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chantal_riekel41

What Remains; Photo by Chantal Riekel

Chantal Riekel’s images portray someone she never knew.

She’s photographing old snapshots, newspaper clippings and hand
written prose to portray her grandfather, Harald Bratt.

Bratt was an Austrian screenwriter during World War II who kept a diary
compiling newspaper articles, hand written entries and family pictures.

Riekel’s pictures show the diaries and Bratt through her
eyes.

“I don’t want to illustrate,” she said. “Just hint.”

Family Mysteries

Riekel loves the search.

She wants her pictures to communicate this longing.

“We all have secrets in our families,” she said. “Hopefully,
[viewers] can identify with this feeling of searching for someone.”

Riekel says that Bratt was not the screenwriter’s family name but a
stage name.

She wants to find out why he chose Bratt over Riekel, the family’s
name.

Riekel’s Influences

The diary project is part of her masters in photography at the University of
Westminster.

Peter Beard is one of Riekel’s influences.

Like Beard she often works with text and images simultaneously.

The biography on Beard’s website says he began keeping a diary when he was young
and photography became part of his diaries

Beard’s site biography says he worked in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park in the early 60s,
photographing the depletion of elephant and Black Rhino populations.

Many of the photographer’s final images are similar to scrap books.

The borders of the images are collections of other pictures,
text and paint.

World War II

A couple of Bratt’s diary entries are vivid for Riekel.

She mentioned one where her grandfather addresses her father,
then three years old.

Bratt wrote that he hoped his son would never be pulled into the
war.

Another entry where Bratt describes Russian soldiers
that had occupied his house during the war.

The men drank wine from a petrol canistaer.

Burnt Paper

Chantal Riekel recently exhibited one of her images at Transform,
a gallery show at Ferreira Projects for the second annual westPhoto/
grafiche antiga Photo Prize.

The image, “What Remains” features some burnt paper over the pages
of Bratt’s diary.

Like some of Beard’s work, the image addresses a sinister darkness that
drives a large historical event.

Italian printer grafiche antiga printed the image and many others entered
in Transform in a catalogue.

Harald Bratt’s words have been published again.

Click here to go to main story.

Click here to go to Andrew Otto’s personal blog.

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Bird

Bird and trash outside a small grocery store in Harpenden, England on May 29, 2009.

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Summertime

BoardSized

I’m enjoying the longer hours of daylight in London now.

Sunset happens today around 8:15 p.m.

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backstage002

A couple of pictures from the work I am
doing today documenting Soundpad, a
project sponsored by the British Council.

Four alternative rock bands from India are
at the university today.

I am posting more of these photographs
on the India Soundpad blog.

backstage005

backstage003

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aurora

Photography is deceptive and that’s what makes it so powerful.

I Heart Film complimented the image in yesterday’s post saying it
had nice color. He should know.

His blog shows a variety of pictures that make great use of
color and light.

Something that struck me was a quote from Duane Michals
displayed in the top right corner stating that photography is
about appearance, but, “nothing is what it  appears to be.”

This is photography’s essence.

The Aurora Borealis

My image above of the Aurora Borealis reminds me constantly
that photography is not necessarily reality.

No, I didn’t fabricate or exaggerate this image in Adobe Photoshop.
The Aurora happened one November night in 2004 over Southern Indiana.

It was extremely rare.

When I look at the image though, I am reminded of two experiences.

The first, is how it appeared to my eyes, the tones in the sky more muted
and the sky looked like deep water from below, the light barely illuminating
it. The second experience is how it appeared in the digital image.

Color

The color in my image is more saturated than it appeared to my eyes>

Again, no I didn’t hammer the saturation slider in Photoshop as far
to the right as it go. I didn’t spend hours toning the picture to
get every last bit of red and green possible out of it.

Rather the image picked up more red than was visible to my eyes.

I think this had to do with the exposure being 11 seconds which
allowed the camera to pick up more color than what was visible.

Neither version of the event is the absolute truth. Both are
representations.

Photography and Truth

Truth in photography is still a controversial subject.

There are photographers like Lego guru Balakov who have
taken an interesting slant on it.

In Smile, a three month old post of mine I wrote about how I
thought Balakov’s images question the originals which they
immitate.

I can’t draw any definite conclusions on just how honest any
particular image is.

Like Michals admits, appearances can be deceiving.

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summer0700011

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summer070015

As our family dog for more than 16 years, Stinky earned his name
because he loved to roll in any manner of filth, usually bringing it
onto our carpets and couch.

Dogs are amazing. The unconditional love and loyalty Stinky showed us made
up for any odor he ever brought into our house.

He came to live with us from an animal shelter.

Stray dogs and cats continue to be a problem throughout the United States
which is unfortunate because they make great pets.

Stinky was more than a dog and a good photo subject. He was a member
of our family. We miss him.

summer070005

summer070003

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