X-Pro 1

And on the Seventh Day

BY BERT STEPHANI

STEPHANI-7thday-04.jpg

Like in pretty much every country in the world, consuming is the national occupation of choice in Belgium. But on Sundays consumerism takes a break. There are exceptions but by law, stores have to close on Sunday. There’s a lot of pressure on the government to loosen or even completely change the rules. Multinationals have to feed their ever growing machines and consumers want to shop 24/7.

But honestly, it’s not so bad to be unable to buy more meaningless stuff once a week.

My oldest working digital camera is the X-Pro1 and my oldest lens for that camera is the 35mm F1.4, so that’s what I used for these pictures. The viewfinder is a bit low res and the controls are a little sluggish in 2019. But if I’m completely honest, I could probably still do 80% of my photo work with this “old” combination. The original X-Pro forces you to slow down and that’s necessarily not a bad thing. Shooting this story reminded me how enjoyable the slow simplicity can be. My X-Pro1 was pretty much retired, but it’s still way too good to sit in the back of my cupboard.

The Style Of The Time

The Style Of The Time

I've been a fan of singer-songwriter Tami Neilson since I first saw her play, at a bluegrass society in a community hall / library in New Zealand in 2010. Which, I should add, is not one of my usual haunts!

I'd had a call from her sound engineer to say I should really come along, I'd enjoy the show, and to be honest I was a little skeptical - sure, she's a Canadian-New Zealander (like myself), but...bluegrass?

Fortunately, I ignored that, and went along...

Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise

"Would the swimmers to the south," crackled the bored voice from the speaker above me, "please return to the shore. It is not safe to swim outside the flags. Please, come back to the shore and swim between the flags ONLY."

Anyone who's been to Florida (or seen Miami Vice) will be familiar with the collision of natural beauty, tourism, and commercial development. If Australia has an equivalent, it's here - Surfers Paradise, on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

A place once known for unending white sand stretching off into the distance has, in recent years, become better known for theme parks, marine animal shows, 'schoolies' (school holiday binge-drinking sessions), 'bikies' (motorcycle gangs), and gold-bikini-clad meter maids...

Walk The Line

As cities grow, they evolve. But sometimes evolution is cyclical, it seems.

Sydney streets have been torn up before, many times, and for many reasons - this time, it's light rail, coming up the heart of the downtown and through the neighbourhood where I live; but it's not the first time trams have run through many of these streets. They're literally finding some of the old tracks when excavating to make the new ones.

It's just the first time in a generation or two; and, in the same way some people opposed the original trams and had them removed, some people are against the new ones coming back.

Meanwhile, these old buildings have seen it all before...

To Be Free Is To Have No Fear

To Be Free Is To Have No Fear

I'm as bad as anyone else, really.

I spend too much of my time trying to improve things, to make something better, or to upgrade - whatever the 'thing' is, there's a new one, and it looks better than whatever I've got. And this time of year just amplifies that feeling, many times over. Every second email shouts 'New! Shiny! Buy!'

But when you look around - really look - it's hard to miss the fact that actually, there are much bigger problems to solve in the world than the tiny incremental improvements I could make to my own life…

Meetings & Collisions

Meetings & Collisions

At the most basic, fundamental level, photography is about collision.

Light hitting an object, bouncing, and being gathered.

I like the intersection of planes, the crossing of lines, the meeting places between people, between objects, or just between constantly shifting, fading shadows.

Surfaces. Textures. Light, shade.

That's all we have.

Last Lines of Winter

The Crib

The Crib

In my family, we play cards.

Not full time, obviously. But, when we get together at my parents' place on Georgian Bay - a glorified shack, really, with limited solar power & no TV or internet connection to speak of - that's when the games begin.

My parents have had an ongoing cribbage rivalry for as long as I can remember; they stay at the cottage for up to four months a year, and spend many of those evenings locked in crib battles.

Proof Of Life

Proof Of Life

Like a lot of cities, the real estate market in Sydney's inner suburbs seems to live by its own rules.

The character of Surry Hills is changing rapidly. While a lot of the buildings are of a similar style, 100-year-old worker's cottages, their condition veers wildly, from run-down student share houses with tattered flags in the window, to million dollar renovations with sports cars and SUVs parked out front.

This was never more apparent than recently, when the home of Natalie Jean Wood was put up for sale, after she was found to have died in her bed - eight years previously - and never been reported missing, or checked on by family or friends, in that time.

The Way We Look, Tonight

The Way We Look, Tonight

There are always two sides to every event, a wise photographer once told me; there's what's happening, and then there's the audience's reaction to what's happening.

I often say to my friends, you can tell when I've had a really good time at something, because there aren't any photos of it. By which I mean, I've been so caught up in whatever it was - a concert, a party, a dinner with friends - that I never once thought about documenting it for others, or for myself in the future...