Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote: Sebastiao Salgado

"What I want is for my photographs to be the subject of discussion. I believe that photographers who get involved in social journalism are kind of like vectors that bring facts to the eyes of those who do not have the opportunity of seeing them directly."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Final Khon Thai Shots ( For Now!)

These scans are from the last box of 4x5 Khon Thai photos.


The environment that surrounds the people speaks about the people, sort of an indirect portrait. I think I will work and do landscapes/cityscapes (slumscapes) in the Khon Thai series of photographs. Here are some of the first attempts. Need to study the work of Eugene Atget more, his work on Paris is magnificent.

Indoor 4x5 With Flash

Shot a few 4x5 b/w flash photos when I did the color heads, not sure they work but wanted to experiment a bit with portable flash indoors with the 4x5.

New Khon Thai 4x5 Photographs

This is about it when it comes to new 4x5 Khon Thai photos, I only shot a bit of this style of image on the streets of Thailand (once I built up my nerve!). I hope to continue shooting this way with 4x5 and 5x7 cameras in the future. I want to bring in reflectors if possible to help with the lighting as Jock Sturges recommended to me. I also want to capture a wider variety of people. Do not want to do TYPES as August Sander classified them, that seems to class oriented. I just want to meet people from all parts of society and record who they are on a piece of film, to show the" commonality of all man/womankind" as Paul Strand would say.If all goes well over the next couple of years in this style of shooting I might move up to using a 8x10 camera on the streets/roads/all areas of Thailand.

Tonight am developing my last box of 4x5 b/w Tri-x film (have a few sheets of color Portra as well do yet). I am very excited about the prospect of shooting more Khon Thai large format street portraiture later this year. I am mostly over my fears of shooting the large camera on the street, now I just need to save money so I can afford 5 more weeks of making photographs in Thailand.

Note: the second shot of the man from Klong Toey slum was made with flash added. I think I prefer using daylight only but the flash will allow me to shoot in low light situations (indoors, late evening etc).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Help From A Stranger

Sometimes you meet good people by accident, people who help you and encourage your work. A while back I got a new (old/used) camera, a 5x7 Linhof. I want to use this camera my next trip (this year) to Thailand to work on my Khon Thai Series with 900 sheets of Tri-x 5x7 I bought off EBay at a discount a few years back ( need to shoot it before it gets to outdated). The film cost me more than the camera so I thought it was a smart investment. The camera came cheap but it did not include any lens boards, so I searched online but got no where. I then went to my favorite photography user group and asked for help. Here is an message I received today from one of the people I met online:

Hey Gerry,

The lens boards are on their way, via a USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope to Canada.

In addition to the two boards I described, I found another lens board that I'm sending. It was with a 250mm Heliar (I think), and the previous owner had mounted the flange to the board. I removed the flange and used it as a jam nut, but you may find a use for this board, too. And you may be able to mount a three-hole flange in the original holes, so I included the three screws.

Forget about the postage reimbursement—I'd like to consider it a donation to help with your wonderful work. I remember admiring your work when you posted some images on ---- or maybe --- some time ago, and just recently I went back and reviewed your ---- gallery again. Well done!

Good luck with your trip! E

When your down about your work or you get lazy and wonder if its all worth it you meet a stranger like E who helps you without asking for anything in return. He encouraged me, gave me a pat on the back and helped my photography.

Thanks very much E

Friday, January 28, 2011

Quote: W. Eugene Smith

"Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes-just sometimes- one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness. Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought. Someone-or perhaps many-among us may be influenced to heed reason, to find a way to right which is wrong, and may even be inspired to the dedication needed to search for the cure to an illness. The rest of us may perhaps feel a greater sense of understanding and compassion for those whose lives are alien to our own. Photography is a small voice. It is an important voice in my life, but not the only one. I believe in it. If it is well-conceived, it sometimes works. That is why I -and also Aileen-photograph in Minamata"

Klong Toey 35mm Work Continued

Eugene Atget Calling

This morning before starting up in the darkroom (developing film), I was reading about some of Atget's work. I was looking over several of his pictures of workers, sex workers and also street workers of various kinds. Here is a man who shot photographs in Paris in the early 1900s, who used a glass plate view camera, who lived in a different time and world, yet his photographs speak to me and are influencing me, photography is truly a powerful medium. I hope I can make some comparability strong street portraits with my view camera of Thai workers my next trip to Bangkok. I plan on walking the streets and making photos of the street sellers, and people using carts and vehicles of various types to earn a living. Thank you Mr. Atget for the inspiration.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some More Klong Toey Slum 35mm Photographs

Am quite excited by what might happen with the Leica M6 and 28mm F2 in the future, I need to work harder with it and carry it everywhere I go. Have been using the W. Eugene Smith development time for Tri-x in these shots. Two parts D-76 to one part water at 20C for 12 minutes and 30 seconds (agitation every 30 seconds). I will probably print them a little less contrasty when I am in the darkroom.

Enough scanning for now, developing some 4x5 sheets now on the Jobo, will do a bit more of that then develop 16 rolls of 35mm by hand.

Xpan Scans

Shot some Xpan 35 tri-x as well this last trip. I had trouble composing the long panoramic at times and also made errors when shooting quickly and not placing the subject within that panorama correctly accidently cutting off things I thought were in the shot.

2010 Sex worker Scans Part 2

I found the 120 neg scanning plastic holder device so no more of those ugly red lines the scans. These are some of the latest scans from the first round of ring flash heads.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Passing of Milton Rogovin

Photography lost another great this week. Milton Rovogin. He started in photography late at age 48 but lived to 101 creating a large important body of work. Mr Rovogin was a social documentary photographer in the best sense, a man who placed others before himself.

From the youtube link:

"He was a wonderful, kind, compassionate man who lived a life true to the cause of civic decency, equality, and social justice." - The Online Photographer

Quote: Catem (Photographer)

Question posted in photo forum:

I'm sure it's not an absolute, but do you not think that the personality, psyche, experience, prejudices etc that we all have, are not often present or subconsciously illustrated in the photographs we take.

Yes, I do believe that, but that is not the same as saying that [portraits] by great photographers are always of themselves and "not" of their subject. We will always bring our 'consciousness' , perspective, creativity, whatever, to the photographs we take. Having said that, and accepting that as always a part of the creative process, I believe the truly great photographers are those who are able to take portraits where the essence of the subject transcends the presence and ego of the photographer.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

10 Prints for the May Group Show

I have a group show to prepare for in May. I need to make a selection of 10 photographs. Initially I thought I might just do all color sex worker ring flash heads for the show (or at least a majority of color heads), now it looks more and more like the color head stuff might be pushed back to 4, 3 or 2 prints.

I am quite happy with the 4x5 Khon Thai photos that I have developed. There are plenty of photos that do not work, some tech problems etc but also negs that I like alot that communicate the message I wanted. I wish I had shot more in this style when I was in Thailand but what I did shoot I am relatively happy with. I think next trip the large format portraits will improve. Jock Sturges wrote to me of the importance of using reflectors, I think I want to try to start that next trip (might need an assistant thou to hold the darn things or a long long cable release!).

I am also happy with some of the 35mm Leica stuff. Lots of the 35mm photos do not work but the ones that do make up for the failures. With a 35mm camera you can sort of pounce on a subject (or the opposite shoot discreetly) and make a more natural looking image, capture a small piece of a reality that you find before it changes. When you set up the 4x5 and start talking and the like you sort of interfere with that reality. I usually ask permission before taking 35mm photos but there is still a spontaneity there that is lost with the larger cameras.

The 10 photo count might be something like this:

2-4 photos from the ring flash color sex worker head series.
2-5 photos from the 4x5 Khon Thai series.
2-5 photos from the 35mm Klong Toey Slum series.

At one point I was thinking of putting up 1 or 2 white background sex worker photos. I will have a show (group show) of that work in October and was thinking I could save on framing costs if I use the large frames for the 20x24 inch prints 2 times. I guess that is not going to happen now, I will have to buy frames for both shows, expensive!

Linhoff and Leica?

I am planning to shoot most of the Khon Thai series with large format cameras, Linhoff 4x5 and 5x7 cameras and maybe the Kodak Masterview 8x10.

I have been thinking that I might want to create a body of work using a Leica 35mm rangefinder as well. The 35mm shooting is so spontaneous and fast you can react (an idea/term a friend taught me), you can react to a situation and capture moments that would be impossible to capture with a large format camera on a tripod.

So far I have been quite happy with the 35mm Leica stuff I got in Klong Toey so it has opened up the future use of that camera. My initial influence in photography was W. Eugene Smith. To work with the same camera, film and developer he used to continue the tradition of doing documentary work in that same style, seems right and beautiful.

Will have to see how the final 35mm fiber prints look but right now based on what I have seen of the negs and the scans, 35mm photography is back!

Quote: Peter Korniss (Photographer)

Speaking about Robert Capa.

"He had a saying that if your picture is not good enough, you are not close enough to the subject. I changed his saying a little bit. I always say that if my pictures are not good enough. I haven't been close enough to the people. I've always felt that the key for me to is to get close to the people, to be accepted by them...."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Got it Done

Got up an hour and half early today and stayed up later last night but got 2 new 16x20 prints mounted/spotted and ready for the AGA photo club judge. Did my best and got it done, made the extra effort, I did pretty much all I could do.

Hopefully the pics will make to the meeting through a friend. I would have loved to hear the judges comments on the work but had to come to work and make some money. I guess I have to look at it this way, the money I make tonight will help pay for my next trip to Thailand to make more Khon Thai portraits.

Hopefully some day these photographs will hang at the Alberta Gallery of Art, at least in the lobby! :)

Paul Strand Themes and Thoughts

From the book Paul Strand at work:

He explored what he found to be almost limitless variations on some central themes: the primal connection between humans and the cycles of the natural world, the beauty of simple objects and structures, and the inherent dignity of every individual regardless of wealth or status.

From an application for a Fullybright Fellowhip:

I want to create a series of photographs that focused on the history, architecture, environs and people of a small town (which) would reveal 'the common denominator of all humanity'....and would be a bridge to a deeper understanding between countries.

Long Session

Worked for about 12 hours in the darkroom with a few short breaks. I managed to make 4 16x20 prints but do not think they will dry in time for me to get them mounted for the AGA judge. Oh well tried but it was to little to late. I might have to show some older prints of varying sizes and styles of fiber paper.

The ones I printed today that are drying now:

1) Da and Sau (photo blogged earlier tonight)
2) Jiab, Ti and Sak
3) Jo
4) Jiji

Printed them a bit quickly if I had a show with the work would take more time but sort of ran out of time today so went for it a bit, the prints look ok, printed on Agfa Class Fiber (warm tone) with WA Agfa Warmtone developer for 3 minutes and toned in Selenium for 1 minute (dilution 1/10).