<<< o >>>between destinations 43 comments + add yours

It seems as though the fates are currently frowning on chromasia as now, in addition to a broken camera, I also have a dead router and am having to connect to the internet via a modem – which is a bit of a pain, to say the least. I've ordered another one, but it will take a few days to turn up :-/

Anyway, enough complaining ...

I had an email today, prior to taking this shot, from Rachel James, and she kindly agreed that I could use it to preface this image:

I've followed your website since it's incarnation and you are a good photographer. To see you say: "I strongly suspect that I'm not going to be able to come up with anything too good with it ..." troubles me.

I should think that no matter the tool - lo-fi analog or high-end digital SLR - that a photographer should be able to produce "good" photographs.

Maybe you'll have to work a little harder, tap deeper into your creativity, step out of your comfort zone. Maybe instead of ten fantastic, mind-blowing, super-saturated shots, you'll have only two.

Our cameras are tools, nothing more. And I know you know that.

Warm Regards,
:) Rachel

And I was going to reply that I agreed that lo-fi analog cameras were just as valuable an artistic tool as hi-fi digital ones, but that lo-fi digital cameras were another matter entirely; i.e. that the inherent noise and other digital artefacts and distortions rendered them less than ideal tools for constructing worthwhile images. And then I got home and looked at this shot, and I'm forced to change my mind. I'm not sure quite how good the original 2400x1800 image would print, but as far as web-based images go I don't think this is in any way noticeably inferior to the stuff I've been producing with my G5. That said, this image (and yesterday's) were both post-processed with Noise Ninja, and it's made a hell of a difference to the image quality. In the past I've complained about the noisiness of the G5's sensor, but it's nowhere near as bad as the one in the FujiFilm. Even images exposed under perfect lighting are incredibly noisy, so being able to 'fix' an image in this way makes a huge difference.

In this sense then I do think that lo-fi digital cameras are problematic, but clearly these problems can be overcome.

capture date
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
focal length
image quality
white balance
FujiFilm FinePix 40i
3.05pm on 14/9/04
normal program
comment by Jessyel Ty Gonzalez at 11:18 PM (GMT) on 14 September, 2004

This is unbelievable. The exposure and shutter speed is dead on, and that reflection is eerie and fits the image well. Best image on the site with the exception of 'More Tea'...


comment by Craig at 11:39 PM (GMT) on 14 September, 2004

I only saw the reflection of the face in the window upon a second look. Awesome!

comment by Tom B at 11:40 PM (GMT) on 14 September, 2004

Fantastic photo, I don't care what camera you used to take it. I also agree with Jessyel that the reflection is 'eerie'. Very well done.

comment by Carlo at 11:50 PM (GMT) on 14 September, 2004

Fab shot, seriously good, the face is absolutely spooky! And I am seriously convinced that no mater the tool what makes your photos awsome is this fantastic eye you've got for things we mortals miss....

As someone else said in a comment a while back I'd love to follow you an afternoon just to see how you do it!!!

comment by michael at 11:57 PM (GMT) on 14 September, 2004

clearly this shot demonstrates that rachel is correct, a camera is a tool. this reminds me of your "more tea?" shot in its striking beauty and simplicity, and almost of a pseudo-painting with the interjection of the face, the lights running through the landscape. very beautiful.

comment by Rodrigo Gómez at 12:47 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Totally agree with the comments already posted. Excellent photo.

I also think somewhat like you: it doesn't matter what camera you're using, as long as the camera doesn't become an obstacle between the photo and you. If the camera allows you to capture what you're trying to capture, no problem. It might be in low-res, with high noise.

If you don't tell me that this photo was taken with an 1mpx camera, or the finest b&w emulsion, I woulnd't be able to notice it. Here, of course. Printed matter is another subject, but, as you say, for web-display purposes, it works.

Hope you get your camera soon, or a brand new one ;-). Maybe you can take good photos with any camera, but I think that one feels much more "inspired" with the equipment you know/like.

comment by miles at 12:55 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Very nice photo. Seems less 'controlled' than your usual images.

I was a digital junkie too, G1, G2 and now G5 (happily still working) but since i started my blog I've been reaching more and more for my growing collection of analogue cameras, knowing that the results will be less predictable, yet more controlable, earthier. The digital stil serves as my everyday camera, it's too handy not to, but when I look through the lens of a 70s rangefinder something happens to the scene I'm viewing that I just can't see on the 1.8 lcd screen.

Not sure if any of this makes sense but I like the image a lot :)

comment by Clement at 12:59 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Well yes, the problem about digital photography, is that lo-fi pictures are usually ugly. In that sense I agree with you: in a way lo-fi digital cameras may limit your freedom. But you found this ninja software... And the result (in a web page) is good. (even if there is still some noise - it comes from the compression or the camera?)
Where is the old and powerful grain of a Tri-X or an HP5 in your pictures? In these situations there are unbeatable!
I like these situations in the trains, where you can play with the transparencies. I made a quite similar picture 3 years ago, it was with a very old and creepy lo-fi analogic camera... (http://www.akrata.org/pointdefuites/archives/000048.html)

comment by LunaSol at 01:07 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

First thing I noticed about this photo was the reflection. Very mesmerizing capture.

comment by Huskydsl at 01:18 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

I'm reading the other comments and have read the "thoughts regarding commenting at chromasia" section so i'm racking my brain trying to give constructive criticism rather than the apparent usual " oooo aahhhh" type comment. However, OOOHHH AHHHH was indeed my reaction. The image holds a sort of resident evilness to it. Almost as if the man who looks so stern and determined has come home to some horrid institution to exact a revenge upon the souls still living within the stark brick walls. I sat and studied the image for a bit and tried to decide if there was anything odd about it other than the tone it sets. I guess the only thing would be the odd lighting. At ISO 200 f/2.8 and 1/350th of a second it seems the depth of field would not be so terrific. I guess the reflected image on the window ensured the DOF since it was an illusion painted on the glass. Were you sitting inside the car across from the gentleman? If so, did you blacken the foreground to hide the innards of the vehicle? I would have expected the lights reflected in the window to be illuminating the inside of the car. It's the lighting that makes the image so dramatic yet at the same time impossible.

comment by cathy at 01:53 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

I have been visiting your site daily for a few months now. I know I can always count on a shot of inspiration and sometimes even some much needed information on how you sharpen your images, control noise and convert to B&W. I very much appreciate how much information you share here.

This photo has finally stopped my lurking and made me post. I have to say this is my favorite photo so far! The subtle reflection in the window, with the dim dark graininess behind. I just love it. It really is the person behind the lens and not the equipment. Thanks again for the inspiration.

comment by Geoff at 03:23 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Beautiful shot indeed.
I think its strength lies mainly in the mood of it. It evokes a feeling of quiet contemplation, cleverly highlighted by the reflection of the face, and the sombre lighting. If there is anything distracting in there, it's the telegraph pole, particularly as it sits right in front of the ostensible subject of the image. Doesn't matter though - a lovely shot, and I think no matter the camera or problems it will only inspire you more to keep up the quality you have deleivered for so long. Good stuff.

comment by Frank at 04:44 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Reflection spooky? Nah, humanizing, a reminder that we can only take the light in front of us. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not, but we do the best we can.

And if we don't like it, well, we don't share the result.

comment by Jinky at 04:51 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Great shot. Actually one of the best Ive seen from you lately...I love it. So there you have it =) What was all that worry ;)

BTW...Ive been kinda confronted with the same thing... Where I sat down one day and asked myself...a year and bit on..What was I getting from photoblogging? Was I pushing the limits anymore? Did I have direction? And I came to the conclusion that I really need direction... Infact, for me that was the key. I put my 'self-doubts' aside, and after being inspired by an online friend who does children's and family photography, I decided that is the way Id like to go. So now, Im working soley on that. And am working the in's and out's of the technical side as well as the creative side. More importantly Im in love with photography again. My goal, with-in 4 years, Id like to become a b&w film based (self processing etc) children's photographer. A lil dream - I have a long way to go. But I really have found my feet. Boring probably for all the visitors to have to see pic after pic of children however, I really happy.

There is a reason for my babble.. hehe. You have a gift..use it ;). I hope you find your feet too.

comment by Garth at 05:12 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Rachel is right...but you now that.

I dust off my original 1.3 meagpixel olympus...only because I have a 180 degree fisheye for it, and results are sometimes comical and sometimes captivating.

Yes noise sucks..but people used to think that grain sucked...sometimes grain is artsy...and sometime (someday) noise will be artsy.

I commend you for voicing your frustrations publicly...but more so not for giving up.

Apollo was certainly paying attention. He did it to me to one day when I was taking a particularly boring shot of an orange with my E-10. Hit the shutter the release....the camera turned off...and never turned on again.

It was 6 months before I got my new Canon....and I had to dust off some of the old tools in the meantime.

The first rule photo fight club....there are no rules.

BTW good shot :)


comment by pixpop at 06:12 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Hmm.. I think I'm going to go and break my camera.

comment by east3rd at 06:37 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Me too. Anyone want to sell me a Fujifilm FinePix 40i?? I'll pay top dollar! ;)

comment by Kasha at 08:49 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

awesome :)

comment by jianqiang jiang at 09:58 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

i am chinese, it is my first come here , this site is very good and your photo unbelievable too,非常好

comment by Rob Annable at 10:06 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Racheal is dead right, it's just a tool. You've only got to look at some of the stuff that gets posted at moblog.co.uk for proof.

comment by fredrik at 10:09 AM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

i like this shot alot dave! very moody, and the reflections from the window adds a depth to it (both mentally and visually). i really hope everything turns out ok for you with the camera and the router!

comment by Rachel at 02:37 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

I'll agree with you, a lo-fi digital camera may be problematic. But you've definitely shown us that worthwhile photographs can be made with them. :-)

comment by mark at 02:53 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

I dont understand how you got such a deep depth of field with 2.8. If i tried to do this shot with 2.8, everyone would be looking at a big blur. Love the conversion, but it leaves me wondering what the color version looks like (if there is one) The reflection of the guy adds drama and actually alittle creepyness to the pic...

I loved it.

btw, how come your internet is out just because of a router? Is your router also your cable/dsl modem? If not, why not just plug computer directly into cable/dsl modem?

comment by stef & rollo at 03:09 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

The expression of the face is totally high art, so intense and maybe with some bitterness, don't know...but it's great.

comment by Urbanite at 03:22 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

When I looked at this I, obviously, thought "Wow, fantastic!" then all of a sudden the face just 'appeared' and it frightened the life out of me !! It was fun.

comment by Luca (Italy) at 03:34 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Hu..huuu.. how many comments about this shot! How many people who like to write you, dear David!
The most beautiful is the shot, the highest is the number of the comments.. so.. this is shot is very beautiful.
Three rays of "lights" (neon reflection, windows reflections, and fence) guide our eyes towards the reflected face.. I could stare at this shot for a whole day.
I wondering face of a man who dreams his way back home. Home sweet home.
I agree with Jinky.. one of the best shot you have taken in the last period.
By the way.. so you are going to by a D20, aren't you? It's a great camera.. but it is completely different from your G5. It's bigger, it is heavier. I know, its CMOS is absolutely gorgeous.. but it's a reflex. So, you could not handle it as your G5. This is the reason why I asked you about the G6. I'm waiting for a 8 Mb point and shoot camera which can stay both in my hand and in my pocket (also in my wallet!) .. may anyone give me a little help, please?

comment by Leigh at 04:17 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

This is a fabulous photograph, I simply love it, well done!

comment by Rob Collier at 05:15 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

I´d like to start talking about how technically perfect I find this shot; how well youve managed to expose it, how steady you´ve kept the camera ... but I´m not very good with technicalities so im just going to be very boring and say i think the shot is sodding awesome. I love the way the neons and the other windows are reflected, hell, even that face is spot on. The greenish tint is also spot on, I cant imagine the shot any other way.



comment by brenda at 05:29 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

it's all been said already...this IS a great shot.
i would buy this for sure.

hopefully your confidence level is slowing creeping up.

comment by chrys at 05:33 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

beautiful shot.

comment by miklos at 06:28 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

It's digital art.
Simple, pleasing to look at... art.
Period. It doesn't matter what camera you have, it will still take a cool photo, regardless of how it turns out, it can always be modified. What adds to this shot is the reflection in the window, otherwise it would be much less dramatic. Actually, the reflection is one thing, the post-processing on the tones is another thing. If we were all as good as you Dave, at catching good details (like the reflection) and knew our way around the Photoshop tools, then we would all have over 700 favourites references on photoblogs.org :)
Unfortunately, this isn't so. That's why you're still king of the photoblogs.

comment by djn1 at 06:51 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Thanks everyone.

I'll reply in more detail later this evening but in the meanwhile, as a number of people have asked, I've put up a copy of the original image here:


As you can see, the major change to this image, other than reducing it to a monotone, was to significantly drop the brightness of the shadow areas. This was done with one Curves adjustment layer applied to the whole image.

comment by darragh at 07:06 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

interesting to see the original.. i love the photo and how u editted it really emphasises the eerie feel. that face/mask caught my attention immediately.

comment by RainKing at 08:17 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Whatever the camera, this one looks very "chromasia". :)

comment by Jeremy at 09:22 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004


comment by Jason Davies at 09:35 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Nice. I'd say that a lot of it is down to your skills with the ol' photoshop as well as the taking of the original shot. The original doesn't look particularly outstanding at all...

comment by Judith Polakoff at 10:34 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

I'd have to agree with Jason about your Photoshop skills. The adjustments certainly added a great deal to this shot. And I'm not usually a fan of reflection shots, but I like the disembodied head in this one.

comment by djn1 at 11:23 PM (GMT) on 15 September, 2004

Thanks everyone.

Clement: your mention of Tri-X and HP5 was interesting. I have tried to replicate film grain digitally but, so far, I haven't liked the results. If I come across a way of doing it convincingly (other than actually using film) I'll probably give it a go.

Huskydsl: the DoF is always much larger with small digicams than SLR's as the lens is much closer to the sensor.

Jinky: worry? What worry? ;-) And I'm glad you've found a direction. Personally, I'm still working on it, and may settle into something less eclectic at some point. No matter though, I'm enjoying the journey.

pixpop: which one? ;-)

east3rd: give me a few weeks, until I either get my G5 back or buy a 20D, and I'll happily sell it to you ;-)

Rob: yes, you're quite right, some amazing images are produced with camera's way less sophisticated than this one.

mark: our internet is out because we have a combined ADSL/router/wireless network. Our internal network is ok, just no connection to the outside world.

Luca: I suspect that even if I do get a 20D I'll still use my G5.

Jason: I tent to view my originals, JPEG's in this case, RAW files with the G5, as I would a negative; i.e. someplace to start rather than an end result.

comment by pixpop at 06:33 AM (GMT) on 16 September, 2004

Which one? That'd have to be my Olympus XA. (It's already broken.. does that count ;-)

comment by James at 05:50 PM (GMT) on 16 September, 2004

I know I'm repeating what others have already said, but that reflected face really makes this shot. And I love how the darkness around the edges and motion-blurred foreground frame the lanscape, drawing attention to the building in the distance. Great shot!

comment by Marc at 01:44 AM (GMT) on 21 September, 2004

For what it's worth, and at the risk of repeating what everyone has already said about this shot:

- The mood is great. If one stares at this photo long enough, which I'm sure many of us have been doing, it demands a story. The lack of color is, of course, a wonderful choice. Also, the decrease in brightness to the shadows really adds a wonderful quality to the shot--almost a vignette one would expect of a holga.

- The composition is great. The lines really do pull you to the face, which may have been overlooked at first.

- The subject is good. The clouds are good. Face is, of course, great. The building is in great position in front of the bright sky.

comment by Roman at 08:37 PM (GMT) on 7 October, 2004

Great pictures man, I love your photographs check mi site (in construction)


comment by Justin Smith at 05:13 AM (GMT) on 26 February, 2005

I love how you've managed, many times, to get a great shot in an unapealing place. i.e. a train or a car or any place with a distracting window...That's when I whip out the camera and take a look at what I've shot...but know you just shoot away and manage to make something unique. Next time I'm on the train, I'll try harder to get an innovative shot :)