been drooling over the majestic images of my favorite (and euh Belgian (!)) photographer Marc Lagrange: i had seen his work already a few years back in the fotomuseum of Antwerp where his photographs had left a lasting impression to me, now again his newer work absolutely impressed me… would he be in need of assistants?
The fotofestival in Knokke is still running until 13/06/10, definitely a must for the photo enthusiast!

Hard work – Carl De Keyzer

Just completed wading through about 2500 digital images and about 150 film images (Panoramics 6X17 plus Black&White 6×6 medium format) taken during the course of last year – wading meaning for the digital images developing (i shoot everything in Raw) in LightRoom and for the film images developing (in a conventional darkroom) and scanning plus dusting… then resizing everything for a first edit by the stock image libraries. Phew… happy that this massive work is over… the backlog was mainly due to the frequent moving last year. Let’s hope we now arrive in a more stable period of our lives. Outstanding works are updating my website, and upgrading my WordPress blog to the latest version (this looks a bit more complicated then expected) so that i can include tags.

The hard work was interrupted last week for a visit to the photography museum in Antwerp where there was an exhibition/talk by Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer about his images in Congo. Well, if you talk about perseverance… Carl De Keyzer had to do a tremendous effort to shoot all of the beautiful images on display. Teaming up with NGO’s (shooting for them for free in return for use of their logistics (ie. airplanes, cars, etc…)) to be able to visit the places he marked in an old (colonial) travel guide, he encountered some other-worldly scenes (and people). The project took 10 months of work, plus 2 months of scanning, dusting, and retouching some colonial-time photographs. Really enjoyed the talk, and noted the main lesson that to produce something worthwhile quite some effort is required… in other words, nothing comes for free.

Definitely worth a visit! (the exhibition is running until 16/05/2010).

Door het oog van de Lens

Reading right now “Door het oog van de Lens – Hoe fotografie ons leven heeft veranderd” by Gerry Badger, a New Years gift from my sister (thanks ;-)). Quite interesting book about the evolution of photography in its social context, based on a detailed description and thoughts on roughly 20 iconic images (from Daguerre’s : “View on Boulevard du Temple, Paris”, over Dorothea Lange : “Migrant Mother” to Ansel Adams : “Clearing Winter Storm” and more recent images like “Times Square” from Andreas Gursky (an image that we saw a while ago at a fantastic exhibition in Sharjah’s museum)). Completely in my element, yummy!

Assignments – continued

Another assignment for the Academy: “Viewpoint of a dog”. Below my interpretation of this theme, taken quite literally…

Picture data : Rolleiflex 3.5F, Ilford Pan F Plus 50, exposure unrecorded

The twin-lens reflex camera with its top viewfinder makes these kind of pictures of course quite easy, one does not necessarily have to go lying on the floor (in this case sand) to get these viewpoints. Working with medium format as well allows for a very shallow depth of field as can be seen from the above example.


As mentioned in a post earlier, one of the assignments for the Academy of Arts was to take pictures of reflections. So one weekend we set off to the Belgian coast (one way or another we always end up in Middelkerke though, maybe since i went there all the time with my parents during my youth?), with the idea to photograph refelections in the water pools formed in the tidal zone of the beach. Add to the that a paper boat beautifully crafted by my wife, and the result is something that symbolises the sea very good i think…

Picture data : Rolleiflex 3.5F, exposure unrecorded, Kodak TMAX 400

A shot of the typical appartment buildings along the walking dikes of our coast can not be missing of course:

Picture data : Rolleiflex 3.5F, exposure unrecorded, Kodak TMAX 400

Cadzand in Holland

Almost “forgot” to update this blog again (promised myself to do my utmost best in trying to -at least- once in a week post something)- but here it is: some pictures taken a few weeks back on the nice beaches of Cadzand, Holland. The wooden poles placed to slowdown the effects of the eroding sea formed an interesting pattern, as can be seen in below panoramic images, all taken with a Panoramic Fotoman 617 (yes, on film…):
Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm lens, exposure unrecorded, Fuji Velvia 100F

Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm lens, exposure unrecorded, Fuji Velvia 100F

Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm lens, exposure unrecorded, Fuji Velvia 100F

Although it was quite cold (icy wind blowing as always on the Northsea beaches) the elements gave me the nicest sunset, so one could say i was very lucky. A bit further in Belgium the skies turned gray and it started pouring rain…

Long silence

Long silence so lots of news. Finally completed our 3rd move in 6 months (first from Dubai to Malaysia/Singapore, then from Singapore to Aalst in Belgium and finally to Gijzegem (where?) in Belgium…), let’s hope the chaos diminishes now fast… cause chaos it was! Add to that sending 3 kids to new schools (in a for them strange language), and the crazy idea of the undersigned to enroll at the Academy of Arts in Aalst. Or is it that crazy? Not in my view, it was a long outstanding dream of mine to finally enroll in such an art school and to try to give a more defined style to my photography. Abroad these schools were always out of reach budgetwise, in Belgium however things like this are far better organised. Result: since beginning of September i am back on the schoolbenches twice a week (although contrary to my younger years i now actually look forward to my commute to the school). Shocker No. 1 for the younger photographers under us: year 1 & 2 concentrate on black and white photography, and yes – using film only! (I have to say I was happy about this: i still feel film gives (for me) nicer results then the faster paced digital photography so whenever possible i was using my Fotoman 617 panoramic camera anyway (although i purchased a Canon EOS5d II in Singapore)). So back to film (and even Black and White) it is… In order to be able to keep on submitting my school work (which is going to be the larger body of personal work in the coming years) to the stock image libraries I decided to buy a new (?) camera using a larger (then 35mm) format. Finally my eye fell on a second-hand Rolleiflex 3.5F with a fixed 75mm Zeiss Planar lens which exposes film in a 6×6 format, building year somewhere in the 1960’s (!). As usual i am blown away by the results of this medium format camera (in terms of achieved sharpness in the negative, but also by the beautiful bokeh). Shocker No. 2 : we are developing films ourselves and… Shocker No. 3: printing (and i dont mean by inkjet – no, no: using darkrooms and developer, water and fixer baths) ourselves. Again for me this makes the photography process so much more complete – to be able to hold the film, to smell the developer and fixer, and to see the image slowly coming out on the paper. Our individual photography styles are being honed by learning us how to “see” (one would think that is easy…) – this is done through a number of subjects as defined by our teacher Frank Michta. Current subjects to be completed before the Christmas holidays are: “Reflections”, “Rain” and “Viewpoint of a Dog”. I will post some intial results of these (self-developed/printed) photos shortly.

On the cover of “Welcome to Dubai”

Again good news: one of my pics has been used for the cover of the “Welcome to Dubai” magazine, which is produced by the Dubai Tourism Department. The picture is part of one of my most favourite series and has been taken in the desert of Liwa in the Empty Quarter, on top of a majestic sand hill (it took us an hour to climb it, a real race against the clock seen the setting speed of the sun in this part of the world…). At the end of the session I requested the model to keep the headscarf above her head and in the wind, resulting in a nice dreamy effect due to the longer exposure time. The picture was taken a few years ago, with an Canon Eos5 using Velvia slide film, and it was quite an expensive photograph to produce: the fine fine sand which was (due to the wind creating the nice effect) virtually everywhere and ruined one of my lenses. The ballhead of the tripod as well did not survive the climb to the top of the hill….