A painting of me


   21 December 2009, late evening

I took the code I wrote for IMG VQVZ to finish off my Blansdowne photo site. You can now browse my most recent photos of the area, and look at the sets of images I’ve made using those photos. The only thing left to do is take photographs that are interesting. This might be the hardest part of the project.

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Ricoh GR1s

   16 December 2009, mid-morning

Ricoh GR1s

Ever since getting my Ricoh GRD II I have been looking for a Ricoh GR1 for some time now. The GR1 series of cameras are what the Ricoh GR Digital line is based on. They share a very similar form factor, a fixed 28mm lens, and similar shooting modes. GR1 cameras are reasonably rare nowadays, and they don’t seem to show up for sale all to often (or end up costing far too much). So it was strange to find one selling in Toronto on the cheap.

I ended up getting a GR1s. It’s in reasonably good shape, save for the fact the LCD no longer works properly. It only displays when the camera is in snap mode or not. Thankfully, you can figure out what other modes you are in by keeping track of how many times you’ve hit the mode button. The in-focus indicator box thing in the viewfinder is also really dim. I’m not sure if these are common GR1 problems or not. I’ll need to look into that.

I’ve ran one roll through the camera thus far, and am happy with the results. I think I need to sell some cameras to balance things out.

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Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 6

   10 December 2009, early morning

Tonight is my last Figurative Photography class. Since talking about the class previously, I’ve had two more sessions photographing nude models. It’s strange how normal the whole exercise becomes. The second and third classes were more about setting up lights and figuring out what to shoot, rather than dealing with the fact there is a totally naked person in front of you. That’s not to say I got better pictures during the subsequent session.

During the first session I took pretty vanilla photos of nude people. Some of the photos turned out nicely, but a lot of them were pretty plain. So, I thought for the subsequent classes I’d just muck around with things and try to take different sorts of pictures. During the second class, in between taking regular portraits and what not, I had the models stand up and down while I took longer exposed shots. I wanted to end up with safe-for-work nudes, shots that hinted at the nudity and the human form.

During the third class, I brought my flash, and tried using that while photographing. I took some long exposure shots where I’d fire the flash and move, so you end up with an echoed image after the first. A series of shots using my flash and a flash light to illuminate the scene turned out nteresting. (And at times a bit messy.) Someone wanted to photograph the body with images projected onto it, and that actually turned out pretty interesting. The model looked like he had a full body tattoo. We ended that class doing multiple exposures using my flash and long shutter speeds in a black room. These photos have a sort of ethereal look to them.

You can see everything I’ve posted from my class on Flickr, though the set is probably NSFW. Tonights class is probably going to be spent looking at photos.

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Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 5

   20 November 2009, early morning

Since my last class taking nude photographs, I attended two photography classes where we spent time looking at photographs and reviewing each others work. One class focused on street and vernacular photography, the another on nudes and fashion photography.

The street photography section was interesting, but since this is a topic i’m interested in I was fairly familiar with a lot of the work. There were still some new names to learn and photos to see. Sally Mann, Tina Barney, and Larry Sultan all take family photographs, but with a fine-art twist. Tina Barney is interesting in that she uses a large format camera to take what look like snapshots — except there is no way they could be snapshots because of the nature of the camera. I had no idea Larry Clark, the director of Kids, was an accomplished photographer before he became a director. His photos are in the same vein as Nan Goldin. The class covered a whole slew of photographers, ending with a look at Trent Parke’s work.

The following class started with another look at the body. Of particular note was the work by Francesca Woodman. She committed suicide at a young age and came to prominence after her death. Her portraits and self portraits are pretty haunting: long exposures, strange settings, etc. On the fashion side of things, the work by Deborah Tuberville is really interesting; she barely showcases the clothing. It’s interesting watching the evolution of fashion photography: early photographs look and feel like photographs of real live people, while what we have today is so over processed and shiny everything looks so fake.

Last night’s class was once again spent taking photographs of nude models.

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Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 4

   3 November 2009, late evening

In between photo shoots.

The 4th class in my Figurative Photography Class was the first class where we photographed the nude body. I found the experience quite surreal. Normally the people you interact with are clothed. Having a conversation with a naked person is odd. Asking them to pose this way or that way is all the more strange.

The models were regulars at the AGO. It seemed like most of my class members had taken other gallery courses at the AGO, so they had already worked with nude models before. (A few even knew the models in question.) We were supposed to have a male and female model to work with, but the sculpture class lost their model so our female mode left to help them out. The male model called up his friend, another AGO regular, and so a half hour or so into the class we had two male models to work with, Ab and Flip. Being regulars, they were quite comfortable getting naked and contorting their body. They were probably far more comfortable with the situation than the people in my class.

I found that I would get wrapped up in the way the models were posed and forget where the shadows are falling on their bodies. Another issue is that the schlong is a very awkward appendage: it’s hard to place in a photograph. More so, I think it’s hard to photograph a dude’s junk and not have it be vulgar. I’m not sure what I can say about nude photography. I found it hard to take a meaningful photo. There are a few shots I thought were standout, but for the most part I felt like I was just taking pictures of naked people. Hopefully the next time we take pictures i’ll have a better idea of what I want to photograph.

A few NSFW images from the night are up on Flickr.

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4 Billion Photos

   29 October 2009, mid-morning

Flickr is often looked on disparagingly by the more established photographic community. This is understandable. There are 4 billion photographs on Flickr, and for the most part they are pretty shitty. If you browse the Explore feature of Flickr, you’ll see photo after photo of HDR scenes, flowers, stupid shots with lots of “bokeh”, and other stupidness. I wasn’t sure what you would call this aesthetic till I read the following: the main thing that makes Flickr unattractive is that it is dominated by ad-educated aesthetic, by which I mean, sleek, surface-based, and impressionable with little beyond that point. In case you get the wrong idea, hyperallergic labs is a fan of Flickr. He goes on to say, “I am an art critic in NY and I use Flickr ALL THE TIME, if I find something interesting, I write about it.”

I’ve seen Flickr come up in two discussions on other photography sites recently. Burn Magazine published a photo essay edited by Rafal Pruszynski featuring photographs came from the Flickr group La Familia Abrazada. The group consists of family and vernacular photography. The photographs are usually pretty damn good. Some of the contributors to Burn Magazine and the regulars who comment at the site were offended a set of images from Flickr were featured on Burn. Flickr is for your mom and douche-bags with 5Ds, while Burn is for serious-ass photographers pursuing their art! Things were fairly obnoxious and heated in one of Burn’s forum threads. The discussion is a bit disappointing because it seems to focus on where the photographs came from rather than the photographs themselves.

A few days later Jorg Colberg wrote a follow up to a piece by Jin from Shooting Wife Open. Colberg’s article, particularly its conclusion, offended Bryan Formhals of La Pura Vida, who responded himself. This sparks some discussion on Flickr itself at HCSP. Colberg posts yet again, complaining that people on the Internet don’t know how to debate, and are jerk-asses. Perhaps. I think the thing that riles people up with Colberg’s initial post is that it’s incredibly dismissive. He seems to argue that Flickr is useful for finding photos you can use to make real art out of. And that’s it. He completely glosses over the fact there is real talent on Flickr itself. I would argue that not appreciating the Behemoth that is Flickr suggests you’re a bit out of touch.

So as I said at the start of this post, there are 4 billion fucking photos on Flickr. It is the height of arrogance to suggest in that mess of images there aren’t a substantial number of incredible photos. It’s probably not unreasonable at all to argue there are more absolutely incredible photos on Flickr than there are anywhere else on the Internet. I’m not going to argue that though, I wouldn’t know where to start.

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Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 3

   25 October 2009, evening time

The third figurative photography class I attended was split, more or less, into three sections. We started the class with an overview of nude photography. As with the class on portraiture, we more or less covered the history of nude photography from the advent of photography to the 70s or so. (I believe we are covering more contemporary nude photography in an another class.) As with the previous class, there were a few names I recognized, and plenty I did not.

I haven’t really sat down and looked at a lot of nude photography, so it’s interesting to see how different people approach the subject, and how it has changed over time. The very early nudes seem to have a lot in common with classic sculptures of the body, or paintings. This is to be expected to some extent. This is also probably due to the nature of cameras at the time. They were large and cumbersome, and the exposures were quite long. Most of the photographs we saw from the early part of the century were of full body nudes. As cameras get smaller, and film more straightforward to process and develop, you start to see more interesting takes on the subject. Surrealists like Man Ray were doing pretty interesting things with the nude body. Other photographers whose work I thought was quite good include Peter Hujar,
Lee Friedlander, and Bill Brandt.

The second part of the class was reviewing each others work. Everyone presented 3 photos from the previous week’s class (Stacey, Dave), 2 portraits they took outside of class (Shima), and one self portrait. It was interesting seeing what everyone decided to photograph, and how they lit their subjects.

Finally we went up to the fifth floor of the AGO to check out the Beautiful Fictions exhibit currently taking place. I ended up going to the AGO again today to check it out once more. It’s a really cool collection of contemporary photography. There is a lot to see, and a good variety of images, so it’s well worth the trip to the gallery.

Next week we are working with nude models. That should be an experience.

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Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 2

   16 October 2009, mid-morning

I attended my second Figurative Photography class yesterday. This class was focused on portraiture. The first hour or so was spent on a brief overview of portraiture from the last 100 years or so, looking at some important or interesting figures. Some names I recognized, like Yousuf Karsh or Richard Avedon. Others were new to me, like Mike Disfarmer. We looked at all sorts of photographs, from Karen Finley covered in chocolate to Anne Noggle’s self portraits. My favourite shot of the night was a photograph of Arthur Miller by Bresson.

The class set up for portraiture

The rest of the class was spent taking portraits. The class was split in two, with each group working independently. We each took turns modelling for the other members in our group. One person was supposed to be in charge lighting and direction, with this role alternating as we cycled through models. In practice I felt we were all cool with deciding what to do together. This was the first time I had taken photos so formally, using tungsten lights and other junk to light a subject. I regret not trying this stuff out sooner. You have so much control over the image when you can control all the lighting. I was shooting with my Rebel, and with my Leica. You can see some photos from the night on Flickr.

In the next class we are supposed to review each others work, and then begin a look at nude photography. The following week we photograph nudes.

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Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 1

   8 October 2009, late at night

Today was my first class of Advanced Figurative Photography. The AGO offers studio courses, and this one sounded interesting. I like photographing people.

Today’s class was a light introduction to things. We looked at work from past students. We looked at some of the teachers own work. We looked at a slide show on how the human body has been portrayed in the past: how we might classify different sorts of images. Finally we ended the class with a brief discussion on lighting.

The take away from all this, which I didn’t really pick up on when I read the course description, is that a big part of Figurative Photography is taking pictures of naked people. The course description made it sound like this was one aspect of the course, but it’s clear from the first class that this is probably the primary focus of the course, and this topic in general. I suppose I should have known that. We looked at a lot of really great nudes during the class. (And the work our teacher showed were his own nude self portraits.)

I think this course will be an interesting experience. I quite enjoyed the first class.

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A Conscientious Photography Contest

   26 August 2009, late evening

Jörg Colberg runs the website Conscientious, a fine-art photography blog. His site is regularly referenced online when people discuss photography. How he managed to position himself as a goto authority on fine-art photography, i’m not completely sure. As far as I can tell, he’s just some dude that likes photographs.

Colberg is running a photography competition. He plans to showcase the work of the winner on his site. It’s not a pay-to-play contest, and there isn’t any money to be one. It’s all about getting exposure. I think this is a great way to showcase new talent. This seems to be one of Colberg’s goals, since he states, “[the Conscientious Portfolio Competition] is aimed at emerging photographers.”

If you don’t have a website you will not be able to enter the competition; this might strike you as unfair, but I think every serious photographer should have her/his own website, because it shows that s/he is serious about what s/he does (plus, my blog is about linking to websites – and what can I link to if there’s no website?).

I can’t say I know too many fine-art photographers, but one would assume that being able to take pictures and being able to write HTML are two independent skills. More so, if there was a group of photographers who were most likely not to have a portfolio site of their own, I suspect that group would be photographers who need to get exposure by entering online photography competitions. Colberg actually calls out Flickr in particular as being unsuitable for this competition. Certainly there is a lot of crap on Flickr. And then there is a lot of amazing photography. The derision sometimes expressed about the site seem more than a little lame, like my earlier complaints about LiveJournal.

No doubt the contest will produce some good results, but I think by limiting where he sources contributions, it will also be far less interesting than it could have been.

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Sentimental Journey, Winter Journey

   22 July 2009, early morning

Sentimental Journey, Winter Journey

My copy of Sentimental Journey, Winter Journey arrived yesterday. It was leaning against the door to our condo when Shima and I arrived home. I honestly wasn’t completely sure it would make it to me.

Nobuyoshi Araki is one of Japan’s most infamous photographers. I first saw his work in a Phaidon book Martha bought me, which collected together photographs of some of the best photographers in the world. Araki was featured. The photographs Phaidon picked to showcase were the sorts of photos he is most well known for: nudes and Japanese rope bondage. I had mixed feelings about Araki for a long time. In my mind he was little more than a pornographer. Some of his photos were interesting, but many really didn’t seem particularly good, especially outside of the contexts of the books they were made for. I think my opinions of his work changed after I watched Arakimentari, a documentary about the man. In the film, a reasonable amount of time is spent discussing Sentimental Journey, Winter Journey.

The book is split into two sections. The first section features a selection of photographs from a book Araki made on his honeymoon with his wife Yoko, called Sentimental Journey. (This book is incredibly rare. Apparently it was self-published, and only 1000 copies made.) This section is predominently filled with photos of Araki’s wife, clothed and unclothed, before the two have had sex or after. (Ruffled sheets and other elements in a scene hint at what has transpired between two photos.) The next section of the book is quite different. The Winter Journey is about the death of Araki’s wife in 1990 to cancer. The photographs are unlike anything else i’ve seen by Araki. Photographs are all marked with the date, and look like they were shot with some cheap consumer camera. There is a snapshot aesthetic to them all. Many of the photos are of the skyline or his wife’s cat. It’s very repetitive, and gives one the feeling of being on a forced march. We see photos leading up to Yoko’s death, of her death, and Araki’s life after her death. The last photo is both brilliant and simple. What’s impressive about this portion of the book is that the photos aren’t technically good at all, but when taken as a body of work they become something stunning.

I bought this book from Japan Exposure for Â¥3,990 plus shipping. The shipping was expensive, but compared to the prices I was seeing for the book in North America it was a steal. (One reason I didn’t expect to get the book was because I thought the price was a mistake.) The book is completely in Japanese, but another reviewer seems to have translated the important captions.

I can’t recommend the book enough. (And i’m not alone here.)

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Mamiya C33

   30 May 2009, the wee hours

My Mamiya C33

I bought a Mamiya C33 last week, used on Craigslist. This camera takes medium format film, setting it apart from all my 35mm film cameras. The negatives are big and square, as pictured above. This is a TLR. The top lens is a view lens, used for framing the photo. The bottom lens is what actually exposes the film. My camera has an eye-level viewfinder, but these cameras are normally used with a waist-level viewfinder. I’ll probably try and track one of those down next. The camera is massive and heavy. It’s cool, and using it should be an interesting experience. (Loading the 120 roll was strange coming from 35mm film.) I’m not sure i’m at the point where I have too many cameras or not. I certainly have a lot.

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More Magnum Talks at the Drake

   8 May 2009, early morning

I arrived at the Drake early to make sure I got a seat for the lectures by Magnum photographers Peter Marlow, David Allan Harvey, and Christopher Anderson. I arrived so early — before the doors officially opened — I had time to get a drink upstairs in the lounge. I ordered a Manhattan and sat at the bar reading a comic book. Christopher Anderson was sitting near by. If only I knew what he looked like. I finished my drink and went back downstairs, only to discover the room was packed. God damn it. This talk may have been even busier than the last. Somehow I managed to get a seat, after some miscommunication between me and a lady who was apparently not saving one for a friend.

Each photographer discussed the path they’ve taken when it comes to their photography. Peter Marlow was up first, and he was hilarious. He got his start by borrowing his buddies portfolio to secure a job as a cruise ship photographer. What? He managed to get press work while the cruise ship was docked in New York, and things moved from there. He showed us his early work, and then moved on to work he is currently doing exploring a factory closure in Liverpool. His early works are full of people, while this later work is about the absence of people.

Christopher Anderson was up next. He was actually showing us the portfolio he would present to the Magnum photographers next year when he goes up for full membership. We got to see a full retrospective of his work, and the stuff he is working on right now. He also presented his new book, Capitalio. He studied anthropology, but ended up choosing to pursue photography after working for a newspaper in their photo lab. Much of his work is about people — refugees — so his anthropology studies probably do come in handy. He has some pretty amazing photographs, though many of them seem to be the result of his not being too careful with his life.

David Allan Harvey was last. He started with some of his earliest photographs, an album he made for his grandparents when he was 14 or so, and then moved on from there to show new work he is doing on families that is in a similar vein. His plan is to create an exhibit and book that hopes to captures what he produced as a 14 year old boy — though he feels there is no real way to recapture that innocence. Harvey seems very interested in helping out aspiring photographers. A lot of his talk was advice for budding photographers and passing remarks about former students. I picture him more as a teacher than a photographer.

I was planning on mingling with the crowd after the talks, but Shima was making Persian food, and that trumped talking to strangers.

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Magnum Lectures

   6 May 2009, mid-morning

After meeting a friend for drinks at the Beaconsfield I popped into the Drake. Magnum was holding a free lecture as part of the CONTACT photography festival. Last night, Mark Power, Bruno Barbey, and Chien-Chi Chang spoke about photography and the projects they were working on. I arrived late, at the tail end of Mark Power’s talk. The Underground at the Drake was packed. If you’re short like me you really need to arrive at events like this on time. I stood on my tip toes and watched and listened as each photographer went through their photos. Of the group, I enjoyed Chien-Chi Chang’s ‘talk’ the best, though mostly he made sarcastic remarks, asked for more drinks, and stood in silence. The photographs for his new project on Chinese immigrants living in New York who have been seperated from their family for years are amazing. There is another talk happening on Thursday i’ll definitely have to check out. This Friday there is an exhibit on war photography by Magnum I think everyone should go see.

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Shima at Mike's 2003

   29 April 2009, late at night

Shima at Mike's

I took this photo a week or so after I met Shima. We’re at my friend Mike’s house for a Konichiwa Japan event — it was cooking day. It’s the very first picture I have of her. It’s not particularly good, since I had to take it secretly. Shima didn’t like it when I took her picture then. (I suppose she doesn’t now, either, though she gets much less angry about it.) In the background is Toshi, who is now back in Japan. On the right is my friend Mike, who passed away from cancer a few years ago. (I know too many people who have died of cancer.) The night I met Shima properly I had come to V2 to meet Mike, who was visiting one of Shima’s friends. He disappeared — more or less — when I arrived with my friend Yathavan, so I ended up hanging out with Shima and her friends. And the rest is history.

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Ricoh GR Digital II

   4 March 2009, mid-morning

Ricoh GR Digital 2

I sold my Olympus XA2 and my Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim yesterday, and bought a Ricoh GR Digital II instead. In terms of cash-money, I didn’t come out ahead. I’ve wanted a GRD for a while now, in particular because (Toronto’s own) moonwire on Flickr takes incredible photos with the camera. Now, obviously you can’t buy a camera with the hope of taking photos like someone else. (I know, because my Leica hasn’t made my photos any more awesome.) That said, you can get a good sense of what the camera is capable of by looking at what other people have managed to produce. In moonwire’s stream I often find myself checking to see whether a shot was done with film or digitally on her GRD. And more often than not, her killer shots are from the small point and shoot.

Adorama is stupid fast when it comes to shipping. I ordered the camera Sunday night, and it arrived at my office Tuesday morning. So, I’ve had the GRD for all of a day now. I still need to get a SD card, so day one of shooting was limited to what I could fit in the on-board memory of the camera. My first impressions of the camera are quite good. The GRD reminds me of a smaller, nicer, version of my Canon S30. The camera lets you tweak all the settings you would want to, and has the controls laid out well, so doing so is quite easy. So far, the only thing I’ve noticed that bugs me about the camera is its auto-focus, which is stupid slow. I may have been spoiled by using my Rebel all this time. The pictures the camera produces are quite nice. I think it will take me a little while to get a handle on how best to use it.

Hopefully next week i’ll have more to say about the camera.

My GR Digital II photographs on Flickr.

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   2 February 2009, late evening

My first camera was a Pentax K1000. I still use it today; it’s at least 10 years old now. I got a Canon S30 near the end of University. Then I went through this phase where I was buying old busted cameras, and during that period I bought a Kiev 35 that got the Ring Virus and died, my light-leaking Electro, and a mysterious Argus / Cosina 35. Then my digital camera broke which was a mixed blessing as it got me to buy my Digital Rebel, which is an excellent camera. Then came the lenses: first a 50mm, then a 17-40mm L, then a 85mm. In between the lenses I was gifted with a Lomography Fisheye from Shima, and a Supersampler from Jana. And then one day I woke up and really wanted a rangefinder. I can’t imagine why, as all the rangefinders I own are old and busted. I found one used on craigslist, and so it came to pass that I now own a Bessa R2A. I bought a new 35mm f/2.5 lens for it. And then I bought a 28mm lens for my Rebel, because it didn’t feel right to ignore my fancy DSLR. And, then, against my better judgement, I bought a Leica M2. Oh hells yes, that felt good. I bought two more lenses for my rangefinders: a Jupiter 3, and a 35mm f/1.7 Ultron. It seemed decadent to own two different 35mm lenses for my rangefinders, so I sold one. And then not too long after, I bought another. I also bought a Vivitar Ultrawide and Slim and an Olympus XA2, for reasons I’m not totally sure I understand. And then I went to Flickr meet up and saw a GRD II and I was in love. So I paid way too much for one of those. To make up for buying that camera, I ended up selling my Olympus XA2, which I never really fell in love with, my Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim, that Argus/Cosina thing I barely ever used, and the Supersampler. Then, for reasons I’m not entirely sure, I bought not one, but two kind of busted Mamiya TLRs. The first was a C33, with a 80mm lens that sometimes didn’t work. The second was a C220, with two lenses in reasonable shape. I still haven’t really taken any photographs of note with the cameras. (One day!) I saw a used Hexannon-M 50mm f/2.0 show up on Craigslist, and thought, “How can I not buy this?” So I did, of course. After thinking own two lenses in the same focal length was decadent, I now have two 35mm lenses and two 50mm lenses for my Leica. And that is a brief history of me and my cameras.

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My Second Print

   28 January 2009, late at night

Today I learned how to set up borders on the easel, and spent some more time trying to sort out printing. It didn’t seem as productive a day as last week. I was making lots of silly mistakes this time. It took far too many tries to get this print to turn out. I need to be a lot more methodical when i’m in the darkroom. I have way too many test strips that are obviously lying to me. I need to remember to stop the lens down when i’m down focusing. I probably did that twice, noticed once. I need to remember to turn off the focus light before putting my paper down. I only did that once. Printing in the darkroom is fun, despite these set backs.

My second print, and some mistakes


My First Print

   21 January 2009, late at night

I decided to take some B&W printing classes at ImageWorks, since that’s where Shima bought me darkroom time, and since I haven’t actually printed a print all by myself before. (When I joined the yearbook there were several people who had been there for a while who knew how to develop and print. Photographers like me who joined late never really had to develop or print their own stuff.) The first class was an intro to using the darkroom. My classmates and I — there were three of us — learned how to use the enlarger, how to fix contrast with filters, how to do test strips, and finally how to actually print. The last step is the easiest, since ImageWorks has a machine to process your exposed negative. The way you normally do it is with a bunch of trays with chemicals in them. It’s probably a bit messier, and the process is much slower. The problem with the machine is you don’t get to see your image form in the developer, which is definitely cool. Still, having dry prints in minutes is hard to beat. Next week I think i’ll try and print photos that are a bit more exciting.

My first B&W print

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Buying a Scanner

   10 December 2008, early morning

I’ve been putting off buying a scanner for some time now, which has been frustrating because i’ve been developing black and white film at home these past few weeks. Not being able to see what my photos look like kind of defeats the purpose of taking photographs. The problem with buying a scanner now of course is that in a few weeks they may go on sale. On the other hand buying one now means that I get to help the economy, and could tell my children that my purchase helped change the course of Canadian history. I opted to buy one now, intrepid consumer that I am.

I bought an Epson V500. They actually had a ‘used’ one at Henry’s for $200, which is what I bought. (I lucked out, in that it was probably some sort of over stock or customer return: nothing had been unpacked.) This is Epson’s entry level flatbed film scanner. I had thought about paying for the next model up, but I think that for looking at photos on a computer you really don’t need something spectacular. I don’t think I’d print from scans when I have negatives readily available. A dedicated film scanner, which is what I originally wanted, are upwards of a grand: that’s just stupid expensive. Epson has a model down from this, the discontinued 4490 that the V500 replaced. This might be a good option as well, though the V500 has an LED light source, so there are no warm up times to worry about: scanning is faster. The V500 seems to do a good job of things, based on the scans I’ve seen by people on Flickr.

Scanning seems like a voodoo art. Do you scan the negative as a positive, B&W as colour, etc? The next step is figuring out how to scan stuff properly. My first attempts worked out well enough for now.

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Goodbye, Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5

   26 November 2008, early morning

I sold my Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5 lens last night. I bought the lens new shortly after I bought my Bessa. I was impatient, and didn’t want to wait for a used M mount lens to show up on Craigslist. (I still think your best bet with camera gear is to find the stuff you want used.) The Color-Skopar is a solid lens. I found the pictures it would produce to be almost too sharp and high-contrast. If you want something very punchy, it’s a great lens. Personally, I wanted something a bit more subdue and a little bit faster, so when an Ultron 35mm f/1.7 showed up on Craigslist, I picked it up right away. I find the Ultron to be a nicer lens, though it’s build quality leaves something to be desired. I also miss the compact size of the Color-Skopar, which was tiny. Many camera enthusiasts will own multiple lenses in the same focal length, because each will have its own character. In my case, the Ultron and the Color-Skopar are so different it probably would have been reasonable to keep both. Maybe next time.


HP5+ vs. Ilfosol 3

   18 November 2008, early morning

My first roll of home developed B&W film hanging to dry.

You may recall Shima bought me a set of B&W film for my birthday, along with some darkroom time at ImageWorks. The film I went through fast enough, but I was lazy about actually developing it at ImageWorks. And then last week I learned that you can’t actually use the ImageWorks darkrooms to develop film — they have a fancy machine that develops film for you. Their darkrooms are meant for printing alone. You can get your film developed at ImageWorks, but it costs $7 a roll. Besides being a bit expensive, this seemed counter to the idea of Shima’s gift. So over the weekend I staked out supplies, and last night I picked up everything I needed to develop film at home.

Meterials in hand, I got to work. The only tricky part in the process is getting your exposed film from the canister onto the reels that go into the development tank. You need to do all of this complete darkness, or in my case, with your hands inside a darkroom change bag. I didn’t want to waste any film, so I didn’t practice doing any of this before hand. I picked a roll of HP5+ I shot recently, which I decided I’d be willing to sacrifice if I messed up: thankfully, I didn’t.

Developer, stop, fix and a bunch of water in between, and I was all done. The developer I bought, Ilfosol 3, is meant for processing slow to medium speed film. I was trying to develop HP5+ which I had pushed 2 stops. My choice of developer could have been better. The negatives I ended up with look underexposed. I’m going to try this all again, but will leave the developer in much longer.

The whole process went much smoother than I had thought. Now I just need a scanner.

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Processing Slide Film

   13 October 2008, evening time

A slide of Ahilan and Mahi

Normally I cross-process the slide film I buy. Processing slide film (E6) is a pain in the ass because it costs more and can’t be done by most places. Getting it cross-processed — developed as if it was regular colour negative film (C41) — is easier. You end up with crazy looking pictures, but sometimes the effect works really well.

I shot a roll of expired Velvia 50 at my wedding. I was going to cross-process it, like I do all my film, but thought I’d switch it up and get it developed properly. The guy at shoppers wasn’t exactly sure how much it would be, but I figured it couldn’t be more than 2 or 3 times as much as developing colour film. This was a mistake on my part.

It took Shoppers a month or so to get my pictures back to me. Mezan grabbed them while I was in Australia. They turned out OK, though they are far from exceptional. The whole endeavor cost me $60. That’s basically 10 times as much as getting colour film developed and printed at Shoppers. I want to blame this on the Shoppers photolab, but it seems to be my own damn fault.

At least I have a whole bunch of slides now.

My slides from shoppers.


The Wedding on Film

   20 August 2008, mid-afternoon

Flickr finally lets you share slide shows of your photos off their site. There have been tons of gallery applications that hook into Flickr that do this sort of thing for a while now, but nothing from them. I’m surprised this took so long.

It seems to work well enough.

Update: Actually, it seems a bit slow.


Black and White

   4 July 2008, early morning

Shima bought me a bunch of film and a gift certificate to use the darkroom at Imageworks for my birthday. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been in a darkroom since I was in high school. I have vague memories of Rishi trying to teach me how to develop and print, though I’m not sure I ever actually had to do so. I seem to recall Brian and Jordanna doing most of the printing in my last year at Woburn — the year I was on the yearbook. I was very prolific: I think a ton of my pictures ended up making it into the book. I’m pretty sure I didn’t print any of them. I need to decide what to shoot with all the film. I have: Ilford Delta 100, Ilford Delta 400, Ilford HP5, and Arista II 400. I’m thinking nothing but “artistic” nudes. And then I need to drag Rishi to image works and print it all up. Exciting!

A roll of HP5 film.


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