Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quote: M Alvarez Bravo

"A musician should always be whistling; a photographer should always be looking..."

Bought 37 Rolls Of 100 Foot Bulk Outdated Tri-x

I bought 37 rolls of 100 foot bulk Tri-x tonight at $50 USD a box and $104 USD for shipping 3 large boxes loaded with film back to Canada, it works out to $1954 USD total.

The film is from an American school and is outdated (Feb 2012) but should be OK for a few more years, I plan on freezing it as soon as it arrives in Canada. The going rate for fresh Tri-x is now $69 USD a roll from B&H plus shipping, brokerage and taxes.

My one worry is that the film will be damaged in some way, from X-rays or poor storage (was kept in a dark closet) etc. I decided thou to take a chance on it, I love this film very much and I need to get as much as I can frozen while it is still available to me. I will use this latest film first as it is outdated but will test it before taking it overseas.

Spending to much money lately, this is another $2000+ but its for film not gear so that is reassuring to me. I will probably shoot 10 1/2 boxes of this stuff  (200 rolls) in October/November. The other 26 1/2 rolls will probably last me through the next 3 or 4 years, then I can move on to my many previously purchased bulk Tri-x rolls (frozen and outdated  in 2014). Hopefully with this latest buy I have at least a 10 year supply of 35mm Tri-x.

These 10 years will hopefully lead to some outstanding negs, and some important powerful photographs. It will be the 49-59 year old period of my life, got to make as many good photos and go into as many exciting new worlds as I can before I hit that scary 60 year old number and slow down physically because of age. Thinking about experiencing those worlds and making these photographs is all terribly exciting!

Of course during this same time period I also expect to shoot hundreds of sheets of 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 film as well (have stockpiles of Tri-x in all those sizes). Gosh I better get off my ass and do some shooting!, this film ain't getting any younger and either am I.

Just did some calculations, I should get this bulk film to my house for around $55-$60 a roll CAD, the current price from my local camera store is around $103 CAD each.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

35 Cent Mags

Did my 3rd local buy of the week. First I bought the Durst enlarger and darkroom equipment, then the Epson 750 scanner and today 29 "Darkroom Photography" magazines from the 1980s. These mags should be fun to leaf through maybe I will learn a few things along the way, I got 29 magazines for $10.

4x5 Ladyboy Sex Worker Heads From 2012

Got around to developing these head shots of ladyboy sex workers a while back, here are some scans.

Friday, June 28, 2013

4x5 Trip Negs Part 3

Here are some of the scans made with the new/used 750 (thanks Mark, works great!). I am already starting to change my thinking on only taking 35mm after liking this first scan. I might try taking the 4x5 but only using it in Klong Toey to shoot subjects in Bangok, then later when I go to Mae Sot to shoot the dump I will leave the 4x5 in Bangkok and only take 35mm equipment. I also have the wonderful new 90mm Nikon lens I want to use! Stay tuned will probably change my mind another 2 dozen times before the trip. I need to shoot less in harsh sunlight (hard to do at the dump) and use reflectors better to fill in shadows.  I need to do so much work with the 4x5, need to improve on so many levels its hard to leave it behind for a whole trip.

Muay Thai boxer, Thailand 2013
Boy with mask, Mae Sot Dump Thailand 2013

Burmese children, Mae Sot Dump Thailand 2013

New-Used 750 Epson Scanner

I picked up a used Epson 750 scanner from a ex club friend tonight, it retails for about $850 (plus tax) and I got mine for $350 so not bad. I hope to use this scanner for at least the next 5 years so that works out to about $70 a year. I will be posting some of the 4x5 dump scans in the coming days. This might lead me to wanting to take the 4x5 again this trip. My moods can blow with the wind. Putting my old Epson 700 which works sometimes and does not work most times into a box, and into my garage for storage, wonder if it can be repaired?

I Like It!

I was unsure about the $190 I spent on the latest enlarger and generic darkroom equipment but now I think its money well spent. The enlarger is so solid, you really feel like things are secure when you set them, my 8x10 enlarger is a Durst also and feels the same, heavy duty and very well built. The unexpected thing for me was how much easier it is to work with the 250w bulb, it allows quick accurate focusing and shorter burn times (I burn a lot). At some future date I plan on changing out my old Saunders LPL enlarger for the newer version Saunders, they also use the 250w bulbs.

As a nice bonus I like working with the handled graduates, I am always banging up against stuff and dropping these things, the plastic handles are very easy to use and hang onto. Heck I even am using a small bottle of Ilford rapid fix I got in the deal, $190 well spent!

Tonight I am just going to have some fun printing 8x10 fiber photos from the dump 35mm negs. I have various 8x10 fiber papers that have been sitting around in the darkroom for years, want to use them up printing with this new enlarger and these new negs. A wonderful night in the dark ahead of me.

"Ain't Photography Grand!" It don't get much better than this folks. : )

Thursday, June 27, 2013

35mm Dump Photos Part 10

This might be the last group of 35mm scans from the dump until next trip.

Rather Amazing Story, Cambodian Orphans Donate To Alberta Flood Victims

Found this amazing, I got to do a series of photos on a Cambodian orphanage at some point. This kind of story is why I love photographing people, we all share an under lying goodness and a common (lives) humanity. Maybe I should try to photograph an orphanage as my second project this coming trip.

Simplest Tools Are Sometimes The Best

This is a $99 Elwood 8x10 enlarger currently on sale on eBay. I bet the right photographer could make great photos with this ancient beat up thing. I recently watched a video on Edward Weston's very sparse darkroom, this item would have been an absolute luxury for him. Sometimes the simplest tools allow the artist to concentrate on his craft more and create their best work (he writes after buying his 7th enlarger!).

Started Work On "The Train Is Coming" Opening Night Video

Just started working on the opening night video for the recently completed "The Train Is Coming, Portraits From Klong Toey Slum" Kaasa Gallery show. Trying to get all the video and picture elements together before combining it all in a nice package with some fitting music. This video will be all thats left of the show in this form, so its important to put something nice together to keep the photographs alive. These type opening night videos are also good for promotional purposes, I usually include them in submission, grant packages etc. I will also need to find some nice copy-write free music to play in the video, want to try to keep it to 5 minutes or less.

I am unsure if I should do a voice over for this one (like I did for "Human Voices"), they are hard to do and come across as a bit full of yourself if done wrong. I plan on doing some separate 5 picture story vids from the slum and the dump later on where I tell stories about 5 different photographs in 5 minute videos. Maybe I will save my Morgan Freeman voice over moments for these story videos and just use music in this opening night piece.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Used Durst 4x5 Enlarger

Picked up a new used enlarger tonight, 3rd or even 4th hand by now. The enlarger is a Durst CLS 450 4x5 color head on a Laborator CE 1000 column. The thing is built like a tank and looks very heavy duty and reliable. In the package I also got 2 lens, 2 negative carriers, a timer and an extra bulb. Also included were various other general darkroom stuff, nice safe light, Patterson tank and focusing loop, small trays, small easel, 4 small collapsable bottles, some chemicals, 4 or 5 print tongs, various clips, small thermometer, funnels and 2 nice handled measuring graduates, all for $190.

I plan on using this enlarger as a backup to my Saunders, my second Saunders backup enlarger is currently down (in need of a power supply). Counting this Durst 4x5 enlarger I now have 5 enlargers in my darkroom and 2 in my garage, which is a bit nuts but these things are going cheap now and I like to have backups for everything. When my power supply went down a while back on the Saunders I was able to change out the power supply from my second Saunders enlarger and keep printing. Now if my Saunders goes down I can switch out and start printing with the Durst. My Saunders is also getting old and having slippage focusing problems when I make big prints, I have to check the focus and refocus for almost every new sheet of paper. In the future this Durst might become my main enlarger thou I would not have the Saunders compensating b/w multigrade head on it which I love.

Another very distant possibility for this machine is to take it to Thailand (it has a 220 power source).  In the future I might try and buy a condo in Bangkok or somewhere else in Thai and set up a small workable darkroom, this enlarger might fit the bill as I can take it apart and ship it in sections, maybe over several trips in my check in luggage (it should be tough enough for the journey). I usually try to plan my photo things in advance so this might be one of those buy now use later deals, that plan also works for some of the other things I got this time round, the safe light, trays etc. I can easily set up a 2nd and maybe even a 3rd darkroom with all the spare parts I have accumulated through the years. : )

Some just noticed advantages and disadvantages to this machine, it uses a 250w bulb so it should be brighter and will hopefully lower my burning times (my Saunders uses a 200w bulb). There is no fine focus on the Durst which makes it a bit awkward to focus but once it is in focus everything seems really secure and locked down. This  is a good deal (not a great deal) that includes a very tough high end enlarger, hopefully I can use it for many years to come.

Here are are some photos of the newest tool, I just managed to squeeze it in:

My 5 darkroom enlargers now include:
1)Saunders LPL 4x5
2)Saunders LPL 4x5 (backup thats currently down, wall mounted for very large prints)
3)Durst - Laborator 1000 - CLS 450 4x5
4)Omega Pro-Lab 4x5 (condenser enlarger for doing very contrasty prints)
5)Durst Laborator 184, 5x7 - 8x10 enlarger

I only bought one of these enlargers new the rest were all discount used jobbies, the 8x10 was the best deal of them all, just paid a couple of hundred for the lens the enlarger was basically free.

Some More 800 ASA Boxer Stand Development Shots

Here are some more of the 800 asa stand development shots, I have a several rolls of 1600 asa stuff to develop yet, maybe give it a try today. I will develop 1 roll at a time and keep the same 2 hour development but I am going to the concentration of Rodinal from 1/50 to 1/25. The problem with pushing film is that you loose shadow detail and raise contrast, thou this stand development seems to work better than anything else I have tried through the years. If I get into a situation where I need the extra speed even with the newer faster lens I am using then I can go to 800 asa with no problem, that's a very comforting thing to have in your photo technique arsonal.

Maybe my second project this trip should just be to do a bunch more Muay Thai boxer images? I have access to the gym, heck I even am starting to have friends there, it might be the best way to go, I can also just wander Klong Toey slum and continue to make pics. Will see how it goes, might try something more exotic also. I would like to photograph a drug abuse related subject of some kind or possibly something to do with HIV/AIDS.

Anyway here are some of the 800 asa scans from before:

35mm Dumpsite Photos Part 9

Excited And Other Thoughts

Am excited and really looking forward to returning to the families at the dump and make pictures, I have established some relationships now, and I want to continue working in that environment learning more more. I will also try to donate more to the families there but it looks like the calendar idea might not work, I might just have to donate some security guard money to the school and for rice etc.

I will go with a 100% 35mm equipment, including 4 Leica bodies (3 rangefinder 1 SLR) and 4 or maybe at most 5 lens (might take the 90mm). Traveling with only 35 gear means I will not need to have a check in bag, I will go with a camera bag and a light knapsack for film and a few clothes. I left my big heavy rubber boots in Thai last time so should be able to use those again and I will buy things as needed such as shavers, toothpaste etc in country. This coming trip will be my 12th to Thailand and it will also be the lightest, smallest and hopefully lead to the best pics.

I want to find one more subject to shoot this trip, I have 5 weeks total so maybe can do 2 weeks in the dump and 2 weeks in another place and have 5 days or so to just lay about recuperating. There is also a possibility I will travel to a nearby country.

All the photographic opportunities are ahead of me, I have few distractions at home, things are looking good to make strong photographs. I will probably take a large format trip in the coming year or two where I will probably shoot only 5x7, I have large supply of Tri-x 5x7 film that's outdated and I need to shoot but for now its only 35mm.

Speaking of outdated film, I took out one of my ancient frozen bulk Tri-x rolls, dating back 25 years,  it is has probably been expired for 23 years or so but has been frozen most of that time. I loaded up a roll from the bulk loader and will shoot it soon, maybe with the new 60mm and R6 thou that might not be a fair test for the camera-lens. I wonder what this old Tri-x will look like, it will probably be fogged but who knows I might be able to still use it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quote: Sebastiao Salgado

“I believe that the average person can help a lot, not by giving material goods but by participating, by being part of the discussion, by being truly concerned about what is going on in the world.” 

The Special Moment

Met and had dinner with my friend Larry tonight he gave me a wonderful limited edition "Pentimento" book about Burtynsky's ship breaking photos in Bangladesh. We talked about many things but the thing that stood out of me today was Larry's talk about the importance of capturing that special moment in your pictures. A good picture turning into a great picture has something special that elevates it past the ordinary, something that creates that unique and powerful moment. The trick is finding that moment, some photographers like Sebastiao Salgado or Henri Cartier-Bresson capture it their whole lives so their is skill to it not just luck. You need to be in the right place, the visual place at the right time but  to capture that moment you need to train yourself, you need to see the moment coming and work towards it. When I am in the dump in October, I am going to try and concentrate less on the poverty and more on the special, the magical visual moments within these peoples lives. I still want to focus on their humanity, the human story but I am also going to look for that magic mili second. Creating strong pictures is not only about composition, subject matter and lighting there must be a search for whats special, you need to use great technique but then reach beyond it and get to that all powerful special moment in time.

Anyway as always dinners with Larry are intellectually stimulating and challenging as well as a bit goofy and fun!

One of Larry's favourite Salgado special (decisive) moment photographs.

Sebastiao Salgado

Camera Bag And Taping

Picked up a nice used Domke camera bag relatively cheap on eBay, not sure its big enough to carry 3 cameras but 2 cameras  and a extra lens should fit fine. I like the colour and the strength of the bag, I try to be harder strong equipment now and stuff that sort of blends in and does not stand out. This bag also does not look to much like a camera bag with expensive equipment in it, I might have to do something to tone down the red Domke label, maybe a black felt pen.

I also did the taping job and put a comfortable strap on the R6 Leica body. I always put black tape my Leica cameras, I place the black tape over everything that broadcasts Leica. There is no use advertising what gear I carry, especially when I am in potentially dangerous situations photographing potentially dangerous individuals. I buy Leica for the quality of the lens, and the durability/reliability of the product but I prefer to try to keep the expensive brand advertising quiet, no use having a big flashing neon sign spouting off LEICA, LEICA, LEICA.

Used Domke F3-X  Super Compact Camera Bag

Monday, June 24, 2013

35mm Negs Can Be Printed BIG!

In the past I felt and was told that 35mm negs could not be printed to big, I think thats a load of hooey (technical term) now. I find that 35mm negs printed to 16x20, 20x24 or even larger look better printed that size, the grain really becomes part of the structure of the picture a detailed fingerprint of the moment. Look at the wonderful large 35mm portraits from a Salgado show below, these look to be printed on 20x24 paper and they look freaking great.

Sebastiao Salgado Center for Documentary Expression and Art Show, Salt Lake City Utah

Here is a link to the site where the show was held, possibly a place I could eventually submit to.

Photojournalism Blog

This looks very good, will check it out some more later when I have time:

Great Book And Photographs

I also got a paper back copy of the Sebastiao Salgado book "Terra Struggle of the landless" in the mail today, what a wonderful publication this is. Salgado is such a great photographer who tells such important stories, he is like a shining light to me, an example I want to emulate and follow. A book like this gives me confidence heading back to the dump with only 35mm equipment, if I can create work half as good as what Salgado did in "Terra" then I am doing some great stuff and communicating a very important message. I wonder if the wonderful intense closeup portrait cover shot was done with the R 60mm? There is a wonderful shot of tattered and worn feet photograph in this book, it really speaks well about the lives of the people he documented, it must have been done with the 60mm, a wonderful close up picture.

I found a wonderful link about the girl in the above cover shot.

Below is the Salgado feet shot I mentioned:

Construction workers Brazil 1982, Sebastiao Salgado

Got My Leica R6 Body

I got my Leica R6 SLR body in the mail today. I chose the cheapest R6 on eBay $375USD and was a bit worried how it would turn out. I do not need to worry any longer the body looks to be in great shape. Now I am waiting on the 60mm macro f2.8 lens hopefully it will arrive later this week and I can take it out shooting. This camera is known for its toughness in all conditions and is basically a 100% mechanical machine with a few electronics thrown in, the camera can operate properly at all shutter speeds without a battery, the only things the battery runs are the self timer (go figure) and the light meter. Size wise its a bit lighter than an Leica M6 body but physically its almost identical in size, its just a tiny bit wider at the lens mount pentaprism. I expect the 60mm lens to be quite a bit bigger than the M rangefinder lens but overall I should be able to carry this camera and 3 rangefinder M cameras at the same time.

I hope this new body with the combination of the new lens will allow me to create some strong close up work. I also hope it is tough as a tank tool and will last me the rest of my life. I am very excited about the possibilities!! Lets make some frickin pictures!!

In Salgado's book "Workers" last night at work I was looking closely at a wonderful shot he did of a workers hands, I hope to do some of that in the dump later, closeups of work, hands, tools, faces maybe even the garbage (flies), shacks etc. I want to show up close the life of the people there, tell their stories more completely, more honestly and more compassionately.

From "Workers", Sebastiao Salgado