Thursday, January 31, 2013

Want To Shoot It To!!!

I got an email today from a Polish photojournalist and another from a Bangkok based photographer a few weeks back. My friend Rob told me my subjects are often shot by others and he is right, I will have to find my own unique way of telling this story, maybe the 4x5 camera can help with that.

I tried to help out both photographers the best I could, we are all in this together, trying to make good work and trying to raise awareness to the lives of our subjects.

Here are the emails:
Hi Gerry,

First of all I want to say - great photos in your portfolio.
My name is ............., I am from Poland, and I am a freelance photojournalist.
I've read about your plan of shooting families living on a rubbish dump in Mae Sot.
I'm going in March to Mae Sot and I want to do photo essay about the life of refugees in Mae Sot, including the people living in the landfill.
I just collect the information about the place. Have you ever been there?
Do you know if  anyone can go to the garbage dump ?
You know exactly where it is?
Could you write me something more about this place?

Thanks in advance.

 Hello Gerry,

I just wanted to compliment you on your boxing photos from the Klongtoey gym. They are wonderful.

I live in Thailand and am also interested in seeing if I can take some photos.  Did you find the people receptive to you being there and taking photos of them?...........

Anyway, beautiful photographs!

Kind regards

Dear Gerry,

You are very kind to respond.  I'm so pleased to hear that they were receptive to you photographing them.  Did you need to contact the person in charge first?  I wonder if the gym is still there.  I suspect so...........

I will take some shots soon and perhaps I might be able to share them with you if you are interested.

Again, thank you for being so kind to take the time to reply to me.

Warm regards

Grant Submission Made, Strike 3?‏

Well I put together my third grand submission for the "Alberta Foundation for the Arts" people. This submission is another attempt to fund the "The Families of the Mae Sot garbage dump" project, this project was rejected last time (strike 2). This time I made it a bit smaller, I am asking for $3500 not $5000 and the project will run 5 weeks (starting in November) not 7 weeks. Lets see how this one runs out. I will start the project regardless of the foundations funding, with a 3 week trip earlier in the year, 100% funded by the "Gerry Security Guard Foundation".
Hopefully this latest grant does not end with strike 3 and a strikeout and I can continue the work in November, partially funded with the foundations help.
I got this submission in, just in the nick of time, with 1 day to spare!

Aluminum Mounted Sex Worker Portraits‏

I think I will make up 20 of the aluminum sheet mounted sex worker on white portraits. If I make a few extras (I expect to hang about 10 in New Orleans) it will give a larger selection of images for the New Orleans boys. If the Bangkok Toot Gallery show comes to fruition in the next year or so I can use the same prints 2 times, which should save on a bit of work and cost. I can pack my 20 fiber portraits into my new (used) hardcover plastic case and take the prints both to New Orleans and Bangkok. The 20 print case might even take trips to other cities if I get other shows for the work in the future. This should work out well.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

37 Sex Worker Negs And More Coming

Just did a quick look through some of my online white background sex worker images for possible selection to the Scott Edwards Gallery show, so far I have 37 negs for 10 spots. Gosh I have many possibles that are not even online, heck I even have film thats not developed from the 2012 sessions. This should be a very interesting cutting down process!

I wonder if I should do all nude portraits? Should I include head shots? Should I include clothed portraits? Should I just make selections that show the workers vulnerability? Should I choose negs that show strong and independent personalities? Should I do a combination of strong and vulnerable?

Lots to think about here. I want the pictures to work together on more than one level, maybe I need to do a combination of strong and vulnerable.

I found these four images shot in different years of Bla and Long. I think the poses and facial expressions show Bla's strength and Long's vulnerability.

Bla Freelance Sex Worker, Thailand 2009
Bla Freelance Sex Worker, Thailand 2012
Long Gogo Bar Sex Worker, Thailand 2009 
Long Gogo Bar Sex Worker, Thailand 2007

I need to think more about what story I want to tell with this small New Orleans exhibition but for now I better get back to printing my "The Train Is Coming Show",  the deadline for the print drop off is quickly approaching.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Looks Like Aluminum

Looks like I will go with prints dry mounted to Aluminum. My friend Rob convinced me that the swiss corners would look to cheap. I am not a big fan of dry mounting but the aluminum will give me a nice surface for the print to sit on and the photographs will have a unique strong look in the gallery. I need to figure now what type of aluminum to use (how thick, anodized or not, color?)

16x20 Paper Instead Of 11x14?

Keep on running this New Orleans deal through my mind. If I can do 16x20 swiss clip acrylic frames, then I can print on 16x20 paper. Maybe the image size could be 13x17 with a small 1 1/2 inch over mat. That might look quite nice with a black edge neg border and bright acrylic. Larger prints usually look a bit better. This would also work if I  mounted the paper to 16x20 aluminum sheets.

Richard Avedon "American West" photos mounted on aluminum

Scott Edwards Gallery, New Orleans

I found these photos and this video online for the Scott Edwards Gallery in New Orleans, it looks like a happening and fun place to visit. I am looking forward to visiting the gallery, viewing the photographs and meeting all these folks.

Swiss Clip Frame? And Shipping Case? For New Orleans Show??

I am trying to find the best, lightweight option for the New Orleans show. I thought these swiss clips might work along with my normal acrylic fronts. I could quite easily put 10 -16x20 size frames like this into a check on shipping case of some kind like the photo below. I might try dry mounting the prints to aluminum like Richard Avedon did for his American West work.

Making A Swiss Clip Frame

If I buy a used case like this and use the swiss clips with acrylic I could probably do the entire print shipping process for about $300 (maybe less). It would not be as nice as having black metal frames but I have to figure out what I can handle economically, I need to do it up nice like but also I do not want to spend thousands of dollars on this. I would rather save some framing/shipping costs and use that money to make pictures in Mae Sot later this year.

I purchased this used plastic shipping case to transport my sex worker on white  aluminium mounted portraits to and from the show in New Orleans. I will probably take 15 mounted prints with me which will give my New Orleans friends something to choose from.

Another thought on the case and 15 mounted prints:
I could probably use the same photographs, with maybe a change or two along with the case to ship and store photographs for the Tootyung Gallery in Bangkok if that show happens.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Been Thinking

This photoNOLA show thing has me worked up and thinking.

- How do I get my photographs to New Orleans? Ship them? Stuff them in carry on luggage?
- Should I use black frames? Should I cut down some of the 20x24 frames from the Kaasa show,
  to 16x20  to save money?
- Should I go the way Avedon did in the American West photos and just mount the print to a fancy mat
  board of some kind or a metal like aluminum?
- When I make up the 10 prints I will no doubt have plenty of extras that I can send to Pier 24 in
  San Francisco to be evaluated there (long shot chance to get a print purchased by Pier 24).
- Is this show worth the effort? and the money spent on it. Hope I am not getting my hopes up to much.

Scott Edwards Gallery, PhotoNOLA 2012 Show

Looks like the link below was the PhotoNOLA 2012 main gallery show for the Scott Edwards Gallery, tintypes! you got to like that.

First International Show In New Orleans!!

I got some very exciting news today, I am going to have my first International show, it will be in New Orleans USA and run sometime in 2013. The show would be  connected to the 8th International PhotoNOLA photography festival and held at an attached studio to the Scott Edwards Gallery.

While its not the main gallery, I am very happy with this news. I thought after the Kaasa solo show I would not have any other shows to work towards but now I do. The printing for this New Orleans show should be a bit less work as I would be only making 11x14 prints (I have 200 sheets of warmtone Ilford I can use), and the 8x10 white background negs are easier to print. Getting the 10 - 16x20 frames to New Orlean might be a bit difficult but I will figure out how to do that. I will also have to factor in travel and accommodation costs but I will work that out bit by bit. Heck its my first International show, I want to make this work well. 

Most importantly I can show at tell some of the stories of the sex workers of Thailand.

I hope this works out and is all on the up and up.

Here is edited version of the  email I received today with a few more details, and a few nice comments about the work (I have been a fan of Bellocq and Avedon for years) :


Hope the New Year finds you doing well. We are finally starting to recover from PhotoNOLA 2012 and are starting to plan for 2013. 2012 was a great festival; our 7th year!

I met with Scott Edwards the other day and he is interested in hosting an exhibit of your work! His main gallery is already spoken for but he has an attached studio and said he would be happy to have your work there if you think it could work for you. He told me there is one wall available for hanging work and thought that about ten 16x20 frames would fit there; more if you wanted to hang salon style. I haven't seen that space but will go look at it soon. In the meantime, I asked him to send some pics to get an idea of what it looks like. I will forward to you when I get them. He has a simple 50/50 split with the artists he exhibits. He does do heavy promotion of each show and, if you could possibly be here for the opening, would promote that as well. You would be responsible for getting the work here and back but I can help hang the show.

My interest in showing your Sex Worker's series is that I think it references some of New Orleans' history of prostitution i.e. E.J. Bellocq while, at the same time, provides a very personal, direct look at the individuals working in the trade now. Your work, to my mind, combines the warmth of Bellocq and the style of Avedon; not a bad combo.


O.K. enough for one day. :) I'll be in touch.




Today/Tonight In The Dark

Today I started out late in the darkroom, then stumbled around on a neg that I eventually did not print. I then almost gave up when some laziness took me over but I was able to overcome that and do some nice work  today. I want to do some more test trips before I finish but overall I am happy with my day. I will get back at it tomorrow (Friday) and also print on the weekend. It seems I have 2 full time jobs now, Mr Security Guard and Mr Printer.

Trip Thoughts

Am  doing a late night darkroom session tonight, printing more show photographs. I keep thinking of my Thai trips this year. I want to take a 3 week trip (maybe April or September) and a 5 week trip (November/December), to start work on my solo effort/solo funded "Mae Sot Garbage Dump Portraits", I also want to make some trips to the refugee camps in the area of Mae Sot, to see if I can gain access to photograph there as well.

As I work in the darkroom developing 4x5 portraits made with the Linhof (beautiful sharp images even at 16x20), I keep thinking "How can I not take a 4x5 camera with me? Will I not be missing out on the chance to make some great large format portraits?".

A few weeks back I was thinking of only taking 2-35mm Leicas with 2 or 3 lens, but now I am wondering if it is not better to take 1 35mm Leica with 1 or 2 lens and the Linhof with 1 or 2 lens. I need to take 2 Leica lens because last year I did a trip with one lens and dropped and damaged the thing soon after arriving which meant I could not shoot any 35mm (the lens that I am now getting repaired from the earlier blog). If I take 2 lens I lessen the chance of being screwed again, if one lens goes down I still have the other  (Leica bodies are pretty robust, so hopefully no problems with 1 body).

I am uncertain how to proceed. If I did do the Linhof I might just take the absolute minimum, maybe 1 lens the lightest carbon fiber tripod that will work and 2 or 3 Graphmatic backs instead of the heavy plastic 4x5 holders.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Leica Lens Repair, Bad News

I got some bad news on my 28mm Leica lens I sent out for repairs. I dropped the lens last year by accident (it fell off my camera when I accidentally pressed the release button). The lens fell on its base, and I was hoping it would be a simple repair but it looks like its going to cost a bunch of money. Got this email today from the repair people. How much is this going to cost me?

Hi Gerry,

We won’t be able to repair your 28mm lens here as is appears that there has been some shifting of the internal elements. We will have to ship this to Leica Camera Inc. in New Jersey and may need to forward the lens to Germany for repair. We will need your consent to ship the lens out of the country so please let us know as soon as possible if this is okay with you.

Best regards,

Opening Reception April 29th For "The Train Is Coming" Show

Well I got the date for my solo show opening reception at the Kaasa Gallery. The opening will be on Monday April 29th 2013 between 7 - 9 pm. The prints will already be on display in the space for over 1 month before that date (I drop them off March 18th), but thats fine.

Everything is great! I get my first solo show in a beautiful building and gallery (not the local coffee shop), I get a nice opening reception with food and drink that I can share with friends and family. Most importantly I get to tell the story of the people who live in Klong Toey Slum in Bangkok.

Now just to finish the printing, mounting and framing! : )

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MP3 Audio Blog Post Problem

I found I could not upload MP3s to this blog, go figure!!! I need to figure out how to upload it to my website where I have lots of free space and then link it to this blog. It might take me a while to get that done.

New Tool

I have been thinking a lot lately about incorporating some audio files along with my portraits for a gallery show. Earlier on I thought of a project using audio recording along with ambrotype/tintype portraits of gogo bar workers titled "Lost Innocence". Later I thought of using audio recording along with portraits I did of Burmese refugees and migrant workers in Mae Sot Thailand.

I am not sure any of that will happen but I also thought I might like to do audio blog entries (when overseas), plus I wanted to record the memories of my mother and father before they pass away. Considering all of these ideas I bought a quality handheld digital audio recorder! The model is the Tascam DR-100 MKII:

Hopefully this tool will be worth the investment and allow me to create some good verbage to use along with my still images. Having a 2 pronged attack might make the work that much stronger.

Future Possibilities?

Today has been a good day, working in the darkroom printing my show and dancing to the music.  :)

What future possibilities are there? I have a freezers filled with film, I am making the best pictures of my life, I have the support of family and friends. The photographs that can be made in the next 21 years 3 months (till I reach 70, hopefully can make photos that long), the chances to create are endless.

I filled with hope at all the positive possibilities. It is all so exciting, am on a real good high today.

Film Gerry Calling

I just phoned my photography supply dealer in Winnipeg ,  I gave my name and the fellow who answered the phone said, "Yes I know you your known as film Gerry here in the store!" then he put me on hold to find the manager who I usually deal with.

Gosh using film in the digital age is making me more and more eccentric! I am getting freakin nicknames, not far off from being hermit harry or weirdo wally now.  I guess ordering large quantities of film, 70 rolls of 100 foot 35mm, 1000 plus sheets of 4x5 and 600 sheets of 8x10 might also help with nicknames and people remembering me. It is comforting to know thou that I have the film in the freezer. If Kodak stops making film today I will have a 10 or so year surplus of various Tri-x film stocks.

Film Gerry is now off to the darkroom to develop some prints for the show. I am really struggling with an extremely tough 4x5 portrait, spent the  whole day on it yesterday without much progress. I will try this neg for a few more hours today to see how it goes before switching off to something easier. I might do some reprints of earlier photographs I am not happy with.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ottawa Trip

I am planning a trip to Ottawa, I have not been to Eastern Canada since I was a young boy of maybe 10 when I visited Toronto with my parents. I want to go to Ottawa to visit the National Gallery of Canada, the museum has a retrospective on the great living legend photojournalist Donald McCullin. I have admired Mr. McCullins work all my life and now I have an opportunity to see a major collection of his photographs at the most important museum in Canada. I can't really afford a trip to Ottawa right now but I think its something I just have to do. Hopefully with air miles along with cutting as many corners as I can, a 3 day trip to Ottawa will not be to expensive. I plan on going to the see the exhibit everyday and spend many hours studying the work.

One of my dreams is to be collected into the Canada council's art bank and to one day have at least 1 photograph shown at the National Gallery. I know its a bit of a long shot but heck we have to chase down our dreams, that's what lifes all about!

Seeing the museum and being in that atmosphere should be very inspiring and should egg me on in my quest to create important work that might eventually be collected and shown. Viewing Donald McCullin's photographs should also be a huge inspiration and a education into the very best of compassionate photojournalism. I hope it will have a positive influence on the shooting I will do in Thailand later this year.

Here is a link to the McCullin retrospective:

Here are links to photographs in the National Collection and to the art bank:

Burmese Migrant Worker Book

I am reading a book I bought online called "Thailand's Hidden Workforce", the subject of the book is Burmese migrant workers (mostly female) in Thailand (with some focus on Mae Sot). I wonder if I can get access to make photographs of the migrant workers, maybe on roadways and at their living areas but can I get access to their workspaces, the factories? Probably not.
From the book:
"Migrant factory workers are part of the million-strong army of migrant workers in Thailand who fill  the so-called 3D jobs-dirty, dangerous and demeaning- that most Thais, the beneficiaries of significant improvements in education and well-being over recent decades, are not willing to take. But the segregation of migrants within the Thai economy is not just about low-paid. physically exhausting and often unpleasant occupations; it is also about the fact that migrant workers, unlike their Thai counterparts, receive only very limited, and in many cases non-existent, protection from the authorities regarding level of pay and working conditions. Furthermore, they are in the country with, at best, only temporary state permit, have no job security and are there fore unable to organise to improve their situation."
This quote might be a possible photography series title if I am able to gain access and make photographs of the Burmese migrant workers in and around Mae Sot Thailand.
"The Burmese migrants in Thailand often find themselves in a hostile environment 'between the Tiger and the Crocodile"."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rosanne Cash (Singer and daughter of Johnny Cash)

Speaking about her fathers choice to play and record a live album in Folson prison:

"He had this impulse to do it and he had to go to bat to get to do it, he had to fight people to get to do it. That's in the nature of a great artist, to see something where other people don't see it.....He knew it was important to do"

Monday, January 14, 2013

More Grant Submissions

I need to complete another grant submission before Feb 1, am thinking of asking for funding for a 5 week trip (shorter and shorter trips) for the "Families of Mae Sot Dump" series, for November 2013. My next (4th) attempt at a grant after this 3rd one no doubt fails might be to do a portrait series of the Karen people living in Burmese refugee camps in Thailand sometime in 2014. I need to do lots more research and visit the camps on trips this year before I can proceed with my grant requests (to many unknowns).

The most likely method of funding for all of these photographic projects (since no one else seems to thinks the creation of this work is important but me!) will be the Gerry security guard incorporated grant service.  : ) 

Good Printing Week

Well I had a good printing week! I ended up getting 5 probable prints completed, and if I need to reprint any of these it should be fairly easy next time around as I have detailed printing instructions written up.

I also did several large RC masks up if new negs and found 3 exposures that I did not really consider as probables before, its nice to find nice forgotten negs, sort of like an unexpected gift.

Am in a good mood heading into my work week, I plan on cutting mat/foam boards this week and also do some over mat cutting. My friend Rob did not have time to cut my framing up so I have to wait on those yet but I can do the mat cutting first.

Things seem to be going pretty well, slow but sure.

I need to also spend some time next week working on the titles for the prints and the write up on Klong Toey that will introduce the exhibition.

I am kind of enjoying myself now, but need to get this done up so I can move onto other things. I want to try to shoot some 5x7 and 8x10 portraits and also continue my work with wet plate.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Curating The Show

My new word of the day is curating, something the Kaasa people said I have to do. Curating is rather an exotic way to explain what I will be doing. I will take the prints down to the Jubilee Auditorium and I will tell the installers what order to put them up in, that's the extent of my curatorial duties!

As to ordering the prints I was thinking of that while agitating a print (3 minutes of thinking time!). I came up with an idea for the basic layout of the show. I want the photographs the exhibition to tell a small story, the idea is to put the pictures in an order that will have a beginning, middle and end. The story idea is for the viewer to come away with a basic understanding of peoples lives in Klong Toey slum.

The order I plan is as follows.

1) A write up introduction mounted to the wall that explains the basic history of Klong Toey along with a explanation of the strange show title.

2) The first 4 or 5 photographs will be landscapes with little or no people in them. I want to set up the environment the people of Klong Toey slum live in. After I establish a base, a world the people come from, it will help the viewer identify and understand the portraits better.

3) After the landscapes I will show wider 35mm shots of Klong Toey people involved in their daily lives.

4) I will then start with the environmental 35mm style portraits.

5) Finally I will move to the 4x5 full, 3/4, 1/2 body portraits and then the headshots.

By the time the visitor goes around the entire gallery and reaches the closeup heads they should have a better understanding of the lives of the people of Klong Toey slum.

Becoming A Better Printer

The hard work I am putting into printing my solo show is paying off, I think I am becoming a better printer. The last print I worked on involved 16 different steps, mostly various types of burning, including 3 different burning masks. I am also learning to do more selective dodging, burning and exposures at different contrasts (on the multi grade paper).

The current print I am working on of a young woman worker in Klong Toey will have a 3.5 grade face exposure and a 1.5 or 1.75 grade main exposure, along with a background burn of some white areas using a mask at -1.

I find when I print now I am burning a fair amount, as I tend to overexpose and overdevelop (a tad) many of my current negs.  To often in the past I had difficulty with thin negatives, I have now decided to go a bit heavy with my negatives and then burn back detail. I quite like the resulting prints so that's all that really matters! The idea of technique is to get the final results your looking for, if your technique gets the look you desire then its done its job.

Printing has become more and more fun for me, I will try to print motor often even after this show is completed. I do not have any other shows lined up (might be some time till the next show) but I need to continue to improve as a printer so I will continue to work at my craft. I plan to print work for submissions to Pier 24 (they want work prints), my clubs and myself. Heck I have a darkroom full of paper getting older, I better use the darn stuff!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Darkroom Technique: Fiber Printing Info

Found this at the freestyle website (very useful film photographer site). I thought I would post it, I do not do tech stuff often but here is a bit of tech info for those of you who do darkroom printing, especially the newer printer people out there.

PROCESSING PRINTS (For Fiber-Based Prints) 
When processing fiber-based paper, the basic procedure is the same. However, the time spent at each step will be different than for RC prints. In addition, you will need a Hypo Wash to help clear the fixer from your print, and it will take much longer to wash the print:
Develop your prints for 2-3 minutes. The image will become visible much more gradually than with an RC print. Again, use a consistent development time rather than developing by inspection.
Stop Bath:
Put your print in stop bath for about 30 seconds, as you do with RC paper. Fixing: Fix your print for at least 4-5 minutes. Check the instructions for your specific fixer for the exact fix time. As with RC paper, you can fix for a shorter time if working with a test strip.
Rinse fiber prints under running water for about 2 minutes before processing in hypo clear.
Fixing the Print:
Lift the print out with the stop bath tongs, let it drain for ten seconds, and then place it into the tray of fixer. Agitate the tray gently, in the same way you agitated while in the developer.
Fixer removes the light sensitive silver from the print, making it safe to take out into the light. It usually takes about 5 minutes in standard fixer to fully remove the residual silver. Always check your specific brand of fixer for instructions. If you are making a final print, fix for the recommended number of minutes to ensure long-term durability. If you are working with a test strip, you need only fix the print for about 30 seconds. It will not be safe for long-term storage, but it will be safe for you to briefly examine the strip in daylight.
Hypo Wash:
This step helps to clear fixer from the print, and reduces wash time which saves water. The duration is usually 1-2 minutes, with agitation, but check the label on your particular brand for instructions.
Washing a fiber print to archival standards is a time consuming task. The best way to do it is with an archival print washer, such as the Cachet Eco-Wash. These washers can wash several prints at the same time, they use less water than other methods, and they are more effective. If you have an archival print washer, wash your fiber print for at least 30 minutes.
If you don't have access to an archival print washer, the next best thing is a tray siphon. These are not as efficient as an archival washer, but they are better than a tray without a siphon. The siphon drains the water from the bottom of the tray, where the chemicals settle, which means the wash water is much cleaner than in a standard tray. If you have multiple prints in a tray with a siphon, you will need to shuffle them frequently during washing, to make sure that each print gets equal time at the top of the pile.
Fiber prints should not be left wet for more than four hours, to prevent damage to the emulsion.
Archival Prints:
If you want to make sure that your print will last for years to come, you should use a residual hypo testing kit, such as the one made by Photographer's Formulary. This test will tell you conclusively whether all chemicals have been successfully removed during washing, which is essential to the archival longevity of your image.
Drying the Print:
Drying a fiber print is a little bit different than drying an RC print. Fiber paper takes longer to dry, and tends to curl during the drying process. Heated print dryers do a great job of avoiding this, but if you do not have one, a blotter book or a print drying screen will work well. Here are some tips for the use of blotter books:
  1. Be sure to squeegee your print very well.
  2. Blotter book pages are interleaved with a vellum-like sheet. The emulsion of your print should face the interleaf.
  3. Check your prints every few hours. If the pages seem saturated, or are threatening to stick to your print, move your prints to a different section of the blotter book.
  4. Once dry, your fiber-based print will curl around the edges. No harm in it, and you haven't done anything wrong. It is the nature of fiber-based papers. To prevent curling, mount and mat your prints as soon as they are thoroughly dry.
  5. Your blotter book is reusable, but not forever. Blotter books are inexpensive when compared to the time you put into your photographs. Stop using pages as they become stained or damaged, or if they start leaving marks or fibers on your prints. In some cases that can be with as few as 2 or 3 uses.
  6. Caution: Prints must be washed completely before placing in the blotter book. Prints containing fixer will contaminate the blotter book and any prints subsequently placed in it.
Hints for use of drying screens:
  1. Window screens work great. Buy ones with fiberglass rather than metal mesh. You can have screens custom made to fit your printing needs.
  2. Squeegee the prints and lay them face up on the screen.
  3. Place another screen directly over the first. This will help minimize curling. Leaving space between screens dries the prints faster, but allows more curling.
  4. Prints will take 8-10 hours to dry on screens depending on ambient humidity and the number of prints you are drying.
Hints for use of heated print dryers:
  1. Use the lowest time and temperature needed to dry the print.
  2. Place the base side of the paper against the heated metal. The emulsion side of a print will stick to the metal.
  3. Do not dry RC prints in a heated metal type dryer. They will melt. Do not dry fiber prints in a heated dryer designed for RC prints. They will disintegrate.
  4. If your dryer has a canvas cloth, make sure it is clean before placing your prints on it. If it is contaminated with fixer, your carefully washed prints will become spoiled with fixer.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mae Ra Moe Refugee Camp

I have been doing more research on the Burmese refugee camps on the Thai/Burma border. One camp Mae Ra Moe established in 1995 (where Zoya Phan's family stayed), still had a population of 18948 people in 2012. New arrivals continue to come to the camp after the cyclone Nargis that hit Burma in 2008 and for access to education.

Making portraits in the camps and giving a voice to the people has to be the right way to go, telling those stories and raising awareness has to be the right thing to do. I am not sure about access in the camps and if I would be allowed to shoot there, but I want to give it a try. Like I said earlier I think this coming trip I will do some exploring and try to gain access, make friends, contacts etc. Later on if I do get access I can go ahead and make portraits there (possibly with the 600 sheets of 8x10 Tri-x I recently purchased).

Here is a video link filmed inside the camp:

Cyclone Nargis information:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Todays Work

Well have the day off today so its back into the darkroom to work on the show. I am having problems with my 35mm prints so will change off and do some 4x5 work as a change of pace. I will also make a trip today to pick up some darkroom trays for $35. I go through lots of trays especially in the larger sizes, they keep cracking and breaking on me (maybe I am to rough with them). I am going to get a 3 larger trays as part of a package for the $35 and some smaller which I do not really need.

Update: I picked up the trays today and they look used but in very good condition (no cracks). I now have 8-16x20 trays (1 cracked) and  7-20x24 trays. I should have enough trays now for any eventuality thou I will keep an eye out for any cheap buys as backups.

Refugee Portraits

Not sure this is a good thing as I have another photo project in mind. I keep getting these things flowing through my mind without trying. The problem is there is only so much physically possible I can do. The latest idea is a series of large format portraits (4x5, 5x7 or 8x10) done of refugees staying in the border camps between Thailand and Burma.

I am currently reading Zoya Phan's wonderful book "Little Daughter" which has given me an insight into the Karen peoples lives in Burma and their journey into the Thai camps.

My idea would be to travel to these camps and perhaps others (other ethnic group camps, Hmong refugees?) and make portraits of the people there. I could then use the portraits to help raise awareness and possibly funds for the people in the camps.

I wonder if there is an effective way I could incorporate audio in this series? Maybe do portraits and then have people tell stories of their life now and before. A strong portrait with a expressive story could double the impact of the work and raise awareness that much more.

Funding is a problem as always, maybe this could be my next attempt at a Alberta Foundation For the Arts Grant.

I think what i will do is take a 3 week trip to Asia (all I can afford now) with only my 35mm Leica's and shoot in the Mae Sot dump areas, shoot in Mae Sot in general and try to visit some of these refugee camps. If all goes well then in the future (at the end of this year or next year) I could go into these same areas for a longer period of time with larger equipment.

Monday, January 7, 2013

An Enjoyable Night

I went to another photo club meeting tonight and quite enjoyed myself. I saw 3 prints I liked very much, one was a beautiful little seductive portrait another an abstract image of using peoples forms against water and sky and the third was a contrasty, colourful, detailed shot of leaves. I was to harsh in my previous blog from last meeting, comparing club work to the greatest masters in the medium (Strand, Weston, Arbus, Avedon, Adams) is very unfair. The club members are enthusiastic and they love photography, its a pleasure to be around those kinds of emotions. I probably won't go to meetings quite as often but I will continue to do be a club member as long as they want to keep me around!

t was a very enjoyable evening, I even got to see a little museum of South African artifacts and collectables!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lost Innocence Voiced

Been thinking more about using audio in a photography project. Earlier I had an idea to do a series of wet plate portraits of young women new to the gogo bar world in Thailand and the Philippines called "Lost Innocence". The idea behind this project would be to do close up head shots of women after 4-6 months working in a gogo bar. The images would show how the sex trade affects them as people, how they lose their youthful naivety and innocence and become damaged people.

Now I am thinking that adding audio clips to this series might make the project that much more powerful. The girls telling their own stories would add a truth that would make the portraits speak that much louder. I am not sure how well that would work in Thailand as the English language skills would be limited but it would be quite effective in the Philippines (if I create the work for a North American audience the audio would have to be in English).

All this is up in the air right now, I am not ready from a technical stand point to do tintypes/ambrotypes, I am still learning the process. I do not have the money to pay for the costs of shipping wet plate kits to Asia, or for air flights, accommodations etc. I have never been to the Philippines before. So all of this is a long way off.

Saying all of that, it's still something that deserves more thought, telling this story is important. Getting work like this into the Alberta Gallery Of Art (or even a better more important venue) it could be seen by thousands and might help lead to a dialog and maybe even positive change.


Had a rather far out idea tonight, maybe it was from watching the Karen people tell there stories the other night in "The Road" documentary (link to the documentary is a few blogs down). My idea was to do portraits of people and also get an audio recording of them
talking about their lives, telling stories about who they are, what they've experienced etc. I would then print the photo and also include the audio on the blog or in shows, thou I am not sure how I would do the audio in a gallery setting combined with the
portrait but I am sure I could figure that out. Hearing the voices of the people telling their stories might add so much to the power of the experience for the viewer (the subject would have to speak English for the Canadian gallery viewers, which might be difficult to do).
It's something to think more about but I think a compelling voice track combined with a powerful photograph might create a overpowering impact.

Will They Wander Down?

I was just looking at the Northern Jubilee schedule for March/April/May (the June schedule not online yet) to see what would be showing upstairs when my photographs are showing downstairs. The performances listed include the Edmonton Opera Association- Fidelio, Alberta Ballet - Love Lies Bleeding and Swan Lake, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Shen Yun Performing Arts, Charlie Pride, BB King and George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

I hope the people who go to see these shows and maybe even some of the performers will make it downstairs into the Kaasa Gallery and see the Klong Toey portraits. To have the work seen, to tell the story about the lives of the people of Klong Toey is important and very exciting. Hopefully people upstairs in the Jubilee will wander on down downstairs to view the work.

Strange Choice For Show TItle

The Kaasa people asked me for a final show name and I spent last night thinking about it, struggling with it all night. I came up with a number of titles, based on words like vision and humanity etc but it all sounded so pretentious so arty farty! I hate titles
that come off as so full of themselves, I wanted something simple, true and honest. Eventually I got around to thinking maybe I can use a title that was based on something someone living in the slum said to me. I thought and thought some more and could not really
remember anything except one story, a story I also included in my write up to the Larry Louie Gallery "Fading Lives" group show. The write up below is from an email I sent to T... who works with the Kaasa Gallery (Northern Jubilee Auditorium) explaining the story behind the title.
The title for my first solo show is:
"The Train Is Coming: Portraits from Klong Toey Slum" Kind of a strange title but it comes with an important story. In this one area  of Klong Toey slum (in Bangkok Thailand) there is a railway track that runs straight down between the slum houses (I will have some photographs of this area in the show). The train comes through there at regular intervals maybe 8 - 10 times a day, it passes so close to the crowded slum shacks you can actually touch them as they pass. The whole thing is rather dangerous thou the locals are very aware of whats happening and clear the track area before the train comes through.

I was photographing in this area one day and the train was coming, I was oblivious to this and concentrating on composing and shooting my pictures. Then something rather beautiful happened. A young girl maybe 6 or 7 years old came up to me, looked up at me with these innocent eyes and said in a calm quiet voice the words  in Thai "The train is coming." and then she took hold of my hand and walked me to a safe place (inside a nearby slum shack), we stayed in there with some others as the trained rumbled by, then she just smiled and left. I always thought this little act of kindness and concern for others shown by this tiny little girl embodied the sentiment of the entire slum, these were good people I was photographing. So I want to use this as a title for the show.
When I have the show I will include this story in the little opening write up I will have mounted to the wall for people to read as they enter. I want them to understand the story behind the unique title. One good thing about strange titles/names etc is that once you remember them, their hard to forget, right Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kaasa Show Update

I got an email from the Kassa Gallery people today. The photographs need to be printed, mounted and framed by March 18th, at that time professional art installers will hang the prints in the gallery. My job is to curate the show (translation, tell them which photograph goes where).

They will also give me an opening night which is great! I had the option of an opening or a closing and chose an opening. Am not sure of the opening date yet but I should know that by next week. The show will run about 3 months from mid March until mid June, not bad at all.

My first solo show in a respected Edmonton facility and a nice opening, it does not get much better than that! When I get the confirmed dates for the opening, show start and  show closing, I will post them.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Karen Peoples Documentary: The Road

This film was made by 4 young Americans from California, at times its quite graphic but its also very effective, the ending had me crying.

The film is called "The Road//A Journey Into Burma's War-Torn Karen State"it is about the Karen peoples fight for independence in Burma.

It is 42 minutes long and very much worth watching, it tells an important story about a often forgotten people.

Quote: Gary Winogrand

"A photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how the camera 'saw' a piece of time and space."

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Got my first advertising blog check today, $112.17. The check was after 8 or 9 months of ad time. I have already ordered 2 boxes of HP5 8x10 film, 25 sheets. One box from this order is free (from the advert money) and one I paid for.

I am making $0 dollars selling prints (thou one friend took pity on me and offered to buy some 8x10 prints, very nice of him, but I could not take his money) and $0 from grants. $0 from my Indiegogo fund raising project.

At least I am making a bit of money over a long period of time on the blog advertising. Any day I get some free money to invest in film is a good day, today was a good day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Little Daughter By Zoya Phan

Reading the book "Little Daughter" written by a young Burmese (Karen) writer. The writer Zoya Phan gives a real  insight into what it was like growing up in Burma as part of the Karen ethnic group.

Tonight I read something that keeps rolling around in my mind. When she was growing up Zoya's family of a father, mother 2 brothers and a sister would only have 1 or maybe 2 meals of meat a month. Here in Canada I eat 2 or 3 meals a day that include meat and all they had was 1 or 2 meals a month! I just can't get my head around that, living in that kind of poverty is something I can never truly understand.

I must try to learn and understand as much as I can.