Real Life Photoshop Workspace


Real life Photoshop Workspace

This may seem unfamiliar but you’ve seen it before. You’ve seen it but not in this form. It’s an analogue version of the Photoshop desktop. The toolbar, menus and control strip are all in place, but in physical form, made out of paper and cardboard. It’s a great joke in dragging digital back to the analogue era (and that was only 23 years ago).

Click on the image and it will fill your screen, like the real Photoshop.  “Real” Photoshop? Photoshop is really virtual.

As far as I can tell from a search, it was made by this talented team:

agency : Bates141 Jakarta
creative director : Hendra Lesmono
art director : Andreas Junus & Irawandhani Kamarga
photgrapher : Anton Ismael


Greg Wayn

Greg Wayn Stanley 01

Greg Wayn, Stanley 01, 2013

Look at the precision in these fine photographs by Greg Wayn. Although they were taken recently in Tasmania, that doesn’t necessarily matter because their special interest is composition not subject matter.

Greg is an expert compositional photographer whose images often display the push-pull between the 3D subject and 2D design. His is a highly descriptive photography, the subject is always sharply rendered. But despite this realism, his main interest is the formal qualities of picture-making, the design, tones and lines.

Notice the quadrant of sky in each image and how it pops out as a positive space in the picture. It’s not a hole in space above the horizon but a thing with its own mass. In the image above, the sky is a horizontal pattern contrasting the vertical pattern of the shed. In the one below, the dark cliff recedes to the background making the light sky come forward in space.

Greg exerts precise control over small elements of his compositions. See below how that tiny sliver of sea peeps over the concrete wall? It separates the tones of the wall and sky, it underlines the sky, and it subtly denotes the picture as a marine subject.

You can see many more images on his blog, Photoworks, and on his website

Greg Wayn Stanley 02

Greg Wayn, Stanley  02, 2013


Finding Vivian Maier


Poster for the documentary Finding Vivian Maier

Vivien Maier’s posthumous odyssey continues with the completion of a feature length documentary on her life . John Maloof bought a cache of prints and negatives at a Chicago auction for a few hundred dollars. Their creator was then in a nursing home and she died before he figured out who she was. It’s one of those stories, and it has become one of the sensations of the photography world. There have been exhibitions around the world, a book, much press interest and many blog posts such as this. Now there is a documentary.

Or see the trailer on You-tube


Vivian’s new website


Vivian Maier, 1953, New York, NY

The strange case of Vivien Maier continues. Her discoverer John Maloof has set up a new website for her work: Now New York’s prestigious  Howard Greenberg gallery is representing the late photographer and she’s in good company, sharing the gallery with Eugene Atget and Alfred Stieglitz amongst others. It indicates her canonization as a Significant Photographer.

There is plenty of argument about wether she deserves this level of attention and artistic status. Her fateful story has mythical ring to it – reclusive artist has life’s work rescued in the nick of time by unknown hero. Can it be too long before a movie is made of her life, perhaps with Kate Winslet in the starring role?


Gottscho and Googie

SHORPY Gottscho

August 13, 1957. Greenfield Park, New York. “Tamarack Lodge. Sharp view.” .Large-format acetate negative by Samuel H. Gottscho.

This prime example of Mid-Century Modern was taken in 1957 by Samuel H. Gottscho. The Googie-style architecture meets the dart-sharped muscle car  in the blazing sun of postwar prosperity.

Gottscho (1875-1971) was a very industrious architectural photographer in New York who didn’t go professional until he turned 50, after 23 years as a lace salesman. Now that’s a career trajectory that gives you hope. He even claimed his best work was done at 70, which gives me hope.

See how he organizes the picture in a tightly structured design: the sweeping diagonal white lines contrasted with the static dark of the car; the sense of movement, and that summery brightness. For more of his excellent photographs see this Museum of the City of New York site which shows a very disciplined and intelligent photographer.

The subject of this photograph is Tamarack Lodge, a hotel in the Catskills which burnt down in 2012. Its new owner was charged with arson soon after.


Gottscho’s order


Samuel H. Gottscho, Vista under elevated railroad at Coenties Slip c1930

From all the evidence, Samuel H. Gottscho was a neat photographer. He certainly knew how to organize a picture. Look at these tidy compositions of New York city taken well back in the 20th century. The sweeping lines of elevated railway are framed by the girder at left and top edge, and by the line of shadow at the bottom edge. This is careful photography. It’s the sort of precision that comes with using large format where the image is upside-down on the screen, therefore abstracted.

Something like that can be seen in the image below of the Chrysler building where lines of shadow frame the city at left and bottom. The rectilinear shapes of the buildings are preserved by his accurate view camera adjustments; they seem to bring out the underlying geometric order of the city.

Why are these images so dark? They were clearly not intended to look this way for the client. It may be because they are negative scans or poorly scanned prints taken from Gottscho’s archive. They are from the extensive pages on the Museum of the City of New York website. Have a look, Gottscho is a discovery.


Samuel H. Gottscho, 42nd St from Tudor City, no date


My life in cameras no. 28


Russian FED cameras have one of the most interesting origin stories in all camera history. For a start, they were named after one of the more evil men of the Soviet period, Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, known as “Bloody Felix”. He was the founder of the Cheka, the sinister secret police organisation which was the forerunner of the KGB.

The establishment of the camera itself is a much more positive part of the story. Anton Makarenko, an enlightened and subsequently famous educator, was the head of a progressive labour commune for indigent children in the Ukraine. In 1932 he set up a workshop to help train them in technical skills and he came up with the idea of making copies of the German Leica camera that was then becoming popular.

In 1934 full production began, but Makarenko was sacked when the Cheka took over naming the camera with the initials of their former boss. The FED company was a great success and lasted into the mid-1990s, a very long innings for a camera brand. In that long period, over 8 million cameras were made.

The FED 2 series was manufactured between 1955 and 1970. The model you see above came out in 1959 and it’s very reminiscent of a Leica. However if you handle a FED and then a Leica you”ll quickly see the difference. The Leica is a precision optical instrument while the FED is a mass-produced 1950s Soviet camera. It’s Industar lens is very good and you can work happily with it as I do. But when you see the Leica going for $1000, then pay $60 for a FED as I did, you know where you really stand, income-wise.


Greg Neville, St Kilda cemetry, 2013


Jerry Spagnoli


Jerry Spagnoli, from Photomicrographs, 1994-97

These photographs by US photographer Jerry Spagnoli achieve something I’m interested in with my own practice, working at the limit of representation where the original image threatens to disappear and the signal dissolves into noise. They are from a project called Photomicrographs, close ups of the grain in film negatives.

These “photomicrographs” are made from the enlargement in a microscope of a detail isolated on pre-existing photographs which were shot using a 35 mm camera ( You can see more of them at his website here.

They are haunting images of anonymous humans who will one day dissolve away, just as their likeness dissolves in the pictures.


Jerry Spagnoli, from Photomicrographs, 1994-97

Jerry Spagnoli is a U.S. photographer whose work you probably know – he collaborated with Chuck Close on those giant Daguerrotype portraits. He is an expert in that recalcitrant process and you can see him demonstrating it here on you-tube.

Retake Melbourne!


Screenshot of Retake Melbourne on

Here is Retake Melbourne on, the crowd-funding website. To contribute to this worthwhile project you simply pledge an amount, which is recorded, but not withdrawn from your account until/unless the target figure of $6000 is reached.

As explained in posts below, the money is needed for the design of a smartphone /iPad app to enable participation in the Strizic re-photography project.

Mark Strizic was easily the best photographic interpreter of Melbourne in the postwar years. His most notable work was done in the 1950s and 60s. Melbourne was a beautiful Victorian city in those days, and has changed a lot since then. The app will enable photographic “time travel” using Strizic’s photos of Melbourne locations. Users can re-photograph them from exactly the same location revealing the changes to the city in the intervening half century.

You can contribute to the project by clicking here and pledging an amount. We need your help.


Retake Melbourne on You-Tube

To help explain our crowd-funding appeal, Retake Melbourne, my associate James McArdle has put together this video for You-Tube.

The project needs funding for the design of an app that will enable anyone to upload a Strizic photo of Melbourne, and determine his exact location when the picture was taken. They can then make their own photos and compare Melbourne places separated in time by 50 years.

The Australian photograph


Photo from The Australian newspaper, May 8, 2013

Last Wednesday The Australian newspaper featured a photo of me with my associate James McArdle. The occasion was the release of a crowd-funding site for our Mark Strizic project.

James and I are paying hommage to the great Melbourne photographer through an app that would enable interested people to locate the exact position in a Strizic photo, say of a site in Melbourne’s CBD. This will assist them in taking a photo of modern day Melbourne from the same camera position.

The Pozible site is to gain funding for the design of the app by a software designer. It’s called Retake Melbourne.

The photographs we are holding up are before and after shots of the Bourke Street Mall taken from the GPO. Mark Strizic photographed it in 1955 with the old man in hat and the great commercial building beyond. My photo was taken from the exact camera position, and (almost) exact lens focal length. The comparison indicates the change in architecture in people and in the general mood of the city. That is the spirit of the app.


Blad dead


Here’s some news to make you grind your teeth: Hasselblad has announced an end to production of its V line of cameras. Hasselblad CEO Dr. Larry Hansen described it as “the camera of choice for discerning professionals and aspirational amateur photographers.” This means the end of film camera production by the company that raised it to its highest standard. The company switched across to medium format digital cameras which continue the success of the prestige brand.

I’ve handled one of these cameras and can attest to its aura and glamour. A recent student of mine, Margot Sharman, used hers to make her first solo exhibition Reflective Reading, a visual exploration The Bell Jar by poet Sylvia Plath.


Margot Sharman, from Reflective Reading, 2011.