Eudora Welty. Photographs.

Eudora Welty. Photographs. University Press of Mississippi, 1989.

This book helped me define my relationship with photography. Firstly, it proves (as if that was really needed) that one can be really creative in more than one field. In Welty’s case, these fields include photography, journalism and literature. She succeded in all. Secondly, it proves once again that good photography has essentially little to do with technicalities. I will return to this later.

The book contains an introduction written by Reynolds Price (a keen supporter of her) as well as an interview with Welty by the publisher’s staff. Both are informative and contributory.

Watching photographs of Welty makes me feel relaxed. I do not remember any image that was shocking or hopelessly tragic. What amazes me most is the lack of even a trace of pretension. No thriving for a message, no forced addition of grossly symbolic elements. Just plain photographs by a mature person with sensitive eyes and an open mind. Many of the photographs are from 1930’s and her attention was mostly focused on American South with an emphasis on blacks and the rural life. The photograph that made it to the cover of the book is an excellent summary of what she has achieved.

Returning to technicalities, there are occasional photographs in the book that are not sharp, that are poorly focused or even seemingly poorly composed / processed / printed. And I like them all! I like what Ms. Eudora Welty, the self confident writer-photographer, shows me kindly: The technics is just peripheral to the real thing, which has always been the soul. Thanks for the lesson.

 

 

 

Gece Yakın / Night was Falling

Gece yakın, yol yok sandın.
Bunlar zihnin oyunları.
Kapa gözlerini bir an, uyan.
Gece hiç olmadı
Yol sendin her zaman.

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Night was falling and there was no way, so you thought.
These are plays of the mind.
Close your eyes for a moment, wake up.
Night has never fallen
You’ve been the way all along.

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Belki yalnızca bir körler ülkesinde herşey gerçekte olduğu gibidir.

“Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.”
José Saramago

 

 

The Practice of Contemplative Photography. Andy Karr, Michael Wood.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography. Seeing The World With Fresh Eyes. Andy Karr, Michael Wood. Shambala, 2011.

 

This book is NOT for everyone and that is a good thing! Would you like to be like everyone?
Seriously, the book is for beginners with a certain mind set. Those trying to learn about technicalities, those who love to take innumerable selfies and those who like to “show” their images more than anything else will be very, very bored reading it. On the other hand, others who love to meditate upon small things, who appreciate noticing a feather sailing smoothly on still water may value this book immensely.
You do not have to know the Zen Buddhist (or, Daoist for that matter) terminology to understand the text. You may just need an open mind to do the exercises which are nicely described in detail. The book also offers many images as examples of “Contemplative Photography”.
I do not consider myself a beginner. Still, it did help me in understanding myself and my approach to photography. I have read it twice, from cover to cover. I recommend this book to like minded photographers.
The below are two of my images one can associate with contemplative photography.

The Fall

 

The Blue Boat

Understanding A Photograph. John Berger.

Understanding A Photograph. John Berger. Edited and Introduced by Geoff Dyer. Penguin Books, 2013.

Understanding_A_Photograph

Thanks to Geoff Dyer who, once again, opened my eyes to what are behind and beyond the photographs. This little volume of articles written between 1967 – 2007 by John Berger are a must for those trying to really understand what is photography about and what (if anything) can be achieved by its practice. Judging from the number of lines I had underlined with my pencil, the book deserves to be read again soon.

I will just add a few quotes to increase potential readers’ appetite! :

The speed with which the possible uses of photography were seized upon is surely an indication of photography’s profound, central applicability to industrial capitalism. (p.49)

Yet, unlike memory, photographs do not in themselves preserve meaning. (p.52)

All photographs are of the past, yet in them an instant of the past is arrested so that, unlike a lived past, it can never lead to the present. (p.62)

Certainty may be instantaneous; doubt requires duration; meaning is born of the two. (p64).

With just a little bit of exaggeration, I can claim that every sentence in this book deserves to be quoted!

John Berger is an exceptionally good writer. This shows most strikingly in his “Between Here and Then” (p. 184-189) which is only tangentially on photography. It is a about a house, a family, a life and a clock! I read this article as a complete story three times within the same day. So tasteful! The final quote is from this one :

Your concern is not with the moment, but with the past and future. And you ask a strange question : what happens if (or when) the past and future stop? Does this change the now, and if so, how?

Will be my bedside book.

 

Pentacon Six TL, Kiev 60, Kiev 88CM. Comments on Lenses.

I have described my experiences with the cameras before. Here, I will try to summarize my experience with the lenses. Images will be added later. Here it goes!

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Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 50 mm f/4

The wide angle lens of the system… This multicoated lens has a very large and almost protruding front element. I do not have a hood, which should be useful especially when shooting at open air. This is a perfect lens for all practical purposes. Resolution, color reproduction and contrast is very good at all apertures. Viewfinder image is a bit dark especially on Pentacon Six TL; this should not be much of a problem when the scene is bright enough, though.

Volna (also branded as Arax etc), 80mm f/2.8

Standard, multicoated lens which was made in Ukraine. Mechanically, it is fine but perhaps a notch less secure than the Jena variants. The image quality is good for all practical purposes. It allows nice prints of 40 x 40 cm, when used properly (let’s say on a tripod, at f/8). Can be used for relatively low light situations. However, expectations should be realistic, when used wide open.

Vega 120mm f/2.8

A multicoated short telephoto which is even smaller than the standard lens. Can be used for portraits as well. Not a stellar performer but a really good one, especially considering its relatively low price. Mechanically, it does not feel as solid and dependable as the Jena lenses.

Kaleinar 150mm f/2.8

A multicoated telephoto. An unlucky lens! There is no department where this lens outperforms the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180mm f/2.8. Since neither the price nor the focal length differences are great, there seems to be no point in investing in this one. The f/2.8 is only for viewing and composing; it is practically useless for shooting (softness and an abundance of poorly controlled aberrations). The resolution and contrast becomes within acceptable limits at f/4 – f/5.6.  The images are sharp and contrasty at around f/8.

Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180mm f/2.8

A lens with some weight and character! (To be continued).

Jupiter 250mm f/3.5