Monday, October 5, 2009
Back from The Island. 10/05/09
Images here! Just click me!
I'm still waiting for the negatives to completely dry from the Jazz-Age Lawn Party on Governors Island yesterday. It was like a late summer day yesterday: sunny, not too hot, a very light breeze. In a word, perfect. What a contrast to last weekend.
This is just the first batch. There are additional images waiting for my attention, but it is 2pm and I've been klagging along since 7am.
I did the whole round trip via the Chinatown bus and then walked to and from the ferry that goes out o the island. The heavy (guessing around 75+ lbs) equipment package set up and broke down just fine and traveled over the bumpy city streets with ease. The K-mart folding "Magna Cart" is getting a little wonky, so probably a good idea to upgrade soon to something made for the abuse professional shooters dish out.
Getting on and off the bus was the biggest effort and I had to forgo the first one back to Philly since it was so full. I was even able to take back all the wet negatives by taping two on a sheet of heavy paper and "tubing" them. This is definitely getting down to a, if not a science, a methodology. And while w'ere at it, I think I've discovered the near-perfect vegan lunch for the road: coconut curry made with potatoes, yam, carrot and spinach. It keeps beautifully, is delicious, pleasantly fills you up for hours, and is extremely nutritious without making you feel heavy. It also digests really easy. A small container of nuts, a bottle of water, a Larabar or two, and I'm set.
The only bugbear was the light that seemed to change from minute to minute, making it hard to get a fix on what the exposure should be. Instant film is pretty unforgiving. It's either spot on or it looks off. The negatives, on the other hand are often great even when the positives look bad. I'm seriously considering investing in a spot-meter to take readings off of peoples' faces. One of my first two sitters needed four shots to get anything even close to correct. They were good sports and I didn't charge them. I suspect the auto stop-down on the Graflex wasn't working quite right at first and was sticking. You have to really push the plunger down to make sure it engages. I'm learning.
Lea assisted and was fantastic working with the sitters to get a great shot. She has a natural ability to get people to experiment in front of the lens, which is the essence of what the whole Tsirkus project is about.
"Business" was a little slow since all agreed, including Eileen who is one of the event organizers, that I was a bit far away from the action, that being the bandstand. Next year the plan is to be in the thick of things. People really DO need to see you and they often won't walk fifty feet to check something out. What's the old shtick? "Location, location, location..." I'm also going to look into a canopy to help moderate the sun, similar to what we did at Flag Fest. It's also good rain insurance.
I also met some cool photographers, Don Spiro, an ex-Philadelphia, and John Margolis, who is a documentary shooter working around NY. I had previously talked to him a few months ago concerning large-format work. There was even a Bush Pressman and a Speed Graphic (both old school 4x5 cameras) looming about taking photos of the hurly-burly. I hope those people post their shots. John was shooting with an old Rollei, one of my favorite cameras.
Let me just comment at this juncture that I believe it's important not to worry about anyone stepping on your territory. First of all, there is no "territory." My feeling is I actually hope someone is crazy enough to devote their time and energy to doing something similar to this project! I tell people whatever they want to know. I don't believe in trade secrets. Also, trying to control what other people do is a big waste of time. I'd rather be shooting and shmoozing.
RA Friedman, Principal Photographer
Posted by RA Friedman at 4:22 AM