Polaroids at the Circus

I've been lusting after the new Leica M rangefinder camera this weekend. Sometimes you just want to work simple and have some fun. I'm kicking myself that years back I sold off my two Leica M6's with amazing Leica glass out the front. At that time they just didn't cut it for the style of magazine and commercial work I was doing. Even film is something I'm now begging to miss a lot - "film is not dead it just smells funny" - ain't that the truth. So to scratch my itch I headed out today with my trusty Fuji FP-1 rangefinder Polaroid mothership with a couple of boxes of Fuji FP-3000b and FP-100c. There's a lot to be said about slowing down and considering before hitting the shutter which is something at times we forget with digital. The rangefinder system seems to bring you more in touch with the subject and I love the moment of truth when you peel back a fresh print. Still I love my 5D, iPhone, Lightroom etc etc but shooting a bit of film / polaroid every now and then seems to soothe the soul in a way that digital just doesn't match.Im hoping to build this into an exhibition of images shot around Townsville on Polaroid.

Polaroid black and white

Townscapes Exhibition

My iPhone exhibition opened last week in The Galleria at the Riverway Arts Centre in Townsville. I also held an iPhone workshop in the afternoon which was attended by about 30 people interested in learning some techniques when using their mobile phone as a camera.

The workshop notes for those that are interested can be downloaded here iPhone Workshop Presentation

Earlier this year I was approached by louise from Pinnacles Gallery to hold this exhibition in their new public access space at Riverway. The timing was perfect as I was close to finishing this collection of images which focus on the Townsville urban environment. At first I was somewhat daunted by the prospect of hanging my work in front of large glass windows and it took several attempts to work out a system of printing and hanging that would be suitable in the space provided. Its amazing how many of life problems can be sorted out by searching the products on offer at Bunnings. Curtain rails, timber and a staple gun provided the perfect hanging solution for my 24" x 60" canvas prints. I also needed to hang 100% block out material behind the prints to stop the sunlight from shinning through. The prints were provided by Image Science in Melbourne who did a fantastic job matching what I saw on my monitor to the finished prints.

Budding mobile phone photographers attending my workshop following the opening.

Some sample images from the exhibition.

Didactic for the exhibition

Mobile Phone Photography of our Urban Environment

I confess - guilty as charged - I'm a phone fiddler and by the looks of it so is most of the world. My study of this phenomenon I call the "Subway Ratio" - the percentage of customers in the queue at my local Subway Restaurant who are fiddling with their phone. 50% is about normal and sometimes it's closer to 100%. Is this a good thing? Well frankly who cares? At dinner with the family or friends it’s definitely not a good thing along with driving the car, at a concert or looking at this exhibition. No go on its OK to pull it out here - snap off a few - and please tag them "#townscapes" :-).

So why do we do it? Well for me I like to stay connected with friends, pick up random bits of information, run my business while doing other things and of course take and share photographs. It would seem the same goes for millions of people around the world.

The following figures are at best educated guesses:

3.8 trillion photographs have been taken since 1826. Of those 10% were taken last year. 300 million images are uploaded to facebook every day. The vast majority of those images are now taken on smartphones.

So does the world really need so many images - again who cares? I recently went through my 35+ year archive of photographs taken from student days through to a full blown professional career. More specifically I went through the pre digital years 1980 - 2003. I decided that unless an image in my collection had significant meaning to me, historical significance or some other merit then it had to go. The local tip is now groaning under the weight of over 100,000 of my images on slide film, black and white negatives and a few dozen prints. Years of corporate headshots, product shots, overs from more exciting ventures and hundreds of clip tests from slide film demanding an exact exposure all now buried in the ground. I must confess also that I don't have a clue about the environmental impact of my recent spring clean. I had no idea what else to do with it all. On the way home from the tip I stopped by my Post Office and collected the prints you are now looking at - that felt good. Out with the old and into the new and unexplored future. The files from this exhibition are stored on disk consuming next to no space or cost. Soon my entire life's work will fit on one hard drive that hopefully will survive the ravages of corruption and redundancy.

I was once a master of alchemy. Able to disappear into the dark with an exposed roll of film and emerge with a collection of gorgeous prints and now you can do that WITH A PHONE!!!! A digital native would respond - "yeah so what, big deal gramps". Well it is a big deal and the deal is that some of the greatest images ever are being created right now. When there was Leica and Tri-X film there was only one Cartier-Bresson. Now with iPhone and Instagram there are thousands of Cartier-Bresson’s out roaming the streets. Shock horror - shoot me down I say lots of them are producing better, more engaging images than any of the past masters of "street" (I don't include myself in this).

For me the act of finding the images for this exhibition was a form of “Psychogeography” – bushwalking in the urban environment. Rather than travelling from A to B you wander from A to A exploring new places and pathways. Urban dross becomes a place of wonder to be celebrated with a tap on the touch screen. The raking light and looming storm clouds over corrugated iron can hold just as much beauty as our wonderful wilderness areas.

This is my second iPhone exhibition and possibly the last time I will tag a show as iPhone or otherwise. It really is just another camera now with all the advantages of small size and connectivity that we all now accept.

Andrew Rankin 2013

2012 Year in Review

Wow what a year it has been - mark 2012 down for some exciting changes and movement afoot. It all started with producing some prints on rag paper of my iPhone images during the summer break. I quickly realised that I had a potential exhibition on my hands and fortunately the Perc Tucker Gallery could fit me in for a March opening. The work was well received and I managed to get some press, radio and magazine publicity along with two very nice commissions. Plans are now underway for 2 and maybe 3 shows in 2014 - watch this space.

My wedding work has had a complete revamp through the year with a new album supplier QUEENSBERRY and a new look to my images thanks to VSCO.

Queensberry produce the most beautiful wedding albums that my clients are really loving plus they do all the design and production which frees up my days so I can spend more time out shooting. They're wonderful people to deal with and I'm looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship.

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Visual Supply Co. have developed a range of processing profiles to give a subtle "film look" to digital files. Processing 100's of RAW files has become fun again :-). They also have developed a clever system of keyboard short cuts for processing and retouching. Just in the nick of time for me as I was starting to develop RSI from overuse of the mouse.

Its also been a big year for the outdoors. I completed the Thorsbourne Trail on Hitchinbrook Island at Easter, ran in two half marathons including a sub 2 hour at the Townsville Running Festival. And have recently returned from a wonderful trip to Tasmania which included climbing Cradle Mountain on the most perfect bluebird day you could imagine with Amelia Lewis.

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andrew_rankin_iPhone

Whats on the cards for 2013?

Finish public art project for the Townsville Hospital - iPhone images of the coast from Torres Strait to Mackay.

Work on retro exhibition with expired polaroid 665 black and white emulsion.

Attend "The Event" in Hobart followed by winter walk from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair.

And lots, lots more.

Enough chat - here are some images from 2012.....

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