Saturday, April 30, 2011

Up Early Again

Woke up early again to do some darkroom work on the Art Alberta Foundation prints. I am going to print some samples and do some spotting on one 4x5 negative print today. I am not the best spotter in the world so need to see if I can hide these small blemishes. Dust and tiny hairs can be a real problem in large format photography. I did not have to many issues when I was doing the 8x10 sex worker white background work but with the 4x5 on the street (the dusty outdoors) the problems seem to have grown. I will use plastic zip lock bags to hold the holders when I am in the field next trip, inconvenient but necessary.

Friday, April 29, 2011

To Many Rules

I think I am not much a joiner when it comes to groups and clubs and the like, mostly because I feel confined by to many rules. About 10 years ago I left a local photo club because I felt controlled and uncomfortable being in a group thought situation, having to conform my photography to fit the group is just not my thing. I have always disliked people telling me what to do with my photography, I would have been a shitty pro, I need to do what I need to do and do not like following the rules of others.

Recently I had another issue with another club that I have belonged to for 15 years or so. I find it confining and irritating when I'm told what size print I cannot bring in, how many color or b/w prints are allowed etc. If you bring in a postage stamp size image or a wall sized print, if its a b/w print, color print or any combination in between, who cares? Art is not about rules and regulations, its about letting creativity flow naturally as each individual sees it.

With the advent of digital the decisive moment in photography has disappeared in the club, many people collage multiple photographs together to represent one. With digital photography most images start out as color and are converted by photoshop into b/w. Most photos in the club are also some sort of adobegraph and not a photograph anymore anyway so lets loosen up with all the rules stuff (adobegraph is my word for heavily photoshoped images) . What has to be done is the work simply needs to be presented and live or die on its own, no need to take out the measuring tape to see what size it is or if it includes color, b/w or whatever. Lets just put the work up at the front of the room and talk about it in an open instructive way. We are there to see artwork (was going to type photographs but that does not apply in my club much anymore), to help each other become better creative people, lets toss as many rules as we can in the trash heap where they belong. I guess some people just feel more comfortable if they can institute and follow rules and regulations, but it works against creativity. Lets cut down on the rules and build up a environment of free/open expression.

Oh well nuff of that, back into the darkroom got to try to work on the Alberta Foundation For The Arts prints, I have 2 hours of darkroom time before I need to go work my 12 hour night shift. The provinces archive includes work by Yosuf Karsh and Edward Burtynsky, it would be an honor to have even one print included in a collection with those boys.

Quote: Sebastiao Salgado

"I believe there is no person in the world that must be protected from pictures. Everything that happens in the world must be shown and people around the world must have an idea of what's happening to the other people around the world. I believe this is the function of the vector that documentary photography must have, to show one person's existence to another."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quotes: Fazal Sheikh

"I believe that it is the individual and his testimony that allows us to access broader themes--through the specific to gain entry to the universal."

"I want to be able to go to a community and and ask that it teach me about its truth."

More on the Alberta Foundation For The Arts

Woke up 4 hours early today to do some printing for the Alberta Foundation For the Arts deadline. Been struggling with the negative for 2 hours, another 1 hour and 30 minutes before I have to start getting ready for my night shift.

I returned the call to the foundation today and got more information. I also got an extra day! Can now drop off the prints on the 4th.

The Art by Acquisition program has been acquiring art work for the province of Alberta for several years, the current number of works number 8000.

Here is a link to their holdings.

Once collected the work is loaned out to government agencies and non profit organizations for a small fee. It is also takes part in traveling exhibits around the province, the traveling shows are divided into the 4 regions of the province. If the artist has a gallery show they can also request that the foundation loan them their own work back to them for the duration of the show.

I hope I can get one or two of the works sold, to be collected in this manner has always been a dream of mine and on a more practical level any money I receive from the sales will be put towards making more photographs.

I guess what happens now is that I drop off the works at their downtown office/gallery, and then the jury people come and make the final recommendations on what should be purchased. Should find out next week what's what. I have to take it as a positive even if the work is not accepted. I missed the deadline for the Canada Art Bank this year but next year I will submit work to both the Provincial and National programs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alberta Foundation For The Arts: Round 2

A few months back I made a submission to the Art by Acquisition program through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (first time I tried this). This program buys art from Alberta artists on a yearly basis. Painters, sculptures, photographers and other artists submit work for consideration. I submitted 5 photographs from the recent Thailand trip. Today I got a phone call telling me that 2 of the works had been accepted for the round 2 part of the submission.

In round 2 of the jury process they need to look at the real prints not just the scans. The problem is I have no prints ready! The deadline is May 3rd at 430pm and I have nothing printed yet, I had just scanned the negs for the first part but now I need 2-16x20 prints by May 3rd for the jury to look over and decide if they want to buy the photographs. I am working 12 hour night shifts until May 1st. I will have to try to sneak in a couple of hours after each of my remaining night shifts then do an all night session on May 2nd. I need to get the prints done as early as possible so the fiber paper can dry properly.

Some how there do not seem to be enough hours in the day to get all the things done I need to do. My group show is June 3rd and printing hard for that also. It is nice to have some limited success with group shows, gallery representation, a possible book and possible acquisitions by the province, but damn this all takes time. I got to cut out other parts of my life and spend more hours in the darkroom over the coming month, got to make some sacrifices in other areas to get this all done.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog Link

Not exactly sure who this is. He has a link to my blog page on his blog, so thought I would reciprocate.

More Zone Landscape/Abstract Tests

Went out with Rob yesterday and had a very nice day of photography. I was able to work on a few zone things and try out filters I had not used before. I also changed up my tripod a bit to allow easier use. Did normal, +1 and +2 development of the negs today.

Here are some scans from our outing.

Grass Under Water

Pond 1 (Cropped Negative)

Grass In Ice

I need to work a lot harder on my visualizations, I need to see clearly what I want the photograph to be as I am composing it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Inside Home Photos

In Cambodia I want to show the photographs to show the lives of the people, one easy way to do this is to show their living conditions, the interiors of their homes. Walker Evans did the interior home photograph to great effect, I need to shoot more of these type images next trip.

These photographs was shot in Northern Thailand and Klong Toey slum in Bangkok.

Zone Heads

Today I made some head-shots using the Linhof 210mm and Pentax spot meter. I wanted to place the face (asian darker skin) on zone V 1/2 but then the hair fell off below zone 2 (I want to see some detail in the black hair). I did exposures where the hair was placed up higher so I could get more shadow detail but that also pushed up the face into the zone VII/VIII area.

I think I might have to try metering the hair in the future and place that on about Zone III and let the face fall where it falls as long as its not to high Zone IX or higher, then burn down the face. I might also try exposing the hair for Zone III and using N-1 development to bring down the face a bit.

I need to perfect all of this before I leave for Cambodia, where I hope to shoot dozens of head-shots this way.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Thai-Cambodian Border Problems

Thailand and Cambodia continue to have border fighting and killings. I hope my portraits of Cambodia and Thailand or Cambodia and Vietnam will shown in the capitals of these cities and in the border areas. We have so much more that connects us as peoples of the world than divides us. Maybe the photographs can help educate, even if they make a tiny tiny bit of difference in peoples attitudes that would be a victory.

Thai, Cambodian troops exchange heavy border fire
by Anusak Konglang

BANGKOK, April 23, 2011 (AFP) - Heavy fighting broke out again Saturday between Thai and Cambodian soldiers, a day after six died in the bloodiest border clash since the UN appealed for a permanent ceasefire in February.

The two neighbours have fought a series of deadly gunbattles in recent years in disputed jungle near ancient temples strung out along the frontier, which has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines.

"Fresh fighting started at around 6 am (2300 GMT Friday) with rifles and mortar shelling at the same flash point" as Friday's clash, said a Thai army spokesman in the border region, Colonel Prawit Hookaew.

"We are negotiating to stop the fighting," he said.

Cambodia confirmed the latest outbreak of hostilities.

"The fighting started at 6:15 am. It involves artillery shelling," said defence ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat in Phnom Penh.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in Saturday's violence.

Friday's clash was the first serious outbreak of hostilities since February when 10 people were killed in fighting near the 900-year-old Hindu temple Preah Vihear, prompting UN Security Council members to call for a lasting ceasefire.

The latest fighting, which left three soldiers dead on each side on Friday and more than a dozen others wounded, took place near a different group of temples over 100 kilometres away from Preah Vihear.

Indonesia, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc, called for an immediate end to the violence.

"Indonesia, as current chair of ASEAN, strongly calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities between Cambodia and Thailand," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said in a statement released on Friday.

The two sides blamed each other for Friday's clash, which lasted for more than six hours and prompted thousands of villagers to flee the border area.

Ties between the neighbours have been strained since Preah Vihear -- the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside Cambodia's Angkor -- was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) surrounding area.

Observers say the temple dispute has been used as a rallying point to stir nationalist sentiment in Thailand and Cambodia.

The two countries agreed in late February to allow Indonesian observers in the area near Preah Vihear, but the Thai military has since said they are not welcome and they have yet to be deployed.

Cambodia has called for outside mediation to help end the standoff, but Thailand insists the dispute should be resolved through bilateral talks.

Thailand recently admitted using controversial Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions during the February fighting but insisted it did not classify them as cluster munitions.

The arms are defined as cluster munitions by the global campaign group Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), which condemned Thailand's use of the weapons.

Printing For The Show

I have been printing the last 3 nights for the June 3rd show (still unnamed). The first print I chose might have been the wrong one, its a very complicated print to make. There is a exposure with dodging in 5 areas followed by burning in 3 areas at #3 contrast, then burning of 5 other areas at #O filtration. Followed by development and fixing process, tray wash, bleaching, a second fix, hypo clear, toning and archival wash.

Spent the last 3 nights learning the negative, I have 6 prints downstairs washing now, 2 might be ok for the show. If they do not pan out I can print this negative again later, it should be a lot easier the second time around.

I have moved onto another negative now, will spend the rest of the night working on this one which promises to be a lot simpler.

Have lined up the RA-4 chemistry for the color brothel prints I want to show, I wish I had more Kodak Metallic color paper. I might have to print on a different type of color paper.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Zone Practice

Went out for a quick 6 photos as the sun was setting, I shot tri-x with the Linhof and 75mm lens. Using the Pentax spot-meter and zoning the exposures is working great, I feel confident, I know what the negs are going to look like before I take them out of the drum. When your doing zone placement of the tones and using 1 developer and 1 film it simplifies things, that's where I am at now. I am simplifying the tech stuff, now I need to pre-visualize the photograph and use the tools better to tell the story I want to tell.

I am also using the Linhof viewfinder to help me choose focal lengths and compositions which seems to be making that process easier. Am slowly getting better at using a view-camera, faster focusing as well as using all the different advantages of the camera (a fun one is adding shape to the foreground of the image by using back movements).

Zone System metering should work great for the Asian portraits, I can place the face, hair and other details where I want them and get strong technical negs which will make printing easier, no more underexposed faces under hats.

Here are a few scans from the shoot a few hours ago.

Over the next few days I will try to do some shallow focus heads or heads and shoulders with the Linhof, and zone metering (will place the faces on Zone 6 or 5.5). I hope to do plenty of heads/heads and shoulders when I am in Cambodia later this year.

Done With New Equipment

Feel I am done getting new camera equipment unless something breaks down. In the past I spent to much money on the gadgetry of photography, thats finished, I have some of the best film cameras and optics ever made, time to stop buying cameras and start making photos.

From now on my photography buying will be limited to film and darkroom supplies.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cambodia Trip

Been reading Cambodian history and working a bit on the language. I have been fascinated by Cambodia since I saw the movie "The Killing Fields" in 1984. Such a tragic complex history, how did what happen there happen? How did the Khmere Rouge come to power? How can men hug their grand children in photos now and yet during the Khmere Rouge period these same men killed children by slamming their heads into trees?

I need to go there to make portraits and try to understand.

The coming Cambodian trip is quite far off but am already getting excited, I expect to buy the air ticket in about 3 weeks. I will stay in Phnom Penh the whole 3 week trip. I have to buy my second Asian trip air ticket before I leave for the first trip. I was planning on spending the second 5 week trip in Thailand but might go to Cambodia as well the second trip. Maybe I can buy the second ticket to Phnom Penh then travel the country for 2 or 3 weeks and spend the final 2 or 3 weeks in Thailand before departing from Bangkok.

Am studying the wonderful work of the photographer Bill Burke, who shot extensively in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Check out the the beauty, the independence, the strength and defiance in this Bill Burke portrait.

Bill Burke's "Woman with Elephant"

Monday, April 11, 2011

1/2 Day Out In The Countryside

On Sunday I went out on a nice 1/2 day photo trip with my friend Rob. It was a beautiful day to make photographs, nice and warm with soft sunlight and no wind. I really enjoy these outings, we have nice talks and make photos, a grand old time. Rob is much better at this type of photography than I am but I always enjoy the challenge (landscape photography is tough!) and I get to try out new equipment/techniques I can use in Asia.

I got to use my Linhof 4x5 with viewfinder and Pentax spot-meter out in the field for the first time. I found the viewfinder (which allows you to see the scene through various focal lengths) a great help for finding my compositions. I ended up using the 210mm Nikon lens for the most part and just set the viewfinder at 210mm and walked around looking for photographs. I loved using the Linhof and the Pentax spot-meter as well, this set up should work well in Cambodia/Thailand when I am making portraits for the "Peoples" project. I should be able to make the work flow, get good composed, focused and exposed negs quickly, which will allow me to give most of my attention to my subject, I can concentrate on bringing that special/telling moment out of them.

On Sunday used zone metering for the photos and ended up with some decent negatives. I hope to refine and improve on these negs and my zone technique in the future. I think using a spot-meter and zone system for the Asia portraits is the way to go, then I am ensured of getting proper exposures and printable negs.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

35mm Klong Toey Work

Well I have all the contacts completed from the November Thai trip both in b/w and color. Today I am going through a selection of 35mm negs shot in Klong Toey. The Leica lens are very expensive the 28mm F2 I used in Klong Toey was around $3000 but boy is it a wonderful, sharp,fast lens!

I am making 11x14 prints of some of the negs, the prints have grain (tri-x) film but look quite wonderful. I am very pleased so far with the look of the 11x14 RC prints. I think I will probably change the photos chosen for the Larry group show again. I am thinking now to do 5 or 6 children photographs from Klong Toey along with 4 or 5 color Cambodian brothel portraits shot in 2003.

When I return to Cambodia I expect to take 2 of the Leicas with a few lens choices to continue the work with this wonderful camera system.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quote: Francis Bacon

This quote was posted on Dorothea Lange's darkroom door.

"The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Found Some 16x20 Paper

I found some more Ilford Warmtone 16x20 way in the back of my other papers so am going to continue tonight to work on the b/w photos for the show. I also found what might be some unfogged Agfa Classic 16x20. I should be up all night in the dark, am quite excited by that. Will go for a birthday dinner with my father in a few hours, he is 79 I am 47 (we have the same birthday 32 years apart).

I ordered $1300 worth of photo paper last week!! I will probably not use all of it now but its good to have around, seems like more show opportunities are developing. I also am going to make up a portfolio of work for Luz in Victoria so Quinton can use it for promotion purposes. Part of the $1300 is 200 sheets of 11x14 which I plan on using in the portfolio.

Yesterday went to the gallery space my friend Larry is building, its really beautiful as good as I have seen with wonderful lighting through out. Larry hopes to use the space to promote photography in Edmonton. I took some of the prints I might show at the group show (June 3rd) to check what they looked like in the gallery light. Overall I was quite happy with the look of the prints the tone and the glossy finished showed up quite nicely, the photos came to life under the lights. I might have to lighten up the prints just a tad and pull back on the contrast a bit.

My friend Rob also placed a frame order for me (another $1200-$1400). Rob and I plan on building the frames ourselves. Rob is the pro at this sort of thing, so he will probably do most of the work, I will do what I can and say "Thank You Rob, Thank You", lots of times. I got enough framing material both in black and white so I can go a few ways with what I choose to do. I also have a group show in October so am thinking of saving the white framing material for that show and using the black for this one.

Got to concentrate now on trying to save money, am paying off the paper, film and framing orders but then I need to save money for Cambodia, and after that Thailand so I can work on the Peoples series photos.

Emotional Involvement

Was just setting up the darkroom for tonight's all night printing session and was thinking of the importance of emotional involvement in your photographs. I talked of this before but I need to find my Minomata, something that I can throw my body and soul into, something that I am absolutely passionately involved in.

Maybe it will be a specific aspect of the sex worker subject, maybe people scavenging the dumps of Cambodia, it might even involve something in another part of the world, but I need to find it. I feel my technical ability it is at a high enough level that I can make the photographs I want to but I need to find that subject thats going to inspire me to do the work. I might have found it already in the peoples project will see how that goes next trip when I am in Cambodia.

I need to find a subject that I would die for, something that I can throw everything into and forget everything else.