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Magazine Of The Nikon World

Nikon Owner Issue 18

Nikon Owner Gallery - Wind by Michael Base

"I often think people don't play enough when making images. Serious photography for me is all about playing more than anyone else."

Michael Base

Michael Base is a professional artist working entirely in photography and video. His style is provocative, often bleak and eccentric, coupled with dark humour and wit. After fortuitously working with celebrity photographer Herb Ritts, he decided to pursue photography long-term. In 2001 he left his career in advertising and embarked on full-time photographic studies. He began by taking short courses at Central St Martins, before enrolling on the now defunct, Professional Photography Practice course at the London College of Printing. At that time he bought his first camera from Grays of Westminster, an old Nikon FE2 with a 50mm lens, becoming one of the first Nikon Owner subscribers in the process. Since then Michael has obtained an M.A. in Photography from the Kent Institute of Art and Design and has spent time working as a Photography Editor for a large development charity.

The M.A. allowed him the freedom to explore the possibilities of all the camera formats from 35mm to 10 x 8 inch large format, and, in his words, "To see the possibilities of recording images behind all the techno-speak that often hogs camera talk."

At that time Michael also devoted many hours to a detailed study of Japanese photography. Five trips later this culminated in a three-month bicycle tour the length of Japan, from Cape Soya to Ishigaki-jima, in the later part of 2005. He took with him a Nikon D70 kit with an additional 50mm fast lens. Our featured image was taken in Tottori, a city on the Sea of Japan Coast, where from a curious feat of geology, the normally rocky coastline becomes, for sixteen kilometres, one of large sand dunes often 90 metres in height. This is a shot taken without looking through the viewfinder.

The Photograph

Michael Base

"I was lucky in one sense in that it was a very windy day which added considerably to the atmosphere. However I still spent six or seven hours on the dunes, blasted by sharp sand, attempting to find a group that expressed the sense of place but also something about the Japanese culture more generally in the face of difficult situations. In this image that patience pays off. The figures are clearly distinct both in their positions within the frame and in identity. The woman just right of centre seems to be bowing to the great force of the wind, whilst the suited business man in black takes on an almost Ninja-like pose. More can be said of all the characters but the most interesting is clearly the late teenager that engages the camera. One hand brushes her hair in the manner of a model, the other holds a mobile telephone, a double defence of technology and sexuality. Insulated from the storm by her confidence and youth, she knows that Japan is changing and that it belongs to her!"

Location: Tottori Sand Dunes, Tottori, Sea of Japan Coast, Southern Honshu, Japan.
Equipment used: Nikon D70 + 18-70mm kit lens. Set at 40mm focal length, f/9, 1/320th sec. No flash. No filters.