I left Winnemucca, Nevada, heading for Utah on Interstate 80 early that morning. It was snowing heavily, and I drove very slowly behind a snowplow along the freeway. There was almost no other traffic going in either direction. I wasn’t too worried about the snow on the road — I have a Subaru and it keeps to the road pretty well — but the visibility was terrible. By Battle Mountain, although it was still snowing, I could at least see maybe a mile in front of me, and the landscape around me was starting to emerge. That landscape was beautifully bleak and stark, almost monochromatic, and alternately flat and jagged. The mist and low cloud accentuated the effect, and I stopped off the freeway several times to get photos of it all. I think this is the best of the lot — it certainly evokes that morning for me — but there are a bunch more that will probably appear here eventually, usually emphasising the contrasts between the flatness and straight lines (like the railways, roads, and power lines, but also the horizon at times) and the sharper, more convoluted and broken lines and surfaces of almost everything else […]
A friend of mine in the studio, a few years ago, a little manipulated (the image, not her). We struggled for a long while to do “straight” shots of her for use elsewhere, but this — along with a couple of others from the same shoot that I also manipulated a bit — is by far my fave. It’s a pity it wasn’t useful for the purposes she had in mind, though.
This was a new experience for me — using a long lens to take photos of (very) fast-moving subjects. I work in an office near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and the Blue Angels do their annual Fleet Week Thing basically right in front of us there. We have an open third floor balcony overlooking the Bay, which is just the ticket for this sort of thing, so I brought along my old Nikon D300 and the 70-200mm VR II lens, and hoped for the best…. I’ve watched the airshow from this balcony several times over the years, and I’ve actually had a bit of training as an aerobatics pilot, so you’d think that I’d have a good idea of what I was doing, or that I’d have done this sort of photography before, but no. I made a lot of beginner’s errors. Like getting the autofocus settings wrong, or inadvertently setting the shutter speed too low (how could I have done that?!), or simply not anticipating the various movements of the planes (and panning badly even when I was mentally tracking what was about to happen). And I could really have done with an even longer lens at times, […]
Once again (October, 2015) some of my pix of (a very decrepit) London in the 1980’s are up on the walls of Cafe Kefa (29th and Ford, Jingletown, Oakland). They’ll probably be up for a month or two — and yes, they’ve been up there before, but hey, Gabe and Dina wanted to see them again, so who am I to argue?! For the story behind the photo above, see Featured Image: Hungerford Bridge, London, Mid-1980’s; for a bunch of the photos actually up on the wall, see the London In The 1980’s gallery on HamishReid.com.
Everyone who’s driven from LA to Las Vegas knows where Zzyzx is, right? You can’t miss the mysterious exit sign on the freeway heading for Baker, and eventually everyone stops or detours at least some distance down the dirt track there (well, almost everyone). And like everyone else, I’ve been there and done that (a bunch of times), and have the pix to prove it. Just like everyone else. So I wasn’t really looking to take another photo of the place when I visited it (again) with a friend of mine earlier this year. And in any case, the light was poor — all those high clouds washing out the wintry light and making for a bunch of missed opportunities. And then my friend stepped out briefly onto the playa (wearing a green scarf on her head because she’d left her hat in the car)…. It’s a striking image — that small black vertical figure striding purposefully away from you on and into a harshly-textured, mostly-horizontal, and almost monochromatic landscape. I didn’t take a lot of other photos that day.
Two of my fave Oakland buildings, in what was once one of the rougher neighbourhoods (Dogtown) of a rough city (Oakland, a city I’ve lived in for a long while now). When the buildings were still in use (around the time of the first photo), I always liked the colours, the window shapes, and the confusing geometry of this scene; and, of course, this is a part of town that’s got a lot of associations for me going back many years. A starving artist friend of mine had a (literally) rat-infested studio in a big old tin shed around the corner from here back then (just before the area sprouted a bunch of crappy lifestyle lofts and such), and we’d walk past these buildings on the way up to the shops on Hollis every once in a while, and if the guys sitting in front of the buildings were in the right mood, they’d cadge cigarettes from (or make fun of) “mister artist”. Not long after that first photo, the buildings were apparently slated to be torn down as part of a larger redevelopment; needless to say, that didn’t happen (and, as of late 2014, still hasn’t happened). I’d go […]
I’m not much good at the social realism / street photography thing, mostly because I don’t feel comfortable aestheticising other people’s suffering (in other words, I’m no Diane Arbus or Weegee, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be). But I’d been living in London a few years by the time I took this shot (1987?), and I’d seen these two guys around a lot on Hungerford Bridge over the previous year or so, begging from the tourists and the theatre-goers crossing the river. The guy on the right (“Jimmy”) had been chatting with me for a few minutes this particular day about Ireland and Australia and how he’d ended up begging (a long story I’ve told elsewhere) when he saw my camera (which is usually well-hidden; I’m not one of those people who stroll about with camera gear hanging off them or stuffed into camera bags, etc.). He made me take this picture of them so that “the workers in Australia know what Thatcherism is really like”. I’m always nervous about taking photos like this, but I did it anyway; so far this is the only real example I have. I never saw “Jimmy” again; the man on […]
My job can involve a lot of air travel. Sometimes it gets me to places like Buenos Aires or New York, which is fun, but it’s much more likely to get me to Phoenix or Minneapolis or Burbank (and I typically don’t get more than a few days’ advance notice of where I’m going or when). So I spend a lot of time in airports, waiting for flights, waiting for connecting flights, waiting to be rebooked after the connecting flights are canceled, etc. But I have a (small-plane) pilot’s license and an instrument rating, so hanging around in airports isn’t as boring as it probably is for most people — I actually enjoy watching the planes being handled on the tarmac or arriving and departing out on the field, and I usually use my iPad’s aviation app to check out the approach and departure plates and the weather for the airport as I’m sitting there watching. But there’s no denying that airports can be boring, especially when you’re sitting or standing there for hours on end, and they’re visually pretty confusing places too, all conflicting reflections and weird-coloured glass. Over the last few years I’ve started taking snapshots and instagrams of my air travel experiences, and I’ve put up […]
One of the first digital mashup (or manipulated) images I ever did, dating from maybe 2000, when I was first starting to use a digital camera (I’d been using Photoshop for years, so I wasn’t a stranger to digital photography as such). I’ve always been fascinated by human bodies and landscapes (for me bodies are landscapes in ways I won’t explain here…), and it all came together for me around this time when I started playing with images like this in Photoshop. Within a year or two I’d started productively feeding an entire obsession…. Both images must have been taken on my old Kodak DC290, meaning the full size of the original images probably wasn’t much larger than the full size image you get here. The two images are pretty straightforward on their own — a friend of mine in my studio, blurred when the flash failed to fire, and a rather dull image of Bakersfield from somewhere on the Rosedale Highway.
I’ve told this story before, in more detail, but here it is again… Short form: I drive to Yosemite to take nice Ansel Adams-ish photos of beautiful landscapes with my medium format camera, and the only thing I return with that I actually like is this … a dead car in a big Central Valley rain puddle. Story of my photographic life, really (and the start of an unintentional series of “dead car” photos). The longer version: Sometime in the early 1990’s I took my new(ish) camera — a large Pentax 6×7 medium format film camera perfect for landscapes — up to Yosemite, mostly because I wanted to see if I could do something like those omnipresent Ansel Adams images you see everywhere in California, and because I also wanted to see if I could get the beautiful stretch of the Merced that runs through the valley beside Highway 140 from to El Portal to Mariposa. It’s one of those great California river canyon drives that I love so much — like the Walker and the American rivers, you drive right next to rushing water, something almost unknown in Australia, and you’re surrounded by subtly-dramatic high sloping canyon walls, here usually mostly grass- or […]