Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hasselblad Masters - Berlin

Right. After leaving Paris, i had a few days in Berlin. I was to attend the Hasslelbad Masters 2012 event there, which sported 100 of the chosen photographers, finalists in the Masters Programme. All fine. We got to the event, which took place at the Delight Studios - for anyone looking to rent out studio spaces in Berlin, they are very good. So we get to the event. We get the branded bracelets, and are allowed in. We got the same feeling as being in a gallery. Everything was neat, labeled and presented in a very tidy manner. We got to play with the new Hasselblad models, H4D60 and the 200mpx product camera. The image on the right is Nick Brandt's. He shot it some years back and
The great thing about having played with the 200mpx camera was ruining the myth. The system is really just a 50mpx H4D, which takes 6 separate shots. Two of them are shot on a Red filter, two on a Green and two on a blue. The Phocus system manages pretty much everything, leaving you with an image made of the 6 overlapped frames. This is pretty awesome if you shoot products. The level of detail in the 1.4 gb image is truly impressive. It also goes to show that the optical side of the Hasselblad is just as great as it was 20 or 40 years ago. The thing was, like with other Hasselblad events i've been to in Europe, that they're sales directed. I learned pretty much everything there is to know about the new models, including something geeky but impressive: How ti control your Hasselblad via your iPhone/iPad, wirelessly through Phocus. I have seen this particular idea before, but in action, it was pretty impressive.
I've been to Hasselblad events in other places in Europe as well, as i mentioned. However, i kinda had high hopes from Germany. Let's say they have a history of being well organized. This was clearly not the case. However well oiled the machines are, the presentation and basically the whole day, lacked any sort of coherence. You had to go around, asking for things about each camera, new lenses, new features, sync options and so on. Rather than having everyone sit down, listen quietly and then fiddle with the cameras, the Berlin team opted for something more towards the "Brownian movement" system. Not the ideal choice, by far.
The models we shot were cool, the lighting was quite impressive (they also showed some Broncolors but really nobody figured they were commercial promotions since it didn't say so anywhere), the space was great. In the evening, we had the classic schedule: wine, dine and gallery show. Pretty good prints of some of the finalists, not all of them. And this is where i come to the end of the post but also to an issue i am curious about: One of the finalists,
i've seen it in dozens of places, including Photomagazine and this year's Paris Photo Show. Good. Great. It means it's famous. Now the picture with the baby elephant with the exact same pose is Joachim Schmeisser's image. I agree that both images are good quality photographs. But, is it not awkward at all that they would pick an image which is post processed in the exact same way as a famous one? Same halo, same vignetting, same pose, same crop (if you look at the web pics, not my screen shot comparison).

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Paris Photo

Photography has become a daily occurrence. Sadly, most of it is digital. People have gotten used to the idea of seeing images on a screen. I completely and utterly dislike that. There is a reason for printing images. There is a reason for seeing them in properly lit galleries, archival inkjet printed on Hahnemuhle paper or proper Ilford. Thus you learn to appreciate what a photograph is, beyond the pixels of a monitor. The touch of a satin fiber base print, the physical manifestation of a past event. Seeing it on a computer deprives the photograph of it's weight and depth...

I made a habit out of having some constant events. Some have Christmas. I have Paris Photo. Not sure if it's indeed the biggest event in Europe, but it counts among them for sure.

I went to see it during my university years, and I've continued afterwards. It's there that i first saw most of the legendary images I've only read about throughout the years. Irving Penn, Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky (who's recently just broken all previous price records for a sold image at an auction, taking $4.3m for the "Rhein II"). More than that, I saw people I've researched, like the Starn Brothers, Mary Alpern and so on. In my view, this keeps me anchored into the international ways of the art, good quality print, trends and more.

This year, for the first time since i've been going, the venue has changed. Maybe for the better, i can't be sure just yet. I've always gone to the Carrousel. I silently complained every year about the queue for the entrance. Then i went to the 2011 edition, at the Grand Palais. I saw a sign saying "you are now one hour and 30 minutes from entering the gallery". It was also the first time i gave up queuing for a show i liked, because the 1:30 mark was about 1 hour away. I saw the show in the last day possible, going in the early hours in the morning. Neat.

Now, every year, there are things that are shown, that have been on my "want to see this" list. This year, was the NASA Rare Prints edition. I also saw one of the Hasselblad Masters finalists, in a show by one particular galleries. To be noted also was the initiative of private collectors exhibiting in a separate part of the space with the sole purpose of promoting young and upcoming photographers. There's more. So much more.

The show is designed to bring together an incredible amount of information which is photography related. Magazines, shows, collages, historical imagery, fashion documentary, etc. In order to explain all of this, i would need to write a booklet. But i won't. Basically, if anyone doing photography really wants to get a breath of fresh air, image wise, November 2012 should be on your calendar.