Just a Black Box…

This morning I posted these words on my Instagram feed. It seems appropriate to share them here too…


This Sunday, here’s a thought to consider on photography:

As I’m about to make a photograph, I remove the ground glass screen (used for composing and focussing the image).

Just before I fix the plate holder to the camera, as in this case at Southwold Lifeboat Station, this is what I see:

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe

Frighteningly simple, isn’t it?

It’s just a black box and a lens. That’s all cameras are…black boxes and a lens. Truly.

When I travel on my missions, I just use this camera and one lens; my lens cap is my shutter – I count elephants in my head when I’m making an exposure (have you seen Gregory’s Girl?).

As there are no equipment choices to make, my mind is free to concentrate on making the best photograph I can with what I have.

So many people confuse ‘cameras’ with ‘photography’. I’m afraid I cannot have camera conversations like “So, are you a Canon man or a Nikon man?”

It actually makes me shudder.

Cameras do not make you a better photographer…you make you a better photographer.

You can have all the pixels and knobs and buttons in the world. It might have cost you £2000 but, unfortunately, it will not make you a better photographer.

Q: So, what will?

A: Other good photography!

Buy good photo books. Old ones. New ones. Immerse yourself in them. You’ll find out what you like and what you don’t like and, I promise, you’ll become an infinitely better photographer in no time…


THE LIFEBOAT STATION PROJECT

With that in mind, why not pop over to see what I’ve been up to with my black box and lens at The Lifeboat Station Project?

I’d love you to join me…

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe

Animated Chopin

I love a bit of piano, in particular at the moment Debussy and Chopin.

As if the score isn’t beautiful enough, here is Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Major, Opus 9, No.2 performed and animated by Stephen Malinowski.

Make sure you see it right towards the end as the music simplifies with glorious delicate flourishes…

Mercedes: Poultry in Motion…?

A little treat for the weekend…

This video for Mercedes has been doing the rounds recently.

In essence, it highlights how cars will never be as good as nature’s finest chickens…

Sunday Digression: The Great Mystery

Just a little digression on a Sunday…

Last weekend, I took the long drive south from Newcastle with my boys and visited my Granny near Southampton.

She had a stroke recently but, thankfully, has made an almost complete and miraculous recovery.

Her recovery is all the more poignant for us as she has now outlived her elder daughter, my mother, by more than thirteen years.

Like so many in modern times, my Mum was brought down by the Big C, passing on to The Great Mystery at the ripe old age of 42 (I was 24 at the time).

She used to love walking along the shore at Warsash where the River Hamble meets Southampton Water, a spot where we were to eventually scatter her ashes.

I hadn’t been there for a while, so I suggested to Granny that we take a wander along there together.

Southampton Water, Fawley Oil Refinery, sunset

Looking for America…

As the sun set and the tide slipped away, I remembered Mum telling me that, when she was a young girl, she used to look across to the gargantuan Fawley Oil Refinery on the far shore and think it was America.

It’s a sadness for me that my boys didn’t know my Mum. Callum was two when she died and Jude wasn’t yet born.

Still, it was lovely to know that we were all walking together along a path she had trodden herself on many an occasion…

Sunset over Southampton Water and the River Hamble

Phonebloks: A Phone Worth Keeping?

Before I go any further, take a look at this pitch for Phonebloks — it’s just shy of 3 minutes long and will be worth it:

What do you think?

As somebody who likes to keep the tools of my trade working for as long as possible, I’m pretty excited by the concept; a seemingly sensible proposal and a slight antidote to the Upgrade Generation.

A “slight” antidote because it’s by no means the whole answer but a step in the right direction, don’t you think?

At the very least, the throwaway mentality might be slowed…

“Phoneblok is made of detachable bloks. The bloks are connected to the base which locks everything together into a solid phone. If a blok breaks you can easily replace it; if it’s getting old just upgrade.”

And it is only a concept at this stage — Dave Hakkens simply seems to be ‘putting it out there’ in an effort to spark enough interest from enough of the right people to maybe, just maybe, get this thing off the ground.

Phonebloks, a phone worth keeping

I must admit to being quite surprised by his note on copyright, though:

“If you want to set up this platform please do, the sooner the better. We would appreciate it if you would keep us updated though, we might have some ideas for it!”

It seems strange, after all his efforts, that Mr. Hakkens doesn’t have any rights over the idea and is willing to just ‘let it go’. Or maybe I’m missing something?

Of course, people will likely get hooked on the modular bits-and-bobs but I like the main ethos — that this is a phone worth keeping and that you only replace the modules that need replacing if they become faulty or outdated.

Oh, and it’s like Lego for grown-ups, which is good (!).

How can you show your support?

I’ve joined the Thunderclap for 29th October.

If you think this is a great idea, join the Thunderclap too, which will help really spread the word — I hope it can work in some way shape or form.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…