Written by Photography

Photographic Exhibitions

Over on the BBC News website, they have an audio slideshow with Eamonn McCabe detailing what he’s found out in his Writer’s Room project. Over the last couple of years McCabe has been busily photographing the rooms in which novels are written. They’ve been published in the Guardian Review, and are now the subject of an exhibition.
It’s fun looking at them, but it’s also interesting to hear McCabe mention that he tries not to shoot more than two rolls of film per room – 24 photos. In other words, this isn’t digital, and he’s using a medium format camera.
This was interesting, because so much photography is digital these days. Two other recent exhibitions have piqued my interest. The first was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibtion at The Natural History Museum. This year was the first time I’d visited, and what a fantastic exhibition is is. The way they’ve displayed the photos is amazing with lightboxes behind transparencies of the photographs.
There truly are some stunning photos, and the exhibition really is worth a look. What I especially liked was the fact that full details of every photo taken were listed. So you could see which camera the photographer had used, the lens, and quite often, even the brand of tripod.
Of course you find a certain amount of jealousy comes out.
“If I had that camera and that lens, maybe I’d be able to take such awesome photos!”
That’s not entirely true. What’s evident is that these people had been to some remarkable places and often taken extraordinary amounts of time over getting the photos.
The overall winning picture of a snow leopard took literally months to get. The photographer, was working for National Geographic, so he could probably afford to spend that amount of time on assignment, but even then, his winning photo(s) were actually shot using a bottom of the range Canon DSLR. It’s just that he used quite a lot of them and left them with automatic triggers to attempt to get the shots.
I must also admit that I was jealous of some of the junior entries. There are categories for all sorts of young children, and some of the shots they’ve captured are amazing. But again, they’re quite often borrowing mummy or daddy’s lenses. Either that, or they get significantly more pocket money than I did.
So essentially, I came away from the exhibition jealous… But what I really meant to mention was that barely any of the photos were taken using film cameras. There was one honourable exception from a photographer who took panoramic shots of Namibia, but that was really it.
Over at the Royal Festival Hall they have the World Press Photo 2008 exhibition. The photos are presented here on boards, and are often larger than the images presented at the Natural History Museum. What I find is that this really shows up when photos are digital and have perhaps been over-enlarged. That’s not by any means the case with all of them, and since many are “action” photos of news events, you get what you can as safely as possible.
Disappointingly, the full photographic information is not displayed alongside each print. But this free exhibition is worth visiting if you’re down by the Southbank in the coming weeks.
Just a word of warning. If you’re bringing young children, you might not want them to see Time magazine’s portrait of Vladimir Putin taken for their Person of the Year 2007 cover story. I know that I’m going to get nightmares.