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A Tour of East Asia with Messy Nessy Chic

January 30th, 2013 No Comments
Coat of Arms of North Korea

Coat of Arms of North Korea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Step aside Picasso and your ‘Blue Period’, here’s famed NatGeo photog Steve McCurry with his ‘Blue Period’ – with a little help from Jodhpur, India.  Messy Nessy Chic serves up a charming set of photographs in their photostory Steve McCurry’s Blue City.

Unlike a painter’s palette, a photographer doesn’t have much control over his ‘palette’.  While Nature photographers, of course, can work with a green-based palette, a blue-oriented palette is a rarity so this delightful one is especially enjoyable.

Here are three figures, none facing the viewer, in an image that is photojournalistic, artistic and serene all at once, and that tells a little story.

The locals seem to have a yen for reddish hues (besides – at it again – playing chess).

Here’s one that’s a joy in its activity, the composition, the strip of colour, the swath of clay-brown, and – natch – the shades of blue.

 Staying in the East Asia and with Messy Nessy, you’ve heard of the Forbidden City but what about the ‘Forbidden Country’ – North Korea – from back in the 1970s? 

Here are some ‘Postcards’ showing a way of life that is quaint, universal and charming at turns, plus what we have come to see as being classically Communistic.

The photographs are not works of art here, what’s of value is the rarity of the underlying images which show, both, a secretive country from a bygone age, albeit in such colours as were permitted by the authoritarian powers-that-be.

Still staying with Messy Nessy and in East Asia, let’s close our tour in Japan – we have ‘Postcards’ once more, these of Apprentice Geishas.  

Don’t these girls seem mature behind their years?  And these?  Does this one appear old before her time?

A Prozac victim had titled her biography, ‘Girl Interrupted’.  Can we call geisha girls (and others in similar circumstances) ‘Girl Accelerated’?

Be that as it may, as the title of the article says, a few of these photographs are indeed ‘haunting’.

 

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Top Ten Photography Books for 2012

January 18th, 2013 No Comments

England’s The Independent has published a list of its Top Ten Photography Books for 2012.

Probably not surprisingly, a book celebrating the charms of London tops the British daily’s list.  The newspaper’s website incorrectly identifies it as ‘London Street Photography’; the correct title is London, Portrait of a City.  This looks like a gorgeous photo book with images of arguably the world’s premier, most diverse, city so let’s not quibble over this book’s top ranking.

You know about the British Royals and the Swinging Sixties but if you’re curious about “foggy, cobbled streets” and “Hoxton Hipsters,” this picture book’s for you.

What leaps out from the Independent’s list, compiled by Will Coldwell, is the name Franz Lanting, who is at number 3 with OkavangoHere is the publisher’s product page.

Okavango is far from a new book; it was published over a decade back.  The present edition is “updated and expanded” and “further enhanced” and clocks in at 250 pages.  Lanting is the wildlife photographer who manages to bring to the fore a serenity, balance, and an ‘in the greater scheme of things’ feel to wildlife images.

Let’s stay with the odd numbers (like the more hidebound Beethoven fans) and proceed to no. 5, Kodachrome.  Coldwell says: “To mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri, Mack has produced a second edition of the first book he self-published in 1978.”

One wonders whether the word ‘death’ so closely following the title ‘Kodachrome’ was a Freudian Slip or well-meant with irony – with a Brit one never knows!  But anniversaries of death may just as well apply to Kodachrome now.

From (unintentional?) irony to strange coincidence: in our post of three days back we had blogged about Steve McCurry and the last roll of Kodachrome, and now on Coldwell’s list we have McCurry following Kodachrome in the next odd-numbered position, 7.  (No, on this blog we’re not in thrall to popular Beethoven doctrine; we believe that the ‘Evens’ are exceptional in their own, less dramatic, but more tranquil and contemplative, fashion.)

McCurry is to people and portraits what Lanting is to wildlife.  His Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs is a monster of a book at 380 x 275 mm and 272 pages.  The book’s page on Phaidon’s website contains a slideshow of several captivating people photographs.  Also available is a signed limited edition with a signed print.

Bucking the ‘Odd’ trend, we skip number 9 to jump to number 10, and with good reason: there is no ‘Joy’ a la the Ninth for persons who are hunted like animals by predacious paparazzi, and on tenth spot is a book featuring photos taken by those predators: Famous: Life Through the Lens of the Paparazzi.

The photos may be delightful; the means by which they were taken surely are not; Thames & Hudson’s product page frankly describes the book’s photographs as “a star-studded selection of those who live their lives in the spotlight, sometimes welcoming the camera, sometimes pursued by it.”  

Big game hunters pursue their prey using the barrel of a gun; these hunters do it with the barrel of a telephoto lens.  When you admire their ‘shots’, spare a thought for their prey – may they rest in peace!

 

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