Saturday, March 20, 2010


Our current computer/photoshop project is for a book-cover design, so I went for the book I'm reading at the moment - 'Mary' by Vladimir Nabokov. He's got the oddest writing style - it's not overtly strange, just mildly unsettling, but in an entirely positive way, his books (especially his short stories) are generally really funny.
I'm useless at designing things from scratch. The whole process from idea to finished product has always been beyond me, try as I might. Which is maybe another reason I took up photography - a lot of the time the act of photographing is entirely reactionary, at least it is for me when I just wander around and find stuff. So I'm generally mystified by designers of any kind, people who can have an idea, visualise it and then execute it. But I'm happy with this so far - it's a little bit of a cheat in that I've used one of my own photographs (of a broken shop window) but I think it's justified. The idea behind it is sort of based on one particular scene in the book where a fight takes place and glass gets broken, and the narrator, Ganin, singles the event out as the beginning of the end of an intense relationship with the Mary of the title. Ganin lives in Berlin and spends much of his time reminiscing about Mary, wrapping the memories around himself and almost cocooning himself in them... I'm still not finished the book, so I don't know if the cover is finished yet either. Or maybe I'm taking it all too seriously...

I love a contact sheet

Contact sheets are my favourite things to make in a darkroom. The photographs are so small you can't really see the imperfections that you know are there and you will eventually see when you enlarge them. On the contact sheet every image looks like a perfect little self-contained universe, neatly arranged and segmented along with the others around it. They tell a story in a way the single image can only really hint at - like the short synopses you'd read at the start of each chapter of old adventure novels. Plus, they're real easy to make and sort of satisfy the need for instant gratification...

These are all quite badly 'scanned' (I just photographed them with a digital camera), hopefully I'll get to use the scanner at school and get some decent files, but for now I just want to make sure I've recorded them. The one above is about the trip I took to Limerick and Cork supporting the 202s and Patrick Kelleher. About half the images were destroyed either by my increasingly fault-ridden camera or just by a freak roll of film, which is pretty disappointing but I'm happy with what wasn't destroyed.  

Christmas at home, taken with a borrowed camera.

I had the idea one day when I was home and killing time before work to just quickly take vertical photographs of windows, but it branched out to include rivers and archway entrances, and then I kind of forgot about the windows a bit. I had the resulting contact sheet in mind; I think I liked the idea of applying uniformity to subjects that were only tenuously related... I had the word 'Ways' in my head while doing it. It was fun, running around trying to spot specific subjects, and I tried to continue taking only vertical photos for the rest of the roll, though I obviously forgot what I was doing at one point.