Soon, the beginnings of long empty platforms appear outside the misty train windows. Ornate flower baskets overflowing with rich, vibrant colours hanging from ubiquitous cast-iron lamp posts adorn the platform’s edge. With a final shudder, our ride comes to a standstill. We’ve finally arrived at Budapest’s grand Kelati central station.
The OEBB from Vienna to Budapest leaves bang on time, as usual. We slowly pull away from the angular confines of Vienna’s newest train station, deserting the infamous and thoroughly impenetrable Viennese bubble for a precious few days. I’m momentarily gripped with a sudden panic, similar to when I first left home… am I nervous? It becomes apparent I’ve spent too much time living in the ‘safety’ of the worlds most livable city. Possibly time to move.
Soon we’re darting across the Viennese green-belt, northern Austria’s farmland for the ravenous, wine-swilling city elite. An ocean of small yet perfectly formed bright orange carrots cover tilled fields as far as the eye can see, the impeccably uniform symmetry comically interrupted every now and then by a few stubborn green cabbages. There’s a certain smugness dressed across the rebel greenery, and somewhere deep in the roots of this Cruciferous invasion echoes a reflection of modern Viennese society.
Prancing around Wien’s Mozart-themed squares as Swan Lake carries on a gentle breeze from Oper to the Konzerthaus, through food markts bulging at the seams with oyster-gobbling fur-clad aristocracy, into the lush city vineyards riddled with casually-formal executives quaffing young Gemischter Satz as denim meets hay – to play a part in this daily existence is to observe a fading societies’ desperate attempts at enforcing outdated, entrenched homogenisation throughout its ostentatious subcultures, only to be usurped by the occasional tattooed hipster toting a well-oiled beard. Or even the lesser-spotted Viennese chav, often showcasing a matching Gucci hoody and sweatpants combo. Yes, even disruptive cabbages have an image to live up to, this is Austria after all.
Crossing the Danube just outside Budapest and a muddled horizon gives away nothing of the ancient city itself. Trees and derelict buildings litter the landscape creating a sea of greens and browns ahead and behind. Our train slows to a crawl as the number of adjacent tracks starts to grow exponentially. Overhead power lines begin to join the fray, as do graffitied sleeper carriages of all shapes and sizes. The horn blows loud and shrill clearing the oncoming tracks as an army of rusty brakes squeal against less-than-stainless steel rims. Sparks eject from under the train, ricocheting off dusty vegetation laying along the iron lines. Soon, the beginnings of long empty platforms appear outside the misty train windows. Ornate flower baskets overflowing with rich, vibrant
Shooting analogue was a combination of artistic bliss and personal bankruptcy, so when digital cameras hit the market we all thought the same thing: win win. But after 15 years shooting digital, my field-work attitude had shifted for the worse; I became accustomed to the high FPS my Nikons could turn over, became lazy when bracketing for HDR, began to abuse high ISO, just accepting the grain in all weather. I’d even leave my tripod at home and just make do with image stabilistion. Above all, I’d become lazy, relying on technology to finish a process I’d start in my mind. I didn't start like that during my analogue days; back then it was sacrilege to 'fill the buffer', as it were - we thought, composed, and captured with each and every click. Romanticised maybe, but true.
So I changed.
Capturing one solid image for a collection is pretty easy, anyone can take a great image with a bit of skill, practise, and luck. Seriously, anyone. Two great images - still not hard and sometimes they even look good together. Three, four, and five start taxing the cranium; you need to start thinking ahead, above, and beyond. You start to sweat. Working up to ten images takes dedication, time, and skill, but once you have your collection, you get a real sense of achievement.
Forcing ourselves to select a limited number of images amongst an infinite number of possibilities enables us to think deeper about our photography, it gives us motivation and focus during times of lack-luster malaise, and it aligns our thoughts, encouraging exploration and thematic expression in collections.
IOIMG isn't typically about obsessive image matching for competitions or exhibitions (although I'd go so far as to say the images in your collections should, in some way, compliment each other), nor is it particularly constrained when choosing subjects or themes for image pools; I like to use IOIMG as more of a guiding principle designed to help maintain standards and encourage exploration in my photography as I explore the many different avenues within the discipline.
Without a guide, we'd get lost.