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No

2013, Photography

photography, photograph, wouter brandsma, light, shadow, light and shadows, stroll photography, ricoh, ricoh gr

I have been sick during the Christmas days and seriously had no time to come up with a look back at the year 2013. No list with my favorite photographs, no list with best read blog posts. No, none of that. Not even a list of photographic resolutions for 2014.

You see, I have no clear expectations with my photography. I prefer to get in a flow. Less is really more, it is all I can say. I don’t work with projects in mind and when I read descriptions of art I might do it all wrong. Thank God that there are no rules to obey in art. Maybe art isn’t or shouldn’t be self-expressive, but I think that without not understanding and able to express your own personal feelings how can you be able to add subtense to an ongoing conversation?

Just search the web for ‘is art self-expressive’ and ‘is art not self-expressive’ and you get tons of opinions. I really wonder how much an image maker should be worried about these artistic discussions. Did Vincent van Gogh really care about the on-going conversation that art supposed to be when he cut off his ear and made his well known self-portrait? When I get the feeling that this painting was really a cry for help. And remember that Van Gogh likely sold one piece during his life and became acknowledged after his death as an artist. I think it is perfectly fine that the artistic intentions of the maker may be completely different from the observer point of view.

I absolutely believe that pretty much everything is evolutionary. And studying and understanding the past and what previous masters did can help with that. It sure makes a lot more sense to read books, visit museums than keep buying new gear in the hope that it improves your photography. But when we keep copying the copied it looses the original intent and it becomes just a hollow shell. A conversation won’t be everlasting and sometimes you have to start new conversations with different companions. I think this is where personal knowledge, experience and intuition can make a difference.

I might have it all wrong though. It may be a big “No” for others, but the number one reason I make photographs is because I do it for myself. I do what I like to do. My work is based on my own knowledge and personal feelings. There are my photographic sketches, trying to leave room for interpretation. Light, outlines and dark spaces.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

photography, street photography, stroll photography, people, city, urban, shadows, light, light and shadows, ricoh, ricoh gr, gr digital, pentax, wouter brandsma

Evolve

2013, Photography

photography, street photography, stroll photography, people, city, urban, shadows, light, light and shadows, ricoh, ricoh gr, gr digital, pentax, wouter brandsma

We learn, we live. We fail, we evolve. We proceed, we evaluate. We feel, we gain. Between the logic there is a light and among us is a lot to share and learn from. When situations change we need to adapt, we simply need too. No matter what situation there is.

In photography learn not only from the great ones, but also those hardly noticed. Each and everyone matters. Visit museums, go to exhibitions (for the Dutch Foam in Amsterdam will exhibit work of William Klein in December), and read. Read books or magazines. For instance the Inspired Eye magazine which some of my friends put together with a lot of labour and love for photography. Go support them, instead of purchasing a new camera or lens.

Due to changes in my personal life I am considering to explore how I maybe can make money with photography. I thought about it more often, but it always came with hesitation and doubt. Am I good enough? Is it possible nowadays to earn enough money to make a living? Or should I start it part-time? What direction should I go? Will I remain passionate about photography? Many things to consider, very little answers to find except for the rational ones. Not everything need to be rationalized though…….

photography, street photography, stroll photography, people, city, urban, shadows, light, light and shadows, ricoh, ricoh gr, gr digital, pentax, wouter brandsma

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Where I stand

2012, Photography

This is where I stand

This is where I stand. There is so much I want to say, so much I want to shed my light on. But I just don´t know. I stopped my PAD project and thought I did well. Yet, it feels different. I am not sure whether the relief is still a relief. I am certain though that I won´t restart it again.

Doldrums, yeah doldrums. Like a sailor gets stuck in the doldrums, I feel like I get stuck too. Stuck between the PAD project and something to get me excited again.

This is where I stand. Stuck in my lack of inspiration, in my boredom with how I perceive current photography. It is where I stand. I do however need this too. It will help appreciate things better, not yet. It will however come, some day.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

In doubt again

2009, Photography

In doubt again by Wouter Brandsma
Do you know that feeling of doubt? The feeling of uncertainty? Zack Arias told it so well in his film I mentioned in my previous post. He hated his photography in the winter, he thought it was bad. But when spring arrives the energy comes back again. Now, I wouldn’t call it a winter depression, but with the dark light and pooring rainfall it becomes so much harder to find interesting things to photograph. And this winter I made less photographs then last year. Why, I don’t really know.
In doubt again by Wouter Brandsma
Last year I had constant doubts about the reliability of my camera, the Ricoh GX100, but the camera was so much fun to use. It made me think differently and I saw compositions unconsiously everywhere. This winter I photographed with the much more reliable Ricoh GX200. No dust or other stupid things. The camera is solid. But the files ain’t. I have said it before in my first impression of this camera. And I did mention it again in my final impression of the camera. Maybe I am paranoid, maybe it is the flat greyish season, maybe I want them to be different (or the same, I don’t know). But what now?
In doubt again by Wouter Brandsma
… I hate that camera now. I think the files are horrible and I didn’t change a thing. No feel of details, no depth, no selective depth of field. Some things are because of the camera, some things because I don’t like it anymore, some things because I want to see things differently. This suit doens’t seem to fit me anymore. Maybe I need more sunlight. It is certainly cheaper then a new camera, and I don’t have the money for a new camera too.

Look, I don’t really believe that a new camera will make you a better photographer. You probably use the camera more often and that might influence your photography. I think you need to be ready for a new camera. But I think we are dependent on the seasons too, just like life. The changes of the seasons provoke us, but when the seasons settle in it becomes all the same.
In doubt again by Wouter Brandsma
At beautiful sunny days I love the winterlight, but I think the winter is awfull when the skies turn to grey. And it does so very often here. It seems the world turns grey. The leaveless trees show their naked truth and reality and that can be beautiful and freightening too. The spring is about new life, people start to shine, the world turning green again, colors apear, and it is time for discovery. The summer brings heat and moisture, I dislike blue skies, but love partly cloudy skies. The warmth bends the late night sunlight in such a beautiful manner with gorgeous shadows. Autumn shows the harshness and decay of our life, though sometimes very beautiful, you realize that the winter season will be back soon.
In doubt again by Wouter Brandsma
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

When the creativity returns, the joy of my current camera will return again, I think, or I want to believe so. It all is without contrast now, and my camera performs so badly without contrast. I perform badly without contrast.

Sigma DP1

In doubt

2008, Photography

Last Saturday I was able to try the much debated Sigma DP1 for myself. I was curious about the handling of the camera, the image quality, the post processing, and whether I do need/want that image quality. Since my camera is still at Ricoh, I was interested in how another (and different) camera could be useful for my photography.

Sigma DP1

Impression or something else?
I first intended to write an impression of the camera. But after reviewing the photographs from the DP1, the limited amount of time and photographic options I had used of the DP1, and reevaluating my thoughts and needs I thought an impression of the camera was not justified in my opinion. So I will just briefly name it an initial thought of the DP1.

Positive
The image quality just really amazes me. The photographs are very sharp, and there are so many color subtleties captured. Almost film like and simply gorgeous. And I had forgotten how much fun it is to get shallow depth of field with a digital camera (I never used a DSLR), and my Ricoh can only do it well in macro mode.

People said it is slow a camera. Well it is not the fasted camera either, but I think it isn’t that bad. It is a thoughtful camera.

Negative
I just said the DP1 wasn’t that slow, but it does have its con too. The DP1 lacks some responsiveness, and the camera is not so intuitive. The LCD screen is quite dim, and does not make framing and exposing easy and accurate. Even stranger is that in playback mode the images look brighter. In playback mode you can also use the histogram, but I would personally prefer the histogram before making my photograph. I just never playback my photographs.

While the image quality is great, the white balance is not that great in my opinion. Off course you could use the custom white balance, but that would slow me down considerably. I often had a magenta overcast on my images. And that is how I finally come to the software supplied by Sigma to view and edit the RAW files. Sigma Photo Pro 2.5 (SPP) is slow in my opinion (Windows version, the Mac version is even slower), adjusting the settings is awkward, and changing the white balance in SPP takes forever. So I just keep it as much as possible in auto and save the file and import it in Adobe Lightroom. Unfortunately the DP1 RAW files are still not supported by Adobe (or any other vendors). Not even in Lightroom 2 (sigh). But when you nail it, the images look absolutely stunning.

Sigma DP1

Rethinking or doubt?
The ultimate question is whether I want a DP1 or not. Or if I would like a DP1 after some time. And I simply can’t give a straight and complete answer to that. I really like the quality of the images, although they are absolutely different to those of the Ricoh GX100. But I shouldn’t be comparing apples to oranges.

I like the user interface of the Ricoh, and it is so much more logical for me. The best feature of the DP1 is the manual focussing wheel on the back. It is just so much better than using two buttons. For white balance, ISO settings, and other items you have to get into the menu. The location of the exposure adjustment button seems unlogical to me. I often pressed the playback button instead of the exposure adjustment button.

I haven’t had any necessity for higher quality images with less (to zero) noise before. I like, and love the look of the Ricoh files. But after using the DP1 I think I wouldn’t mind the extra quality improvement too. Thankfully the 16 bit TIFFS look great in Lightroom, and in particular with Lightroom 2 it is a joy to process. Although I really dislike the thought of having a work around, and lengthening my workflow.

So my general feeling of the Sigma DP1 is a feeling of doubt. It is not the perfect camera, although the camera certainly brings back the joy of photography in me. Essentially it is not the camera that makes the photographs, but me again. I am in charge, and I like that. You rethink your photograph making again.

But do I want one?” Probably not for the initial price. I just have too much doubt of the camera. That doubt does not entirely come from the DP1, but also from the fact that I still don’t have my camera back. I think I don’t want to use the Ricoh exclusively anymore. But I think I don’t want a comparable camera either (like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3). It needs to be something different (especially in terms of image quality), but still be small enough. So, I just don’t know it yet!

Many thanks to Ronald Bunnik for lending his DP1. And for those who are interested, you can find some interesting read about the DP1 here, here and here.

Sigma DP1

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma