Seeing it Differently-Durban as digital holgaroids

Discussion in 'Photojournalism, Candids and Street Photography' started by bendheim, May 25, 2005.

  1. A 500 image Durban Mosaic - Snapshots of the Holiday City

    Purists, technophiles -- you're probably not going to like this stuff...be warned. It's very different from my normal style.

    Read on...

    I'll be having a solo exhibition in September. Apart from my normal documentary style, I've been experimenting with a way of portraying Durban, my city in a different way.

    Durban is in part the nation's largest national tourist destination. But it's not a very classy city and has all the elements of a Coney Island or Blackpool (UK) environment - plasticky, garish and over the top. In part, it is also very African, and very poor. These elements combine with the incredibly hot, sticky sub-tropical climate to make a city that is full of tantalising and quite rich contrasts in terms of people and places.

    I wanted to convey the feel of this through almost way-oversaturated images that look hot and sticky.

    Also, I wanted the material to look like a huge collection of holiday snapshots.

    Recently, I've been very interested in the "plastic camera" or "toy camera" wave that has been quite prevalent in the last few years, having be "rediscovered". People have been using cheap novelty cameras from the sixties and seventies - most famous of which is the Diana camera, to create images that are very fluid and quite different. More recently, Lomo cameras and Holgas from Russia have found their way into the hands on enthusiasts and those who couldn't find the Diana, manufactured by the Great Wall of China Plastics Co.

    The secret of this fluid effect lies in the poor abberant plastic lenses coupled with bodies that leak light in the strangest places.

    The effect, which as I have said is very fluid and spontaneous, ideally suits the personality of what I am trying to portray.

    I didn't have access to a Diana camera, but I knew the effect I wanted to create. Some websearching led me to two sets of actions that work with Photoshop, and together with additional work, create the style I want.

    I specifically rough shoot DIGITALLY most of the images at the outset to create the holiday snap feel. Careful cropping then takes place, after which I convert the image using the Holga action. I then remove some of the unwanted effects and layers, and fiddle with the contrast and saturation until the basic style is right for me. Considerably more tweaking goes into most of the images after I have run the action, in the main "body" of Photoshop. Thereafter, I run it through a Polaroid framing action, and size the image exactly as a 4.5 inch Polaroid. The whole image in printed on a 5x7 inch print.

    The result, which will offend the Diana purists and the digital sharpening fraternity is an off-focus, leaky-light image of colorful simplicity. I guess you could call them "digital holgaroids".

    I now have about 250 of these images. By September, I should have 500 odd. They will be mounted tightly together on a single wall as a giant varied photographic mosaic of Durban, for people to ponder over, identify people and places. They'll be sold individually so that people can buy a couple that they like, or perhaps someone will buy the whole installation.


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  2. Hi!


    I love your style... probably because it is the closest to mine (or vice-versa... regardelss).

    I own a Holga... what a fun toy. Tool, to be correct.

    Great, great, great images you're showing!
     
  3. Well done, Peter. I like it a lot.
     
  4. hans

    hans

    827
    Feb 5, 2005
    The Netherlands
    Peter,

    Wish I lived closer by South-Africa I certainly would visit your exhibition
    Great work!
     
  5. Exceptional. You can really feel the grit of your city.Hope you make it to the USA one day.
     
  6. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Peter,

    I believe you have accomplished your mission in grand style.

    You are a truly great talented photographer.

    Thank you for sharing and wish I could view your exhibition.
    I know it it will be a huge success.
     
  7. Thanks so much to everyone for looking!
     
  8. biggstr6

    biggstr6

    Apr 26, 2005
    Richmond,Va
    Peter I love them. I just recently did something similar to a bike race I shot . went for a different feel.

    BTW seeing your work was one of the contributing factors to me buying a D2h when the price dropped. I always enjoy looking at your photography.
     
  9. Wonderful, Peter! You've created a rich and colorful tapestry of Durban, and by dulling the technical edge, you've placed the emphasis squarely on composition. Excellent work, and I trust it will be a commercial success!
     
  10. Fabulous stuff. You're an artist - plain and simple. Where color, composition, and subject matter all trump technology.
     
  11. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    373
    Jan 26, 2005
    Well, I like every single one of them. As far as photography goes, this is truly a class act!
     
  12. NeilCam

    NeilCam

    609
    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Larry's already said it - a class act Peter.

    Neil
     
  13. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    Terrific....now I feel as though I have visited Durban!

    You used an interesting assortment of cameras - once again proving that it isn't "the camera" that makes the photographer.
     
  14. GeeJay

    GeeJay

    Jan 26, 2005
    Florida
    Peter,

    I ditto what everyone else has said and I thank you very much. This is a wonderful treat and I hope everyone on the forum can visit here.

    Thank you and my best to you,

    Gaye
     
  15. fks

    fks

    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi peter-

    wonderful work, i'll probably never visit your part of the world and your photos have helped bring that area to life.

    my very first camera was a diana f (the flash model). i don't have any copies of the photos i took with that camera but i do remember they had that softness that you've emulated in your photos.

    ricky
     
  16. I have seen a lot of snapshots in my life but never of such quality as yours. I hope you show more of your "snapshots".
     
  17. Peter...I always enjoy your work!! MORE MORE MORE!!! :D :D :D
     
  18. huskey8

    huskey8

    159
    Feb 22, 2005
    Just beautiful Sir I love the color every photo really tells a story thank you for shairing.
     
  19. heiko

    heiko

    May 15, 2005
    Israel
    Absolutely fantastic! Agree to everything said already. And I will take it as an inspiration and lesson to focus on the framing and composition.

    I'm sure the exhibition will be a success - just a pitty I won't be able to be there.
     
  20. WOW! These are incredible. Again Peter, I am thankful you contribute to the forum the way you do. It's obvious you're on a different level than most of us.

    Just tremendous work. The color saturation truly adds to the flavor of the images and except for one (IMHO) they all flow together in rhythm. (The fire hydrant one is by far my favorite!)

    If you get a chance, I think we'd all enjoy seeing the 500 finished photos on display in the gallery.

    WOW!

    _/oe
     
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