Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's said that a good portrait reflects the soul of the subject. If that's correct, a good artist portrait should reflect the spirit of his art. And if it's a musician, the portrait should show the music. For example, if we look at the famous portrait of Stravinsky by Arnold Newman, it's obvious that he's not about easy listening. Neither is Lemmy Kilmister looking like chill-out on Ibiza. And this guy does definitely not look like a countertenor (but he is - that was a suprise :))

It's easy to photograph musicians when antics and looks are part of the show, like Marilyn Manson or Adam Ant (just to commit the sin of talking about them in the same sentence). It gets difficult when there's only the holy trinity of artist, instrument and music. I saw today such a photograph. It's Miroslav Tadic, one of the world's best guitarists. Listen to the music, and see how the photo captured it - the underplayed and therefore all the stronger passion, the dynamics, seemingly so free and unbound, yet as disciplined and strict as square format. And look at his face - glancing at his fingers, like a beast-tamer looking proudly at his trained lions in the circus, expecting them to do their tricks, knowing that they would. All we have to do is to watch and enjoy the show.

(c) by Dalibor (Croatia)

Hvala Dalibor!

Define contemporary

Even in the age of flickr, when everyone and their aunt has a web gallery and photography seems to be democratic like never before, the old truth remains: trends are set by the opinionmakers. But who is an opinionmaker nowadays? Bloggers give old giants like Aperture a hard time and don't let them rest on their well-deserved laurels. However, even with a photo blog behind every virtual tree, just a few bloggers have the eye to present artwork that's diversified but equally high quality-wise. Blogs like do us a great favor: they search the net for finding the buzz, and show us the best of their pick.

What I like about this blog is the diversity of the featured artists. For instance, there's Isa Marcelli with her stunning ability to master the difficult art of square format composition. One has to admire John Salisbury's travel in time. David J. Nightingale offers HDRs that make sense (his jumping shot is hilarious). Aneta Kowalczyk's portraits are a hot breath in the neck of some well-established glam and portrait masters, not to mention Falsalama (although he has better stuff on his flickr page than the selected ones imo). James Wainwright re-defines blur. There's even food photography by Christopher Hornaday, definitely off-limits for people on a diet. Jordi Gual makes you commit suicide in a very beautiful and peaceful way, listening all the way to Hurt by Johnny Cash. Tom Stone gives dignity a new meaning with his shots of homeless people. And so on and so forth... the only thing I miss is nudes. Fine art, classic, pin-up, emotive or whatever - there's something inspirational in almost every genre from street to decay, even graphic and furniture(!) design, but this very basic genre is missing.
Anyway, the blog's title is very apt - browsing throught the galleries is indeed like a having a glass of pure refreshing water. Or even better: kaltes klares Wasser...

The site leaves only one question... what does this guy want from me? Compared to some folks featured there, I'm just a wannabe.

Which photo site for feedback and critique?

So here we go in with the big feedback test... I uploaded the same image (the one on the top in the 22 January post, because it offers good points for critique but still has some beauty to it imo).

Photosig: 3 comments (wow!), unfortunately none of them in-depth or really helpful.
Fotocommunity: no comments and 63 views. This was rather surprising as I posted it in their Critique channel - I'm a member there since 2006 and usually got useful feedback. Nothing good stays the same, obviously.
1x: rejected, which could be business as usual if it wasn't for some ignorant comments in screening (like "overexposed face" - wtf?) Nota bene: if I uploaded it to their Critique channel, I would have probably received useful feedback (I didn't because I know what they would say).
Deviantart: no comments, no critique no comments no nothing no comment, no cry ;)

Bottomline: if I was in need of quick and useful feedback I'd be in trouble. To me, this superficial little test proved that for useful feedback there's no alternative for However... this is what a truly great photographer told me once:

"I haven't sent a single image to the [Critique] section, because in all honesty, if an image that I shot didn't get accepted the way I wanted it, I don't really care about what most people have to say about it. If it was rejected, they will look for flaws. Most advice will be useless, there's again probably just a handful of people whose advice would be useful. When you've got a teenager who hasn't seen life and hasn't really created any significant images telling you that you should crop an image in a particular way, it's usually not worth paying attention. I'll value his opinion, as far as whether an image works or not - a YES or NO answer, but nothing more than that. There's just too much nonsense in critique.

Couldn't agree more. BTW, Mitchell has an excellent Lightroom and PS tutorial you can download from his site for a few bucks. It's worth the investment. Come on, it's the price of 2 bottles of wine.

Hungarian photographers are sadly underrepresented on sites like 1X. Probably because they have three excellent sites to choose from (, and as far as feedback is concerned. Photograph is more of a joint blog, topfoto appreciates nature above the rest, and fotozz offers everything from total bullshit to excellent in-depth critique. My photo in question got quite good feedback on fotozz, which came as a suprise. If you are Hungarian, don't speek much English and in need of feedback, fotozz is still the place to go. With their ingenious screening and evaluation system, topfoto could be even better (a Hungarian 1X) but it's more for tack-sharp bird shots than other kinds of photography.

Next time I'll test some webhosting services, like and smugmug.

By the way... I got into contact with an old buddy who blogs on He asked me how I like his blog (actually, his first question after 7 years of no contact was: "oh hi! have you seen the new Leica M9?" - now that's what I call fanatic!). I told him he'd reach a much bigger audience if he wrote in English, as the interest in cameras with a 13000 $ price tag is not really hot in Hungary nowadays. We agreed to start a joint project - he will write the posts on shiny Leicas and stuff like that, I'll translate, we'll get dirty filthy rich by Google Adwords and then move to some godforsaken Caribian island resort and photograph piña coladas for the rest of our life. Or something similar.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've had enough of Onexposure ( and For a year, this site was my bread and butter but eventually I got tired of rejections. You know, to publish a photograph there it first goes through screening, and... well, theoretically I'd say "if it's good enough, it will be published" but I no longer understand what's considered "good" there. The smallest common denominator of published images is that they are nice and sharp. So far so good, but I paid 99 $ a year to see my photos rejected, and now it seems that I'm a masochist who's willingly paying for getting frustrated. True, you get a homepage for your bucks but - and this is why I'll cancel my membership - you can have much better hosting service for much less elsewhere. They have an excellent Critique channel though which is probably the best on the net for feedback on your shots, but I don't believe in the use of photo critique any longer. It's always the "crop here, darken there, sharpen overthere" bullshit. One could use a critique-generator and it would be as useful as it gets. This equally applies to the critiques I write. It just doesn't make sense.
Anyway, my own site is under preparation now, in the meantime I made an experiment. I posted the same image to, photosig, deviantart, fotocommunity and two Hungarian sites, just to compare the feedback received.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ma ezeket szedtem elő a tavalyi archívumból:

Ezek a képek nem jöhettek volna létre, ha Fehér Béla nem ír olyannyira végtelenül szórakoztatóan, hogy még a zavaró tényezőt is ki tudtam vele iktatni az estémből.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm thinking about a new project this year: "Roots of reggae" - getting down to Kingston and checking out what's beyond the dreadlock-sunshine-ganja trinity. Just one of the 70 000 ideas that cross the human mind on an average day, of which 69 999 are forgotten instantly. We'll see. Maybe I'm just longing for sunshine and ganja and try to deceive myself.

Until then, long winter nights are good for editing old photographs.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Van la foudroyée

Normally, I'm good at translating but I soon arrived at my limits when reading the beautiful poem by Artavazd. Even though I understand the feeling inspired by one of my photographs, and probably translating it would only mean to explain my feelings while looking down to this man-made Hiroshima - I can't. That's why Artavazd is a poet, and I'm not.

My favourite line: "Van la foudroyée elève son ultime chant", "Lightning-struck Van rises
to sing her last song", "A villám-sújtotta Van elénekli utolsó dalát".

Ces sables fuyants
En contrepoint
Pietà blanche
A nouveau
Ces ruelles
Places, cours
Se perdre
Où sourdent
Tant de cris
Les formes
Regards, plis
Ombres de corps.
Qui dira
Ce lent engloutissement
Si lointain
Aube d’Hiroshima
Où palpitent
Des foules
Van la foudroyée
Son ultime chant.