THE IM­POR­TANCE OF PRINT­ING

If we want to pre­serve our pho­tog­ra­phy, we need to make sure that the dig­i­tal ob­jects we cre­ate to­day can still be ren­dered far into the fu­ture. We dis­cuss the topic, and get the opin­ion of fam­ily and por­trait pho­tog­ra­pher Niki Boon, who has in­ti­mate expe

New Zealand D-Photo - - INSIGHT | THE IMPORTANCE OF PRINTING -

To­day’s dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ment makes stor­ing and shar­ing im­ages more con­ve­nient than ever be­fore, but with that ease has come the risk of over-re­liance. Im­ages shared on so­cial me­dia flash by our screens in an in­stant, stor­age me­dia is prone to fail­ure, and our abil­ity to ac­cess dig­i­tal im­ages is en­tirely de­pen­dent on co­op­er­a­tive hard­ware and soft­ware. It is an is­sue that trou­bles even the big­gest of dig­i­tal boost­ers. Vint Cerf, Google’s chief in­ter­net evan­ge­list — also known as the ‘fa­ther of the in­ter­net’ — has for years made it his mis­sion to raise aware­ness of the pre­car­i­ous­ness of dig­i­tal his­tory. In par­tic­u­lar, he is con­cerned with what he dubs the “dig­i­tal black hole”, whereby in­for­ma­tion dis­ap­pears once an on­line host is gone, or the pro­grams de­signed to open it have be­come de­funct. Luck­ily, pho­tog­ra­phers have a long tra­di­tion in one of the most po­tent de­fences against van­ish­ing im­ages — print­ing. Not only does print­ing an im­age free it from the con­fines of dig­i­tal dis­play, but it also af­fords artists the chance to de­velop their edit­ing and self­e­val­u­a­tion skills, as well as be­ing a uniquely sat­is­fy­ing craft. It just takes a com­mit­ment to push­ing be­yond dig­i­tal con­ve­nience and em­brac­ing the phys­i­cal. Marlborough pho­tog­ra­pher Niki Boon is acutely aware of the im­por­tance of pre­serv­ing mem­o­ries as prints. Her mother died when she was still young and left her pre­cious few photographic keep­sakes to be re­mem­bered by. “I would love to have more sto­ries from my youth that I can ac­cess, be­yond my own mem­o­ries, and I wish I had the vis­ual re­call in the form of pho­to­graphs,” she laments. “They are the sto­ries that now, as an adult, I crave: of my own back­ground and youth, and that of my par­ents’, es­pe­cially those that are no longer around to talk to.” Niki is ea­ger to make sure that her own chil­dren do not find them­selves in the same po­si­tion. Her fam­ily forms the crux of her photographic prac­tice — doc­u­ment­ing her chil­dren’s de­vel­op­ment and ex­plor­ing the rich ideas nested in no­tions of child­hood. The pho­tog­ra­pher is pas­sion­ate about shar­ing her work across dig­i­tal chan­nels, but also makes it a point to print and dis­play im­ages as of­ten as she can. “I have a few walls in our house that are cov­ered in prints. Not framed, just prints, big and small, and I change them around from time to time, too.” To fur­ther safe­guard the longevity of her im­agery, Niki also cre­ates al­bums for the fam­ily book­shelf, which cur­rently holds about 20 vol­umes. And she has be­gun to ex­plore the photo-book for­mat, find­ing the process an im­por­tant ex­ten­sion of her ex­ist­ing photographic skills. “To see im­ages as a se­quence, a nar­ra­tive, as op­posed to sin­gle frames, makes the whole

ex­pe­ri­ence very dif­fer­ent for me; it has made me look at all my im­ages dif­fer­ently,” she ex­plains. “Some­times, I think their mean­ing deep­ens when viewed in a strong nar­ra­tive.” De­spite a clear ded­i­ca­tion to print­ing, Niki still feels that she should make it a more fre­quent habit, say­ing that los­ing ac­cess to her dig­i­tal im­ages would def­i­nitely have a huge impact on her: “Although I would be most grate­ful to have the al­bums and hun­dreds of prints I have ly­ing around the house, it would still be gut­ting not to be able to ac­cess it all on­line.” Ob­vi­ously, there are sen­si­ble pro­cesses that can be im­ple­mented to cut down on the risk of los­ing dig­i­tal files, but noth­ing is ever bulletproof, as many D-Photo read­ers will at­test. Reg­u­lar back­ing-up of hard drives is a must, but reader Stephen Roberts knows that all it takes is a lit­tle bad luck to dis­rupt this com­mon­sense prac­tice: it still pains him to re­mem­ber the hard-drive melt­down that com­bined with a cor­rup­tion in the soft­ware run­ning his backup process. “Not a pretty place to be, and it ended up cost­ing me a large amount of money,” he re­calls. We’ve heard sad sto­ries about in­no­cent lap­top up­grades lead­ing to un­for­tu­nate ex­ter­nal-hard­drive com­pli­ca­tions and lost li­braries, as well as in­ter­nal-stor­age fail­ures just ahead of school port­fo­lios be­ing due. Bradie Paul got the fright of her life when she thought that she had lost the me­mory card con­tain­ing all the im­ages of her first grand­child’s birth. Rather than slip­ping the card into its usual pro­tec­tive pocket, she ac­ci­den­tally dropped it into a bag to rub against the open im­ple­ments of a pocket knife. “My heart nearly died when I dis­cov­ered that,” she re­mem­bers. “I so ten­ta­tively tried the card in my com­puter to find [that] it was in­deed cor­rupted: alas, woe is me, to­tally and ut­terly.” Luck­ily, Bradie’s story has a happy end­ing. Close scru­tiny re­vealed a bent com­po­nent in the SD card, which was fixed with some care­ful tweezer work. Her grand­child’s first mo­ments were re­cov­ered, but the pain of the pos­si­ble loss was all too real, serv­ing as a poignant re­minder of dig­i­tal fragility. If th­ese hor­ror sto­ries have you amped to be­gin pre­serv­ing your cher­ished photographic mem­o­ries in print, you are lucky to be liv­ing in a time when ser­vices to do just that are so ac­ces­si­ble, pow­er­ful, and af­ford­able. Mo­mento Photo Books is one such ser­vice, of­fer­ing an ar­ray of high-qual­ity, easy-to-cre­ate con­sumer photo-book op­tions. A quick down­load of Mo­mento’s free book­build­ing soft­ware will have you pro­duc­ing cus­tom photo books and fam­ily al­bums in min­utes. The flex­i­ble pack­age lets you take as much or as lit­tle con­trol over the de­sign as you like. If you want to get se­ri­ous with your pub­lish­ing, you can start a book from scratch, cus­tomiz­ing ev­ery as­pect — from ori­en­ta­tion, size, and lay­out to adding frames, tex­tures, and em­bel­lish­ments. If you’re look­ing for the safety of a printed al­bum but lack the time to pore over ev­ery lit­tle el­e­ment of pro­duc­tion, there is a range pre­for­mat­ted tem­plates to choose from, as well as an auto-fill tool — you just point the pro­gram at your de­sired photo folder, and it takes care of ev­ery­thing else. Fin­ished books can be printed with a range of beau­ti­ful cov­ers, in­clud­ing linen, leather, and printed hard­cover op­tions. The lus­trous six-colour prints in­side can be pro­duced on num­ber of pre­mium photo pa­pers, such as the silky Satin 170, the fine matt Eg­gshell 148g, and top-shelf Lay-flat Lus­tre 260g. The Mo­mento web­site (mo­mento.co.nz) also of­fers a handy range of how-to videos and in­spir­ing project ex­am­ples to get the cre­ative juices flow­ing. The ver­sa­tile ser­vice has op­tions for users of all skills and bud­gets, to en­sure that ev­ery pho­tog­ra­pher has the op­por­tu­nity to avert a “dig­i­tal black hole” dis­as­ter while dis­play­ing their cher­ished mem­o­ries in qual­ity and style.

the process of cre­at­ing and edit­ing. With th­ese works, I be­gan by col­lag­ing four pho­to­graphs to cre­ate the scene, in­volv­ing near and back­ground pho­tos that work to­gether, and then used lay­ers to work in­di­vid­u­als from other pho­to­graphs of the same scene into the works. With Waikiki #2, this in­volved 41 lay­ers, all with their own unique [post-process]. I have found this an eas­ier process than try­ing to get th­ese things cor­rect in RAW file, and it al­lowed me to move the in­di­vid­ual bathers and al­ter their di­men­sions through trans­for­ma­tion for a be­liev­able com­po­si­tion. Th­ese works were all pro­duced from an aerial or drone-like per­spec­tive, but, be­cause I wanted to use my cam­era and lenses, I had to find lo­ca­tions that af­forded this point of view. The Waikiki work was taken with a tri­pod on the sev­enth floor bal­cony of a ho­tel lo­cated on the beach. Napili was at a rock jump­ing lo­ca­tion on Maui Is­land that was reached by walk­ing along a wind­ing path along the cliff’s edge. Shel­ley Beach was sit­ting on the branch of a tree over­hang­ing the wa­ter at the top of a rocky cliff. Pauanui was at a van­tage point from the track to the top of Mount Pauanui, which is where the ul­tra-tele­photo Tamron lens re­ally came into its own. Taka­puna was taken stand­ing on a fence post above the coastal walk to Mil­ford.

MV: The im­ages con­struct a sense of place by the way it felt to be there, rather than sim­ply how it ap­pears. What was your thought process be­hind this?

CC: An as­pect that re­ally in­ter­ests me, and that I ex­plore in my Sea­side se­ries, is Deleuze’s ‘third model of time’, in which rep­e­ti­tion is it­self the form of time — time as a form that is im­posed on sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence which places events into time as a line, not as a se­ries of pass­ing mo­ments. Deleuze talks about this model of time as the “eter­nal re­turn”, the rep­e­ti­tion of that which dif­fers from it­self. The Sea­side se­ries is in­flu­enced by this model of time, com­bined with an­other as­pect of my prac­tice, which is fas­ci­na­tion with how our hu­man eyes process the vis­ual world. By this, I mean the con­cept that what we see isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the real world. Paul Cor­bal­lis, a vis­ual cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist, talks about the world each of us ex­pe­ri­ences vis­ually, as a per­sonal “con­struc­tion of re­al­ity”. Each im­age in my Sea­side se­ries is a con­struc­tion of many pho­to­graphs taken over a pe­riod of time and then dig­i­tally col­laged. I work with all my im­ages to of­fer my own sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence of th­ese spa­ces. In the work Waikiki, this ex­pe­ri­ence for me was of be­ing in a hu­man soup — the sen­sa­tion of be­ing sur­rounded by a pro­lif­er­a­tion of hu­man­ity within ‘na­ture’. Th­ese ‘nat­u­ral’ spa­ces of wa­ter, in­un­dated with hu­man­ity, also pose the ques­tion for me about what the impact our use of th­ese places is hav­ing on th­ese en­vi­ron­ments.

MV: How does the large scale of the printed pho­to­graphs lend to the over­all ef fect?

CC: Yes, scale is cru­cial to ex­plor­ing big ideas like the sub­lime, and spa­ces like the ocean. Part of my art prac­tice is to in­vite the viewer into the space con­structed by the work, and scale, as well as form, is cen­tral to this. I have cre­ated works that are the size of door­ways as well as por­tals to un­der­score this no­tion. Large scale, and this feel­ing of be­ing im­mersed in the im­age, con­trib­utes to cre­at­ing a vis­ceral re­sponse in the viewer, and this ex­pe­ri­ence is of­ten lay­ered with am­bigu­ous as­so­ci­a­tions with wa­ter — com­bi­na­tions of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, free­dom, dread, sea­sick­ness, and ex­hil­a­ra­tion.

Auck­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (AUT) grad­u­ate Cathy Carter’s fas­ci­na­tion with the hu­man re­la­tion­ship to wa­ter has be­come a source of in­spi­ra­tion and cre­ative flow, in life and in prac­tice. Her per­sonal per­spec­tive ex­plores bod­ies of wa­ter in a psy­cho­log­i­cally in­ti­mate way, of­fer­ing us an ex­pe­ri­ence in which to con­tem­plate our hu­man vul­ner­a­bil­ity within th­ese ex­panses, which con­sti­tute 71 per cent of the earth’s sur­face. Cathy is a three-time fi­nal­ist in the pres­ti­gious Wal­lace Art Awards (2014; 2016; and, most re­cently, this year). Her work has been ex­hib­ited world­wide, with an up­com­ing group ex­hi­bi­tion at Stu­dio 541, Mount Eden, as part of Artweek 2017, open­ing early Oc­to­ber. We spoke re­cently about be­com­ing an artist, her en­dur­ing fas­ci­na­tion with flow, and her re­cent se­ries, Sea­side.

MAREEA VEGAS (MV): So, who is

Cathy Carter?

CATHY CARTER (CC): That is a hard ques­tion, la­bels are so re­strict­ing, but if I had to take three words with me to a desert is­land I would take ‘artist’, ‘tha­las­sophile’ [lover of the sea], and ‘en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist’. I’m in­ter­ested in the idea of the blue mind and how we are af­fected in many ways phys­i­cally, and psy­cho­log­i­cally, by be­ing near places of wa­ter. Never far from my mind is the beau­ti­ful quote by Sene­galese poet and nat­u­ral­ist Baba Dioum: “In the end we will con­serve only what we love, only what we un­der­stand, and we will un­der­stand only what we are taught” (1968). Re­con­nect­ing on a deeper level with na­ture, in or­der to con­serve what we have, is what I most love about this quote.

MV: How did you be­come an artist?

CC: I have al­ways con­sid­ered my­self an artist, and have al­ways prac­tised art, but, on leav­ing school, I was dis­cour­aged from pur­su­ing it as a ca­reer. I feel that I have been work­ing my way to­wards be­ing a full-time artist ever since … Re­cently I cu­rated my first show — called

Open Wa­ters — with four other artists for this year’s Auck­land Fes­ti­val of Pho­tog­ra­phy theme of Identity, and for this year’s Artweek, open­ing on Oc­to­ber 7, I have cu­rated a group show called Ob­scu­rity at 541 Stu­dio in Mount Eden with artists Denise Batch­e­lor, Kathy Bar­ber, Kaye McGarva, [and] Sonja Gar­dien, which I’m re­ally ex­cited about.

MV: Your Sea­side se­ries is in­cred­i­bly strik­ing. How does your study of wa­ter and flow relate to you on a per­sonal and artis­tic level?

CC: Thank you, I re­ally loved mak­ing th­ese works. The char­ac­ter­is­tic of flow is cen­tral to the na­ture of wa­ter, and also some­thing that con­nects us all. My life jour­ney, like ev­ery­one’s, is a story of ‘be­com­ing’, and the ex­pe­ri­ence of flow in wa­ter is a phys­i­cal ex­pres­sion of this. So my fo­cus on wa­ter as a study of flow is an ex­plo­ration of ‘be­com­ing’ in an artis­tic philo­soph­i­cal sense, as well as a re­flec­tion upon the re­al­ity of the na­ture of ex­is­tence. Some artists talk about the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing ‘in the zone’, but, for me, it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing ‘in the flow’. This cre­ative flow that I find my­self in has a sense of di­rec­tion and ease and ex­hil­a­ra­tion. If my cre­ative process gets hard, or feels like I am go­ing against the flow, it is a sign that I need to back off and re­think what I’m do­ing!

MV: By fea­tur­ing peo­ple en­sconced in per­sonal mo­ments while in the ocean, what is it that you hope that we might take away from view­ing your work?

CC: Hu­mans’ re­la­tion­ship to th­ese fluid spa­ces that I pho­to­graph is pri­mar­ily as spa­ces of play and re­ju­ve­na­tion, but also as spa­ces which hold mem­o­ries and feel­ings of be­ing out of their depth or in dan­ger. How­ever, th­ese both work to bring us to the vis­ceral, poignant, and pow­er­ful here and now. So I hope that th­ese works, on some level, even if it’s an am­bigu­ous ex­pe­ri­ence, op­er­ate to make th­ese spa­ces ‘real’ again, [or] felt again. In th­ese places of wa­ter, the body has the po­ten­tial to tran­scend it­self, be­com­ing a ves­sel of sens­ing po­ten­tial within a po­ten­tially lim­it­less space. Par­tic­u­larly, im­mer­sion in wa­ter of­fers a sense of pres­ence and an im­me­di­acy that can lead to an imag­in­ing con­scious­ness. Wa­ter can be thought of as a space of ‘be­com­ing made vis­i­ble’, an im­per­ma­nent space, ephemeral and fluc­tu­at­ing, even il­lu­sory, a space of ac­tion with­out lim­its. Wa­ter’s abil­ity to sus­pend mat­ter, due to its di­lu­tion of grav­ity, and also to dis­tort and sub­due sound, makes th­ese spa­ces mer­cu­rial, trans­for­ma­tive, and mag­i­cal. As Gas­ton Bachelard puts it, “To give an ob­ject a po­etic space is to give it more space than it has ob­jec­tiv­ity; or, bet­ter still, it is fol­low­ing the ex­pan­sion of its in­ti­mate space.”

MV: Could you talk more about how the Sea­side works were cre­ated on a tech­ni­cal level?

CC: Each im­age in my Sea­side se­ries is a con­struc­tion of many pho­to­graphs taken over a pe­riod of time at the same lo­ca­tion. I al­ways use RAW files in Pho­to­shop as a start­ing point in

the process of cre­at­ing and edit­ing. With th­ese works, I be­gan by col­lag­ing four pho­to­graphs to cre­ate the scene, in­volv­ing near and back­ground pho­tos that work to­gether, and then used lay­ers to work in­di­vid­u­als from other pho­to­graphs of the same scene into the works. With Waikiki #2, this in­volved 41 lay­ers, all with their own unique [post-process]. I have found this an eas­ier process than try­ing to get th­ese things cor­rect in RAW file, and it al­lowed me to move the in­di­vid­ual bathers and al­ter their di­men­sions through trans­for­ma­tion for a be­liev­able com­po­si­tion. Th­ese works were all pro­duced from an aerial or drone-like per­spec­tive, but, be­cause I wanted to use my cam­era and lenses, I had to find lo­ca­tions that af­forded this point of view. The Waikiki work was taken with a tri­pod on the sev­enth floor bal­cony of a ho­tel lo­cated on the beach. Napili was at a rock jump­ing lo­ca­tion on Maui Is­land that was reached by walk­ing along a wind­ing path along the cliff’s edge. Shel­ley Beach was sit­ting on the branch of a tree over­hang­ing the wa­ter at the top of a rocky cliff. Pauanui was at a van­tage point from the track to the top of Mount Pauanui, which is where the ul­tra-tele­photo Tamron lens re­ally came into its own. Taka­puna was taken stand­ing on a fence post above the coastal walk to Mil­ford.

MV: The im­ages con­struct a sense of place by the way it felt to be there, rather than sim­ply how it ap­pears. What was your thought process be­hind this?

CC: An as­pect that re­ally in­ter­ests me, and that I ex­plore in my Sea­side se­ries, is Deleuze’s ‘third model of time’, in which rep­e­ti­tion is it­self the form of time — time as a form that is im­posed on sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence which places events into time as a line, not as a se­ries of pass­ing mo­ments. Deleuze talks about this model of time as the “eter­nal re­turn”, the rep­e­ti­tion of that which dif­fers from it­self. The Sea­side se­ries is in­flu­enced by this model of time, com­bined with an­other as­pect of my prac­tice, which is fas­ci­na­tion with how our hu­man eyes process the vis­ual world. By this, I mean the con­cept that what we see isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the real world. Paul Cor­bal­lis, a vis­ual cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist, talks about the world each of us ex­pe­ri­ences vis­ually, as a per­sonal “con­struc­tion of re­al­ity”. Each im­age in my Sea­side se­ries is a con­struc­tion of many pho­to­graphs taken over a pe­riod of time and then dig­i­tally col­laged. I work with all my im­ages to of­fer my own sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence of th­ese spa­ces. In the work Waikiki, this ex­pe­ri­ence for me was of be­ing in a hu­man soup — the sen­sa­tion of be­ing sur­rounded by a pro­lif­er­a­tion of hu­man­ity within ‘na­ture’. Th­ese ‘nat­u­ral’ spa­ces of wa­ter, in­un­dated with hu­man­ity, also pose the ques­tion for me about what the impact our use of th­ese places is hav­ing on th­ese en­vi­ron­ments.

MV: How does the large scale of the printed pho­to­graphs lend to the over­all ef fect?

CC: Yes, scale is cru­cial to ex­plor­ing big ideas like the sub­lime, and spa­ces like the ocean. Part of my art prac­tice is to in­vite the viewer into the space con­structed by the work, and scale, as well as form, is cen­tral to this. I have cre­ated works that are the size of door­ways as well as por­tals to un­der­score this no­tion. Large scale, and this feel­ing of be­ing im­mersed in the im­age, con­trib­utes to cre­at­ing a vis­ceral re­sponse in the viewer, and this ex­pe­ri­ence is of­ten lay­ered with am­bigu­ous as­so­ci­a­tions with wa­ter — com­bi­na­tions of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, free­dom, dread, sea­sick­ness, and ex­hil­a­ra­tion.

LEFT TO RIGHT, TOP TO BOT­TOM NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/500S, F/3.5, ISO 200 NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/8000S, F/4, ISO 100 NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/500S, F/5, ISO 200 NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/4000S, F/2.8, ISO 250 NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/8000S, F/2.2, ISO 200 NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/640S, F/2, ISO 1250 NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/4000S, F/2.5, ISO 200 NIKI BOON, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L USM LENS, 35MM, 1/250S, F/3.2, ISO 800

PAUANUI, CANON EOS 5D MARK II, TAMRON SP 150–600MM F/5-6.3 DI VC U LENS, 552MM, 1/300S, F/10, ISO 100

SHEL­LEY BEACH, CANON EOS 5D MARK II, TAMRON SP 150–600MM F/5-6.3 DI VC LENS, 309MM, 1/400S, F/7, ISO 100

PAUANUI, CANON EOS 5D MARK II, TAMRON SP 150–600MM F/5-6.3 DI VC U LENS, 552MM, 1/300S, F/10, ISO 100

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