Category Archives: photographs

examples of latest photography i have been involved in

quebec sun prints

a few summers ago i went to quebec
i have wanted to make prints from the digital files, and the other day
i finally got a chance to do it.

the images are from a contact sheet made via photoshop, and inverted
and saved as a PDF file.  i brought it to my local copworld
and they made me a handful of overhead transparency images.

i grabbed one and a sheet of expired photo paper put them both into a contact frame and
put them out in the sun.  i’ve come to the conclusion the longer the image stays in the sun
the less it will fade when i scan it.  after a day or 2 in the sun i peeled the photo paper from the xerox negative
and scanned it.  the image is dark purplish brown on the paper, and i barely adjust the levels to bring it to “normal”

my scanner glass is dusty and scratchy so most of my time is spent removing that …

a couple i hand tinted in photoshop the others are as-is.

 

copper tone added in photoshop

statue in quebec
hand and bowl

xerox negative sun print

cannons at fortification colored in photoshop

slack

graffiti

sun print

old buildings cobble streets

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make photographs like it is the last time

sometimes i make a photograph and it is the last time i see whatever it is i am photographing.

 

this is a gas station that was on this corner for decades, and it was torn down in 2011 to make way for a new gas station.  the new gas station was a giant self service kind of place, it has something like 10 or 12 pumps and a shack in the middle.  it has no ” character or charm ”   it is just a gas station.

 

before the station was built i wanted to photograph the old one.  i wanted to photograph the building and lights because when they tore it down i wouldn’t be able to remember what was there.  i’d eventually forget like most people what it was like how shabby, run down and  dirty it was.  the gas station wasn’t one of a kind, and it didn’t win any awards for uniqueness, but in this day and age of cookie cutter everything, it was kind of nice to see something that was from maybe the 1940s or 50s, from the last cookie cutter age.  this filling station lasted maybe 50 years, i don’t think the new station they put in its place will last half that long.

it will  look shabby and run down faster and that’s ok because it really didn’t take as much effort to make. there is no polished ceramic tile, or gull wing lights, its just a least effort gas station.  maybe in a few years when it starts to look bad and maybe have some character, i might decide to photograph it.

 

gas station sandy lane

torn down 2011

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more providence ri

i live not to far from the jewel of new england and have taken up making digital photographs

of the skyline, and soon to be the pre 1950s architecture …  and making digital negatives at kinko’s copies i’m not quite sure which i like better small or larger i haven’t made a full 8×10 film negative yet, maybe with the right image it will look nice, as is, i have made contact sheets and  1/2 8x10s the camera has no issue, it would probably work OK even with a cheap cellphone snappy,  i’m certain film negatives would look great too.

 

here is the latest  …

 

1920s skyscraper, 1020s look

sun print digital negative

digital negative sun print

long view industiral natinal bank

sun print, digital negative

tower of the industrial national bank building

sun print digital negative

industrial national bank

digital negative

chimneys and roofs

kink

hybrid xerox negaive

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electric midnight blue

working on a new project i am going to call electric midnight blue it uses a varient of the sunprints i have been making these images were all made today in overcast sun in about 1-2 hours next group will be cyanotypes, and thinking of making them really big down the road ..  for now they will be small

 

sun prints polymax rc

electric midnight providence

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contact sheets

aside from sending rolls of 110 or 127vp to the local drug store or fotomat, or mail away to yorks i processed my own black and white film.  when i was in high school i learned about developing film, and putting the developed, procesed black and white negatives into those plastic sleeves.  for the better part of 10 years i put a sheet of photo paper under the developed film and exposed it in a bright light for  a few seconds, and then into the developer and fix and wash like a lot of people, contact sheets were my go-to way of viewing negatives after they were shot, processed and ready to print.

i’d look at the sheets, and circle or “X” the views to print or not to print, and keep track of things.  in some cases the contact sheet is all i have left after i had a flood and a bunch of my best negatives turned to clear film / emulsion soup.  as time wen ton for some reason, maybe it was becasue $$ was scarce and i wanted to save my paper for prints, or because so many of my exposures were all over the place that a contact sheet would only show part of the story, or maybe i just got lazy, and stopped making contact prints.  i got good at looking at the negative and seeing the print reversed.  i saw the contrast and somehow decided it was good enough.

i miss making contact sheets, but unfortunately 27 years worth of procesed film to make contact sheets of ,or 4×5 or bigger negatives to make contact sheets of is a daunting task and i would rather not bother.  back in the late 90s i bought a umax1200 scanner and it was fantastic.  it did everyting i needed, and i think i still have it in a box.  it was nice becasue i could scann all size film upto 5×7.  and i started scanning film instead of making contact sheets and it worked out as a good compromise.

i use a couple of nikon digital slr’s as well as film, they aren’t new but a d100 and d200,  they do what i need them to do, and i like that.  when i make a  bunch of exposures i still make contact sheets of them believe it or not,  sometimes they are postiiveprooof sheets, and sometimes they are negatives.  today i wandered around the streets or providence ri, and have plans for digital negatives.  i worked on the frames and turned them into contact sheets to bring to the xerox shop.  im not a machine gunner, i don’t click and look except once in a while to make sure the meter was working.   the camera is set to 1 frame at a time and i take my time as if i am using a film camera.  if i had a film camera i would have shot just as many views and sat on the curb or stone wall to unload and load the camera and maybe i would have runout of film.  i’ll be heading out to staples tomorrow to see what is what.  my local copy shop charges 10x what staples charges for regular copies, so whilei want to support my local shop im not that rich.  i’ll be getting paper as well as OHP film to see if there is a difference and making cyanotypes soon.

contact sheet

walkabout

contact sheet

walkabout

contact sheet

walkabout

contact sheet

walkabout

contact sheet

walkabout

contact sheet

walkabout

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tmy 400 retina film negative

like the last image i uploaded this one is also on photographic film

black white kodak tmy 400.

great film for all around photography. it is also a nice film for making 2 hour long exposures.

2:30-4:30 sunday nov 27 made with a speed graphic and ilex seminat lens ( at 3.5 ) outside was bright, the plant was backlit, with very little room light on it after 2 hours i grabbed the film and scanned it and inverted it, and tweaked the levels a bit (i made a large slow scan and the film was extremely grey from the light beam) instead of cropping the junk out of the image, i cropped the image in the film.

 

here it is:

retina image (film )

2 hours, inverted+levels tweaked in photoshop

 

 

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this is a great piece of writing !

The Last Photo

 

i’m a little late to find this, but i did and i am posting it here.

i’ve made a lot of last photos, looking back at them they kind of make me feel sad.

but life goes on ..

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far away places

so many people need to go to far away places.  they save their money and materials and buy tickets or gas they sign up for workshops in the desert or to someplace remote.  they  photograph for a week or a few days, return and loved their experience.  i’ve never been able to do that, and part of me is jelous of photo-safarians.

when i go to someplace i am not used to, i am struck by what i see, the unfamiliar sometimes overwhelms me.  that isn’t to say i can’t make any photographs, but i’ll be on auto pilot and make exposures of what comes to mind, what might remind me of the familiar, things i am used to, things i am comfortable with — the usual. a lot of what i photograph for the most part is the unfamiliar familiar.

i am usually within a short distance from where i live, or have spent a lot of time and i am familiar with the scene that i am able to read it differently and notice things i hadn’t noticed before.  very much like a portrait photographer might make a portrait.  there are only a handful of head and face shapes, ways of making a portrait, and even if the person is a complete stranger, a portrait photographer is able to not only make a familiar light and head position and camera position but make the person feel at ease.

its no too late to photograph things close by, things you know by heart, things you see every day but don’t bother because they are too familiar, sometimes the familiar make the best subjects.

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wait 9 month or a year and see what happens …

i admit it, sometimes i don’t want to process film.  i get tired of standing there and agitating, or shuffling sheets in a tray in the dark.  i started doing stand development because i didn’t want to deal, my version of stand development only lasts for maybe 1/2 hour if i remember to come back in time, sometimesit lasts even more.  i use the same develop my every day film in, sumatra coffee, washing soda,vitamin c and some dektol.  i shake the bubbles off and leave.  sometimes i put of processing film for a few weeks or sometimes i am not very good and put it off for a few months, 9 or 10 months this time.

 

the film sat in a ziplock bag for all this time.  i would process sheets, i would develop paper negatives, i would make contact prints,  even make emulsions and developers from scratch, coat things, and develop them, but i wouldn’t process the rolls of film.  i’d think about it sometimes

painted cyanotype with watercolors

film reels cyanotype with watercolors

finally i processed the film, at least, some of it. i had about 15 or 20 rolls to get through, and i made it through 9 of them.  i loaded the film into the metal reels.  it took a while since i was out of practice.  some reels roll easier than others, and for the first time in a long while i had a few areas touch and not develop.  that’s ok.  after the film was hung and dried and sleeved i began scanning them.  i will eventually print them but i figured scanning is as good a way as any to see what i have, so i scanned, and scanned and scanned. i remember most of the photographs, sort of. but not really.  it was a nice feeling to have distance.  there wasn’t any sort of importance or need or “i have to see this or that”  they were just negatives.

i remember seeing a show on garry winogrand years ago and how he exposed the film and left it for a year or more before he processed it.  ( i think there were 10 thousand rolls of film to process after he died. )  and i can see why he did what he did.  the distance adds to the editing process.  there isn’t a ” this exposure is going to be SO GOOD !” and process the film 20 seconds after it was unloaded. the film is just there and ready when you are, if it is good, its good, if it is bad, you probably don’t remember even making the photograph, so it is OK.

these photographs are from a handful of long walks i took.  sometimes they were made walking home from my mechanic;s place abotu 5 miles away.  i took 3 differnt routes home.  some were taken on the way or way back from picking up beer making supplies.  it was a road i used to travel often with a camera but no so much anymore.  time sat still and the places were virtually the same.

anyways … it’s ok to leave film for a while before you process it,

it mght even be a good thing.

 

colored black and whtite photo

colored black and whtite photo

shadow and textured wall

shadow and textured wall

retina print

retina print

run down fieldstone buildingjakes antiques

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writing about photography

in a recent interview with on the onwardphoto blog, jorg colberg spoke about the importance of writing about photography.

http://tinyurl.com/qalulvr   i couldn’t agree more with what he said.  often times people who make photographs have trouble talking about them.

i am guilty too … it is HARD to write about photography, but with a little practice it gets a little easier.

i have a series of portraits i have been making since i was 19 ( more than half my life ).  the project began years before and i didn’t even know it … when i was reading studds turkel’s book “working”, a book about people talking about what they do for work …  i began my project by cold calling businesses and asking if i could photograph people who worked there.  i was a fly on the wall, sometimes, other times i would have conversations with the subject to learn about what it was they were doing, and i would photograph where they worked too.  i documented  people that worked in slaugherhouses, were gravediggers, machineshop operators, mechanics, factory workers, butchers …  people from all walks of life.  i enjoyed talking with these strangers and learning about who they were, and creating almost a story that surrounded each portrait i took.  eventually i began photographing people on the streets as i wandered their neighborhood with a camera,  or where they had a late night snack, or breakfast.  i continued with these portraits, even letting them lead me into paying jobs photographing people for magazines and newspapers, and i never stopped interviewing my subjects to learn a little bit about them.

when i worked for a eileen mcclure, she told me tricks she would do to get her subjects to loosen up a little bit.  she only had seconds to do this seeing she had appointments every 20 minutes all day long …  and she said she had it easy because she was a little old lady, and people don’t feel threatened by little old ladies.  my trick ended up being just having a conversation, and because i was no longer a guy with a camera but someone else.  over the years i think the project has taken a different shape, and really tells more about me than it does my subjects.  if i wrote about the project,  i would write about who my subjects were, and how meeting them changed how i look at portrait photography in general, but how i have learned that people are pretty much the same, whether they are rich, poor, a corporate titan, leader of a state, or someone sitting on their porch, who didn’t remember who i was or who she was a few weeks later when i returned with a print.

i couldn’t agree more with the idea that one should be able to write something, anything, about what it is they do or did with their camera.

 

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what did i mean by paper negative test?

i recently mentioned something about a paper negative test.

i suggested bracketing exposures and judging your negatives …

here, i have uploaded 3 images

 

the first

not photoshopped

cyclone #3 maybe f11

as the caption reads ..  it was taken with a cyclone #3 which i guess is around f11

light meter was set to iso 6 and it suggested  5 seconds

i count fast …  so i counted to 6.

the developer was 2 day old dektol, it is cold in my darkroom but the image appeared at around 20 sconds

so from previous experience, ( making prints in dektol ) i let it develop out fot at least 1 minute.

the negative looks ok.  there is a roundness to it because the lens has a big hot spot,

the edges are light the middle of the negative is dark.

the inversion ( #2 )

straight inversion, of a straight scan

f 11 6 seconds 15 year old polymax rc

the inverted positive looks OK

( kodak paper has writing on the back so i don’t bother contact printing kodak paper negatives )

the center of the image is light, the sides are dark, the background blown out.

this is expected.

today was an overcast day

this was about 145pm

the sky has a lot of blue light but where i was ..  was filtered a little so my meter gave me

a false reading.  for the deck where i was it was OK, the wood, the deck chairs and flower pots

seem to be OK exposed  …  if i was to multiple expose or burn in .. while making the exposure

i would under expose the sky and trees

with a little PS – love

it doesn’t look much different ..

i adjusted the woods a little bit, evened out a little bit the roundness and brightness / contrast

brightness, lightness burning in selective contrast

cyclone might have needed an extra few seconds for the woods
maybe burn in ..

 

next exposure will be tomorrow …

maybe i will try 6 seconds and in camera dodge out the sky

the developer might be a little easier to work with too …

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paper negatives

some people hate paper negatives.

they have trouble with them because they don’t realize how they need to be exposed and treat them like film.  they develop them like regular prints, and think that a “beefy” paper negative will print great like a “beefy negative”. photo paper is not film, it isn’t sensitive to the same light as film and its sensitivity changed.

what does this mean ?

in a simple way of putting it is  film is panchromatic, so it is sensitive to red, green blue light.  think of it as being  sensitive to all light …and unless you are using color film, light is light.  photo paper is sensitive to blue light, and sometimes to green light.  different times of the day, different light conditions (shade, open shade, bright sunlight, cloudy day &c) different amounts of blue light are around, so even though it might seem “bright” it might not be …  this might not make much sense.  but you can do a little experiment.  if you have a “hot light”  the old fashioned ones that use tungsten bulbs make an exposure with that bulb as your light source, and then use a different light source, maybe a CF bulb that has mostly red in it …  and make the same exposure with your paper…  you might notice one negative “better” than the other.  its also the reason at least with multi contrast papers why you can use filters to adjust the contrast of the image … anyways, photo paper might be fast in one light condition and slow in another, AND different manufacturers use different light sensitive emulsions on their paper so they will have different “speeds” too.  you might see speeds listed on the box of paper, they are not the same as film speeds, but only relative to the paper.   as a point of reference, regular photo paper typically has a iso ( asa ) relative to film about 6, sometimes as high as 25 if you plan on shooting paper negatives, its best to do exposure tests .    bracket exposures, like you would for film, and take notes if that is your sort of thing.  years ago there were oodles of papers on the market, and i did paper exposures for maybe 15 different ones these days there aren’t as many so it might be a little easier.

developer  …

you should develop your paper negatives the same way you develop your prints ” to completion”  …  don’t pull the print out of the developer when “it looks right”  because you won’t get a good print, just like you won’t get a good negative.  contrast comes out first then the mid tones afterwards.  a beefy negative or a thin one … i guess it all depends on what the negative will be used for.  will you make a contact print with it ?  will you scan and invert it ?  will you make a sun print with it? if you plan on contact printing your paper negatives thin ones sometimes work best, too dense it is hard for the light to pass through and you will get a thin positive print.  if you plan on scanning and inverting, a dense negative might suite your needs ..  i guess it depends on how good your photoshop skills are.

sun prints are a bit different.  it takes a long time for the sun’s light to pass through the photo paper.  i have waxed the negative with paraffin and made it somewhat translucent and light passed through a bit easier.  i can’t help you there, you have to experiment to see what works best for your situation.

 

 

why do i like paper negatives ?

photo paper is cheap compared to film, and it is instant compared to film.  i find exposing paper negatives whether they are negatives i coated by hand with liquid or home made emulsion or in a box to be more fun … there is a sense of the unknown sometimes … with film, you pretty much know what you are going to get  … also, i would rather make a long exposure than an instant one …  while instantaneous fraction of a second exposures have their place portraits of fidgety kids, maybe pet photography, large groups where everyone seems to be moving, sports, science / nature photography there is a thing about long exposures that almost makes a scene or person come to life  …  but that is another entry for another time.

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dektol paper negatives

i am a little rusty at making paper negatives with anything but ansco 130 with the 130 i used to leave a tray out till it turned black and was still active  and use it as a 2nd bath along with a tray of fresh developer.  since  dektol doesn’t have glycin in it it doesn’t have the same long lifespan as ansco130 so when it turns black i spike it with a capful of stock solution.  i haven’t nailed the right exposures with the paper, or the right split yet but it is fun putzing around trying to start over again using a new developer with past experiences i learned from another.  sometimes they can be just transfered (i did this with 1 developer it should and does do the same thing with another) and sometimes it is just totally different … (i did this with 1 developer, and my contrast with the new developer is too much) luckily i have shelves full of paper and a few packets of dektol so i don’t think i won’t learn the the technique with the new developer.

 

yesterday i burned a few paper negatives and processed them in fresh dektol maybe 1:1.5

i split processed the paper in a tray of sumatranol –

harsh outside light soft inside light

split D + sumC

 

cyclone

toning down the dektol, used caffenol c as a 2nd bath

 

cyclone + 10-15 year old polymax rc

split dektol and caffenol

 

 

 

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working with lumenized prints again

i am never quite sure what to call sun prints using regular old photo paper.  with plant materials and the same paper they are called lumen prints, with a pinhole camera stashed in a tree for 6months they are called solargraphs, long exposed in a camera they can be called retina prints  but what are contact prints called ?  they aren’t POP prints ( printing out paper ) where they are developed with water and toned+fixed.  whatever they might be called, i’m doing them again as part of a new project …

these prints are part film, part lumenized, part inverted negative and soon to be part cyanotype.
(i have to coat some paper )
this is a triple image, so please click on it so you see all three

 

negative, inverted positive, luminized

30 year old film, split processed coffee and ansco 130

 

negative, positive, lumanized print

 

 

this one is 4 images, not 3

springtime flowers

4 lumanized prints

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recent email: hey, why don’t YOU do wet plate?!

just got an email today and someone asked:  why don’t you do wet plate photography?

i had to think for a little while, not long and my answer was: because i really don’t need to.

==

i was as a broke college student in the 1980s.  i took photography classes through the end of their numbered courses ( i think “photo 5” was the last one ) so i did 2 directed studies my last 2 semester ( last year ) of college.  in these self-designed classes i made an emulsion from scratch buying ingredients from chemical suppliers and i taught myself how to make, coat and develop dry plates.

there were photography books, mostly art history ones, some “how to identify a process” books, things like “keepers of the light” but no internet, no close knit community to ask questions and learn from, and no  one i knew had any idea or ideas of what i was supposed to do … i had a 1904 photography annual picked up at a book store that i used to thumb through from time to time.  it had recipes in it for developers fixers, old ads for cameras and supplies as well as recipes for emulsions … i bought small quantities of the materials i needed and pots from a 2nd hand store  and  mixed the few items together.  i had taken chemistry classes in high school so i was careful and didn’t blind myself … i cooked up an emulsion and it worked OK i guess, but it was expensive and time consuming (and something i had to do in the middle of the night when my room mates were asleep ).  that was when i learned about liquid light ( made by rockland colloid ).  it is emulsion in a bottle, and it ended up being what i used instead of my home brewed emulsion … and the man who answered the phone there was extremely helpful person  (he STILL answers the phone and he STILL is extremely helpful!)

i read about historical processes and binding agents used to stick things to glass  … and i bought a variety of things to experiment with.  i used collodion, varnish, albumen, cement and glues ..  none of them worked, or worked the way i wanted them to work.  i eventually realized the emulsion was gelatin based so i bought some unflavored knox gelatin and it worked great.  i coated plates not by free pouring but with a paint brush (foam) and got a thin coat which sometimes worked best.  i coated large and small pieces of glass, mostly window glass i found on the street on “trash day”  sometimes an image on each side and eventually made contact prints of the images  eventually i got bored with the whole making prints on glass thing, and drifted away from it but over the years i have  kept doing it in one way or another.  now it is 26 years later and i am still making dry plates and probably by the end of the year i will give up store bought ready-made emulsions and photo paper+film.  i suppose i could switch over to wet plate making.  there is less hassle ..  just plates collodion, a silver bath, developer and fixer.  its a simple process compared to dry plates.

but i don’t mind making dry plates, they are fun, and i don’t  have to process the plate immediately and feel rushed.

so, i don’t do wet plate, because  …  i’m having enough fun as it is ..

===

these days it is not like 1987, you don’t have to do everything in isolation because now,

there is a website dedicated to making emulsions from scratch.  its called “the light farm”

http://www.thelightfarm.com/

there are great people there who are helpful, and know their “stuff”

i don’t really remember what emulsion i made in the middle of the night, september 1987, but i know which one i am going to make next ..its a sea water emulsion and it should be a lot of fun ..

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