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Thread: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

  1. #1
    Mitch Alland
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    GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Yesterday afternoon I was walking around Siam Square in Bangkok waiting for someone and started shooting in this shopping area. As I was distracted by a phone call I didn't realize that I had turned on the camera with the MY2 setting which was set for ISO 200 — normally I would have shot with the MY1 setting (ISO 400) unless the light was too bright — sort of like the mistake I made on last Friday night's series with the GT-1 tele-converter at ISO 1600 when I was shooting at f/4.0 thinking that it was f/2.4. Well, I'm glad that I did because I now like this "harder edge" of the ISO 200 which, with a good bit of contrast, shows well the nature of the brightness and harshness of the light.

    I used to shoot these types of pictures at the SNAP (2.5m) focus setting, but now I use manually focus and preset to either 2.5m or 1m, and switch between the two, because I find that I like to take a lot of shots at the closer distance; and at about 1m the pictures are not that sharp at the SNAP setting.

    I might use most of these pictures in the "commercialism" chapter of my (never materializing) book project, a slideshow of which you can see here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1026877...71568487/show/

    As usual I welcome any comments or critique whether you like the pictures or not and am also interested in which pictures you think don't work.





























    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  2. #2
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    Maggie O's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    These have a nice "Tri-X in D-76" kind of look to them, Mitch. The 1st, 5th and 6th have a nice play of geometry going on that's enhanced by the high contrast. Were these done with the 40mm?

  3. #3
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Thanks, Maggie. No, these were taken with the 28mm EFL. Generally, I find that for this type of street photography the 28mm EFL is more suitable than the 40mm one because as you walk on these crowded streets it takes a few seconds to pick out what you want to shoot from everything happening in front of you — and with the 40mm lens you're often too close, and therefore too late by the time you've picked out what you want to shoot. On the other hand I like the perspective and the different sense of space produced by the 40mm EFL. The most difficult thing is adjusting your timing after you've changed from one focal length to the other.

    On the first picture, I like the Manichean contrast between the light face of the young women on the left with the shadow-dark one on the right. And, BTW, the Muse does sometimes throw you a crumb: when I shot the picture I was not aware of the "Naked" sign on the left.

    —Mitch/Bangkok

  4. #4
    Michael Rivers
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Nice work, Mitch. I particularly like the last photo for the facial expression. On the first two, it seems that there is a bit of highlight detail in the background. Was it easier to hold this detail at 200 vs 400? I am still learning the limitations of SSC capture and blown highlights.

  5. #5
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Thanks, Michael. Actually, I could have recovered some more highlight detail but preferred the higher contrast look to express the extreme bright, tropical light. I think that the highlights would have looked the same at ISO 400.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  6. #6
    Member kai.e.g.'s Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Hi Mitch - that's funny - I first saw these photos in the flickr stream this morning, and was thinking to myself "that's not like Mitch - where's all the trademark grain?". My favourite of this set is the first one.

  7. #7
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Kai, does that mean that you think that they would be better at ISO 400, with some grain? Thanks, I also like the first one.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  8. #8
    Member kai.e.g.'s Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Kai, does that mean that you think that they would be better at ISO 400, with some grain?
    Hmmm, I'm not so sure; not necessarily so. If any of them would benefit, maybe it would be #4 (though I like it as it is, too). I think it was when I saw #4 this morning that I most noticed the relative smoothness compared to most of your recent work. It made me think of one of your GX100 shots that you've used as an example before - I believe it was an outdoor café scene in Paris.

  9. #9
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Good memory: it was probably the picture below that I used as an example of how I wasn't getting the texture that I wanted with the GX100, although I like that camera especially at ISO 400, although the picture below is at ISO 100:





    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  10. #10
    Member kai.e.g.'s Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    The texture/detail in the GRD2 shot is definitely more evident (in stitching, hair, jeans, etc).

  11. #11
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Hi Mitch, I really like the tonality of No1 and 4 above... really great! I was thinking. I might be able to get some shots at 50mm with the E-3, at perhaps ISO 3200 f5.6 to give you an idea of what you could expect with the E-420... would that be of interest?

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  12. #12
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Thanks for the kind words, Brian. Yes, that would be interesting — and I'd also like to know how usable the image in LiveView is when pushing to ISO 3200.

    —Mitch/Banhkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  13. #13
    PeterLeyssens
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Hi Mitch,

    I've just taken a look at your Flickr gallery and I'm quite impressed. I'm not a very big fan of street photography because I usually find the results very messy. A street scene frequently has a lot of visual elements and this results in excess of information on a photo. I guess the process of making a book takes a lot of selection before publication. It's nice of you to give us some insight into how you proceed: you publish fairly raw material here, but your gallery shows a more final selection. Thanks for that !

    As for the photos above, I personally am only a fan of the last one. The facial expression is great and I find the background (2 people looking into a shop with a "Naked" sign) very cheeky The other ones are too busy for me. Looking through your Flickr gallery, your selection there is also much less visually confusing: you've picked the ones that show just a few things. I like that better than the above pictures.

    This is of course just my 2 cents about the above pictures. I have a lot of respect for your ability and the results in the gallery !



    Peter.

  14. #14
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Thanks for the comments Peter. I still have to cut some pictures from the book project and add others, and do some rearrangement as well; but it's really difficult to edit your own work — and your view of individual pictures changes over time as well. Nevertheless, I think the overall quality and the impression the project creates would be greatly increased if I cut some 10-20 pictures, but I haven't yet been able to figure out which ones. The project has gone through some 3-4 edits already. Thanks for looking at it.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  15. #15
    PeterLeyssens
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Tell me about changing opinions on your own work ! Some years ago, I frequently traveled to Asia for work and was considering doing a dual view of Asia. I bought one of those chinese harmonica books and I wanted to show old Asia on one side and modern Asia on the other side. I was just getting a bit more serious back then and my own opinion of what I'd shot was shifting every other month. In the end, I guess I learned a bit more and I didn't like any of the pictures anymore, so I scrapped the project

    What I like about your pictures is your very specific style. Now I'm picking up photography again, that's one thing I want to work on. I've also subscribed to LensWork and it's very inspiring to have a magazine with portfolios and views instead of equipment reviews. It's also why I like Sean's reviews and this forum: we may discuss equipment but it's mostly result oriented, not equipment oriented.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterLeyssens View Post
    It's also why I like Sean's reviews and this forum: we may discuss equipment but it's mostly result oriented, not equipment oriented.
    Amen to that one Peter!

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  17. #17
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch, having looked through the excellent shots in your book project, I think you could also consider using a Hexanon 40mm f1.8 pancake lens, at f5.6 and zone focus manually on the E-420... I will do some examples with both if I can.

    Here's an idea of what the E-420 would look like with the 40mm Hexanon fitted :


    It could be too long for your usual work, but it's such a sharp lens that it's worth having around. Here's a shot I took recently with it on the E-400.


    And another shot, with this combination... ISO 1250 on the E-400


    ...at ISO 100 on the E-400


    In answer to your question about the live view - on the E-3 there's a display gain option which brightens up the lcd display to compensate for a low light scene. It goes to B&W at very low light levels.

    Kind Regards

    Brian
    Last edited by Brian Mosley; 6th March 2008 at 04:32.

  18. #18
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    The trouble with a 40mm lens is that the EFL will produce an EFL of 80mm on the E420, which is much too long for my street photography. For example, on my Leica M6 I almost never used a 90mm lens and found the 75mm too long.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

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    Deceased, but remembered fondly here... johnastovall's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch, wonder full work. You are following in the footsteps of Winogrand's "Women Are Beautiful" but with your distinctive look and style on the streets of Bangkok.

    Keep it going....

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
    Mike Johnston


  20. #20
    Player
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch, shucks, I like 'em all, ISO 200, ISO 400, whatever. It proves to me that a good/ great photographer will always transcend technique. I mean if you took a mediocre picture, and experimented with different ISOs, it would still be a mediocre picture.

    You gotta get your work published in a book! Great stuff!

  21. #21
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch I like these a lot.
    The girl in number 4, in the middle, that almost confrontational glare!
    And the last with the girl on the cell, with the "Naked" sign behind her, interesting juxtaposition

  22. #22
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Thank you for the kind words John, Player and Lili.

    Brian, when I responded to your posting above, for some reason I didn't see the pictures: possibly my ISP hiccoughed. It's difficult to see from small JPGs but, as I wrote in another thread — or was it here? — given the image quality the GRD2 produces, and with the flexibility of the 21 and 40mm EFL converters, in the end I may not have any interest in a camera with a larger sensor like the E420, although it does look dazzling.

    Player, finding a publisher is hard work and the effort can be soul-destroying — I'm looking but haven't had much time to do so lately. And I've got to do another edit soon.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  23. #23
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Player, finding a publisher is hard work and the effort can be soul-destroying
    Would you consider getting a [literary] agent to do this?
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  24. #24
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    More nice pictures, Mitch. I like when they're snappy as an extension of the actual scene or conditions or information being communicated in the photo, as in the 1st and 4th pictures. I think clarity and gentler pp works best for "information" images, no need to "fake" it, and that this approach will sit well in context with your more impressionistic or mood pictures, the ones where blowing the highlights and pumping the grain almost function as a way for you to relate your emotional experience of the environment you're shooting to your viewers, without sacrificing crucial information.

    Mitch, I don't generally respond to requests for criticism, because I don't want to be criticized myself. It's all so subjective, and many of us pursue the arts because this is a place where we can make our own decisions and live by them. I'm happy to offer you my thoughts, but in general I try to keep my opinions about others' work to myself, except to offer some big fat praise once in a while, and this despite truly enjoying what so many photographers are sharing here and on flickr on a regular basis. Ultimately, whether I like it or not, I figure we do what we do because that's what we wanted to do. No matter how technical things get around here, I always assume it is because we're all trying to find new and better ways of making the pictures we want to make.

    Beyond making clients happy, which is gratifying in itself, the relationships in which I invite criticism are generally ones where satisfying another person's subjective viewpoint — which doesn't mean "selling out" — is integral to enlisting his/help in my cause, ie to get something sold or published.

    That's why I think discussing your intent to make a book with a literary agent is an excellent suggestion by Robert Campbell. There is a conventional (and often infuriating) wisdom among editors, but in the end, in their weirdly uniform way of responding to any given proposal, and the criteria they espouse for what will make a bunch of content function as a book is very often kind of ... dead-on. A good agent thinks the same way, and if you find one you respect and work with him/her, beyond getting published, it could really help help clarify and narrow your goals, and maybe set some new opportunities for pictures in motion to achieve those goals, and "get out of the way" once it's become clear that your project has taken on a life of its own. Ultimately, it could help make the project more successful artistically. In my mind, the best kind of criticism comes from someone who puts it on the line: "If you do a, b, and c, then I will go to bat for you."

    Otherwise, I think unadulterated over-the-top praise is incredibly helpful, especially from friends, and I'm being totally serious. And giving it feels good.

    Anyway, keep on keepin' on. You have a lot of fans out here.

  25. #25
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Would you consider getting a [literary] agent to do this?
    Yes, Robert but the w=question is where? This type of a book might best be received in Japan, where more photo books are published than anywhere else, and where there is also more interest in Thailand because of some perceived cultural similarities — Buddhhism and monarchy — but this is of a tenuous nature. Also I speak just enough Japanese to be able just about to deal with an agent or publisher. Someone in Japan was going to help me but that hasn't worked out. It's hard to know where to start.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  26. #26
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Ian, I tend to value criticism from the point of view of being able to see things in your work differently than you may see it. It can also be fruitful to see why a critic doesn't like something that you like. One of the people who understood my project completely was a young French woman who is the fashion editor of the French Gala magazine, and of course she was professional. Her comments were very helpful.

    On the question of an agent, as I wrote in the previous posting: where to find one: Japan?, elsewhere?, and how to find one?

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  27. #27
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Yes, Robert but the w=question is where? This type of a book might best be received in Japan, where more photo books are published than anywhere else, and where there is also more interest in Thailand because of some perceived cultural similarities — Buddhhism and monarchy — but this is of a tenuous nature. Also I speak just enough Japanese to be able just about to deal with an agent or publisher. Someone in Japan was going to help me but that hasn't worked out. It's hard to know where to start.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    My copy of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook is a bit out of date. You could try these, if you haven't already - only the first seems to be listed in the book.

    Hamish Macaskill
    The English Agency (Japan) Ltd.
    Sakuragi Bldg. 4F
    6-7-3 Minami Aoyama
    Minato-ku,
    Tokyo 107-0062
    Japan

    Telephone: 03-3406-5385
    Fax: 03-3406-5387
    Email: [email protected]

    Tachi Nagasawa
    Japan Uni Agency, Inc.
    1-27 Kanda Jinbo-cho
    Chiyoda-ku,
    Tokyo 101-0051
    Japan

    Telephone: +81-3-3295-0301
    Fax: +81-3-3294-5173
    Email: [email protected]

    Solan Natsume, Senior Agent
    Tuttle-Mori Agency Inc.
    2-15 Kanda Jimbocho
    Chiyoda-ku,
    Tokyo 0051
    Japan

    Telephone: 03 3230 4081
    Fax: 03 3234 5249
    Email: [email protected]

    There is also the Orion Literary Agency in Tokyo - it may be the same as Japan Uni Agency, Inc.
    phone no: 03-3295-1405
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  28. #28
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Your open-minded attitude is admirable.

    Agents who handle illustrated books at all are few and far between. For the major trade publishers in America, a lot of the time it's actually book packagers — all in one setups that basically hand the publisher a finished, print-ready book. They're smart too, and worth exploring.

    If there's a recent book similar to the one you're interested in publishing, I'd investigate who was behind that one; author/publisher/editor/agent. It may end up taking you writing a letter to a kindred photographer who has already been published and turns out to be capable and open to championing your cause, to get you a sit down with the right person. If that woman at Gala gets you and what you're about, it make take figuring out (and then spelling out to her) a more specific way she may be able to help you (as opposed to a hail mary, Helllppppp!) that she is unaware of — something bite-size, again probably an introduction.

    In the end, who knows, some editor trolling flickr could respond in a big way; end of story. But it may not be productive to count on that happening. I do know one thing, the gestation period for these kinds of projects can last ten years or longer, more than you'd ever have planned or wanted them too, and in the end it isn't wasted time; deepening perspective evolving over time can lend a palpable authority to your work. Try not lose heart.

  29. #29
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Nice, B. That's generous.

  30. #30
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Bertie, you rock!

  31. #31
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by 7ian7 View Post
    Mitch, I don't generally respond to requests for criticism, because I don't want to be criticized myself. It's all so subjective,
    I think you should distinguish between criticism and critique. Criticism is negative - in my opinion you are wrong [and I am the expert, so there!]

    Critique is meant to be a positive experience - though easier to achieve in an objective rather than a subjective field.

    In critique, firstly the critiquer accentuates the positive - what you have done well, and then [and this must come second] indicates areas for improvement - where you could do better. It isn't meant to be negative, but a more positive reinforcement.

    Critique must have both of these components, otherwise is isn't critique but either applause or criticism.

    You need not like the artist's style or aesthetic, but you can still offer a critique if you wish; what has been done well, what has been achieved and why; and then ask or suggest alternatives - of the why not such-and-such type or wouldn't it be an improvement if this were added/omitted etc.

    And if you are looking for themes to hang critique around you can always fall back onto Kipling's list - who, what, where, why, when and how.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  32. #32
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Thanks, Bertie, I'll have a go at that.

    Ian, the trouble is that my project is similar in concept to some books by Moriyama Daido, one the greatest contemporary Japanese photographers.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  33. #33
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Hi Mitch, another issue which occurred to me this afternoon - out in the street with my E-3, was the shutter sound... you will be used to the tiny GX100 with silent shutter - the E-420 will have a DSLR sound.

    To be honest, seeing the quality of your shots here I'd say you have the perfect photographic tool for your purposes!

    Well Done, and thanks for sharing.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  34. #34
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    That's hardly a problem, Mitch. Don't they say opportunity is where the competition is? Anyway, the reverent way you talk about Daido, if there really are similarities, they may be perceived as an homage.

    I hear you, Bertie. I was raised under a terribly acute degree of artistic and creative criticism, a truly debilitating degree. I am way way more wary of going there than the average person, I guess. I learn from images with characteristics I'd like to emulate by looking at them and sometimes making direct comparisons with my own work. When I'm inspired by an image that has been posted here, I feel lucky that each photographer is generally open about including technical and philosophical details about his/her methodology and approach. It can be very inspiring.

    My understanding of how an image should/can look evolved tremendously over the course of working in a lab on pictures shot by famous photographers. Processing approaches are less personal than actual image-making, even if the two things do overlap, and I'm very interested in talking about that kind of thing. I've learned a lot on the web, and on this forum.

    Anyway, I don't mind at all if anyone else is holding crits here; I'm just less likely to participate in that kind of thing, and hope if someone sees my work at some point, they can limit themselves to saying "nice" things, however silly that sounds. If I'm doing something crazy wrong, chances are having it pointed out on this forum won't save me from myself! And there's a good chance that the element someone here thinks could make a picture better, someone else somewhere else will say is making it worse.

    That's why I try to limit who I receive crits from to people who know me and my work really well, and more importantly are actually invested in my success.

    Ok, gotta go. I'll check in tomorrow.

  35. #35
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Ian, the trouble is that my project is similar in concept to some books by Moriyama Daido, one the greatest contemporary Japanese photographers.
    Mitch,

    His books are about Japan aren't they? Yours are of Bangkok. Both in B/W - but so what?

    I had a quick look at your Flickr book project. It wasn't entirely clear to me what your theme was; there are street scenes and nudes, for example.

    What are you trying to portray, and why? - I suggest that any agent will want you to be quite clear about what you are trying to achieve - perhaps even to the extent that you have to actively seek out subjects - if you haven't already -as well as fortuitous pix.

    Daido's pictures, as I understand, are printed very large; this by itself is unusual for Japan. I read elsewhere that a photographer was asked to make smallish prints for his exhibition in Japan and large large ones for the US. It seemed that as houses/rooms are small in Japan, so the prints must be sized appropriately; so I don't know just what statement Daido was making with his outsize ones.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  36. #36
    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    FAVORITE SHOT is #1
    Leaves me wanting to know what the buzz is all about
    Lolipop man taking in all his friends facial expressions....Its wonderful
    and of course Shot 4
    but I fell in love w/the two people crouching & looking under the 'Naked' sign (but found the girl in the forefront to be an intrusion.)
    Cheers ! Beautiful tonality......Helen

  37. #37
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Ian, the trouble is that my project is similar in concept to some books by Moriyama Daido, one the greatest contemporary Japanese photographers.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    I know nothing - well, not much, but I've just spent 1/2 hour going through your book project as a slide show, and I think it works. Just love the nude followed by the lamp shades at the end.

    Inevitably a question - why is it that after a nude shot you have a plant shot, followed by a shot of fish? I know it isn't quite universal, but I guess it isn't accidental, and I'm too dense to understand the connection!

    I guess the thing that hits me in the face is that you really have abandoned the 'process' for the image . . . .I'm so jealous!

    Just this guy you know

  38. #38
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch, Bertie is right-on with his line of questioning. It may feel exasperating that your aims or intent won't be as obvious or clear to some others as they are to you, but clarifying your vision for those who aren't connecting the dots straight away is a process that will ultimately make the project even stronger.

    Jono's jealousy is such a sweet compliment! That's the thing, ultimately what makes your book a book is you saying it's one (worked for me), and the bravado you exhibit in taking your work that seriously will serve you well.

  39. #39
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Yes, Robert but the w=question is where?
    There is at least one locally:
    Supanya Pratum
    Tuttle-Mori Agency Inc.
    6th FL., Siam Inter Comics Bldg.
    459 Soi Piboon-Oppathum (Ladprao 48)
    Samsen Nok, Huay Kwang,
    Bangkok 10320
    Thailand

    Telephone: (662) 694-3026
    Fax: (662) 694-3027
    Email: [email protected]

    I don't know anything about them.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  40. #40
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Quote Originally Posted by 7ian7 View Post

    Jono's jealousy is such a sweet compliment! That's the thing, ultimately what makes your book a book is you saying it's one (worked for me), and the bravado you exhibit in taking your work that seriously will serve you well.
    Thank you Ian - it was meant as one, and it's nice that it was appreciated as such!

    Just this guy you know

  41. #41
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch,
    You could try a Google on MD, or look at amazon for his publishers. I got as far as Seiun-Sha which meant nothing at all to me, and their site needs a password etc to log in.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  42. #42
    Mitch Alland
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    Concept and structure of the book project

    Brian, Ian, Bertie, Jono and Helen:

    Woke up late this morning and found lots of interesting comments, suggestions and questions. Thank you for taking the trouble to look at the book project and for devoting some thought to this. Let me try to deal with the questions.

    First, the concept and structure of the book. I have often thought that a photograph works in the same way as a poem, that its form — in the sense of its overall shape, design or geometry — needs to be tied to the content and that the meaning emerges from the interplay of the two: so that a photograph 'is" the way a poem "is", with "form" in in the picture being at the base of it. Whatever story one is trying to tell, pictures work because of of their graphic form and fail because of its lack or deficiency, no matter how strong the concept or the story behind them. To make a photograph successful, you have to "feel the form" when making it so the viewer feels the form when looking at it, and the meaning emerges ultimately from this sense of form. This idea is discussed in the following interesting, long thread on LUF:

    http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-...an-reid-s.html

    Now, when embarking on the project I started thinking about the structure for the book in terms of something that would work in the sense of a narrative poem: that is, there is a type of narrative in the book with emphasis based on repetition or cycles so that the repetition of themes in the structure — each of the four chapters starting with the fish and ending wigh a nude followed by a palm leaf — work like rhythm and rhyme in a poem. The general theme of the book — it's a dark vision — is the difficulty of life in a large, sprawling, chaotic, hot tropical city. While the Thais have charm and grace, life and human relations are are often harsh; and it's not the mindless "land of smiles" that the Tourism Authority of Thailand promotes. In my book no one smiles, although some girls laugh hysterically. In this difficult city the people face go through life with some grace, but the harshness is still there. I also though for a time of how one could present a tragic sense of life with photographs — and there is some attempt to do that.

    While I cannot tell you the title for fear of someone else appropriating it, I have the following quote in the book, which follows the first photograph:

    All this is life, must be life, since it is so much like a dream. JOSEPH CONRAD

    There are four chapters. In the first version, which I printed out on A4 sheets cut to 21x25.5cm and bound in a hard, dark blue cover — which only cost US$6 to do here*— I had a title page for each of the chapters, which I subsequently eliminated because, as there were only 58 pictures in the first version, the title pages became too ponderous. Now that I have 158 pages, which will soon go to 170 pages, I'm considering putting a blank page between the chapters or reinserting the title pages. The title of the chapters were as follows — the titles are in English and Thai, but keep in mind that Thai uses Sanskrit and Pali for most complicated concepts or abstract words, the way English uses Latin and Greek, so that the titles are equivalent to using latinate words in English (except or chapter 2). Perhaps the titles can help to give you some sense of the idea of the book. They are:

    1. Souvannaphoum/Golden Land
    This was the ancient name for this region: when Louis XIV sent an embassy to Siam the envoys found that the country was richer than France and the people better off. This title is obviously ironic.

    2. Emporium/Paragons
    This chapter is on commercialism, and the name of the two most upscale shopping centres are "Emporium" and "Siam Paragon".

    3. Mahavithayalai/University
    Women university students are very striking here because they wear distinctive uniforms, with white blouses and black skirts, many being intentionally cut several sizes too small...enough said. Among men there is among a cult-like fascination with these uniforms, as with the "sailor" uniforms of highschool girls in Japan.

    4. [i]Mahanagar/Metropolis</i>
    The idea behind this chapter is to try to show an integration with some grace of people into the life of this chaotic and difficult city.

    I'm leaning towards not putting in the titles.

    On Moriyama, while most of his books are about Japan, he has two recent books about Hawaii and Buenos Aieres and a third one about major cities throughout the world. I doubt that its fruitful to try his publishers, as he's too famous.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  43. #43
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch,

    To my eye you're overstating the parallels between yours and Daido Moriyama's work.

    In any case, what you're about to read will come off in my typical, unintentionally didactic written tone — sorry, I'm actually funny in person — but these are just my initial thoughts, and I reserve the right to reconsider, too. I'm sure many will feel I deserve a PHD in the obvious, but here it is. I'll be rooting for you and eager to see how you proceed whether or not you agree with anything I say.

    What you've written is a good start, but it's not going to get you a deal. I'd like to see a proposal that spends less time using words to describe the feelings you intend to evoke in your reader with your photos, as those photos will be a part of any presentation, and will have to stand up on their own. The Conrad quote is nice, but that's it for ... ethereality.

    Instead, emphasize the aspect of your description where you allude to a tangible structure, and where you specifically state what those chapters will address and accomplish. Aside from the fact that you waffle about your commitment to your proposed structure, that's the strong part.

    I'm not saying you have to stick to the structure described here, I'm just saying that when you break down exactly how you see this book — literally, physically — it makes it way more tangible, more solid, more easy to imagine as an object, especially for someone who hasn't been walking around with your vision in his head for the past five years. Explaining it won't do. For 99 out of 100 agents or editors, the "object" part is everything. Even if all it ends up being is something for them to demand that you completely change, the process of clarifying your vision is still a crucial way for you to move forward, especially for a book that isn't as simple as a straight-ahead travel or journalistic subject.

    Ok, the opening of your description sounds a bit like an imaginary interview with yourself. If the poem cycle metaphor is crucial to this book — and I think it is an interesting viewpoint and approach — you may want to commit to codifying that metaphor or similarity in some way, maybe even by incorporating it as a subheading — Poem Cycle 1, 2 or some such thing — beneath each chapter title. I'd have to see more of how this concept is implemented to know how I feel about it, but offhand, late at night as I think about it, it seems like a bold move, a little wacky, a little self-aggrandizing, but also pretty cool and romantic, especially in light of the dark perspective. But however you incorporate it, don't tell us this is like a poem, instruct us, in some physical way, that it is a poem.

    Next, as much as this has to be a physical thing, I don't think your vision is being served by defining a number of images at this stage. I think it may be too early. 170 is a lot of pictures. As you begin to sharpen your tangible vision for this book, a number of things can happen, but hopefully what will happen is that you'll become way more disciplined in your edit, and remain open to cutting out anything that doesn't truly serve the book, or adding, but truly identifying any deficits in your undertaking that require and inspire going out and shooting more, with new vigor and clarity and freedom about your goals. If I'm correct, Robert Frank shot 600 rolls to come up with, The Americans, and some consider his success rate for that little book very high.

    Ok two final things: I forgot to mention in one of my earlier posts that designers are the other heavy players in the photo book world. There are many established designers who can get a deal done, so approaching one you respect is a great idea. There's a strong argument that you shouldn't waste your time making a book dummy that doesn't do justice to your hopes for its design, and instead prepare a couple of four-inch thick boxes with so many prints in them that the authority of your accomplishment is so palpable as to be indisputable, even if all those pictures won't ever make it in to the book. That's the thing, at a certain point, the images should suggest a book to anyone who goes through them, even if what they envision is a completely different book than the one you intended to make. Who knows, there may be a designer or editor out there who inspires you to trust him enough to hand off the material, and let him go for it — design, sequencing, edit, everything. That's not a bad thing at all, if it's the right person. Many, many fantastic books have been made that way. (I know, it doesn't sound like the best option.)

    And the title; if your title is really so strong that you're afraid it will be stolen by someone on the Ricoh user forum, than it's worth SHOUTING that damn title to anyone who will listen. Make it yours, make it synonymous with your work and your name — MITCHELL ALLAND/BLANK BLANK — and make every publisher's ears in Asia ring with it. Anyway, you'll have to tell publishers, and they're the ones most likely to steal it. If it's stolen, it wasn't meant to be. But in my experience, there's always some blurry figure in the shadows edging in on your creative territory — the process of a book making it's way to the light of day is so slowwww — but those paranoid fears don't usually end up amounting to anything.

    If you focus on making a book proposal as specific to your vision as possible, and then reapply yourself to making the work live up to that vision, to making the work as strong as possible and then to getting it out there, ultimately nothing anyone else does will dilute the impact of your accomplishment. I can't wait to see it at Dashwood books, here in NYC, so keep going.

    http://www.dashwoodbooks.com/

    Ok. I'm delirious and should've stopped an hour ago. Keep us posted.

    Good luck.

  44. #44
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    this is all great info as I've been toying with converting some of my blog posts (the "free verse" stuff") into a mixed media piece. I could do it as a book including photos, or go DVD and include my music and motion stuff. So many possibilities...this is a great century to be alive and able to create in.

  45. #45
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Ian, I see you were up at 2:30am writing this! Let me deal with some of your points.

    1. I don't mean to be saying that my photography is like that of Moriyama; rather I think that he's an important influence.

    2. I don't want the book to have any writing, as I believe in the photographs should speak for themselves; that's also why I am reluctant to have chapter titles as well. You mentioned Robert Franks's The Americans: I just had a look at my copy and he has not writing in it. The only thing that I might have is the Conrad quote which, although not essential, has sentimental meaning for me because I also was born in Poland and English was also the third language that I learned. Currently, I have the following afterword, under the title of Influences but that is not necessary either:
    First, Don McCullin’s book, Open Skies, with its dark vision inspired me to learn darkroom printing and begin serious black and white photography. From Ralph Gibson I saw how a part can give a more powerful impression than the whole, especially if the underlying graphic forms are strong, as when shadows are pushed to black. And from Moriyama Daido—who felt that photography which is too exquisite becomes too self-confident to challenge its own meaning and loses reality—I learned to love the 35mm aesthetic, particularly the effect of large grain, deep, black shadows and heightened contrast. As usual, one is a midget standing on the shoulders of giants.
    3. The explanation that I wrote above was prompted by whoever asked why each nude was followed by a plant: hence, I thought that I'd best explain the structure and the underlying concept of the book because it's so much harder for the viewer looking at a flickr slide show to grasp this than it is looking through a book.

    4. The first version of the book that I printed and bound, and the next version that I'll do, is not meant as a layout, but only convenient way of presenting a sequence, which may in any case change. As for the metaphor of the poem, it's only a metaphor and the pictures are the pictures and the book is the book, which, again, must speak for itself — I think we are on the same wavelength here.

    5. Nor do I mean at this stage to be defining the number of pictures in the book: I was only indicating that I have about a dozen pictures that I'll be adding; but there are some that I'll be deleting once I find the courage to cut them out. And I feel that the quality of the book will be improved if I delete some of the pictures.

    6. On designers, as I said, I'm not making a dummy layout — only a sequence. But designers can be a two-edged sword; but that's like saying that the designer has to be good. I started to discuss this with a designer friend but gave up when her first suggestion was to bleed a third of a picture onto the next page...

    7. Dashwood Books, here we go...

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  46. #46
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Yes, 2:30 a.m., craziness.

    Mitch, creating a succinct document that outlines your vision for this book is an important exercise, for you, for the success of the pursuit, and for your potential allies, whether or not those components are visible on the surface of the final product. As an unpublished photographer (for all intents and purposes), you will help your chances by delineating goals that tame the possible perception that you are attempting to publish a sprawling monograph.

    Unless you publish this as a vanity-type thing, it will be a collaborative endeavor. Aligning yourself with a collaborator that will enrich the potential for your book is crucial, and it isn't so important that it be pain-free. However steadfast you are about certain principles of your vision, it will serve you to at least give the impression that you are truly inviting your chosen participants in to the process. A big way to do that — one I have ongoing difficulty with — is simply allowing a beat or two or three to pass, or a day, to let in ideas that initially seem anathema to your goals, y'know, "Very interesting; let me think about that for a while." The cool thing is, the right collaborator will really surprise you. Anyway, the mere suggestion of a bleed from one page to the next is not a deal-breaker.

    Don't worry about an easy presentation. I think a box of prints signals to an editor or designer or publisher that the project is on some level still in play. Bound pictures may alienate many editors or publishers, who will on some level need to immerse themselves in your work in order to make it their own. Remember that great picture of Avedon in socks gingerly crouching between his prints laid out on the floor, as Alexi Brodovitch, in big shoes, stands with disregard for crimping the prints, as he suggests sequencing changes for an exhibition?

    A box, a single page proposal which nails it. This could be compelling. Come to think of it, the owner of Dashwood, David Strettell, is smart as hell, ran a division of Magnum for years, is an expert on the Asian art-photography scene, knows everyone in that universe, and at least as of a year ago was planning on publishing a limited amount of titles under his own imprint. At the very least, he may be an excellent barometer for how others in that world may respond to what you're doing and where you want to go with it (which is not to say his opinion would be right or wrong, just indicative of what may lie ahead). And who knows, if he did get the right feeling about you and about the work, he could point you in any number of valuable directions. It's worth reading the about page on his website:

    http://www.dashwoodbooks.com/about.c...il=&menu=about

    Ok, I'm done with this for now, but looking forward to seeing how your project evolves.

    And curious about the title.

  47. #47
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch,

    A few further slightly random thoughts - and I'm not trying to - nor repeat what Ian said.

    I approached a publisher nearly three years ago with a proposal, to be told that the market had suffered a decline in that area and they weren't going to commission any further such works.

    So, publishers are in the business of making money - for themselves, as much as their artists/authors. So you - or your agent - needs to know the market - you have already suggested Japan.

    You could try self-publishing, but hawking the books around seems to be very hard work. And you could try 'vanity publishing' - but this is a very dubious path to follow, and generally not recommended. You could publish 'privately' and just give the books away, but I don't think this is what you have in mind.

    You could approach a publisher directly - MD's for example; if they will publish his work, they might well be more rather than less interested in similar books. MD does seem to have several publishers, but these may be acting as 'agents' for oneanother. But by going directly, you as a newcomer will almost certainly loose a lot of control over the end product.

    I think the only realistic option is an agent who knows the market, and can present your 'case' to a publisher - and can advise/help/criticise/critique your work - after all, they are the professionals, you are the artist.

    For example, they might suggest 'testing' the market by publishing only one individual chapter, and if successful, then publish the rest - cheaper for the publisher, less risky for them.

    They could also suggest an exhibition alongside the book, with pix available for purchase. This might give you some PP headaches - I'm no expert, but I expect the PP for book-size plates might differ from big enlargements. Don't however be seduced by posters - these pay very badly.

    If this is starting to sound like 'the struggling artist versus grubby commerce', then remember that JK Rowling went through 17 or somesuch agents/publishers before getting accepted.

    Your quote from Conrad reminded me of the last line of Lewis Carroll's acrostic poem at the end of Alice through the Looking Glass:

    Life, what is it but a dream?

    Good Luck, and keep us posted on progress!
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  48. #48
    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Yes indeed the Publishing market is struggling !
    The most unfortunate reason ..... People are NOT reading books
    ( I also suspect the market has gotten flooded with boring & bad Literature /
    nor would I recommend self publishing for Literature )
    but visual or Non fiction seems to have a better chance.

    There is NOTHING wrong with Self publishing
    ('Vanity Publishing' was the old term people would say who want to look down on you anyway)
    As long as you can establish a market /clientele there s a good chance in achieving that ideal.
    Certain Self Publishing companies are able to hook you up with Amazon or Barnes & Noble & secure you radio interviews (etc)
    and possibly Blk&White is not so costly
    The great thing is you can do a Limited Edition

    I'm sure Mitch would be able to have a certain amount of Success
    because I feel alot of his internet friends & viewers would support his endeavour.
    So Just A Thought.... Be Daring.... Be Creative
    Cheers ! Helen

  49. #49
    Mitch Alland
    Guest

    The book project

    Thanks again, Ian, Bertie and Helen.

    1. I don't really want to get into self-publishing.

    2. What I have to do now is to do a real, hard edit by adding about a dozen pictures that I want to include at this stage and deleting an undetermined number. The latter is the difficult part. The fact that I find it easy to add pictures may indicated that the project is nowhere near ready for publication, but somewhere there must be a point of diminishing returns in terms of adding new pictures.

    3. Ian, I take your point about not presenting the pictures in a bound format: perhaps what I should do is to print them on A4 sheets and trim them paper to be square so that people don't have turn prints to see the ones in "portrait" orientation.

    4. I've made good friends with a very famous photographer who lives in New York and Bangkok and will discuss the project with him when he gets back here, but there are obviously great differences in approach between someone who is as famous, probably more so, than Moriyama and someone who is unpublished; but I'll also see what he thinks about getting an agent or approaching publishers by myself and when to do it.

    5. Bertie, quite a difference in tone between the Lewis Carrol and Joseph Conrad quote, as of course there is in the point of view of the two writers.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  50. #50
    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: GRD2 Walkabout at ISO 200

    Mitch
    One of my clients / the actress Stefanie Powers did a self publish book on 'Pilates" and did very well.
    For Non Fiction work it is not looked DOWN upon and it gives you
    more control over content,editing etc / Publishers can often turn a book into a Farce.....
    Toodles, Helen

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