Here’s the partner tree mentioned in yesterday’s post. You can see that I went wider with it and increased the depth of field a bit. A few minutes later, the sun popped up, and the shoot ended. Pre-order your print today at MidnightOwl.Gallery! Eaves, […]
This post may seem like it’s nothing more than an insanely long tangent, and I understand the confusion. Truth is, what follows is core to the question of why I capture photons onto a sensor and create art.
For twenty-some years, I’ve been a corporate communicator. As an executive speechwriter and ghostwriter, I’ve allowed someone else’s thought structures and ways of speaking take up extended residence in my mind. I could pull out their persona and put it into a memo, embed it on a slide or translate it into a script. And as an editor, I’ve shaped my writing and that of my staff to conform to a ubiquitous corporate voice and style. I’ve sat side by side with leaders and subject matter experts to find the optimal way to communicate their message and then articulate it to perfection, or at least as close as we could get. Simply put, it is a career of writing for others.
In contrast, photography provides three releases from these constraints. (See? Even now, in a freeform post, I’m operating within a learned framework.)
(1) No words! … unless I include them in the shot’s composition. I find satisfaction in telling a story, evoking an emotion, etc., without fretting over the proper application of AP style or sentence structure. I can poetically find my own voice without using it.
(2) My vision. For me, photography is seldom about documenting what I see and simply sharing it. Rather, I seek a scene and impose my perspective of it by painting with and manipulating light. Hand three photographers (but not “influencers,” mind you) the same camera and the same scene, and you’ll receive three different visions. I love this freedom of discovery provided by art.
(3) Releasing the agenda. A long time ago I gave up trying to defend every last word I wrote, and I think of my photography in the same way. Each image is the best I could achieve in that moment and within the constraints of the development cycle. I am constantly amazed by how people react to art, and I never know what will resonate or flop. When I share an image, I release my agenda and open my perspective to interpretation. That’s when the real conversation starts, and when an image goes from photograph to art.
One happy side effect of practicing still-life shots is that you then get to enjoy the subject matter afterward. This mum, for example, has lasted all week. I called this “You CAN Do Something with a Flower” as that was my youngest’s reaction when she […]
For the last few months, I’ve been shooting with a large format film camera, and I’ll review the mediums I’ve been using during this time. First up is Rollei RPX 25 in 4×5 sheet film. And let’s be frank, I hate it.
This film is thin. Like, 1-ply toilet-paper thin. It’s also flimsy. On location, I literally had this film fall out of the cartridge because it popped out of the groove. On the flip side, I’ve also had it get completely stuck in the cartridge because it’s so thin it slid into a small gap in the plastic. I’m loading it in a dark bag, and I can say with certainty that this film is so finicky to load that my hands get sweaty. I don’t have the same issue with Ilford’s film. When it comes time to load it into the development reel, I have the same issues. The film is quick to buckle and pop out of the grooves, making a three-minute task take 5 times as long. The emulsion layer, therefore, is very easy to damage or leave fingerprints on. I now use gloves when loading this film, something I don’t have to do with other film stocks. I have had some minor damage on this layer from bungled attempts at loading it.
I’ve shot it with both a homemade pinhole camera and at normal speeds. The reciprocity failure rate can be quite high, causing pinhole shots to take even longer. Normal exposures at normal apertures have good contrast and minimal grain. Photos you see here are “scanned” with my Canon 6D with a 40mm pancake semi-macro 1:2 ratio. At 10x magnification in live-view mode, I cannot see the grain to set the manual focus, it’s that tight. When shooting this last batch of photos, I used a handheld light meter and my times were long on the first couple of exposures. I pulled the processing by 2 stops, and it still looks good (image links to the full version):
There’s snow texture even in some of the blown-out areas, although it doesn’t show up on this quick conversion. I’ve pulled the contrast a bit on the JPG.
The low 25 ISO rating of this film; no one is shooting to freeze-the-action at f22 on large format film. I like the developed negatives. The emulsion layer doesn’t look lifeless or thin, like some of the cheaper stocks out there. Nor does it have the quality feeling of Ilford or Kodak. It’s somewhere in between.
Here’s another capture that was pulled 2 stops and given a contrast boost in Photoshop from the JPG. I touched up some pinpricks in the emulsion that were most obvious against the grey sky. After standing in the calm snow to set up the shot, a huge gust of wind blew through right as I was about to hit the shutter. Once the gusts waned, I snapped it.
Final verdict: B-? 3*s? 6 of 10? Something like that. The UX, if you will, of the medium is a fail for me and why I wouldn’t buy it again.
My adventures in 4×5 homemade pinhole photography continue, this time with Rollei APX 25 film. Exposure time was ~55 minutes. The collage photo used two continuous dish lights, as my LED lights’ batteries drained about 20 minutes into the second shot. I’m using a Jobo […]
I ordered the 0.5mm pinhole on EBay as well as the film back, but everything else was from scratch. I didn’t have a proper router table and hobbled one together from scrap wood. Some of my cuts weren’t perfect, although it seemed to get the job done.
The photo of the ghost pumpkin is a direct positive print on 4×5 Harman photo paper exposed for about 85 minutes.
Earlier this year, I unveiled my “Abandoned Americana” series, and No. 7 earned a spot in the “Voices of the Midwest” exhibit at the Fine Line Creative Arts Gallery in St. Charles, Ill. The exhibit runs now through Oct. 11. I also filmed a brief […]
During its heyday, Route 66 would at times be clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic. It’s easy to understand why so many service stations line the road. What’s more difficult to imagine is that in 1937 a pedestrian tunnel was built in nearby Odell, Ill., to allow […]