Time In Motion

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GENERATOR

Guidance: Decorate, decorate.

Assignment: Today you must shoot moving vehicles or individual motion, using a lens closest to 135 millimeters (35 equivalent) and your best camera.


Photography & Text By Derek Clark

Shoot vehicles or individual motion. I started out using a tripod in the middle of the day with a variable ND. I hated the colour cast and I just wasn’t getting what I wanted. So I moved to nighttime, still on a tripod. I shot light trails over a motorway, but that’s been done to death. In fact, I have a slide that I shot on the opposite bridge to this one from 1979 or 1980. Light trails with a horrible green colour cast, but it worked and it was an important shot in my early development in photography.

So I took the camera off the tripod. I shot handheld out of focus shots of moving vehicles, eventually arriving at the idea to shoot moving vehicles with a moving camera at around a 5-second exposure. Vehicles moving, camera moving and time is moving.

In The Second City of the Empire

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I’m a street photographer, and for me that equates to candid pictures without asking permission. But for this latest Kage assignment, I wanted to get out on the street and ask if I could take peoples portrait. I went out with a Hasselblad 500c/m with an 80/2.8 and an X-Pro2 with a 50/2. I wanted to capture the men of Glasgow with as much character on their faces as possible.

An old man near the train station was causing a bit of a commotion with a piece of religious artwork. Although he looked impoverished, he had actually commissioned an artist to create this painting and having just collected it (on his wheelchair), he wanted to show it off.

I was given a poem about a female athlete by the man with the silver hair and I was asked on several occasions if I was from the press. People are suspicious about cameras these days. It seams that if you shoot with anything other than a phone, you must be press or up to something dodgy, even with an old Hasselblad.

Around one in three said yes to having their portrait taken. In the end I only used two shots from the Hasselblad due to a problem with the lens. Medium format film or a 1.5 crop sensor, can you tell which two are from the Hasselblad without looking at the metadata?

Amused To Death

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But on eliminating every other reason
For our sad demise.
They logged the only explanation left.
This species has amused itself to death
— Roger Waters

We have finally reached the dream. Affordable goods and enough money to buy them. A lot of them in fact. Items that lasted for a decade or more are now being replaced yearly (helped I’m sure by manufacturers building things NOT to last). With the advent of the internet, we shop almost daily. We use YouTube to show us shiny new toys by our modern day evangelists and then use the affiliate link springboard like an Olympic diver, landing headfirst into the deep blue pool of the Amazon. There we swim around, basking in the majesty of it all. Delivery by 9 pm tonight. Fat arses clad in pajamas need not leave the sofa. We shop like our lives depended on it and feel good because we are a Prime member. Yes, a Prime member in every sense of those two words!

We shop constantly and it makes us feel great. Yes, it makes us feel great for around 10 seconds after we press that buy button. But don't worry, there's still the thrill of waiting for delivery. But we might as well go back to YouTube and take a look at the accessories, just in case we might need them. And so it continues. The chase for the transparent dangling carrot.

The truth is; the more we consume, the more empty we feel. We're not filling a hole...we're digging one. Shame we can't use that hole as a landfill to dump all that crap we bought. But there is another truth that is just as serious. We are prisoners and we are slaves. We work to make money. Money to buy stuff. That stuff will need to be replaced whenever the manufacturer decides they want more of your money. The cost of these goods increase but income rarely does. You want better, you want more. So you buy on credit and you work more to pay for it, and so the cycle continues. But at least you have that giant screen TV to sit in front of after each hard working day. Entertainment to numb the empty feeling consumerism brings to the table. All over the world, millions of us are sitting in front of bright screens. It's as though we are waiting to be amused to death.

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X100

You probably know by now that we are shooting this month [Consumerism] essays using our oldest digital cameras. I first moved to digital using Olympus and then Nikon, but those cameras are long gone now. So the original X100 is my oldest digital and my oldest Fuji camera. 

I looked back to see when I got the X100 and my first shot was taken on the 22nd of March 2011 (I think I bought the camera the day before). The image above was shot with this X100 three days later and although this looks like some sort of protest, it is actually people waiting on the Apple store to open on the release day of the latest iPhone. The queue actually goes around the corner and up the next street too.

So my X100 has come full circle, covering consumerism in 2011 and now again in 2019. I wish I could say I’ve enjoyed using this camera again, but although I have a soft spot for my original X-Series camera, it just made it blatantly obvious how far these cameras have come in the past eight years. So it's going back in the box, and a very nice box it is too. It's more like a jewelry box than a camera box. A far cry from the poor cardboard boxes we get these days.

*This post was partly inspired by Roger Water's ‘Amused To Death’, which is the title track from what is, in my opinion, the greatest rock n’ roll album in the last 40 years. That album was inspired by the book of the same name.

**You can win an imaginary balloon and whistle if you name all the gear pictured in the table shot. The prize will be sent via telepathic thought waves on the first Sunday during the week.

Constant Renewal

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Photography & Text by Derek Clark

Constant

ADJECTIVE

Occurring over a period of time.

Remaining the same over a period of time.

(of a person) Unchangingly faithful and dependable.

NOUN

A situation that does not change.

Glasgow, like most cities, is changing rapidly. But you may have noticed that the older something gets, the better the chance of survival. The Provan's Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow. It's a stones-throw away from Glasgow Cathedral and was built by Bishop Andrew Muirhead for the chaplain of nearby St Nicholas Hospital in 1471. I was lucky to have the place to myself when I visited recently and I have to say that it was more than a little eerie. You can practically feel the history in each room as you make your way through the house.

Nearby graves at Glasgow Cathedral have alphabet gardens growing in the engravings of the tombstones. Nature takes back everything eventually and here the soil has blown into the channels, followed be seed. constant growth; Constant renewal. Nothing ever stands completely still.

A short walk towards the city centre reveals the latest area for architectural renewal. Glasgow College and the surrounding area has seen a massive change in the past few years with building after building being erected at great speed (at least for someone who lives outside the city). But if I had to put my money on which of these buildings would still be standing in 100 years, The old Provan's Lordship would win hands down.

An old London bus passes by the modern architecture, the rattle of the Diesel engine cutting through the quiet like a chainsaw. It heads toward the Provan's Lordship. A link between new and old.

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All Still

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By Patrick La Roque

January is usually a quiet time of year, but 2019 is different. My calendar is filled with judging, writing and shooting assignments, including a few days in Toronto at the end of the month for a rather important gig. Combined to holidays that were little more than a seven-days-a-week-xmas-playlist blur, the sense of renewal and opportunity for reflection are missing this time around.

I’m meditating again (or trying to...the brain is one crazy nervous beast) and over the past weeks I’ve searched, actively, for images that would bring me peace. Therapy through photography. It’s much too easy to get caught up in busyness otherwise—as Kevin and Dominique both expressed very well in their last essays.

So here’s some stillness...an illusion, while we gather our thoughts.

The Hidden Lane

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PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY DEREK CLARK

DECEMBER 20th, 2018

Back in March this year, I shot some pictures of The Hidden Lane. This post has been sitting as a draft since then as it didn’t tie in with whatever we were doing around that time on Kage. Although it’s a bit out of season, I thought it would be a good idea to put this out as my last Kage post of the year. Sort of clearing out the cupboard so to speak.

When I revisited this post I was struck by how bright and colourful it was. I’m not sure if it was denial or a sense of false hope, but it surprised me that 2017 was not all doom and gloom (even though most of it actually was).

MARCH 20th, 2017

Like the wardrobe leading to Narnia, a typical close on a Glasgow street leads to the Hidden Lane. To be honest, there is actually a sign telling passersby it's there (businesses gotta survive), but it's still a bit of a surprise when you go through the close and arrive inside the Lane.

Brightly coloured doors and even a large building painted in the brightest yellow paint let you know you have arrived somewhere a little different. Different for Glasgow at least as we're not known for bright colours on buildings (although some of the islands off the west coast do embrace that sort of thing). There is actually a slightly odd feeling of stepping into another country, no doubt helped by the sudden appearance of sunshine on the day I visited.

I stepped into the tea shop and ordered a cup of tea and a piece of walnut cake. Sipping my tea from an old China cup that reminds me of visiting my granny as a child, I chat with the waitress about the lane. She tells me that one of the offices belonged to an MP from the Green Party and another was used for restoring antique furniture. I ask if it's ok to take a few pictures inside the tea room and with permission, grab my X-Pro2 and X100F and shoot a few photographs. The waitress comments on my cameras and asks if they are old film cameras. I wish I had brought the Hasselblad as I had intended, but wanted to travel light as I would probably be doing a lot of walking today.

I step out of the tea room and into the cold air, I turn right and enter an alley with brightly coloured doors. The second door is open and I look inside to see a young woman restoring an antique bench. Stepping inside, and with her permission, I shoot a few pictures and chat to her while she works. The bench is around one hundred years old and when she has finished it will hopefully be in use for another hundred or so. Isn’t that what we all wish for? That our work will live on after we’ve gone?

100 Years And Still As Stupid

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By Derek Clark

The war to end all wars. Obviously, that was just a suggestion and not something to be taken too seriously, because it’s fair to say there have been a few wars since the first world war ended exactly a century ago on November 11th, 1918. I looked at the Google Machine to see how many wars there have been in the last hundred years, but it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate number. The number of deaths due to war in the 20th and 21st century is also hard to work out, but between 118 and 187 million, give or take.

It’s hard to figure us humans out as a species. We watch movies (for fun) that are mostly about killing each other. Lone gunmen shooting crowds of people are becoming the norm and each time it happens there’s an outrage (for a very short time at least), but we don’t bat an eye when thousands die every day on the other side of the world.

I went to the Remembrance Day parade in Glasgow on Sunday. It was busier than previous years obviously, due to the 100 anniversary of the end of WW1. It’s an emotional experience and an important event. I have so much respect for the men and women in the forces, but not so much for the powers that be, who send them to foreign soil based often on reasons far removed from those of World War II, but more to do with power or money.

We commemorate. But we don’t seem to learn.

Tokyo Mannequin

BY BERT STEPHANI

I’ve just spent 4 jet-lagged days in Japan, followed by 2 hours in a bus, 3 hours at the airport and 13 hours in an airplane seat that was designed for garden gnomes. My mind is still somewhere over Siberia so I’ll just put up the few pictures from the trip that I’ve managed to edit on the plane and I’ll follow up with more soon.

Rubicon

A limit that when passed or exceeded permits of no return and typically results in irrevocable commitment.

By Patrick La Roque

I don’t understand anything anymore. How facts suddenly become fluid and the educated suspect. I don’t understand the hypocrisy, this failure of empathy, hellbent on the annihilation of others. I don’t understand the messianic appeal of an indecent, cruel and profoundly imbecilic buffoon on anyone, let alone millions of people. Not now. Not after almost two years of verifiable lies and daily obscenities. Not after bomb threats and the murder of innocents. And yet, enough Americans still stand and cheer at those “political rallies” to stoke the fires. Sparks to dry kindling. Hatred and vilification elevated to spectacle and bloodsport. Lock her up. Lock him up.

Lock everybody up.

Tomorrow the future will shift, one way or another. And if the pendulum doesn’t swing back towards decency, if unhinged anger, racism and conspiracies should win against truth, respect and civilized discourse...a new world order will be complete. Because unlike 2016, this time the choice will have been made with eyes wide open, with the full knowledge of what the man truly is—and what he stands for. This time, it will signal validation.

There’s a river ahead, red with blood, burning crosses lining the banks on the other side. Move away, please. Regardless of political leanings, help steer the ship back.

I still want to believe in humanity.

Signs Of Life

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PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT BY DEREK CLARK

I held my sister up as she waited for her final pill of the day, the eighteenth. We were alone and she looked at me and shook her head. I asked her why she was shaking her head and her reply was “What kind of life is this?”. 
This was the first time she sounded like she'd had enough and I struggled to muster an argument for the defence. But before I found one she said: “I suppose it's a life”. I nodded my head, unable to speak. But this time was not because I didn’t have an answer, but because emotion hit me in the back of the throat without warning. Emotion that chokes your words and throws out awkward silence for all present to endure.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was chatting to Steve and his wife Amanda about alternative treatments that he and my sister could/should try. We were at Photo Talks, which Steve ran with Phil Paine in St Albans. I had flown down and had the honour of being the final speaker on the final night. Photo Talks had been a great success, but due to Steve’s cancer diagnosis and Phil’s imminent move to Wales, it was coming to an end.

Shortly after that, we invited Steve to be a guest writer/photographer on our June 2017 issue. Steve’s essay was called ‘I Live To See Another Day’ and as it turns out, was published one year before his death. Steve was already writing his personal blog and telling his very private story in a very public way. He showed great bravery and courage in that blog and It’s well worth sitting down with a coffee and reading Steve’s story in his own words. 
My heart sank when I read the following words in his post titled ‘Playing To The Gallery’.

“My liver is failing. This is the end game, and this will be my last post. Nobody can quite believe it, but I know I have days not weeks.”

That indeed was Steve’s final post, but his work will live on for many years, which thankfully we will be able to consume soon. Neale James is in the final stage of editing a documentary film about Steve which will be coming really soon. Books of Steve's work are already in the pipeline too.

**UPDATE** The film by Neale James can be found at the foot of this page.

Cancer is the worst of diseases, but it brings out the best in people. I see it all around me right now. My parents and my brother in law rise to new heights each day with their compassion, strength, love and unwavering commitment. Falling apart will have to wait for another day because today is about care.

Human kindness is overflowing,
but I think it’s going to rain today
— Randy Newman

P.s.
I’m not sure this set of pictures fits with the text. My idea, as the title says, was to show signs of life without actually having any people in the pictures. I also wanted to take a walk in the streets with my camera, as Steve did in his final months and made sure to include a few bikes as Steve was a keen cyclist.

UPDATE 21st July 2018

This is the film by Neale James that I mentioned above.