Tag Archives | darkroom work

Finishing tasks…

The fall is rapidly approaching here in upstate New York.  I looked out at the trees this morning and saw touches of bright paint through the steam of my coffee.  I was up early, the cat having decided to wake me, so from 4AM on I was able to write a fair amount of a paper on 20th century Yugoslavian unification. I am almost finished.  I am also finished with many of the images from those travels, especially the Roma pieces–they are relegated to the past…but did I already blog that news?

I have purchased a used Contax G2.  It is an automatic rangefinder form the mid-1990s and has been given good marks.  For me it is almost too complicated without being a digital.  The focusing is awkward, I think, but we shall see…The plus side is that it comes with a Carl Zeiss 28mm lens.  Very nice.  It’s all about the glass.  I’ll shoot on automatic exposure for a while and try it out.

Once this paper is finished, I can really get down and finish the darkroom work.  I have to go through negatives and contact sheets and find 24 images that support a consistent vision and then print them all on paper.  Damn…the phone just rang and now I have lost my train of thought after a short conversation…Oh, yes…FA-1027.

I ordered some new chemistry from Fine Arts Supply in Montana.  It is a concentrate called FA-1027 and supposedly takes care of all the problems associated with Ilford film and Ilford liquid developers, i.e. foggy negatives and so forth.  When will it arrive?  I don’t know but it has been 2 weeks since I ordered it and it is still not here…

More will be revealed.

JDCM

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The last photography workshop…

I returned from Woodstock last night with a head full of new ideas and a renewed sense of direction.  It will take me a week to process what I have learned this weekend, but that’s alright.  The photographers who ran the workshop were Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb.  I was very impressed–by both their work and their attitudes.  There was none of the “famous photographer” feeling about them and I understood immediately that they work very hard at their craft and love it.  It reminded me of the Lao-Tse quote about finding a job you love and never having to work a day in your life.  I felt it through these two.  Their work speaks for itself.

Through these workshops I am letting go of much I have done in the past few years.  The images of the Roma that I have been carting about for a year-and-a-half are being shelved indefinitely.  My work with them as “documentary” pieces is finished.  What a relief.  I have to find a new space in which to see the world, and by that I mean finding a new perspective.  Alex’s eye has inspired me to see with a more searching heart and Rebecca’s from a fresher sense of the poetic nature that all visual circumstances embody.  They really opened themselves up an revealed themselves as human beings in search of an explanation, a charecteristic of artists in every genre.

So I have learned to see the human body as a portrait through Tanya Marcuse; to use the photographic image as a “literary” thread from Mary Ellen Mark; and the build on this “literary” photographic story-telling by challenging my eye to see from a more immediate, layered and emotional point-of-view.  That last one is from the Webbs, who, I feel, come to their art through compassion and a need for comprehension of their own place within the experience.

It’s all about people and intimacy for me.  The document is two-dimensional, although necessary for my own exercise.  Now I will search for something about the interior, without which the external image is merely a shell.

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Ambitious darkroom work…

Tomorrow I head back to Catskill and into the darkroom once again.  There is a feeling there of a lack of time, all that matters is the slowly spinning hand of the exposure clock as the image transfers through the lens, across the negative and onto the paper.  I am still using RC stock, but my real paper has finally arrived and, to my surprise, some of it is from Croatia.  I have both Grade 2 and 3.  I also have a pack of Grade 2 Ilford to compare.

I wish to make at least 4 exposures tomorrow (or five) so I can include them in the portfolio I am presenting to the Webbs this weekend in Woodstock.  These will be part of the “Wright Morris” project, a series of b/w and color pieces that have been inspired by Morris’ work during his travels through America.  They areBlue Wall an expression of sadness and light, whimsy and decay…In some cases the crumbling towers of old feed silos echo the mountain fortresses I have seen in my European travels, like ancient Byzantine strongholds plundered by warring tribes.  In others, like the image above, it is a memory of a previous rural life fast disappearing in the small New York county I live in.  In both cases the past is a reminder of the lack of permanence.  Time stands still for no one, even in the sensory deprivation tank of a darkroom.

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Finding another voice and darkroom work…

I have taken two workshops this summer so far.  The first, with Tanya Marcuse was great.  It was about working with the human body, as in nude studies and served me well.  I have not worked with formal models much and the experience taught me a great deal about the interaction of photographer and subject. There were four models each day, both men and women, of different ages.  Illuminating.  I have. posted a couple of images on my photo site, in the “humans” portfolio.

The second was a workshop with the photographer Mary Ellen Mark.  She is a legend in the community and her work speaks for itself.  The only drawback was that although she is a professional with years of experience, she is not the best teacher.  She treated everyone fairly, but I found that she fawned on one workshop attendee more than others.  Granted, this person’s work was lovely and moving. They both had a great deal in common and perhaps that was another reason, but I found the undue attention to be distracting.  Also unfortunately, due to a personal situation at home, I was not able to attend the shoot the next day at the Ulster County Fair.  Mary Ellen was gracious enough to let me still contribute four contact sheets for a post-class critique.  Those I have mailed off.  They are a continuance of work I have begun as homage to Wright Morris.  My photography instructor has told me she wants me to put together a book of images and writings on the subject, much like Morris did, by the way.  I think I will.  It may take some time, but good things always do.  I am eager to hear Mary Ellen’s thoughts.

I have officially become an addict of the developing process and the darkroom.  I am spending more time over in Catskill at the darkroom and more time in my kitchen developing film.  It is a real high to produce the result from start to finish.

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