The Panographers, Episode #5 features the work of some amazing photographers who shoot panoramas at night. The photographers in this episode are: Aaron Priest, Chris Georgia, Joe Reifer, Joergen Geerds, Jörgen Tannerstedt & Thomas Hayden. Great to meet everyone and see their work! Big thanks to The Panographers kingpin and all around nice guy Gavin Farrell for organizing and hosting these sessions.
Since discovering Stalker in early 2012, I’ve taken a much deeper dive into the world of Andrei Tarkovsky, and have now seen 6 of his 7 films. If you enjoy exploring abandoned places, and are open to taking a meditative look into what it all means, then Stalker is essential viewing.
In the near future, an unseen alien force has taken possession of an area of Russian wilderness that authorities have dubbed The Zone. The only thing known for sure about the region is that few who enter it ever return. Led by a Stalker, one of a small group of outlaws able to safely navigate the Zone, a renegade scientist and a cynical, burnt-out writer penetrate the dangers outside in search of the power and transcendence rumored to exist inside. The Stalker longs to un-do a mysterious physical transformation the Zone has performed on his young daughter. The scientist will risk anything to see that reason triumphs over faith. The writer seeks a germ of inspiration that the crumbling and corrupt world beyond the Zone no longer provides.
Together, these three men become desperate pilgrims walking a desolate trail leading to one of the most enigmatic and tantalizing endings in the history of cinema. A haunting and honest meditation on the intersection of science, feeling, and faith, Stalker is both profoundly unsettling and deeply moving. – Kino Video
Stalker becomes more rewarding with multiple viewings. Tarkovsky is a master of the long take, and many of his films are light on traditional narrative. This isn’t easy viewing. That’s OK. Like a lot of great art, the viewer needs to do a little bit of work to get the most out of the experience. The four books and two documentaries below will help you explore the world of Tarkovsky:
Geoff Dyer’s Zona is theoretically about Stalker, but it’s also about how our relationship with art changes over time. Wonderful, light hearted ramblings on a difficult, heavy film.
Roadside Picnic - Stalker is based on the Russian science fiction novel Roadside Picnic. Beyond being a big fan of Philip K. Dick, I don’t usually read a lot of sci-fi. Roadside Picnic was a fast, fun read. Reading the book before seeing Stalker won’t ruin the movie for you. Tarkovsky’s film jettisons the narrative in favor of spiritual and philosophical explorations.
The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue - After watching Stalker, I watched Solaris again, and then saw Andrei Rublev, Mirror, Nostalghia, and The Sacrifice. Johnson and Petrie’s book was a really helpful guide to understanding Tarkovsky’s history, themes, influences, cultural context, working methods, and critical reception. I was initially concerned that this book might be too academic, but it’s got an easy to read style, and is very insightful.
Sculpting in Time - I haven’t finished Tarkovsky’s essays on filmmaking yet. I’m taking this book a little bit at a time, but it’s certainly essential reading for understanding Tarkovsky’s universe.
One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich - Chris Marker’s (La Jetée) documentary has a mix of clips from all 7 films, Tarkovsky directing, and Tarkovsky re-united with his family during his final illness. Recommended.
Voyage in Time - If you’re going down the rabbit hole (or perhaps wormhole), the documentary Voyage in Time follows an exiled Tarkovsky scouting locations in Italy with Antonioni’s screenwriter Tonino Guerra. This one is slow going, and for the completist only. Probably works best if you’ve seen Nostalghia.
The night of the full moon is a good opportunity to integrate the moonrise into your photos. I’d been doing some shooting in the old Eagle Field radio room during last week’s night photography workshop, and thought the mannequin watching the moonrise out of the window would be a fun image.
There was a tungsten bug light hanging outside the radio room that we’d been turning off so people could light paint the various old pieces of equipment inside. I turned the light back on to help frame my shot, and made a few high ISO test images to check composition, focus, and exposure. Then I turned down the ISO, and made this exposure of 3 minutes at f/11.
The shot looked pretty good. So I turned off the light, and went outside the room to try lighting the scene with a flashlight. I experimented with various angles until I noticed the projected shadow of the mannequin on the wall. I went back inside, and set the camera to make a few exposures. My favorite light painted version of the image is below.
These photos were shot with an Olympus OM 18mm f/3.5 lens on a Canon EOS 6D. This lens has very little distortion. The camera was tilted up slightly, but I was able to use the new Upright feature in Lightroom 5 to quickly correct the perspective. I’d composed the shot a bit loosely to leave room for the cropping that was necessary for perspective correction. Upright worked surprisingly well for this interior shot.
A dozen adventurous photographers are enjoying the Eagle Field Night Photography Workshop this full moon. The owner pulled this vintage Bentley out of the airplane hangar for us to photograph under the moonlight. Troy Paiva and I help bring some elegance to night photography. Click the image below for a 360 degree view of the Ladies Lounge inside the Eagle Field airplane hangar.
Bobbie’s Buckeye Bar is an abandoned brothel in Tonopah, Nevada. This remote town in the Nevada desert is the home of the Tonopah Test Range where the F-117 Stealth fighter was tested back in the 1980′s. The Pahrump Valley Times ran a short biography of the madam of this brothel back in 2005. A New York Times profile of Tonopah back in 1982 is also quite entertaining. My friend Troy Paiva photographed Bobbie’s brothel in 2004. I’ve visited Bobbie’s on a few photo trips through the Tonopah area to find it locked up tight.
Last month the door was open, so I took a look inside. The place was pretty cleaned out, and the roof is caving in. Take a look around the bar and the living room in the 360 tour below. Look for the white dots to view all 4 panoramas in the tour.