Saturday, February 28, 2015

Capturing Sound On Video

I am trying to save money these days but I need to purchase another piece of gear. I want to do photo story vids for YouTube and to do that you need to able to record sound properly. Larry Wong during the show interview I did for the Edmonton Journal website turned me onto to a cordless microphone system. Larry W recommended it so it has to be good quality stuff, the system is called the Sennheiser Wireless Professional Microphone. There are various versions on eBay G2 (what Larry used) and a newer G3 system. Currently I am bidding and watching numerous used auctions. I hope I can get something used that works well and that will save me $200-300 in costs over the new stuff.

I might also be able to use this unit in Asia if I do some documentary video work in the future.

Sennheiser G3 Wireless Microphone System, $578.99 USD

Probably Doing Another Workshop

It looks like I will be doing another workshop soon, this one on the view camera. I have lost count on how many of these I have done now. Counting all 3 types of workshops the number is probably over 20, maybe as many as 25. The workshops are always enjoyable to do. It is fun to spread the word on the beauties of film photography and its great to interact with the student (they often teach me things as well). The money is a nice bonus, I always throw it back into my photography. Not sure how I will use this $120, I will probably just put it into more film or into my photography bank account for the next trip to shoot the "Families of the Dump" in Thailand.

Nothing To Do

As I write this I am ready for work, its a bit early thou. This past year I would always get up early so I could visit dad before work, I cannot do that any more. Today I am up and ready to go to mom and dads but dad has passed and mom is out with my uncle and aunt for dinner (they are trying to keep her busy). Nothing to do, I wish I could go visit my father but instead I am sitting here writing this blog.

It does not seem real to me that dad is gone, last night I was listening to his voice recordings. Over the last week I have been looking at many of his photographs and video. Somehow it seems like I should be able to go over to his house and he would be in the basement making some kind of food for the market. It just not seem real to me that his body is being prepared for a funeral.

On Monday there will be a viewing of dad in his coffin for the extended family and Tuesday is his funeral day. 

First Half Frame Olympus Pen Camera Photos

I finally got through a roll of film that I shot with my half frame Olympus Pen camera. With half frame you actually have 72 exposures on a single roll of 36 shot 35mm film. Gosh it takes a long time to shoot that many exposures. I did have a few tech problems, this happened when I set the aperture incorrectly on the the camera lens. I exposed the Tri-x at the widest aperture F3.5 and the shutter is 1/60 (I think). All the shooting was done without any metering. Then I just developed the film as I would my standard Tri-x in a Rodinal mixture using STAND development. What do you know! It actually turned out.

There is no focusing with this camera, the lens is sort of cheap and old but I kind of like the abstractness of it all. Shooting a camera like this is just plain fun, there is sort of an old style look to the photos with a lot of randomness and luck in the shooting. I will continue to use (play with) this camera and plan on taking it with me next trip to Asia. I think with the next roll I have to work even more abstractly with it. This camera should be doing different types of shooting than I do with the Leica's. I can shoot it either out of focus close or possibly do crops of in focus imagery. The Pen is small and cheap and easy to carry so no biggy if the shots work or not, I just want the camera to free me up a bit creatively. Sometimes by loosening the collar you can get a better fit.

Here are some scans from this this first experimental roll.

Photo Story And Future Wor Plan: Child In Mae Sot Garbage Dump 2013

This photograph was made int he dump in March of 2013. It is a fore runner of work I plan to do this coming year with the 5x7. I hope to shoot a whole series of similar looking portraits, but they will be shot a tad closer with a wider lens that will add just a bit of distortion. I think the work might have some serious power to it if I can manage to do it right. I need to get out and shooting it as soon as I can.

This photograph was made with my Linhof 4x5 and 150mm lens with Tri-x in open shade. I believe I also used a small reflector to fill in some of the shadows. I photographed this young girl and her brother in this set up, not to far away from their family home, they were playing in the garbage. I left the brownish tone in this scan because I am most likely to print this negative on a warmtone fibre paper.

This type of photograph will be my main subject for my photo book project. I want to concentrate photographing children living in poverty using the large format 5x7 camera. My father always felt a great deal of empathy and compassion for young children, especially those who loved in poverty. The idea of the book that I want to dedicate to dad is based on this idea. It will be a tribute to my father and also to the young children who pose. I want to show their beauty, resilience, and underlying humanity in the portraits. I was never ever able to get any kind of art grant funding from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for projects like this but now because of the hard work and love of my father I can make these photos. When my father passed away he left me some money, I plan on using that money to make these and other important photographs. Because of my father I will now have more freedom to make and tell stories with my pictures.

Child in dump, March 2013

Friday, February 27, 2015

Photo Story: Jo Waiting For A Customer Outside Shortime Sex Bar

This photo if a lovely person named Jo. Back in 1999 when I was in Pattaya for 1 year I photographed Jo several times. Jo worked a short time sex bar. Nit is sitting to her right, I forget the woman to the lefts name. I photographed them all several times. I love the look of beauty but also sadness in this portrait, and the apprehension on Nit's face. I always used to give Jo heck for smoking, but I guess that was the least of her problems. One day she took me with her when she went to pray at the local Buddhist shrine, it was quite beautiful to see.

The picture was made with a Mamiya 6 range finder camera, direct flash and Tri-x. I pumped up the contrast int he version.

I wonder what happened to Jo? When I was back at her bar in around 2001 she was gone. The last time I was in Pattaya a few years back (2011-12?) Nit was still working the same bar, I am not sure if she still is or not. Such tragic lives these girls live. Nit was more honest with me my last trip. She told me she had a Thai boyfriend back home and was building a home for her family, she even showed me a video of it on her cellphone. Lovely people working a terrible job.

o waiting for customer outside her short time sex bar, Pattaya Thailand 1999

Photo Story: Nit Freelance Sex Worker 2003

I completely forgot about this image. I found it by accident on my blog. Looking back at it, it has sort of a surreal harsh quality that I seem to be growing into as a photographer. Nit is a long time sex worker in Bangkok, she started in the bars of Patpong shortly after the Vietnam era and continues to work till this day. I usually do a photo session with her each visit I do to Bangkok thou I missed her the time round as I was working my my Mae Sot and Klong Toey series.

This photo was made with direct flash (rather obvious) Tri-x and a Mamiya C330 twin reflex camera (old school stuff0. I photographed her in a short sex time room we rented. Whenever I photograph her I try to recreate the environment she works in. I want to photograph her in her home environment but she is very protective of that world and I doubt I will be allowed in. She probably has children and even a husband-boyfriend she does not want to share. Nit speaks very good English and is around 45 or so in this photograph. I have known her since 1999 and her age does not seem to go up much as the years pass so she might be older than that here. A fascinating and tough woman that still maintains a certain joy in her life even thou she has been working the foreign tourist sex scene for many decades.

Seeing this photograph again makes me want to go back into the scene and shoot more with Tri-x, direct harsh flash and the twin reflex. Maybe photos like this could the look/feel or my Bangkok show at Toot Yung.

Note* I bumped the contrast in this version of the image. If I ever found the negative (difficult) and decided to print it, I would make the photograph quite contrasty like in this digi sample.

Nit freelance sex worker, Bangkok Thailand 2003

Photo Story: Boy Sleeping In Lean Two At Mae Sot Dump

This photo is from my 2nd most recent series "Families of the Dump". Their is a sad honest beauty to this shot that I quite like. The picture is of a young boy of about 12 who is sleeping in his families make shift Lean Two. The picture was made at around 630 or 7am in the morning at the Mae Sot garbage dump in Thai. The boy is Burmese native who came across the border with his family to work the dump to make money.

When I was at the dump in May of 2013 this area was unoccupied when I returned in November there were several families huddled in various times of flimsy structures in this area. The worse part of the place was the filth, the families in this location were very close to the garbage. There were files everyone and all kinds of bad smells flowed in from the nearby dump. The actual heavy garbage might have only been 40-50 feet from where this boy was sleeping.

I am eager to go back and continue to make photos of the families. Who knows how much things have changed? I want to rent my own motorbike next trip (especially if it is a longer trip) to allow me more access to more people both in the dump and in that area of Mae Sot. I will shoot next time with my 5x7 Linhof to capture more formal portraits of these forgotten people.

This picture was made with my standard 35mm kit. A Leica M6 range finder, I think a 21mm lens and Tri-x exposed at 200ASA. Development was D-76 2-1 for 12 minutes 30 seconds at 20C. It would be printed with a Durst 1200 condenser enlarger and Ilford warm or cool tone fibre paper.

Mae Sot garbage dump, Mae Sot Thailand November 2013

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dads Voice Silenced

It seems so strange not to be able to ask dads advice now. Throughout the last year we did lots of funeral planning with dad but now his voice has been silenced. Without dad to ask we are trying our best to remember what he wanted and how he wanted things done.

Of all the things I will miss about my father, sitting down and and having a simple conversation with him will be what I miss most. I remember often I would come from work at 5am in the morning to pickup or drop off something up at his house. Dad would be up waiting for me. He would never admit he got up to simply wait and talk to me but he would be there in the kitchen or family room when I arrived. We would sit and talk about whatever for 30 minutes or an hour or so. I will miss those moments the most.

I feel so much smaller without dad, it is like a huge chunk of me has been ripped off.

The Help Of Friends.

I have gotten so many nice messages from friends over the last while. Thanks so much to those of you who have reached out with a kind word, it all helps. Mom has been receiving phone calls and flowers from many family members and friends as well. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Quote: Dylan Thomas

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

True Friends

When you lose someone so close like happened on Sunday you really get to know the hearts of people that have been your friends. You learn who the good people are and you learn who the not so good people are. Just a minute before I wrote this I had a friend from work Michel come in to the guardhouse and offer his condolences. He was emotional and teary eyed and spoke kindly from his heart, it was a beautiful thing, something that helps, something I will remember in a very positive way.

Photo Story: Nit 22 and Bell 20 Gogo Bar Dancers

This portrait was made as part of my sex worker series on white backgrounds. The picture was shot in 2007 and shows  Nit and Bell two workers from a gogo bar in  Pattaya Thailand. This image was part of my show at Visual Arts Alberta back in 2012.

Some tech stuff. The photos were made with a 8x10 Kodak Master View camera, and 300mm Nikon lens. For the most part I shot Tri-x film and developed everything in Jobo tanks. The studio setup was was 4 speedotron flashes, two on the subject with large soft boxes and 2 on the background, the power supply was a 4800watt setup with a power transformer for Thailand.

What I remember most about these two young workers was the bar they worked in. I expected to see many gay Western male sex tourist customers. There was some of that but there was even more women in the bar when I was there. I saw many older Thai women there touching and caressing the dancers, which I found rather surprising. The worker makes a cut from each drink they can get the customer to buy for them.

The bikinis these guys are wearing and the numbers are as they appear on stage, dancing in the bar. The numbers are not so much to objectify them as to avoid pointing which is considered rude. The customer would give the number to if they wanted the worker to sit with them. If they find someone they like and the worker agrees to leave with them they pay a barfine to the bar. The idea of a barfine is that you are taking the worker out early so the bar wants to be compensated for the rest of the nights lost attendance. The worker would arrange a separate price with the customer for other duties, a shortime or longtime cost.

Here is an online link to the VAAA show, exhibition video.

"Nit, 22, Bell, 20, Gogo Bar Workers", 20" x 24", silver gelatin print

Quote: Leonard Nimoy

"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory."

Next Trip When? Other Photo Things

I am unsure of the date of my next Asian trip. In a month or so I plan to send out an email to my bosses at work and find out if I get a leave, or if not that, if I can get an extended vacation of some kind. When I know there thoughts, I can make my plans. My best guess is that if I do not get a leave I will take a shorter trip before September this year. If I can get a leave from work then I will take a much longer trip after October 24th.

I need to be in Alberta in Sept/Oct of this year to transport the Rosebud show and to also do an artist talk day (first Saturday of the show). This week I am sending out the contract to the curator for that exhibition. I plan on living up to my promises to the gallery and more importantly to my father. I told dad I would show his photos in Rosebud and I will! I also need to continue to tell the stories of the "Families of the Dump" this exhibition will give me one more opportunity to do that.

I am also feeling the pull to make more pictures, to fulfill my duties to the families and the vow I made to my father to try to produce a book of photographs. I promised dad I would dedicate a book to his memory, I am going to work hard and try to do that.

In the coming days I also might be making a print for a friend who wants to buy the portrait group photo (not sure how much to charge) and another camera workshop looms. I got an email from an interested workshop student the night dad died (was not able to tel l my father about it). It has been awhile between workshops so it's a good thing. I can use the money to buy more cooltone paper or just deposit it into my bank account to help fund the coming trip.

First thou, the eulogy, the funeral, and paying proper respect to my father. After I finish my responsibilities to dad I can move on to other things.

Got My Paper

I got my 2 boxes of paper today from B&H. You can't beat that, free and fast delivery direct to your front door with cheaper pricing. It rather strange I worried for years about not being able to get film and darkroom supplies in my old age, and the exact opposite is happening it is actually getting easier!

I bought a 50 sheet 11x14 and 16x20 box of Ilford FB cooltone this time around. I plan on using the 16x20 paper to print the additional dad images for the Rosebud gallery show (September). I love the look of this new paper. 50 sheets should be enough paper to get the current dad work printed but some of the negs are very problematic, so I am not sure it can be done. If I run out of the cooltone I still have plenty of warm tone 16x20 paper to use. I will probably end up printing up to 10 new images of dad for the show and then combine them with the best of the 8 that are currently hanging at the Louie Gallery on 124th. I want this next exhibition to be a real tribute to my loving father and the difficulties he faced with bravery at the end of his life.

Funeral Parlour

Spent over 3 hours at the funeral home today arranging dads final day. 3 hours in a funeral home, now that's a tough day, it was hardest on mom of course. Many many details to arrange, lots of things to choose and figure out. The only sort of surreal moment was checking out their coffin store. They had a $16000 plus gold plated coffin with all the bells and whistles. Whats kind of prick would buy something that gaudy and wasteful? Think of all the good, all the people you could help with 16 grand. Why waste it? Why put yourself in gold and then thick it in a hole in the ground? Why do people do such stupid selfish shit?

The man from the funeral home in charge of asking all the questions today fit the working the funeral parlour stereotype, a moustache, older, and a very serious slow thoughtful demeanour. Not sure if his title was undertaker but all he needed was one of those big black top hats and a heavy dark cloak to complete the picture. He was very professional, very good at this job but gosh, doing that day in and day out! Living and dealing with grieving people every working day of your life must be so hard. How do you not get depressed and down when living in that world? Would never ever want that job no matter how much money you make at it.

Today was an education, some valuable experience for mom later on. I wish I could talk to my father about the undertaker we met today and the coffins, I miss speaking with him already, I miss seeing his eyes and the faces  he used to make. Him being gone seems so wrong, its like a piece of my body is missing. Dad was always there, always present, his opinions and his ideas mattered so much. Now there is just this empty space, his empty hospital bed with no sheets. Where is dad? There is a void in our lives, it feels so wrong, he should be there. Even after a year of preparation his passing, his leaving us seems to have come on so fast, so sudden. You think over and over again of all the things you will never do with him again. Of all the missed opportunities never to return.

I think I need to photograph the empty hospital bed tomorrow with the 5x7 before the home care people haul it off. Creating photos has always given me an escape, some peace and solace. I need a bit of that right now.

Dads funeral is next Tuesday. I have completed his memorial video and am now working on his eulogy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mom Wakes Up

This morning at 4am my mother woke up suddenly. She thought "I need to check on dad" and was starting to get up before she remembered that her husband, my father had died the previous night. She remembered "Dads not here."

I am very proud of my mother, she worked extremely hard to keep dad going. She is the person most responsible for my father living a whole year after being diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Mom did everything, encouraging him to eat, giving him all kinds of medicines, washing and cleaning after him. Helping dad off the floor when he fell and lifting and moving him from his bed to the wheelchair and back everyday. Arranging for outside home care help, and in the end helping dad in the most personal ways after he could not walk or stand and was confined only to his hospital bed. My mom at 79 years old kept this pace up for an entire year. Without her dad would have died much earlier with strangers in a sterile hospital. Instead he was allowed to die with love and dignity, in his own home, surrounded by those that loved him. Dad wanted to die at home and because of my mothers love he was allowed that final wish.

Even a day after my fathers death mom is still waking up to help him. I am so proud of her.

Why Was I First To Know?

Why was I the first person to know that my father had died? I was alone with dad at that moment, no one but me and him knew what had happened. Why? Did dad want me to make that last photograph of him at that time before anyone else came in the room? Did he give me that last gift? Did he give me that last moment together?

I do not know if he knew I was there, or if our being together was just a coincidence. Over the last year I visited my father many times, I probably spent some time with him on at least 95% of those last 365 days. Maybe it was just the fact that I visited my father so often that I was the one there at the end. I am not sure why I was the first one to touch him after he died, the first one to realize he was not breathing, and the first person to feel the warmth in his body leaving him.

Why was I first to know? I am not sure why dad and I had that last private moment together, but we did, and it is something I will cherish. It was a sad and terrible thing but being there with dad at the end like that was also something almost beautiful, something special, it was almost like the scene from a Hollywood film. Only Hollywood screenwriters make up endings like that.

I will miss my father everyday the rest of my life. I will also remember our last minutes together until the day I die.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Beautiful Father Is Gone

Tonight at between 5pm and 545pm my father passed away quietly in his sleep. I arrived at the house for my normal visit around 505pm, mom told me that dad was sleeping after a rough day. He was talking and had gotten some morphine at around 4pm and was now quietly sleeping. I hurriedly set up my 5x7 in the waining daylight and mom went to take a nap. As I was photographing dad he did not move for quite a long period of time. I became concerned and checked his breathing but could not hear anything. I shook him and spoke to him but got no response. Dads stomach and body were quite hot but his face and hand were starting to get cold. I kissed him on the forehead and said "I love you so much dad!" I sat down for a moment on the sofa and just looked at him, then I went to tell mom who was still asleep in her bed. Mom awoke suddenly with a start when I went into her dark bedroom. I took her hand and she asked in a loud frightened voice "Is dad still alive?" (she must have had a premonition, she knew the end was very near) I told her "I think dad is gone." and then she started crying.

I feel numb, not sure why but I have not cried yet. I teared up several times but have not let loose yet. I have cried so many times over the last year, and yet now I cannot? In a way this is what dad wanted, he did not want to die in a hospital and he wanted to die in his sleep. Mom kept him in his home till the end and dad died relatively peacefully and not in a lot of pain. His condition worsened rapidly over the last 4 or 5 days. The last 2 weeks were the worse for dad but for the most part he was able to live fairly comfortably, fairly well in his last year of life. Maybe that is why I have not cried, I know that dad is not suffering, I know that dad died with those around who loved him. I am also happy that I was able to tell dad many times what a great father he was and how much I loved him.

I am not sure if I was photographing dad at the moment he passed, or if it happened just before I arrived. I heard nothing, dad looked so so peaceful, and relaxed. I did not think anything was wrong. My father was there for me right up to the end, even allowing me to make pictures at the time of or within a few minutes of his death. The family funeral will be later this week.

Somehow this does not seem real to me, maybe I am in some kind of shock. I know one thing, my father was always there for me, I could always count on him my whole life. Now things will never be the same, I will have no one to tell my silly stories to or to get advise from. I feel lost and alone. He was a great father, now the tears are coming, I need to stop writing......

Dad, a  cropped picture from a cruise he took with mom on their 50th anniversary in 2007

Todays 35mm Roll

Here are some scan for today's 35mm roll of Tri-x I developed of dad. The pictures as always are
Tri-x exposed at 800 and then given stand development. Stand development is a 2 hour development with 1 minute of inverted agitation for the first minute, then light swirl (like a wine glass) agitation every 30 minutes for 30 seconds, developer is Rodinal 1/50 20C.

5x7 Photos Of Dad

These portraits were hard, very hard to take. I ended up making 6 exposures of dad at home in his hospital bed using the new Gitzo carbon fibre tripod for the first time. I talked to dad early last week about making these large format pictures and he said, "OK". I told him I might show them in the Rosebud exhibition. He knew I was making photos of him today and did not object. His allowing me to photograph his death is the last gift he is giving me.

The "My Fathers Last Days" work seems to be having a positive effect on quite a few people. I got many heartfelt emotional compliments at the opening and the health care workers that are helping take care of dad are also responding positively. I even had one lady working with dad who went online in search of my photographs. Hopefully I can talk to dad tomorrow, I might try to do a few more 5x7 shots tomorrow as well. I will take the mini iPod when I visit him so I can show him yesterdays work.

The pictures were made with my 5x7 Linhof, a 120mm lens at F8 and a 1 second shutter. I exposed the Tri-x at 200ASA placed dads skin on zone 6 and then added a bellows factor of about 1 1/4 stops. The development was on the Jobo, D-76 300/300w at 24C for 9 minutes at agitation level 4.

The 5x7 is my preferred format size, I like the longer vertical/horizontal. The dimensions work better for me than the 4x5, 8x10 shape. The 120mm is the lens I plan on using in Asia with the 5x7, I am debating whether I need to take the 210mm as well. I think simplicity is the way to go, you can create easier and understand your work more fully when using only one lens. My only concern would be damaging the lens-shutter and not having anything to work with. Sometimes it's good to have a backup. I will probably use the 5x7 condenser enlarger I got from Jack to print the work. I have fallen in love with the combination of Tri-x and condensers.

Dad has beautiful hands, I might use the bottom picture in the Rosebud exhibition.

Dad yesterday

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Better Go To Bed

I was up all night working on my fathers funeral video, then I went to photograph and spend time with dad. I have been up for about 21 straight hours now. I planned on going to support the Hardcourt House "Exposure Photography Festival" show but I am spent, I need to sleep. I might be able to check the prints out tomorrow. Hopefully they have a good turn out for the opening night.

Bad Times

Dad has entered the last days of his life. I hope he does not have to suffer for too long. I took some photos of him with the Leica's and 5x7 today, he did not say anything, I told him what I was doing and thanked him at the end, but dad did not respond. When I was leaving, I said "Goodbye dad see you tomorrow" he looked at me with such big eyes, and tried to talk, he said something but I did not understand him. His eyes seem to get bigger and bigger as he continues to lose weight, as he gets closer to death, he talks more and more with his large eyes.

I took the funeral video in almost its finished form for him to see but he could not watch it, mom cried throughout telling me what a good job I did on it. It is about 1 year since dad went to hospital for the first time, he got sick in January of 2014 and went to the hospital for the first time at the end of February. Bit by bit dad lost the ability to do things, first walking by himself, then walking with a walker, then the ability to stand, then his appetite went, he started to hallucinate, now he  does not talk much. Little by little it was all taken away from him, now he just lays in bed not eating looking up with his eyes so big, struggling to breath.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Developed Old 5x7 Negatives

I developed 24 5x7 negs last night, mostly repetitive shots that had sat in their holders for years. Not much of substance on the negs but the making of the photos should allow me to feel more comfortable shooting the camera this year in Asia. Here are a few scans of those images.

Dad on sofa, around July 2014
Group portrait, around 2011

Dad, Not Much Time Left

Visited dad again tonight, he is not doing good. The nurse told mom today that he probably does not have much time left. Dad has not eaten much for the last 3 days, even yesterday when I brought him a hamburger from A&W he did not want it (he loves those). Today I was able to give him a bit of boost, which he drank, he also drank a bit of the orange crush pop with ice I made for him.

Took a few photos of dad today not to many, mom was crying some, I was crying some. Not a good a good time. I will try taking the 5x7 portrait of him in bed tomorrow, I loaded film today when I was there. Will prepare the camera tonight. I have to make a small notch in the focusing bed of the Linhof so the 120mm lens can lock in and does not slide forward when it is pointing down. I already have a notch for the 210mm lens, but need one farther up the bed for the 120mm which requires a shorter bellows extension.

Not sure why I am writing about cameras now, guess its a way to distract myself from my fathers condition. He did not talk much tonight. I told him some stories as always, and tried to entertain him as best I could. He was so weak, it was a terrible thing to see. Will go back earlier tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tonights Printing Is Just For Fun!

Going to do a bit of printing tonight, not for a club, not for a show, I am printing just because I want to have some fun. I have one negative of dad I wanted to work on and also pulled a bunch of sheets from an old binder, pics shot in Klong Toey. I will find one or two shots from those sheets to print as well.

Here are the shots I worked on today. The first and second are a bit of a departure for me, landscapes!! Both were made with contrast and grain on 35mm Tri-x. This type of landscape image just like with my regular documentary work has a EDGE to the prints that I like. In combination with the Durst 1200 condenser enlarger and the 11x14 Ilford Cooltone FB the landscapes look pretty cool, nice and raw. I ended up doing two relatively quick prints of each of these negs at two different contrasts. Four photo prints only, was able to do pretty efficient and quick printing.

Burnt trees, Banff National Park, Canada 2009
Freeway and Klong Toey canal,  Bangkok Thailand 2010
The last shot I worked on today was much more difficult to print, involving, more extensive burning, dodging a mask etc. It is dad in bed with streaming sunlight hitting his face through the venetian blinds. He looks trapped in the light, like he is lying behind bars. I am not sure exactly why but this photo paper seems so much easier to use, I seem to be able to print faster and more effectively using it, go figure! Once I have used this paper for several years I am bound to only become better with it, then look out some beautiful prints can be made. I also love the Ilford cooltone gloss of the finish and the thick base which helps prevent bending marks. I will probably use this paper to make the additional 6 prints that I need for the Rosebud exhibition.

I think this shot of dad trapped in the light might also make it into the Rosebud exhibition along with the pain photograph.

Update** The printing went so fluidly today I was even able to do up a 4th fibre print. This last print was of a boxer from the Muay Thai gym in Bangkok.

Dad trapped in the light, version # 1,  February 2015
Detail dad caught in the light.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Latest Film

Yesterday when I did up the dad "pain" photograph I also developed a roll of film. This is all Tri-x exposed at 800 and stand developed in Rodinal for 2 hours. Here are some scans:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tonights Artist Talk

We had our second artist tonight down at the gallery. Going in we thought we might have 8 people and we ended up with 10, so that was a nice sized crowd. More would have been even been better but having 10 was fine. There was lots of interactive conversations, dozens of questions etc. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and have fun. This is what photography in Edmonton should be all about!

Some of the club folks even made an appearance which was great. We had 3 folks from a St. Albert photography club and one each from my former clubs M and C. It was so nice to see that club support and interest. I rag on them a lot but tonight some of those club folks came through, so I need to say thank you to them.

Dad "Pain" Photo

Here is the second attempt at yesterdays scanned negative. I printed it very contrasty to start with, this is with a grade 3 1/2 filter and the Durst 1200 condenser enlarger. My next attempt will be at grade 3, this version is strong but maybe a bit to stark looking. It is certainly a very interpretive approach to the negative.

The most difficult thing about printing this negative was the fogging in the upper right corner. I was doing burns wide open at like 300+ seconds and still getting white there. Then I thought why not flash it? So I masked off the rest of the print then flashed the corner with a small flashlight 3 different times for short intervals as I moved the masking around a bit. To my surprise it actually seemed to have worked and I did not have to spend 10 minutes holding and moving a burn card.

The more work you do in the dark, the better your techniques get. You can learn something new thats effective even after all these years of printing. No rules when it comes to tools, techniques folks, the final print is what matters. If it works it works, nuff said.

I will try to print and dry this sample 11x14 photo and show it to dad tomorrow.

Here is the 2nd attempt print:

Note* the digi detail shot lacks the depth of sharpness in the original print.

Dad in Pain version #2, February 2015
Detail of my fathers face

Review For Ilford's New Cool Tone Fibre Photographic Paper

Here is my review. I f-ckin love it! At least my first impression was such. I need to play with it in toners and bleach but as of now, its GREAT STUFF!

With the Ilford warm tone as it's bedmate I have everything I need to print with. I will continue to use up my supplies of various older papers but any new buys will only be these two papers, Ilford warmtone and cooltone.

I just placed and order with B&H 1 box (50) of  11x14 and 1 box (50) of 16x20  Ilford cooltone fibre are on their way! Cost $352.73 USD

I need to take it easy on the buying now. I also did a over a $300 CAD dollar Dectol/Fixer buy at the local camera store last week off. Buying darkroom supplies and film is OK thou, not more gear, got enough of that stuff but supplies are different, you need your flour and milk to bake properly! There's no getting round that.

They also have 20x24 size paper in this new cooltone style. I was thinking that later on I might like to try to print some of my 35mm Tri-x to 20x24!! The accentuated grain, contrast and size along with heavy bleaching on cooltone fibre should create a really dynamic and powerful looking photograph. Something very unique and different than digi images look like. I have sold and printed a 20x24 35 neg before, time to renew those efforts. First thou lets work with the 16x20, step by step builds the cathedral.

Now back to the dark, I need to print some more before sleeping. Later tonight have to do an artist talk with Larry.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Todays Dad Visit

Tonight talked to dad quite a bit. The morphine affects him somewhat as he goes off on strange tangents at times. For the most part thou dad is still with us, still talking. I told him about work stuff and other things, we talked about family, the photography etc. I asked him if it was OK to do a large format portrait this week. I told him I wanted to do the photo for the Rosebud show. He said that it would be OK to do it. So I will probably try to do a few shoots this week. I am worried about movement in the low light conditions. Will see how it goes, will do my best.

I guess one of dads caregivers a nurse was quite impressed with all the photos, said it was a great thing to be doing. The nurse even had heard (not sure where) about our photo exhibition and wanted to attend. She told mom she hoped the government would see the work and that would help with funding. That is more of a dream than a reality, thou I think her sentiments and hopes are correct. I guess so many of her patients come and go without so much as a ripple, and she felt to make the photos of the persons actual life with cancer, could have positive long term effects. At worst? nothing will happen just like with all the other folks who go through this and are not photographed. At best? who knows, anything is possible.

Another Artist Talk, Its A Go!!

Well Larry and I are doing another artist talk at the gallery tomorrow. We had a sign up sheet for an artist talk night at the opening and we ended up getting enough folks to proceed with the lecture. We were hoping for at least 10 attendees, we ended up getting 7, all of whom are still interested. Larry asked them to bring some friends and we are going to go for it. I sent out an email to one former M club friend who also might come.

The talk is tomorrow at the Louie Gallery on 124 in Edmonton, 7pm. If your interested please come on down! This I believe will be my 7th talk. I am starting to lose count on these things which I guess is a positive.

Latest Dad Photographs.

The dad photographs are getting harder to take and to show as his condition deteriorates. I have his approval so I will continue to take and shoot photos and post them. The images are getting sadder and sadder. Any day that's a good day and we can talk, is a real blessing now. Dad told me to keep taking photos even to take some when he is in his coffin, so I will do that, for me and for him.

Some of these might make the final cut for the Rosebud show (the pain image). These are now becoming the hardest photos I have ever taken. Even surpassing the difficulty I had shooting the Vietnamese workers in the Cambodian brothel.

I have always believed in the power and importance of photography, especially documentary work. At the Louie Photography Gallery exhibition I had a donation link for cancer Canada next to dads pics. At the next show in Rosebud it will be the same. My hope is that people who see these photographs might donate a little to cancer research. If dad and I working together through these photographs can help fund any kind of positive cancer related research then that would really be something, a real honour!

I will try printing the "Pain" photo of dad this week on the new 11x14 Ilford cool tone fibre. If I like it I will buy some 16x20 sized paper from B&H and make a archival fine art version for Rosebud. There is fogging on the upper right area of this negative as it was the last shot on my roll of bulk film I used. The dark burn works in that area so I think I can camouflage it and make a good print from the negative. The neg seems very sharp, which is a bit of a miracle in the low lighting conditions in the room. You got to like the combination of Leica lens, rangefinders and Tri-x.

Dad in pain, Feb 2015
Dad in hospital bed, Feb 2015
Abstract image of mom feeding dad his medicine, Feb 2015
Dad in his hospital bed #2, Feb 2015
Dad after taking lots of morphine to combat his cancer pain, February 2015

A Truly Inspiring Person: Jimmy Carter

I have decided to start a new blog segment called "A Truly Inspiring Person" First up? Mr. Jimmy Carter. The man is fricking 90 years old and he is not content with his life's work, he still is striving to help others. Carter will fight the rest of his life, against the violence and injustice women and girls face worldwide.

Here is the link, Jimmy Carter a truly inspiring person:

Link: Videos Related To Bergger?

Found this rather strange link tonight. Its for videos related to the use of Bergger photo paper. In one of my darkroom vids I mentioned I used Bergger paper, which is a beautiful photographic paper. Some how it ended up on this Bergger related video link! Bergger should send me a free 50 sheet box of glossy fibre for promoting their product. After all when Mr.Yaum recommends it the world follows :)). Well sort of, kind of, not really :((!/video

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"My Fathers Last Days" Series, Update

Over the last while I had not shot many photos of dad. It was a combination of obligations to my exhibition and limited photo opportunities with dad. I seemed to be taking the same pictures over and over again. The light was often quite bad in the house and my time with dad was limited.

Now thou things are on an upswing. Both yesterday and today I think I shot some good dad film. I also spent the morning developing up two rolls of Tri-x using Stand development (2 hour development with minimal agitation). At first glance some of these negs looked not bad. I will scan and post them tomorrow when I get off work and start my off work week.

I would also like to still do some large format pictures of my father. It is impossible for him to get into my studio and pose in front of the white background. I have been thinking what I need to do is take the camera to him and photograph him with the 8x10 or 5x7 in his hospital bed. If I do this, I need to get it done this week. Dads condition is owe so fragile these days, some days are terrible others (like today) still quite good. I need to photograph dad this coming week, as long as he is comfortable and agreeable to the idea.

I still need to do up 5 or 6 new photos for the "My Fathers Last Days" part of the Rosebud exhibition happening in September. I have all the "Families of the Dump" pics I need, and 8 dad pictures, but want to do up about 6 more then add and change out my selections. Some of this latest 35mm 800ASA stuff or the planned large format portraiture might make that final cut. Dad knows about the coming Rosebud show, so he is even more open to making new photographs than before.

It would be great to do some compelling portraits of dad in hospital bed with the large format cameras.

Dad Today

Dad was better today and yesterday. We talked a bit today about his health, condos in Bangkok and other subjects. Earlier in dads illness as I found interesting condos I would print them out and bring them for him to look at. My father has always liked looking at homes and designing rooms and the like so he enjoyed the sheets I printed. Lately thou I did not want to bother him with this stuff but after todays talk I decided to print out another 6 for him to look at this coming week.

Dad is leaving my sister and myself some money after he passes so that money might go towards the purchase of a condo. Having dad in on the selection process is important, he can see where his money might go. Dad always believed in buying property so this sort of fits that vain. I might just save the money and use it to make photos with, sort of a living photography allowance but for now the condo dream thing is good for both me and my father. It distracts me from bad thoughts and it allows dad to see in a concrete way what all his hard work could-might purchase.

In typical dad fashion today he told me that he did not want to go to a nursing home (palliative care) because he worried how much it would cost and that it would be taking money away from his children. Not sure how the costs work on that sort of thing, the gov't might pay everything. The idea thou that dad would make sacrifices for his children even as he lay stricken in bed with terminal cancer, is dad to the bone. His entire life he put his children's needs in front of his own. Right now thou its a no brainer, everyone wants him to stay home as long as possible, maybe later we will have no choice but now no things are working out. We are all helping out as much as we can and mom is also going to get extra help coming in from the home care folks in town. Dad has a much higher standard of living, love and comfort at home than he would have in any hospital.

Today is one of those days, one of those conversations, I will remember after my fathers gone. "I do not want to go to a nursing home, it's to much money, it's better to keep the money for you and Jo (my sister). Why spend it on myself? For what?" 


I have come up with a new fun photo term, TESTOGRAPHER. A testographer is a person obsessed with the science and not the art of analog photography. They love to test and test and then test some more, never committing to anything or producing an important photographic body of work. They are simply happy playing with the science part of film photography.

When you hang a long time with photographers you realize some do not love the art of photography, you find that some are more into the gadgets (gadgographer?) and others are just fascinated by the science. The never ending playing with chemicals, papers, graphs, meters and films is what they enjoy most. They are not really photographers, so I came up with this new, somewhat cocky term, haha, testographers.

Another reason why many people cannot give up testing I think is because of an insecurity they feel about their photos. If they are continually testing they have a built in excuse. They can say stuff like "This is only a test, I am trying this or that or the other thing. The REALLY GOOD work comes later" Of course with the testographers later never arrives, and they can just use the test excuse over and over. In a way its kind of sad, it's a fear to put yourself on the line,  a fear to let your photographs stand on their own merit. You always have a built in excuse, you always have that out. Because of this insecurity, this fear to commit to your work, you never really advance or grow as an artist. It is such a waste of potential. How many great photos were never made because the testographer was afraid to become a photographer?

For those of you out there new to photography or those that have been involved for years, try not to become a testographer. Find what works for you and commit to it, make no excuses, just make great photographs!! Be a photographer not a testographer!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Links: We Get Some National Coverage

The Edmonton Journal video interview/photograph done by photojournalist Larry Wong has received some NATIONAL exposure. This has to be a good thing! Larry W did a great job on this thing, working with two amateurs he pulled together a very nice piece. The rest of the countries editors  liked the video and think that too. This kind of publicity helps raise public awareness on the stories Larry and I are telling.

Here are the videos links to a bunch of papers Canada wide. Thanks Larry for forwarding forwarding the links to me.


The Calgary Herald
The Province
The Edmonton Journal

A still photo of Larry and a mention of the show.

Ottawa Citizen
The Vancouver Sun

Here is a link on They get my fake name wrong, Yaum becomes Daum. Hey folks get my fake name right!!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Poem: "Invictus" By William Ernest Henley (1849 - 1902)

Nelson Mandela had this poem taped to a wall in his cell on Robben Island prison.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.  

Morgan Freeman recites the poem on Charlie Rose.

Another nice Condo

$93500 CAD 57sqm, 2 beds 1 bath. This place has a washer in the room, which is important. Bangkok is a city where you wear a shirt once and its covered in sweat and needs to be washed. The Canadian dollar kind of sucks right now so if I bought I would wait till it was stronger. Still it's fun to distract the mind and dream of places like this. It would help the photography a lot, having a permanent residence.