The Great Divide is published on issue 25 of Blur Magazine | Tetra.
BLUR is a quarterly published interactive magazine dedicated for creative photography.
TETRA | is a section dedicated to a specific type of photography: black and white, square-format images that are recognizable for their minimalism and high aesthetic value, often making use of long exposures. The section name comes from the Greek word for the number four, which symbolizes the four equal sides of the format.
Please tell us something about you, where are you come from.
My name is ReD Ognita, Filipino. I grew up in the streets of Manila, currently based in Beijing.
How did you get interested in photography?
I got involved in capturing images of my own when I started working overseas. My family was not with me, and photographs were the only way I can link to their past. Of course there telephone and emails, but photographs are much better. I made sure that I take photos whenever I come home. The photographs became time machines. It was also the same time that it became a hobby. Whenever time permits, I go out, walk around and take photos of things that appeals to me. Later on, I started creating images in my mind even before I hold the camera. More and more, I started hunting for images rather than looking for something interesting. It became not only a tool to document but also a tool to create.
Did some artist-photographer inspired your art?
Undeniably, Michael Kenna and Hiroshi Sugimoto in photography. In painting, it’s Mark Rothko
I find their aethetic values in-line with what I would like to achieve. Beethoven in music as his tenacity and life biography makes me want to do more and makes me realize that there are no excuses.
Yours work is mainly in square format, and with long exposure-why is that, any special reason?
There’s something in long exposure that I find appealing. One, is that you can essentially capture what is not immediately visible. I find placing a length of time into a single frame very attractive. It is there, but not there. Very interesting. The square format almost came immediate together with my practice of long exposures. I find the square format compliments the feel/effect I was trying to get with long exposures.
In a shorter answer, the techniques (long exposure and square format) was chosen as a way to achieve a vision.
Can you tell us something about your style of photography and post processing?
I always aim for a good print. Having this in the back of my head basically dictates the way I take my shots and post-process. Almost 95% of my work are made with a cable release and a tripod. Shots are all in RAW format to allow maximum flexibility. I contain almost all image adjustments in Camera RAW before going to Photoshop.
Just a few months back I printed a file and it was a mess. I had to redo the entire process from the ground up. I got carried away and processed the file to look good in the monitor without print consideration. Bad move.
Do you print your work by yourself ?
I used to, or should I say I still do but only pigments in smaller sizes. My platinum palladium prints are created in collaboration with a Chinese master printer trained in Japan. He and I goes through several weeks nailing down a single print. I am happy to say that I am fortunate to find someone that helps me realize my vision. Art and artist cannot exist in a vacuum and collaboration does not dillute one’s work in anyway. A mozart is a mozart though played by an entire orchestra.
You take pictures on many wonderful places,is there some place where you want to go?
If the Gods would allow, I would head out for Huangshan next year (Yellow Mountain)
It has been an inspiration of many Chinese paintings for many years and also the inspiration for the movie Avatar. Yes, it’s the cloud covered mountains that shake hands with the sky. Iceland is also a dream destination. I have seen countless images that place – all impressive. I would really like to see them with my own eyes.
Are you a member of some photo group?
I am currently a member of POP Beijing. It’s a group of Filipinos based in Beijing that shares the same passion. I’m open to be a member of other groups, even local, but my grasp of the Chinese language is vey minimal.
You spend hours on the Great wall , which we won’t to show in this presentation, can you tell as something abouth that experience. And maybe some memorable moments you will not forget from that trip.
The following photos are from 3 years of studying the wall from different sections and varying weather. It shows the different faces of the wall from the early light of summer to the biting cold of winter. Every visit is a different and memorable experience. There was a time that I have spent an entire day without clicking a shutter. There was also one summer that I spent overnight without a sleeping bag. My back hurt so much that I found myself wandering on the wall at 2AM. But I guess the most memorable experience is when friends and I climbed the wall during the first snow of 2010. The path was filled with snow that you cannot see where you’ll be landing your feet. There were also no railings to hold onto for assistance. You could skid down the entire wall if you make a mistake. We spent more time crawling than walking. Amazing.
As somebody who just can imagine how magnificient it is, can you tell as something about the wall?
As one stands up above and sees how the wall snakes the landscape, embracing the most forbidding terrain and slowly dissappear in the mist, it becomes undeniably clear – The Great Wall is truly great.
The wall has attracted artists of different mediums and characters, from the experimental, poetic to the subversive. It has been the topic of many books and the fascination of those who have yet to see it. It lends itself to anyone and everyone. It does not dictate meaning. It can be a manifestation of cultural conservatism or the triumph of humankind in achieving the seemingly impossible. It does not judge and welcomes every soul who wants to walk through it.
It gives inspiration to those who are in need – something that it never fails to give me.
What future plans you have with photography(any exhibition,books…)
I started out photography in 2006 but only decided to share my work 2010. Next year, I plan to continue just the same – to share what I see to the world. Though sometimes I feel small amidst all the great talents out there, I will make an effort not to hide. I also plan to give photography more of my time as I find it enjoyable and very rewarding.
I feel that planning small things leads to big things. One step at a time.