Brendon Kearns


Tag: London

London England

Between work meetings and jetlag I didn’t get in as much of the UK as I had on my previous trip over and remained largely in the central London area dropping odd shots here and there.

I’ve started to amass a decent collection of black and white photography books- in just the past two months I received a copy of Koudelka’s Gypsies and Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith’s Pittsburgh Project as birthday gifts along with purchasing a copy of Tod Papageorge’s Passing Through Eden.

Gypsies was about what I had expected and by far lived up to the legendary status bestowed on it, although I was surprised it didn’t include one of his more popular images that I had assumed was part of the series.

I had only read about W. Eugene Smith’s drawn out Pittsburgh Project in the Geoff Dyer book I finished a few months ago; the actual photos selected in Dream Street covered a large span- everything from urban landscape, kids, the elderly, politicians, workers, artists, to more abstract photos of street signs, city lights, steam and melted steel.

Passing Through Eden I found at a local used book shop and (aside from the great images of Central Park) includes a great ending bit on his evolution as a photographer inspired by his ineptitude at poetry and a run in with Winogrand, excerpt as follows:

“…A simple question that knocked me for a loop: until then, I’d commonly measured the world photographically with a “normal” 50mm lens from about 12-15′ away (often making vertical pictures at the closer distance to fit a figure head-to-toe in the viewfinder); now, with a new 35mm lens on my Leica (my response to Winogrand’s question), to even loosely fill the picture frame I was forced to move physically up on what I photographed with my now always-horizontal camera (using this lens vertically caused unmanageable distortion). Even more, the soft, sculptural quality that the 50mm lens tended to give things was swapped for a front-to-back blanket of sharpness that etched every part of my photographs- people, walls, paving stones- with a dumb, deadpan literalness. In those first months, poetry seemed to me the last things this lens might lead to; I only slow came to understand that, to use it effectively, I was going to have to learn to communicate photographically in a more dispassionate language than I knew how to speak…”

You can read more from Tod Papageorge about the book in his Alec Soth interview from around the time of publication.

Hunter Valley, Sydney and London

I headed out to the Hunter Valley for a conference at the end of June packing the OM2n with my cheap as 28mm 3.5

I spent the next roll taking shots of my room, a winery, the trip back to Sydney and some late night flash shots around Enmore after checking out Lucien Alperstien’s opening night

Then when I was able to continually forward the frames ad nauseum I realized the roll never caught on the winder- I had effectively been shooting nothing

But I took the M6 out to try my hand at shooting a mix of whatever film was left in my fridge at 400 or 800 ASA

Some dude’s bad ass Ute

Spent a little time trying out some Velvia 50 at the end- I had e-mailed Joel Meyerowitz about a year ago when I first was getting into street photography, I only half expected him to ever get back to me but he actually got responded within a day offering some practical and useful advice- namely, to try to rangefinder if I havnt yet and give Provia, Velvia and Astia a shot to find what works best

In hindsight, it seems like really obvious advice from him, but at the time I was roaming around with a 450D and a $100 nifty fifty having only flipped it into manual mode a month or two prior

I still dont feel like I can shoot color- I cant ‘see’ my shots in anything other than black and white, I have a bunch of 400 speed fuji superia I picked up cheap that I intend on using for practice when I have the time to really get into it

I flew off to the UK for business and managed to snag a couple days at the end for some shooting

Found some good signage whilst in London

Jumped in while he was posing for someone else- I was thinking of getting a few cards made up for moments like this so I can get some photos back to people who might be interested

I snapped this outside of Flat White in Soho– the only decent place I was able to get an actual flat white Aussie style

They have these bikes all over London- I think the way it works is if you have a UK credit card you dip it in the machine, grab the bike, and it charges you from then until you return it to another bike station around town

Framing up the shot

Not sure what was going on when I shot this one, but I liked it concept even if it failed in execution

These last two are probably my favorites out of the London shots- of the two day’s worth of free time, there was only an afternoon in which I wasnt too jet-lagged, hungover, busy saying hello to old friends or pre-occupied checking out the London Street Photography Festival to do some actual shooting

With its wide sidewalks and packed CBD I found it an entirely different shooting experience than Sydney

In some ways it left me feeling like Sydney was lacking in that the more people you have packed into a bigger space all going off in their own worlds the greater the likelihood for potential shots, but in other ways I felt like all the time I put in working for every shot I could work out of Sydney paid off- I think Sydney is a great place to learn street photography in that its extremely safe for a city of its size yet its still personal enough an environment that you have to be super sensitive to the feelings of your subjects in a way you could probably get away without in a London or NYC

I began reading Teju Cole‘s Open City on the flight over and just finished it off tonight, I found it as awesome as the reviews pumped it up to be and thought it worth mentioning since he dabbles in street photography himself- while the book has little to do with photography, if you are interested and looking for a hard copy in Oz you might have to wait until September before you can get it anywhere short of Amazon

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