Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The show goes on!

Last week I blogged about preparing for my latest one-man show at the Argus Museum.  "Recent Black & White Work" was put up last Thursday, and other than information cards falling off the wall, it went very smoothly.  The opening also coincided with the beginning of an Argus Collector's meeting, so I am sure the turnout reflected that.  However, there were a lot of people jammed into the narrow viewing space, and I really enjoyed talking with the attendees.  For the first time ever, I sold more than one print - five, actually, and it was clear that I made some good choices in my selection of images.  I also got a lot of good feedback.  I asked some people what their favorites were and why.  Some found that a certain image really resonated with them, and there were emotional connections to a few images, as well.    To me, as a photographer, those were really good reinforcement to my own judgement, and the unsolicited praise from people was gratifying.

I shoot for myself, unless it is a paid assignment from someone.  My subjects vary, my choice of tools varies, and the medium varies.  That is one way for me to keep "fresh" and try things.  If you have read through this blog, you will obviously see that.  I don't think I could be content with just ONE camera and one lens.  I am sure I could do a much better job than I did 30 years ago if that is all that I had.  However, being creative for me means being able to use a variety of lenses to achieve a desired result.  Sometimes it is purely serendipitous, but other times, I know what a certain combination will do, and I set out with a goal in mind of getting a desired result. My images of Fayette State Park were  just that.  I knew that the CCTV lens on my Olympus EPL-1 gave me a Petzal-like effect when wide open, and shooting in monochrome gave just the look I wanted...a homage to a late 1800s appearance.  Some people were curious about how I got the effect, and we had wonderful discussions about "getting it in camera" vs. post-processing.

I did shoot some crowd shots at the reception, but they are all on film cameras and I have yet to get them developed. For those, I went simple-- Olympus Infinity and a Nikon One-Touch 35.  I did photograph the setup before it opened, so some of those images are here.   I really was very pleased with how it all turned out.  The exhibit runs until December 5, and the Argus Museum, at 525 West William Street, Ann Arbor, is open from 9-5, M-F.








Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Latest Show - Recent Black and White Work

My latest exhibit, "Recent Black & White Work" opens Thursday, October 16 at the Argus Museum in Ann Arbor.  The reception goes from 6-8 pm.  Thereafter, the show is open to the public M-F from 9-5 pm.  The Argus Museum is located at 525 West William Street. Parking is available on the side streets, and there are usually a couple of spots open in the lot for visitors.

This exhibit features only photographs I have taken in 2013-14,  and there are four main groupings - Chicago, Fayette State Park, Lake Huron Shoreline, and assorted images from larger projects that are in progress.  Chicago features 6 images taken in less than 12 hours while I was there on a business trip, All were taken with my Nikon 1 camera, which is capable of some most excellent results at low ISO settings.   The second set, Fayette State Park, were taken with an Olympus EPL1 and a C-mount lens, which gives the same out of focus effect as a Petzval lens.  The images are somewhat dreamy at the edges, but sharp in the focus spot.  I chose them over the other film-based images due to the effect from that lens, which gives them a period look.   The Lake Huron Shoreline images were all taken with a Nikon D90 and a 35mm 1.8 lens.  The last set features images from a variety of film cameras, and were shot at various locations in Michigan and New York State.

The 33 prints are all sized at 6x9," matted to 11x14."  I am satisfied with my choice of images, and it was hard winnowing things down.  The venue is adequate for smaller print sizes, and of course, it also keeps my cost down.  Each print is priced at $40-$45.

Spotting prints.  Silver-gelatin prints almost always need to be retouched after mounting (or before).    Small specks on the negative show up as white spots on the prints.  It used to be that one would use "Spot tone" and a fine brush to fix the spots, but "Spotting Pens" with different densities of black pigment are now used, and the ones I am using here were purchased about 8 years ago. The worst is having a pinhole in the emulsion, which shows up as a black dot on the print.  There, it's better to scan the negative and fix those defects in a graphics program and then have the digital file printed as a c-print.  I use Mpix.com for all of my c-prints.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Portra 100T - Another fine film....gone and rediscovered.

In this year's acquisitions of  various films, I ended up with some Kodak Portra 100T.  First of all, I did not even know that Kodal produced a Tungsten light-balanced C-41 film.  I am familiar with all of the typical Tungsten emulsions that are E-6, and there WERE a lot of them from Kodak and Fuji. It made sense to have slide films made for tungsten lighting, and whether they were used for documenting art objects (as many art departments did), indoor shooting, or night scenes, tungsten balanced films were necessary for proper color balance under typical non-florescent lighting.  Used outdoors, one merely needed to have an 85B compensating filter to get more accurate color under daylight conditions.  Obviously, the Digital Onslaught rendered the use use of tungsten films obsolete for professional use, since we can choose any white balance we want.    Despite this, I enjoy shooting tungsten slide film and then having it cross-processed for a unique look.
Imagine my surprise in finding two rolls of Kodak Portra 100T!  It sure makes sense to have a fine-grained tungsten emulsion in C-41, given the dearth of E-6 labs.  However, this film expired in 2002. I suppose Kodak thought it would be used a lot for portraiture, since C-41 films filled that niche...at the time.  

I loaded a roll into my Konica Autoreflex TC and shot it it a variety of conditions, sometimes using it outdoors with an 85B filter, and sometimes not.  I shot it at night, I shot it indoors under mixed lighting, too.  I like the film, and despite it being 12 years out of date, the results at box speed were very good.  

It's fun and a bit sad finding out about films that one didn't know existed, and to find that they are still giving great results long after their "end date." In 2002, the digital tidal wave was beginning, and the pros were adopting DSLRs as soon as they came out.  I know that the tungsten E-6 films held out a bit longer because of their specialized uses, but the Portra 100T was discontinued by Kodak in 2006.  Ektar 100 became the ISO 100 C-41 champ, and since C-41 negs can be scanned and color balanced on the computer, the Portra 100T became irrelevant.  It's still a lot of fun to use, though.

Here are some selected shots from my first roll of the Portra 100T:







Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Alternative Processes - Cyanotype

I'm pretty much a straightforward photographer. I have dabbled in cyanotypes, large format, pinhole, print toning, and so forth.  I remain a 35mm and medium format shooter, and use films and lenses that give me the "look" that I am searching for.  I greatly respect those that decide to use alternative processes such as wet-plate, platinum/palladium, bromoil, van dyke, photogravure, and cyanotype to become their medium.  I can't tell you much about the other processes from personal experience except cyanotype, which I have played with a bit.  Cyanotype is actually the simplest "Alt process" it uses iron ions and not silver to produce the image.  It's also a very old process, invented by the English astronomer John Herschel in 1846.   Blueprint paper is a form of cyanotype, and it is very easy to use -- and sold as the "Sunprint" kits in museums and art stores.   Today, one can make digital negatives and use them to produce stunning cyanotype compositions.  

 I start with this as a background to the exhibit that ends this weekend at the Argus Museum in Ann Arbor.  A show by photographers from Wayne State University titled A Matter of Light and Memory features many cyanotypes and toned cyanotypes.  I especially liked the varied presentation of the cyanotypes on cloth.  The cyanotype process allows one to get creative with the substrate, the presentation, and the implementation of the process.  Cyanotypes are a great medium to use where traditional darkrooms no longer exist, as the set-up is pretty easy.  The chemicals are also relatively inexpensive and easy to work with.

Here are a few views of the exhibit, taken with my cellphone, and not a real camera...







You can learn more about cyanotypes here:

The Argus Museum is located at 525 West William Street, Ann Arbor.  The show ends 09/26/2014!
I wish I had remembered to put this up earlier.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's All About The Lens.

While I have long been a mostly Nikon shooter, I realize that there are other lenses out there that are really amazing, and that they don't mount on a Nikon.  Since I am shooting film here, I am not going out to buy a Sony Alpha or some other mirrorless digital camera to mount different lenses on.  No way.  This boy is shooting film as much as possible (and yes, I do own two Nikon DSLRs).  For instance, Konica has always had a reputation for manufacturing some excellent glass.  I was given a Konica Autoreflex TC by my mother-in-law last year.  The camera body wasn't working, but the 40mm 1.8 lens was perfect, so I bought a Konica Autoreflex T body on ebay for about $15.  Then, I saw the 57mm f/1.4 at Huron Camera -- an amazing lens I have read about elsewhere. I bought it, and it is one of those lenses that quickly becomes a favorite.  Wide-open it has a bokeh that will make some of those bokeholics pee their pants.   My Autoreflex T's meter is a bit off, so I usually use sunny-16 or a hand-held meter for my exposures.  What I have REALLY come to love is shooting the expired Panatomic-X (that I bought back in March at the estate sale) with this lens.  I am getting some images that I have really been liking.  Shooting late in the day with soft light at wide-open aperture or close to it is giving me some results that I am quite pleased with.





There are many other lenses out there that justify owning a body that they fit just to shoot with them.  It's all in the glass... the body is just there to keep the film in.    What's your favorite lens?