Archive | silver darkroom

Watching the sea from a quiet place…

I am sitting here on Paros, in a small cafe called ‘Pebbles’.  The sun is out and sky is full of big, puffy white clouds.  It is chilly and windy so the large picture windows frame the blue Aegean, the scattering of small islands and the tip of the peninsula across the bay.  Near the tip, where the rocks meet the sea is a small church.  The blue dome is darker than the pale blue sky above it.  It is the Church of Agios Fokas whose name day is September 22.  I am not sure what he is the saint of, or why he was martyred, if at all, or what miracle he performed.

I have only a small amount of work to finish in the darkroom.  Two more re-prints tonight and then I can begin the selenium process. After that I can matte the 13 pieces that will go into the flip file at the student show on December 9th and choose the one piece to hang.  I am pleased with the results and believe they show great skill, craft and an elevation of the commonplace to a higher status.

My digital work seems to be at a standstill with six finished pieces of the twelve I wish to complete.  Truthfully I am waiting to hear what the Director’s decision will be on nude figure studies among the students.  I still feel as if I have been discriminated against either due to my age, gender or sexual orientation (which is indeterminate-love is love and should follow no gender.)  To be honest, I have no desire to photograph anyone nude anymore and my current work does not contain any examples of this milieu.  A few days ago another student shot a nude figure study with a female student and for all I know this has been sanctioned by the head office.  I applaud his work for I feel that this an art school and this kind of work should exist and continue to be a part of the process.  It is not a cloistered convent or monastery.  I feel sad about the turn of events for I feel that my future here on Paros hinges on the decision to come.  If the answer is that some can and some cannot, then I will not return in the spring and, indeed, may even leave before the student show in less than two weeks.  I am willing to admit that in the past I have made horrible and devastating moral and ethical choices.  I am also ready to stand up for the fact that in the past 10 years I have not made these kinds of choices due to radical changes in my life and lifestyle. Instead I have tried to stand firmly on a rock of honesty, willing to admit when I have been wrong and trying my best to not condemn others for their own human failings.  All of this takes a great deal of work.

So this quiet cafe overlooking the ever-changing sea is good for me today.  Keith Jarrett is on the stereo and his meditative piano blends well with the sound of the wind outside, the wash of waves on the rocks and the gradual sinking of the sun to the western horizon.  I have turned over my problems to those who can help me the most and hope that the worst is merely a figment of my imagination and that this has been just a misunderstanding.



Much needed rain and fall in the Aegean…

It is raining outside and has been since yesterday.  We do need the rain here on Paros.  The island had become so dry in the past few weeks.  The wind from the north has been blowing at Force 7,8 and 9 on the Beaufort scale but today it has seemed to have quieted somewhat.  This will end tonight, but the winds will continue to whip the water back into the sky for the next few days even though the sun will be out.  Autumn in the Aegean is very different than in the Northeastern area of the US.  The fall colors fade from the burned gold and silver of summer into a rich caramel amber and finally as the rains come in, more green, crocuses and smaller blooms accompanying the cooler air.  In the local gardens there is spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.  This morning I received a treat of fresh oranges, right off the trees.  Anyone who says there are no seasons here in the Kyklades have obviously never stayed here for long.

We have 26 days until the student show and 31 until I arrive back in New York.  My two portfolios are filling up as I slowly create more prints in the darkroom and digital lab.  If one were to look at them right now they would seem to lack cohesiveness, but really this is an academic regiment and not relevant to the Aegean Center, its philosophy or even my own thinking.  Relevance and structure are all around me and integral in my thinking.  At the very least the fact that I am making these pieces is a glue that holds them together.  That the silver pieces are all, with few exceptions, all of Italy in September and the digital are all 4×5 scans of Paros are also two values that assign a consistency to these two projects.

Upstairs students are drawing in the figure study class.  Still others are meeting with Liz Carson in the darkroom (I just came from there myself) and planning the week’s work.  John Pack is readying himself for another day of digital printing and wrangling the kinds of wild horses that only the director of a small arts center on an island in Greece can possibly ride.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we will celebrate here on Paros in grand style.  I am supplying the glazed carrots.



4×5 work, landscape portraiture, good weather and bad…

Much has happened since my last post.  The figure study project I had been working on came to naught, both by my hand and outside forces.  Thankfully I have the knowledge that I cancelled the shoots due to artistic apathy and ennui before there were complaints from some parents about “possible improprieties” in the studio.  Although the models are all over 18 and therefore legally able to make up their own minds (and vote and die for their country) whether to pose nude or semi-nude  and that there has never been any complaints or actual difficulties is apparently besides the point.  I was told that I should stop the project. Like I said I am happy that I decided to end it before I heard that news.  What’s over and one with is just that.  I must admit however that these revelations left me feeling as if my integrity and honor as a man and a photographer had been questioned when really it is a matter of politics for the Center and the director.  Once again art and politics clash and the outcome is predictable.

My new work is exclusively 4×5 film, scanning them in the digital lab and then working on them in RAW, PhotoShop and finally printing them on one of the big Epsons.  The large format camera is a steep learning curve itself.  So far I am achieving some lovely results.  The portfolio will be a series of’ “Paros Portraits-People, Places and Things.”  I am taking my time with this, although the actual time is limited.  12 pieces need to be finished by December 7th.  The same holds true for my darkroom work–12 pieces of MF based on the Italian session and these also have to be matted–all by   December 7th.  The student show is the 9th and I leave Paros on the 12th to return to the USA on the 15th.

The weather has been up and down.  Cool at night, dry and sunny during the day with a north wind that whips all the warmth from the stones.  We are expecting tough weather this weekend with rain, Force 9 winds and temperatures in the low 40s F.

There are other things to blog about but as of now they are vague.  When I can speak of them with surety, I will.  Right now, mums the word!



Promotional work, silver darkroom, boat strikes…and more…

I suppose the first thing to report would be the horrendous economic situation here in Greece.  This is not really news, since the trouble is worldwide and everyone has been watching this little country sink lower and lower into disaster.  On the island, however, the situation takes on a different flavor.  Much of the protesting in Greece against the austerity measures has been in the transport industries.  Trucks, taxis, buses, train and boats all strike periodically.  Recently the dock workers and shipping crews have gone on strike, halting almost all boat travel through the Aegean Sea.  This cripples a seafaring nation like Greece with its outlying island and archipelagoes.  Paros is affected, obviously.  The current boat strike began last Monday and was supposed to be lifted today, just shy of a week.  Yesterday we received news that the strike had been extended to Wednesday, possibly Thursday. This is bad tidings for a small island dependent on the outside mainland for goods and service.  We are lucky to have local farmers selling vegetables and grocery stores that still have some goods, but meat markets are running out of product and I am concerned that petrol stations will run short in the next couple of days, especially if people make a run for fuel.  As my father told me, I am at the crux of history, so I shall keep my eyes open, my mouth shut and watch the intersections.

The promotional work I am photographing for a friend is moving along.  She only needs three or four pieces for her website, but that still means the same amount of work for me.  It is excellent experience and although I do not do this type of work often, I can see how my own aesthetic plays a large part in how I view the event.  I suppose everyone brings their own vision to this kind of work.  The results will reveal how I view this kind of labor.  So far, so good, actually.  Perhaps she’ll let me use one of these for the blog as an example.

The darkroom moves along and I hope to expose a roll of MF this afternoon and develop it as well.  I am scheduled to be working in there tonight but I have forgotten when I signed up.  I think 22:00hrs.  I have to print at least one piece from the Villa, maybe two if I am lucky, so I can show them to Liz and see how she wishes me to proceed.

I have picked an odd time to move to Greece.  I haven’t looked at any apartments yet, but that will be this week.  I have two, maybe three to check out.  One is a very humble flat in the middle of Paroikia and the other is a bit more lavish old house, I think, not quite on the outskirts of town. I don’t know the prices for either.

More to come…