Choices

Photography, thoughts

So often we say that whatever you do in life it is all a choice. But what is the meaning and value of choices when the decisions are made by others? When you’re just a mere part of a greater scheme of things? Or when you’re only option left is not really a choice anyway?

While it was a choice for many Syrians to stand up for democracy against a dictatorship, it wasn’t their choice that over 20 countries used, the protester’s desire for democracy and prosperity, as a theatre of proxy wars.

It can be a choice to vote someone mentally unfit or psychopathic into office, but in the end we’re all left harmed with the consequences.

It is sad and heartbreaking when you think you’re only option left is stepping out of this life. Thinking this week of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. But also my former colleague David who committed suicide three years ago. Mental illness should be taken seriously. It can do harm to those affected, while family and friends ultimately left behind.

It is sad and heartbreaking when you’re being sick and your death sentence is already signed. And the only option remaining was certainly not the choice you wanted to make.

It is sad and heartbreaking that you’re choice is unwanted by others. Thinking of those who decided to leave their motherland, seeking peace, safety, and prosperity, but you’re not wanted by others.

I can’t give any sensible advice, I think. I don’t have a top 5 list with things to do. All I can say is to talk with one another. Respect each other and cherish all things in life, the beauty and ugliness, in all it’s purity. Just beware of the red signs and try to respond accordingly. I guess.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

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Editing awkwardness

2012, Photography


In my previous post I wrote that I had a hard time deciding which photograph to choose for last week Wednesday. I even left behind a message on twitter in the hope to get some good feedback. Even though I don’t intentionally photograph with a project in mind I am however fully aware that I photograph during a week or longer period a long a similar theme. At the end of the week, when I make my final edit I the flow of the week, it plays an even more important role for me.

So even though I don’t intentionally work on a series, my intuition makes me subconsciously work on it. And that influences my editing. Editing with regards to selecting photographing, not post processing them. Editing for a series is in my opinion very different from editing a single photograph. A single photograph may pop, scream for attention, wants to be noticed. In a series each individual photograph tries to complement the others, bringing harmony and unity. As a result a really good photograph might not make the cut, cause it doesn’t serve the context of the series. Off course a series might have a few exceptional good photographs to strengthen it, to get noticed, just like a few hit singles on a music album.

Last week’s Wednesday felt special when I left home for work. There was a lot of fog and I knew from my local knowledge that some places would work really well. I took a small detour and soon realized that a nearby parking lot provided me a good scene for a photograph. The horizontal and vertical lines of the parking places and the horizontal lines of the background silhouettes would fit nicely within the photographs I had already taken that week. The hardly noticeable light posts in the background added some juxtapositions in the composition.

After that I moved further east into the direction an estate close to my work. With the upcoming sunrise I noticed some light getting underneath the withdrawing fog. I realized the available time frame was short and immediately rode to an interesting spot. I really don’t know what it was, but despite using a 28mm wide angle the scene got something of a fish eye perspective. Unlike my previous photographs this week with the horizontal and vertical lines, this scene had mostly bending lines and stronger curves. It was very different, but I was very excited and had the feeling that it was a good photograph. Admitted, I think it is the better photograph. And general comments I received on my tweet the previous week confirms this.

As a photographer you learn many things and some knowledge is rather easily transferable. Some knowledge however is so hard to comprehend. You really need to study this, invest a lot of time, and discuss this with others. Reason maybe why there is very limited information available about this. Editing is something I feel is very difficult. It took me ages to create a portfolio and yet I am still full of doubt whether my edit is good enough. You tell me, context, form, light, that is what matters. Depending on the subject and genre the importance of each three items might vary. For street photography context could be more important, but for landscape form and light might be of greater significance.

Now I would love to share tips and thoughts on editing your own work, but I have no glue how to do so. It is very difficult to pick a single photograph, but it is maybe even harder to select a number of photographs for a series. And it will always feel awkward to keep a good photograph unselected.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Making choices

2009, Photography

Hoekelum by Wouter Brandsma
For long I found myself happy and challenged with smaller cameras. My style and my kind of photography really worked very well with these cameras (or at least I thought so). The compactness and the quality of the files was enough and workable. But, and this is a big but, it is not enough anymore. At times my current camera drove and still does drive me mad. I don’t like the image files, the lack of detail, the excessive blue noise, and the tougher post processing. I miss shallow depth of field and fast prime lenses.
Hoekelum by Wouter Brandsma
I would still prefer a small camera, but I don’t think there is no real option available. Oh yeah, what about the DP1? Yes, the prices are dropping and the image quality is superb. But I am still restricted to only one focal length. And a DP2 will set me back another 900 Euro. And that annoyes me when I still have some really good M42 lenses that cost almost nothing.
M42 lenses
Although I would love to have a rangefinder camera, I made up my mind and will choose a dSLR instead. So now I am checking for prices of used cameras and see what would work best for me and what camera would work best with my M42 lenses. I have a 35mm f2.8, 50mm f2.8, 58mm f2.0 and 135mm f2.8 at home. Maybe I look for an additional wide angle lens for landscapes (20mm or even wider) and a fast 28mm lens for general purposes. Although some cameras will have restrictions with the metering system, I reduced my selection to cameras like the Canon 20D, Fujifilm S3Pro, Nikon D70s, Pentax K10D or Sigma SD14 with a preference for the Canon or the Sigma (despite the 1.6 and 1.7 cropfactor). A refurbished or second hand Canon 5D is still too expensive for me although I would love to have a full frame camera. But we can’t have it all and the nice thing about these older lenses that they will work fine on both cropped and full frame sensors.
Hoekelum by Wouter Brandsma
I have no immediate intention to do so now, but this is what I am planning to do so for this year. I will of course keep my Ricoh besides me. I like to have a small camera in the bag.
Hoekelum by Wouter Brandsma
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma