Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Week of 10 28 2013: Urban Idyll

Exciting News!!

It’s official! An image from the project has made its way into the national and international print world!
The photo is in the November issue of The Sun Magazine, p.8.  It looks like it hasn't hit the newsstands quite yet. 

Location: Lookout above Waterworks, Fairmount Park
Image size: 11.5 x 17.3 approx
Camera: Superheadz Blue Ribbon
Lens: Super Fat 22mm
Film: Kodak Gold 400
Develop: PhotoLounge, 19th and Chestnut, Phila. 
Scan: Epson V500
Print: Epson Artisan 1430/ Cone Color Inks/ Moab Lasal

A super-wide angle lens creates a world all its own; or, one could say, one that simply does not look like the one we perceive due to the optics of the human eye.  I carry a $20 plastic appurtenance along with my regular camera and I’m starting to get a feel for how it renders the physical world. I went back to the location where this was shot and was surprised to see how shallow the space actually is.

I can very easily see why people become toy camera junkies but I’m in no hurry to invest in more gear or give up my more complex, slower cameras. I still love the discipline of a very a carefully composed and technically executed shot, and the results when it flies. I’m suspecting too that working with different camera methodologies on a regular basis causes each to play off and strengthen each other.  

Right: Photo that will be appearing in Nov.'s 
The Sun Magazine. Taken at 22nd and South (L2 Restaurant). Camera was a 1936 Welta Weltur. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Week of 10 21 13

Location: 11th near Race
Camera: Panasonic Lumix G2
Lens: 14-42 ED
Print Size: 11.5 x 15" approx @240 dpi
Output: Epson Artisan 1430/ Cone Color Inks/ Moab Lasal

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week of 10/14/2013: The One Year Mark!

Location: Broad and Noble Streets

Image Size: 29” x 29” @240 dpi

Printed: 11.5” x 11.5”

Camera: Rolleiflex K4

Lens: Schneider Xenar

Exposure: f19.5 @ 1/10   (Guessed, no light meter.)

Film: Kodak Portra 400 (120 roll film)

Develop: PhotoLounge

Scan: Epson V500

Print: Epson Artisan 1430/ Cone Color Inks/ Moab Lasal

First things first-- with this week’s edition, The Concrete Muse is one year old!  The support and encouragement the project has received has been primary to its success. My thanks go out to you all, especially those who email me back with perceptions and ideas.
The plan is to continue into year two and to improve and refine both the vision and the technical along with project expansion: photographing further afield from Center City, finding new sources of funding, mounting new and innovative exhibitions.

Now back to the image…

Noble Street is almost not a street at all. It’s a pass through between Broad and Thirteenth, right next to the Inquirer plant, a shortcut that also leads to where the Reading Viaduct comes down to street level. With the planned development of this area into a park, I can surmise, almost with certainty, it will not continue to look this way. I had previously taken a shot at this locale on 35mm, but it seemed to be calling out for an image that would encompass the feel of things in depth and detail.

The 60 year-old Rollei, though very intelligently designed and a pleasure to use is much slower than a 35mm slr; it doesn't have a zoom lens, a viewfinder that is a mirror image so when you move left the image moves right, and the format is a perfect square. Strangely, I've had the camera for years, but I still feel like it is going to be many more rolls of film before it will feel like a natural extension of my vision. As you can see by the two shots, it causes a definite change in the way things are seen and captured.

The day I shot this (last Tuesday) I used a light tripod on the street, something I had never done before.  It was great to be able to shoot at super-small apertures, slow shutter speeds and get amazing depth of focus, but I could see what a nightmare this could be trying to get the camera on and off the tripod and getting things adjusted if this were the dead of winter. Working this way, it would not be much of all that big a jump to going to a view camera where you are carefully looking at every corner of the composition rather than working more from the hip, but it’s probably not advisable to bury oneself under a dark cloth in this kind of environment.  I was surprised at how much car and even pedestrian traffic there was.  

Right: The original 35mm shot, Nikon FM2n on super-cheap Kodak Gold film. Jpeg straight from the processor's preview CD.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

10 07 13: Shores of the Schuylkill

Place: Schuylkill Banks, across from The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Image Size: 11.5 x 17 @300 dpi (full frame)
Camera: Nikon FM2n
Lens: 28-105 Nikkor Zoom
Film: Kodak Portra 400, 35mm
Develop: Photo Lounge
Scan: Epson V500
Proof: Epson Artisan 1430/Cone Color Inks/ Moab Lasal

I’m forever hungering for more texture and detail in my prints, although I am finding lately that smoothing an area and making less of a focus may be necessary to the overall structure of an image. I’d much rather do that in the printmaking than have regrets that I didn’t capture enough on the light-sensitive stock.

In keeping with my desire to get as much from the negative as possible, I made the print and then re-made it. I could have rested satisfied with the first version, but my curiosity got the better of me. On the second go-round, instead of a single scan, I did two: one for the foreground and one for the background, which I then masked and combined in Photoshop.  I was rewarded by a much livelier rendition in the second attempt, especially in the foreground flowers. I went to nineteen iterations, playing with balancing the sky off against the foreground. I wanted the dark clouds to move forward and have some variation in tone and not be a dead “curtain” but not so strong that they became the primary focus.