On the Bus, Beograd, Serbia, 29-May-2007

Mirrors and Reflections – #Frifotos

This was taken more than six years ago in Belgrade. I love the woman’s melancholy gaze breaking through the reflection of the clouds. It’s one of my all-time favorite shots, captured spontaneously while waiting for a red light to turn green.

Mirrors –and the reflections associated with them– is this week’s #frifotos theme on twitter. Here are a dozen from those snapped over the past six years culled from my flickr stream, which I’m now starting to use again more regularly.

You got a favorite?

Billboard. Zurich, 07-Sep-2007

Neon, Vienna, 28-Jun-2007

Button Box accordion, Pregarje, Slovenia, 10-Aug-2007

Stockholm, 16-Aug-2012

Zagreb, Croatia, 04-Jul 2007

Ambulance, main square, Ostrava, Czech Republic, 25-Jun2007

Tuscan Tunnels Reflectiosn, 11-Jul-2007

I couldn’t resist this snap of a beautiful stranger, on the EuroStar (ES) 9439, in a tunnel in Tuscany between Milano and Rome.

Clock tower, Ljubljana train station, February 2009.

Philippe Mayaux, Centre Pompidou, July 2007

For some of you this one probably requires a short explanation.

If you guessed that the thing on the back wall of the mirrored reflection is a penis with flippers crawling to land a la Darwin wrapped in a boa-type thing, you were right.

This was part of an exhibit by Philippe Mayaux, winner of the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2006, in Espace 315 at the Centre Pompidou back in summer 2007. In the room is “Tastings of her,” various body parts (not, real, of course), sliced, diced and laid out and displayed on fine porcelain. Says Mayaux:

I use bad taste in order to express my undisciplined freedom regarding what has to be beautiful. The sole function of artwork is to be seen, not to please.

The mirror is the outside wall of a small room which housed a varied collection of mounted hog noses. Snapped quickly and surreptitiously when attendants weren’t watching at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, 8-Jul 2007.

Oslo National Opera, June 2008.

And finally, ending almost in the same position with which we started. This is on the Cisalpino (CIS) 37, from Lausanne to Milano, 11-Jul 2007. She didn’t know I was taking her picture. I hope she’s doing well.

Southern Swiss Reflections, 2007.

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Zurich 050

A Thousand Fires in Your Belly

When you come right down to it, all you have is yourself. Yourself is a sun with a thousand fires in your belly. The rest is nothing.

I first came across that Picasso quote last August in a relatively quiet bridge underpass in Zurich. It was late morning but there wasn’t any sun; a slight drizzle resumed its previous incarnation as a downpour forcing me to run for cover. I wound up next to these words attributed to Picasso and a Pussy Riotesque print with a halo hovering over a ski mask-covered face. Those 15 minutes at this ad hoc gallery, apparently a favorite haunt for creative pamphleteers, would be the most illuminating I’d spent in the rain in a very long time. And not a single ray of sunshine.

A few more snaps, all shot with a GoPro, are below. Another dozen shots (along with a brief lessons in the origins of Dada), taken earlier during the same rainy morning stroll, are here.

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Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 31-Aug-2012

Shooting in the rain – A Zurich Dandy Dozen and a bit of Dada

Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 31-Aug-2012

The dandiest of the several dozen that I shot on a rainy day in August anyway.

Above and again below is the Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich’s landmark turn-of-the-last century art house where Dadaism was born during the waning days of World War I. The door was propped open and I walked in, eager to check out and shoot some of the spaces inside, but was quickly sent back out into the rain by a man assembling a scaffold in what looked like a small theatre area. “We’re closed,” he said. His tone reminded me of myself when I used to suffer nicotine withdrawal. “Don’t forget your umbrella.”

So ended my brief tour into the womb of Dada.

According to painter Marcel Janco, a co-founder of the anti-art movement:

We had lost confidence in our culture. Everything had to be demolished. We would begin again after the tabula rasa. At the Cabaret Voltaire we began by shocking common sense, public opinion, education, institutions, museums, good taste, in short, the whole prevailing order.

In spirit not unlike punk rockers in the late 1970s.

After the war ended, Dada left the Cabaret Voltaire and spread to other parts of Europe; I just went back out into the rain. The occasional downpours were a good excuse to not to dig out my DSLR and continue on my quest to one day take decent street shots with a GoPro. A dozen of my favorites from that soggy day are below.

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Pussy Riot Calypso

Zurich, 31-Aug-2012

Was very nice to see this simple act of Pussy Riot solidarity in a window display in a Zurich shop.

In case you missed it, Spiegel had a good interview with jailed Pussy Riot leader Nadezhda Tolokonnikova about a week ago.

SPIEGEL: You have a four-year-old daughter, and you must have known going into your performance in the church that arrest was a real possibility. Wasn’t that irresponsible toward your child?

Tolokonnikova: If you’re afraid of wolves, you shouldn’t go into the forest. I’m not afraid of wolves. I’m fighting for my daughter to be able to grow up in a free country. Legally, the court should have been able to convict us of no more than a misdemeanor. The criminal trial is Putin’s personal revenge, and no one can predict how and when an authoritarian system will exact revenge.

On her reading list behind bars? Among others Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

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Zurich’s Radium Theatre, or Another One That Got Away – The Hunt For Long-Term Digital Storage Options

I posted this picture before a few times –my apologies to those who have grown bored with it. It’s one of my favorites because it wasn’t at all what I was planning for or expecting. I also didn’t plan or expect for the original, like this one posted a few days ago, to disappear forever.

It was a simple plan – to quickly, furtively and efficiently snatch a quick snap of this porn theatre’s ticket-taker on a smoke break, a mildly seedy street scene from one of Europe’s wealthiest financial capitals. I then remember being slightly pissed off when the car drove by, seemingly ruining said seedy scene. I couldn’t have planned that framing and positioning if I tried.

But the original was wiped out when the external hard drive mentioned here decided to roll over and die one day, inexplicably and without warning. I have a low rez version on my flickr stream, a few smaller versions on scattered folders here and there, a printed post card version as a second place prize in a contest, and one framed A4 print on my wall. Thankfully, it was done by a pro lab and should last a while.

I heard from and read about others who’ve encountered similar problems with back-up hard drives just giving out. Has anyone else experienced this?

Wanted: Reliable Long-Term Storage on the Road

About six months ago I started a dual back-up system, essentially backing up everything on two separate drives. That should improve my odds at least a little bit, no? I’m also thinking about an additional system using CDs, for select photos only.

These aren’t by any means new dilemmas. They’re ones we’re stuck with and have to deal with, problems those working solely in film never really encountered. With film –earthquakes, fires, floods and nasty divorces aside– storage and archiving was entirely under the photographer’s control. Negatives were lost or trashed due to the photog’s neglect. Now we are far too often at the mercy of the technology we’re forced to trust.

I’m mainly ruminating on this now that I’m beginning to prepare for an extended period of travel beginning in January, when I may be on the road for up to 18 months. (Or maybe indefinitely.) I take lots of photos –and have recently added video as well– which means the gigabytes can and do add up quickly. And adequate, safe and reliable storage is crucial.

I’ve only done a limited amount of research, but it seems that most long-term travelers today are going one of two ways: carrying around the newish durable and pricey travel hard drives or choosing to go the cloud route and uploading when they cross paths with a fast connection. I’ll post a follow-up on this at some point but in the mean time, I’d love to hear some experiences from others. Sharing is nice. :)

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A few Ljubljana rail deals…

I just picked up some tickets and info at the train station, so thought I’d list it here as well.

Slovenia Rail offers quite a few cheap rides to a variety of destinations. BUT it’s important to note that the number of cheap fares listed is very limited, usually six to eight seats per route, so buy early.

- Ljubljana – Belgrade – Six trains/day, 8.5-10 hrs.  25 EUR/one way
- Ljubljana – Budapest – daily departure at 7:40, arrival 16:23.  29 EUR/one way
- Ljubljana – Prague – daily departure at 10:18, arrival 21:55.  29 EUR/one way
- Ljubljana – Zurich – daily departure at 20:35, arrival 8:20.  29 EUR/one way
- Ljubljana – Munich – three per day, about 6.5 hrs.  71.40 EUR/round trip
- Ljubljana – Vienna – three per day, about 5.5 hrs.  29 EUR/one way
- Ljubljana – Venice – twice daily, just under 4 hrs.  15 or 25 EUR/one way

At the moment, purchase/reservation is not available via the web; here’s a link to purchase points. Check here for couchette/sleeper surcharges.

slo_train, originally uploaded by pirano.

September pic(k)s

September was brutal. Between the 1st and 26th I spent just four nights at home while bopping between eight countries across seven time zones. I’m still recovering. And I also took nearly a 1000 pictures.

This one, of a woman enjoying a smoke break from the tedium of her job, was taken in Zurich, and I remember being really pissed off when the car went by. So the result was quite a pleasant surprise. The rest of my personal faves shot during the month are here.

Previous personal pick pics – [August] [July] [June] [May] [April] [March] [February] [January]

Radium theatre (Zurich 04), originally uploaded by pirano.