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Young Giraffe

I’ve been thinking about a longer lens for wildlife photography for a trip we’ve got planned.

And partly, I have realised, I have been thinking about a longer lens for photographing wildlife here at home.

I have started looking at trees and flowers again. I got out my guidebooks and bought a couple more.

I have told myself I like street photography. But I have had a few opportunities recently and it didn’t grab me. Of course, it depends on my idea of what makes a photograph.

I went out with some friends at the weekend, and the brief for the day was to photograph people. I photographed a couple of the people I was walking around with, but the other possibilities didn’t excite me.

This pigeon was nice to photograph.

About long lenses

I have been watching YouTube videos. While watching a video about a camera and lens combination, the reviewer mentioned that he didn’t like the Adobe Standard camera calibration in Lightroom. He preferred Camera Neutral.

I have been saying to myself for a long time that I didn’t like the intensity of the images from Nikon files in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. The dark parts of the image are too blocked up and strong and the colour is a bit too yellow. I thought it was a fault of Nikon files… Well, that’s what I thought.

Naturally, I was interested to test Camera Neutral, so I dug out an image from 2011 taken with my Nikon D7000, and the difference was so startling I nearly cried out.

Oh nirvana.

Not a wonderful shot, a young giraffe. But natural looking colours. And no blocked up dark parts.

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Look At This

Tate Britain gave artist Mike Nelson a commission to fill the Duveen Galleries with things.

This is a saw. The straight blade is held between the arms of that metal upside-down ‘U’ shape you can see top left.

The blade is marked ‘Eclipse’, which is a brand I know from hacksaws I have used. it is used for cutting metal.

The machine is sitting on top of a slab of cut stone. The stone is very fine grained. Maybe it is Portland stone. I say that because cement is made from the pale grey stone quarried in Portland in Dorset.

The machine is sitting on a slab of stone which is on a cupboard, which is on two slabs of stone.

Is It Art

If I put it in a gallery, is it art? It’s a perennial question. At least it gives viewers an opportunity to look at functional objects as shapes in space.

The Duveen Galleries are sculpture galleries, with high ceilings. I should have taken a photo of the galleries for context, but here is a shot from 2014 of one of the halls in the Tate. I think this is a shot of a hallway at street level, so not the Duveen Galleries, but you get the idea.

In a couple of the side rooms there were more ‘constructed’ objects. What do you make of this engine sitting on a pile of sleeping bags?

What is makes me think is that those are perfectly adequate sleeping bags and that there are homeless people who would like them.

These people don’t need them. They are homeless, but they have sleeping bags.

There are probably lots of stories one could hear about how these people don’t fit into society and that is why they are homeless. You could hear how somehow, to some degree, being homeless is a problem of their own making.

You could say that, but you’d have to ignore the explosion of homelessness and rough sleeping in the UK.

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What Is There About Phones

people on a bench at the Tate Britain in London -  all on their phones - modern life

A couple of minutes after I took this and wandered off to look at something or other, I came back. The scene was much the same except there was an older woman on the other side of the bench and a space next to her. It could be the woman there at the back who had moved over.

I walked around and to my surprise, the woman was not on her phone. She was deep in thought. Disturbed, I sat down and hastily pulled my phone out of my pocket.

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At The Exhibition

Couple look at Don McCullin photo at the Tate Modern exhibition.

A couple at the Don McCullin exhibition caught my eye for the hands, private and public. This was in the last room, landscapes in Britain and ancient monuments and architecture in the Middle East.

I liked the photo on the wall to the right of the couple. It was dark and moody, indistinct. and I had just snapped it before I sat down and they arrived.

Hertfordshire 1980

‘Sometimes when I’m walking over the Yorkshire moors, or in Hertfordshire, the wind rushes through the grass and I feel as if I’m on the An Loc road in Vietnam, hearing the moans of soldiers beside it. I imagine I can hear 106-mm howitzers on the distance. I’ll never get that out of my mind.

Don McCullin - Hertfordshire 1980 'Sometimes when I'm walking over the Yorkshire moors, or in Hertfordshire, the wind rushes through the grass and I feel as if I'm on the An Loc road in Vietnam, hearing the moans of soldiers beside it. I imagine I can hear 106-mm howitzers on the distance. I'll never get that out of my mind.
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Getting Close With Don McCullin

There’s a retrospective exhibition of the work of Don McCullin at Tate Britain in London. It ends 6th May.

There’s his war photos from Vietnam, Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and other places. And his grimy photos of life in the North Of England. And more.

I’ve been looking at his photos for years. Tamara and I have been to other exhibitions of his work, but this exhibition at the Tate includes work from places we never knew he covered.

He’s spoken a lot about his work. He talks about giving dignity to his subjects, about trying to change minds. Some of his photographs must be some of the most iconic war photos you can find.

I’ve always thought he had a problem as a photographer. He’s hugely well regarded as a war photographer. The subject matter is often intense and he gets so close to the action. For that very reason it is perhaps, just perhaps, possible to miss his skill at composition.

Look at this photo. Better still, if you can get to the Tate Britain, you can see it big, on the wall, printed by him (he prints all his own stuff).

McCullin shot this in Londonderry in about 1971.

It’s a tableau. And there’s the contrast – soldiers and civilians.

There are the soldiers all of one piece, running up the road. There’s the woman to the right in the doorway, hand to her mouth in shock. And there’s the woman dressed up in a coat and hat in the doorway further down. She’s taking it in her stride.

And there’s the bollard, from which we see that McCullin was standing just across the road.

Presumably he was in view of whoever the soldiers were charging.

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The Face In The Phone

Cameras are getting crazy. I remember photographing a painting in a museum some years ago. A woman was standing in front of the painting, photographing it with her phone. Later, when I looked on my computer at the photo I had taken, I could see the painting framed in her phone.

Now fast forward to today, and this photo. Can you see what the group are doing?

The man with his back to us is taking the photo of the woman opposite him at the table.

He is taking the photo with his phone and in the crop you can see below – a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the whole frame – you can make out her face.

You can make out the trees behind her.

You can see the yellow bar that must mean something to a person who has a camera like this.

Like I said, cameras are getting crazy.