Tag Archives | 4×5 photography

Another year…

I am 51 and a day today.  This past year has been one that is still hitting me in waves, endless ripples from countless stones tossed in my emotional pool.  I contemplate making a phone call and suddenly realize there is will be no one on the other end of the line.  I imagine a voice and the softness of a cheek…and they are gone.  My mother will no longer look up from the New York Times Sunday crossword, over her glasses, and announce, “Well, that’s done!”  My father will no longer smack his lips after taking a sip of something tasty and raise his glass.  He was always one for toasts.  “Hear, hear,” she would chorus during better times.

Polly and Hilary in Provincetown, 1970. photo by Sara Ballard

Polly and Hilary in Provincetown, 1970.

I was thinking the other day that I have never been the “cool” guy.  Never hip, never dressed in the latest fashion…I was feeling down that day.  Then I realized I didn’t  care.  When I was younger, maybe, but then again I was envious of those around me who had better or more or newer or sexier (or so I believed)…not much weight there.  Pretty superficial stuff.  I hope they are happy in their respective lives.

So these days I do what I am wanting to do and this makes me happy.  I am not treading on the lives of others and I am moving forward and slightly uphill.  I am honouring my mother and my father in my life and activities.  I am finally getting around to reading a short biography of St. Augustine given to me by my sister a few years ago.  I am reading some Epicurus.  I am back to building fine scale WW 1 aircraft which give me great joy and satisfaction, not just in their execution but in the research involved.  I am in training for a very tough mountain bike race being held here March 6th.  I have a photo shoot coming up next week which I have been looking forward to for months.  It will be several hours of intense work, and then that stage will be done.  Then I develop the film.  Then I choose what to print, etc…intervals and stages, tension and release.  One day I am 50, and then the next day…

Biking here on Paros is a good metaphor for my life.  The stress of the uphill slogs are rewarded by not only the accomplishment but also the release of the inevitable downhill run, slaloming around rocks and through washed out sections of red dirt roads.  Then it is uphill again.

It all feels pretty cool to me.

–JDCM

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Paving my own road…

–My ‘Cafe/Kafe’ show went very well.  It is such a quiet time here on the island that an event like this was a wonderful way to have a get-together.  It was a community event in a small community.  A good chin-wag with friends on a windy autumnal eve.  Mikro Cafe was packed and the opening lasted for about 3 hours.  I feel it was a great success for us all.  I took down the pictures a few days ago.  On to the the next one.

I have begun printing my second portrait show, which I have slated for October 2015, here on Paros.  I have ideas about the venue, which I will evolve.  The show itself will be a continuation of the first  ‘Paros Portraits’ exhibit, but this time I have relaxed my eye.  The first show was strictly large format 4×5 and printed digitally.  As lovely as the 4×5 is, the process began to feel formal, something I wish to avoid in this next installment.  There are a few 4×5 images in the new portfolio, which I will contact print, but the remainder are 35mm.  I am hoping for about 35 to 40 pieces and they will only be printed in the darkroom.  I want this next show to be more loose, more casual, with an element (just a smidgeon) of the ‘street.’  The prints will also be smaller with most of them falling into the 8×10 category, or thereabouts.  If I can print them all by the end of April then I can shuffle them off to the framer and pick them up at the end of the summer.

The weather here turned distinctly autumnal last week.  It was about 14C before Thursday and the drizzly, dark streets were perfumed with the aroma of burning olive wood.  It was damp, but then the wind is shifted from the south.   For the past two days we have seen sun, balmy breezes and well over 20C.  Lovely.

I must stay busy with my own work, even if it a small casual show like ‘Cafe/Kafe’.  As a friend reminded me tonight at dinner, “you have to pave your own road ahead of you…”

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–JDCM

 

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cafe/kafe, romanticism and keeping it light…

–I was eating my corn flakes and goat’s milk one morning and it occurred to me that I am an incurable romantic.

–I returned from Paris two weeks ago and I am back on Paros, about 2300 km and one vowel distant.  My time in France was lovely.  My heart was filled with warmth even though the weather had chilled by the time I departed.

–I was able to shoot 4 rolls of Rollei Retro 400s while in Paris.  I also gave myself a Christmas present.  I found a very affordable Leica M2 at the local Leica store.   The deal was good and I was there.  I had to get it.  According to the serial number it was manufactured in 1966.  I find it extremely cool that I bought a an old Leica in Paris.  It just feels right. Very romantic.

–While in Athens on Friday, I ran a couple rolls AGFA APX 400 through it.  That made 6 rolls.  When I returned to Paros and checked my ‘to do’ box in the darkroom I found two more rolls of film (Rollei Retro 100) that needed developing.  I spent Sunday afternoon developing of film.  8 rolls from three different places from three different cameras…Here’s the breakdown:

–4 rolls Rollei Retro 400s, Voigtlander r4M w/ Voigtlander 35mm lens, Paris; 2 rolls of AGFA APX 400, Leica M2 w/ the same Voigtländer 35mm lens, Athens; 2 rolls Rollei Retro 100, Balda ‘Super Baldina’ (c. 1956), fixed 40mm lens, Paros.

–While working I listened to The Clash’s ‘London Calling.’  It was released in the UK in 1979.  35 years later it still sounds fresh, complex and vibrant.

–Romanticism…OK.  I don’t wish for days gone by.  Whatever they say, life was not simpler, or easier.  Thomas Hobbes referred to life as ‘…nasty, brutish and short.”   He was right.  I like living on a remote island.  Romantic again.

–The ‘cafe/kafe‘ photographs are matted, framed and behind glass.  I will hang this small exhibit this Friday at Mikro Kafe here in Paroikia.  It is not a grand exhibition, just something light and easy, something small to keep my hand in while I continue the prep for the second, far more involved ‘Portraits‘ exhibit next autumn.  There.  I said it.  Autumn 2015.

 

–JDCM

 

 

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Happy May…and some thoughts on photography…

–May is here.  The sun is shining, the tourists are few.  The winds are from the south, north, east and west.  It is lovely here on Paros.

–My darkroom work is progressing nicely.  I have been printing my Weather/Texture 35mm images on a regular  basis and am finding great joy in the consistency of this portfolio.  I have also been keeping up with my 4×5 portrait work and  recently photographed a young artist who is visiting our fair isle.  I made 12 exposures, of varying depths-of-field.  I’ll develop them this weekend.  Paros Portraits, Part II moves at its own pace…

–Recently a close friend  gave me a lovely gift: Richard Avedon’s Woman in the Mirror .  The images reminded me to look a little deeper into this photographer’s life.  I have always been impressed by his work.  I admire those who labor at what they love and have paid their dues, either through hard work, hard times, or both.  Avedon was a skilled craftsman who supported himself and his family through commercial photography.  While I never met the man, I get the feeling that while he became famous in his own time, he maintained his humility.

Avedon said that “I never wanted to be called an artist.  I wanted to be called a photographer.”

…also “sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me.”

He also believed that “a photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.”

–Dig it.

–JDCM

 

 

 

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April upon us…

–I have heard from folks in the US that their weather has finally turned spring-like and the snows have ended.  It has been a difficult season for them and they need to put away their shovels and plows.

Slow Art Day is  coming up.  I will be gathering with some friends at a local museum here on Paros and participate.  I was reminded this morning that the average museum visitor spends between 5 and 30 seconds looking at a piece of art and that time is usually when they read the tag on the wall.  During this day we will look at 5 pieces, for 15 minutes each.  Then we will reconvene and discuss what we saw, how we felt, etc…I am looking forward to it.  Too many cultural institutions treat their space like a shopping mall.  MoMA in New York is one of them.  I think I have blogged about this already.

–When I first visited Paros in 2006 as a tourist, I came specifically to see their museum.  It has one of the finest collections of Greek art in Europe.  It only cost me 2 Euros to get in.  It still costs 2 Euros.  I was here for two days and visited twice.

–I continue my own printing in the darkroom.  I am doing well.  Although I may have made some strict goals at the outset, I have relaxed those boundaries.  I seem to be falling within them anyway.  Tomorrow I hope to expose some 4x5s.

–I competed in my second Parian sports event the other day.  It was the Paros Diathalon, held out at Molos Beach and the village of Marmara.  It consisted of a 7km run and then a 12km mountain bike.  My teammate Margaret ran and then I biked.  I had a great time and, once again, felt at home within that diverse community.  I will post some images on my Flickr site.  I am waiting to hear from people who have pictures of me.  Our total time was 63min, 55sec.  I think we placed 5th or 6th in the ‘Teams’ category.

–In a couple of weeks I have a break from work.  I might stick around, I might take off.  I might do both.  Load up the panniers and go…

–JDCM

 

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Mid-March, Paros, 2014…

–Yesterday was the Ides of March.  I made it through unscathed. Et tu…?

–The day before, march 14th, was my mother’s 90th birthday.  She made it as well.  90 years…

–What has she been witness to since 1924! Well, almost everything worth talking about.  Plus, she has raised three children and set them on their respective paths.  One is a professor at a large University.  Another is an artist living on a small island.  The third is…well, that’s me.  Funny.  It feels like we three have all found our own islands we call home. Her love has been unconditional and generous.  She may, at times, worry about our sanities, but she has always been there, no strings attached.  She has never asked for proof of good will.   If I have had any regrets or guilt, they have been my own and are non-transferable.  Kind of like airplane tickets.

–Today I went to a mountain bike race in the hill town of Kostas.  I could have raced it myself, but opted out so I could photograph instead.  I brought my big Canon 5D MKII, my 35mm Voigtlander and my Wista 4×5.  I packed up 16 pieces of Kodak TPX 320 and had some old-time fun with large-format sports photography.  I am eager to see how they come out.  While I waited along the dirt road for the pack to appear, I was suddenly struck by the knowledge that this is how it was always done, for almost a century.  Photographers standing on the side of the road with their tripods and 8x10s/4x5s/etc…waiting for the runner/horse/bicycle/car/locomotive to come barreling down the track and trying to catch the moment.  It’s not easy.  I was thankful for my knowledge of depth-of-field so all I had to do was whip the film packs in-and-out of the back of the camera.  I was loading, exposing, sliding the cover back on, unloading, and tossing the exposed film pack on the grassy ground.  15 exposures later (one dud) I was done.  I finished up a roll of EFKE 100 35mm in the Voigtlander, made a few digital snaps of the closing events, and called it a day.

–I have been lining up some new subjects for continued portraiture.  I figure that if I can practice diligence, I will have a large enough portfolio to begin printing next autumn.  I continue to pray to the gods of photography for deliverance of  a 4×5 enlarger.

–Spring seems to have arrived.  The light has been superb.  What else is there to say?

-JDCM

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Photography and other works…

–I haven’t spoken much about my photography lately, not since my Paros Portrait exhibition in August 2013.  Although I have shot and developed plenty of film, I haven’t been printing.   This has changed in the past couple of weeks.

–I am continuing my 4×5 portrait work and will do so at least for another year.  This as a larger arc beneath which I conceive and work on several other projects.

— I am thinking of a 35mm collection of textural pieces.  By “textural” I mean close up images of worn wood, rusted and tarnished metals, peeling paint.   These images tell of time and of the elements.  My eye falls into the deepest crack in the wood, the darkest keyhole, into the tiniest shadow beneath a curling leaf of old paint.  I want to go there. I want to set up shop.  This new portfolio will be small, only 12 pieces. I will begin during the first week of March and finish on the last week of May.  That is 12 weeks, or close enough.

–The soft focus work of Julia Margaret Cameron has also inspired me, especially after seeing a small exhibit last December in America.  I will work on something along those lines.  Still lives and medium format feels like the right way to go.  I will need to go shopping for the right kinds of vases and props.  This will give me a chance to pick up some new crockery for my own kitchen as well–plates and bowls and such.

–More biking, of course.  The weather just cries “get outside…move your muscles…”  The other day I rode to Marathi, then headed north overland, then northeast, bushwhacking until I was able to make it to a small farm road that led me to a large monastery just outside of Paroikia.  From there I headed back north, across the road.  Somewhere in there I punctured my rear tire, so I stopped and changed the tube.  Then I headed back home.  Clear paths?  Hmmm…That’s subjective.  Click the thumbnails to enlarge…

–JDCM

If there is a path there, I worked for it.  Unrideable, of course.  I pushed the bike.

If there is a path there, I worked for it. Unrideable, of course. I pushed the bike.

10 minutes of quick repairs and I was back on the road.

10 minutes of quick repairs and I was back on the road.

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Session end approaches, etc…

I have a lot on my mind these days and it feels difficult to try to sort it all out.  Thoughts meander…

My most recent post was in the form of notes.  I think I will keep it that way for today as well.

–The session here at the Aegean Center is almost finished.  This week is the final full week of work.  It is also American Thanksgiving and Chanukkah.  Lots to do (food, work, art) and I imagine emotions are running high for those younger students who have never been away from home on these holidays.  We will have a big pot-luck feast on Friday evening, since Thursday is a work day.  We supply the side dishes.  JP supplies the turkeys and gravy.  I am making roasted butternut squash.

–The students who are working in the darkroom are making some interesting work.

–I have been able to noodle about with my own work, but nothing really substantial.  I have tried some portrait work with minor success.  Siga-siga.  If one were to ask how I think I am doing these days, the answer would have to be divided into three parts: personal, artistic and academic.  Personally I am doing alright.  I am building solid social bridges to people in the community who have little to do with the school or the arts.  I am biking a lot and feeling good about that that.  Artistically I am, as I said, noodling around.  I am letting the students have the lion’s share of the darkroom time.  The third aspect is etsy-ketsy.  I do what I can.

–Am I an artist-in-residence or faculty?  I have no idea anymore.  I have worked to define these boundaries within the small community in which I labor.  I can only guess that I receive unknown support and back-up from those I respect.

–I am opening a Flickr site and will post photos there, images that never made it here and other things.  Mostly travel stuff.  I’ll add a tab to the website next time I post.  Until then I have added an autumnal image: olive oil fresh from the press.  Yes, it really is that green.

Happy Thanksgiving!

–JDCM

Fresh olive oil from the olive press at Kamari.

Fresh olive oil from the olive press at Kamari.

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Windy Monday…

The sun was brilliant today and the Meltemi had a decidedly autumnal feel.  It has howled all day, and continues the howl through the tangle of electrical lines crisscrossing the small section of Paroikia I call home.  The cypress trees whip back and forth and Bougainvillea blossoms, free from their thorny moorings, sail their over-saturated colors into my small apartment.

It is Monday, September 9, 2013 and I have taken down my exhibit.  I have enjoyed the three-week long event.  I think of my images differently than when I hung them.  What was once ‘Giorgos and Giorgos‘ I refer to as ‘Don Quixote and Sancho Panza‘; ‘Erin‘ is now ‘The Vermeer Photograph’; ‘Angelika‘ I think of as ‘The Abstract Realist.’   Things change, the Earth tilts and wobbles, the days shorten, the air cools and we slide into bright autumn.  I can almost smell the rain, but I know that is just an illusion.

Now I am filled with melancholia, ennui, a sense of emptiness.  As I write this at Mikro Kafe I realize that in an hour there will be no need for me to open up the Aegean Center, turn on the lights and arrange the easeled sign outside on the marble steps.  All of that is past.  My portraits are safely in their crate, currently a large piece of furniture in my flat.  The sign, too, is there, tucked behind a bookcase.

I have little choice but to get back to work.  That is the best way to shake off these ghosts.

JDCM

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The reward of September…

 

Blue Menu #1

Blue Menu #1

 

August is past and July is a memory.  The streets of Paroikia are no longer mobbed with summer tourists.  The groups of families have departed, returning to their homes.  The weather is lovely,warm and sunny–breezy and cooler at night.  The beaches are quiet, all but deserted.  The wind is from the north, about Force 5, gusting to 6, which is about 33 to 38 km.  This made for a nice headwind as I rode my usual 11.5 km out to a beach on the northern part of the island today.  I was alone for a solid hour until a couple walked onto the sand.  I swam, read my book, and left in no particular hurry.  I had a tailwind all the way back to town.

I am still very pleased with my exhibit.  I take it down in a few days and put it away.  It has been a good run.  I have had excellent conversations with other photographers about the craft as well as people wanting to know more about the Aegean Center.  I feel my work spoke for itself.

So for all of our industry and patience during the summer months, those of us on Paros are presented with the reward of September.

JDCM

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