Slowly learning

These are three photographs from the past year that are not good, but they could be a starting point, or have been. I love photographs that teach me stuff.

1)

Black hole

Black hole – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

This is a clear example of inadequate gear. I knew that already going in (from a previous experience) but still wanted to take it, to see if it would work had I owned some means of tilting the focal plane. I dare say it would work, love the shadow merging with the water (or the other way around). Paramount however, like with the other picture, is that the whole ground is in focus. Otherwise the out of focus areas distract too much from the effect you are trying to achieve. In addition, part of the interest lies in distinguishing all the things, which is unpleasant or impossible in the out of focus areas.

2)

Coca Cola II

Coca Cola II – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

This photograph turned out fine, but the concept is lacking. I love the movement, the little red detail in a colourless world, the bright sunlight reflecting on drops, waves, squirts, bubbles. With the soda can it is trying too hard however. And throwing something in the water for effect, in the year 2014… really? Water can be fascinating on its own, which I intend to prove with my opcoming series entitled Water. (The oily substance consists of algae I am told, and I took the can with me and disposed of it at home, so no real pollution here.)

3)

Fence II

Fence II – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

This photograph is just the way I like it. However, people glance at it and look away before noticing the fence. Without the fence the photograph is no good. Therefore maybe a) the fence needs to be slightly less subtle, b) the rest of the photograph needs to be more interesting so the viewer will linger long enough to start noticing the fence, c) it needs to be part of a bigger series that has the word Fence printed large, bold and several times, in the introduction text. For now I am going for the last option.

Highway photographs

In 2012 I started a series of photographs on and around the Dutch highways. This was for a joint project that is still in the works, but the subject on its own also started to intrigue me. I hated to go to these places alone however (nosy people, shady people, boring drives), which is why I stopped shooting it. Today a friend was kind enough to drive me around, this was much better. We had a nice lunch together as well. Will do this again most likely.

A28 Vanenburg

A28 Vanenburg – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

A28 sound barrier near Zeist

A28 sound barrier near Zeist – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

What I am working on, and what not

I thought I was going to do a series with people this year. Well, turned out I did not. The logistics were too much for me and my gear too little, so it is on hold for now. Though I can promise you this: somewhere in my career I will be shooting images in the tradition of A view from an apartment by Jeff Wall, Untitled – march 1999 by Hannah Starkey and even The House (Francis Place) II by Sarah Jones, or as a reaction to them. Even though the thematics and motives seem a bit simplistic, there is something interesting going on with these photographs and the collective body of work that is emerging, I suspect.

In stead I am preparing a short series of photographs about water shot in 2014 to enter in various competitions, which is awesome (… that I have something worth showing) and I have looked into double exposures to see interesting things happen which, ideally, would free my brain from the preconceptions about photography it cherishes. Next step will be to make the double exposures digitally, but first a few recent real ones:

Rosegarden - photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Rosegarden – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Walking bridge - photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Walking bridge – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

The corridor - photo Joeri van Veen 2014

The corridor – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Tiny ideas marinating in my head:
1) A series of black and white (street-type) high contrast photographs printed very small (smaller than a postal card) matted and mounted in a large frame.
2) Start to paint (finally).

Remnants

Last summer I was working on a series named Remnants. It mainly consisted of photographs taken in the woods with some piece of garbage in them, not too obvious hopefully, indicating human existence. In the end the concept proved to be too one-dimensional and the photographs worked less well printed large than I had predicted. Here are three examples:

Winebottle 1 litre

Winebottle 1 litre – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Coca Cola I

Coca Cola I – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Soda can lid

Soda can lid – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Older photographs (shot with my Nikon FM2 + Carl Zeiss 2/28 on expired film) that made me think an image of a bunch of branches might be good idea:

Untitled (birds behind branches)

Untitled (birds behind branches) – photo Joeri van Veen 2011

Untitled (branches)

Untitled (branches) – photo Joeri van Veen 2011

Portrait shoot with the 135 mm f/4 leaf shutter

Just a short post about the Pentax 135 mm f/4 leaf shutter lens which I bought second hand for my 645D. One of the things I wanted to use this lens for is portraits: to get the eyes tack sharp (in focus, well lit with flash, using a short shutterspeed of 1/500s) and the tip of the nose as well as the ears already fading into blurriness. (Click photo for slightly larger version and check the tip of his nose!)

Portrait shot with 135 mm LS @f/4, 1/500s

Portrait shot with 135 mm LS @f/4, 1/500s

Memmingen (south Germany)

Went away to Memmingen in the south of Germany (quite near Austria) with a friend to sample their exquisite dark beers. Photographically speaking I worked on my double exposures (except the last day, WHEN I FORGOT TO BRING MY ROLL OF FILM) and shot two photographs in my Water series (to be published soon).

Below are some of the vacation snapshots that I, of course, also took. Such shots may help to discover elements, motives, themes that might sit right with you and they certainly help develop or sharpen your technique, especially with regard to composition, I find. This time not so much maybe, but fun was had nonetheless.

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Walking along the beach of Ameland

Lately it seems the Dutch islands are slowly replacing the Veluwe as short getaway for me, this coincides with me moving away from trees and branches towards water and skies. Yesterday, after a sleepover because of the distance, a friend and I took the boat and walked along the northern coastal line (consisting of beach) of Ameland.

Northsea as seen from Ameland

Northsea as seen from Ameland – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

 Jellyfish on the beach

Jellyfish on the beach – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

A couple of observations come to mind.

1) Me moving away from trees and branches also stems from an inability to transcend the style of portraying them I developed for three years. While resulting images can be beautiful, it is boring (to me) and I want more. This is something that needs exploring later.
2) While tangled branches were an excellent metaphor for my state of mind for some time, the past couple of months a placid sea seems a more adequate representation of what is going on with me. This is both good (less stress) as bad (more denial).
3) My third observation flew away into a clear blue sky.

Some fashion photos

Shooting photos for the fashion blog It’s the new blog on a regular basis proves to be fun and inspiring. Lately I tried to go beyond my ordinary modus operandi even using a bit of lighting (one studio flash). Something I want to do more often.

Dress And other stories - photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Dress And other stories – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Home sweet home - photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Home sweet home – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Jack Daniels - photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Jack Daniels – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Lazy - photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Lazy – photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Double exposures

Making double exposures is an old technique where you expose your film twice, shooting the second photograph over the first one (I have sometimes shot more than one photo on the same piece of film but in the interest of the research it seems two exposures is enough). I use an old folding camera for this, with this camera it is easy to trip the shutter, not wind the film and trip the shutter again and only then wind the film (no automatic winder…).

The outcome of a double exposure is often hard to predict, combined with the old folding camera, with which even a single exposure is hard to predict (not able to aim very well, no light meter, vague distance scale) this is for me an exercise in letting go. Lose control and introduce the random back in my photographs.

In the end, of course, I will probably want my control back and produce the double exposures digitally. However, the current randomness sheds light on possibilities with this type of image, much more than when I would start layering in Photoshop and be confined to what my mind can think of. In that sense, trying double exposures is a way to expand the stuff your mind can think of.

These are some of the results so far (mostly shot in Austria):

A Patch of snow - double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

A Patch of snow – double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

Apparition - double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

Apparition – double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

Trees - double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

Trees – double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

A distant cloud - double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

A distant cloud – double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

Anyone - double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

Anyone – double exposure Joeri van Veen 2014

The frames are 6 x 9 cm shot on (mostly expired) medium format film, scanned by my friend Bas Stubert with his Nikon Coolscan 8000 medium format filmscanner. Testprints confirm a printsize of 70 x 100 cm (approximately) is optimal, revealing all the detail present on the original film.

Photowalk

The Pentax has proven to be a great catalyst for photography, I have gone on quite a few photowalks lately with friends. A photowalk is perfect to learn to see better, try out things and maybe even get inspired by locations. But they are even more perfect for having fun with photography and your camera, and your friends. Of course there is talks over coffee and beer (later in the day most of the time) involved with these walks.

All the time my main story (or subject) lives at the back of my head, about the situation of human kind, more specifically the organised individuals living in the whole. While I hope to develop in this regard, finding better metaphors, I now concentrate on nature versus culture in images, chaos versus order, entropy. This can be a landscape of nature (trees, mountains) or a landscape of culture portrayed in the same way. Nature / chaos may show the submissive role of the individual (as we see ourselves, our influence, civilization), while culture / order may show our society (I like to stress that I do not mean our current society but the final way man will exist as a group, next to and amongst everything else).

Not forgetting that for a photograph to be appealing there has to be some aesthetic pleasantness (rythm, surface distribution… difficult). It is the shiny layer of beauty (beauty by hideousness is allowed, the sublime as destruction living next to perfection) that draws the attention of the viewer who has to be immediately led into his or her own imagination, so he / she can invest in the work. You can do this by adding or stressing foreign or puzzling elements, the viewer will put this into a framework of his / her own. Everything you leave out from now on will be thought up better by the viewer than you could have ever imagined (because it will fit the framework better). When I say adding something foreign or puzzling I also mean leaving out something expected. This sounds very shallow and maybe it is, but necessary.

Here are some of the photographs from the previous weeks, enjoy!

Veluwe:

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Delft:

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Naarden Vesting:

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Vianen / Lek:

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014

Photo Joeri van Veen 2014