A Little Bit of News

The Utatan was the annual big group project organized by the Utata Group on Flickr in the summer of 2007. It was the most ambitious project the group had organized to date and the end goal was to produce a print version collecting a selection of the submissions. Two of my photos were selected for publication a few months after the web version went live and then I waited to hear when the book would be published. And I waited, and waited, and then waited some more, and then I forgot about it completely.

And yet two years later I finally have a printed copy of the Utatan in my hot little hand because (to quote the dust jacket) “it was the project that would not die.” Utata is a volunteer run group and the ebb and flow of the lives of the people involved were what dictated the timeline for the project. I’m just glad the book is done now, and I don’t really care how long it took. I get the impression producing a book is like that anyhow.


It’s very exciting to be part of this publication because Utata has been one of my favorite flickr groups over the years. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy yourself the book is available through Blurb.com.

Utata – Iron Photographer 41

Some days are just like that...
Some days are just like that…


These are two of the shots I submit for Utata’s Iron Photographer 41 project. The requirements for the shot were an umbrella, shot inside, and cinematic aspect ratio. The rest is left up to interpretation. I decided to shoot things and go with experimenting with different treatments in photoshop. The texture comes from the CD included with the book called Crumble.Crackle.Burn on loan from a friend.

Wrapped in red too

On Friday, one of my photos from this same series was featured on the front page of Utata.org. The text was wonderfully written by Greg Fallis, and couldn’t be more perfect an accompanyment. It was a wonderful treat to end the week with.

Image fatigue

This morning I found mention in the Utata forum of an article published in the Autralian News on “image fatigue.” The writer, Sebastien Smee, discusses photography’s loss of status as an art form due to oversaturation of imagery and digital manipulation. The following is only an excerpt from the article, and a link to the full text can be found at the end of this entry.

PHOTOGRAPHY as an art form is on the wane. There may be more photographers having their work shown in galleries, books, magazines and on the web than ever, but something inherent in the medium – something people have spent 1 1/2 centuries being beguiled by – is losing its grip on the public imagination.

Photography has finally become just another way of making images. So easy is it to produce these images that our culture has reached saturation point. Just think of all the wedding photos, baby photos, holiday snaps, news photos, fashion shots, forays into art, scientific photos, police records, studio portraits, passport photos and party snaps that come into existence every day of the year, all across the globe.

Very simply, one can’t keep up. There is barely enough time to look more than once at one’s own, supposedly precious photographs, let alone photographs by those who may have something extraordinary to show us.

But the reason for photography’s eclipse as an art form has not just to do with the astonishing superabundance of photographs; it has to do with dramatic recent changes to the medium. Thanks to the digital revolution, there is virtually nothing that can’t be done to a photograph to alter its once unique relationship to reality.

There is much to amaze in what is suddenly possible but the amazement is largely technical. In terms of art, something profound has been lost. People sense it. Art-loving audiences are fast losing interest in the medium.

The full article can be found here.

Although it is an interesting read, and the writer makes some good points, I don’t agree that photography is losing it’s status as an art form. In some ways it never had it. Even as recent as a few years ago I remember hearing this kind of debate in regards to Toronto’s Conact, on whether photography should be taken as art and whether it deserved the focus of a whole festival. Apparently it is and it does, because Contact is celebrating it’s tenth anniversary this year.

I think much of this debate occurs because photography is the one medium (like writing) that anyone can do – even a small child can pick up a camera and take a decent picture. But not all photography should be considered art, just as not every person who picks up a camera is an artist. And as for the lack of “truth” because of digital manipulation, since when has any art been about truth?

Enter the Matrix

Utata’s latest weekend project to get the creative juices flowing is “Utata goes to the movies.” I chose the Matrix as my inspiration.

Enter the matrix

My first thought was to recreate the poster of the original movie. I had to give that idea up due to space limitations in my apartment, and a lack of the right props. Instead I decided to go with this poster as my point of reference.

The image is a combination of the following two shots:

I used the radial blur filter on the shot of the dryers, lay it above the self portrait and then partially erased it using layer masking. The binary numbers were created in photoshop, and were blended with the rest of the image by changing the layer state to colour burn.


Man Ray Tribute

When deciding upon a photographer to pay homage for last weekend’s Utata project I chose Man Ray. Members were asked to produce a photo that was a direct imitation of one made by a master photographer or one which was made to copy the style of a particular photographer. I selected the above image for a photoshop treatment to emulate the solarization technique Ray used in some of his work, an effect which is normally created in the darkroom. Solarization or “sabattier” involves taking a partially developed paper print and fogging it with light before developing is complete, yielding an effect in which some areas are positive and others negative.

The Utata Pays Homage project is worth checking out for lots of information on a wide range of photographers, from historical to current, and the members creative interpretations of their work.

Beam me up

In a follow up to the entry about Utata weekend projects from the other day, “Beam Me Up” has been launched over at Utata.org . You can check it out here. There are a few photos of interesting experiments with long exposures using flashlights included, and the use of these as a light source in general gives me a few ideas…