Visual Acuity

Imagine yourself as a cinematographer, tasked with the job of making iconic scenes with your camera.
The producer is watching you closely, because you are the one who realizes the dream. You are under pressure to make the world wow to your brilliance.

You have to be conscious in the moment, conscious behind the camera, aware and awake to make opportunities for yourself and exploit them further.
Take your time, instead of making one image make 5 or 7. Move around, look at the place you are in, think dimensionally.
Watch the elements as they move, snap the moments as they occur, add your own control factors, manage the scene without interfering in it.

Know your lens, and know what the image will look like  you’ve taken it.

Be conscious in the viewfinder, even if it isn’t at your eye.

Shoot to complement the thoughts in your mind, not the other way around.

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Ernst Haas

In sorry to say that it’s only now, 25 years into my career, that I am becoming aware of Ernst Haas. The publicly available repertoire of the man’s photography is immense. His philosophies of remaining independent and never adhering to a dedicated style are self evident.

A quote from the Ernst Haas Estate website affirms to me, now 25 years on, that my personal belief and instinct were correct all along;

“Still, I don’t want to declare there are no highways of fruitful directions. In learning there are. Follow them, use them and forget them. Don’t park. Highways will get you there, but I tell you, don’t ever try to arrive. Arrival is the death of inspiration. Beware of direct inspiration. It leads too quickly to repititions of what inspired you. Beware of too much taste as it leads to sterility. Refine your senses through the great masters of music, painting, and poetry. In short, try indirect inspirations, and everything will come by itself.”

Be aware of forward inspiration, but reverse-engineer everything, think backwards and look for the defining characteristics and recurring foundations in everything. Everything else is just dressing. 

the legacy

“…the act of thinking thoroughly through a scene and preempting a moment to capture it, comes with experience. The experience shows when is the right moment to take the shot. Because the shot is a legacy of that decision…”

EyeCup for A7s

Just about the only frustration I have had with the A7s is the fact there is NO available eyecup for it. If I am hand-holding I prefer to shoot video with a camera to my eye for a few reasons. There is as of this time (April 2015) no commercially available eye-cups available for this amazing cinema camera..
So I made by repurposing commercially available parts.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.
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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

Pop

I’ve been shooting a lot more video recently, video street photography. Figuring it out. It’s a concept that I’ve had for a while and finally got a camera to do it. Purpose built for the job.
I’ve been using 24mm lenses now for about 5 years, always preferring 24mm because it was wide and yet not insane. However today, I took with me two new lenses that I hadn’t used yet, and started the day on the 24 as usual, and saw something that I hung around a bit for, but it wasnt working so I moved on and found something else, and it didn’t work so I moved on again then went and had a cuppa coffee. During coffee I decided it might be a good idea to change to the new 35mm and see how it is. I put it on, went back out to the first spot that didn’t work and looked through the camera and thought what the fuck was I missing earlier? So I put the 24mm back on and there it was, a realization that I can actually see better with 35mm, I can see without having to look through the camera despite “knowing” 24mm and knowing what the image will be like before pressing the button.
These are all good Zeiss optics so the lens quality isn’t an issue. In fact that 24mm is, as 24mm lenses go pretty off the charts as it were.
Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be back on the streets with just the 35mm. Alex Webb told me that he likes how a 35mm lens ‘recedes’ and after this, I have to agree.

Fire & Slate
One of my favorite places to shoot in Seattle. Its a never ending smorgasbord of optical mystery and imagination.

Shit film

A shit film is a shit film because it has shit sound.

An interesting film is a shit film with great sound.

A really good film is an ok film with great sound

A brilliant film is a brilliant film because its made with intent and cut with intent and sounds amazing.

The rest is hollywood.

Dark Riders

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Night Train Approaching from distance Canacona Goa India

Canacona, Goa, India. 1.30am Im staying at a low rent guesthouse at a blind corner on Chaudi-Talpona road which traces the Chaudi river at this point. It is moment away from Monsoon so the water is almost at street level on one side and an embankment on the other. Right at this blind corner there is a single track concrete rail bridge which carries both freight and passenger trails through at a regularity of about 30 minutes during the day and 45-60 minutes at night. Just beyond the blind corner is an egg-shell Blue two story hastily erected building and a family home nestled beside it. The rail bridge traverses 8 meters from the house and then is swallowed up in foliage on the embankment.
My room is on the ground floor front and center to the lot, it is North facing. It is off season, extremely humid (95%), and extremely hot (45c) despite being on the coast. The area is lush tropical and very quiet.
At night it is almost completely silent, with exception to distant sounds from neighbouring homes and the Hindu and Catholic places of worship (at 3’26” you can hear the chime of a gong or bell).
The trains are traveling in from the north, from Bombay, at night they are mostly freight. You can hear the sound funnel down the rail-track clearing in the dense jungle, it is amplified and you can pick out the pitch changes in the engine as it grunts its way in.
Warning: this track goes from subtle to extremely loud and then very quiet.
Recorded using a Roland R-26, Binaural microphones and a Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun directional microphone, mixed-down and rendered using Audacity. There is some slight clipping at the high peak, as I simply set the best levels I could based on guesswork before making the recording.
Thanks and enjoy.
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Small Room

I remembered there was a small guesthouse on the corner of the Chaudi-Arpora road, a place called Gods Grace. It exists on a blind elbow smothered in undergrowth at which there is a low concrete single track railway bridge, trains pass by at 60 minute intervals at night and 30 minute intervals during the day, an even split of passenger and transport trains, mostly ore and trucks in which the drivers sit in their cabs baking in the heat and smoking cigarettes with their feet out of the windows.

I am in Chapora, which is the most southern ‘county’ of Goa before Karnataka state. This road cambers gently and is well cared for with good reflective paint on the edge, at night there is zero illumination, which, if you happen you stray, you’ll end up in mangrove swamps on both sides. It ends at a dimly lit avenue going right into the Talpona River, at which there is a bus stop eluding to a once existing bridge which is now no longer there. For the unwitting, one could accidentally end up in that river with zealous use of the accelerator.

There is a distinct Hitchcockian feel to Gods Grace. It is nestled in amongst a cup of foliage the building itself a pale blue and white stark building with little or no style in of itself a concrete courtyard slopes steeply down to the bend in the road, its dry and dusty despite being in a mangrove swamp. On the back side there is a cliff and on the other side it trails off back into the mangroves.
The electro diesel locomotives, you can hear from 20 km out, it huffs, snarls, creaks and pants its way along the track in sonically crystal clear southern sky. Punching the heavy humid air with clean crisp riots of horn, against a pitch black indigo night the air heavy like premium felt. The shape of sound as its shot directly forward from the front of the hulking Cyclops steel behemoth a single eye pitched in golden warning, lights up my room as it winds it way along a shallow trajectory to the straight path of the bridge and into the cushioning undergrowth, the rip-roaring earthquake grows louder and louder heavier and heavier like a concussion, a deep low hum oscillates two per second embellished with silver brightness of bogies on track the train says this’n’that and this’n’that…this’n’that and this’n’that. Pockets of clarity open as the undergrowth subsides shifting and baffling metallic industrial with heavy chugs in a low rumble. Then suddenly the world is ripped and a the fabric of existence is torn open and with a burst of trapped air everything is consumed in a massive all encompassing sound that covers you like paint and takes precedence over everything else, no birds sing no voices heard only complex rhythm and malevolent mechanics in time, space and relativity, screaming forward fulfilling its existence. And with a fold of the envelope, the sound is all at once gone back to idyllic sweetness of quiet nature in a remote spot of land on the coast of the Arabian sea.