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Blue Hours – The Leica digital camera Weblog


As quiet slowly settles over the town, Joep Hijwegen and his Leica SL head out in the hunt for the very best motifs. Evening after evening, he wanders the streets of Utrecht and Amsterdam, pushed by his instincts and a specific sense of aesthetics. Over time, he developed a novel narrative to inform the story of a neon-lit metropolis that has come to a standstill, and the place the abnormal has instantly turn into magical.

You appear to like roaming cities after sundown. What fascinates you about being at midnight, and enjoying with synthetic gentle?
I’m drawn to each the aesthetics and the ambiance of the evening. Maybe most significantly although, it forces a distinct means of seeing that’s extra dreamlike. In comparison with the daytime, the whole lot is concurrently extra targeted and extra in flux. The dearth of pure, fixed gentle signifies that there’s a limitation to what you expertise on the similar time, with specific conditions and scenes leaping out extra strongly than others. On the similar time, gentle is consistently in movement and each second is completely different. The result’s that the evening seems like a cinematic dream to me.

Was there an preliminary concept behind this challenge, or do you simply get pleasure from capturing the belongings you see in your very personal means?
My newest guide and challenge, Blue Hours, was the primary time I actually labored on a challenge somewhat than only one picture at a time. That mentioned, it nonetheless was not spawned by an preliminary concept that was set out prematurely. The mixture of a lockdown and a breakup merely modified one thing in my thoughts, that I then noticed mirrored in my pictures. As soon as I observed the sample of extra pure shapes and fewer folks showing, I noticed this was one thing I used to be dwelling and a means of seeing that may not final endlessly; so I made a decision to leap on it and observe that intuition.

What catches your eye whenever you’re on the road? Do you may have any favorite topics or locations?
Something that makes me cease and lift a digital camera, which is increasingly more the longer I {photograph}. I was primarily involved in folks and nostalgic parts, however on this sequence they’re gone and new issues, like timber and cease indicators, instantly make an look. This was additionally shocking to me, as I used to detest them and labored fairly onerous to maintain them out of my images. Then as I stored progressing within the work, I began to appreciate why I instantly liked them. I’m drawn to aesthetics, however the aesthetics additionally should carry some symbolic weight.

There are hardly any folks in your images. What function did the lockdown play throughout your work on this challenge?
When it comes to bodily environment, I may have theoretically achieved the identical work exterior the lockdown, because the areas the place I shot had been largely abandoned even earlier than the lockdown. Nonetheless, with out the lockdown I’d have by no means been drawn to those areas or to those images. The lockdown outlined my frame of mind, and my want was to seize this sense – and to seize the town as a abandoned wasteland.

The melancholy, surrealism and likewise playful aesthetics of your pictures are charming. That are the largest influences in your images?
Most of my visible influences lie exterior of images, in expressionist and impressionist portray and within the science fiction films of the late twentieth century. The previous influences me in how I take into consideration texture and color composition. To me a photograph ought to nonetheless work even for those who had been to completely blur it out and put it the wrong way up. I would like the ‘fields’ of color and light-weight to really feel good instinctively. The latter is an inspiration each for subject material and normal aesthetics. There’s something concerning the extremely stylized worlds of, for instance, cyberpunk: in a means, it’s popular culture and business imagery taken to such an excessive that it turns into creative. These films present that by doubling down on probably the most extreme elements of mainstream visible tradition, you possibly can say one thing about our society’s obsessions and vices, and I feel that’s one thing that motivates me as nicely.

At what level in your life did you begin with images, and the way has your ardour developed over time?
Pictures for me was born as a type of remedy: my first pictures had been taken as a form of visible diary, reminding me the place I had been and what I’d achieved, to beat a lethal concern of fading away. I shortly found images’s greatest therapeutic energy lay within the creation of one thing new out of current conditions. As quickly as I pressed that shutter, I didn’t simply seize a state of the world, I had simply created a brand new one. This skill of images to vary actuality in a means that it turns into ours, continues to be my greatest inspiration and drive. I wish to specific how I expertise the world, by capturing it to not present what’s actually occurring, however what narratives I see.

You at all times appear to stability fastidiously between formal aesthetics and moods. What’s extra necessary for you? Is there one thing you wish to evoke within the viewer?
I see them as deeply complementary and equally important. Essentially the most fascinating scenario in dangerous gentle will nonetheless make for a nasty {photograph} – at the least in my opinion. For me, one thing can solely make an impression whether it is aesthetically lovely, and, irrespective of how necessary the topic, I’m solely involved in it after I can order it in a means that feels good to me. That is additionally due to my purpose in images: to indicate the facility of the subjective. For me images is about discovering which means and order in a world that appears random, and I hope to encourage others to do the identical.

How did you get into the world of Leica cameras?
My first digital camera was a small polaroid and an affordable, no-name rangefinder. Later, I purchased an M3 as a ‘therapeutic’ digital camera to make use of every time I had a digital burnout. I liked the best way it seemed, felt and the rangefinder expertise, and shortly realized I wished to have some digital equal to it. I spent some time attempting out various things to see what I wanted and, in the end, landed on the SL typ 601 for probably the most exact work that requires an EVF, and the M9-P for a looser and extra spontaneous really feel. Mixed with the M3 and an R4, I’ve digital and movie workflows which are comparable sufficient in order that I don’t have to switch my capturing behaviour.

You shot this challenge with the Leica SL. By which means did the digital camera assist to perform your targets?
I feel the EVF has had probably the most optimistic affect. I’ve at all times been a manual-focus-only photographer, preferring classic lenses for each their rendering and really feel. However with earlier cameras I had some disagreeable surprises as soon as I noticed my footage on an enormous display screen, however with the huge EVF what I see is at all times what I get. It additionally helps that it naturally exhibits a color grade that I actually like, which implies I see extra potential in scenes I’d in any other case maybe discover boring. The digital camera can also be extremely zen: it has a variety of customizability however only a few buttons, which means you possibly can set it as soon as to do the whole lot you want it to do, and mainly by no means have to consider it once more afterwards. That is nice, as I discover the much less it’s important to assume whereas taking images, the extra you possibly can let intuition information you.

Do you may have any specific photographic method when capturing tasks?
For this specific challenge, time and site had been essential. I solely began capturing from sundown onwards, and solely in abandoned city areas. This required some planning and meant I had a quick window to discover each day, typically following the sundown. Other than that there was no actual method, aside from letting my eye and intestine feeling information me. The toughest half is to not inhibit that, getting caught up in some concept of what you ought to be capturing, or putting limits on what’s and isn’t a part of the challenge. Fairly, I attempt to simply observe my impulses, taking footage of no matter seems as lovely to me.

Joep Hijwegen (1994) is a self-taught, tremendous artwork photographer residing in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Born in a rural village, he first picked up a digital camera whereas engaged on a BA in Philosophy in Utrecht. At first solely photographing as a type of self-therapy, he turned increasingly more obsessive about the medium as a means of ‘re-framing life’ and supplying it with which means. He signed up with the Kahmann Gallery in Amsterdam in 2020, and likewise works on business tasks by the Underpromise Company. He has self-published two books, with Blue Hours presently spawning his first solo exhibition at MENDO BOOKS. When he isn’t out photographing, Joep is normally watching films, studying books or listening to music. He’s notably obsessed with existential philosophy, sci-fi films, instrumental jazz and hip hop, all of which function inspiration for his work. Discover out extra about his images on his website and Instagram channel.

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