THE ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAIT IN A WORLD OF ‘SELFIES’…

Jessica on a red sofa and the Castle family, 2 environmental portraits by John Robinson.

The environmental portrait is a telling photograph of a person or group of people, it gives the viewer insight into an aspect of these people’s lives. In a FaceBook world of hyper happy selfies the environmental can introduce into the conversation a sense of calm and connection between the Subject and the viewer.

The environmental portrait has always been my first love in photography; and I offer environmental portraits in the Durban area done on A3 cotton rag art paper of yourself and or group for ZAR 1000.00 per print.

 

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SHOOTING IN A QUIET PLACE

The relationship between people and their God is a soulful place, belief is such a strong force; and there is very little that can break that system. I know this from my own relationship with God or Abba Father. I commune and walk in this space too.

To take out a camera in a place of worship is not something I can do lightly, I have to be trusted and walk through these flowers with out a hint of damage, each picture will be seen by those in that place and as a fellow worshipper I am not an outsider that can get away and never come back after the stems are broken and petals crushed.

The moments taken are considered first before committed to a place in the public space. I also know of no better tool then a 35mm film based rangefinder camera for this work, there is no hurry in this way of work; and thus plenty of time for the considering of the fall out from my actions on the day…

THE SOCIAL BY THE POP UP AND MALLAZ CUSTOMS

In a colab with DJ Castle, Castle & Robinson has come about, Castle & Robinson is the joining of a DJ and myself as an event photographer to provide the music and a record of peoples house parties, clubs and events in around Durban, South Africa…

AT ‘HOT AUGUST NIGHT’, RHUMBELOW THEAT

THE RHUMBELOW THEATRE 42 Cunningham Rd off Bartle Road, Durban
Presents ‘HOT AUGUST NIGHT’ The Music Of Neil Diamond By Barry Thomson & The Reals, Dawn Selby, Jason Andrew & Mali Sewell. Showing from 5 October to 21 October 2018.

“Born in January 1941, Neil Diamond is an American composer, singer, musician and actor. With 38 songs in the Top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, Diamond has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2018, Diamond received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Diamond was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jewish family descended from Russian and Polish immigrants. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and was a member of the Freshman Chorus and Choral Club, along with classmate Barbra Streisand. ‘We were two poor kids in Brooklyn. We hung out in the front of Erasmus High and smoked cigarettes.’

At the age of 16, Diamond spent a number of weeks at Surprise Lake Camp, a camp for Jewish children, where folk singer Pete Seeger performed a small concert. Watching the children singing songs they wrote themselves, had an immediate effect on Diamond, who became aware of the possibility of writing his own songs. For his 16th birthday, he was given his first guitar, started lessons and began to write songs. He said his attraction writing songs was the ‘first real interest’ he had growing up, besides helping him release his youthful frustrations.

Often bored in class, he found writing song lyrics more to his liking. Diamond also used his newly developing skill to write poetry. By writing poems for girls he was attracted to in school, he soon learned it often won their hearts. His male classmates took note and began asking him to write poems for them which they would sing and use with equal success. He began cutting classes and taking the train up to Tin Pan Alley, where he tried to get some of his songs heard by local music publishers. Ten units short of graduation in his senior year, Sunbeam Music Publishing offered him a 16-week job writing songs for $50 a week and he dropped out of college to accept it.

Diamond spent his early career as a hired songwriter in the Brill Building where some of the most popular American hit songs were written, published and recorded. Neil’s first success as a songwriter came in November 1965, with ’Sunday and Me’ and greater success followed with The Monkees recording ‘I’m a Believer’ which became a gold record within two days of its release, voted the Popular Music Song of the Year in 1966. Other notable artists who recorded his early songs were the English hard-rock band Deep Purple, Lulu, Cliff Richard and UB40 with ‘Red Red Wine’. 

His early concerts saw him as opening act for artistes including Herman’s Hermits and The Who and he was shocked to see Pete Townshend swinging his guitar like a club, then throwing it against walls and off the stage until the instrument’s neck broke. It was the first time he had seen a band smashing their instruments and amplifiers to pieces.

Developing into a dynamic concert performer, in 1971 Diamond played 7 sold-out concerts at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. A leading newspaper called it ‘the finest concert in Greek Theater history.’ Throughout the decades up to 2017, Diamond recorded over 40 albums and has toured the world marking his ascension to superstar status. In January 2018, Diamond announced his retirement from concert touring after 50 years. ‘It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years. My thanks go out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.’

Paying respect to the music of this legendary artist composer and performer are Durban’s own tribute band ‘The Reals’ with Barry Thomson on guitar and vocals, musical director Dawn Selby on keyboards and vocals, Mali Sewell on drums and vocals and Jason Andrew on bass guitar and vocals. Included in the repertoire of ‘Hot August Night’ are Diamond’s hit songs ‘Cracklin’ Rosie, ‘Song Sung Blue’, ‘Longfellow Serenade’, ‘Desiree, ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’, ‘America’, ‘Heartlight’, ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘I’m A Believer’. A show not to be missed!” – Rhumbelow Theatre

Castle & Robinson

CASTLE & ROBINSON

Jason Castle and John Robinson have teamed up as Castle & Robinson a DJ and event photography service in Durban, South Africa, you can hear some of DJ Castle’s mixes here. DJ Castle is a Durban DEEP HOUSE and TECH DJ, John Robinson is a people and portrait photographer who captures moments that will ‘keep’ your event forever.

DJ Castle, 1st Thursday at Distillery 031, September 2018,

DJ Castle’s vibe at Distillery 031, Durban, South Africa. Photo John Robinson.

DJ Castle, 1st Thursday at Distillery 031, September 2018,

DJ Castle, 1st Thursday at Distillery 031, September 2018,

2 moments caught at a Castle & Robinson event, Photos John Robinson.

A camera used well can capture moments often missed by the naked eye, ‘it’s the fleeting moment that is caught that gives the photograph it’s magic’. To book Castle & Robinson for your next event or private party call Jason Castle on +27 642277996 or John Robinson on +27 836547789.

 

 

 

 

While Reclining one Saturday afternoon in ‘Little Nigeria’ (South Beach) Durban, South Africa…

The men are drinking quarts of Black Label upstairs while the woman folk are rubbing  down my host’s wife with peanut butter and tomato sauce in the courtyard at the back of the building in a well humoured anticipation of an addition to the host’s family.

The man talk is of a celebrity visit to South Beach; and there are strong views on this issue: will South Beach be graced to this magnitude or will the area once again be left out in the cold?

The blue walls of this building contain dramas that could feed a T.V. series for a season or two.  Outside in “piss alley” the road is controlled by the Congolese, inside the building my host’s brother rules the realities of life. The building has about 14 flats rented to people who cannot afford beach front apartments on the golden mile… Little big eyes and her peanut covered mommy come back from the courtyard and her daddy is shocked by what the women have done to his babe.

The fast beats of tech music fill the background of beer and men talk all afternoon, the brothers are close and the under current of the talk is coping with life and concern that hurt is kept away from the family. Hurt and life is interrupted by asking for this or that tune to be played. Our ‘beer talk’ is mixed with two plates of cake, pretzel sticks, sweets and cookies and a bowl of sugared pop corn from the baby shower in the courtyard.

I place a blanket over the little girl who is soon to be ‘big sister,’ not even strange visitors and cartoons on the T.V. can keep her upright. My bicycle ride home is delayed by a swapping of movies and series for .jpg files of family pics I have done for the host in the past.

My ride home on Lady of Loreto, I named my bicycle after a patron saint of flying, is stopped for the fuel of a mutton curry pie on Maydon Road past the back of the Durban Port to my room in Woodlands in south Durban.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Work…

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Left to right: Teddy, Jason, Cindy and Leele. 2018, Anton Lembede Street, Durban, South Africa.

Teddy is standing in for Jason and Cindy’s soon to be expected addition to their family, Cindy is now just short of seven months pregnant. I have so much hope for this small family unit, Jason and Cindy have such a strong bond, and are soon to be married too…

A friend of mine has agreed to marry Jason and Cindy when the time is right.

JR

 

 

Shooting For Myself…

Jessica and Mark Byerley in Jessica Byerley's home at 43 Cromwell Road, Glenwood, durban.

Jessica on a red sofa. Photo John Robinson

“There is nothing new in this world” – Ecclesiastes, the preacher, son of David, King in Jerusalem.

When I first got a camera in my hands it was personal; at this point in my life I work well with leather and have started again to make a financial way for myself. Photography has always been a personal thing, now as ever it has always been…

Max and Jason gave me a day job as a leather smith, it’s been a game changer for me I am good at this leather thing and I can get much better too. I feel that where there is leather there is a way forward for me also. I say the following to Max and Jason, “we have a long way together still”.

I have written about perception in the past and it’s personal, now with leather in my picture I am freed to shoot personal, for myself and the best is still to come on all fronts…

 

 

 

 

Shooting for Real Raw Files

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Ken Rockwell writes about real raw photographic files, I have read his thoughts and I have also referenced him in my dissertation The Full Frame DSLR Camera vs The Analogue 35 mm Rangefinder Camera; but here I want to write about capturing real moments photographically and the .ding open source .raw files that I use in my photographic system…

I came to photography in about 1992, I was attracted to the idea that I could just document what people were doing around me in Johannesburg, South Africa as I was perceiving it. I was not and am still not attracted to trick photography, I use photo editing programs for inserting metadata and adjusting the colour, light and shadow of the digital file to as I saw the moment on the day I took the shot; and I do it in .dng files too. It’s very important that photography is about recording and reading real moments that really happened, and not about producing images of over adjusted colours and changing the construction of the original photograph.

The core value of photography depends on the perceived realness of the photograph…

In those days we were all using photographic film for our images, black & white film for social documentary, colour print for press work and colour transparency for most magazines. Digital photography was still in it’s infancy, we did know of the ethical monster that we were birthing at the time. Digital photography has now become to be as much about what can be done to the image after leaving the camera as it is about what was done during the moment within the camera.

Photography has lost the perception of truth in the public eye due to the prevailing perception of the ease of digital manipulation of photographic images in those same public eyes, the same eyes that read my pictures and maybe yours too.

I work all my images as .dng files (open source .raw files) in Adobe Bridge CS5 and I like doing so, many photogs (photographers) like doing the same in Adobe Lightroom. I use ‘Bridge CS5 alongside ‘Photoshop CS5 for all of my work.

Working in ‘raw’ has the reputation of processing ‘flexibility’ and greater image ‘quality’ among many digital photographers, both amateurs and professionals…

A young digitally based professional photographer friend of mine aspires to work with colour film one day, I tell him to just go for it now, but he still thinks that it takes extraordinary photographic skills to work with film.

All my important work is now done on colour print film in the same camera that I did my black & white work up till a few months ago, I have migrated to colour print film from black & white film for ease of processing reasons and because I like the feel that colour print film gives to my photography; plus that 50mm Leica lens can’t be beat for it’s crispness.

My work station is an old wooden desk with a hand crafted A2 Oregon pine light box on the one side, a Nikon Coolscan V ED film scanner running VueScan Professional, a MacBook Pro and a 1.5 terabyte external hard drive. The 35mm film dedicated scanner provides me with A3 124 megabyte .dng files off my 35mm colour print film. The .dng files are stored in the external hard drive and I work the files in the Adobe Photoshop CS5 raw window on my MacBook Pro just like any other digital file. I work my .raw files just like any .raw file coming out of a DSLR camera with the benefit of the extra information that the 124 megabyte files afford me; this plus the far greater latitude that colour film gives me over latitude coming out of a digital camera sensor.

All of this rides on a strip of Japanese made plastic and photosensitive emulsion that I buy and process in the Foto 45 shop in the center of Durban. Oh, and the legal proof that what the reader of my photograph sees is actually what I perceived but not chimped with my Leica M6 on the day…

Painting With Light

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I love perspective, photography is also about perspective as it is about cropping, to understand something better I have to sometimes walk across and stand in other shoes. Perspective helps me to to see as other people might have seen.

What is photography?

At the roots of the word photography the words light and drawing lie around. Up to the time of the invention of photography people where painting in multi chrome and drawing in mono chrome; and the pointillists or neo impressionists were beginning to paint with small dots of pure colour that where blended together in the eyes of the viewers of the resulting work not unlike the pixels of modern digital photography.

Their world changed and the new black and white pictures of those first photographers pushed aside the non photographic realist artists of the period as photographers went to the front line of war, adverts begun to employ the photographer rather then the painter and more and more portraits of the famous where done through photography rather then artist and paint brush. There was a time when photography just did realism better then the painter with colour and brush of the time. If the technology of the time had permitted and photographers had started out with colour, we might have been known as photo portraitists rather then photographers.

The realism of that period of photography was backed up by the little slip of plastic covered in emulsion that we call the photographic negative; in the analogue or film age of photography the realness of the photograph could be just broken or backed up by the production of the original negative.

Now in our modern digital photography world news wire services like Reuters ask their Photographers to give in unprocessed .jpg files straight from their cameras because of the eroding of the realness in the public eye by ‘over processing’ of image files in the digital news picture industry and in the modern photography arena in general.

Though I too love the creamy colour of the modern digital photograph, I prefer the crisp image that my rangefinder lens provides me with the no nonsense provability that colour film in my M6 camera still gives me and my readers… JR