Thursday, March 28, 2013

Week of 3/25/2013: Medium Format Friday

Location: Near 9th and Green Sts.
Camera: Rolleiflex Automat K4
Exposure: f13.5 @250
Lens: Schneider Xenar 75mm f3.5
Film: Tri-X 120, rated at ISO 200
Develop: HC110B 1:49, 6.5 min at 68F
Scan from film: Epson V500
Printable size: 12” x 15”
Proof Epson 3880: Quadtone Rip/ Piezo K7 inks/ Canon Pixma Glossy

Winter makes me want to shoot with gear that is light and agile. As things warm up, somehow toting around the more ponderous medium format gear doesn’t feel like such a problem. The less I have to fight the weather, the more suited I feel towards spending more time outside and working even more slowly. 

Two weeks ago, there was a rather balmy Friday. Using 35mm these last few months, it was a real eye-opener to suddenly see the world unfold, looking down into the large, bright, ground glass of a twin-lens reflex camera. It seemed to take in so much! I knew from experience the larger format shots would run rings around the 35mm in terms of detail, sharpness, and tonality. Since there is no zoom, only a normal focal-length lens, I had to really rethink my strategy.

The trade off between achieving superb image qualities and the ability to catch life as it goes whizzing by, becomes very apparent using manual film instruments. Even the most modern and sophisticated digital cameras, though they do much to stack the deck in favor of combing both, still have not set the problem to rest. Perseverance, intuition, and a bit of luck seem to be what this dance begs.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

03/18/2013: Old Paint

Location: 10th Near Noble St., Philadelphia
File size: 10” x 14.5” @240 dpi
Camera: Nikon F
Lens: AF Nikkor 35-70mm
Exposure: By Guesstimate (Underexposed)
Film: Tri-X rated at ISO 200
Develop –1 Stop, HCll0 1:49, 6.5 min @ 68F
Scan: Epson V500
Proof: Canon Pixma II Glossy

The old school street photographers are known for playing it straight photographically. Anything additional was cheating, fakery, and inauthentic. If you tinkered, the boys would put a bad mojo on your Leica and lace your espresso with old fixer. Of course, with advent of digital photography, computerized post-processing as well as an epistemic shift in how the public perceives photographic “truth,” the continuance of such an attitude is antiquated, pointless, and tragically bitter, akin to seeing the first automobiles tearing down the streets and shouting “Get a horse!”

Still, when I shoot the urban landscape I make only straight images and my preference is to use a mechanical film camera. When I print, the only things I modify are tonalities and contrast to bring out the structure of the image. Because I’ve done so much Photoshop manipulation over the years and continue to essentially “build” images in my studio figure work, I keep to the simple, un-manipulated path for another reason: I want to “get out of my own head,” forget the idea of making art and simply discover and bring back the oddities of the enfolding landscape; to allow myself to dream while I’m behind the lens. I don’t want to create fabrications or be looking for pieces to collage together.

This photo was a little different. The final image is actually two combined frames from an identical vantage point and separated by less than a few minutes. In this shot I saw a kind of stage and really wanted a figure in the far area, so I waited; noticing that an occasional person would pass behind me, walk to the corner and then consistently cross diagonally. I took five frames. The one where the figure worked did pick up the detail on the bottom of the trestle, so I used another one that did. I then added back the figure I wanted, which required minimal tweaking.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

03/11/12 Untitled

I’m especially attracted to simulacra of living things: sculptures, mannequins, and toys. Perhaps it is their unsullied innocence (though they may seem to engender human foibles), but it’s also that they’re in many ways taken for granted and largely unnoticed, ignored, or even abandoned, yet they endure. They seem to return my gaze and possess a history. They are mute witnesses to the theatre of the streets, and sometimes, if the convergences are right, they serve up a story or two.

Place: Macy’s, Philadelphia
Camera: Nikon F
Exposure: By guess
File size: 11.5” x 9.3” @240 dpi
Film: Tri-X rated at ISO 200
Develop: HC110 1:49, 6.5 min @68F
Scan: Epson V500
Proof: Epson 3880, Museo Silver Rag

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Week of 03/04/2013: More Window Thinking

Location: 22nd near South, Philadelphia
Size: 9” x 13.5” @240 dpi
Camera: Canonet QL17
Lens: Canon 40mm,  f1.7
Film: Tri-X 35mm rated at ISO 200
Exposure: Automatic, not recorded
Develop: HC110 1:49 6.5 min
Scan: Epson V500
Proof: Epson 3880 w/Quadtone Rip

I’m slowly catching up with developing film. I don’t like having a backlog and I’m not an advocate of waiting a long stretch of time before the film becomes a photograph as a way of maintaining objectivity. Sometimes that roll that’s been sitting around can yield some pleasant surprises and puzzlements such as “What was I thinking?” The timing couldn't have been better since a whole slew of window shots will be showing at Frame Fatale in April. (Stay tuned!) This shot, I’m pretty sure was from back in October or possibly the summer. Already that feels like ancient history.