Recently when working through the backlog of film in the fridge, i managed to develop a roll that had obviously been nowhere near a camera. Oops. So professional.
Perhaps to balance that out there was also a roll that had been through the XPan at least twice, and perhaps three times, in London (once in August 2016, again in August 2017), Hamburg, and Nagano. The results are, to say the least, chaotic.
Also in this batch of films was a roll of Ilford SFX 200 shots of my neighbours water damaged ceiling. Obviously under-exposed and consequently rather “moody”. It’s all so much water under the bridge, etc.
It happens. I’d got into my head there there was a shot here somewhere. All that was required was to bring all the elements together. First it was just the shape of the monitors and the perspective down the platform, then it need a train, then both trains, then people in the monitors, then rain, then the guard… and motion… you don’t want to know how many evenings i spent there hoping all the pieces to come together.
One of the themes that runs through a great deal of my Tokyo shots is this ’tilt’. To me it has always about the geometry – if the lines / curves running through a frame are strong the shot works. My theory is that by tilting the world off it’s normal axis these lines / curves stand out more because the viewer is thrown off by the angle, and it requires effort to take in the scene. The first glance might not immediately reveal the reality of the shot, and at that point the geometry is more obvious.
There are a couple of obvious problems: the explanation sounds like a bunch of “art wank”; it’s very easy to overuse or abuse.
Still, i’d always imagined it would be fun to do a gallery show with only these shots and see how many people gave up and just tilted heads to compensate!
[This one doesn’t really work for me – there is too much dead space in the top right of the frame. If the effect in the bottom left was repeated top right… but there was no light.]
This was taken around Shuzenji, just after i’d first bought the Hasselblad. It’s the sort of shot that you can imagine yourself taking with a big medium format camera – nobody around to distract you, an idyllic scene, allowing yourself to get lost in the viewfinder.
And, ah, that viewfinder! I remember being entirely enchanted with the distinct 3D effect that you experience when you simply waggle the camera about a little. Things see to stand off the glass… quite distracting. Also quite disappointing when you look at the negatives, where you are left in no doubt that this is a 2D medium.
That’s Mt. Fuji hiding behind the smoke drifting in the valley.
A slightly off kilter Infrared 代々木 (Yoyogi) crossing shot from 2009. Rails on the busy lines (this is yamanote or saikyo-sen… maybe) are a lot more curved than you might imagine. If i can find this negative it’s one of the ones that would be nice to hang in the house. Düster!
Starting to think that 2009 was a very creative year. Quite where the time came from to shoot and develop all this film remains a mystery.
While working on my shots for the second Fragments of Tokyo there were a lot of attempts that simply wouldn’t work out. These mostly got posted on flickr under the monicker “Various Failures” (shamelessly stolen from The Swans album of the same name), which mostly prompted people to tell me to that they liked them, and that it wasn’t a failure.
What i was really trying to get across was that the shots were a failure in the context of what i wanted to show in the exhibition. Some simply happened too late, others didn’t really fit in with the general feeling, other needed to be re-attempted.
That exhibition was the first time that i’d really worked with a vision of what should be on the walls firmly fixed in my head. The process was in turn endlessly enjoyable, frustrating, and exhausting.
Tokyo Big Sight was an attempt to see a little differently through perspective and bring the pyramids to Tokyo Bay. As you can see above it didn’t really work out. There is definitely a time of day, a focal length where it could have been made to work… but that never coincided with any of my attempts to have it happen! There are, of course, numerous others that will never see the light of day.
One day i’ll go back and get it right… shame it’s such a pain in the arse to get to!
This started back in 2007 with a digicam shot taken in Yoyogi (on the crossing near the NTT Docomo syringe tower). As noted in that post, it wasn’t something i’d thought of as square, but became that way due to the camera strap being in the top part of the frame. Oops.
Apparently it made quite the impression on me, and getting the reflection of the overhead cables in the rails became a minor obsession. The example above isn’t my favourite, which is probably why it languished unseen for five years. Even though the cables make an interesting pattern in the sky, and the reflection in the rail is clear, the shot is probably a little too wide, therefore lacking the density that would give it more impact. There are several other examples that work better.
Taken (literally!) on the Sangenjaya line (三軒茶屋線) on the way back from a pizza lunch at Tonino‘s in Shimotakaido (下高井戸). The pizza was good, cheese-less(!), but often accompanied by a few beers that needed walking off…