I’ve been a fan of Michael Kenna’s stark mono images for some time, and my recent trips to Gran Canaria yielded some images that suit this style of photography. To be fair, only a few of them were shot with mono in mind, and I’m pretty sure that composing and shooting for mono would yield better results, but it’s a start anyway! These are all digital images rather than film, and likewise, some were iPhone shots, so the image quality is limited. Expect to see more images from me in this style, although it’s pretty clear I will never be able to match the quality of Michael’s work!
Looking back on 2019 I see that I took roughly the same number of ‘proper’ photos (ie with my actual camera as opposed to my smartphone) as in previous years. What is a little concerning is that apart from a couple of organised events that I went to during the year, most of my photos have been taken during holidays. I haven’t been ‘going out’ very much other times specifically to take photos.
By contrast, the number of photos taken on my smartphone has increased by over 50% this year. This is no doubt due to having a new and much better phone – the iPhone 11 Pro, with its multiple lens options. Whereas in previous years I would often take either my Sony A7 or at least a compact camera pretty much everywhere with me, nowadays I only take the Sony when I envisage the opportunity for some ‘considered’ photography. I reckon my smartphone images are ‘good enough’ for family, occasions, and casual photos where I only anticipate viewing them on screen, and of course the phone is way more compact and convenient than a bag holding a camera body, lenses and filters. As an aside, there have been a few photographs (mainly at night) where the enhanced processing and AI capabilities of the iPhone have yielded photographs I don’t think would have been possible even with the Sony…
Indeed, the whole issue of how much I can sensibly carry has caused me to slim down my photo gear – the bigger, heavier lenses have all gone, as has the filter system that went with them, and I now just have one camera body, a couple of smaller lenses and a few other bits and pieces in my bag. I’ve reduced the scope of what I can photograph somewhat, and maybe reduced the ultimate image quality marginally, but my backpack now weighs about 50% less, and is definitely more manageable. This hasn’t translated into going out more yet, but I’m sure it will – there have certainly been occasions over the last year or two where I’ve passed up on opportunities to go out shooting because I couldn’t face the prospect of carrying the gear! And that does make good sense – with my 70th birthday looming, and an obvious reduction in my strength, stamina and mobility, I’ve (finally) recognised that I have to adapt to change…
So I guess it remains to be seen whether this slimming down of gear to more manageable proportions does result in me getting out and actually taking more photos. I do think a change of direction is called for anyway – for years I’ve considered myself primarily a landscape photographer, but am less and less interested in the genre. Some of that is the challenge of getting to often out of the way spots either very early in the morning or late in the evening, and I do find so many of the landscape photos I see as somewhat formulaic – sunsets, sunrises and sea, either all misty and ethereal or using very long exposures… After 60 years taking photographs I really want to try something different and more creative rather than replicating the sort of photos I see all over the internet.
That’s looking forward, but a few of my highlights from 2019 are as follows:
Gran Canaria – we started our year’s holidays here, and although we didn’t travel far from our hotel, there was still lots to see.
Cornwall – we spent a week there in May and then a few days right at the end of the year. The coastline and sea is always the pull for me.
Ireland – we toured the Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland’s rugged West Coast, but the highlight for me was the Giants Causeway in Antrim, somewhere that’s been on my bucket list for a long time!
Santorini – a late summer holiday on this delightful Greek island. Lots of white houses and churches with blue roofs.
Liverpool – an evening trip with a bunch of fellow togs to photograph the lights around the Albert Dock area.