The hypothesis of God, for instance, gives an incomparably absolute opportunity to understand everything and know absolutely nothing. Give man an extremely simplified system of the world and explain every phenomenon away on the basis of that system. An approach like that doesn’t require any knowledge. Just a few memorized formulas plus so-called intuition and so-called common sense.
Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
— The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan.
I think I’m going to start a black and white period of pictures. I love colour ones, but I feel like black and white is better suited these days. Black and white is less distracting, helping ease composition issues as pictures can become more abstract and schematic. Also perhaps it fits better with my current mood. Or the British weather, I don’t know…
Over a year ago, I wrote a post where I said that I was doing alright. It’s amazing how things can change so fast. A person that was like my anchor to this place, or so I thought, decided suddenly to search for greener pastures in another (more sunny) country. Also, the company where I was working closed its doors, suddenly too, for unknown reasons. So there I was again, feeling alone, in a place I really didn’t like. A place haunted by memories. After that, I moved to London, I found a job in another studio here, and everything seems to be back on track, almost. London, for all its charm and (photo) opportunities, is proving its fame of being one of the most unfriendly cities of the world. It seems very difficult to connect with people here. That’s what feels to me, so far.
2016 ended (thanks, it was time already…), and for this 2017, I have no idea what to expect. I’m scared of expecting anything. If last year new year’s resolutions were full of plans and ideas for the future, this one will be just about licking my wounds, as they say here. Yeah, I know, it’s a very dramatic way to put it, there are far more serious problems out there, but… Someone I used to know (and love) always said to me that everything happens for a reason. The same person that escaped to the sunny country, ironically. To be honest, I never believed in all that “the universe conspires to make me happy (or unhappy)” nonsense. It is, in my opinion, an irrational way of thinking. And a bit selfish too. An easy way out from (the sometimes hard to deal) reality. I’m sure the universe is busy with more important stuff, like burning helium in stars and throwing dust and gas into black holes. I am a more down to earth person, I guess. I’ll just keep taking pictures, reading, learning new things, doing my job the best I can, travelling with my daughter (my real anchor here, not an imaginary one) to places, etc… and see how it all goes. No plans ahead.
By the way, the picture for this post, completely unrelated to this rambling, was taken two weeks or so ago in London. In black and white looks more interesting to me. The colors for this 2017…
Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
— The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan.
The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.
Hello again, after a very long time… I guess I should explain a bit my current situation with this blog. And with my photography. And maybe I will even tell something about my life. So, in no particular order…
Lots of things have happened/changed lately. Almost two years ago I became separated. Do you remember this picture? It’s the entrance of some mediation service office in Cambridge. Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, I guess, and as I promised, here is the explanation for that post title. I left my job. Now I live (and work) in another place. New friends, new places, new interests,… I think I’m doing pretty well. But I’ve become a bit shy about doing this blog thing. Or maybe a bit lazy. Or busy with other stuff. I still take pictures, more often now with my mobile. From time to time, with my DSLR. I spend less time editing, processing and posting pictures online. What I have started doing more is reading about photography and photographers, visiting exhibitions in London, all things that still interest me, but I was never able to do very often before. Also, I am enjoying spending time not only with me. I was told recently that I should spend more time with myself. I don’t know, I guess I have been doing that my entire life… And practising photography can be a bit lonely sometimes.
But again, I feel that keeping a blog updated with pictures, musings, quotes, comments about whatever comes to my mind, can have some therapeutic effect on me. I never cared a lot about the amount of followers. But I know that some of my followers are always interested in my pictures. And my best friends (not the imaginary ones, those can go somewhere else…) will be happy to know that I am still here (in this blog, I mean).
And you may wonder what has the picture in this post to do with all this rambling? Absolutely nothing, I just wanted to show you a picture of today’s lunch. Taken with my mobile, and processed in VSCOcam. I like the vibrant colours of the result. My cooking skills are not very good yet… 😉
Last day of 2014. Its been a difficult year for me. And for lots of other people. Yesterday I was walking in Cambridge, in a cold but sunny day, thinking about what exactly attached me to this place. Not only me, but some people I know has asked me the same question recently. And to be honest, some days I don’t know. Others, like yesterday, I think there is still potential. Cambridge in sunny days is beautiful. There are things I still love, and future things I will love, I’m sure. Today I really would like to forget 2014. Facebook’s clumsy attempt on making memorable posts for the year was not very welcome in my case either. At the same time, I know today there will be people in far worse situations. And people helping out instead of partying till late. And that puts things in perspective and makes me think that I shouldn’t worry so much. So, I truly wish 2015 to be a great year for everyone. It must be. That’s my only new year’s resolution. 🙂
There must be millions of pictures of this place already. But I wanted to visit it since I was a child. You know, when I was a child I was a firmly believer in UFOs, paranormal activities, conspiracy theories. You name it. Stonehenge was the subject of a lot of books and documentaries I read and watched as I child. I really was into it. Most of the reasoning behind the mystery was, we don’t know how they could raise those blocks of stone, so it was made by aliens. As usual, covering our ignorance with a magical answer is the easiest way of dealing with this things. At some point, possibly during my teenager years, after having some really good physics and philosophy teachers at school, possibly after some vital experiences, my interest on these things vanished. But when I came to the UK almost five years ago, I though.. I need to visit that place.
To be honest, it’s been a bit of a disappointment. The place to me, doesn’t have that aura of magic some people want to believe in. It’s full of tourists (myself included). You cannot walk into the circle of stones, I imagine there is a real danger of people deteriorating the monument. Yesterday they were preparing celebrations for the winter solstice and I’m sure today it will be full of people dressed as druids (which have nothing to do with Stonehenge origins and its possible uses when it was built). One thing I liked thought, was the weather. It was cloudy, perfect for some contrasty black and white processing. Also, the exhibitions in the new visitors centre were interesting and fascinating enough, without the need of aliens. At least, I managed to fulfill one of my childhood dreams, a very simple one. Here, some news about the celebrations today. I told you, didn’t I?
A couple of weeks ago I went to another of those local photography meetings. This time it was about a project someone wanted to show and discuss. You can read more about it here. It is not about followers on social media but people who just follow their loved ones from one place to another because many reasons. Work is the most common one.
Somehow it felt familiar. I was myself one who followed his parents along the years through some different places. And now I am one who has dragged his family with him to a new place with the promise of a better life. Now I have my own followers, so I can easily relate to this project. There are many known things that happen in a leader-follower kind of relationship in a foreign country that this project describes.
One is the follower having to stop working. Developing her/his own career becomes difficult if not impossible. Depending on the country, the academic titles might not be recognized. In some countries you can only work with a permit of some kind, that doesn’t usually include your partner. The unemployment numbers might be high for specific kinds of jobs. Specialization means having to do courses, that cost money and time. And time for oneself is not easy to get, given that now she/he will need to care of the children at home, if there are any.
Another issue comes with the concept of home, a place that you are supposed to live in forever. Or is it just the place where you actually live?. While the leader can be perfectly fine at his/her office doing the job, meeting with co-workers, feeling part of the experience, the follower can feel just the opposite. Difficulties on people in the new place and possibly a complete lack of sympathy with the new place that she/he refuses to call home.
There are more things that can happen, but as a start, these two can become quite complicated. Sooner or later this will produce frictions in the relationship. Doubts about her/his role as a follower will appear. So at some point she/he will start questioning what was all this fuss about the expat life.
I asked to the host of the meeting about the leader part. If she ever did talk with the ones that at some point decided to bring his/her followers to a new place. She told me that only in a few cases. The project is more about her interest in people is this particular situation, one that she also is having, by the way. Another similar project could be done, or a second part to this one, about the leaders. These can also have their own sort of issues and doubts, more if not everything goes as expected. If that happens, the dynamics between leaders and followers can become even more difficult.
And what this has to do with photography? Why this discussion took place in a photography meeting? Part of the project are portraits and pictures of some of the places where the followers live. And while they initially didn’t look like very interesting pictures to me, they made more sense when explained. The most interesting ones were the portraits, with a split composition showing an empty space and a half of a follower’s portrait. This was meant to show that somehow, the follower was and at the same time wasn’t there, in a place that doesn’t look exactly like home. Other pictures were more about the place itself, like specific corners of the house, or personal belongings.
Yesterday I attended to a local photography group meeting. The subjects of these meetings are usually more photography techniques related, but sometimes there is a nice debate. The theme of the night was ethics in photography practice. It wasn’t necessary to be a seasoned photographer to attend to this session, as the subject is applicable to lots of different aspects of life or work.
Some famous photographs were shown, that somehow have stirred the minds of people in recent years, along with other examples.The panellists talked about their experience in newspapers or street photography, two specific genres that can have issues of this kind. Issues about what pictures must be taken and not.Issues about what are the intentions of publishing specific pictures, their context and how playing with that context can alter the meaning of those pictures.
It seemed to me that for the newspaper person, the thing was about delegation and his own common sense and experience. Everything was measured on a professional scale. He was sent by his editors to cover some specific thing happening somewhere. His mission was just taking as many pictures as he could. And later this editors, based on their own criteria, featured “the picture”for the event. He mentioned a few times in his career that was told off by people asking why he was taking this or that picture. He was sent once to a place where a woman had drown in the sea, and some people started questioning his presence in that terrible scene. He also mentioned other times when he just wasn’t able to take pictures of some specific events he experienced. For example, when he saw an accident in the road just in front of him, and his first reaction was waiting for the medical services to appear. He wasn’t on an assignment, so he didn’t took any pictures. He didn’t even thought about it.
The street photographer was less concerned about this, I think. His sole intentions are mostly artistic ones. He wants to make a nicely framed picture of ordinary people doing more or less ordinary things in the streets of Cambridge. The biggest moral dilemma is usually the kind of: should I ask for permission, or not? Will that person notice me with my camera? If some embarrassing situation arises he just gives a card to people with his website address, so if they see a “bad” picture of theirs, they can ask him for removal. I have seen his pictures and they are really nice. In both technical qualities and intentions. I don’t think anyone could have ever found them offensive.
The extremes were mentioned. People that will do the impossible to get a picture. Someone mentioned Don McCullin, and I instantly remembered his documentary. I think that is a quite good example of a photographer that faced really difficult situations and even risked his life for “the picture”. Could his presence have changed some events he witnessed? Does a photographer in an armed conflict has that kind of power or responsibility? These are some incredible difficult questions that not even McCullin seems to have an answer for. At the same time, his legacy is an amazing set of historical pictures that hopefully will raise the awareness about the damages of the armed conflicts he documented.The other (ridiculous) extreme they talked about was the paparazzis. People with a camera that will become an intruder in anyone’s life for not precisely the right reasons.
Interesting bits of an interview to this famous photographer:
If you want to know more about him, I recommend watching the documentary film “McCullin”. I saw it a few months ago on BBC. It is amazing what this person has seen and lived. Most of us would have ended completely mad. Here is a review of this film from The Guardian. And this post explains a lot more about his photography. Is interesting how he has moved from “war photographer”, a term he doesn’t like at all, to only make pictures of UK landscapes. It might sound like his very own personal way of retirement but still working on his passion.