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Monday, December 29, 2014

Abandon and Decay

The Olof Palme and Human Rights Monument

In these days when each and every nation seems willing to play the Battle for Evermore I would like to share these views of the Monument dedicated to the Human Rights and Olof Palme. It is situated on the shoreline, on the tip situated midway between Karşiyaka and Bostanli piers. On the before-last picture you can see Olof Palme signature.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

wires on a wall

I do not know why this church is surrounded by ugly walls and wires because the door is always open and any one can enter the inner perimeter, it may be a remain of ancient fears but it would be so nice to make it more inviting.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014


An abandoned commercial concrete building in Alsancak district 
iPhone 6+

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The taxi station

rainy morning, taxi drivers waiting for a course
iPhone 6+

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Smartphone photography: street vs fine-art photography

Before to get deeper in the process let's talk about street photography. There never has been so much people taking pictures, from smartphones to large format cameras there is a large range of analog and digital formats that suit to everyone purpose and purse. The debate about photographs and cameras/lenses quality is not new, it happened before already with the Leica and continued for years between 35mm and middle format and between middle format (120 rolls, 4.5x6 to 6x9cm) and large format (4x5" to 8x10"). To decide for a medium and a format it is necessary first to understand the user's needs and settle the goals, then it is possible to choose and evaluate the tools. The goal we are talking about here is non-commissioned/amateur "street photography" that will be shared on digital media. This is not professional cover, studio still-life, sport or wildlife photography.

Outdoor photography can be split into two main branches: fine-art and street. The split occurred when cameras get small, lens fast and films fine enough to catch on the spot scenes of the streets' life. Before the Leica borrowed to the movie industry her 35mm roll films even hand-held 4x5 chambers required flash lights and could not reload fast enough to make "street" possible. Lenses were not fast and it was at the time necessary to ask subjects to pose for a few seconds at least to set the camera and trigger a single good shot. In many cases the photographer had to compose a simili scenery of the regular life for the purpose of the photograph.

a 4x5" with bulb flash
2 to 3 kg with flash and lens
During the wakening of the street era those 35mm photographers were often considered as making low quality unworthy photographs compared the 4x5" and 8x10" large format cameras.120, 220 and 620 roll films allowed larger images of generally 6x9cm but the cameras where rather mechanically weak for an intensive field use and lenses were slow. Hasselblad will come around only around 20 years later and the new twin lens Rolleiflex offered a quiet fast lens for the format at f3.8 but with no interchangeable lens still couldn't offer the versatility of the 4x5" field or the new smaller Leica.

In fine-art the scene, the time (light and seasonal elements) and the composition is chosen by the photographer and the settings are made in anticipation of the print that is already minded. Anyone would probably agree that the absolute master is Ansel Adams, but there are many more great fine art photographers, amateur or professionals. Nick Brandt and Yann Arthus-Bertrand are good example of fine-art photographers who succeed to maintain the tradition and innovate. Another extreme example of fine art photographer is Ian Ruther and his mobile maxi chamber taking collodion unique giant photographs on metal plates.

In streets of course the photographer anticipates places and light conditions but "street photography" is unplanned photography, you take what you get. "Life" herself make the composition and the lighting. During heroic times street photographers didn't have always a darkroom at hand and when acting professionally they often had to
The Leica III, less than 1kg with lens,
Leica offered a Sumarit f1.5!
send rolls back to the agency letting darkroom photographers developing the precious material and making prints according to some hasty notes sent along the rolls. In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" the lead character is a darkroom photographer and archivist who actually never met the magazine star field photographer Sean O'Connell, all having to fight in a digital world where archives are no more made by archivists. There has been so many great photographers it is hard to make a list but the pioneers André Kertész, Robert Capa and 
Henri Cartier-Bresson (Magnum), and Jacques Doisneau (Rapho), inspired generations of younger street photographers.

Now these times are over and most photographers use digital cameras and can check on the screen and even start to process on a laptop before sending the files to the agency or the media.

Kodak 620 (6x9) with f6.3 
Today it seems there is in the public an understanding that "a good photographer must have a big camera". "Big Camera" here meaning a D-SLR with a large zoom lens for a public who is not aware of other formats. Even brands which end in "on" are placed at the top while Sony Fuji Olympus or other Pentax are considered as non-professional cameras (I use Sony myself). This is probably the result of good advertising campaigns and years to see Nikon and Canon brands on the waistcoats of many sport photographers. Today mega-zooms and megapixels is advertised as the key to the door of the photographers' heaven, and beside the brand ending in "on" the non-initiated asks immediately "how much pixels?". This is some points to discuss too, but later.

I will not argue here about the importance of the camera format and of the lens quality in fine-art since there is no true limit as we have seen above. But in street photography smart phones offers features that make them one of the alternatives to consider. They offer very interesting tools, one of them is the ability to process on the spot and this gives a new
Rolleiflex f3.5
dimension to street photography, and it is not only to share immediately.

When I was in my twenties the first video cameras went into the market. At 250 lines they couldn't compete with the super-8 from Kodak and many photo retailers rejected the products as unfit. The result is that the TVsets re-sellers took over and the camcorder market lefts the hands of the camera makers and sellers to move to the electronic giants' purse. The reason was that the clientele was already accustomed to watching TV with practical resolution not so far above the VHS's 250 lines. The poor quality as defined by professionals wasn't a poor quality as perceived by amateurs. 

Nowadays a tremendous part of photographs are shared and viewed on digital media and viewed on screens with HD standards. It is therefore unsuitable to reject smartphones just because of less pixels, smaller sensors and the absence of true aperture and speed settings.

Next week I will share some though and experience about processing "on the go".

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Izmir Bay and harbour

The 242 meters container vessel Livorno Express sails through the natural harbour offered by the Izmir Bay and heads toward the port. We can see 2 passenger ships anchored in the back with the Alsancak quarter on the right and the pair of Folkart towers in the back.
iPhone 6+

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Full throttle

Two fishing boats sail tied together at their maximum power, this type of double -ended small and low wooden boats are powered by air-cooled mono-cylinders and they emit more noise and fumes than they make eventually speed.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why iPhonography (in my case, could well be any smart phone)

It is easy to listen to music and read books on a smartphone, even watch short movies or videos. I can write short notes or even poems on my phone but I can't write a book with it, this exercise demands more specifics to be performed. Same is true to play music, GarageBand allows to create and edit some melodies but it will be sure difficult to complete a 2 hours 4 acts piece. These are artistic activities that need a time and a specific environment, comfort, large screen, professional keyboard... . In the same way Iphone’s camera restricts much of what we can do, no time/aperture control, too much depth of field, no tele-lens, undesired flare, 8mpx, 8 bits JPGs only… we can surely not make a full series of studio shoots but we can take process and share immediately, where ever a connection is available. The definition is low compared to an medium format but far better that the one of instamatics we had in the film rolls era.

I started to do photographs with my iPhone for the following reasons:
1- voluntary self limitation
2- ability to process on the spot
3- fast sharing
and I keep using it because I like its
4- constant availability
5- discretion
1- Limitations
I was a kid when I started to take photographs and it was with 110 and 126 format Kodak cameras, just what a boy can easily get and carry.
These were rather limited cameras indeed :) . I was around ten when I started to use a 120 format Rollop camera, a less lucky competitor to Rolleiflex. This Rollop had a fast and really descent 2.8 80mm lens but as it was the rule at the time showed any aid except a lock on the EV commands allowing you to balance rapidly from slow to fast speed without losing your setup. The finder was made of glass with a grain as fine as a wc window. The pose-meter was the film cardboard box.

The Rollop was a 1956 model already 15 years old when I enjoyed it. Later I have used many different cameras including Polaroids. Polaroids again offered the great appeal of high-priced films, low def and a slow camera, this forced you to think twice before pressing the shutter. Nowadays sharing a photograph costs nothing and a 2 years old D-SLR in the hands of an amateur has often make more shots than a Nikkormat would have ever made in 10 years of professional intensive use.
Digital sensors have often 2 to 4 EVs more span than an old film had and allow working hi-contrasted scenes and backlights with some carefulness we weren't allowed to. Regular films may have a dynamic range of around 5 stops, a bit more for high speed films or with a proper processing. Last generation of B&W films boosted plus and minus 2 EV to that, that is a 400 ISO could be used from 100 to 1600 ISO and still shows a 5 stops range. The JPG has 8 stops capacity but the processor works to get back highlights and shadows into the range. Most of digital cameras register 10 or 12 stops and just compress it in the JPG 8 bits / 8 stops format while recording the picture, this is why it is important to record RAW picture for later processing. 5 to 8 stops is what you need to cover both the fully illuminated area and the open shadows of a sunny scene when the sun is not in the front of the camera. But if we want a back lighted scene with a correctly exposed sunny sky and very deep closed shadows to be correctly exposed we may need 10 or 12 stops, reduced in processing and/or post-processing to the 8 stops limit.
Coming back to my iPhone I prefer to shoot square. The first step is to blackandwhite the picture. This forces me to think in term of light and contrast instead of colours, just as when I used my Rollop and FP4 or HP5 rolls.
Having no zoom or interchangeable lens forces me to seek from the start for the optimal spot to make the shot, and often forces me to renounce to beautiful scenes that would have needed a 300 or a macro lens.
Deciding for the square format avoid losing time to think portrait or landscape and forces me to look for more creative point of views to better fill the square. The square format also better fits to diagonal compositions than the long/oblong 2:3 classic size (the historic 24x36mm 135 format rolls).

I still carry a camera with me, not always a SLR with a bag’s load of lenses but preferably a compact with interchangeable lens and APS-C sensor, in my case a Sony NEX with his surprisingly good native kit zoom lens. So availability is not the 1st criterion when I choose to shoot with the iPhone.

The square format and the 12 poses monochrome films I used forced me to concentrate on details just as being at the right distance and having the aperture and speed ready. I often even preselected the distance at a time autofocus wasn't even a word. It was hard to shoot more than 1 square every second and anyway I didn't have the money to play such a game. The very limited EV span offered by the FP4 rolls forced me to be precise with the controls, especially when playing silhouettes and backlights.

Knowing that I will not collate multiple poses but use one of the softwares available on the iPhone forces me in the same way to renounce to very extreme contrasts that the processor will not be able to handle.

Instead of pushing the limit by carrying a full range of equipment I just decide to limit myself and do with what I have at hand.

Next I will share more about the limitations and the "low resolution" of the iPhone.

Etienne Calame 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Winter is timidly knocking at the door

Shops are trying to sell winter collection without much success, Spring is strongly anchored in Izmir and seems decided to fight till Christmas maybe the new year.
Playing with reflections.
iPhone 6+

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Backgammon (Tavla in Turkey)

Backgammon is the national entertainment (with Okey) played generally in coffee shops, as wee see better to learn early.
iPhone 6+

the flock

Hundreds of cormorants gather over the bay dancing around a fisherman boat and suddenly land spreading on the surface of the sea
iPhone 6+

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Some macro with the iPhone, and a 8x magnifier as closeup lens.
iPhone 4s