Continuing my fascination with suburban landscapes – which are notoriously hard to do – these pictures also dwell on fall colors.
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/FallMarin/ (gallery of 34 images)
Continuing my fascination with suburban landscapes – which are notoriously hard to do – these pictures also dwell on fall colors.
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/FallMarin/ (gallery of 34 images)
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/Presidio (12 images)
As familiar as it was from the driving past umpteen times, I had never actually walked around in the Presidio in San Francisco. Curiously, for a former military base (now ‘inner city’) there is a lot of nature and some Andrew Goldsworthy’s.
And despite it now being home to business – ‘tarted up’ and and ‘high tech’ (including Disney) – the ghosts of the past are still present. The place definitely has an atmosphere, even on a day with the distraction of perfect ‘lazing in the park’ weather. Here are 12 casual photos. I hope a whiff of that comes across from this fleeting visit.
I inadvertently ended up featuring fire damage in this new photo series when the intention was actually nothing more than to check out a bit of nature, have a brief change of air plus sniff around Lake County. I had not been there before.
Burned Forests and Homes : http://philipchudy.com/galleries/clearlake_fires/#1 (36 images)
Clear Lake Environments : http://philipchudy.com/galleries/clearlake (22 images)
But as it turned out, almost everything I photographed was fire-related. The route via Calistoga was freshly burned on one side of the road for probably 40 miles. That was to be expected given the proximity to Santa Rosa after the recent mega firestorms. But even the landscapes I photographed which were well outside the recent fire zones were scared, with dead trees from serious fires in former years.
And then, though proper photo-journalism is not really my thing, it was hard to turn away from the mass of freshly burned domestic infrastructure and destroyed vehicles I came across.
It was a veritable war zone in visual terms and of course unspeakably tragic for those who owned them. I spoke to one person at the ruins of his place who escaped in shorts and t-shirt and now had nothing else materially from his former life. A woman up the hill, I was told had slept through the entire event, to find that all her neighbors and everything around her had burned to the ground. How lucky but also how surreal.
Compared to Santa Rosa, 158 homes destroyed by the Sulfur Fire in the area around Clear Lake is extremely modest. But fire and the theme of destruction, even on other levels were amplified and constant, for the 40 or so hours I was there.
Clear Lake town itself is well known for its many meth houses and addicts. ‘Violence in this natural paradise’ is standard fare even without bushfires. While I was there I heard gunshots while 2 people were killed and a policeman injured a few miles up the road.
‘Characters’ – meaning derelict or apparently broken people wearing weird quasi-hippy/gangster garb are ubiquitous but are found in concentration in certain areas. And everyone smokes tobacco including mothers with infants. I did not realize how used I have got to never seeing people smoking.
A couple of images feature the homes of people whose actual lives had ‘burned out’. Meaning that they were addicts and had lived in squalor without water, electricity and even garbage collection for years ending up dead or in prison.
As an out of towner I was told it was not wise to try to photograph anyone there without having achieved some kind of rapport. It is probably inadvisable, for the sake of a few snapshots try to achieve a rapport with meth addicts under any circumstances. So being green behind the ears and from predictable Marin, I coulda’ but I did not.
For those who know the suburban life, idealized mental images of it are easy to conjure up. But capturing any of that with a still camera is a major challenge. That is partly what has motivated me to undertake this as an ongoing project.
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/burbs/#1 (63 images)
A brief intense, recent photo foray to Petaluma filled out a substantial part of this collection of images, shot over the last couple of months. After days of hiding from the smoke from the recent catastrophic fires, I was also fired up with a sense of the fragility of the suburban environment and Petaluma in particular, because of its proximity to the areas of maximum devastation. I was thus more interesting in getting photos and less driven to steer clear of photographic cliches
The difficulty of the ‘burbs is everything is diffused and spread out and isolation and privacy are idealized and pervasive. In photographic terms, the fundamental problem in capturing ‘suburban landscapes’ is finding enough stuff in one place to tell the story or to fill the frame.
The suburban life revels in a sense of expansiveness which one knows is enjoyed by everyone in the community. One might experience a sense of this scale and continuity by driving through suburban space but everything is landscape and on the level. It is rare that one can see anything beyond one house or isolated details in one static view.
The suburban story, I feel is best told incrementally through the medium of the photo series/collection. The iconic solo suburban image certainly does exist but the ‘burbs are a known quantity. They don’t need identifying – they just need ‘explaining’.
My hackles rise when in interviews the question arises: “if you had to do it all over again what would you do differently?”, and the inevitable answer is “I wouldn’t change a thing”.
Of course, I know it is pointless getting angry because the question is unreal and extends well beyond the armchair void offered by that wonderful word ‘hypothetical’.
With absolutely nothing tangible upon which to counter this self-satisfied logic it would seem that all attempts to contradict it would be futile, but I can’t help thinking: “you idiots – you had the benefit of one great and exciting life and yet your curiosity and sense of adventure is so weak, you would not want to do anything with your lives other than that which you have done”. If a genie suddenly popped out of a city drain and (bam!) offered you such a miracle deal, you would have us believe you would tell him to go screw himself. And meantime, you are so impervious to the wider context behind the question that – exposed in full view of television, you are even proud to declare your complacency’.
Well, one thing I can definitely attest to is my own feelings when reviewing photos shot in the distant past which seemed so promising when in the field but which disappointed in the darkroom when one discovered that they were damaged and unprintable. There is no way that I would ‘want to do all that over again’. But one put that out of one’s mind because after all, who was offering?
And so years later with the advantage of digital imaging and a lot of retouching experience suddenly, a whiff of genie comes out of the bottle and right there is the chance to right a wrong which one never thought would happen. And thereafter to explore a relationship with lost images.
This recent batch of mixed images were all dramatically restored and whether or not they are ‘good photos’ they have already rewarded me with a sense of satisfaction and a sense of having cheated the inevitable by seeing them in ‘presentable form’ http://philipchudy.com/galleries/Scans_legacy_Sept2017/#1
Not all of them were totally forgotten. A few of them were ones whose memory is suffused with no small measure of regret, because ‘at the time’ I had a hunch that they would have had merit. But sorry – no one would ever be shown them.
Then again, a couple would have been small ‘discoveries’ back in the dark room. But because they were damaged I never even bothered to make contact prints. All of this batch required hours of retouching and in order to do that, I have had to suspend all sense of value.
You simply cannot find motivation and devote a lot of time to an image which one thinks is inferior to others already in the portfolio. It takes me quite a while, living with an image before I make up my mind whether I think it is good or not. So that is where I am.
Almost all the images in this collection were shot in remote back end of nowhere in locations Zimbabwe including the Kalahari Desert.
All the images in this selection were shot on 4×5” or 5×7” sheet film. Later I shot on 8×10” film. As far as I know, I was and probably still am the only person to have shot natural subjects ‘out of a studio’ with these larger formats in anywhere central Africa.
And there is the rub: I did not say why some negatives were summarily thrown on the rejects pile. They were found to be partly fogged, or scratched, or suffused with dust shadows. And all of this came from the difficult circumstances under which I had to load and unload the film holders. Shooting in primitive conditions it was very difficult to keep the film changing bags perfectly clean and changing film in the intense heat and incredible dryness often meant sweat on the fingers would marr the surface of the film or static attract dust.
That was the price of trying to bring back large format images of the back ends of nowhere. I paid the price with lost images and here, albeit, with hours of restoration, I am being repaid.
Many more Zimbabwe images can be seen on my fine art site www.philipchudyfineart.com
Sonoma features a serious horse racetrack adjacent to the area devoted to eats and rides. Natural selection means that the folk who populate the stands are distinctively different from their happy cousins who revel in the adjoining fun time fantasy environment. It was all part of a continuous shooting experience for me, so I have mixed it all up in this initial edit of 119 pictures.
Strictly speaking, these are not just photos from the 4th. They include photographs also shot on the evening of the 2nd.
The fair was not as crowded on the 2nd, but based on previous experience, that was a good thing. ‘Too many people’ means that every few seconds someone walks in front of your lens and obscures the subject.
But bigger crowds mean more dust and more figures in the frame which is nice too. This year, on the spur of the moment I headed out a second time (on the 4th) to take advantage of both options.
Street photography is to some extent a kind of a test of concentration and awareness in a complex changing scene.
I was also curious to see whether I would be more immersed; whether my brain was primed to sense more subtle or complex scenes; whether I would produce different or better pics with the experience of the first day behind me (and post-producing in between).
An interesting experiment I guess, but thus far I don’t have anything to say about that.
My first thought is to consider each photo on its own merits. hoping that it might stand alone, with minimal context.
Being a juggler means having to practice every day and certainly one does better when the whole psyche is involved.
But photography is not just about muscle memory – it is also about surprise.
So it is complex and I am not yet sure what happened on that level. Perhaps I will never understand the dynamic.
This semi-stylized, semi-fantasy, semi-surreal, semi-‘product’ AMG car image was not complete at the time of my last blog post with linked gallery.
That gallery contained only location pics from the recent shoot, so this stands out a bit. But I took the liberty and slipped this one into the original set. A direct link here to a higher resolution file: http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/AMG_C63CS_Merc_Tam/#6
Because it looks not a lot like your traditional super car, unless you are ‘automotively’ savvy (primed to respond to all the subtle cues and badges) this vehicle, deserves a second look.
‘500 HP, O-60 mph in 3.7 seconds’ starts to get your attention in all likelihood.
Okay, on the basis of its similarity to other more mundane models it might not turn heads at the local mall. Perhaps you need to rev up the throaty engine for a bit of theater.
But for those who in the know, the C63 CS has a lofty identity. As such, it seemed appropriate to photograph it on location, high above the clouds. And so we did.
Natural light photography, mood and sunsets are the enemy of the good clear automotive product shot (and the client who wants to see each detail of their vehicle even when it should be hidden in deep shadows). But, rules are meant to be broken.
This gallery (21 pictures) is not a tight edit and has a few environmental non-car pics thrown in for effect. http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/AMG_C63CS_Merc_Tam/
At the end of the day: nice car, nice views, nice company, nice shoot.
There is a relatively narrow window for observing north bound migrant Foster’s terns’ flocking behavior in Marin. They might hang out for a few weeks before heading north to their major nesting areas. And there is even a narrower window for photographing their beautiful balletic flocking formation. Most of the time they hunt, scattered and occasionally, as if by magic they come together, seemingly expressing joy at bonding.
By happy photographic accident in 2014 I made an single unscheduled motion trail Fosters’ photo, which turned a few heads. http://philipchudy.com/blog/?p=1346 .
Having lifted the camera to my eye without having checked any settings, I found that they camera was set to ‘small jpeg’ and the lowest ISO setting, the image was far from optimal in photographic terms. And then the subjects flew off.
I did not notice the merits of the image until I returned to base and then regretted that I had not shot more like it at the time. Since it seemed that the photo could never be retaken gave it no more thought.
But, a couple of weeks ago I noticed a few individual birds fly past, when I was out for a walk – and it struck me that I should at least show up the next day and make a token attempt to capture similar images in higher quality.
It was a bleak mostly overcast evening. the birds were scattered all over the water and I shot a whole bunch of ‘nothing’ pictures just to convince myself that I had ‘tried’. I was ready to give up when suddenly they came together, made a couple of rounds of tight coordinated flight before disappearing into the great beyond of the North Bay.
I checked the photo metadata and the entire flocking event lasted around 60 seconds and then they were gone. I shot about 40 frames and I selected 12 for this gallery.
This is a short photo essay of 21 Marin county landscape images, taken on a short walk on a rainy, stormy day in late March. A few are classic landscapes in the sense that they present a wide vista but, I also like details and textures including my unending fascination with fields of grasses.
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/leavesETC/#1 see 11 images
This common threads to this batch of images is that they were all created in roughly a common time frame and scale, are all similarly super high resolution (up to 400 megapixels) and that they all adhere to the bland/banal documentary/forensic style long established as ‘product style’ in the advertising industry. Also the gallery is fully Zoom-able – meaning you can see the finest details of the originals in the linked gallery by zooming in on them.
A common thread distinguishing them from their polished commercial cousins (the preened idealized product image) is that they are all imperfect/dirty, verging on unhygienic (even).
Obviously that was intentional and, repeating what I said many times in my blog: a large part of the brief is to promote a sense of ‘larger than life scale’ based on larger than life levels of detail.
Detail at this level tends to be retouched out in most comparable commercial images because no one wants us to notice imperfections in the products which vendors are trying to get us to buy. These images start out parodying the advertising image but hopefully the engender wonder as well.
I would have been somewhat more productive had my brand new ‘shoot in the rain’ umbrella survived longer than 1 second after unfurling in a sudden gust. An under water housing might have been good although what do you do with all the water droplets on the lens.
This new gallery is exciting because it includes brand new ‘deep zoom’ functionality. The viewer can finally experience extraordinary detail on a web page. This ‘banal objects’ image series could not be better suited to this emerging web technology, relying as heavily as it does on photography with unprecedented detail and fidelity.
The featured images have been presented under various guises such as ‘roadkill’, ‘familiar objects’ and ‘surreal still life’ in the year or so I have been producing them. Despite some change in direction with work, it all flirts with banality and shares a common fascination with scale. I have enjoyed seeing and presenting everyday objects in ways which are beyond our normal experience.
All of the images are designed to be seen as large hyper detailed prints on gallery walls. But there has always been a big disconnect between looking at online imagery as opposed to viewing quality print in the form of posters, or large high fidelity gallery prints. This gallery cannot substitute for that ‘one to one’ experience but I think it goes some way to bridge the gap.
The madness of coding this (with Zoomify’s latest HTML5 software) was justified because the common thread of all the images in this series is astonishing resolution and depth of field. This was achieved photographically by digitally combining hundreds of images of each image with a meticulousness and patience matched only by that required for capturing the digital images in the first place.
The technology (both photographically and web) cannot be fully separated from the ‘message’ but in essence, the narrative is common to a lot of Art, namely ‘here are incredibly unimportant grubby objects and things presented to you full fanfare, as if they were a royal treasure trove: go ahead – find that funny! (or something).
A front seat on the New Year display and a jaunt thereafter to cruise under the New Bay Bridge following a course which took us into restricted areas which others would avoid.
Before the fireworks begins the area is chaotic with many boats positioning themselves for the best view. The coast guard are busy chasing everyone off to a safe distance from the pyrotechnics barge.
Although the fireworks generate light there is no option to shoot from a tripod on a rocking boat – so increasing the ISO on the camera to astronomical limits was the only solution to hand held photos.
The spectacular explosive crescendo over we went round Treasure Island to check out the some not go areas around the New Bay Bridge.
As it happens our skipper who powered the 600 house power survey boat has recently done GPS ocean floor mapping of the entire area and knew which precise areas were free from the large barge anchor blocks and cables. Barges with cranes (etc) need to be securely positioned for work on the new bridge and the underwater infrastructure to achieve this is a threat to passing boats.
It was way darker there – you can see that in the grainy images.
Finally back to Sausolito at 45 knots. In totally flat conditions this boat can reach 52 knots (60 mph)
What drew me to the shore was the promise of 8-20ft swells (didn’t quite materialize except for shoals further out in the ocean ). And it being the shortest day of the year, blowing the blues away came in a close second.
As always a touch of sunset magic does the trick. I think it worked for all who were there too. Judge by the expressions!
I ended up shooting the breeze with some surfers till pitch dark when the scene was only lit by starlight and odd flash from ships far out at sea.
Continuing my ongoing Familiar Objects series – featuring extraordinary high fidelity gallery print images glorifying ‘everyday’ items – this gallery features a couple of new traditional food/kitchen images (tomatoes and garlic/onion).
But a quadriptych featuring chalk crayons, marks a stylistic departure for me.
I am not a fan of ‘conceptual’ images, nor of ‘image series”.
For me, irrespective of whether it’s Fine Art of advertising: a great concept – which can be described – should just be described. It should not be illustrated as an afterthought.
Nor am I a fan of photographing Art objects and presenting a photo of the Art rather than the Art object itself directly to the audience.
I put most of that aside in this case partly because what was photographed was an object in transformation. Crushing the crayons transformed and destroyed them and photography recorded the process.
I enjoyed making the image. Only time will tell whether I value them especially.
The images are intended for large high resolution prints. A couple of detail shots are included in the gallery to stimulate a sense of seeing the images ‘larger than life’.
This sped-up, compendium video (showing how the posters came together) was designed not to contradict the prevailing YouTube ethos – namely that brevity is the primary goal. Communication comes in second. Prior blog posts have covered this content of the video.
Unexpectedly 30 frames/sec, which one might expect would be adequate for what after all is no more than a glorified slide show, was clunky. Making it run at 50 frames/sec made it smoother and loaned it a touch of class.
Full screen is good with a 4k monitor- It is encoded 1440P.
This is a small, cute, footloose photo essay with pictures taken on Highway one, CA.
There is not that much to say, except that there was precious little network reception (with Sprint) and even FM radio seemed to be a luxury in places.
One gets used to a wide range of micro climates in the Bay Area but it is always a surprise to see that variation does not begin and end there. The light was dismal in some senses but magic in photography terms.
Fort Bragg is a slightly surreal Mendocino town on California’s northern coast which, while hip in many ways retains a lost coast aura – – a place which time has passed by.
Here is a new gallery (107 pics) of Zoppe Circus’s last performance of the season on a bluff near the Pacific. http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/Zoppe_CircusFB
This fresh set extends prior recent photography in late October of the same circus in Napa Valley. That photo series included behind the scenes for the Circus’ pre show day and a performance the following day. Although it seemed hard to imagine what I had missed by not being present when the tent was being erected (or taken down for that matter) I felt that something was lacking.
In order to correct that I was invited to live with the cast and crew and experience the last performance of the season.
I was familiar with all elements of the show this time and took the opportunity to photograph many of the performances from different angles, with less pressure to capture every single action.
I was present for the immediate dissolution of most of the circus infrastructure right after the show, followed finally by the lowering of the tent the next morning.
Fort Bragg is in a different climate zone, autumn was coming on and there was a strange haar off the ocean. There were no horses or dogs but the small, small town audience was as enchanted as any audience would be.
This time I was familiar with almost all the people in the show and felt part of the family. Not only that, but I was able to build a picture of their llves from our conversations. Some, I believe are sixth generations circus people. It was a rare exexperience for me. I hope this is apparent in some of the photos.
This gallery contains 3 new ‘how it was done’ animations. It was created to support a promotional email marking the recent collaboration between myself and Olivia Hellman (HSB2016 poster). Finally all the last years’ HSB poster work I worked on is one place, for easy viewing.
The email was titled ‘Hardly Strictly …Donkeys!’
Olivia Hellman and Philip Chudy worked on the annual, exclusive, limited edition poster for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass since 2011, but this year was different.
From the start of the festival in 2001, Claude Shade (senior art director and photographer at Goodby Silverstein and Partners, SF) was the creative force behind this much vaunted series. Claude’s passing in 2015 left a long shadow.
Olivia created the 2016 poster to double as a tribute to Claude, working with fellow photo-artist Philip Chudy and a team, who were all intimate with the unique HSB festival ethos
Zoppe Circus is an Italian Family Circus (since 1842) which tours North America. I photographed it in Napa in the beginning of October 2016.
This behind the scenes photo essay began on the final set up day and concluded with a performance the following day.
I cannot say as some do, that I ever thought of ‘running away and joining the circus’ as some do. I suppose I had a sense as to how hard one has to work and how grueling life on the road can be. Performances in Napa were for a mere 2 days and then everything was disassembled and it was back on the road. This gig had been preceded by ‘Oklahoma’ with an ensuing mad dash to California.
Not only was it a privilege to get a behind the scenes insight of to life on the road, I did not expect to be welcomed and accepted by the performers to the extent that I was, But more importantly I also got a strong feeling of the satisfaction and pride they get from their work. People refer to it just as ‘show business’ but I got a powerful sense that all the joy expressed in the performances is a genuine expression of how they feel for their audiences. I hope that comes across in the photos.
The photos in the gallery more or less follow the actual timeline, so the so called ‘best images’ are not highlighted.
I shot relatively few photos this year – many of the images which presented themselves (such as massed crowd shots) were ones which I had made while shooting the festival last year.
But the reduction in statistical probability did not mean that today – when I had only just found time to select and produce the gallery – a total stranger, who was at my studio for a corporate photo session, should not comment that she recognized a close friend of hers in one of the photos. Her friend was not just a ‘figure in s crowd’ but the main focus in one of these photos and posing for the camera.
Coincidences seem to be rolling in thick and fast these days.
Here is a small ‘how it was done’ animation – a bit of patience is required for it to load http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/HSB2016/
This year’s exclusive, limited-edition poster for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass performers was a unique tribute to its legendary creator, Claude Shade. Shade, who passed away in 2015, was the Senior Art Director/Photographer for Goodby Silverstein Partners SF, and the creative force behind the vaunted poster series. Olivia Hellman (granddaughter of HSB’s patron creator Warren Hellman) assumed the creative, directorial and photographic mantle this year and called on Claude’s veteran production compadres to create this year’s poster: Lauren Parks (model), Philip Chudy (extra photography of hills, environment etc.,compositing and retouching) and Philip Sweet (production).
This is the 5th Poster in the series I worked on. Here are links to prior blog entries for the others:
Continuing my personal ‘Summer Fairs’ project, here is a gallery of 75 new street style photos
To prove itself – with a heavy duty workhorse truck, such as the 2017 Ford Super Duty – you would expect the message and photo brief to be “The Beast and the Ugly’. Meaning; the ugliest, dirtiest and most macho of industrial environments. But the times, they are a changing!,
Apart from the new super stiff light-alloy construction, at its core, along with the new pampering luxury interior, the exterior is changing too. Most notably the new LED headlamps, a redesigned, powerful front end (with a ton of reflective chrome), described by one observer as ‘almost futuristic’. Seen from this angle the new styling changes are unmistakable. It looks similar to earlier models, from other angles.
Meantime, some are happy to see brand continue to ‘green’ a bit – and be seen to be ‘in harmony’ with ‘something quite pretty’, for a change.
Back in the days of chemical photography this kind of a look occurred when things went wrong (old chemicals. bad paper etc). But the look was intriguing and in rare cases ‘happy accidents’ created highly memorable images.
Nowadays a mindless digital auto-filter is expected to deliver the same effects. Truth is that really successful treatments are as rare as they ever were. No tonal treatment suits every image or is predictable.
Being tasked to deliver a specific high quality graphic/illustration effect ‘on demand’ remains as ‘challenging’ a task as it ever was. This is not least because retaining visual integrity of ‘the product’ is a priority in advertising. Mood, atmosphere and sensual textures come a big second.
Rule 1: Because ‘only God is perfect’, the artist must make deliberate mistakes in their work. This rule has been traditionally associated with hand woven rugs.
This tapestry- like image contains a lot of deliberate imperfections, but ‘the creator’ has nothing to do with that.
Patterns and repetition are effective in attracting the eye, but it soon tires of too much mathematical perfection and symmetry. This idea here was to try to ‘have ones cake and eat it’
The image avoids ‘closure’ and visual boredom because the spaces between the perfectly symmetrical vehicle profiles are variable (and only partly readable). This image needs to be seen large for best effect.
Oh, and Rule1 never made sense to me. Surely, the person who made the rule was impudent and seeking way too much perfection.
The show goes on!
It seems folly not to show up and take more summer fairs photos every year.
143 images http://philipchudy.com/galleries/SanRafaelSummerFair2016/
All of life, it seems takes place on the ’roundabouts’, and everyone of every age and social demographic seems to show up and wear their hearts on their sleeves. As usual I shoot a lot of images in very little time (190 minutes for 143 shown images = avg.45 secs between each shot)
Some of these new images will eventually migrate to the Summer Fairs ‘hall of fame gallery’ on my fine art site.