The Composition of Michael Kenna’s Photographs: Centering

Michael Kenna is one of the most important living black and white landscape photographers. With a career stretching more than 45 years, his work has been exposed in hundreds of exhibitions, and, to his count, he has published 72 books, with more in the works.

I recently had an opportunity to meet Michael Kenna and interview him for the PhotoActive podcast, just before the opening of a 45-Year Retrospective Exhibition at Bosham Gallery, on the southern coast of England. One thing I took away from our discussion – both during the interview and afterwards – was the carefully refined composition of his photos. Thinking about this, and looking over his work in the dozen books I own, I’ve isolated a number of types of composition in Kenna’s photos.

In my first article, I looked at leading lines and how they draw the viewer’s eye into a photo and lead it to a point, often in the distance. In this article, I’m going to look at centering, the way Kenna sometimes places objects dead center in his frame. Since all his photos – at least since the mid-1980s – are square, centering has an important role is his composition.

When Michael Kenna started shooting with Hasselblad cameras, he appreciated the square format because “There’s a predictability about the 35mm format,” Kenna told me. “You had to make choices right from the beginning. Should it be vertical, should it be horizontal? Things seemed to be squashed in somehow. The 2 1/4 – I got it first of all with a waist-level viewfinder so everything was back to front – it was a completely different format for me, and it made me look more abstractedly at the landscape. It just becomes forms, lines, shapes, and densities…”

The square format lends itself to centering subjects, but photos would be boring if all subjects were centered. Kenna uses this technique sparingly, but when he does use it, the effect can be quite arresting.

Take, for example, this photo Chrysler Building, Study 3, New York, New York, USA 2006.

Chrysler building study 3 new york new york usa 2006

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Why Play a Music CD? ‘No Ads, No Privacy Terrors, No Algorithms’ – The New York Times

To be honest, my preferred way to listen to music is on CD, as unfashionable as that might be. You push a button, the music plays, and then it’s over — no ads, no privacy terrors, no algorithms!

If you compare the act of playing a CD to that of allowing a streaming service to choose which music you listen to, then what the author says makes sense.

But, with streaming services:

  • You don’t have ads if you pay for music
  • I’m not sure what privacy terrors he’s talking about; at least with Apple Music
  • And there are no algorithms when you select an album, or create your own playlists

The above was an off-the-cuff comment in an interview, and it was promoted to being the headline, but it’s a bit clueless.

Source: Why Play a Music CD? ‘No Ads, No Privacy Terrors, No Algorithms’ – The New York Times

The PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 45: Photo Editing Applications

Photoactive 400Maybe you’ve used Apple Photos and are looking for more editing features, or perhaps you’re in the Lightroom ecosystem and weary of subscription pricing. In this episode, Kirk and Jeff chat about other photo editing applications you may not be aware of.

Listen to PhotoActive, Episode 45: Photo Editing Applications.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 87: Flash, Incognito Mode, Porn, and a Malware Extravaganza

This week, as we are at Midsummer’s Day, we look at the final nail in Adobe Flash’s coffin, a new Chrome incognito mode feature, the UK’s porn block, and a bunch of new malware.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

The Next Track, Episode #152 – Flogging a Dead App: Is it Really the Death of iTunes?

IThe Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400px“iTunes is dead!!!” claim a number of websites and publications. Even on the TV news they were saying that “Apple has discontinued iTunes,” that “it’s the end of an era.” Apple made big announcements at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. Did they really kill off iTunes? We look at this subject, yet again, for what will be the last episode about the future of iTunes, at least until the next one.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #152 – Flogging a Dead App: Is it Really the Death of iTunes?
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Find out more at The Next Track website, or follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast.

The Zen of Everything Podcast: Episode 1, Cats, Lawyers, Health, Women, and Roshis

Zen of everything artwork smallThe Zen of Everything presents a zen take on life, love, laughter, and everything else. With Jundo Cohen, a real zen master, and Kirk McElhearn, a guy who knows a bit about zen.

For the first episode of The Zen of Everything, we explain why we started this podcast, and what we plan to do. We then explore whether cats are zen masters, discuss Buddhist lawyers, talk about practicing zen with health problems, explore the idea of calling the Buddha a “she,” and explain what a roshi is.

Listen to the latest episode of The Zen of Everything.