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Moving abroad

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve kept busy in the last few months, because we’ve sure been at it! Over the winter months, we’ve been selling off / packing up the house in Cambridge, UK to go into storage as we prepared to go live in Frankfurt am Main, Germany for a little while, in anticipation for another house move to Toronto, Canada to take place early July.

Why Germany for a few months? It’s a long story……feel free to ask me when you see me. And why Canada!? It’s work related, as ever!

We took a few trips within Europe, to soak up as much history as we could – these are only my mobile phone photos as my scanner is still underway. I have shots numerous rolls of 120 film and cannot wait to see them up on my screen. I would recommend going to all of these places by the way – especially Berlin and Carcasonne were amazing, Pompeii is not to be missed before it crumbles back to dust! Wroclaw is a beautiful historic city, but not amazingly big so a weekend will be enough to see its highlights.

So now we are settling into Toronto. We landed, as planned, on the 1st of July. The weather has been good and the people are super friendly. We seem to have already bagged ourselves a house (A house! OMG! With a garage and garden! Can you feel my joy!?!?) There is still plenty to do before we are fully up and running again, but I’m looking forward to it!

 

France; Carcasonne and the Cathar Trail

 

Germany; Visit with our friend Martijn in Berlin

 

Italy: Ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum

 

Poland; Historical city of Wroclaw

 

New York City

Last November, Sean and I went to New York for the first time. In the first 4 days, we rode the subway, visited Madison Square Garden for an NBA Game (which included some Foam fingers), The Statue of Liberty, The MoMa, Obscura Antiques & Oddities, Nintendo World, The 9/11 memorial, Lindy’s, The Williamburg Bridge (we didn’t quite make it to the Brooklyn Bridge) and several Flea Markets as well as many High street, Antique, Thrift, Exchange, Consignment, Second-Hand and Re-purposing shops. The weather was fresh but fine as the sun was out nearly every day.

Best finds? A full-sized Tin-type, three A3 sized promo photos used by the Hudson Theater, one of which is signed Bruno of Hollywood, a leather jacket and a pair of stunning earrings. Creepiest finds? A hand-blown glass spider and a handwritten diary from a person suffering from depression.

 

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We then got on an Academy bus to Atlantic City. The trip took around 2,5 hours and it drops you around 100m from the boardwalk. We wanted to visit Atlantic City for the casino’s and because we love HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’ – but we also figured that 8 straight days of New York might be a bit much. It was freezing cold, but dry, we played even in the casino at the Blackjack table and the famous wooden boardwalk was near empty. The Steel Pier was closed for the season, but after speaking to some locals, it seems that it’s in such a state of disrepair, it won’t re-open any time soon.

The best thing we found in Atlantic City was a bookshop called ‘Princeton Antique Books’ (2917 Atlantic Ave.) who are specialized in finding books of any subject, so naturally I managed to find a few photography related works, two on coloring photos by hand and one on film stars of the 30’s. The owner is an avid collector on Atlantic City History and owns many period photographs and negatives, some of which he kindly showed to us. I would surely recommend a visit, or otherwise putting in a request with these guys!

 

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Going back to New York for 1 last night, the hotel gives us a penthouse suite – and obviously we were surprised and delighted. We visited the International Centre of Photography (ICP), Grand Central Station, the Cake Boss Café, Chelsea Market, The High Line Park, and a few photo galleries. We especially admired the show put on by the Steven Kasher gallery: “Vietnam, the real war: the photographic history from the Associated Press” and seeing the Aperture gallery in general.

We enjoyed trying all the different sorts of foods, some of which we had only seen on TV. Real NY Pizza, a slice of famous Lindy’s Cheescake (Yes, it is THAT good), Root beer floats, Knish (I want a recipe!), Ziti, Brisket, Hotdogs in Central Park, American Apple Pie, Biscotti and Cannoli, a bowl of Chilli at the Station, Fluffy Pancakes for breakfast and all the different flavors of  M&M’s you can’t buy in Europe.

Everyone we met, apart from 1 woman in Brooklyn, was friendly and polite, which is maybe not what we expected. The trip was a great one and we will definitely return in the future!

 

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Hong Kong Film Images

Finally I managed to get round to scanning all those blasted film images – and you’ll have to understand that this is not to complain about using film. Oh no! My fun lies in shooting, understanding and developing film images, not so much the scanning part……but I suppose one cannot go without the other, especially if you intend to post any of this stuff online! 😀

These are images taken in Hongkong, September 2012, on a Rolleicord TLR camera, using 120mm Fuji Neopan 160 ISO color Film. Lab developed and scanned with Canoscan 9000f.

 

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The final images in Black and White are also finally finished. Because we’ve got another upcoming move, this time back to the EU due to circumstances around Sean’s work, I have been working hard to get everything scanned, backed up and archived before I entrust another load of my belongings to a shipping company. There will be insurance in place – but I doubt that will compensate for the loss of my ENTIRE archive of negatives, should this occur.

Black and white images taken with a Rollecord TLR, using 120 Shanghai GP3 100 ISO film. Developed in Kodak D-76 and scanned with Canoscan 9000f.

 

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Alvin Langdon Coburn

This week, we’ll feature an American Photographer, Alvin Langdon Coburn – I’ve known some of his portrait works and even though I personally might find it very pictoralistic at times, there is such an amazing quality to them that they deserve to be shown.

Alvin Langdon Coburn was born on June 11th 1882, in Boston, Massachusetts, to a middle-class family. His father died when Alvin was seven. After that he was raised solely by his mother, Fannie. She remained the primary influence in his early life, even though she remarried when he was a teenager.

In 1890 Coburn receieved his first camera, a 4 x 5 Kodak camera. He immediately fell in love with it, and within a few years he had developed a remarkable talent for both visual composition and technical proficiency in the darkroom. When he was sixteen years old, in 1898, he met his cousin F. Holland Day. Day recognized Coburn’s talent and both mentored him and encouraged him to take up photography as a career.

At the end of 1899 his mother and he moved to London, where they met up with Day. Day had been invited by the Royal Photographic Society to select prints from the best American photographers for an exhibition in London. He brought more than a hundred photographs with him, including nine by Coburn – who at this time was only 17 years old. He travelled to France to study with Edward Steichen and Robert Demachy, and to New York to work with Gertrude Kasebier. Here he became friends with George Bernard Shaw, who introduced him to a number of the most celebrated literary, artistic and political figures in Britain, many of whom, including Shaw, he photographed.

In 1902 he was elected a member of the Photo-Secession, founded by Alfred Stieglitz to raise the standards of pictorial photography. A year later he was elected a member of the Brotherhood of the Linked ring in Britain. His work was published in Stieglitz’ Camera Work multiple times and he was given a one-man show at the Camera Club of New York.

By 1907 Coburn was so well established in his career that Shaw called him “the greatest photographer in the world,” although he was only 24 years old at the time.He continued his success by having a one-man show at Stieglitz’s prestigious Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession in New York and by organizing an international exhibition of photography at the New English Art Galleries in London.

As a photographer of cities and landscapes (1903–10), he concentrated on mood, striving for broad effects and atmosphere in his photographs rather than clear delineation of tones and sharp rendition of detail. He was influenced by the work of Japanese painters, which he referred to as the ‘style of simplification’. He considered simple things to be the most profound. Coburn produced two limited edition portfolios, London (1909) and New York (1910), in photogravure form, which he produced on his own printing press. He claimed that in his hands photogravure produced results that could be considered as original prints, and signed them accordingly.

While in New York he met and married Edith Wightman Clement of Boston on October 11, 1912. They would move and settle in Britain permanently.

Coburn continued to build his fame by publishing what would become his most famous book, Men of Mark, in 1913. The book featured 33 gravure prints of important European and American authors, artists and statesmen, including Henri Matisse, Henry James, Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and Yeats. In the preface to the book, he says:

“To make satisfactory photographs of persons it is necessary for me to like them, to admire them, or at least to be interested in them. It is rather curious and difficult to exactly explain, but if I dislike my subject it is sure to come out in the resulting portrait . I had thought of using ‘Men of Genius’ as the title for this book, but Arnold Bennett objected seriously, saying, very modestly, that he did not consider himself a man of genius, but merely a working author, and absolutely refusing to join the throng unless I changed it, so I told him that if he would give me a better one I would use it. ‘Men of Mark’ is his alternative.”

In Britain, he became involved in the short-lived Vorticism movement. In 1916 he made a Vortoscope (a triangle of mirrors attached to the lens), with which he was able to take abstract photographs known as Vortographs, which he exhibited (together with a number of paintings) in London at the Camera Club in 1917. He made only about 18 different Vortographs, taken over a period of just one month, yet they remain among the most striking images in early 20th century photography.

From 1918 he dedicated himself to freemasonry, taking photographs only when on holiday; he spent most of his time at his home in North Wales, where he derived great happiness from his study of freemasonry and spiritual subjects. By 1930 Coburn had lost almost all interest in photography. He decided that his past was of little use to him now, and over the summer he destroyed nearly 15,000 glass and film negatives – nearly his entire life’s output. This same year he donated his extensive collection of contemporary and historical photographs to the Royal Photographic Society.

Coburn died in his home in North Wales on November 23, 1966.

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