a disturbed sense of distance

steve on train
steve on train

I really have no idea how this blog keeps going. Every time I post a new piece, I breathe a sigh of relief, which is then quickly followed by a stab of anxiety – what will I find to write about next? Every so often, help is at hand and one of my fellow TMKers comes forth with an interesting post which means I can sit back for a few days and just watch the stats grow, with increasing joy.  Eventually though, I am pretty sure we will have exhausted every available angle; I mean Steve only took a finite number of pictures and even though he continues to post new ones periodically on his ‘sleepyard’ tumblr, there will come a time when there is not much left to say. However, whilst I can still (amusingly) link a Jansen-related song title to at least one of his photos, then I shall continue to post these pieces…… 🙂

Last year Steve posted a picture of a Venetian hotel room on his tumblr page, which caught my eye; it had a hazy sense of the surreal about it, a room which seemed from another time and place. The faded grandeur of a distant era, the curtains billowing in the soft breeze from the window, and intriguingly, the photographer’s reflection caught in the mirror as he clicked the shutter. There was a softening to the image, where the clarity seemed to leak and blur which I found beguiling – so much so, that I now have the same image hanging on my bedroom wall.

venice hotel room
venice hotel room

The photograph was part of series of shots that Steve took whilst on a trip through Europe during a tumultuous time in our history; the Berlin Wall had recently fallen and the former Soviet countries were starting to open up. These images were taken using a widelux camera with a 140 degree self-panning lens. I assumed the “softening” was all part of the appeal of the camera, but it is actually a fault – or at least a happy accident – possibly from being hand-held. Whatever the reason for the blurring of the image, I think it adds a beautifully surreal and almost sensual feel to the images. Never has Venice seemed more alluring……

train station
train station
train journey
train journey
venice - 1
venice – 1
venice 2
venice – 2
venice - 3
venice – 3

This shot of an arcade in Vienna almost takes my breath away. It is as if the viewer is about to fall through the rabbit-hole and emerge blinking into Wonderland; again, a beautiful consequence of the “fault” of the softening, which I find so seductive and lends the image a filmic quality.

Even Steve’s “holiday snaps” manage to avoid the usual touristic trappings and instead offer us a view of the places he visited through a distorted lens.

vienna arcade
vienna arcade
vienna - 2
vienna – 2
vienna - 3
vienna – 3

Regular blog readers, and those of you who inhabit the shady world of tumblr, may be familiar with some images Steve recently published from the recording sessions of ‘Catch The Fall’, at the Manor Studios in Oxfordshire. Thanks to the technological jiggery-pokery of the widelux camera, Steve was able to take a shot of a room and literally jump in to view, whilst the lens was panning.  This shot, along with others showing Richard Barbieri and assorted musicians, appear to be free of the softening effect (or “fault” depending on your view) I so admire, so I can only assume that the camera was placed upon a solid surface whilst the shutter was being clicked….?

dolphin 'selfie'
dolphin ‘selfie’
Iio Yoshifumi and Richard Barbieri programming Prophet 5 synth.
Iio Yoshifumi and Richard Barbieri programming Prophet 5 synth.
Iio Yoshifumi (L) Richard Barbieri (C) Nick Blundell (R). The Dolphin Brothers sessions at The Manor Studios - dining room
Iio Yoshifumi (L) Richard Barbieri (C) Nick Blundell (R). The Dolphin Brothers sessions at The Manor Studios – dining room

If you are a bit of a photography geek with lots of time of your hands (really it’s nothing to be ashamed of…) then I would seriously advise you to spend a few moments perusing the internet for information about the widelux camera. It is a thing of archaic beauty and I truly wish I had one in my possession. As does Steve – apparently, he gave his away a few years ago.

Steve has published images using the widelux camera on his website and ‘sleepyard’ tumblr page:



You can purchase limited edition and signed prints from the ‘imageshop’ here: http://www.stevejansen.com/imageshop/

14 thoughts on “a disturbed sense of distance

  1. Thank you again Victoria. Reading your blog is like going on a guided photographic safari!!! Of Steve’s pictures no less.

    Reading yours and others observations and thoughts about particular photos brings the image even more to life for me. Observations that I would never have by staring at the photo myself.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Are we living parallel lives again? 😀 You know–I was thinking about the Widelux a few days back. I’ve just acquired a GoPro which has a seriously wide angle setting and it reminded me–although it does it without having a mechanical lens and is rather less hefty. Cool pieces of kit though, I love the train shot. Am resisting the urge to see if I can find one somewhere.. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh thanks lovelies…….I have to say I have got myself all in a tizzy about the widelux and am now scouring the internet for one. They are out there but a wee bit pricey. Interested to hear about the GoPro Mischa; a couple of friends have them and swear by them.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks Victoria, again it’s a joy to read your thoughts, as unique as the artist they are of. The only bit I don’t feel I agree with us something I hope you won’t mind me saying we actually discussed! About finite info, now I see it written down I think the opposite, surely it could go on forever as more pics cone to light and more folk begin to share their thoughts? I would love to hear from more photographers too and am fascinated by all your knowledge VCC and Mischa however it still art and makes us feel so there’s no knowledge needed, it just gives you a different perspective when you know about the technical side of a subject.
    I too love the arcade shot, it is very Alice, it reminds me of coming out of a fever and associated dreams. Beguiling it is VCC and yet there is a mundanity to the foreground, it’s very clean and normal…then a wormhole appears on the right! If I step in will it transport me to the Bestial Cluster tour? If only… xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes Pen, you are right in a way…..but that relies on other people getting involved and, as popular as this blog is, most people are happy to sit back and read rather than contribute. Which is fine, but at some point I will run out of things to say. To be fair, Steve thought that would happen within a few weeks I think, so at least we have made it this far and are still keeping people entertained!
      See, now you’ve mentioned the “wormhole” theory, my mind is racing 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Amazing post as always! And a bit technical too. Who would’ve thought the blurring was an accident…
    The paragraph about the Venice hotel room photo is just superb and full of imagery…
    Ah, I don’t like this talk about not having stuff to write posts about one day, it’s the highlight of my day whenever I get a “new post” notification on my inbox :’)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Awww thanks so much Daniela…..well, I guess as long as Steve keeps uploading new pictures onto ‘sleepyard’ I’ll always find something to write about. It would be interesting to get a younger fan’s view of things too though, so feel free to contribute anytime….

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Brilliant. You’re not bad at this writing lark, are you? Plus, give SJ his due, he’s pretty decent at that camera stuff. I love ‘train journey’ and ‘Vienna arcade’ is incredibly emotive.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. One of the best input at this amazing blog, thank you victoria… May i ask, where did u find steve on train image. it is mind blowing, filmic, hitchcock-ish image from steve’s archive. Just beautiful. His photos is not just a simple frames, they are a kind of showing us his deep inside… His inner world, his current mood at the era…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for your kind comments. Many of the images are available on Steve’s website and tumblr but I can’t recall where I stumbled across all of them, I’m afraid…….I do think the widelux photos are some of my favourites of all the ones he has taken though. Other-worldly, aren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. No no no ….. don`t run out of things to write about. These pics need discussing !!!
    I`ve seen all sorts of `holiday snaps` of Venice over the years ……. you can become almost blase about them ….. but Mr Jansen finds character in even the most seemingly mundane.
    Id love to see some of those “seriously unremarkable” shots of his Rain Tree Crow ” cell mates”
    Thanks as always for another great piece 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Craig is right (of course) the cell mates maybe can’t imagine how much a new photograph means, esp taken by one of the inmates. It’s important for the future too, that their worth be understood.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s