Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Days of Miracle and Wonder

"Boys With Guns" are everywhere, it seems
Prudence Murphy's timely, droll observations of boys role-playing with guns seem to have found an appropriately national stage. These quiet, but slightly ominous views into the combative games played by boys can be seen as part of Fotofreo's "Divergence: Photographs from Elsewhere" component in the renowned, month long, expansive photography festival  in Fremantle http://fotofreo.com/ her photographs are also to be seen on the other side of the continent, at the Queensland Centre for Photography. www.qcp.org.au/ "Backyard #1" from this series has, incidentally, been shortlisted for the 2012 Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award http://www.theartscentregc.com.au/whats-on/whats-on-items/2012-josephine-ulrick-photography-award Works from the series have also been published in the Summer 2012 issue of Ampersand Magazinehttp://ampersandmagazine.com.au/buy/ It seems Murphy may have touched a nerve with her gentle, questioning imagery. At the Midlands Railway Workshops, Perth, until April 15. 
Eleanor, Muse to Harry Callahan, dies at 95
Some photographers' lives have been defined by their partners. One thinks of the exquisite journey into modernist imagery forged by Alfred Steiglitz with legendary painter Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as the sensual resonances to be found in Edward Weston's photographs, both clad and nude, of Charis Wilson and Tina Modotti. Now Eleanor Callahan, partner and lifelong muse of American photographer Harry Callahan (1912-1999) has died, at 95. Richard B. Woodward of the NY Times provide this moving tribute to her life with a visibly devoted photographer husband. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/arts/design/eleanor-callahan-photographic-muse-for-harry-callahan-dies-at-95.html Callahan's photographs of his wife are a vivid tribute to the idea of pursuing the universal that lies within the prosaic. While his wife was by no means a classical beauty, Callahan nevertheless saw in her, as writer Vladimir Nabokov once said, "the divinity within the detail." Photographs of his life-long companion find extraordinary sculptural beauty within Eleanor Callahan's somewhat opulent flesh. Her face, undistinguished by stereotypical beauty, neverthless revealed, through their intimate visual dialogue, a timeless, moving serenity. Harry Callahan proved that beauty, indeed, was in the eye of this beholder. Callahan then showed he had the heart, and talent, to bring her beauty to our eyes.
Two Lewis Morleys Shine at Gallery 88
Gifted concept model-maker and distinguished film-worker Lewis P. Morley (pictured, top) shares the stage with his celebrated photographer father Lewis Morley (pictured, above) in an entertaining, unpredictable exhibition http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eUVAvRozpc at Peter McMahon's Gallery 88 in George Street, Redfern. Both father and son possess differing imaginations that roam freely - from Morley Senior's precisely observed street graffiti, as exquisitely rendered as any of Australian painter Sydney Ball's totemic colour images http://www.sydneyballart.com.au/paper/drawings.htm - to Lewis P. Morley's beautifully constructed models and graphic works, some of which have appeared in Hollywood films. That their imaginative visions blend so well is a tribute to the space Peter McMahon has fashioned from the gallery's former incarnation - a classic Redfern street corner pub. From March 15
Gary Heery Reinvents Himself, Yet Again
"Undergrowth No 1", Photograph by Gary Heery

A visit to Gary Heery's website www.garyheery.com/ suggests that this accomplished editorial, advertising and corporate photographer and celebrity portraitist simply refuses to be categorised. After last year's successful, poetic exploration of high speed flash imagery of exotic native birds, coupled with archetypal images of Equus, our ancient friend, Heery is back at Shapiro's welcoming gallery space www.shapiro.com.au/ in Woollahra, Sydney with "Undergrowth", a strange, sometimes bleak, but always interesting exploration of the female nude. "I have been surrounded by beauty and beautiful women all my life. This series of highly detailed photographs is a reflection on the fragility of beauty in the natural world." declared Heery. Working in collaboration with celebrated international artist/stylist Michelle Jank  http://www.michellejank.com/ and Grandiflora http://grandiflora.net  run by his wife, arguably Sydney's premier floral artist, Saskia Havekes, Heery has fashioned a series of nudes that suspend female figures within transparent cocoons filled with flowers - simultaneously evoking Pre-Raphaelite painting and the necrogenic fantasies of Belgian Surrealist Paul Delvaux. Until March 18
LOUPE Winners To Tour Sofitel Hotels
'Darter Bird, Dora Creek, Morrisset' by Jacqui Dean Open 2011
Photo by Vi Wilson Amateur winner 2011
'Stillness of Motion' Photograph by Chris Herzfeld LOUPE
The innovative Loupe photography competition www.loupeawards.com are honouring the winners to their Open and The Medium Format Art Prize of their contest with a touring exhibition beginning at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins in Melbourne and then touring Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast Sofitel hotels. Sydney architectural photographer Jacqui Dean http://www.deanphotographics.com.au/ has already carried off the prestigious (and lucrative at $20,000) 2011 Open Prize with her precise, monochrome capturing of the exquisitely feathered form of  a female, predatory Darter Bird (pictured) observed performing its apres-submarine hunting ritual of unfurling soaked feathers to be dried by the sun. There were many other outstanding entries including finely observed and detailed high speed dance images made using the LEAF camera’s massive 80 megapixel sensor and a series of sensitive landscape photographs.
In Japan, Kaizen Still Rules

As stated in a previous blog, there is a Japanese word “Kaizen” which means the capacity for constant improvement. Commonly thought to have been introduced after the end of World War 2, “Kaizen” has been at the forefront of Japan’s postwar march toward economic primacy. I prefer to think that it has long been embedded in Japanese culture - in the way, for example, that Ukiyo-e masters such as Hokusai (pictured, right,"The Great Wave of Kanegawa)) Hiroshige and Utamaro regularly printed their wood-block images using hand-carved wooden plates that had to be accurately in register for more than ten colours. Precision and excellence were long ago ingrained in pre-20th century art and craft in Japan. We are seeing examples of
this commitment to excellence constantly in the cameras being introduced by the major Japanese manufacturers – with perhaps no more vivid example than Sony’s recently offered A77 DSLR.(pictured, above left) This is a camera designed and built to challenge the expectations of established digital SLR users. Using a translucent, stationary mirror and the same 24 megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor as their very compact NEX-7, the Sony A77 is very much a camera for the demanding advanced amateur or professional. Featuring a standard zoom lens from 16-50mm, (24-75mm in traditional terms) the A77 invites the user to be more ambitious in their low light picture-taking by incorporating a fast, constant f2.8 aperture. The lens also performs impeccably, from its maximum aperture down. There are, however, some additional controls on the A77 dial on the camera’s top deck that suggest other remarkable imagery of which this DSLR is capable. Along with the usual settings for Program, Aperture priority and Shutter priority, there is a Sweep Panorama symbol as well as a nod toward to the future of photography with a 3D setting. This is surely “Kaizen” at its best. Picking up the Sony A77 DSLR for the first time reminds you that this is a substantial camera, especially when equipped with a constant f2.8 zoom lens. The camera feels like it means business at around 1.4kg (with lens) and responds sweetly to the first press of the shutter release. Shutter noise is appropriately subtle for a camera with a stationary translucent mirror. That the camera also can effortlessly shoot at 12fps is a further bonus for those photographing either sport and family. I took the A77 to a family Christmas gathering and photographed my great grand-nephew and niece Finn and Maddy, (pictured, above) who seem more like brother and sister than cousins. I also made several simple portraits – of accomplished
Adelaide film-maker Mira Soulio

Adelaide film director Mira Soulio (pictured, left) when she visited me to deliver the DVD of her latest film, a documentary on street photography entitled “The City – The Street” which explores the urban observations of such Australian masters as David Moore, Rennie Ellis, Carol Jerrems, Mark Kimber and Roger Scott. I can only say Sony's camera performed precisely as it should. One warning however: I accidentally left the display setting on where all functions for which the A77 is set were visible on the fully articulated LCD screen on the back of the camera. So comprehensive are these notations that the screen becomes crowded with typography (pictured, left) and quite distracting if you are simply attempting to monitor the screen’s image of a recently made picture. I also have one small gripe regarding the camera’s on/off switch, positioned around the shutter release. It requires a conscious effort to turn the camera on and off, whereas the detent should be more simple and positive to use. Sweep Panorama, as Sony has coined their in-camera stitched panoramas, is now de-rigeur for most of their cameras – from those costing around a hundred, or over a thousand dollars. I took the Sony A77 to lunch at one of Adelaide premier beachside restaurants – Hortas at Nourlunga Beach www.hortas.com.au/ and applied the Sweep Panorama to the simple, careless beach vista enfolding just in front of the restaurant.When U.S. songwriter Paul Simon once sang, of our time, that “these are days of miracle and wonder …” he could have been writing of an era when today’s cameras, for example, conceal such an abundance of features that we are challenged to use them intelligently – whether either making simple, accurate observations, or recording such spectacles that invite the use of Sweep Panorama. The camera also has, of course the capacity to record Full HD video (with three choices of frame speeds) And the Sony A77 continues to surprise us, with the promise of 3D imaging and also inbuilt GPS - just in case we forget where we once stood.Ted’s Cameras www.teds.com.au/  are currently selling the Sony A77( body only) for $1899.95