Tag Archives | large format 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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Updates from the road…

I am in New York.  It is hot, humid and lush.  It is hard to describe the quantity of water on the land and in the air.  Back on my Parian home the heat is the same but the arid conditions make for a more pleasant experience.  Outside my window the trees and foliage are dense green, impenetrable without the use of a machete or  chainsaw.  I can hear it grow, sucking up moisture from the rich earth.

 

A view from my mother's front porch, Ancramdale, NY

A view from my mother’s front porch, Ancramdale, NY.

 

I am back in America to visit my family, and only for a month.  If all goes well I will be back on Paros on August 1st ready for the final push towards my solo exhibit of large format portraiture.  It has been almost two years since the project began and I am looking forward to the event.  I am nervous, yes, but in anticipation, not dread.  I know my work can stand on its own as a complete body.  I also know that whoever views it will bring something unique to the experience.  I am also currently designing a new website specifically for the portraits.  I will launch this site after the show opens on August 18th.

For the time being, I will visit with my elderly parents and my dear sisters.  I hope to drop in on a fellow student and alumna of the Aegean Center, but time and schedules will determine that visit.  I am able to catch up with good friends and compare notes on how our lives are faring.

I am experiencing a good amount of culture shock here.  The cars all all huge and the food seems heavy to my palate.  As I sit here at my computer I sweat.  Just sweat.  I am not even exerting myself.  There are no sounds of ferries docking, motor scooters riding down the narrow streets of my neighborhood.  No smell of the sea.  I cannot walk to my favorite cafe.   It is supposed to rain tonight and perhaps that will ease the heat, but it also promises high, hot and humid conditions for tomorrow.  I am not whinging, just noticing some differences.

Todays post has a new header image.  It is a section of wall behind my mother’s house.  The stones are slate and granite, green with growth.  So different from the Kykladic structures of which I have grown so fond.   Different, yet the same.  It serves the same purpose:  it is a retaining wall preventing the downhill slide of earth after the rains.

The skies have suddenly clouded over.  There is a low rumble of thunder in the air.

JDCM

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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

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