road-tripping the end of the world

night photos/dreams of the end days

A fantastic night photography blog by Andrew Frazer has been a great source of some new photographers I’ve been poking through:

I spent some very slow nights at the camera shop picking through three years of posts on this blog.  Interesting side effect of looking at all of that in a short period is you get a visual history of the development of digital photography – low light conditions has always been the bane of digital, due to digital noise issues and “hot pixels” produce by the heat generated by the sensor – and over three years you can see just how far this technology has come.

My exploration yielded a few results.

First, I might need a new CMOS SLR body if I can’t beat my S5 into submission.  The S5 Pro’s SuperCCD arguably has the best dynamic range on the market, and functions amazing as a studio camera, but that CCD technology gets mighty hot on long exposures.  It feels fucked up to actually purchase a second SLR body that’s actually a downgrade of sorts, but it could be worth it. The D90 uses the same sensor as the D300s, it might be an option. Unfortunately a D700 means all new lenses and I’m very far from being made of money right now. It seems logical to push the S5 for now in night stuff and see if there’s actually anything conceptually worthwhile there (or I got distracted by shinies).

Ok down to stuff that’s actually relevant.

Aaron Hobson:

Very spooky to find another photographer who not only has interest in the “end of days”, but also works in vertical-shot composite panoramas. I like his concept of “cinematic, open-ended narratives”, and he certainly threads a lot of these narratives through his photos, though at times I find the lack of specificity something of a closed door as well – which is just fine, in my humblest of opinions. It doesn’t appear he’s printed any of these quite huge yet, I’d be curious how they’d reproduce in very large format. I would love to have the disposable income he appears to have for equipment, as he’s currently working with a new Canon 7D in video.

Anyway, in reference to his “dreams of the end days”, he has a very good quote:

“I’m not sure how yours go down, but mine are typically pulse raising scenarios where the end of life is moments away and I cannot find or get to my loved ones. All I am left with is flashes or glimpses of terrible scenes with friends, family, and loved ones in some situation all alone and no one there to comfort them, while I frantically search or try to get to them.” (

His site is blessedly not very frustrating, and if you turn off scripts, there’s even a straight-up HTML version. So tired of impossible to navigate artist galleries made in Flash with bloody soundtracks.


Flavia Sollner - Our Purloined Breath 2008

Having often considered photos illuminated only by headlights, this series caught my eye. Sollner’s work is pretty diverse content-wise, and she has some of the freakiest polaroids I’ve seen in recent history:

All this still factoring into my current internal debate regarding the mediation of “pretty pictures” with “conceptual relevance”.

On other notes: if you know anyone with an underused medium format camera they might be willing to part with, let me know.

4 responses

  1. aaron

    “I would love to have the disposable income he appears to have”…

    haha! I’m as broke and down-to-earth as most regular folk. A sale of mini-prints made the 7D happen. Although I would love one of those trust-fund accounts some photographers seem to have.

    thanks for the link.

    p.s. define a “quite huge” print.

    December 8, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    • mattsparling

      Good lord the internet is spooky, I only posted that two hours ago!

      I would also love to be one of those trust-fund photographers. I was looking at the intimidating world of medium-format digital backs the other day at work, and geebus, $52,000 for 60 megapixels? I guess I’ll settle for a D3x when I have a few years to save up.

      I guess it is hard to define “quite huge” in the whole fine-art photography scheme; largest I’ve printed is around 120-130″ish long by 44″ tall (bless you, Epson), and after having a whole show full of those I’m trying to scale down for storage purposes (as much as discovery of a business associate with a 60″ epson has me thinking). But that’s pretty small when you get to the whole Jeff Wall lightbox stuff and all that, and then billboards and whatnot. When I was looking at the installation shots of your work they appeared to be around 24″ wide or so, and I think I assumed when I first saw the images that they were much larger prints.

      If my rambling hasn’t indicated as such, your work is beautiful and very inspiring 🙂

      December 8, 2009 at 10:05 pm

  2. aaron

    My ear rings when my name is mentioned on the internet… haha. kidding, I have an alert thingy that emails me.

    Don’t forget how much more money you’ll need for a Computer powerful enough to process just one image from a 60 megapixel camera. My CPU would have a stroke trying to process 5 of them into a pano.

    I try to replicate that home entertainment system size, so I only go 40″ wide for that reason. They vary in height between 18″ and 24″, but always 40″ wide. Plus, I think of a reasonable size for an average wall in an average home. Storage on the size you printed must be a bitch I can imagine.

    thanks for the kind words.

    December 9, 2009 at 2:00 am

  3. He’s on to something, Matt. Sale-able scale is workable with your images.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:31 am

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