Lise Utne: In The First Place

In The First Place

Lise Utne

Not long ago, I discovered Lise Utne’s photographs online. My first impressions were that this artist had a unique talent for seeing and weaving images into series with an underlying coherence that was both subtle and powerful. Lise Utne has created five books of her photographs; In The First Place is her first book and was published by Blurb Books in 2011. My copy arrived this morning.

What is a place? What is the significance of a landscape? Photographer Lise Utne answers her own questions with this evocative and thoughtful collection of images made over a period of six years in northern Norway near the home of her grandparents. In her afterward, Utne states: “It is not with the place as such, but with the place as the point where human coordinates meet: the place as a framework, backdrop, project and echo of people’s lives.”

Utne’s first place is a  land that appears surprisingly rich for its far northern latitude. Images of woodlands and grazing cows speak of a land that invites habitation. The exact location is not documented but it is assumed to be inside the Arctic Circle (**Corrected, see note below) somewhere near Bodo, the artist’s  birthplace.  This is also a place rich with the poetic vision of  a granddaughter’s memory and portrayed with Utne’s photographic gifts.  These are images to be felt rather than analysed.

Lise Utne has made the entire book available as a preview at Blurb Books. She has said that offering access to the complete book online is more democratic. I had read the text and viewed the images several times on my large calibrated monitor. Having the physical book in hand, the melodious sequencing and subtleties between pairs of facing images become rich in ways that far surpass the best electronic viewing.

http://www.blurb.com/b/2623874-in-the-first-place#author-bookshelf

**Correction** In email correspondence, Lise informs me that:  “The first place” shown in my book is in fact located on an island (Tustna) just north-east of Kristiansund (slightly south-west of Trondheim)”. Although still a very northerly latitude (~63° North), my earlier assumption that the location of these photographs was inside the Arctic Circle (>66.5°N) was incorrect.

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The New Flickr

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

My name is John. I have been a Flickr user for eight years. Like many subscribers, my initial reaction to the changes was utter dismay. This is gradually giving way to a resignation that is rooted in some observations and interpretations of these events.

Yahoo! owns Flickr. Yahoo display ad revenue was down 11% in the first quarter report. That must have alarmed the Board who in turn, I’m sure, lit a fire under CEO Marissa Mayer.

Advertisers want eyeballs. They especially want a targeted demographic who are easily influenced and have disposable income. Teens with iPads and smart phones would be nice.

Buying tumblr was the first step. Changing Flickr from a subscriber-based photography site to an ad platform for everyone who snaps pictures is the second step. A free terabyte for everyone makes a nice memorable headline.

The Yahoo annual shareholder meeting is coming up soon on June 25. Marissa Mayer announced that the entire Flickr transformation happened in less than 8 weeks. The shareholders will be able to hear great news about how ad revenue might have previously declined but the situation is being addressed with these changes.

I feel sorry for the Flickr software engineers who were under that whip for the last two months cranking out this panic-driven band-aid. I’m sure they are trying to catch up on their sleep.

Petitions are fine, but the complaints already number over 21,000 on the official Flickr thread. I think Yahoo execs can see the collective dismay. I also think they knew it would happen and aren’t surprised. I cancelled my Pro Subscription and got a refund the next day. They were definitely prepared for outrage.

Now I have a free account but I don’t care about ads. I use Firefox with Ad Blocker and haven’t seen any ads yet. When I signed in with IE, I got a Home Depot ad on the right side column.

I really hope Flickr survives. Yahoo has a very tough uphill battle against Google and I honestly don’t think they will ever become #1. (When was the last time you used a Yahoo!™ search or other product besides Flickr? … and tumblr doesn’t count.)

I have pitched my tent over at http://www.ipernity.com/home/johnking and lots of Flickr refugees are camping there too.  It’s a site for photographers and the presentation quality is first rate. I don’t know if it will provide the level of conversation and inspiration that I’ve enjoyed at Flickr over the past 8 years. There are some amazing photographers on flickr whose work and commentary provides nutrition.

I will continue to use Flickr but I don’t ever expect it to go back to where it was. The bulldozers have moved in, the shopping mall is underway.

Progress

Progress!™

 

 

 

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Bonavista Book

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Click on this image for a video preview of the book.  http://johnking.zenfolio.com/p70692671#h533f71da

I made this small book of 16 photographs as a personal portfolio project. It’s a selection of images from work that has been in progress for some time. After I posted this on Flickr, some of my contacts asked if they could buy a copy. I’m honoured that others would find this project interesting and I have been happy to make copies for them. Recently, Warren in Australia asked for more details about how I made the book.

Production Notes

This small book is printed on 13″x19” Red River Paper Aurora Art White. This is 100% cotton rag fine art photo paper. It is an acid-free, semi-smooth paper that is 13.5mil thick and is rated as 250gsm (grams per square meter) weight. This is very heavy paper, card stock would probably be a more accurate description.

I like the way photographs print on this paper. It absorbs a lot of ink and produces a sense of dimension in the final print with its subtle depth and detail. Glossy papers seem to print with the ink sitting “on” the paper surface. I prefer the impression of depth that this matte paper provides.

Red River Paper’s Aurora seems to have the right balance of weight and flexibility. The weight and stiffness of this paper give the book durability and eliminate the need to make a separate cover to protect flimsy pages. At the same time, there is enough flexibility to allow the paper to be folded and stitched. This is Red River’s best paper.

I print with a high resolution Canon Pro 9000 MkII inkjet printer using Canon’s Chromalife 100 ink system. This ink combines the attributes of excellent longevity, durability when handled, and stable vibrant colour under a variety of viewing conditions.  For me, this seems the best choice for making books.

Images are edited and processed using Adobe Lightroom and a large wide gamut monitor. Original digital image files from my cameras range from 18MB to 33MB.  Lightroom is used for layout design and the calibrated output is sent to the printer.  Images are printed two-up on both sides of a 13”x19” sheet. Because this paper absorbs so much ink, I usually allow up to an hour of drying time before printing the second side.

First side printed and drying

First side printed and drying

After the pages are printed, each sheet is scored with a bone folder and perforated with an awl to allow for the stitching. Sheets are then folded and assembled in their final sequence. Traditional bookbinding uses linen thread which is available in a variety of thicknesses.  I have been using a fine #40/3 Egyptian cotton thread that has excellent strength and a pure white tone that matches the paper. I do the stitching with moderate tension while the book is partially folded.

This one is going to Norway

This one is going to Norway

After the book is stitched, the binding is clamped for several hours until ready for the final stage of trimming page edges. One slight disadvantage of using heavy paper is that its thickness makes the page edges protrude after they are stitched.  I trim them to create a more finished final product.

About Bonavista

The Bonavista Peninsula is on the east coast of the island portion of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. John Cabot made landfall here in his discovery voyage of 1497 and claimed “Terre Nova” for King Henry VII and Church of England. Some of Newfoundland’s oldest permanent settlements are in this area.

I find this area quietly beautiful with its rugged coastal landscape and the simple architecture of its homes, churches and outbuildings. My images try to portray a sense of this special place.

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Landmarks: A Series

A series of Places.

Land in transition.
Marked by man.
Touched by light.

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Fogo Island Views

Some scenes on the beautiful and rugged Fogo Island, Newfoundland.

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Deep Bay, Fogo Island

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The town of Fogo

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St. Andrews church, Fogo

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Tilting, Fogo Island

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Fogo Island

Traditional fences in Tilting

 

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Prague Walls.. continued

 

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Prague Walls

 

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Strange Windows in Prague

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Pitiless Light

Near Robinson’s Bight, Newfoundland.

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