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Blue Hours – The Leica digicam Weblog


As quiet slowly settles over the town, Joep Hijwegen and his Leica SL head out seeking one of the best motifs. Evening after night time, he wanders the streets of Utrecht and Amsterdam, pushed by his instincts and a selected 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 strange has all of a sudden grow to be magical.

You appear to like roaming cities after sundown. What fascinates you about being in the dead of night, and taking part in with synthetic gentle?
I’m drawn to each the aesthetics and the environment of the night time. Maybe most significantly although, it forces a special method of seeing that’s extra dreamlike. In comparison with the daytime, every part is concurrently extra targeted and extra in flux. The dearth of pure, fixed gentle implies 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 continually in movement and each second is completely different. The result’s that the night time seems like a cinematic dream to me.

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

What catches your eye whenever you’re on the road? Do you might have any favorite topics or locations?
Something that makes me cease and lift a digicam, which is an increasing number of the longer I {photograph}. I was primarily inquisitive about folks and nostalgic components, however on this collection they’re gone and new issues, like timber and cease indicators, all of a sudden 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 understand why I all of a sudden 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 venture?
When it comes to bodily environment, I may have theoretically finished the identical work outdoors the lockdown, because the areas the place I shot have 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 way of thinking, 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 photos are fascinating. That are the largest influences in your images?
Most of my visible influences lie outdoors 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 when you have been to completely blur it out and put it the wrong way up. I would like the ‘fields’ of color and lightweight to really feel good instinctively. The latter is an inspiration each for subject material and basic aesthetics. There’s something in regards to the extremely stylized worlds of, for instance, cyberpunk: in a method, it’s popular culture and industrial 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 may 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 photos have been taken as a kind of visible diary, reminding me the place I had been and what I’d finished, to beat a lethal worry of fading away. I rapidly found images’s largest therapeutic energy lay within the creation of one thing new out of present 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 potential of images to alter actuality in a method that it turns into ours, remains to be my largest inspiration and drive. I need to specific how I expertise the world, by capturing it to not present what’s actually taking place, however what narratives I see.

You at all times appear to stability rigorously between formal aesthetics and moods. What’s extra essential for you? Is there one thing you need to evoke within the viewer?
I see them as deeply complementary and equally important. Essentially the most attention-grabbing state of affairs in dangerous gentle will nonetheless make for a nasty {photograph} – at the very least for my part. For me, one thing can solely make an impression whether it is aesthetically stunning, and, regardless of how essential the topic, I’m solely inquisitive about it after I can order it in a method that feels good to me. That is additionally due to my objective 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 digicam was a small polaroid and an affordable, no-name rangefinder. Later, I purchased an M3 as a ‘therapeutic’ digicam to make use of at any time when I had a digital burnout. I liked the way in which it regarded, felt and the rangefinder expertise, and shortly realized I wished to have some digital equal to it. I spent some time making an attempt out various things to see what I wanted and, finally, 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 venture with the Leica SL. By which method did the digicam 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, however with the large EVF what I see is at all times what I get. It additionally helps that it naturally reveals 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 digicam can also be extremely zen: it has plenty of customizability however only a few buttons, which means you may set it as soon as to do every part 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 may let intuition information you.

Do you might have any specific photographic strategy when capturing tasks?
For this specific venture, time and placement have been crucial. I solely began capturing from sundown onwards, and solely in abandoned city areas. This required some planning and meant I had a short window to discover day by day, usually following the sundown. Other than that there was no actual strategy, apart 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 try to be capturing, or inserting limits on what’s and isn’t a part of the venture. Reasonably, I attempt to simply comply with my impulses, taking footage of no matter seems as stunning to me.

Joep Hijwegen (1994) is a self-taught, effective artwork photographer residing in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Born in a rural village, he first picked up a digicam whereas engaged on a BA in Philosophy in Utrecht. At first solely photographing as a type of self-therapy, he grew to become an increasing number of obsessive about the medium as a method 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 industrial 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 enthusiastic about 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 web site and Instagram channel.

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