Brendon Kearns

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Tag: Street Photography (page 1 of 2)

More mju II Color

Since acquiring the mju II a couple of months back, I’ve been exploring color a little more than normal with some accumulated portra stock from my fridge- I find its handling better than my GRD III for speed out of pocket. If I use my three middle fingers when reaching for it, I can be opening the clam shell casing and have it ready to fire by the time I can get the viewfinder to my eye.

When it comes to analog AF’s, I hit the jackpot this weekend when I found a Ricoh FF3 Super and a series one Olympus mju for $6 each in the second hand goods store for the Cat Protection Society of New South Wales. Normally I assume every Salvos and St. Vincent’s across the greater Sydney area has been cleaned out of classic camera gear by the type of old men that rule the Ultimo Camera Fair thrice a year but I guess no one thinks to wander into a place like the Cat Protection- I only ended up there while trying to find a half-gallon canning jar to mix up Philly Fish House Punch in for the coming summer- not an easy find out in Oz.

Sydney Winter: Part II

Das Racist with Lakutis performing at the Oxford Art Factory

I’ve taken a little hiatus from shooting around town but I’ll be back in action this Friday at Oxford Art Factory to cover the ‘Big Things Tour’– in preparation I’ve purchased a speedlite 430 and charged up ye olde digital Rebel XSi

Sydney Winter: Part I

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.

Reykjavik Iceland


My photo scanning is back in action after I recently fixed the grinding noise coming from the right side fan within my MacBook by using a T6 Torx screw driver, some WD-40, and the handy guide from ifixit.com

I shot these photos during a two night layover in Reykjavik on my way from London to Boston. While exploring around I stumbled across a shop owned by Icelandic photographer Ari Sigvaldason selling his book ‘Shot in Reykjavik’ but it was closed on the Sunday morning that wrapped up my time on the island.

 In other news, I acquired a major stock pile of photographic negatives from Germany and Australia circa 1930-1960 that I’ll hopefully get to scanning in the coming weeks along with the rest of a co-worker’s long overdue family slides, shots from London/U.S. leg of the trip, and the dozen odd exposed rolls kicking around my flat that I’ve yet to develop.

Fall Katoomba Trip

I ended up at the Friend in Hand for a few beers a couple weekends ago- this is the Cockatoo “George” that lives at the bar

This last photo was of a guy named Nigel who came up to me outside the Clarendon to inquire about my camera- he had just order himself a Spotmatic off eBay from Canada for $60.

I found some more old negative packets at a second hand shop and a tag sale up in Katoomba; I’ve been slowly accumulating more and need to find the time to get them all scanned, culled and posted.

An Attempt at Color

While I enjoy looking at color work by photographers by like Martin Parr, Paul Graham and even Alec Soth– I still don’t feel that I can really see or fully understand color. It could be a product of all the street shooting in black and white that I’ve been doing for the past couple years- in The Ongoing Moment Geoff Dyer alludes to something like this when he talks about the start of color photography with the scorn heaped on photographers who clearly saw in black and white but attempted color as opposed to later photographers of the 1970’s and 80’s who clearly saw in color from the start.

I feel like i’m still trying to “solve color as a separate problem” instead of intuitively seeing and shooting in it as naturally as I do black and white.

Part of the issue is that I don’t feel like I can trust color to be accurate to what I saw- this may be in large part due a lack of work flow around my scanner (an Epson v700) or a lack of familiarity with film stocks. Each time I scan a color transparency or negative I get at best a darkened version compared to what I see when I hold it up to the light or at worst a washed out negative scan that requires me to turn on the Epson scan software’s color restoration which sets off alarm bells in my head as I assume the Epson software is making automated judgement calls around proper exposure and color levels that I’m too uneducated on to correct for in something like Adobe Lightroom.

Or maybe its that I’m just not interested enough in it to bother learning to start with, as none of this can really be that complicated- when I think of the work I look at for inspiration its almost always my copy of In The Balkans but rarely my copy of American Surfaces.

Or maybe its a comfort thing- I enjoy a lot more than just shooting with black and white, I like to still develop and do my own proofs. If I ever have issues with my scanner, I can always compare the results of my scans against my analog contact sheets to see the difference- if I don’t like the feel or the texture I can change developers or switch up my film stock- to some extent the hands on work allows me to feel like I’m refining a process that’s already set in motion, or possibly gives me the mental illusion that what I am doing is worth my time because it takes time to do.

Short Mix of Street Shots

This shot was one left over from Mardi Gras that I had forgot to include

I found this cardigan hung over a parking block on the way back to my flat so I shot a few frames with the Rollei; I like to take the Rolleiflex out when I’m running errands or otherwise not going out with the sole intent to shoot even though its somewhat heavier and bulkier than my M6- it makes a great camera for shooting when there’s no need to move fast.

Sydney Mardi Gras: Part II

I took a lot looser approach with the camera then I normally would- it yielded a few blurred shots in combination with the overcast weather but I got some decent shots on the lead up to the parade kicking off when compared to last year’s Mardi Gras haul from the same time.

All shots were HP5+ pushed to 1600 and developed in a stock Xtol solution for about 9:28-9:35 at 23C-23.3C depending on the tank.

Sydney Mardi Gras: Part I

I made it out to Mardi Gras again this year- I shot most of the afternoon with the M6 but swapped over to my GRD III for the night shots akin to what I had done last year.

The digital came in handy as I still dont feel confident in my ability to shoot with a flash.

It was good to have the display screen to see my results straight away and correct for distance versus flash strength. In addition, I had picked up an external view finder six months ago that made framing a lot easier, I updated the GRD’s firmware before I headed out hoping to try out its subject tracking focus option but in the end it was too much thinking so I swapped back to snap focus, set it to 1.5 metres and put it out of mind.

Based on gut feel, this year’s Mardi Gras had a way lower turn out- that made it hard to do a repeat of last year when the main drag of Oxford Street was so congested that I was able to run loops through the back lane ways and find plenty of material.

I’m also getting a little worn out on street photography, I think I need to find a singular documentary style project to work on for awhile although I’ve got no idea where to start finding some suitable subject matter.

I’ll try and get the rest of the shots developed, scanned and posted within the week.

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