Tag Archives | travel photography

Greek update…

It is February, the month of my birth, as well as my father.  His birthday is today and he is 82.  I am heading into NYC tomorrow for lunch with him and two of my half-cousins from my grandfather’s first marriage.  They are very nice and we all get along just fine.  I am taking MetroNorth from Wassaic which puts me in to Grand Central.  Then I’ll walk uptown to the restaurant on Broadway and 105th.  Quite a hike, but I can take pictures along the way.  Maybe I’ll get two rolls done but three would be very cool indeed.  I could use some more urban images fro the portfolio.

In regards to that, and Greece, if the river don’t rise I’ll be flying off to Athens in 29 days.  I am very excited and have begun to do some test-packing.  I packed my camera bag once and will do so again until I get the optimal set-up.  I am taking my Canon 50D and the two L-series lenses I have for it.  I am also taking my Voigtlander with the 35mm lens I bought with it and a new 21mm lens that is arriving today.  A light meter, some lead film bags, batteries, etc…all round out the gear.  There is plenty of room for my notebook, documents, a book, pens and pencils, and some other odds-and-ends.  I’ll re-pack the night before I leave, I am sure.

I am going to buy a small refrigerator for my darkroom. This way I can put all my chemistry, paper and film away safely before I leave.  I have looked on-line and I can get a good one for less than $300 new from Lowes.  I can also get one locally from Campbell and Keeler in Millerton for a little more and support a local business.  I think I will do that.  Maybe even today!

Below is a new image.  I used Efke (ADOX) CHS 100 with my Voigtlander R4M.  For printing I used Edwal Platinum II for the soup on Fotokemika paper at f/16 for about 3 1/2 minutes.



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.



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.


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.



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.


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

Truck fire, Millerton, NY.  November 2009

Truck fire, Millerton, NY. November 2009


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.



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.


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.


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


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.”