TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Posts Tagged ‘documentary

At 5am in Venice

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Few weeks ago I had a job in Venice and I couldn’t resist not to do some 5am photography. 5am is one of my favourite projects. The basic concept is to be a part of the day when night had finish already and the day haven’t started yet.

Sometime around 5am there exists a subtle moment when day chases its tail. Laborers are off to work; party-goers are finding their way home.

In the wee hours, ambiguity rages between night and day, light and dark, predator and prey, mind and instinct, life and death. This surreal relationship between contrasts seems to linger in what is just the blink of an eye.

In one sentence, it’s a love affair with light. I love it, being awake before everybody and having an eternity just for myself. I walk and observe without any rush, without any obligations and without any expectations whatsoever. It’s my walking meditation channeled trough photography.

As I’ve mentioned in the video I’ve started the project in Fabrica in year 2000, because after Oliviero Toscani left, I could not get a permission to go out and do photography. My kind of photography! You know, the kind of photography that does not sound sane in an application form and on top of that it does not have a deadline or a goal to achieve? I remember very clearly when a senior staff was explaining me that I should sketch how will my photographs look like, before I take a camera in my hands. I explaining him that if I would do so, I would make an image that is made with my mind and my mind is just recycling concepts and in this way I can not come up with nothing original. You can imagine the face of the temporary head of the department…

Anyhow, in the video above is presented a book dummy that I’ve created in 2008. After that I was doing my 5am routine wherever I traveled and bellow there are few recent images from Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, USA, Czech Republic and of course Venice, Italy.

The project will be finished in a book, I’m quite certain about it. You might remember that in my post from Les Recontres Arles festival I’ve mentioned that Dewi Lewis remembered me for some crazy project of mine? In one sentence I’ve met Mr. Lewis more then ten years ago at Frankfurt Book Fair and after all those years he still remembered me and one of my crazy projects. He remembered my 5am project! How amazing is that?!?

To repeat fast, Dewi Lewis is one of the most important photography book publishers in the world and he was a publisher of Martin Parr (before Faidon), William Klein, Erwin Olaf, to name just few and he remembered my 5am project ten years later when we’ve met in Arles. Of course I will make new 5am book dummy and send it to him.

If you will be in Vienna Photo Book Festival I will be there also with my photo books. That said, the book isn’t published yet, so I can’t sell you one, but someday I will.

Bellow are images that I’ve made in Venice. This is my selection from couple of mornings and only few images will actually end in a book. At the bottom there is a slideshow I’ve made years ago with music of Daniel Wehr. Daniel was a fellow student in Fabrica.it in year 2000 and he made this music for my 5am project. He even walked with me one 5am morning, recording sound, but he didn’t like the sound of camera shutter, so next day I got up even sooner at 4am 🙂

Written by Borut Peterlin

6 April, 2015 at 11:58

Homage to Paul Graham

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Paul Graham at the workshop in Fabrica in year 2000

Last week I was on a vacation and I’ve read a book review of newest project by Paul Graham at Aphotoeditor by Robert Haggart. I’ve first encountered Paul Graham’s work at an exhibition at Month of Photography in Bratislava, year 1994. It was an exhibition of New British Documentary Photography. When I was in Fabrica, Benetton’s communication research centre, year 2000, he had a two days workshop there. Until then I didn’t fancy his aesthetic, but I understood his topics and I loved his early works especially Beyond Caring and Troubled Land. His work you don’t understand on a first glance, it took me a while of reading and contemplation to get familiar with the idea that war photography can be done with medium format camera from far and it’s OK, that your pictures aren’t good enough because you’re not close enough.

While we had a workshop together he asked from us to go out and make pictures, that we wouldn’t otherwise, we were asked to make mistakes, rigorous technical and compositional mistakes. We went out and each of us shot a roll of film and I took it as a joke, throwing camera in the air and taking pictures with a timer on and of course nobody took an effort to look trough a viewfinder. And accordingly that’s how our pictures look like, a one big mess! Paul came along and start shuffling pictures and out of this mess of unsharp, blurry, over&under exposed pictures made a series that actually looked really cool! Then he was talking about possible connotations that this kind of aesthetic could be applied to. I was astonished! What a good workshop!

So when I read the book review that I’ve mentioned before I clicked through the book and as always it’s not on a first ball as we say it, but as all Graham’s projects it takes some time to get familiar with his new “invention” in photography. To be honest my belief was that diptychs, triptychs and other typtichs are for photographers who can not make a good picture, then they do some distracting maneuvers with juxtaposing several images together. In 99% it’s like that, if you ask me, or even more if the theme of the series is dealing with identity of a photographer (grow up!).

But, I’m also great fan of Duane Michals and his way of transcending an image with a sequence and Graham’s diptychs are sharing a some sort of rhythm that I like. Furthermore this is actually a street photography, a contemporary modern version street photography, that I adore. Robert Haagart wrote:

“But, inch by inch, I realized that the book’s locale is strictly allegorical. It could have been London, or Barcelona, or San Francisco, or almost any city on Earth. The title of the book is not “NYC,” it’s “The Present.” Mr. Graham is asking us to take him at his word, and look beyond the obvious.”

At the moment I was reading this I was at a vacation at the sea site in Nerezine, Croatia, so I wondered if it could have been NY, London, Barcelona, why not Nerezine as well? I took my camera and the very next day I’ve made a jackpot of an image that I’m publishing bellow. I’m continuing with the mining the concept…


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Anže Kopitar / LA Kings, back in Slovenia

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A bouquet of white roses with Anže Kopitar and fans. Ljubljana Airport, Slovenia.

To keep my promise to post pics more regulary, here is a picture that I’ve shot few hours ago. It’s taken when Anže Kopitar famous hockey player that won with LA Kings the Stanly Cup. Picture belongs to my Flower Power series, where I document flowers on news events in a way that I don’t celebrate politician or a famous person, but I focus on a flower and the famous person on the picture is degraded to a disturbing background. If you don’t see the concept in this picture, please take a look on my site where Flower power project contains flowers with Putin, Bush, DalaiLama, Mubarak, Merkel, Powel, Jnaša, Drnovšek, Turk,…

PS: Actually the picture above is straight from the camera. Here is a bit fine tuned version.

My 901st post on this blog + new work that I love

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Ha, I can’t believe it, but this is my 901st post on this blog! I started this blog in September 2006 and since then I received 472,899 visits with busiest day of 1,474 visits. I know in blogosphere this statistics are nothing special, in fact it’s bellow average, but I’m still proud on it. I improved my English language, although I know my English is still pure. Or is is it correctly spelled poor? Anyhow most importantly, this blog gave me a feeling of being in touch with contemporary photography, exposing my work to critical audience and to my cynical friend JC. Now this blog won quite a number of followers that subscribed to updates and that makes me think twice what do I want to publish. I’m thinking that this year when I’ll post 1000th post I must make some sort of gift for you. What do you suggest? A nice print gift? To whom? Not to JC! Although he is the most frequent commentator of my blog, he owes me a print.

Last month I wasn’t publishing much since I had a avalanche of commercial jobs, which was very much needed after a winter drought. Anyhow here is my latest work done with my beloved Linhof Technika camera, format 9x12cm (almost 4×5″). One film holder is leaking light, so that’s why I have this mysterious rays of light 🙂 I’ll publish here my work that was rejected, by editors, but I love it and I hope you’ll appreciate it too.

Brane Koncilja, a famous punker,  but now he's making a living as a lumberjack. He's still an anarchist, proud on his tractor IMT - Made in Yugoslavia

Brane Koncilja, a famous punker, but now he's making a living as a lumberjack. He's still an anarchist, proud on his tractor IMT - Made in Yugoslavia

Bojan Brecelj, a friend and a photographer


Stanka Hrastelj, a writer.

Stanka Hrastelj, a writer.

Stanka Hrastelj, a writer.

Stanka Hrastelj, a writer.

Portraits with a classic view camera Linhof Technika 9×12

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I borrowed from a friend and a colleague a view camera a classic Linhof Technika format 9×12 cm and I love it! I photographed in shade just like Richard Avedon did his book In the American West and he was doing it like old masters of 19th Century, that is to photograph with “northen night”.

I have also a Plaubel Peco view camera format 13x18cm, that’s 5×7″, but I’m readjusting it, so I could expose glass plates for my Wet plate Collodion project. It takes quite a while and I’m not near finishing. In meanwhile I’m doing some portraits of my family with Linhof and I just let my friend now, I’m buying the camera. I love it! I’m publishing few portraits that I’ve done yesterday and today. I’m back into developing films and the other day I was driving a car and smelling fixer on my fingers, just like an ex-smoker would enjoy a smell of tobacco. I decided I’m going to build a darkroom in my house. THIS is the darkroom I used to have and I still have all the stuff, so why not make some good use of it!
Comments, ratings and old cameras welcome!


My daughter in carnival mask

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I just want to share with you a picture I shot & develop today. My daughter before going to kindergarden in her carnival costume. I love the expression of her mirroring cold morning and you could tell she’s not satisfied with her costume.

Photographed on B/W film Linhof Technika 9×12cm. Reproduction was done on a bad, scratched plexi glass. Negative is clear & clean. I bought a fresh developer and it took me quite few rolls films to realize that developer is bad. It was developing, but in very weak way, producing very thin negatives. I will need to find an old book from student years: Darkroom cookbook and mix it myself!
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Hčerka preden je šla v vrtec v kostumu. Kako zanimiv izraz! Vidi se, da je bilo mrzlo in, da ni bila glih navdušena nad kostimom.
Fotografirano na klasičen film formata 9x12cm s kamero Linhof Technika. Reprodukcija je narejena na slaben, spraskanem pleksi steklu. Negativ je lep, čist. Kupil sem razvijalec za Č/B filme in po petih filmih zanesljivo vem, da ne delam nič narobe, da so mi prodali slabe kemikalije in sedaj imam tanke negative. Moram najti svojo knjigo z recepti za mešanje kemikalij Darkroom cookbook!

Workshop on portrait photography

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Workshop in Dobova. Photo: Martin Kolar

Workshop on portrait photography.


Every January I panic! No money, no jobs, phone is dead! But then February comes and I feel like my services are needed. It feels great, like I would have a real job! After a depressing January an avalanche of requests for my workshops happen. My first one was a week ago in Dobova and today I’m starting a series of workshops in Novo mesto. This two were closed workshops, but in a month or so it will be a workshop open for everybody on portrait photography in Ribnica, Slovenia. It will be one day workshop with very low tuition fee, somewhere between 80 and 100EUR, but I’ll tell you more in next few days. Beside that I’ll start teaching at VIST higher school and at Visoka šola za umetnost UNG. So rock and roll February!

Exhibition Flower Power

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Flower Power exhibition. Photo: Alenka Peterlin


Flower Power exhibition. Photo: Alenka Peterlin

Flower Power exhibition. Photo: Alenka Peterlin


Last two weeks there was a lot of stuff happening with such intensity that I didn’t had time to blog about it. So, Flower Power exhibition in Sokolski dom, Škofja Loka was a success, exhibition looks great. I exhibited 35 images and it works really well if they are many images together. If it would be just a single or just few images, it would be a gag, but all together works really well, raising issues of news making, objectivity, spin public relation,…
The exhibition is open until 7th of March 2012. Here is a video about the project if you haven’t see it yet.

Flower Power – photo exhibition

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I’m inviting you to the opening of my show on Friday 3rd of February 2012 in Sokolski dom in Škofja Loka, Slovenia.
About the project:
As a photojournalist for the weekly Mladina I have been daily photographing press conferences, politicians’ handshakes, and other “flash for cash” photo opportunities. At a certain point I became frustrated with these news-safaris, where the press officer in charge determines my and other photographers’ view angle, the timing and the expression of the politician(s). Searching for an approach that would motivate me personally, I decided to document the flower arrangements accompanying such public functions. At every event I thus also take a personal picture in addition to the usual news images, a picture that is out of the pre-set context. Instead of glorifying some important politician, it sets flowers in focus, thus degrading the politician to unsharp background that distracts the composition. The cure works perfectly and now I look forward to every press conference, no matter how trivial it is. 
I have been working on this project for over six years now. With my Flower Power bouquets I have captured also world leaders, such as George Bush, Ban Ki-moon, Romano Prodi, Angela Merkel, DalajLama, Vladimir Putin and others. Let me quote Marcel Štefančič who commented the series: “A hundred years from now no one will know who these politicians were, what their names were, but everyone will still know what these flowers are called. That’s it – Flower Power.”
Portfolio on my site www.borutpeterlin.com

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Vabim Vas na otvoritev razstave Flower Power v Sokolskem domu v Škofji Loki, v petek 3.2.2012, ob 19. uri. Več na moji strani www.borutpeterlin.com
Kot fotoreporter tednika Mladina dnevno fotografiram tiskovne konference politikov in nešteta rokovanja, kjer nas osebe za stike z mediji pripeljejo na točno določeno mesto, nam odmerijo tako zorni kot, čas fotografiranja, kot tudi nasmeh politika. Ta novinarski fotosafari me je spravljal ob živce do točke, ko sem se prepričal, da ob vsem tem medijskem pompu, mora biti nekaj, kar nihče ne fotografira ali snema in s časom ugotovil, da so to cvetlični aranžmaji.
Od takrat poleg običajnih novinarskih fotografij še dokumentiram cvetlični aranžma in tako politične veljake degradiram v neostrini moteče ozadje. Zdravilo deluje in bolj butasta novinarska konferenca je, z večjim veseljem jo fotografiram.

Wet Plate Collodion – workshop results

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20111124_8360Wet Plate Collodion Process 20111124_8359Wet Plate Collodion Process 20111124_8358Wet Plate Collodion Process 20111124_8357

Wet Plate Collodion Process 20111124_835620111123_8342

This week I was at Academy of Fine Arts Novi Sad in Serbia, where they had Startfest festival, a workshop of pioneer photography techniques. Mentors Miša Keksenović and Uglješa Dapčević were teaching us Wet Plate Collodion technique and also demonstrated other techniques like Salt print, Albumen printing, ambrotype, cyanotype and digital negative. This Wet Plate Collodion is really complex process. Not only that chemicals are flammable, poisonous, cancerogenous, acid,… also characteristics of solutions are constantly changing. For example, young prepared collodion that is up to a week old demands much less exposure, but it’s much less contrasty and a collodion that is old about a month produce bests results, but it demands longer exposures. Of course you can add a chemical that I don’t know what’s an English word for it and you speed up the process of aging, but again loosing quality. We learn so much, but as I’ve warned Mišo and Uglješa, it is very possible that in a week or so I’ll ring to their doors, asking for help 🙂

Above I’m publishing my Wet Collodion Process – Tintype photographs taken with 100y old Kodak Folding Brownie. HERE is a post where I got it. Below are images of students that were exhibited on a final show at the Academy. Mišo even created a lens from a single lens just to demonstrate how simple photography can be. Check an image on the slideshow bellow that have a lens taped on a wall. Fascinating indeed! Thank you Mišo, Uglješa, Ivana Tomanović & the Academy staff and students. It was epic as Lucija would say!

PS: Hoover over an image to read a caption. If you want to see larger image, right click and “open image in new tab”. I’ll organize their workshop also in Slovenia but don’t know when, probably in the beginning of next year. If you want to organize their workshop in your country, I’ll pass them your contact. You have mine on my site www.borutpeterlin.com

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