sprocket party

*Click on each strip to enlarge it; you won't see any of the detail otherwise.

A party. A contained event.

Little more than disjointed, undefined flashes - of faces, of shoes, of walls and furniture.

A beautifully messy stream of moments that form a kind of narrative over the course of an evening.

And one roll of 35mm film.


sleaze potential

I don't think I've ever put as much effort into a photo as I did into this one. Certainly, then, this is proof that effort is not relative to success. However, I am intrigued by and largely satisfied with the result.

The image required effort because executing my idea meant facing several challenges. Challenge number one: take a photo of a partially lit, nondescript torso with an entirely black background. This was extremely difficult, and involved lots of black sheets, a carefully placed tripod and mirrors. Challenge number two: find suitably sleazy and interesting neon in the CBD. This sounds easy, right? Every city has a tonne of sleazy neon, right? Wrong. This is definitely one area in which Sydney outdoes Melbourne several times over. Challenge number three: take a photo of strip-club/sex-shop neon without capturing and/or aggravating potential customers. I achieved this challenge, but the fear of being caught meant I didn't take much time sorting out settings and composition.

Does the final image match my original idea? Yes and no. The concept was to capture some neon on my lovely high-grain black and white film, and expose it over a stylised shot of a partially naked body. (I feel I need to take a moment to acknowledge the amateur nature of the thematic content - and I absolutely do realise how painfully juvenile matching stripper with sex shop is. But the idea interests me very strongly on an aesthetic level, and this was the most obvious content to experiment with.) There are a few flaws, most notably that the neon overwhelms the body to the extent that it's very hard to make out. Also, while I appreciate the symmetry in the image of the neon, I think for a photo like this it should be on an angle, or distorted in some way, or possibly even exposed more than once.

It's extremely far from perfect. But it's good to know that if and when I decide to pursue this concept further, I won't be completely in the dark.


fading memories

As I sorted through my digitised photo library last week, deep in the fog of nostalgia, I was surprised to find so many endearing photos from last year's trip to Darwin. As I explained when I first posted some of the most immediately successful images, I was disappointed to find that the film I used was so faded and grainy. However, I eventually came to appreciate the unique and extremely analogue look that these photos have. That said, I felt a lot of them were failures, and relegated them to the depths of the (sizeable) library.

Looking at these images that I disliked so much at the time of development, I'm now so charmed by their washed-out colours and super grain. They are at once recent and dated, enchanting and mediocre. Beautiful in their overwhelming ordinariness.

Poor composition, uninspiring colours, shameless tourist scene: everything about this image points to failure, yet somehow it holds enormous appeal for me. And I don't think it's just because it holds personal memories. Rather, like I've hypothesised before, the aesthetic qualities of this film recalls a past I never knew, evoking nostalgia for a time and a place I'll never see. They also bring to mind family photo albums from three decades ago, which are almost exclusively associated with happy memories.

This was the very first photo I took in Darwin, and at the time I very strongly felt that the scene perfectly captured my immediate impressions of the Territory's capital: wildly exotic and uncannily suburban. My initial unhappiness with its ordinariness seems, in hindsight, therefore hypocritical.

Unremarkable, ugly and outdated. Certainly one of the most forgettable of the lot. But again, quite fascinating to me.

Dirty orange, tarnished green, tattered cardboard. This is so ugly! I really do treasure it, though. While nostalgia is the obvious reason for this, I can also fall back on the fact that, with their unsaturated hues and discernible grain, these photos are proudly anti-digital.

I suppose I can't claim unremarkable colours in this photo. However, they are very different to the actual colours of the sky that evening. What a beautiful scene. And a perfect way to remember that fabulously unusual place.