Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

The Nikon Lens That Goes Up to 12

January 9, 2017

Nikon’s latest lens for the architectural photographer is the very flexible 19mm f4 Tilt & Shift lens. Weighing nearly 1kg, the lens is worth its weight in gold, and with a price tag to match the weight.

I have used previous Nikon Perspective Control lenses, from the early 28mm and 35mm lens, and more recently the 45mm and 24mm, which have been parts of my standard kit for architectural photography. I supplement these with the ever reliable f2.8 14-24mm lens, but the 19mm will be a must have lens for any architectural photographer.

Maximum shift can be applied in any direction, horizontally or vertically, with no vignetting. On the 24mm and 45mm lens, shift in the vertical direction is limited to 8mm, after which there is vignetting. The 19mm has no such limitations – I used it on several different occasions at the maximum shift in the vertical format and no fall off in focus and light intensity were apparent. The images (shot with both a Nikon D810 and a D800) from top to bottom was crisp and sharp.  Focusing is critical, and this is harder on such a wide lens, but forensically scanning the viewfinder to check that all of the image in focus is vital.

The lens has a huge bubble of glass at the front and therefore impossible to shade. However despite shooting at night, no ghosting or flare occurred on the image from nearby light sources. The nano crystal and fluorine coatings applied to the lens do a superb job. This is not a lens to be used in haste, so one must work more slowly and exactingly, as with a 5×4. The pleasures of using such a beautifully crafted and engineered lens are immense, and I haven’t even explored the tilt facility.

Nikon

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Varnishing Day, Royal Academy, Summer 2015

June 4, 2015

On Monday the 1st of June I participated in an age old tradition that gives artists the chance to ‘retouch and varnish their pictures after they have been hung’ before the opening of the Summer Exhibition, attended by over 200,000 people during its opening time. Today there is little left to do, especially when your image is a framed inkjet hung on the wall beyond reach. The real purpose of the day is to meet fellow artists, section curators, admire your image on the wall of the venerable Royal Academy and witness the prize giving to the best in show, judged by the Academy. This is the first time I have had an image in the exhibition, and what an honour it is to be received into this instituion.

The day starts with a loose assembly of non-member artists, Royal Academy staff in hi-vis jackets and two policemen on bicycles in the courtyard of the RA. I waited in the courtyard, chatting with a fellow artist, and spied David Hockney in a grey suit, striding through the space, puffing on a cigarette.
Soon after 11.15am we walked through the gates on to Piccadilly, the traffic commanded to stop by either of the bicycled policemen. We were led out by the clerics from St. James’s church and a steel band, this procession of about 300 people walked eastwards along Piccadilly until we reached St. James’s. Filing through the north door of the church, negotiating the metal access ramp to the church, the band played us in with ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’.
After a sweet service for artists, and with a poetry reading by Ian Ritchie, architectural curator, who appended some of his own poetry to the reading, the vicar reflected on art and the Holy Trinity.
Departing the church, shaking hands with the vicar we crossed Piccadilly in a more ramshackle fashion than earlier, and then dispersed into the RA to sample wine and antipasti and enjoy the exhibition, spotting our various works through the gallery. A hum of excitement filled the air as fellow artists described where their work was hanging and considered how many previous shows they had exhibited in.
Prizes were declared by Christopher Le Brun, President of the RA, with the Grand Award for Architecture presented to Peter Barber, for his scheme at Mount Pleasant, titled Coldbath Town, by Bahadir Kayan of Turkish Ceramics

Architecture Room at the RA

Architecture Room at the RA

Christopher Le Brun, Peter Barber and Bahadir Kayan

Christopher Le Brun, Peter Barber and Bahadir Kayan

Bahadir Kayan and Ian Ritchie

Bahadir Kayan and Ian Ritchie

Photographer Andy Earl and Ian Ritchie

Photographer Andy Earl and Ian Ritchie

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The event was a lovely celebration of an achievement I am immensely proud of, and so too all the other exhibitors. I was able to show my work to clients and friends who attended the event, and I now eagerly await the private view on Friday.

Everything was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s, Barbican Sept 2012 – January 2013

September 14, 2012

Everything was Moving
The 60s and 70s saw immense change in our view of the world. From landing on the moon to the destabilizing nature of neo-colonialism, the visual catalogue of this period was recorded by many courageous and gifted photographers. A dozen of them are represented in this exhibition.
The exhibition is split over two levels, and it is the bottom level that is the most visceral.
David Goldblatt’s photographs of South African miners have a powerful resonance today, as we recently learned of the brutal killing of miners in the platinum mines of Marikana. Images of mineworkers and their accommodation are given context by Goldbatt’s description of exploring and playing in the mine dumps as a young child. One image of a meeting between a worker and his manager demonstrates the assumed master servant role underpinned by apartheid. The corpulent white boss gestures expansively, his papers and the ashtray on the table staking out his territory. Adjacent to him sits the black worker, arms pulled close to his side, compressing him into the chair. In front of him on the table sits a small packet of cigarettes.
Bruce Davidson’s images of black oppression and segregation in the Deep South are particularly confronting. These images are a permanent visual reminder of the crimes against fellow man perpetrated in our lifetime. The images, never exhibited before in the UK, pitch you right in the middle of this appalling period of American history, riding with the Freedom Riders on their dangerous journey from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi.
On the other side of the Atlantic, and light years away from freedom, Ernest Cole’s photographed life as a black man under the apartheid regime. A devastating portfolio of images of deprivation, inhumanity, subjugation and exploitation. In a moving interview he says he took photographs ‘…just to show what life is really like in South Africa’. He overcame extreme prejudice and humiliation to produce these remarkable photographs. He lived in exile in New York, dying in poverty in 1990.
William Eggleston’s extraordinary photographs of landscapes leave one desperately curious, trying to understand what is unknown. An image of a the rear end of a Lincoln, with the rear wheel chained to a lamppost, another of a wall jukebox in a café that only has the selection buttons, the song titles and artists’ names are illegible. The iconic final image, of the blood red ceiling behind the bare light bulb, bears the caption ‘Greenwood, Mississippi’. His portraits are no less enigmatic. The gaze of the subjects is unknown, just off camera line, or out of frame, here and not here. Once again one tries to piece the missing evidence together.
Upstairs the exhibition continues with Larry Burrows’s large vivid colour images from Vietnam, depicting burned-out lives and decimated landscapes. I remember the image of the marine gunner reaching towards his dead commanding officer, stretched out in a cruciform, when it was published in Life magazine. The awkward theatricality of the image makes this a very painful image and the horrific sounds of the battle seemed to be stilled for a split second. The bland title, South of the DMZ’ tells us nothing of the horror contained in the frame.
Li Zhensheng’s images from the Mao’s Cultural Revolution are an amazing visual document from this time. Working within the communist regime, his images were used for propaganda, but other images were taken without approval and depict some of the harsher realities and absurdities of life under Mao.
‘Everything was Moving’ is an apt title, as the viewer sees a rushing kaleidoscope of images, events moving quickly that it can be hard to secure oneself on the floor. Everything is still moving, and as events move quickly, so does the means by which these events are recorded.