Hong Kong

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Hong Kong Abstract; © Ian Poole, 2017

With several visits to this intriguing island destination, I am always struggling to find a definitive viewpoint.  I suspect that this lack is its strength, as well as its weakness.

It can be overwhelming with the huge population jam-packed into towering high rise apartment blocks in such a small space.  But it is the isolated and cropped views that are giving me most reward.

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Apartment; © Ian Poole, 2017

Taking a voyeuristic approach is of some assistance.  But also the method of finding a subject/location and then attempting to isolate as much as possible can work.

For such a busy and active location there are many quiet and simple patterns lending themselves to documentation.

 

 

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Love; © Ian Poole, 2017

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Lovely Self-Portrait; © Ian Poole, 2017

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Contemplation on the Stairs; © Ian Poole, 2017

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Rainbow; © Ian Poole, 2017.

As you can see stairways were becoming a repeating theme.

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Early Morning Pedestrians; © Ian Poole, 2017

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1:5, Beware; © Ian Poole, 2017.

And a monochrome is always a nice way to finish up.


 

 

Glittering Prizes

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Wakatipu Sky; © Ian Poole, 2011.

The southern hemispheric professional photography awards season has finished and we will shortly see the start of a similar set of competitions in the northern one.

One of the outcomes from these award results was the proliferation of images rated at the higher end of the scorecard that contained, or were dependent on, both graphic design and large amounts of post-production.  Noticing these trends caused some disquiet to newcomers to the awards as well as to the more experienced traditional exponents of the photographic craft.

The distance travelled between the point we have now reached and Louis Daguerre’s 1837 invention in creating a Daguerreotype or the creation of the dry plate by Richard Leach Maddox in 1871 was undoubtedly a cause of debate amongst practitioners.  While doing away with the very dangerous life threatening use of mercury with a Daguerreotype process was the primary driver, the resulting then newfound ability to create more than one copy from each exposure opened up vast possibilities.  In a sense, those birds are still nesting.

Similarly, the transition from film to digital opened up possibilities not previously seen nor imagined.  The blurring of previously clear demarcation lines between image creators (photographers) and image manipulators (for the sake of the argument lets call them graphic designers) has now become very obvious.

The awards criticism comes from two quite diverse sectors.

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Whakatane Sky; © Ian Poole, 2011.

Amongst the critics are traditionalists who came from an era based on those clearly defined demarcation lines.  ‘A photograph is a photograph is a photograph’.  This is an argument along the lines of ‘a landscape photograph contains only natural environment elements, is created with a large format camera and should be in monochrome’.  That argument disallows the use of colour, the recording of the urban or man-made environment and ascribes a mystery to a particular type of camera.  A flawed argument on every level.

Another camp, mainly newcomers to the photographic industry who are quite successfully making money from a commercial product sold to clients, are seeking applause from their peers for producing a saleable professional product.  Some are upset when that their product was not deemed sufficiently creative for an award.

One of the definitions of the word award is ‘a prize or other mark of recognition given in honour of an achievement.’  Simply achieving a level of production beyond that which is normal, everyday or even professional is not sufficient for recognition in these awards.

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Possum Protection; © Ian Poole, 2010.

Over time, any increase in the value and status of our professional recognition awards systems must surely rely on flexibility of outlook and much more than the reluctant acceptance of change.  The intoxicating blurring of boundaries, extending and challenging everyday norms and creating new concepts and techniques within photography are surely powerful future proofing.  Handing out loads of prizes for delivering salable commercial product simply won’t do, today or tomorrow.

Another concern relates to the frequently occurring relatively simple visual replication of what has been done before.  This is an anathema to progress.  Not to progress is, frankly, to go backwards!

New ‘personal versions’ of iconic and very easily attributable images which achieved success in previous, but still very recent awards, are cropping up in almost every category. But is demonstrating simple duplication, right down to lens choice, perspective and cropping, a road to achieving either instant recognition or long term reputation? You be the judge.

The good health and future prospects of productive and challenging awards and competitions to some degree relies on open boundaries allowing participants to create new styles of work and vary the presentation of this work to include new methods.

There are competitions that are entirely shackled, rule bound with old concepts and techniques – let them be.  The awards that encourage and promote better, newer, more innovative skills are the ones with a place in the future of photography.

So let’s reach for the rulebook less often, let’s keep debating vigorously but remember to celebrate and encourage those pushing at the outer limits of our own boundaries.

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Lindis; © Ian Poole, 2010.

Above all, let’s never compromise on professional standards for the sake of inclusiveness.

Where would that end?


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This essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p146, issue 59 :: October, 2016.

 

August 2016 was a great month

For different but related reasons August 2016 was a great month for me.

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In Good Company

Firstly I had a comprehensive portfolio of my photographs published in the online magazine f11::for PHOTOGRAPHERS AND AFICIONADOS.

Secondly I gained my Master of Photography (M.Photog) status with the (AIPP)

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In Equally Good Company.

The first achievement was the result of over nine months of submission and collaboration with the f11 Publisher and Creative Director, Tim Steele.

With some gentle (and often times not so subtle) prodding, Tim was able to move me away from a grab-bag of retrospective images culled from a lifetime of photography into displaying a targeted and curated array of complimentary shots.  For this I will be eternally grateful.  Whilst I have a fair record in curating photographic shows for other people this was proof positive that the artist should rely on the input of a dispassionate party in such an exercise.

As a long time exponent of the black and white process and genre, it was an eyeopener to me that not a single monochrome image was included.

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Istanbul Dolls; © Ian Poole, 2015

The wonder of colour was never more evident than in this portfolio.

Issue 57 commencing at page 98 gave a comprehensive survey of my more contemporary photographs.  The supporting essay alluded to a voyeuristic photographic eye – a statement that I don’t shy away from, albeit not in the wide angle, camera in the face documentary style that is employed by some practitioners of so-called street photography.  I am no Vivian Maier!

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Observations; © Ian Poole, 2015.

What this project did do for me was to isolate a not strongly held view that I was attracted to people and place.  Having been fortunate to travel a few times over the past few years it was obvious that I would document those moments.  But it was the urban landscape (with its attendant population) that attracted my lens more than “the landscape”.  It took an analysis of various submissions for Tim to make this point so strongly – a fact with which I am pleased.

The second part of the bookending of the month of August was my gaining my M.Photog.  The road to this achievement has been paved with many challenges (I Earned a 73 ……. and a few other scores) and (Failure) and (The 2015 APPAs).  In this 40th year of the APPAs (Australian Professional Photography Award), it was a nice co-incidence for me.

I had attended the “test run” of the APPAs 41 years ago at the HYPO Convention at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, and entered the second APPA and earned a Silver Merit.  Having decided early in my membership of the AIPP that I was a better Judge than an Entrant I chose for a long period to restrict my involvement to the judging table – UNTIL!   Some six years ago a few of my Institute “Friends” took me aside at an Awards Dinner and monstered me.  “Put Up or Shut Up” was the demand.  Thank you Mike Langford APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP,  Jackie Ranken, Peter Eastway APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP FNZIPP Hon. FAIPP Hon. FNZIPP, Ian van der Wolde APP.L M.Photog III Hon. FAIPP, Andrew Campbell APP.L GM.Photog and David Oliver AAP.L GM.Photog.  So, with the exception of the disastrous 2014 Year of the Bronzes, I steadily worked my way through gaining my Associateship and then Masters.

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Birmingham Gallery Cafe; © Ian Poole, 2016.

This year’s Award images also contributed to my gaining a Master of Photography within the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Iris Award system.

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Tallin, Estonia; © Ian Poole, 2016.

Huge thanks need to go to Living Image Print and Andrew Merefield (and Darren Jew who was away swimming with whales) for the care and professionalism given to putting these pixels onto paper.  A skilled job for a pair of skilled professionals.

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Opposite The Ritz; © Ian Poole, 2016.

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Edinburgh; © Ian Poole, 2016.

……and a final comment must be made to my talented mentor Adam Finch M.Photog.  Adam has continually challenged, critiqued and encouraged my photographic output.  No good photographer can exist without a mentor (or an Editor).  Thanks.


 

 

 

 

Decisions

My long ‘to-do’ list of photographic chores has been a subject of great contemplation and some inner turmoil.  There are entries to be finalised for a couple of professional awards programs which I am keen to enter; several folders of work created on a month-long trip away from home still to refine; a portfolio of personal work for a submission

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Vintage Negative Collection; © Ian Poole, State Library Queensland, 2016.

and a vast archive of my life’s work of negatives that I am slowly archiving into the Queensland State Library data-base.  In spite of my well-documented history of procrastination I felt that it was time to take a more positive and proactive approach to this lethargy and work towards some quick but nonetheless worthwhile solutions.

The competition award entries were tackled first.  I am more than aware that my role in both of these events is clearly defined within the role of an assessor and as one of the judges.

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Hong Kong Monsoon; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 2016.

But in that role it is equally important that I am seen to be entering and supporting the organisations involved.  Besides which, like many creative sorts, I also have an ego that needs to be stroked and maintained!

Some years ago I was given a format that I have now adopted.  This is based on the firm premise that I am not in competition with any of the other entrants.  Instead, I endeavor to compete against my own performance from last year.  The peer assessment manner in which these awards are judged ensures that my standard is not limited by my own inadequacies.  It meant of course, that when I failed to achieve silver awards with any my entries a couple of years ago I had a period of serious soul searching to endure. I soon realised that my best for that year was just not up to scratch.  It was of a professional standard, but it was clearly not award worthy.  Whilst I am comfortable with the strong and consistent possibility that I may never stand at the podium receiving trophies and accolades, I am also conscious that I want my entries to be of a standard that enables me to confidently and comfortably feel able to construcively criticise the work of other entrants.  For the record, and as is the case for all judges, I am never in the position of judging my own work, this does not happen with well organised and scrupulously managed awards programs.

So the first edit has been made and some test prints nailed to the wall so that I can live with them for a little while.  This is a great way to assess if I am bored with my own work – a sure sign that other judges may come to that conclusion much faster than me.

Several folders of a couple of thousand files have now been sorted in a rough edit to find a collection of photographs that may be useful as award entries, or suitable for the personal project I am working on.  This is followed by a longer period agonising over those thus sorted.  Doing this over several sessions means that I have time to contemplate my choices.  I also have access to one or two trusted and highly valuable mentors with whom I can share a few of the more difficult choices.

The personal project continues with a similar approach to that of finding award images.  A steady process of post-production followed by either elimination or acceptance of photographs worthy of the presentation I wish to make in the next few months.

Then comes the sorting of my entire professional life’s output of negatives and transparencies.  This is a job that has a certain amount of tedium that comes from peering at the results of some fairly banal commercial assignments, then followed by happy trips down memory lane as I re-discover other, long forgotten but far more interesting assignments.  Of course the recurring theme of rampant sexism in some of the photographs was just a by-product of the ‘anything goes’ 1970s.

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612 ABC Radio; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1976. (courtesy of John Oxley Library historical collection)

I do now wonder why it seemed necessary to have so many girls in bikinis draped over washing machines or gas stoves.  In my defence, all I can say is that, at the time, it was entirely at the direction of various art directors at whose pleasure I served.

It is possible that your own ‘to-do’ list could be similarly reduced or tackled with a clear cut analysis of what needs to be done, and a rational approach to sorting the tasks slowly and steadily.  My list, made a couple of weeks ago, is now under control.

Though I must admit that it did take a few sleepless nights to work out precisely how to achieve all of this within a tight time frame.


Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.51.51 AMThis essay first appeared in f11 Magazine :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p154, issue 55 :: June, 2016.

 

 

The Failed TV Campaign

 

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Channel O; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1980.

When you work closely with one or two major clients it is possible to become part and parcel of their visual sounding board and assist in producing new ideas or presentations.

Such was the attempt at winning the sales and promotion account with the Brisbane TV station Channel O.  (Now Network 10, Brisbane)

My good friend (and valuable photography client) Gary Edgar, was Art Director at the Brisbane office of the Hertz Walpole Advertising Agency.  As was the case then and now, agencies would regularly pitch ideas to clients seeking to gain their advertising budget.

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Gary Edgar; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1980.

Whilst elsewhere in Australia the Channel O network had become Channel 10 in January 1980, in Brisbane the network still traded under the Channel O banner.  A situation that continued in Brisbane until 10 September 1988.

This campaign had everything going for it.  The art director and the photographer playing major roles.  A friendly TV cameraman (he had access to a camera) and of course that staple of the 1980s – a pretty female face wearing a swim suit!   This was August 1980 after all.

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Channel O Model; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1980.

The model’s name has been sadly lost over the decades, but it is highly likely that she was the receptionist at the advertising agency.

Gary was a keen sailor and it naturally followed that both he and his 14′ Hobie Cat had to feature in a proposal that was aimed at sun, sand and water loving Brisbane audiences.

The water activity shots were photographed at Shorncliffe on the Redcliffe Peninsula during one of our regular Sunday afternoon sailing sessions.  Gary wasn’t the only one with a Hobie Cat – it was an activity that we both indulged.

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Shorncliffe; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1980.

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“O” for the Glasses; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1980.

The studio photographs were taken at the Old Pink Church in Warren Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.  The electric motorised Hasselblad (500EL – same as the one taken by NASA to the moon) in the top photograph, was a cantankerous old beast that was used mainly in the Studio.  Too big, too heavy, too unreliable to take outside!

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Eyewitness News; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1980.

 

 

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Gary Edgar (alternate); © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1980.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


These photographs form part of the Poole Collection held by the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.  #5072 – Hertz Walpole Advertising, these transparencies (and thousands of other negatives and transparencies) will be available for public access within the next twelve months.   These materials, as well as films and digital stories are available for viewing in the John Oxley Library Reading Room or online via their catalogue OneSearch.


 

Mongkok, Hong Kong

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Mongkok – a View; © Ian Poole, Hong Kong, 2016.

A brief stopover in Hong Kong not only broke the Australia-Europe journey, but gave me a few moments in one of my (many) favourite cities.

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Raise the Red Flag; © Ian Poole, Hong Kong, 2016.

The artwork in the Cordis Hotel appears to be revolutionary and following the China Party line.  I have a feeling that it is just a little less than that and has a tinge of unorthodox about it.

These artworks by Jiang Shou, variously titled Red Guards – Going Forward! Making Money! were scattered around the hotel.  Featuring featureless faces with wide open mouths shouting slogans, these child-like guards illustrate the blind worshippers of capitalism.  The use of the Little Red Book of Mao and a mobile phone locate the artwork into a contemporary period.

Shou uses sarcasm to report the changes in culture over the years.

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Red Guards #1; © Ian Poole, Hong Kong, 2016.

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Red Guards #2; © Poole, Hong Kong, 2016.

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Red Guards #3; © Ian Poole, Hong Kong, 2016.

Hong Kong Airport is a great people watching space and waiting for my hotel shuttle bus was a perfect time to indulge.

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Airport; © Ian Poole, Hong Kong, 2016.

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Hong Kong Harbour; © Ian Poole, 2016.


 

Photographic Review of 2015

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Paris Farewell View; © Ian Poole, 2015

Photographically speaking 2015 has been a reasonable year for me.  Whilst this blog is not about illustrating the best photographs from the rapidly finishing 2015, it is more about what those photographs say about my travels, my activities and as memory joggers.

Paris Farewell View earned me a Silver Award at the AIPP Photography Awards.  By showing a final look back into the doorway of the apartment Louise and I had used in my first visit back to Paris in almost 40 years, I was getting a little bit nostalgic as we left to fly to Turkey.  It is not recommended that you enter a self-portrait in the APPA competition, but I felt that the portrait was less than the interesting spin created by the reflected view.

Paris was the source of another piece of documentary photography that seems much easier to take in that city.

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Orion; © Ian Poole, Paris, 2015

Orion occurred when I followed that great photographic dictum which tells you to always turn 180 degrees in case the “real” photograph is happening directly behind you.  It was.

This was the year that I discovered that great genre of travel photographers – the shot of the platform on the other side of tracks.  It has been around for a long time, but not used by me.  Traveling regularly on the Paris Metro gave me plenty of time to explore the genre.  As I did in Japan later in the year.

I am not one of the great documentary photographers – in other words I cannot thrust my 35mm lens directly into the faces of passers-by.  Using the Fuji XT-1’s adjustable viewing screen I was able to appear as if I was disinterested in the scene in front of me.  It did remind me of all those the years using twin lensed cameras like the Rolleicord and Mamiya C3.

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Arts et Metiers; © Ian Poole, 2015, Paris

Arts et Metiers was our local Metro station and the amazing wheels and cogs dropping out of the ceiling should have been enough to attract me; as was the curved wall/roof which was coated in a bronze metal.  A colour shot obviously, but I felt driven to reproduce it in black and white.  Rightly or wrongly.

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Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut; © Ian Poole, Ronchamp, 2015

A sign pointing to the amazing Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, constructed by the famous Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier at Ronchamp, caught my eye whilst cruising the auto-route to Beaune.  This mostly concrete building is constructed on the site of a previous chapel that was bombed during WWII.  Considered to be one of le Corbusier’s more striking buildings, constructed late in his career, it has been photographed countless times in its history.  I could not resist adding my interpretation to that list.  I have included Louise by way of size illustration.

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Istanbul Storm; © Ian Poole, 2015

Not only did Istanbul Storm earn me a Silver Award at the 2015 APPAs, but the AIPP has used the photograph as one of the illustrations promoting the Hair of the Dog Convention in Brisbane in February.

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Some Antiques; © Ian Poole, Beaune, 2015

Another photographic aspect that I experimented with was using reflections to further construct an image.  Some Antiques is one of those.

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Wilding Pines; © Ian Poole, New Zealand, 2015

 

I got off to a good start in 2015 with Wilding Pines being shot on 3 January outside of Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand.  Being shown around by good friends Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken, this late afternoon shot has a gentleness about it.

There must be something linking my friendship with Mike and Jackie to good photography by me.  My final shot in this eclectic review of photographs that I took in 2015 is Listening to the Jazz.  It was taken in their company in Tokyo late in 2015.  Mixing with fellow photographers to create images is, of course, wonderful.  More important though is sharing good food, drink, experiences and naturally, good jazz.  This is what was happening in this photograph.

 

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Listening to the Jazz; © Ian Poole, Tokyo, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2015 APPAs

With the sad story of the 2014 Canon AIPP Professional Photography Awards now behind me – well almost!!!  That was the year that the Judges turned their backs on my entries and threw them all into a shredder; but I did front up again for the 2015 event.  For a moment it looked like a repeat of last year with an outrageous non-award “bronze” for the sweet and cute Kewpie Dolls.

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Istanbul Kewpie Dolls; © Ian Poole, Istanbul, 2015 (no award Landscape Category)

Storm Over Constantinople was one of those magic moments that you see shaping up in front of you and you make snap decisions on the fly; and then run like crazy to get out of the rain and the hail.  No raincoats of course!

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Storm Over Constantinople; © Ian Poole, Istanbul, 2015 (Silver Award – Landscape Category)

Le Marais Self-Portrait was the result of sadly looking through the doorway of the Parisian apartment that we were departing after a few glorious days in the city of light.  The passageway that I wanted to photograph could only be seen by using my reflection to mask it – this is how easy it is to find masterstrokes.

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Le Marais Self-Portrait; © Ian Poole, Paris, 2015 (Silver Award – Illustrative Category)

Barbès-Rochechouart was the result of looking for a shot like this at several Parisian stations.  I started to see the theatre of the occasion forming in front of me and so I stayed and shot and shot and shot.  Not being able to art-direct was frustrating, but eventually this tableaux dropped into place.  Speaking French and using a megaphone may have lessened my blood pressure, but patience is essential.

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Barbès-Rochechouart; © Ian Poole, Paris, 2015 (Silver + Distinction – Illustrative Category)

Whilst I did judge in the Illustrative Category it must be declared that I did NOT judge my own work.  The rules are stringent in that regard.   But the judging process that I have enjoyed for so long is just that little bit better by having a few of your own images being considered by my judging peers.  Frustrating sometimes, but still a nice feeling.

And of course John Ansell must be congratulated for his stunning set of tintypes that won him the title of 2015 Canon AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year.


Stories with a similar vein –

Print Swap at Hair of the Dog

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Hilary and Prints; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 2015.

One of the interesting side events at the recently completed Hair of the Dog Convention held by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography in Brisbane was a print swap between participants.

I have known Hilary Wardhaugh for many years through our shared membership of the AIPP and being fellow Judges at the Institute’s award system.

In between dancing the Tango, photographing Federal Members of Parliament and documenting weddings, Hilary runs a successful Canberra based business.

It was nice to add this delightful seascape to my gallery of photographs by photographers – Australian and international.

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Beach Game; © Hilary Wardhaugh, 2015

Hilary tells me that it was taken over the Christmas break with an out of date roll of Kodak film.  Ignoring the technical details I am taken by the iconic nature of recording what is essentially a summer activity in this part of the world.  The placement of small figures at the bottom of frame and the unrelenting harshness of the Australian summer sun is recorded with great accuracy.

In return, Hilary received my Central Otago Hut photograph taken in 2013.  This is a genuine favourite of mine and credit must be given to those generous New Zealand photographers, Gilbert van Reenen, Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken who orchestrated the journey to this ancient gold mining region in the South Island of NZ.

The concept of swapping prints amongst fellow photographers is one that I support and have practicised for over twenty-five years.  Not only does it foster a sense of camaraderie, but it also enhances my display wall!

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Central Otago Hut; © Ian Poole, 2013

 

Details about previous Print Swaps include – https://poolefoto.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/print-swap/ and https://poolefoto.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/results-of-the-print-swap/

 

 

 

 

Driving West

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Rail Crossing #1; © Ian Poole, c1998.

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Looking East; © Ian Poole, c1998.

A driving trip to Winton in North Western Queensland involves some considerable distances through the apparently uninteresting Australian outback.

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Barcaldine Masonic Lodge; © Ian Poole, c1998.

Armed with a Hasselblad 903SWC and lots of Agfa 100 and 400 black and white film, I was determined to find photographs nevertheless.  The incongruity of a rail line level crossing in the middle of nowhere was an exercise in working horizontal lines into the square format of the Hasselblad.  A task that I have relished most of my working career.  The upsurge in usage of the smart phone app of Instagram has re-ignited that discussion.

Passing through the small town of Barcaldine en route to Winton, I discovered the iconic and delightful Masonic Lodge.  Dedicated in 1901, this amazing building had had a chequered career having been “moved” from several small adjacent towns until its eventual settlement in the rural town of Barcaldine.  Clad in corrugated iron, it possess a much more genteel and decorative interior.

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Self-Portrait #1; © Ian Poole, c1998.

My destination was Winton where I was to be hosted by that great gentleman Rob McQueen on his cattle property (Leeson), some little distance out of town.  This working property gave me an opportunity to discover and document some run down buildings.

 

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Self-Portrat #2; © Ian Poole, c1998.

 

 

Self-Portait #3; © Ian Poole,

Self-Portait #3; © Ian Poole, c1998,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skeleton; © Ian Poole, c1998.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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903SWC On Location; © Ian Poole, c1998.