Tag Archives | historical travel

Photography and Easter in the Eastern Orthodox Church…

I have been logging many hours in the darkroom and digital labs.  What I am learning in the DigiLab has made me aware of the serious shortcomings inherent in the US university system, one of which is laziness and the other is a jealous regard that some teachers have towards their students.  It is true.  There are many teachers who will not teach their students all they know, but rather keep information to themselves lest their students rise above.  I mean, I had never heard of ICC profiles before I came here, and that, as well as other tools, is essential for properly printing photography in the digital format.  Without these tools the computer and printer will never agree on the colors and tones appropriate for each brand and style of paper.  I know, for example, that Bard College never used this system until a student fro The Aegean Center went back there and told them they were doing it wrong.  So next time you go to a “professional printer” and give them some business, ask them what their paper stock is and whether they have an updated profile for that product.  If they give you a result on paper that doesn’t look right, watch out when they blame your camera…Ask to see the ICC profile.

This weekend is Easter and in the Eastern Orthodox Church it is the single largest holiday celebrated, without question.  The island is packed with people coming home for the event and ending their Lenten Fasts.  The primary church here on the island is called Panagia Ekatontapyliani or “Church of Our Lady of 100 Gates (or Doors) and no ordinary structure either.  It was built by the Emperor Constantine’s mother (St. Helen) and pre-dates any other Christian church in the world. Construction began in the 6th Century.  The story goes that St. Helen, the young Emperor’s mama, put in at Paros during a storm.  As is the custom in Greece, she vowed to build a church on the spot where her life was saved.  She died before that could happen, but she was able to inspire others to make it happen.  Pretty cool.  I’ll be there tonight and tomorrow for the festivities, along with about 300 other people.  I’ll try to get some good night shots, in RAW of course…

Tomorrow night at midnight, Lent ends and the whole town will descend on the restaurants and tavernas for the traditional meal of ‘Gut Soup’, which is a soup made from lamb tripe and vegetables–dee-lish.  A whole bunch of us will go out and experience this event as well.  Sunday is not a public day, but rather reserved for family.  We are having a lamb roast, with the whole lamb on a spit over a charcoal grill, turned by hand for several hours.  On Monday the bus and boat schedules change, heralding the real spring season with schedule and fare changes.

More to come…

JDCM

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Here on Paros…

I have been trying to log on my blog for almost 45 minutes.   For some reason I have to actually go to the blog first and then log on through the meta…Whatever.

Paros is amazing.  I am very lucky to be here and have this experience.  I thank my friend Jeanne for introducing me to the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts.  So far the student body is pretty amazing–all talented and many much younger than I, but still we are all in the same boat.  It is an unconventional type of place with a  dynamic teaching philosophy.  I am not going to try to describe it, but suffice to say that it would be grand if the whole of academia taught this way and not only this very special school.

I am taking 4 classes–The darkroom class, the digital class and probably the “camera class” as well as classical Greek Literature.  People tell me that this is manageable.

Jet lag was pretty bad this time and I am still not over it completely.  Maybe it is the weather.  The Sirocco has been blowing in from northern Libya and the warm Saharan air is full of smaller-than-talcum powder dust particles like a red fog.  It is supposed to end soon, but until then there is a strange surreal quality to the surroundings and people’s attitudes.

More to be revealed…

JDCM

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One week and I’m off…

I am beginning to feel the tug and draw of the traveling jones.  I fly from JFK next Tuesday, non-stop to Athens and my next great adventure.  I have been reading a lot of photographic philosophy on the Webb’s photo blog and this is all good food for thought.  Things I need to remember–the sudden flow of geometry, the instance of emotional capture in the viewfinder and a need for patience.  I need to wait and see what happens.  I need to relax.  I am pretty hyper.  There has been a lot on my mind lately that does not feel so good, mostly to do with family and their emotions.  Nothing I can do about that except step back and let things happen.

I would like to have at least three new prints to add to the portfolio I am bringing with me.  I have been taking pictures of the interior of my home–bureaus, mantles, doors, windows, clocks…all very intimate and full of humanity.  If I can glean something from them, I will be happy.  Then I can finish packing on Monday night and go to sleep knowing that all is taken care of and well in hand during my absence.

I purchased another digital camera.  I decided to bring my 50D with me so I needed a smaller digital point-and-shoot for street work.  I chose the Canon G11.  It’s a great compliment to the Voigtlander, I feel.  I like that I can shoot in full manual and adjust my shutter and aperture like the Rebel.  I can also adjust the film speed from 80 to 3200ISO.  It fits in the palm of my hand.  Lovely, and not too dear.

More to come…canon_g11_front1JDCM

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15 days to go…and packing…

I’ll be back in Greece in just over two weeks, providing the river don’t rise and the airports don’t close.  I have begun to pack, if only to feel my way for this trip, which has some additions to my backpack.  I have some bulky stuff I am bringing, mostly art supplies.  I have not traveled as much in colder weather, even though the high temperature in Athens is currently 65*F.  I am bringing a couple of fleeces and some long-sleeved shirts, which all add to the bulk.  I also have a box of 8.5×11 Hahnemuhle printer paper that is in there, as well as my portfolio.  I have packed my small camera bag, stuffed with vine charcoal, pencils, and so forth for the drawing class.  It’s easier to get that stuff here than in Athens apparently. I will buy film there…Ilford is pretty easy to find.  My camera bag is all set as well.  It has all the electronic stuff I’ll bring and I will be carrying that on the plane.  My only regret is that the bag looks too new…maybe I can wash it so it fades some…that would be good.

JDCM

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Photography update…

"Farm #5, Window #2"

"Farm #5, Window #2"

In a little over two months I head back to Greece, this time for school and not just travel.  I am pretty nervous but I have certain confidence that reminds me that if I keep on doing what I have been doing for the past few years everything will work out better than I could hope for.

A close friend in Millerton has also contributed to my darkroom gear.  Stephanie Stanton is a wonderful photographer who is highly skilled and currently making her living as a photographer.  She offered a trade for the gear she gave me: that I be her wedding photographer next September.  Of course I said yes, and will work on the inexpensive side since A) She and her partner do not have a lot of dough and, B) she is also offering me a chance to work as her assistant throughout the summer at weddings.  This will give me a large amount of experience and possibly open some doors for my own career.

My small portfolio for the Greek school is expanding.  I have been trying to print at least 5-6 pieces each week, if not more.  I have about 24 images so far and want to bring 48.  I am choosing different subjects and examining qualities of light, shadow and and textures.  For the next week or so I am working exclusively on my series “Farm” .  It is self-explanatory.  The point, however, is to remove agricultural elements from their traditional spaces to show qualities of time and aging of organic compounds that have been artificially constructed, i.e. old barns, rusting metal, etc…In b/w the tones can be rich and deep.  There are also some landscapes as a way of depicting the space around us and the distances (time as well) ahead and behind.  I have added a new image that I developed last night.  It is called “Farm #5–Window #2” .  I used Kodak Tri-X 400 on a cloudy day.  For the darkroom I had some glossy Ilford Multi-grade IV fiber paper developed in Dektol.  I like it.  Nice textures.

JDCM

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Some recent work…

wateringcanscanHere are some scans of some of the dark room activity I have been involved with.  Both images were taken with a Canon QL17 GIII with FomaPan ISO 200 b/w film.  One is from the Dalmatian city of Trogir while the other is from the island of Paros.  Both are on Fotokemika Grade 3 paper and were developed using Ilford PQ Universal for the paper work.  I think I used D-76 for the film development, but it was last summer and I don’t remember.

trogirguitaristscan

I like the deep contrast and the odd quality of the camera itself.  The edges are soft, slightly vignetted, which gives the image an older look.

I hope to spend the next week in the darkroom.  I really want to start going through older negatives as well as more recent work and printing some stuff.  I have enough paper and chemistry and I have the time.

JDCM

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Some news on the front…

…and a photograph or two.

I have been accepted to the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts for the spring 2010 semester.  This is quite an honor and it will be an exhilarating and difficult three months, effectively finishing my BA in style.  To celebrate this occasion, I have purchased a new film rangefinder, a Voigtlander R4M with a 35mm lens.  This is a significant upgrade from the little Canon QL17 I have been using for a while.  I leave for Greece at the beginning of March and will return at the beginning of June.

I have also set up a full darkroom in the house.  I have a large extra room with an adjoining bathroom that I have blacked out with curtains–very dark indeed.  I have great new, used Metro-shelf worktables.  My good friend Bruce has sold me his Beseler 23C Series II enlarger with two lenses (50mm and 80mm) plus some other gear for about $100.  A real deal, IMHO.  I have been developing some film, but this weekend I will have all the supplies and stuff I need to start working with paper again.  Now I do not have to drive to use the darkroom, nor sit in a cold barn, or have my good friend Carol pay for heat when she doesn’t need to.  It’s a good thing all around.

Last week there was truck fire in the nearby town of Millerton, NY.  Serendipity was on my side and I was able to capture some dramatic shots.  Here is one them.  I will post another tomorrow.  I offered them to the local papers but they declined, using there own images instead.  Oh well.  Their loss.  The editor asked for me to stay in touch with anything I might have.  Right.  Not a chance.  This is not the first time they have given me the Bum’s Rush.

I went to Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb’s opening in NYC last week.  It was a lovely show and left me wanting more.  The Ricco Maresca Gallery highlighted their new, collaborative, book (a first for them) on Cuba called “Violet Isle.”  I was able to spend the day walking the streets of Manhattan, visiting museums, and practicing the craft.  A wonderful day.

JDCM

PS…Yes, I saw the Frank  and  Meyerowitz shows…Boffo!

Truck fire, Millerton, NY.  November 2009

Truck fire, Millerton, NY. November 2009

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Searching for Robert Frank…

I have just returned from a visit with my sister and her husband just outside Boston.  While I was there we were all able to meet up with my father at a bookstore in Cambridge where he and his wife gave a reading of some of their new work.  I took a couple of pictures, but felt very uncomfortable doing so.  After refection I discovered it wasn’t the act, but rather the subject.  There was nothing spontaneous and the observing seemed to draw the attention of my father, something I didn’t want.  In fact, he pointed it out to the small audience at one point–very off-putting. Our relationship is difficult.  His own narcissism has progressed as he has aged and he either contradicts what I say or disregards it.  If I think of him as an old man with difficulties and not my father I have a better relationship.

The Robert Frank show is up at the Metropolitan in NYC.  I have plans to go in later this month…I think on the 21st.  I hope to spend the day looking through the viewfinder and trying not to try too hard.  I’m lucky that I am an avid walker…The soles of my shoes are well worn.  I’ll stay out of the park: too much wide open space.

JDCM

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Home…and back to work…

Roma boy from an encampment in Belgrade, Serbia 2009

Roma boy from an encampment in Belgrade, Serbia 2009

I have been home for over a week.  My trip back to the Balkans seemed quick.  I was there for a month-and-a-half but it felt like two weeks.  I was able to improve some great friendships and build some new ones, especially in Austria, where I connected with some musicians and graphic artists.

I used up 14 rolls of b/w film and am now in the developing process in a darkroom across the river.  I am there this morning and most of the day.  We shall see.  I have been slowly looking through the digital stuff.  Although I have combed through the Roma images, I still have the Breast Cancer shoot to address as well as my “tourist” images, mostly train stations, bus stations and transport of different varieties.

I am also writing my thesis on possible unification in the Balkan Peninsula.  Laugh if you will, but I think there could be a solution.  I also hope to be able to do a shoot next week with a professional model for some figure studies before I head to Woodstock for the weekend workshop on the same subject.  I have the images in my head that I want, I just need to make them happen.  I think I am using a male model, so I am going for a sense of heroism, almost like propaganda images from the Cold War, but I will also look for the vulnerability of the human spirit as well.

Here ‘s a small b/w image of a Roma boy from Belgrade.

John D.C. Masters

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Interview, Part 3

A Face in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina June 2008

A Face in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina June 2008

“In 1998 I read “Balkan Ghosts” by Robert Kaplan and it turned a switch on inside of me.  It suddenly seemed as if I was always going to places everyone else had gone, so I chose a less traveled path. After reading that book, I went to Bulgaria for a month. I have not returned to Bulgaria since, but I hope to this spring.  I have, however, been a frequent traveler to the Former Yugoslavia, i.e Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Serbia.   I have included Greece in my Balkan excursions.  I see this area as the historical and emotional crossroads of the world, full of hope, promise, pain, and blood.  I have fallen in love with the Balkans.  There is no other place like it.”

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