Bleaching Jakarta

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Whether it’s the lack of blue sky by day or skies bereft of stars by night, I’ve taken to bleaching all colour and tonality out of my recent photos of Jakarta.

At first I took to softening Jakarta’s CBD skylines, casual derives via taxies, as I can’t go any where with out them. The end result is reminisce Bleaching Jakartant of the stills I’d taken with a 125mm camera in the 1970s.

Jakarta CBD derive. Distortion by car window. HTC Desire and Vignette.

Perhaps it’s the malls, the vast street advertisements that turn major thoroughfares into a kind of drive-through catalogue, that I’ve taken to bleaching Jakarta. That I can’t do the same to the music leads me to a kind of sonic paralysis that over time blurs, but never quite enough to save one from jelly bean pop and every other inescapable cacophonous space.

Interior, the cafe Bakoel Kopi, Jl Cikini Raya, HTC Desire and Camera 360, bleached.

I’m experimenting with a combination of photo applications for Android phones. I have a HTC Desire, which, as of March 2010, was considered the most powerful Android yet. It comes with a 5 mega-pixel camera. The standard issue photo application requires strong light sources before a crisp image can be assured, but even then colours are too pale. I was initially very disappointed.

If I’d not read Techradar.com’s review, I’d have given up on the camera as I wasn’t sure whether I was dealing with badly designed hardware or piss poor software. In fact, neither.

Both are considered exemplary. I’d just not given myself time to learn about its features and how well one can shoot both stills and video. In the meantime, the few applications I’ve found on Android Market assured me the hardware is just fine and that a few people have devoted a lot of time to being very clever with the notion of “in camera processing” except this ain’t no camera, it’s a phone… or is it?

My present suite of camera apps include Camera 360, Retro Camera and Vignette. I don’t want to turn this into a review, there’s plenty out there already, but what I do want to write about is the increasing interest in vintage photography. Each of these apps support a variety of options that mimic everything from pin-hole cameras to Polaroids. And if that isn’t enough, Retro Camera adds borders and textures that replicate the paper one would have originally printed on to. Why anyone would want a digital camera to replicate paper is beyond me, but the actual filters that have been designed to do this work is what interests my curious eye.

Jakarta CBD derive, HTC Desire and Vignette, border cropped.

This afternoon I trimmed borders off a number of stills. Not only were they twee and some what ironic, they made no sense to the kind of composition and tonality of image I was looking for. I prefer to sit on a rug and rifle through my mothers vast collection of family photographs as they were, packed neatly into envelopes, some bound with ribbon and the oldest kept within a leather wallet with passports that spoke of troubled times in languages barely remembered in my family, and secured in an antiquated suitcase that would be slid under her bed. Lovely stuff.

Anne-Marie Garton, Villawood Detention Centre, 1950/51. Photo by Alex Garton, Agfa 35mm camera, digitally scanned by Shane Garton from the original negative.

We grew up with a darkroom that was un-packed once ever few months to process and print the few rolls of 35mm film our father had taken… and gradually, the 125mm rolls we as children would take with our Japanese made cameras.

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