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Another one of those shots where nothing is in focus, maybe there is camera shake, and it shouldn’t really work. Yet, somehow, it evokes a mood which i really like. So, er, “works for me!”

Going solely off the file name, it was taken in Hibiya, or between Hibiya and Yurakucho, in 2009. There is a little row off shack like izakayas, near where the railway line cuts across the main road at an angle… i could be describing just about anywhere in central Tokyo.

Red Shift

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According to the original file name this somewhere out on the Arakawa line, and given the skyline, over in East Tokyo.

It’s taken with Ilford SFX 200, a bit of a gimmick (is that the second time i’ve used that word today?) film, which is hard to use without a rangefinder. At the time i didn’t really understand how best to focus to compensate for working at a different wavelength… Consequently a lot of the pictures have this “mysterious” soft look, which leaves you searching for the point try to be made. In this case you’d have to hazard that it was in someway related to the pointlessness of life, and the inevitability of death. Or something equally existential.

Live and learn. As someone like Goethe would no doubt say, “Bildung!”

Stretched

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Dread to think how many of these shots i’ve taken. No doubt most find them dull / uninspired. For me they are endlessly intriguing (when they go right…) With inspection the wash of blur gives way and yields up all sorts of little details, and fragmentary glimpses into other spaces. In this one, the passengers of the stationary train on the next platform, the elongated shadow, the hard lines of the door… yeah, i guess it’s just me!

Idiot Mode

A while back i bought a Fujifilm Natura Black ƒ1.9 off Yahoo! Auction!, and then forgot about it until we were in Japan last month. They are supposed to be hard to find, but maybe that’s an issue with not many getting outside japan, or not so many getting produced. My idea was that it would be a good small camera that i can take everywhere, and it’s fast enough to use out and about at night.

Let’s not talk about me not having taken anything since getting back… ok?

This afternoon i took apart the scanner and removed the single fiber on the underside of the glass that has been bugging me for months, and did some scanning. The backlog had got a little out of hand… there was (and still is…) stuff from Berlin, and stuff from Japan. There is also stuff to be developed. Oops.

One of the shots from Berlin Hauptbahnhof i’m very happy with. Has all the layers and complexity that floats my boat. The only issue i have with it is the size of my head… but that’s nothing new.

But, back to the Natura Black. It has a feature of printing the date on the shots… and a manual in Japanese. Consequently the first couple of films are going to be a little… derp.

Espsecially as i didn’t bother to set the date in the camera…

The other amusing consequence of not reading the manual was that i didn’t know how to override the film speed, which is automatically picked up from the DX encoding on the canister. This resulted in me sitting in a bar in Shinjuku looking at wikipedia on someones iPhone and scratching paint off film with some keys. Surprisingly it actually worked! And, while i have subsequently worked out how to disable the timestamping, overriding the film speed is still a mystery.

Update: an update from Tom. Apparently the way to override the film speed is via exposure compensation. Thought i’d tried that and it wasn’t making it past turning the camera off / on. The other option is buying some stickers – which i’d assumed existed, but was having a hard time finding. The ‘paint removal with a key’ method turns out to be only removing one square of the matrix for my most common push (ASA 400 –> 1600)

Reprocessing

Had a few hours to mess around with old photographs today. It’s fun whittling down the junk, and trying to focus on the ones that speak to you. My ideas of processing have really changed over the years, one might even go so far as to say they’ve matured… I’ll post a few of the re-worked images over the next little while.

Hard to explain the attraction of the above. The Tama River was a ‘magical barrier’ between Tokyo and home. One side dull old Kanagawa, the other good times in Tokyo. Can’t even being to imagine how many time i made this journey, and i was certainly sick of it after ten years, but this photograph brings back all the excitement of a ‘night out’.

Mistakes

It all seems rather a long time ago. During the winter of 2010 Eiichi-san lent me one of his Speed Graphic Pacemakers, a Dallmeyer Pentac lenses, and a bunch of 4×5 film holders. Being my usual cautious self, i went out and bought a pack of Velvia 50, loaded up some holders, and went out to get my ‘土門拳‘ on.

Unfortunately, or maybe predictably, i screwed up and loaded the film into the holders backwards. Remember being rather annoyed with myself when they cam back from the lab… still, when life gives you lemons, etc.

Several years later it occurred to me to that my fancy-pants scanner had a 4×5 film holder, and i should see if anything was salvageable.

Obviously not what i had in mind when taking them – slow colour film reduced to underexposed, high contrast b&w, but i’m really pleased with them… to the point where my next consideration is whether they’ll be possible to print!

Edit: proving the point that i’m an idiot, of course i can’t print them they aren’t negatives. Just call me ‘Doh!-mon’…

Fukushimarch

If you’re around in Tokyo at the start of this month please go visit Watanabe-san’s ‘3 months later‘ exhibition in Harajuku.

As i’m sure most of you  know, Watanabe-san is a good friend, and member of our little ‘Fragments of Tokyo’ exhibition team.

These photographs (or at least those that i’ve seen) are incredibly haunting, and well worth seeing. My initial reaction to them was to attempt to get them seen by a much wider audience. For various reasons (conflicting priorities on my side) that never happened, and i’m therefore especially happy that he’s putting on this show.

THIAPS

THIAPS, The International Analogue Photographic Society is a platform for photographers who love the tactile quality of film-based images, who enjoy the wet and warm smell of developers and fixative, with a strong belief that “Film is not dead; it just smells funny.”

I like saying ‘THIAPS‘. It makes a nice sound…

Back in March, and completely out of the blue, i received a request to include two of my recent Tokyo shots in an upcoming THIAPS Urban book. Despite missing the deadline several times (there was a lot going on at the time…) Frans still included them in the final book. Frans, thank you your patience!

A preview of the entire book is online here at Blurb. My two shots are on pages 28 and 29. If you display it fullscreen you can just about make out the scant details. The book looks really well put together and i think Frans made some interesting choices for the theme.

[While we’re here: apologies for the lack of updates / communication over the last couple of weeks. We’ve moved to Europe (Hamburg, Germany, to be precise) and are still in the process of sorting out a place to live, dealing with the inevitable paperwork, and trying to remembering that we did this for the adventure.

A big post on the whys and wherefores of leaving Japan and coming back to Europe will be forthcoming at some point in the not too distant future.]

2nd Annual ‘Fragments of Tokyo’ Exhibition

It’s on! Do drop by if you can.

We’re planning to all be there on the Saturday (3.19). Not sure if we’ll manage to organise a party at the gallery, but if there are enough people around at the end of the day on Saturday i’m sure we’ll find a way to get in to our cups.

Update: my part of the show is now up on the Magnesium Agency site, here.

You’re probably wondering what happened to Mg. The answer is something like ‘it’s on semi-permanent hiatus’. I’m being a little cheeky and using it as a means for getting some better WordPress hosting, with proper galley support…