Category Archives: Photography

Brain-bending Images

Self-taught Swedish photographer and retoucher Erik Johansson makes the implausible possible, turning outrageous scenarios into surreal yet familiar fragments of reality. His ongoing portfolio of photo manipulations sees landscapes unzip from the earth, human body parts shattered like porcelain, and buildings bent in half. Johansson describes his style as ‘photo realistic surrealism — surreal ideas realized in a realistic way with a touch of humor. I can’t really say that I’ve decided what I want my style to look like,’ he continues, but ‘it becomes what it becomes, I just realize the ideas that come to my mind and I don’t choose to develop a specific style to make that happen.’

Johansson’s recent compositions like ‘Impact’, ‘The architect’ and ‘Soundscapes’ continue his distortion of the natural world by morphing multiple images into one. For example, ‘Impact’ illustrates a lake, breaking apart into pieces of a mirror. the effect has been created through the use of 17 square meters of mirrors and a small boat, which has been carefully overlaid atop a photo of the surrounding landscape. ‘The architect’ is a brain-bending piece that plays with perspective and the distortion of space by forming an architectural optical illusion. Johansson documents much of his process in a series of videos, which you can see here.

Amsterdam Landmarks

With the exhibit Amsterdam Landmarks, artist and art director John Verwoerd shows the visitor how the cityscape changes when iconic buildings are removed from view.

You would expect that there is a gaping hole, but according to Verwoerd many people do not even notice that there is something missing in the picture. “They recognize subtle details such as electrical cabinets, bridge railings and benches where they sometimes sit,” Verwoerd said. “The images serve primarily as a viewing exercise, but people really go look in a different way to their environment and actively think about it.”

Amsterdam Landmarks can still be seen in the public space @ Stopera till April 22 (Stopera = the nickname of City Hall which also includes the National Ballet & Opera Theater)

Urban Symmetry

Urban Symmetry on the banks of the river Danube. Budapest-based photographer Zsolt Hlinka has found ‘urban symmetry’, where buildings reflect their architectural qualities in balance and harmony. The series of photographs emphasize each structure’s uniform proportions by placing them onto homogeneous, monochromic spaces that wipe away the surrounding, exterior information. Beige, orange and off-white backdrops accompany each grandiose building pictured, highlighting the symmetrical qualities and characters they all embrace. However, the series cannot be considered as a dry study, since it does not depict the raw reality.
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‘If you get a closer view of the photographs, you may discover that none of the pictures show the building in its full form, but only its reflected part,’ Hlinka says. ‘After all, these fictitious buildings coming into existence perfectly grab and condense their original character into themselves, as if you could see human faces and different personalities on the building portraits.’

More info and images: Zsolt Hlinka

Clever Combophotos…

by Stephen McMennamy tie two mismatched pictures into one.

First concocted by a group of surrealists in the early 1900s, the ‘exquisite corpse’ technique is a group exercise where players draw in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal the image, then pass it to the next player for further contribution. the result typically forms zany and unusual mixed-and-matched combinations like human faces with animal bodies and flowers with feet.

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Popularized by children’s books, Atlanta-based artist Stephen McMennamy now expertly brings this age-old pastime to present day using photography and simple props. His series of combophotos combine a pair of images in a single frame, juxtaposing two otherwise unrelated elements against each other. The duo of photos are seamlessly met in the middle of the composition, manifesting the mashup as a surreal blend of fantasy and reality.

For more info and photos go to: Combophotos

An Early Birthday Gift…

I’ve still got 49 days to go, before I turn 60, but my birthday gift to myself arrived today. It was love at first sight when I saw it hanging in Museum Jan van der Togt in Amstelveen, during the opening of the Retrospective of Jan van Breda‘s work as a photographer. There was another one there too called ‘Amstel Hotel’ with Willink-like skies.

Then and now it still looks like a fine oil painting, in which Jan has put all his craft to get it in one shot. Most people know this view from when they arrive in Amsterdam, traveling by train from Amersfoort or Utrecht. Jan calls this masterpiece “Homecoming”, and to me it is homecoming too.

And the best thing is of course, when the clouds are gray, I’ve still a sunny view on Amsterdam.

Unique Location, Extremely Normal Exhibition

okerk_1-wooden-roofThe red light district of town is not an area I normally frequent, but by visiting the 800 year old Oude Kerk [“old church”] which is Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church, I like to make a change to my habits. It was founded ca. 1213 and finally consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint. After the Reformation in 1578 it became a Calvinist church, which it remains today.

I wasn’t here for the building, which is a looker by the way, but the opening of the Pride Photo Award 2013 exhibition. I’m glad to live in a city where Freedom of Speech is normal, where a unique location can be used to show tourists, this is the red light district after all, not only the gravesite of Saskia van Uylenburgh [wife of Rembrandt], but also a unique photo expo.

logo210This years theme is: Extremely Normal, and it shows GLBT people from around the world in their normal habitat. From 48 different nations some 3,300 photos were send in on this subject, and an international jury made a selection out of them. After several speeches, Councillor Andree van Es, who manages portfolios of Work, Income and Participation, Citizenship and Diversity and Administrative System for the City of Amsterdam, opened the expo.

For all those Amsterdam people who don’t visit this location in the Oude Kerk, several of the photos can be seen around town on squares, in shopping malls and other places that attract many people.

Amsterdam Gay Pride 2013

Below you can see the photos I took during the Canal Parade and afterwards on Zeedijk, near the oldest Gay bar [1927] in Amsterdam!
There were floats from the Dutch government, including ministers, the Defense Department, the boys and girls in Blue [police], but also the Royal Dutch Soccer Association with players and officials. Next to them big companies, advertisers, bars, political parties and many, many people who had just fun. Over half a million visitors saw the 80 floats passing along the canal and river Amstel. Two of the last photos are from the Skinny Bridge over the river and a seal, who took a wrong turn, swimming in that Amstel river. But of course the first one is of the Westertoren [tower] part of the Westerkerk [church] showing its True Colors.