Monday, June 30, 2014

Newest Dad Ring Flash Photos

Dad June 2014, Canada
Dad June 2014, Canada

Made Dad A Video

Yesterday I showed dad some video footage I shot at a family wedding he could not attend because of his health. Dad really enjoyed the hour plus long video and was watching it for a second time with mom when I left him. He did not eat much of anything yesterday but he did enjoy watching the wedding reception. Dad has always enjoyed going to weddings, I am so glad I was able to show this last one to him. He was lying sick in bed staring at the ceiling when I came over but when I told him about he video he quickly came right over to the family room to watch it.

I also packaged up all the raw video footage and burned it on DVD to give to the bride and groom. My hope is they will combine it with the other videos they have plus the film stills to make up a nice little movie for themselves and their children. I love doing this kind of stuff, have always loved documenting things, even simple stuff like weddings. I would still like to do an important documentary film sometime in my life, hopefully that is also eventually in the cards. With modern tech making documentaries seem possible, even from a beginner like myself.

First Advanced Darkroom Workshop Went Well And Other Stuff

My first advanced darkroom workshop went well yesterday. We covered different developers and fibre photo paper options. We dealt with different dilutions of Selenium toner (Stu was not interested in learning Sepia toning) and archival processing procedures for fibre prints. The funnest part of the day  was to bleaching with potassium ferricyanide. We worked together for around 5 hours, I tried to let Stu do as much hands on work himself as I could. The $180 cost for the workshop will go towards buying a nice big box of Ilford warm tone 16x29 fibre paper.

I am not sure how many different workshops I have taught now, I think it's around 13 or 14. Hopefully I can teach more of the advanced darkroom classes in the future, they are quite fun, teaching more advanced techniques is always more challenging. I have 2 view camera workshops coming up in July and August with Doug and Kelly, those should be fun. I might also be giving wet plate, darkroom and part film development/scanning workshops later this summer.

Tonight it's back to work in my security gig, the savings for my 6 month on, 6 month off photo life is coming around bit by bit, thou I have a long long way to go. Everything is at least 3 years in the future maybe more.

I sent a second email inquiring into becoming a metro/continuing education photography teacher with larger classes but that seems to be going no where, no response from those folks. To bad it looks like a no go, I am starting to really enjoy this teaching gig, spreading photo knowledge is one hell of a lot of fun. I love photography so much and I think that joy comes across in the teaching. Many of my students tell me they enjoyed their sessions and learned a lot, most sign up for at least 2 workshops so thats probably a good sign as well. After they take the first class they are interested in a second and sometimes a third.

I am thinking of other workshops I could give, medium format? street photography? documentary photography? using a 8x10 view camera? wet plate? portraiture? nudes? Then there are other options to make money through darkroom rentals, b/w film development, medium and large format  colour neg- transparency film development. Anyway I can figure out to make a few extra dollars to help with the savings towards my 6 months in Asia photography plan is a good thing. It's all win win stuff, promoting photography and giving myself the ability to make pictures 50% full time in Asia.

If the arty farty art experts do not think my work is worthy of grants I need to earn the funds myself. After I have the doe I can throw myself into my photography 1/2 full time. I have never been shy about working hard to get an opportunity and if that's what is required, then that is what I will do. The 2 things I think of daily are dads sad present condition and my photographic dreams of the future. I can do nothing to help my father but my photo dreams of the future will become a reality.

Quote: Michael Jackson

"Let's face it. Who wants mortality? Everybody wants immortality. You want what you create to live, be it sculpture or painting or music. Like Michelangelo said, 'I know the creator will go but his work survives. That's why to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work.' That's how I feel. I give my all at work. 'Cause I want it to just live."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Funding My Future Photography, Hopes

With no money, zero dollars coming in from grants, shows or print sales, I need to find other sources to fund the making of my photographs.

I will be selling quite a bit of unused gear in the next 10 years, I can use the money to help pay for my time in Asia allowing me to make more pics! The money from the equipment will not be that much as it's film gear but anything that helps is a plus. All the spare money I make in security, the selling of old gear and the workshops will go towards the creation of new imagery. I cannot wait for the grant deciding/print buying art experts at the AFA (Alberta Foundation for the Arts) or for paying mid level galleries to accept my submissions. I need money to make pictures now not later, if I have to fund the pics 100% myself then that is what I will have to do.

I have 3 workshops coming up, and another possible 4 or 5 in the works. All the money from those sessions will go directly back into darkroom supplies and film. Having another way to make money has been a real bonus it allows me to save a bit more security pay. Little by little I am putting away security money with the hope of eventually working only part time and making photographs part time. Imagine all the stories that I could try to tell and all the work I could create if I had more time to shoot. My goal is to work and save towards making that opportunity a reality. My hope is to have the financial freedom to make pictures each and everyday of my life. I can eat cheap, live cheap, do everything cheap as long as it gives me the chance to create my pics.

No money excuses are allowed, only hard work and sacrifices going forward for me. I will do without other things in my life so that I can continue to make my photographs and tell my stories. I do not have children, do not smoke, drink, gamble, do not have a big house or a new car etc, but I do need to make pictures. Photography gives me a reason to be alive, a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to dream. I will work as hard as I can and funnel all my resources into the making of pictures for as long as I can.

Bought More Chemistry

I did a $392 CAD chemical buy yesterday at the one last camera store that supplies darkroom chemistry here in Edmonton. My trips to the store happen less and less nowadays usually 1 or 2 times a year. When I go there I leave with boxes full of various premixed darkroom chemistry. Yesterday's haul included 3 bottles of Iford rapid fix which I hope an August workshop with Kelly will partially pay for.

Here are yesterdays purchases:

1) 20 packages of Kodak D-76 film developer.
2) 7 bottles of Kodak indicator stop bath.
3) 2 bottles of Kodak selenium toner.
4) 3 - 5 litre bottles of Ilford rapid fix.

I just do chemistry buys now, no equipment purchases. I have bought very little new gear over the last 10 years,  my purchases of cameras and lens has dropped significantly. Now almost all my photo buying is chemistry, paper, neg sheets and film. No need to buy any more hardware, it is time to make photos!  

Time To Print

I am going to go into my beautiful newly redone darkroom today and do some printing. It is a sunny saturday morning here in Edmonton, the birds are singing outside my window as I type this and the NHL hockey draft is taking place. I can follow the draft on the radio, and relax and enjoy a wonderful morning of discovering and printing a new negative. Tomorrow I have a advanced darkroom workshop which will be fun and help pay for some photo paper but today the darkroom is all mine, this will be great!

I have increased my darkroom time in the last year. I am not up to Brett Weston's daily printing routine but I am certainly on the right track. More devotion to the darkroom is paying off with better prints and increased skills. I need to continue to work towards being in the darkroom each and everyday. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wow Another

I just got another workshop email, this next workshop might happen in August. I love teaching photography and making extra money that goes directly back into my photo work is great. I have to buy a bunch of Ilford rapid fix which is $40 or $45 a bottle, I can almost get 3 of these with the money  from this latest class (if it happens).

I need to make another attempt at possibly becoming a continuing education teacher with some of these same workshops. If I could teach larger classes then I could buy more film, more photo paper and get more folks shooting view cameras and working in darkrooms. So that would be a win win thingy.

You got to love digital photography, it has given me many new opportunities. First off because of the digital revolution I got all kinds of great camera and darkroom equipment free or on the cheap and now more and people are becoming interested in the older photographic processes, leading to more workshops. Got to love it!

Thanks Stu, Doug (Saskatoon) and Kelly (Calgary). Hopefully we can all have a great time together and the courses will help you develop into outstanding photographers.

Todays Stuff

The work continues on reorganizing the basement of my place outside of the darkroom. I still have lots of stuff I took out of the old darkroom set up laying around and in the way. I am also reorganizing some of my photography books. You know you got to many photo books when you have a full room upstairs devoted to photography (my photo library) and you till have piles of books downstairs on the floor. I am now stacking and dusting a number of those books, some that I forgot I owned. One of the great ways to learn and grow as a photographer is to study the work of others, that's why I got all the books. I need to organize them better so I can refer to them as needed. There is nothing for frustrating than not finding a book when your looking for it, except maybe not finding a neg!

The photo workshop dates are lining up, I have one on Sunday and one on July 24th, so that will allow me to purchase the box of Ilford 16x20 warmtone fibre paper. This paper will be used in my next show, if and when that ever happens. I need to find a venue for the "Families of the Dump" work.

Tonight I developed 2 rolls of 120 made of dad with the blad and ring flash. If any of the new images turn out I will post them in the coming days. During my visit today with dad he looked in good shape, he was eating talking and sharing memories. He has lost around 30lbs but is still in decent overall condition considering all he has been through. Dad does not have a lot of energy and has trouble walking but he is a fighter, a strong man, cancer will not take him easy, he will go down swinging.

I have to buy my air ticket to Asia next month if I want to be able to travel on my booked holidays. I now plan on cancelling that 7 week trip and stay in Canada to be with my father. Now is dad's time, he is all that matters. I want to be with him and and want to help him all I can. This Saturday I will go to a family wedding he cannot attend, I will make a video for him so that he can enjoy it at home later. Dad  loves wedding, what the food is like, the music, what people wear, how the bride and groom look, seeing all his old friends etc. I will capture all that on the video for him. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Keeping My Vow To Dad

I do not want my fathers love, his hard work, his life, my memory of him to be forgotten, I need to keep my promise to him. I promised him that I would get a book published and dedicate it to my father.

I have to work hard after he is gone, harder than I ever have. I need to do important photography and get the book published. I can then make a dedication to dad, it is a small thing but also an important way to say thank you to my father. Dad will be remembered every time anyone opens the book.

I see the book as a series of vertical 5x7 portraits, I will start making the photos my next trip. It might take the rest of my life, but I am going to get this thing done. I owe it to dad.

The Little Baby Boy

My favourite photo of all time is not one I have taken, it's not one any famous photographer took, it is not image hanging in a museum, it is a simple snapshot taken by my mother. The photo is of my father, a youngish man of 32  leaning over a bed. and looking down. My father has a look of absolute joy on his face as he crouches over a small bundle laying wrapped up on the bed. He looks so happy, so joyful so content. The picture was made in May of 1964 a month after I was born. In the bundle on the bed I lay all wrapped up, a tiny baby. It is a photo that shows the absolute happiness and love a father feels for his young baby boy. It is my all time favourite photograph.

When my father passes, I will not longer have a dad and the feeling my father felt for me his whole life will be lost. It's scary not be that little son anymore, to not have my beautiful father watching over me, it is scary to have to move on in life alone without him. You wish you could freeze time, a part of you always wants and needs someone who knew you as his little baby boy son, that will change now, be gone forever. I will only be that middle aged guy, that old guy now, no longer the beautiful little baby boy.

"Khon Thai" And "Migrant Worker" Thoughts

The "Khon Thai" series (Thai People) is back in my thoughts again, I always loved that title. I kind of lost interest in the series because I did not want to exclude making photos of Burmese, Cambodians, Laotians etc. Now I think I can photograph those people as part of the "Migrant" series I thought of last week. So I can photograph 2 series at the same time, Khon Thai and the Migrant Worker series (got to think of a better name). The portrait work would be shot with view cameras, probably a combination of 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10. I already have some 4x5 work shot in the Klong Toey slum that I could include in the greater "Khon Thai" project. I will be creating 5x7 work of the Burmese families in the Mae Sot garbage dump that I can eventually use in the "Migrant" series. Things have a tendency to flow together even when your directly trying to connect them, it is strange how happy accidents pull you in the proper direction.

In the future when I spend extended periods in Thailand I can carry the large view camera on my shoulder or on a cart of some kind and travel the country making portraits of the Thai people as well as migrant workers. Things are starting to become clearer in my head, the future holds endless possibilities to create and tell important stories.

Latest Thai Trip Kit Thoughts

I have been thinking of what I preach all the time, simplification. Taking 3 camera formats at 6 different cameras to Asia would be just a little bit crazy. If I was going for 6 months that would be one thing but for 7 weeks, why take so much gear? Photography can be done with 1 camera and 1 lens, no need to go gear wacko.

I am not planning on just taking 1 camera and 1 lens but I was thinking of a deep cut in gear.

- 5x7 Linhof
- 120mm lens
- 1 spot meter
- 2 M6 Leica bodies
- 21mm lens
- 35mm lens
- 300-400 sheets of 5x7 Tri-x
- 100 rolls of 35mm Tri-x
- Changing bag
- 15 5x7 holders.

That's about it, nothing much else. I need to think of this as a 5x7 film trip, I will concentrate all or almost all my efforts on shooting the 5x7 with 1 lens making portraits. I will throw in the 100 rolls of 35 and the 2 Leica's for fun. I am doing the best work of my life now in 35mm I cannot abandon it totally. The main focus thou will be to do some outstanding portraiture with the 5x7. The idea would be to shoot 300 or 400 sheets of 5x7 Tri-x with one lens the 120mm. Doing it this way with simple tools I should truly begin to learn one lens and one film, and not be distracted by unnecessary bells and whistles. I can simply concentrate on my subject and making pictures, it would be a purer form of photography. Hopefully the work will eventually be printed in book form so I can keep my vow to my father.

Video: Young Boy In Jean Jacket Mae Sot Garbage Dump, Thailand

New Darkroom Print, "Young Burmese Man In Jean Jacket, Mae Sot Garbage Dump Thailand"

I have been struggling along getting used to the new 5x7 138S Durst enlarger. I tried 2 different negs but the contrast you get with the condensers is throwing me off. My first neg was a dense 800ASA Tri-x  shot of dad that went way up considerably in contrast, the second was a contrasty neg shot in the dump of some feet with crawling flies. Both negs were to contrasty to print, I think they both can be printed well with a diffusion enlarger like the Saunders LPL 4500 or the Durst 1200 (colour head) but would be very difficult to print in any condenser machine.

My 3rd attempt looks like it might work, the neg is a shot of a young man in the dump who is in shadow with some distant bright background areas I hope I can burn down. I think this machine will work well with non contrasty negs best, so I will probably print the contrasty 4x5 and 5x7 negs in other equipment and reserve this enlarger for the flatter lit negs. I can also use this enlarger for work I want to print super contrasty like the b/w ring flash heads I plan to do.

One thing I really love about this new enlarger is how rock solid the focus is. This thing is built like a tank and once you set stuff, it stays set. There is no focus shift after you focus the first time, it stays focused.

I plan on spending the rest of the night trying to print the young man neg on 11x14 fiber in the 138S, I will post some digi shots of that later if I get that far.

Note* Jack also gave me a condenser head for the Durst 1200, will try that another day. I am still waiting on Jack to send me the specialized neg carrier from PEI so cannot use that enlarger yet.

Young Burmese man in jean jacket Mae Sot garbage dump, Thailand 2013
Here is the print mentioned, the prints might be a bit dark. I plan on doing extensive bleaching and toning on it tomorrow, to see if I can open up the shadows a bit and brighten the highlights. I was reading in one of my darkroom books how Larry Clark would print moody and dark then bring things out bit by bit with bleach. I want to make the print sing, hopefully bleach and toning will give it a better voice, if not I will try lighter prints later on.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Got My Outdated Film

Today in the mail I got my 2 bulk boxes of outdated Tri-x. The film was outdated in September of 2013 so thats not bad. I paid a bit more than I wanted to  ($71.56 USD a box $15 for shipping) on this film but in the end it should be worth it as the prices of Tri-x are skyrocketing. Luckily there were no customs or GST costs on the shipment, which saves a bit of money.

I have been criticized in the past for thinking money for film was more important than spending money socializing and partying with friends but I am never sad when I buy film. All that unexposed Tri-x I have in my freezers is like a magical thing, it can turn into life changing powerful creations, nothing tops that, nothing is better than making pictures, it's better than sex! : ) I will continue to look for more outdated Tri-x and pick some up as often as I can.

Printing With New 5x7 Enlarger And Black Dectol!

Toinght my first day off I decided to do a bit of printing with the new/used Laborator 138S and a 35mm neg. I could not focus the enlarger with a 50mm lens but with a 80mm and recessed lens board I could, then the problem was I had no where to hang my filters as the lens was inside the enlarger. I settled on a 105mm lens which allowed me to attach the filters to the lens. The problem now is to do a 11x14 print I have the enlarger head way up and the baseboard way down!! Not an ideal situation sort of half assed and not very functional. I will probably just do 4x5 and 5x7 work in this machine (maybe 6x6, 6x7) and do all my 35mm in my standards Saunders LPL and the new great 1200 Durst. Today is just a bit of fun playing and learning the new machine.

The neg I am working is high contrast, it is a 800ASA Tri-s shot of dad. With the 5x7 condenser enlarger the contrast might go up a bit, I will have to pull it down somewhat with some burning and low end filters. This is probably not the idea neg for this enlarger, but I want to see what it looks like, maybe going ultra contrast will help it not hurt it.

I also dug out a bag of old dectol that Jack gave me, when I poured it into the mixing water everything went DEEP brown, maybe even black. The powder must have oxidized over the years as there was a small whole in the bag when I got it. Boy did that stuff look nasty, I poured it out and am now mixing a new batch up with newer dectol chemistry ( small mechanical mixer machine doing the work for me).

Quotes: Angelo Dundee (Boxing Trainer)

"See that's the key, if you have fun at what you do your going to excell at it, if your not going to have fun you might as well forget it".

"What advice I would give people? Give it a shot whatever you got going for you, you got to give it a shot because if you don't give it a shot then you can't look back and say hey I should of tried it, give it a shot, if it's not going to be it ain't going to be, but give whatever your doing at the time a good shot".

Quote: Ansel Adams

A young Ansel Adams wrote this about Eugene Atget.

" The charm of Atget lies not in the mastery of plates and papers of his time, nor in the quaintness of costume architecture and humanity as revealed in his pictures, but in his equitable and intimate point of view. It is a point of view which we are pleased to call 'modern' and which is essentially timeless. His work is a simple revelation of the simplest aspects of his environment. There is no superimposed symbolic motive, no tortured application of design, no intellectual ax to grind. The Atget prints are direct and emotionally clean record of a rare and subtle perception, and represent perhaps the earliest expression of true photographic art."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quote: Vincent Price

"I believe the whole history of man is best represented by his creative ability."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Story About Robert Frank

Here is a interesting well written story from 2004 on Robert Frank by Guardian writer Adrian Searle.

Quote: Robert Frank

"When people look at my pictures, I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice."

London 1952-1953 by Robert Frank

4x5 Kodachrome

My Uncle Frank sent me this link today, its pretty cool, who knew they had 4x5 Kodachrome, and a special one of a kind machine to process it back in the 1940s. Love these 4x5 WWII era transparencies of  women factory workers in full make up without PPE (personal protection equipment). World War II changed a lot of things and pushed the womens rights movement dramaticatlly forward, now if other parts of the world can just catch up, and give rights and freedoms to 50% of their own populations.

Here is a 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by the famous documentary depression era photographer Russell  Lee. I love the harsh direct flash look, something I can acheive with the Banrama 4x5 camera and flash.

Photo by Russel Lee
September 1940. Jack Whinery, Pie Town, New Mexico, homesteader, with his wife and the youngest of his five children in their dirt-floor dugout home. Whinery homesteaded with no cash less than a year ago and does not have much equipment; consequently he and his family farm the slow, hard way, by hand. Main window of their dugout was made from the windshield of the worn-out car which brought this family to Pie Town from West Texas. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration.

Another Workshop

I got another workshop email today, it looks like it is probable go. This workshop is a view camera class for $120. With the $180 from the next Sundays advanced darkroom workshop I will be pulling in $300 extra dollars, which will allow me to purchase one nice beautiful box of 50 sheet 16x20 warm tone Ilford paper, plus a bit of film.

These workshops are fun to give, I love spreading interest in the great art form of traditional film photography. Who knows some great photos might be made by some of my students, to help them along their creative journey is an honour.

"Ain't Photography Grand!"

Friday, June 20, 2014

35mm Kit?

Playing around with this 35mm kit today, thinking of possibly taking this combination to Thailand.
3 M6 Leica bodies, R6 body, 50mm F1.4, 35mm F1.4, 28mm F2, 60mm F2.8. I also am testing out my more rigid used Billingham bag, last trip I ripped my bag up quite a bit (had it repaired in Bangkok), so am looking for something a bit more sturdy.

Not sure if I need both the 50mm and 60mm lens (close focus), thou the F1.4 could be valuable in low light. Also not sure if I need 3 M6 bodies, 2 might be enough. I would have to include the 21mm F2.8 a lens I have grown to love.

It would be great to just take a single bag of gear like this and 200 rolls of Tri-x and call it quits. I need to shoot the 5x7 thou, so that's a whole bunch of more equipment ("Families of the Dump" and "Khon Thai", "Migrants", "Khon Thai" "Muay Thai Boxers"). I also need to decide if I should take the blad and ring flash to try to do some "Lost Innocence" photographs. I will only have 7 weeks next trip so I might want to postpone some of the projects. Traveling lighter is always a better idea. Less projects and less gear might equal better photographs.

Update* Maybe I should go with 2 M6s and 21mm, 35mm lens plus the 5x7 with the 120mm lens. That is the smallest kit I can imagine and yet still be able to shoot 150 rolls of Tri-x 35 and 250+ sheets of 5x7. This kit would force me to concentrate more on the composition the photographs and less on the toys.

M6 28mm, R6 60mm, M6 50mm, M6 35mm, Billingham bag.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Power Of Documentary Photography

Here is a link to CNNs frontpage, photos from the Vietnam war. The work really shows the power documentary photography can have on the world, how it can influence change. Because these photos were made the Vietnam war ended earlier. These photographs showing the horror of war helped save lives.

Gerry Yaum Goes Vietnamese At

Found this tonight, not sure if I posted it before, it's a Vietnamese news magazine style site catering to gay men (I think, maybe straight and gay). Lots of bare chested macho looking dudes on the front page. Maybe this is like the gay GQ site of Vietnam. It's great the words go with the photos and the story continues to be told. One thing leads to another, the blog leads to the show in New Orleans, the show leads to picking up the photos, and now slate is picked up by sites like which continues to spread the word. It all demonstrates the power of the Internet and the photography.

Here is a google translation of some of the write up.

Trong những bức ảnh này, nhiếp ảnh gia không chỉ khắc họa chân dung của những phụ nữ, nam giới hành nghề mại dâm mà còn cả những người đồng giới hành nghề "bán thân xác" này. Họ thường hoạt động trên đường phố, tại các quán bar hay những khu nhà thổ tối tăm...

Nhiếp ảnh gia cho biết những người hành nghề mại dâm thường xuất thân trong những gia đình nghèo khó trong khi đó, mại dâm lại có thể sinh lời hơn bất cứ nghề nào khác.

Khi được nhiếp ảnh gia hỏi về số tiền kiếm được, những người làm nghề mại dâm này cho biết họ thường mang về để giúp đỡ gia đình. Và, sâu thẳm trong trái tim mỗi người luôn có nỗi đau, sự buồn bã về chính công việc mà họ đang làm.

In this photo, the photographer not only portrays women's, men's sex workers but also practice with men who "sold his body" is. They usually operate on the streets, in the bars and brothels of the dark zone ...

Photographer says sex workers who often came from poor families while prostitution could lucrative than any other profession.

When photographers asked about his earnings, the sex workers said they often carry on to help the family. And, deep down in every human heart there is always pain, sadness about the work they are doing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Photo Idea: Migrant Workers In Thailand

After reading this story on migrant Cambodian workers:

I was reminded of some photos I made last trip. These two men are both migrant workers from Cambodia who were living and working in Bangkok. I made the photos not more than 1 block from my hotel room. What if I did a series of portraits on migrant workers in Thailand, Cambodians, Burmese and Laotians! That might be very exciting, very meaningful. I could give a voice to another often forgotten group. What to call it? "Landless Workers" "Migrants"?  I might call it whatever slang word Thais use for these hard working people, I am sure there is something. maybe a negative word I can change to a positive.

Migrant Cambodian worker #1, Bangkok Thailand 2013
Migrant Cambodian worker #2, Bangkok Thailand 2013

F-ck! I got to get my ass to Asia and make pictures. We have only so many opportunities in life to chase down our dreams, to do what we feel is important. I do not want to end up one of those grumpy old gusses who is bitter at the world because he did not have the courage to follow his hopes. I need to push myself and get over there soon. I need to work on "Families of the Dump",  "Klong Toey Slum", "Muay Thai Boxer", "Migrant Farmer", "Street Kids", " Cycle Rickshaw Driver", "Khon Thai" "Lost Innocence" and now "Migrants". Heck that's enough photography for 2 or 3 lifetimes.

Earlier Freedom To Photograph

I am trying to figure out as many ways to make money as I can, so that I can leave security sooner and head off to Asia to make pictures. I am 50 and running out of time to achieve my life goals of creating an important lasting body of photographic work. The soonest now that I can leave is around 54 years old and that would only be a partial retirement. I would still have to work at least 6 months out of every year as a guard on my return to Canada, probably until I am into my mid 60s. 

I am not sure any of this is even possible as I would have to live 4-6 months in Asia on $10000 CAD. I do not mind staying in the cheapest places and eating the cheapest foods, if I make good photographs as a result it's all worth it. My life is devoted to my photography so I need to find some way to make this all work out. I need to get this going before I am to old and feeble to travel, carry the equipment and create.

Starting A Rental Darkroom?

I am unsure if I will set up a rental darkroom, I have all the equipment I need in storage so its just a matter of setting up the space. I have 3 or 4 enlargers I could put in the room, extra trays, safe lights, timers, 2 sinks, bottles, graduates, thermometers, washers etc etc. In fact I might have enough stuff to set up 3 darkrooms. I have always collected backups for almost everything so that if something goes down, I have a fall back position. Now I might be able to use those backups to make a bit of extra money.

I was thinking of doing it at dad and moms home in the basement. I am not sure if it will be a financial success thou. I would have to charge at least $20 an hour, and provide basic chemistry. If I could get 2 people or so a month using it, it might make financial sense. I do not want to rent my personal darkroom, it's to personal and important a room for me. My darkroom is my favourite place in the works, having strangers in there seems wrong. Setting up a well equiped neutral space seems the only way to go rental wise. 

Sold Another Workshop, Number 11

I should be having another workshop in the coming weeks. Stu a great guy and a student that took my other 2 courses is taking this 3rd one,  my advanced darkroom workshop. I just started up the this workshop a few weeks ago this will be the first time I am teaching it, it includes:

How to make burning masks.
How to use contrast for best effect.
Advanced burning and dodging.
Burning at different contrast grades.
Use of different developers and papers to change the look of your print.
Selenium and sepia toning of a print.
Spotting a print.
Bleaching of a print.
Archival processing of a print.
Archival washing of a print.
Archival drying of a print. 

I expect this workshop to last at least 4 hours, maybe 5. It's a one on one training session and costs $180. I do not make a lot of money off these things, my normal darkroom workshop is $100 and my view camera workshop is $120 but its great to talk and teach photography. It's much more enjoyable making money teaching photography than it is working security night shifts. Plus its fun to talk and get something for it, I am not used to that sort of thing, you talk for a while and then people give you money! Another benefit is you learn when you teach, which will hopefully help me grow as an artist. All the money I receive goes directly back into my photography. I will use these funds as always to buy more film and or photo paper.

If I ever get another show the photo paper to produce it will be funded by these workshops.

Update* Stu also wants me to teach him how to make wetplate photos (tintypes). I have takin a workshop and have some experience at the wet plate process but I am far from an expert. I also have all the chemicals and tools necessary in my darkroom. I would have to figure out a price it would have to be quite a bit more than what I charge for standard workshops. Who knows it might become the latest workshop in my stable, 3 moving up to 4, "Learn Wetplate Photography!" 

Making a bit of extra money on this will also help inspire me to dig out all the gear and chemicals again. I just don't seem to have time to do everything I want photographically but I need to get back into making wetplates soon. Now with my cleaned up darkroom I might actually have room to work! I want to learn how to do the wetplate exposures onto a postive material (have the name written somewhere) from a negative through an enlarger. I want to be able go, negative (enlarger)---> postive material---> postive material (enlarger)--->tinytpe or ambrotype. If I do the "Lost Innocence" series I want to be able to do the final exhibition photos this way.

Quote: Ansel Adams

"There are two people in every photograph: the photographer and the viewer."


Not sure if this is new,  I think so. Firstpost is a online newspaper style site of of Mumbai, India. Here is a link to the "The Train Is Coming" Opening night video.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More Pics Of Dad

I did not like many of the pics I developed in the last round, but these two images captured a bit of the sadness and pain my father is going through now.  The pics were made with the 35mm 1.4 shot at slow shutters and wide open or almost wide open in low light conditions. I might put the top photo in my segment of the new photo groups magazine if that project develops and happens. I will do a story on my father as my contribution.

The last few days were better, we had a very nice fathers day weekend with dad, I brought over Swiss Chalet chicken on Saturday, my uncle and aunt Chinese food on Sunday. We watched old family videos of better days. Dad enjoyed himself and felt a bit better.
Leica M6, 35mm F1.4 Tri-x 800ASA stand development, Canada May 2014
Leica M6, 35mm F1.4 Tri-x 800ASA stand development, Canada May 2014

How To Use A Afghan Kamra-e-faoree Camera

This is a blast, got to love this camera. The process is so long there is even an intermission in the video. I wonder how many photos were made this way world wide by street photogs everywhere. You got to love that paper negative and the reshoot to make it a positive. At the end of the vid, the photog seems like he is unhappy with the money he is given, figures : ) !

Ifochrome 11x14 Camera

This video broke me up. The steps this photog goes through to make is his pictures is rather incredible. I love the pop up lens cap and the weird ass paper development. Some people are more interested in building stuff than actually making pictures, that might be the case here. Still it's rather an incredible Ilfochrome camera he built.

Douglas Vincent Ilfochrome Video

Just watched this beautiful video on the ilfochrome process. I thought I would share, check it out here:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Negative Room?

I am thinking of setting up a room totally devoted to my lifetime of negatives (thousands of negs). If I could place all the negs in some kind of order with contact sheets or printer contacts in binders on shelves then I would be well on my way to knowing what I have and controlling things. Putting everything into one room with a big light table to organize things would be great, it might finally put some order to my work. I could find negs when I need them and I could destroy shitty old work I no longer need. The hope, the dream would be that on or before my death the best negs would be taken by some art organization and stored archivaly. If I can create work of some importance, some value that dream might become a reality. If the negs end up in some landfill then maybe some of the work will be saved in collections in print form. Before I can print them thou I have got to be able to find the strongest work.

Organizing my negs is of paramount importance, now they lay all over the place, some in binders and plastic neg sheets, some in neg sheets on shelves and the floor, some just rolled up pieces of film gathering dust and scratches. If I can get these all into one room and organize them with a large light table then I will be on the right track to getting a handle on things. I could also add a print storage section for archival vintage prints. Years of sloppy habits are catching up to me, I need to make an effort to tame and ride this wild stallion before it bucks me off and tramples me.

Video: Tour Of My New Darkroom Setup

Hey folks, here is a low res video tour of my new darkroom set up. I also posted higher quality vids on  on my Vimeo and YouTube channels. Got to love the internet!

New Darkroom Setup Photos

Well after 6 days of carrying around enlargers, dusting and cleaning plus taking out a lot of non darkroom things, I managed to finish my revised darkroom set up tonight. This new darkroom has 7 enlargers in it (yes 7!), and has eliminated most of the non darkroom related items. I have a new large light table, a new Durst 5x7 and new 4x5 enlarger. I also reorganized different areas of the darkroom to hold burning tools, dodging tools, my burning masks, photo paper, chemistry, condensers, enlarger lens and neg carriers. I also redesigned my TV entertainment areas (yes TV entertainment area!) that allows me to watch DVDs and VHS tapes while I develop negs or print (red filter).

I got lots of this stuff free from Larry  (TV stuff etc.) and Jack (5x7, 4x5 enlargers plus light table etc.), thanks very much boys. I now probably have the best equipped darkroom in Edmonton! Lets create some strong photographs!

"Ain't Photography Grand!"

24x24 inch light table, Durst 1000 4x5 and Omega condenser enlargers..
Durst 1200 4x5, Saunders LPL 4x5 with multigrade head, both with foot pedal timers.
Sinks and Jobo processor.
TV center, Durst 5x7 138S condenser enlarger,  Durst 184 colour head 8x20 enlarger.
Recent 8x10 dad negs on new light table.
TV entertainment areas and Durst 5x7 138S condenser enlarger.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Photo Story: Scared Street Boy With Dog Laughing, Kathmandu Nepal 2013

This photograph was part of a series I did last trip on Street Kids in Kathmandu Nepal. These kids were rather hardcore and a bit hard to deal with (always asking for money) as some did drugs (glue sniffing). For the most part they were nice kids who were living in really desperate circumstances. I wish I had spent more time with them than I did. If I go back I will photograph them again and try to spend at least 1 week with them everyday. In the future if I spend extended time in Asia I might do long term projects like this, where I spend many months hanging and really getting to know and understand the lives of my subject. It would be so great to spend 3 or 4 months just living with the people I photograph, getting really really deep into their lives.

The boy hugging the dog in this photo was very friendly, always smiling and laughing. He had been in a fire at some point in his life and had heavy scaring around his neck and also was missing parts of his fingers on one hand. The pic was made early in the morning just after they woke up with a Leica M6 and  28mm  (35mm?) lens on Tri-x (200). The dog was a stray the 10+ street kid boys (2 girls also) took care of. They loved to hug and play with this dog who obediently put up with all the attention. These kids would sleep in the open on a street corner near 2 busy roads, they had an open fire to keep warm. Initially the fire is what attracted me to them, I noticed it and came on over to say hello and make pics. A few days later the police came and kicked the kids out of this area and they were forced to sleep on the concrete sidewalks near the back packer hostels and hotels. The boys hustled money from tourists (mostly backpackers) to buy food and drugs.

Scared Nepal street boy with dog laughing, Kathmandu Nepal 2013

Photo Story: Long Thai Gogo Bar Sex Worker, Thailand 2009

This photo is of a girl front he bars named Long, a sweet person who told me about her life during one rather emotional photo session in her pink apartment. I have written about long before, please check the earlier photo story about her here.

I reposted this image as a reminder to myself that in the future I need to do more colour work with the 8x10 and white background. I had a maybe 50+ sheets of colour I could have shot in 2012 but made the mistake of not doing so (followed poor advise), next time out I will shoot all my remaining colour neg film. I love the detail in the colour you get in her lips, eyes and freckles. The tiny Thai king pendant she where is also works better in colour. I should have probably shot this without the shirt, just bare shoulders as I find the shirt a bit of a distraction. A tighter composition might also have helped. Maybe I can shoot the next round with the 250mm Fuji (this was a 300mm Nikon) up closer with bare shoulders and some distortion from the lens. I am not sure I will have a long enough bellows for focus but it might work.

Lek 27 Gogo Bar Sex Worker, Thailand 2009

Photo Story: Photo Club Members, Canada 2012

This photo was created with a Hasselblad Xpan and Tri-x. I have trouble figuring out compositions that work with this tool, long rectangle portraits with many people like in this picture seem to work fairly well. I wonder if I could use this camera successfully in Asia in places like the dump, the panoramic view could tell a more complete story if it is used right, maybe a combination of family members or parts of the dump, machinery with workers etc.

The guys in the photo below are part of a photo group I left as a result of creative differences, I felt I did not belong and was out of place in the group. They are a nice bunch of guys who enjoy spending time together socializing  and sometimes shooting but it was not my cup of tea, I am more a shooter than a socializer.

I liked the mottled lighting in this shot and the rather glum group expressions. Believe it or not they were having fun and these National park outings where this photo was taken were enjoyable. Sort of a fun portrait, it makes me want to try shooting multiple Xpan panoramic groups in the bars, dumps and slums of Asia. I need to experiment and keep working with this camera, slow shutter shots with motion might also work.

Photo club members National park area, Canada 2012

Photo Story: Mother Feeding Son In Garbage Dump, Mae Sot Thailand 2013

This photograph was made with a Leica M6 and probably a 28mm lens on Tri-x at 200 ASA. I came across this scene while photographing a group of dump workers. When I looked up on top of a hill of garbage I saw this mother in a temporary lean-two type structure feeding her son. I think the mother and father were working together and she went up top to feed the child. The young boy sat in the lean and waited later on when the mother came down to work. It was such a strange thing to see such a loving moment of a mother caring for her child while sitting in the garbage surrounded by the noise, the flies and the oppressive heat of the dump. The photograph was made in May of 2013 and it was extremely hot, I have never been so hot in my life. I would easily go through 2 bottles of water and be quite dehydrated after shooting for 4 or 5 hours with the families.

This photograph demonstrates what I love about photographing in the "Families of the Dump"series. The strength of the family group and the love of a mother for her child. Even while living in the oppressive and extremely difficult situations these Burmese families show the  best traits of humanity. Now if I can get just this series exhibited and seen, I could tell their important stories.

Mother feeding her young boy in garbage dump, Mae Sot Thailand 2013

Photo Story: Baby Held By Grandmother Tool Kok Slum Phnom Penh Cambodia 1999

I might have done a photo story of this pic before, if so here is version two! : )

This photograph was made way back in 1999 in a slum area of Phnom Penh. The photo was made with a Nikon F5 and 20-35mm zoom F2.8 on Tmax 3200 film rated at 800. This image I sold to a collector in California, a lawyer who was looking to support the work I was doing. It was and still is a great honor to be part of that collection as it also includes work by the great Sabastiao Salgado (his Indian people train shot).

What I remember about making this photo was the poverty the Cambodian people lived in. The pic was shot on at the front of a home facing a very busy dirt road. The road had big trucks travelling on it day and night, that kicked up tons of dust which got over everything. The baby boy was being held by his grand mom, the rest of the family was nearby and watched as I shot. I also have some photos I like of the larger family group, and a color shot made on 120 of the same child and grand mom. I wish I could have given the family a copy of this picture. I wonder if I went back to that area now if anyone there would recognize the baby, maybe its worth a try, I can go back 15 years later and hand out the pick to the teenager!

This photo was the main inspiration for me to return to shooting b/w 35mm.

Baby held by grandmother Tool Kok slum, Phnom Penh Cambodia 1999

Saturday, June 14, 2014

50s Pinups

While cleaning my darkroom I found a bunch of negs I bought off eBay a few years back of grade B type pinup photography. Women with weird hairdos posing in 50s style rooms, sitting semi nude on shag rugs etc. I thought it might be fun to bring some of these cheeky pinups back to life, they might be fun to print so I purchased them and then completely forgot about them. Now that I have found them again I might try printing a few. I will take them to my camera clubs for a change of pace type photograph foe the group to see. Maybe some day I can try making tintypes or ambrotypes of these negs.

Could Not Wait

With the darkroom 90% cleaned up and redesigned I could not wait any longer, I had to develop some film. I have 8 rolls of Tri-x 35mm 200ASA in a 8 reel Patterson tank and 3 rolls Tri-x 35mm 800ASA in a 5 reel Paterson tank waiting for me in the darkroom. I will develop the 200ASA normally and the 800ASA using stand development and multi task at the same time working to complete the last 10% of the darkroom clean up. Will post some of those negs later tonight.  It is great to be working again in the darkroom on film, not with a dust cloth and carrying around enlargers.

Darkroom Reno Continues

I am continuing to plug away cleaning and resetting my darkroom. Gosh this is taking a long time, the problem is now I still have stuff on the floor and around the basement but not that many places to put them. The darkroom is pretty much chalk full I should have converted 3 bedrooms not 2 into my darkroom.  My space is bigger than any home darkroom I have visited in the city but it is still not big enough! I guess that's what you get when you stack 5-4x5, 1-5x7 and 1-8x10 enlargers in a room.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Dad is losing so much weight, he is becoming weaker and weaker, smaller and smaller. You get such a helpless feeling, I want to help my father, I would do anything for him but I can do nothing, its so terrible, you feel so helpless and useless. All I can do is get him some food and try to get him to eat. Today I went shopping with mom and bought dad pineapple, blueberries and chicken wings. Mom also bought some pork hauks to make headcheese for dad. I visit him daily and tell stories about my day, tell him what I am doing around his home, whether it's cutting the lawn or moving things about but that's about all I can do. I wish I could do something, anything to make him feel better. He is slowly slipping away bit  by bit day by day.

I worry more and more about mom now, she is facing a lonely future without dad. Mom and dads 57th anniversary is July 6, I hope they can spend this last anniversary together, their long marriage has always been very important to them both, something they are proud of. On fathers day dad will probably be to weak to go out so I will bring him in some food from any restaurant he likes. We can spend a family meal together at the house, to honour our father.

It will be so hard to live life without him, to not be able to share stories, to get his advice and to feel his love.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Smaller Limited Editions

When I went over to Jack's tonight I heard how he was able to sell a limited edition print of 3 for $25000, frisking amazing. He has sold all 3 from that image, not sure who much the first 2 went for. Imagine that selling a print for 25 grand, that's almost half of my Thai condo for 1 photograph.

I have been thinking of the way Jack has limited editions of 3 prints, I currently have limited editions of 40. 40 now strikes me as way to large. There is no chance in hell I am going to sell 40 photographs of any one neg, I have trouble selling 1 fricking photo of any neg. Maybe I should think about doing limited editions of 5, 10 or maybe 20 photographs for each size of 11x14, 16x20 and 20x20. I  probably eliminate the 8x10 size from my future editions.

It is something to think about, I can incorporate it into the next website design. Editions of 10 sound about right, it gives you the chance to sell a few if you take something great but also gives the buyer that knowledge that he by buying a print he has 10% of the total that will ever be printed in that size. This of course is all a bit silly, planning for something that's probably not happening, lowering my limited edition numbers for prints that do not sell! Now I plan to not sell 1 of 10 instead of not selling 1 of 40.  Heck I could hand out my prints free and people would use them at the bottom of birdcages. Still 10 seems a more manageable number. Theoretically those that have bought prints from me already in the 40 print editions will have a more valuable piece as not more than 10 will be printed of their photo now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On The Upswing

It's strange after the dozen rejections I have received lately I had me down but then things changed. Over the last few days some good things have been happening. Jack came forward and is helping me to become a better photographer and  then tonight I get an upbeat supportive email from James. Even thou the AFA and many galleries have rejected the work I feel very positive now, I feel more determined then ever to follow my dreams and chase down my stories. I know I am on the right path, I just need to dive deeper and work harder.


I now have 7, count them 7 enlargers in my darkroom, that might be a tad excessive!!

1) Durst 184 8x10
2) Durst 138S 5x7
3) Durst 1200 4x5
4) Durst 1000 4x5 (will probably move this enlarger to the rental darkroom, if I build it).
5) Saunders LPL colour head (wall mounted)
6) Saunders LPL multi grade b/w head.
7) Omega condenser enlarger.

I did a stability test comparing my base board mounted Saunders LPL and the new Durst 1200 and found the Durst much more stable, maybe 2 or 3 times as stable. The Durst hardly moved when I had the head all the way to the top of the column and shook the enlarger. I should be able to make sharper prints with it versus the LPL. I like the multi grade b/w head on the Saunders which allows for easier printing but the stability on the Durst 1200 might win out especially for the larger 35mm 16x20 and 20x24 sized prints. One other thing I like about the 1200 Durst is that it has a fine focus knob on it, my Durst 1000 does not have this feature.

7 enlargers are way to many but at least I have backups if I have breakdowns and different type of light source options. Cheap and free makes the enlargers difficult to hold off getting but I think I have enough now, best to spend my time printing not setting up more enlargers. With all these machines I can invite friends over to print and can also use them for my various workshops.

Once I get the darkroom all cleaned up, all the new enlargers set up, I will make some photos and a short vid to show you all. Hopefully by the end of the week this will be done and I can start developing film and printing again, I miss it! I need to have a working darkroom or I feel a bit off, it has been 2 days now with no darkroom, that's to long.

Update* Spent my second night cleaning and redoing the darkroom, I have all the enlargers set up now thou I am missing the negative carrier for the 1200. I removed a large table and TV stand on rollers to make more work and am tossing out lots of useless things, or moving them into storage somewhere else. I should have the darkroom up and running by weeks end. The 7 enlargers makes the place look a bit like a used darkroom equipment fire sale. The baseboard for the Omega condenser enlarger is also substituting for a TV stand. I have a small Sony tube I got free from my friend Larry that I watch sometimes when working. Last night as I worked I was watching an old VHS tape of a movie called "Exposure"about a photographer in Brazil. Not a great show but I like the Brazil locations and all the documentary photography sections of the film.

Help From James

James is a photographer and friend online who follows my blog and offers encouragement when things are down. After all the show rejections and me being down he sent me this encouraging email filled with positive thoughts and helpful links. Please visit the links if your interested and want to help those in need. Thanks James for the positives and caring.


Here are some possible leads that may help with your "Families of The Dump Series": The first four links are from a group located in Canada, with the first one listing their contact information:

Here are two possible links for Cambodia:

Here are 4 possible leads from CNN:

And are four possible separate links:

It is my fear that you may be focusing too much on getting this project into museums/galleries. It takes time for museums/galleries to soften up to the type of documentary photography you are doing.  They are not rejecting your submissions because it is not good in my view, but because  it is too real. After all, Salgado, who is admired by the both of us was not initially accepted into museums/galleries for the same reason. He started off by volunteering for NGO's, as I am sure you already know, which gave him access to many areas with similar themes that helped  him develop his long term projects. It took 20 years before his work on the Sahel was accepted by them.  

If  you contact some of the people in the above posted links, and told them what you are doing there is a chance it may lead to some exhibitions and possibly the photographing of some of their dumps also. Previously I wrote: "Have you thought of visiting dumps in other countries and including them in this story as it develops? Maybe 5 dumps in all as a means of showing the parallels and lives of families who live in the dumps in different countries. I don't think anyone has photographed this project extensively in more than one location as of yet. Maybe your are the person to do as such. I think you will gain more interest in this as a long term project if you other locations are included. Check youtube, they have videos of dumps in the Africa, the Phillipines, Nicaragua, Mexico, etc...Type in "Children of the Dump", or "Families of The Dump", in the search engine and many videos will show up. Maybe you can contact the person who uploaded the videos for details about the dump sites". The more dumps that you include in this ongoing series will force the museums/galleries, NGO's, and the general public to take notice.  

It is my hope that you do not read this as my attempting to tell you what to do. They are only suggestions that I hope will help you with this wonderful photographic undertaking that exposes these often ignored circumstances of the human condition. I had a chance a few years ago to document a similar project in Africa, South/Central America etc..., but bad health and bodily injuries stopped me from doing as such. I would have used Tri-X film and printed them myself in the wet-darkroom too.

Also, I was already envious of your darkroom setup, but the free stuff that Jack gave you is making me become down right "JEALOUS". Boy was I excited as I read the list of things he gave you! It seems as though you may have to expand your darkroom quicker than you thought which will be helpful for you workshops.

Continue having fun and producing wonderful images with this series. Were I healthy, I'd beg to help you with it.

Best wishes,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Continuing Adventures Of Jack, The Most Generous Guy Around!

I went over to Jack's place today to get the two large cabinets and he ended up giving a bunch more of his darkroom equipment. I got free from Jack his most prized enlarger a Durst 1200 4x5 with 2 heads, a  colour head and a condenser head. There was also 2 large boxes of extras, that included lens boards, neg carriers 10+ bulbs for the 1200. Jack also gave me 2-20x24 boxes of Ilford warm tone matt paper and some other papers. Tomorrow I go back again to pick up the second cabinet and a small film fridge which I will put in my darkroom. Am a bit speechless by it all. A few days ago I was reading about the master printer Michel Karmen and how he loved  and promoted the Durst 1200 enlargers, and now I picked one up for free today from Jack, pretty amazing shit. This 1200 might become my main enlarger for all my 35mm work, it has a brighter bulb light source (for my dense negs) and is rock solid steady for sharper better prints. These three Durst enlargers, now I have the 8x10, 5x7 and 4x5 might be the best engineered most reliable well built enlargers in the world.

Jack does most of his work digitally now but if he ever needs to use a darkroom he can use mine. You got to love digital photography, it has allowed lowly security guard paid Gerry to have the best film equipment every made. I use, Leica, Hasselblad, Linhof and now Durst. Go digi!!! No excuses Mr. Gerry, time to create important work! Were all in now!

Update* I forgot to mention Jack also gave me 2 timers, one to use with the enlarger and another cute little Grablab dial timer that would work great n Thai (with a power transformer to 110 - 220).

Another 2 Boxes

With Kodak bulk film prices going crazy at $99.95 USD a box I thought I better pay to get two more outdated boxes of bulk Tri-x off eBay today. I did not get a great deal but it is not bad as the film is not long outdated (2013) and comes from a camera store. I paid $71.56 USD a box with $15 USD for shipping. I probably saved around $60-70 USD over buying and shipping new from B&H.

Free darkroom gear and buying film is much better than continuing to buy cameras and lens. Now we are concentrating on photograph production not camera accumulation. In the last 10 years or so I have only bought a few camera things,  some lens for my Leica and a R6  body (cheap) plus the Deardorff from Dad (to remember what a great father he is/was), not much else at all. In the next 10 years there will be even less camera buys maybe none.  I feel like I am on the right track now, lets make pics!! 

Woo, All Dusty And Dirty

After much effort which included moving tons of stuff and taking 2 doors off my darkroom I got the 5x7 into its final resting place. I had some initial difficulties figuring out why I was not getting uniform coverage of a 5x7 neg, I was getting fall off on the corners and a cropping of the image down from its 5x7 ratio. After lots of fooling around, different lens, different condenser combinations, different bulbs I finally figured it out. The neg carrier needs to be in just the right spot and the enlarger has built in cropping metal arms that needed to be pulled out of the way. Things look very nice now in with the 5x7 glass carrier and with a 4x5 glassless carrier I got from Jack.

Tomorrow I need to continue to clean the darkroom. I have needed to organize it better for quite a while so getting this new enlarger has forced me to get off my ass and get the darkroom cleaning done. I am going to remove everything from the room the is not essential. I have way to much storage of odds and ends, I need to remove all the boxes and equipment I am not using. If I get a better organized and functioning darkroom together it is bound to help the printing process. I can't become a master printer if I have no where to move and work. It might take me all week, to get the darkroom cleaned up  and ready to use. I did not know there was so much dust in the place till I started cleaning.

Here is the new 5x7 enlarger in its final resting place next to the 8x10 Durst enlarger. In the picture you can also see the 20x24 and 11x14 Saunder easels I got for $100 CAD.

Durst 138S 5x7 condenser enlarger, in its new space

Update * Jack made a suggestion today after seeing this photo, he suggested I paint the areas around the enlarger black. I will do that, it's something I did around my Saunder LPL 4x5 years ago. I guess by having black around the enlarger you cut down on flaring and fogging of your photo paper. It also increases contrast you can use a 3 filter instead of 3 1/2 etc.

Monday, June 9, 2014

What Makes A Picture Work?

Raw, emotion, the heart, the decisive moment, light, shadow, feeling, expression, power, abstraction, ambiguity, desire, multiple meanings???

What makes a photograph strong, what separates a picture to make it special, what makes it great? Great pictures always have a magic to them, a unique spark that connects them emotionally to the viewer.

Tonight am watching "The Public Eye" tonight, with Joe Pesci playing a Weegee like 40s New York Street photographer, named "The Great Bernzinni". The photos in the movie are by the real Weegee, they have so much raw powerful emotion to them, the pics burn off the screen. The movie is very good with a wonderful performance by Pesci. Bernzinni is a sad, lonely creative man with real drive to make pictures a passion to express, Pesci makes him so human, so vulnerable.

Got The Stuff

Went down to Jack's place today to get the darkroom stuff he was giving away. I picked up:

1) 11-20x24 trays.
2) 8-10 16x20 trays.
3) 8-10 11x14 trays.
4) large box of chemicals. sodium sulfate, a ton of hypo clear, fix, potassium ferricyanide, stop, big bottle of glacial acetic acid, dectol, Xtol and other film developers, sepia toner, 4 bottles of photo flow.
5) a bag of 4x5 film holders.
6) 5x7 Durst 138S condenser enlarger.
7) Various back up enlarger parts, a rusted Durst 1200 plus baseboard and another Durst 5x7 enlarger body, everything but the head (might not be able to use these).
8) A close up photo Linhof copy stand device (might not be able to use this).
9) 4 or 5 boxes of neg carriers, condensers and other parts for the 5x7 enlarger.
10) A ton of film clips in different styles (for use in Thai or rental darkroom).
11) Some 4x5 newton glass (wonder it will fit my damaged Saunders LPL holder).

I still have the 2 cabinets to pick up, will do that tomorrow night. All this gear was free from Jack.
I also purchased for $100 CAD 2  high quality Saunders paper easels, one measuring 11x14 and the other 20x24. These are great tools that I can use to replace some of my lower quality easels. I now have 2 large Saunders 20x24 easels, the best ever made. Jack gave me a great deal on the easels as the 20x24 alone on eBay sells for $325 USD plus a big shipping cost as its large and heavy. There is a Durst 138S enlarger with lens on eBay as well that their asking $4700 USD for (extreme wishful thinking on the sellers part).

Jack really helped me out today. Here is a photo of the enlarger set up in my basement. I have to do some major moving in the darkroom to get this baby to fit inside, but once I do this is going to be a real gem! I put the turret lens head from the 8x10 enlarger on this enlarger and it seems to fit fine. I think lots or parts are interchangeable in the Durst line, much like with Blad or Leica stuff. With all this new gear I have all kinds of options for setting up my rental darkroom, and have equipment I can easily use in Thai if I set up a film developing area in the condo.

It's hard to turn down equipment you get for free, but I guess there domes a point where enough is enough, I think 6 enlargers of all shapes, types and sizes in a darkroom is that upper limit. Now there is just the little must matter of becoming a master printer.

Update* This 5x7 had been disabled and was in storage for years, after I put it together and plugged it I flicked the power switch and low and behold the old bulb still worked (need to buy a backup, which are hard to find). These things are built to the highest quality, they will last long after I am old and frail and falling apart. I can't wait to use this thing, it should be a blast, giving ultras harp higher contrast images. It might work great with the 120 ring flash stuff I am shooting of dad and new photos I plan to shoot of sex workers in Asia next trip. This could all turn out really really well. I need to continue to work hard and improve in the darkroom, I want to become a truly great printer. I want my photographs to sing out with strength and beauty. My darkroom might be the best equipped or at least top 3 in the city, maybe one of the top 5 in the province. I have no excuses now, I have the enlargers, I have the paper and chemistry, and might even have the negs. Lets print some great stuff!

Update** The bulb in the enlarger is a 150w and they recommend a 250w in the manual. I have read the bulbs are harder to find now and some adaption of the head might be required. You can manipulate the position of the bulb in the had quite a bit. I will experiment with the 150 and see how it works out, I also have some kind of other big ass (not sure size) bulb in my darkroom cupboard from years ago that might work. If worse comes to worse I will have to adapt the head somehow, plenty of info on that online.

Update*** I have all the condensers (2 at a time) I need to use 240mm, 210mm, 150mm, 80mm and 50mm lens on the enlarger. I do not have a 50 or 80mm lens thou that fits my turret lens board. I might have to get another lens board if I use this enlarger to print 35mm or 120 film.

Free Durst 138S 5x7 enlarger