Tag Archives | 4×5 photography

Showtime…

We hung the student show today at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, here on Paros.  It is a very pretty show with a wide assortment of photography, painting, printmaking and drawing.  The vocal ensemble had their first concert last night in Naoussa and will have two more this weekend.  Overall I have a had an excellent time here this arm and am looking forward to being back here in about three months.  My photography has improved and I have also gained a little more patience with the younger students.  While I am no smarter than they are, I have experienced more of the world so I am perhaps a little wiser. Perhaps.

In the past few days I have thought a lot about what I will be doing next year while I am here.  Yes, my own photography certainly, but also the work with the director and painting in the spring.  On top of that I feel that it is time to begin work on my own book, probably in the format pioneered by Wright Morris and Andre Kertesz, the photo-text.  In this format the images on the page do not have to directly correspond to the text but by the end of the reading they have made sense as an accompaniment to the reading.  I have many other ideas but I will not share them lest I talk myself dry of the concept.

I have begun packing my stuff and will begin putting it in storage tomorrow.  I have to conduct the inventory of the darkroom supplies and print some last few pieces.  After that I head to Athens on Monday and back to New York Thursday.   Christmas, New Years, my birthday and then back here.  Time flies indeed.

JDCM

0

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.

JDCM

1

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!

JDCM

0

Pistoia, The Aegean Center, photography e studenti…

I am finally here at the Villa Rospigliosi in Pistoia, Italy for the fall term of the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts.  I have waited almost two years for this session, already having spent two spring sessions on Paros, the home of the Center.

Italy is lovely.  What can I say?  The villa is a 16th century affair with lovely wooden ceilings, old fountains (some in disuse) and stone staircases.  Lectures and classes are held in the rear garden, a deconsecrated chapel and in and around Tuscany in general.  We travel to Pisa, Venice, Rome and of course Florence.  The students are an energetic bunch with many questions and like I was at the beginning, not sure about where to go, what to do and who to speak to.  There are quite a few painters and writers and, in a few minutes we will see how many wish to practice the craft of photography.

Art History after this meeting, then dinner and then Dante…

More to come…

0

In the Aegean Center digital lab…

This is an update from Greece, from the digital lab at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts.  I feel like a ship at sea calling ship-to-shore on the shortwave.  An update from Greece, indeed.  It has been a tumultuous three months.  I have created some amazing work and I am grateful to have been here.  Personally and emotionally, however,  I have been put through the ringer.  I have been called a friend by some, ignored by many, ostracized by a few and even, I think, been thought of as a suspicious character by at least one or two people.  Throughout all of this I have made a couple of friends with some of the younger students and lost one as well, someone who I treated decently and cared for deeply.  Such is life.  I will never get used to that gut-sick feeling of grief and loss.   I am not ashamed or upset about how I have behaved:  I was honorable  and righteous in thought and deed.  But I digress…

We are all wrapping up the term: painters are painting their final strokes; digital printers are slipping out the final pieces of Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Matte, Pearl or Baryta.  In the darkroom my commitment to the four portfolios is finished but I still have to print some copies for the models I have worked with.  The Ensemble begins it’s short series of 4 performances this week.  Next week most of the students begin to leave, some directly back to the USA although some are loitering in Europe for a week or so, myself included.  I’ll stay on Paros until the 17th and then head to Athens for about  4 or 5 days in the relative comfort of a hotel in the Plaka area of town.  I’ll see some friends, watch some movies and catch some museum exhibits that I have seen before.  I will be coming back for a third semester in a few months:  more emotional stress, artistic expression and personal angst.  What am I thinking?

More to come…

JDCM

0

Halfway through and coming down to the crunch…

This weekend is the Easter celebration. both for the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches.  This means that Paros is jammed with holiday travelers as well as those returning to the island for a traditional family get-together.  I could do without all the traffic, throngs of tourists and everything that comes along with it, but let’s face it–religion is Big Business and Bug Business needs money.  I have always been uncomfortable with any group or ideology that tells me what to do.  Big Religion is just as bad as Big Government.  More shady deals based on power, money and the acquisition of More.  But I digress…The events will be colorful and ancient, full of meaning for many.

My photography is progressing.  I have several lovely images from the figure sessions (both film and digital) and will be cranking out more in the next two weeks.  In the past few weeks the digital lab has increased its output and a couple of people who had been spinning their wheels seem to have had a fire lighted under them.  This is good.  To be honest I was growing disillusioned with the student body (my problem, not theirs), but hey, they are young and full of beans.  Everyone is working at their own pace and they will all receive a wonderful gift of having been here.   I can focus on my own work from here on and finish my portfolios.  The group show is on June 3rd or 4th, which isn’t a lot of time…

More to come…JDCM

0

Packing it up, shutting it down…

The day I fly to Greece approaches.  In less than a month I’ll be back in Athens and in a world I am much more comfortable with.  For some reason Europe always makes me feel more at home and relaxed than here in the US.

I have begun packing.  I am mailing two boxes ahead of my arrival on Paros.  One contains sheet film for my 4×5 and b/w paper.  It is still cheaper to by European paper here in the US and mail it to Europe.  It’s because of the VAT.  The other box, which is much bigger, will have my 4×5 and medium format cameras coddled in bubble-wrap as well as some bulkier clothing and books.  March and early April can be wet and cool in the Kyklades.  This should lighten my carry-on and checked baggage loads a lot.

I have two shows this month:  the first I hang on Sunday and it is at the Rhinecliff Hotel and open with an artist’s reception on February 11th.  I am sharing the space with three other visual artists and I think the show will be up for a while after I leave.  The second show is the CCCA show I have already blogged about.  That reception is February 19th from 5-7PM and should be quite the time.  The third group show is at a nearby assisted living venue called Noble Horizons.  It will be a 14th Colony event and consist of small works.  I’ll have a nice b/w silver print for that one ready to go and in the hands of a close friend.

After tomorrow night I’ll be shutting down the dark room until I return in June.  I may still develop a roll or two of film, but the printing activity will cease.  I’ll discard any chemistry that won’t last and cover the enlarger.  Paper will go into the fridge.  My sisters will come and go through out the month and I have already delegated tasks to the caregivers for my mother’s well-being.  All is as it should be.

JDCM

1

Getting down to brass tacks….

47 days until I leave for Greece.  I was lying in bed last night and realized, again, that my goals for the next 5 years are not as formed as the previous set.  I’ll ask around and see what people think.  I feel like the path I am on is correct, but where does it lead?  I suppose I have little choice but enjoy the journey.

I have to begin some test packing today.  I am able to bring one camera bag on the plane with me and it will be pretty well loaded.  I’ll have a 4×5 press camera and the film holders, a medium format TLR, my Canon 5D Mk II with the two lenses, my Voigtlander R4m and one lens, and my Canon G11 and my iPod and its speakers . Add into that two boxes of 4×5 sheet film, batteries, cables, cleaning gear, some roll film (120 and 35), a book or two, charging dock (iPod) and assorted paperwork for the trip and it’s full.  I’ll pack my tripod in the checked baggage.  Since I am traveling Business Class there are no weight restrictions so I am OK with packing as much stuff in the backpack as I can but I need to test pack the camera bag and see how I can best use the space.

OK.  Time to shovel snow off of my roof.

JDCM

0

A new year begins…

Happy New Year to all!  Please let this new year be a bit kinder and warmer than the last, with all of its fears and worries over what people felt to be really important.  Money.  What we need to do is act a little kinder towards one another and stay away from Belarus!  No a place to go these days for a vacation.

Longnook

I leave for Athens in 59 days.  I am going back to the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts for another term.  I have been courted by both the digital printing guru and the darkroom sorceress and have chosen the ways of the darkroom for my work-study program.  I will be working with my 4×5 and medium format primarily.  I’ll bring my new digital–oh yes, I have upgraded to a Canon 5D MkII.  It is lovely and full-frame which finally allows me to use the L-Series lenses to their full effect.

I have submitted 5 pieces for a juried show in Hudson, NY to be exhibited in the old Opera House in February.  I hope that at least one is chosen and they give it a good space to see it.  The pieces are all 11″x14″.  As you can see by the image, it is following the abstract path I have been on for the past year.  Whether I stay there, I don’t know.  The Aegean Center will see to that.  If this spring is half the catharsis that last spring was, then I should be in good shape for whatever the arts world throws at me.

I recently had the chance to visit a friend’s home and look at his art collection.  I was unimpressed.  Yes, it was all “very important” art and the artists were all “very important” but the work itself left me cold and uninspired: Modern art devoid of warmth, life and verve.  It left me grateful that I love the work that I love and this work varies throughput the ages.  Trust me, there is some very modern work that blows my mind as well as some older pieces that find dull and insipid.  I think that actually it was the collector that I found dull, with his repetitive phrases of “important” and which museum wanted which pieces when he died. Very tacky.

The light is very flat today, but I hope to get out and shoot a roll or two.  Tomorrow is supposed to be sunnier and I will take the 4×5 out and make some exposures.  I am working on farm images these days.  I have to call a nearby farmer and get permission to shoot on his property.  That’s all I’m saying about it.

JDCM

1

4×5 Crown….

Graphlex Crown, 4x5 camera

I am back in the darkroom these days, developing film and beginning to formulate a working model for a new project, one that I might engage in for many years to come, weaving it through my waking days and dreaming nights.  Beekeeping, I have found, is a fascinating subject.  The interaction between the Keeper and the hives, the product resulting, the need to allow the bees to keep the honey in order to survive and the recent onslaught of Colony Collapse Disorder are all intertwined for me.  Documenting this would be a fascinating adventure, one that I could pursue throughout the world.  I can use digital and film, anything, really.  I am hooked.  And its all because of Brueghel and his “The Beekeepers” lithograph.  With this inspiration comes the possibilities for a photo shoot this Wednesday in Harlemville with a Beekeeper and some of his handmade, sacredly-geometric hives.  I am ready to go.  The weather is supposed to be nice, with lots of sun which means dynamic light.

I have purchased a Crown Grafix 4×5, my first foray into large format work.  The film is not a problem to find and the development is easy.  I find that it is wonderful to develop the film in complete darkness although I have a small tank that can immerse 6 sheets at once.  I’ll be doing that this afternoon.  As of now I can only make contact prints, but I hope to be able to scan the negatives sometime and also find a 4×5 enlarger to do some printing.  This, by the way, is similar to the camera used by an inspiration of mine, the photographer and writer Wright Morris. I think he used a different model of Graphlex, but I feel like I am on a well-worn and honorable path.

OK.  It’s a sunny day and I have errands to run; the PO, the bank, the gym and then home until I skee-daddle out to meet friends for coffee.

More to come…

JDCM

0