passing Collingwood

This picture was made  whilst I was travelling on the train to  Fairfield in Melbourne. 

I was going to the Photonet  Gallery to see about an exhibition and book for my Edgelands project. When I travel on the trains in Melbourne I take usually take snaps  of the city through the windows of the train. 

At this stage I had more or less decided to give up using 35m film and switching  to  digital. I was in the process of using up the stock of Kodak Portra 400 ASA that I had stored in the fridge.  Then fini. 

telling a story

By now I  had morphed into a photographer who was straddling the film and digital worlds with little idea  of the digital world was closing in on me,  or was reshaping photography. I was primarily looking at images on the monitor but still thinking  of photography in the old film terms --eg., the snapshot of the Nth Melbourne railway station whilst I was on the road.  

I had  not yet realised that curators  would frame the pushing the boundaries of art photography as  primarily  coming from  the use of computer software to create complex imagery that stood in stark contrast  to the mundane and normal digital photography being produced.  

I was vaguely thinking in terms of self-publishing the best  photographs from my portfolio. Only I didn't really have a portfolio.  Nor was I sure how to go about creating one---other than taking lots of photographs,  selecting the best, and approaching Blurb. 

John Szarkowski challenged the ability of photography to explain large-scale public subjects in both the preface to The Photographer's Eye (1966) and in Mirrors and Windows (1978). In The Photographer's Eye he wrote, "Photography has never been successful at narrative" and he declared the fields of photojournalism and documentary non-effectual in Mirrors and Windows writing, "Photography's failure to explain large public issues has become increasingly clear...Most issues of importance cannot be photographed." He argued that attempts to photograph World War II were unable to explain events without heavy captioning. 

wandering the city

Some hold that there are  two kinds of photographers, collectors and sculptors. Sculptor type photographers are those who set up a scene,  creating it from scratch,  and then take a picture of it.  In contrast, collector type photographers  wander, bringing things home that they find out in the world and they  often have a vague idea or kind of personal fantasy that they look for out in the world.

The process of wandering is central to my Leica snapshots. When I walk the city my route is seldom pre-conceived and I am not looking for very specific things. I did not  have a list of things to photograph  in my notebook.  I would often walk with the standard poodles. 

a Leica world

The Leica  camera's  has a classical  minimalist design. For Leica form follows function. This is such a contrast to the computerised digital cameras of today. 

The bottom line of the Leica camera (film based or filmless) is that  it is grounded in the great German tradition of solid engineering. The film based products, like those from Linhof,  last forever and do not bring repeat business. 

During the 20th century Leica developed excellent technical solutions, supplied reliable goods and created long-lasting relationships with the customers. The main qualities - over-engineering, obsession with detail and an extreme emphasis on durability - demand a price: the products last a lifetime  and do not bring repeat business. 

The  M4-P (1981)  was primitive technology compared to the Cannon and Nikon DSLR's that other photographers were using. Leica is a conservative company--the single lens reflex  film cameras had  eclipsed rangefinders in the 1970s! 

The  M4-P  did not add much to the progress of the rangefinder camera. It  is a manual-focus camera and it  did not add automatic exposure metering with manual selection of either shutter speed or aperture that was very accurate. I still  had to use a hand held light meter or guess the exposure.  It was primitive technology compared to the Cannon and Nikon DSLR's that other photographers were using. Leica was a conservative company.