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February 2nd, 2019

At 65 I’m Only Now Exhibiting My Photography

I got the camera bug when I was an elementary school kid. Mom let me use her camera to take some vacation pictures and after they came back from Kodak I got lots of complements on how good they were. I don’t even recall those shots now, but later that year mom gave me my first camera, a little Kodak Brownie Fiesta, for my birthday. I took it with me on a school trip to the C&O Canal and when those shots came back I even got complements on them from the same teacher who later wrote in my file that I took “excessive interest in personal art projects.”

In High School I was the student newspaper cartoonist, and also became its photographer after the kid who was picked for that roll had an argument with the student editors and walked off the job. It was around that time I started doing my art photography, after my art teacher, Frank Moran, lit a fire for it in me. I’ve had a camera in my hands most places I’ve wandered to ever since.

I’m in my middle sixties now, and I have a long history with the camera. Yet I’ve never had a show. Not even a little thing at a neighborhood gallery. I’m horrible at self promotion and that’s damage from a life lived almost entirely single. You fail often enough at one of life’s most essential tasks and it makes you skittish in more landscapes than socializing and dating. There’s a nagging certainty of failure that haunts every attempt at self assurance, no matter how inviting things appear, and especially when it comes to artistic pride since that’s so close to the heart that has come to expect breakage. It took me the nearly twenty years I’ve been working at the Space Telescope Science institute to work up the nerve to ask if I could show my photos at the Institute gallery.

I wrote about this in a previous blog post…about how the wound your gay neighbors live with every moment of their lives digs in deep, and becomes an …iron ball and chain of low expectations regarding my place in the world, which I would always excuse as my simply a not having a very competitive nature.

…I never tried very hard to make a place for myself in the realms of my first loves, cartooning, painting and photography. I kept my artwork to myself, and those few times I did venture out to try and market myself, or find work as an illustrator or photographer, I barely knocked on the door, accepting the first rejections I got as final. In retrospect something very deep down inside of me seemed to know I’d never be accepted in the lands of my dreams. I had no clue what I would do for a living, accepted that I would always have a low income life, going from one menial job to another, renting rooms maybe in other people’s homes if I was lucky, but never a place of my own, never a good job that I loved. That was for other people. I never bothered somehow, to examine why I felt that way very closely. I had an assortment of ready excuses. No college degree. Not very good at self marketing. Maybe I just wasn’t as  talented as I thought…  

I stumbled into my career as a software developer purely by chance; the PC and dot-com booms created such a booming job market that anyone who could code even a little was fairly dragged into it. I had a knack for logical thinking that enabled me to figure out how to turn requirements into software, even if it never dared look within as to why I felt so unlikely to succeed at a career. Right from the beginning I got praise for the quality of my work, rose in skill and wage level from one job to another, and ending up working at Space Telescope making six figures. It was a dream come true it seemed. Deep down I was completely scared I didn’t deserve any of it. I think it was only when the director of the Institute handed me a special achievement award at a ceremony a couple years ago that I finally began to really believe I belonged there, among those other highly skilled professionals. I was 60. Somehow it’s still harder to acknowledge to myself that I’m one of them than it was to admit to myself that I’m gay. It still feels pretentious. I have a little Baltimore rowhouse now, in a city neighborhood that is on the rise, and a nice car, and a dream come true job. And my first dreams are all buried in the past. I pursue them now in my basement art room in my spare time.

And then of course, there’s how low self esteem impacts your love life. Some folks just write love off altogether and dive into the one night stand no strings no complications scene. Others of us just stand quietly in a corner with a flower in hand and hopeful expression on our faces and the unkept look of people who forget sometimes to take care of themselves because they know somehow it doesn’t matter all that much. Please love us. Please don’t break our hearts. But the heart was already broken even before you came out to yourself, in that first moment when you flinched away from knowing. Gay Pride only goes so far healing the wound. You have to work at it, you have to dig down deep to really get to all the subtle little places where it still exists, still hurts still holds you down.

The Institute gallery is a hallway leading to the cafeteria. It is open not just to staff but to the entire Johns Hopkins campus, and now all the folks from NASA and Goddard who are working here along with us on the James Webb Space Telescope flight operations center. Until recently it showcased both staff and local talent from the Baltimore area. Photography, paintings and drawings and other pieces of original artwork. But in recent months it’s been scaled back and now it only occupies half the space it used to. I’ve no idea why, other than perhaps its former curator retired.

Last July I had my first show there, which was my first show ever. And I was very apprehensive about it. My art photography has a very dire sense to it, that I don’t much care for, but it is what it is. I considered just showing some nice travel photography, but the previous gallery by the Institute staff photographer showcased his images from the American Southwest and that’s where my best travel photography is also, so I thought I needed to do something different, and the only different I had was the art photography. I fussed for weeks trying to decide which pieces to put up, afraid that the inner strangeness of my photography would creep people out. In the end I selected ten images that were true enough to what I do, but which I judged to be not quite so glaring.

I put them up on a Monday and waited. If nobody had said a word to me about them other than a few polite very nices and very goods I would have counted it a success. What I didn’t expect was the overwhelmingly positive feedback I got, even from some folks in the science staff. And I think it changed some people’s understanding of me. I wasn’t just the old computer geek oddball anymore. There was something more to Bruce people hadn’t expected to see.

Because…well…I hadn’t let them. I have another show starting next week. This time I’m doing some color work. And this time I’m not afraid to let my art photography be seen for what it is. It’s taken this long. The insidious thing about loneliness is it becomes familiar, and eventually…comfortable. Like slowly dying of hypothermia, and you get sleepy and you just want to rest and you don’t notice how it is draining the life out of you.

My first gallery show, July 2018.

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on At 65 I’m Only Now Exhibiting My Photography

May 3rd, 2016

Teachers

According to Google, today is Teacher’s Day. I want to thank a few. Not the ones  whose class I sat in though the ones who took an interest and kept the fire burning within me have my eternal gratitude. Frank Moran…my art teacher in high school, and one of the best teachers a kid could have. Marvin Watts, my college English teacher who encouraged me to  write because he said I did it well if I put my mind to it. Don Poole, my jr. high science teacher, who encouraged my curiosity about the mechanical  universe. I have the life I do today in large measure because of the interest they took in me when I was a kid.  But today I want to also thank others, who lit the fire within from a distance.

David Plowden…

plowden-sm

 

Robert Frank…

robert-frank

 

Margaret Bourke-White…

 

Russia's Dnieper River Dam, the world's largest, during the beginning phase of its construction.

 

…and…I hesitate to say this because her work is so relentlessly dark, but…Diane Arbus.

 

arbus_houseonahill

 

These were the ones who showed me what the camera could do. Plowden is the one probably closest to my heart, but the others are pretty close too. There are other masters of the art whose work I have loved very much, and found inspiring…Ansel Adams being probably the grand master of the form. But those four, Plowden, Frank, Bourke-White and Arbus, shone a light within which I could see myself. Which is what teachers do.

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Teachers

January 30th, 2013

Working On My Photo Galleries

My silence here lately is because I’m spending what free time I have to blog working on a redesign of my photo galleries here.   A big part of why I bought my domain back in 2001 and put this web site up, was for it to be a showcase for my cartoons and photography, and both those galleries need some refurbishing.   Over the years Facebook made it easy for me to neglect my own web site, but thankfully their policies lately, and Timeline which I absolutely despise, have brought my attention back to it.

Here at least, I have some control over how my artwork is displayed.   Also, by putting my artwork up on my own web site I am not agreeing to anyone else’s business model for their use.   Artists take note: Those Terms Of Service can change at a moment’s notice and next thing you know your artwork might be selling toothpaste.

Or worse…

NJ gay couple sues, condemns use of their picture in Colorado ads

Photographer Kristina Hill…and married couple Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere…are suing an organization that used the engagement photos of Edwards and Priviterein in a smear political attack mailer against Colorado State Senator Jean White…

This is that case of the same sex couple whose engagement photos were appropriated for use in some anti-gay republican attack ads.   They’d posted the photo in a blog they started to celebrate their upcoming marriage.   Two years later it was snatched by “Public Advocate of the United States”, nutcase Eugene Delgaudio’s SPLC listed hate group, for use in anti-gay republican attack ads.   Additionally the photograph was altered to show different a background, to make it seem as if it were taken locally for a given race.   Always protect your copyright…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Working On My Photo Galleries

September 16th, 2012

Adventures In Medium Format Photography…(continued)

I took a day trip to York, Pennsylvania yesterday to do a little test of the Hasselblad with the metering prism, diopter and focusing screen I bought for it, and two new black & white roll films I’d never worked with before; Fuji Neopan 100 and Agfa Retro 80. The Agfa is advertised has having almost H&W Control like qualities of grain and red spectrum response, but it develops so they say in HC-110. Since Kodak is not at all well these days, and they’ve stopped making Pan-X altogether, which is what I like using in my medium format cameras, I need another source of film.   So I am experimenting.

I haven’t developed the Agfa yet, but the Fuji is already stunning me. It’s emulsion backing is more transparent then the Kodak…to an H&W Control degree practically…so there will be more bandwidth in the resulting images.   Plus it lays absolutely flat on the scanner tray. I don’t need to fuss with it to get it to lay flat, it just does.   My shots with it in York are running though the scanner now.   I’ll see what kind of images I get later today.

But I am already delighted with what I see the metering prism doing for me.   All exposures are exactly on target with the new prism.   Much, Much better then I was able to get reliably get with the Gossen hand held.   My thing is I like shooting into the sun and that can be tricky.   I’ve developed the Fuji and the two additional rolls of Kodak Pan-X I took with me and glancing at the negatives as they came out of the wash everything was spot on.

And it’s faster to work with then I expected. Since there is no direct coupling between the meter and the lens, you have to transfer the reading you see in the meter to the lens manually. But the reading you get is in EVs (Exposure Values) and the Hasselblad lenses have EV settings on them that are a snap to use. Once you set the EV on the lens, the shutter speed and f-stop settings are latched together and you just rotate both depending on whether you want the highest speed or the greatest depth of field.

I am having zero problems now with focus.   The new focusing screen is both brighter and because it has that split-image focusing aid in the center, quicker to focus with.   Plus the diopter is a big, big help.   I can see everything snapping into focus now, whereas before I had to search it out and sometimes I was just guessing at it.   I got it wrong a bunch of times I later found out.

I should have done this Much earlier, but it was a pricy accessory.   The only problem I was having as I wandered around York was the Distagon wide angle lens is flarey.   I had to pass by a bunch of interesting shots simply because there was obvious lens flare where I was shooting from and I could not find a way out of it.   The Distagon is an old design.   It also has noticeable vignetting at the extreme corners.     But it’s amazingly sharp.   There is a newer 50mm lens for my Hasselblad I’ve seen on the used market, which they claim has improvements over the Distagon in terms of vignetting and flare.   But that’s another big wad of money.   There’s a 40mm that’s an even bigger wad of money and I really like shooting at the wide angle perspective.   It suits the kind of work I do.   But I can only spend so much on photography equipment in a year.   Film itself is getting a tad pricey…for some reason.

The Hasselblad is a tad heavy to start with, and the metering prism adds to that.   But it’s a compact weight and I don’t mind carrying it around if it’s because the camera is built to last.   I like solid things in my life and especially my tools.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Adventures In Medium Format Photography…(continued)

September 13th, 2012

Adventures in Medium Format Photography.

Looking back over my receipts, I bought the Hasselblad in January of 2005 with the Kiev 45 degree prism and the 80mm Zeiss Planar lens and hood for just under a thousand bucks. Sounds expensive but they went for about that new back in the 70s when I was a poor teenager and a thousand bucks back then might as well have been a million. I’d wanted one ever since I saw what those amazing Zeiss lenses were capable of. But it was way out of reach. New ones are still way (way!) out of my reach. But used older ones are something I can afford now, and this one was in cherry condition…like whoever owned it had barely used it. Over time I bought another two film backs for it and a 50mm Distagon lens because I like shooting wide angle. But the camera mostly sat in the camera cabinet.

That was partly because Apple’s Aperture software just gaged on the large scans off it. To work with them in Aperture I first had to drop them down in resolution in Photoshop. It was a pain in the neck. The workflow completely broke with those scans. You couldn’t even bring the image up in the browser because it would just go gray and you would get an “unsupported format” error message. Eventually Apple just declared it would not support grayscale image scans altogether, that Aperture was for digital photography only, and that pretty much meant it would not be usable for photographers who still liked working in film.

I could have switched to Adobe’s Lightroom product, but after working with the Hasselblad for a while I was discovering that everything about working with that camera was a pain in the neck. The standard focusing screen had no focusing aid and my aging eyes could have really used one. Or at least a diopter. So I was never able to focus on a subject quickly. Plus I had to work with a hand-held meter which only added to the slow deliberate pace of taking pictures with it. Some photographers are fine with that but that just completely messes me up when I want to explore a subject. And it was a triple pain when I had the red filter on it and had to futz with calculating the filter factor in addition to everything else.

It was: see an interesting subject. Stop. Fuss with taking the meter out of my pocket and its case. Figure how to get a good reading. Do I need to walk in close? Angle the meter down a tad? Wait…I don’t have my reading glasses on. I can’t see what the meter is telling me. Put the glasses on…take a reading. Transfer the reading to the lens. Bring the camera to my eye and compose. Wait…take your glasses off.. I’ll just set them down over here. No…better put them back in my pocket. Now try to focus. No…I need my distance glasses to focus because I don’t have a diopter on this thing. Focus…focus…not sure that’s right but it’s the best I can do… Compose. Shoot. Put meter back.

So I became disappointed with it and mostly the camera just sat. And I never got a chance to see what an amazing camera it really is or how much fun it could be to work with. I figured I would just stick to my 35mm SLRs for expressive photography.

As I said, Apple eventually declared it would not support film photographers. I discovered this after an upgrade to Aperture completely hosed the display of all my black and white image files and I looked on their support boards to see what the problem was. (As an aside…Never tell Apple disciples…never even hint to them…that their holy computers and software are anything but perfect.) So I bought a copy of Lightroom. I figured since Photoshop had no problem with the scans off my film scanner it wouldn’t either. And it doesn’t. So I was finally was able to just wander around the shoots I’d done with the Hasselblad. as few as they were because I hadn’t taken it out much…and I was stunned.   (The following JPEGS don’t do justice really to what I saw…but to do that I’d have to upload the original size image files and at about 150 meg a shot you would wait a long time for those to load…)

My God…why hadn’t I been using this camera more…? Well..could be because I needed a diopter and a metering prism at least. Through the lens metering is much, Much faster, more accurate because you are getting a reading of exactly what you’re taking a picture of, and if you put a filter on the lens you get a meter reading on the light coming through the filter…you don’t have to futz with filter factor calculations (those two shots of Monument Valley were taken with a red filter, which darkens the blue sky and brings the clouds out into sharp relief).   Then this month KEH ran a medium format equipment sale and I decided it was time to spend the money to make the Hasselblad usable for the kind of photography I do. Light footed, hand held wandering around for what I like to think of as found images. What I figured I needed to do it right: a plus 1 diopter, a brighter grid lined focusing screen with a split image focusing aid, and a center weighted metering prism.

The pieces came in the mail over the past couple days and just a few hours ago I assembled everything and…whoa. Gonna shoot some test rolls this weekend. One roll of Rollei Agfa Retro 80 and a roll of the Fuji neopan 100. Because Kodak is not looking at all well and I need other sources of film to feed my habit. But already I am Loving what the Hasselblad has turned into with the new accessories. This is going to be fun. Finally.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Adventures in Medium Format Photography.

December 18th, 2011

From Eye To Brain To Finger To Metal…

Episode 13 of A Coming Out Story deals with my discovery of photography as an art form…

What really got it going, and I have understood this for decades, was getting my first 35mm SLR camera. Ever since that moment, that What You See Is What You Get functionality of the 35mm SLR has completely entranced me. And they’re fast. Back in the early 1970s, open aperture through the lens metering had become common on all but the very least expensive (like my Petri) SLRs. And even the stop down metering of the Petri was fast, compared to holding the camera in one hand and a meter in the other. You could compose, focus and meter all at once and get the shot without ever having to take your eye out of the eyepiece. And what you saw in the viewfinder, was guaranteed to be what you got on the negative, since you were seeing exactly the same thing the film was going to see when the shutter opened.

I’ve tried to get into other kinds of cameras, because in one way or another they interest me too. My Mamiya C 330, a twin lens reflex, for its 120 roll film format and lens interchangeability, unique to TLRs. Various rangefinder cameras I’ve tried because rangefinders and small, lightweight, quiet and easier to focus in low light situations. But none of them have really worked as well for me as the 35mm SLR. Even my Hasselblad, a 120 roll film SLR, doesn’t really quite work for me. Having no through the lens metering makes it worlds slower, more deliberate in its use, then every 35mm SLR I have ever owned.

For me, the 35mm SLR is my instrument. Back in my teen years, after I had dived head first into full fledged shutterbug land, I worked one summer at a fast food joint flipping burgers to be able to buy what I thought at the time was the best 35mm SLR made: the Canon F1.   In 1971 they had just come to the U.S. market, and I thought it just blew away the only real competition it had back then, the Nikon F.

I used that F1 all through my senior year, doing photos for the student newspaper and the yearbook. It was my constant companion in the halls and classrooms of my school. But there was another kid who was my rival back then. His name was Lindsey and he was always carrying his Nikon F.   His professional black no less Nikon F.

I respected, and feared truth to tell, Lindsey’s abilities as a photographer. He was Good. He was also bold and brash in a way I could never be, and played the part of the glamorous photo pro with that damn Nikon as if he’d been born to it. I was envious. Eventually I decided to go with invisibility instead. Since I just didn’t have it in me to be out there and fabulous and make my subjects feel and respond to the glamor of my camera’s gaze I would become invisible instead, and observe. After a fashion that style worked for me. People became used to seeing the camera that was always with me and they came to forget its presence and I got tons of good candids. I became the detached observer. That has been my style ever since.

Though Lindsey’s skill as a photographer intimidated me, I had no such feelings about his damn Professional Black Nikon F. It was his tool, but also his status symbol, and he used it to get attention as much as he did to get his shot. But before I bought my F1, I had done my research (the geek was strong in me, even back then) and my logical analytical brain came to loath the Nikon F for what I regarded then as its inferior design, and when I was a teenager I made no bones about it to anyone who cared to listen. You are never so opinionated, as when you’re that age.

Time passes, the universe expands. On a trip out to Boulder Colorado for a JWST conference, I stopped in Topeka Kansas to visit a friend. He asked if I wanted to stop by the camera store they have there and I followed along, thinking to myself that here in the middle practically of Kansas it wouldn’t be much of one.   I was wrong.   That store, Wolf’s Camera, was amazing.   Bigger and nicer even then Service Photo is here in Baltimore.   And there, in the used camera display, was an almost mint condition Nikon F2.

I asked to look at it. And when my hands got around it, and I worked its mechanism a little, something awakened inside me. Something very much like the sensation I had when I bought my that Petri 35mm SLR back home and held it in my hands for the first time.

So I bought it.

And…the good 28mm lens they also had in that case to go with it, since I mostly shoot in wide-angle. Later, when I got back home, I scanned the used Nikon f-mount lens listings at B&H and bought a better 24mm f2.8 lens for it, and a 50mm f1.4.

A month later I am reading this on a photographer’s web site, while researching information on the old Nikons…

When doing photography for art’s sake, a camera can mean everything for putting you in the right frame of mind. Like that weird inter-being nerve fiber concept in “Avatar”, a photographer connects to a camera.

This is what I have come to realize (against the better judgment of my logical analytical side) You connect creatively with your tools at a very low level, intuitive, almost nerve-ending space and it might make no sense at all to that logical part of your brain (It’s Just A Tool!) but if it works for you then eventually you just go with it.

My Left Brain frowns at the Right Brain a lot, but I have always known at an intuitive level how connected I am to a camera while I am in the zone.   Sometimes I hit the shutter release and I just know that was the one, and I feel an almost electrical pulse run from the camera through my hand and into me.   Call me crazy, but that is how it feels. Finally, when I picked up that Nikon F2 in Topeka, I had to stop denying what my creative side has been telling me all these years: the Nikons can work with me…and maybe sometimes they work better.

This isn’t anything to do with their mechanical design.   It’s this: tools have their personalities, especially complex mechanical ones, and some personalities work better with my creative moods then others.   A mechanism can feel right, can seem beautiful to that creative part of me, even if the logical part finds tons of fault with it.   Yes, it’s weird.

So it’s been with me and Nikon cameras. I could go on and on and on and on about what I don’t like about their design (ask some of my high school classmates).   But the Canons have their personality and the Nikon a different one and I am a bit astonished now, after all these years, to hold one in my hands while I’m working and just admit that the Nikon =feels= more right.

Sigh.   They say its a sign of maturity to be able to let go of old prejudices.   These are not nearly the wonderful ground breaking cameras their ardent fans make them out to be.   Yes, yes, they did break significant ground in some ways, most importantly in terms of bringing a true system approach to 35mm photography.   The Nikon F was like the Kerby vacuum of cameras…there was an attachment for anything you wanted to do with one just about.   But it was mostly a kludge.   The one thing that made the kludgery worthwhile was the camera body: weirdly, clunky designed as it is, it really is that nearly bullet proof hockey puck they all said it was.

That’s part of their emotional appeal to me now. I like solid things in my life, but especially in my hands while I’m trying to be creative.   But it’s more then that.   The Canons feel brick solid in my hands too (even more so their lenses…the Nikon lenses just feel cheap and clunky to me), and yet they have a distinctly different sense to them mechanically from the Nikon.   During the breaks while I was on jury duty I wandered downtown Baltimore with the F2 and it was a revelation. I was cursing and fumbling with its controls because every damn thing on a Nikon is backwards from the Canon…shutter speed setting, aperture setting…and yet I have never felt more at one with a camera when I was in that particular creative zone that I was in.

So…(here it comes…) I went ahead and found a good example of an F online…and bought it.   Oh…AND an all black finish one at that.   It arrived last week.

Lindsey…are you reading this?   Go ahead and laugh…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on From Eye To Brain To Finger To Metal…

August 16th, 2010

Images From A Sideshow Running Away With The Circus…(continued)

Here’s some shots of the counter-demonstrators…

As I said previously, the main contingent of the counter-demonstrators came in two waves shortly after the NOM rally began.   But even as NOM was setting up there were a handful of individuals there on the sidewalk near them, quietly speaking their truths.   And among these was Mel White and his companions from Soulforce.   I saw Mel occasionally walk over to some of the NOM folks and chat with them for a while.   What was said between them I have no idea: much as I would have like to have snapped some photos of those conversations, I kept my distance.   At 56 going on 57, I have a very negative opinion of the possibility of changing minds, let alone hearts of any of these True Believers.   But I deeply respect anyone who still believes in their heart that it can be done.   So I stay out of it.   This is why I am not a professional news photographer.   The spirit of Weegee laughs at my deference to the better angels.

More and more I am seeing at these demonstrations, young heterosexual couples who see this struggle as their own too.   And it is.   Only on its face is this a fight about homosexuality.   Look closer.   It’s a fight over the right to love and be loved, waged by the power hungry war mongering human gutter, that throughout history has viewed the power of love as the essential enemy to be smashed wherever it exists.   The gay rights struggle is the lover’s struggle.

There were also lots of individual folks bearing simple statements in support of the right to love.     Sometimes you   thought you saw another lonely heart, determined to stand up for what in their own lives is yet to be…

As I said, the main force of counter-demonstrators came in two waves.   The first was peaceful and positive.   The second wave were a tad angrier.   And…louder.     They were quickly asked/ordered to move further down the plaza, away from the NOM event.

I understand this anger perfectly well.   And I am not going to sit here and pontificate that this sort of demonstration is counter-productive.   The other side turns us into scarecrows they can safely fear at a distance, and defeat with bar stool valor and junk food religion.   They need to see that we are as human as they; and there is nothing less surprising on this earth then the sight of humans who have been attacked getting angry, and fighting back.   When people are denied the dream of love, when that ability to love another, and accept their love in return is gutted out of them, what is left?

I have have said often, that the one who fights this fight and doesn’t put their head down on the pillow every night, just a little bit angrier then the night before, just a little more angry then they thought it was humanly possible to be angry, isn’t really paying attention.   But it is oh-so easy for anger to become hate.   And hate will kill your soul.

This is the lover’s struggle.   When all you have left in it is anger, you are done for.   It is for love that we fight.   Every moment you can put anger aside and remember that, you defeat hate.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)


Images From A Sideshow Running Away With The Circus…

Here’s some of the shots I took at the NOM rally in front of the Capital yesterday…

They held the rally in front of the Capital south wing, which is right across from the Supreme Court building, but you really couldn’t see the court all that clearly for all the trees.   The rally was mostly tucked away in one corner of the grassy park there in front of the south wing.   This is what the crowd looked like, just a few moments literally, before Bishop Coles brought his cavalry in.   It was almost exclusively white, and very nearly half media and NOM organizers.

Brian Brown getting a tad heated in front of a media lady just before the rally started.   I don’t know what she may have asked him but he’d been really nice and polite to the media there, even the gay media, before this.

A couple NOM supporters brought their kids along.   Most of the early arrivals were older folks.   You didn’t start seeing many young people there until Bishop Coles’ cavalry came along.

That LET THE PEOPLE VOTE chant was an early hit with the crowd.   Here they are while Brian Brown gives it a few turns.

Sometime into Bishop Coles’ speech a larger group of counter protesters arrived.   (There had already been a few individual counter protesters there, including Mel White and Soulforce companions, as NOM was setting up.)   The first wave of them just made themselves quietly known with signs around the perimeter of the event.   NOM tried to have them removed, but the Capital Police told them basically that as long as they were quiet and didn’t interfere with the event they had a right to be where they were.

Some gay folk wandered around the NOM crowd during the event.   I don’t know if this couple were with the larger group of counter protesters or not.   The man’s t-shirt reads: Together 14 years, Married 1 year, 2nd class citizens every day.

Walter Fauntroy, with some other clergyman whose name I thankfully don’t know, waiting to speak.   The white clergyman was there when NOM was setting up so I assume he was one of their local organizers.   And unlike Bishops Jackson and Coles, he actually paid attention to all the other clergymen as they spoke.   He didn’t talk much with the crowd though.   Coles worked the crowd a little bit.   Jackson was working the media.

Bishop Coles right after his speech, walked off the sump and whipped up the crowd with that LET THE PEOPLE VOTE chant.   Black people were denied voting rights in this country for generations after then end of slavery.   But those same rights were not won back by the ballot, but in the courts.   The lesson that the courts have an important role to play in protecting the rights of all Americans, and that the basic human rights of minorities are not a popularity contest, seems to have escaped a lot of folks there.   Prejudice does that to a person.   Oh…YOUR rights don’t count…

More later…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Images From A Sideshow Running Away With The Circus…

January 2nd, 2010

The Things I Do For A Damn Photo…

The great photographer Margaret Bourke-White once averred she became positively irrational if she couldn’t get a shot she wanted. I know the feeling, but I guess part of the reason I never became a professional photojournalist is I am too polite about it.

Case in point: I’m driving home from Orlando, up I-95, in the lost, lonely mood I usually am after vacationing in a spot where I’m likely to run into a lot of happy couples. It’s the morning after New Year’s Eve and it’s gray and cloudy and looking very, very somber, and I am driving back north away from the sunshine and warmth of Orlando and Disney World and back into the Baltimore Maryland cold. So I’m not feeling exactly cheerful.

As I drive through North Carolina, I see an abandoned motel to my right, that oddly has its front walls entirely removed. What you see is just the shells of the rooms behind the wall, like a lot of post office boxes with their doors torn off. The effect is of a stark hollowness.

No… I think to myself. It’s too obvious… But I can’t get the image out of my mind. I’m driving north and the miles are piling up and I just want to get back home and back to my nest and sulk for the last few remaining days of my vacation and maybe do a little housework. But I can’t get the damn thing out of my head. I even know Exactly the shot I want to get. I can picture it in my head clearly…picture exactly where I need to stand and what angle to shoot at and what my camera settings are.

No…no…it’s too obvious. And…I don’t want to go there. I’m feeling down enough as it is right now. Do I need to make myself feel worse? I think not. Damn…the sky is just right for that shot though. I’ve never seen a place with just its front wall torn off. Why the hell did they do that? It’s so damn odd… Be nice to just wander around it a bit. No…it’s probably fenced off. I’ll bet they have No Trespassing signs plastered everywhere. Do I want to get arrested in North Carolina? Seriously. Just let it go. Damn the sky is just right… Those gray clouds…just the right amount of sunlight up there. That scene really wants to be low contrast. I should just keep going. I don’t need to go there. I’m feeling miserable. Damn that sky is just right. If I stop some other trip it won’t be right. They might have the rest of it torn down by then. I should just keep going. There will be other shots like that one. I’ve never seen a place with just the front wall torn off like that. Do I really want to be wandering around a derelict building all by myself? It might be dangerous. Some thug might see me pull up in my Mercedes-Benz and decide to shoot me for my car and my camera and nobody would ever know what happened to me. Too dangerous. Why the hell did they just take down the front and leave the rest of it up? It’s so damn perfect. It’s like its bearing its empty heart to the sky. All those people who stayed inside, found warmth, shelter for the night, maybe a moment or two of love, and eventually they all left without a second thought and now it has nothing. The front wall was its face…and then the people left and its face fell away and all that’s left are the empty rooms open now to the sky. I should keep going. I don’t need this. I should turn around. Do I really want to go there? Darn it…I can’t let that one go… How far to the next exit…

Which by then was about 3 miles ahead of me and the motel in question about 12 miles behind. I did a loop back and on the way looked for some other possible shots in the landscape. And I found a few, which made me feel better about loosing travel time. There were two service roads paralleling the main Interstate where some lonely restaurants and strip shopping seemed to be barely holding on. I figured after I took a few shots at the abandoned motel I could drive up one of the service roads and get a few more of other stuff by the highway.

I actually had to drive past it again and loop back to find the correct exit. What apparently happened was a new highway was built nearby, cutting off the old exit by the motel, which killed its drive-by business. I had to go back to an exit a few miles in the other direction, and find the place where I could access the service road that led to it. There were few other surviving businesses along that road. A collection of self storage bins. Some odd pumping station whose purpose I had no idea. There were some empty highway billboards and a junk yard/auto body shop that looked like it had been picked over until nothing of value was left. Yet it seemed to still be in business. I wondered who got their work done there. Close by the motel was a trailer/RV park that actually seemed to still be doing a reasonably good business. It was called Sleepy Bear.

I have no idea what the abandoned motel next to it was called, but it was clear that its current owners wanted nobody getting near it. There was a huge, and I mean huge NO TRESPASSING sign right in front. The building itself was only partly fenced in however. Anyone could just walk onto the property from the street.

The service road dead-ended just past the motel, where the old highway interchange had been closed off. I wasn’t about to park in the lot. But there were some pull-offs just down the street that were off the property and I stopped Traveler there and popped the trunk. I took out the new camera, popped off the lens cap, adjusted the hood, switched on and checked my settings. I took a quick light reading. Then I wandered over.

Damn…that sign is big…

Okay…fine. They didn’t want me trespassing. I looked the site over to see if I could get the shot that had been so fixed in my mind the moment I laid eyes on the motel, without setting foot on the property.

Yes…I can do this…

But I was beginning to get the creeps. It was deathly silent all around me…gray and overcast and a tad chilly. Even the Interstate just a few dozen yards away was quiet, due to it being early New Years Day. All the revelers were sleeping it off. Only us lonely travelers on it now…just the occasional sound of a car going by was all there was.

I walked up to the fence along one side of the motel. I couldn’t take my eyes off the building. In a creepy sort of way it felt like it was looking back at me, through empty eyes…

Damn…they really did just yank the front walls off of everything here. WTF…???

I began to wonder if trespassing meant don’t go beyond the fence or if I was trespassing by simply walking up to it. I decided to just get my shots and skedaddle. This is why I am not a professional photojournalist. I am way too timid. The spirit of Weegee laughs at my timidity.

I couldn’t shoot through the fence…the chain link was too much in the way. So I raised my camera above my head and started shooting. The nice thing about a digital camera is you can see your shots instantly and know if your getting it. Every time I clicked the shutter the LCD display on the back of the camera showed what I had just taken. So I could adjust the camera angle a tad and take another…and so on until I had it. At one point, I knew I had the one I wanted…the one that said it. Whenever that happens, it’s like a little electric current goes through me from the camera. I swear.

I backed off and looked around some more. I felt something tempting me in. But I wasn’t going to risk getting arrested. I’d seen a little house down a private driveway next to the motel, and there were certainly people over at Sleepy Bear. As I walked back to Traveler I saw a truck towing a nice vacation trailer behind it drive away. I wondered if the driver noticed me. I walked briefly to the front of the motel again, near the sign but well on what I thought was its good side.

Damn…that sign is Big…

I fired off one more shot of the front of the motel and tarried with the idea of wandering around the front some more to see if there were any other good shots I could get from outside the fence. But something about that sign kept creeping me out.

They really mean it…

So I got back into Traveler, started up and headed back toward the Interstate. There were a couple other shots I’d seen as I made my way to the motel and as I approached one of them, a sign that said simply “Units Available” in front of a long lonely row of cookie-cutter identical self storage bins, I wondered if I could just stop my car in the middle of the road and take it from out the window, because it didn’t look like there was any usable shoulder to the road there. I didn’t want to get stuck. I was about a quarter mile away from the motel.

Suddenly I saw a police car coming at me from the opposite direction. It blew right past me and if it wasn’t doing at least 90 I am no judge of speed. There was nothing in the direction it was going, except Sleepy Bear, the little house behind the motel, and the motel, and the end of the road.

Damn! Damn! Did someone see me taking pictures and call the cops??? I wasn’t about to hang around and find out. Good thing I didn’t stick around… I decided to forgo getting my other shots and politely asked Traveler for triple digit velocity. Traveler happily obliged. I don’t think Das Auto likes being confined to American highway speeds. I had a couple tight curves to navigate but Traveler hunkered down over them and didn’t even flash the Electronic Stability Program light at me, and there wasn’t anyone else out on the roads just then except me and Mr. Policeman.

Good thing I didn’t have the camera hanging out the window… I figured the cop, if he was called out for a trespasser at the motel, would first check the area and only then would the thought cross their mind that perhaps the perp was in the car that they’d shot past like a bat out of hell. By then I’d be well down the Interstate and it would be a fifty-fifty shot at guessing whether I was going north or south, if I was even on the Interstate to begin with. I didn’t think anyone could have gotten my license plate, and at a distance all I would have seemed to be driving was a white compact car of some kind.

I slowed to legal speed when I got on the Interstate. I wasn’t about to get caught in a radar trap either and I had noticed a lot of them already that morning.

Probably they’d have let it go when they discovered the trespasser had left the scene. Why bother, right? Except…do you blast down the road like a bat out of hell just to nail a trespasser at an abandoned motel?

I wasn’t trespassing dammit. I stayed behind the damn fence. What is it with that place…?

I stressed about it all the way to the Virginia boarder. I took the memory card out of the camera and hid it so I could plausibly say, What…Who…Where…Huh if cornered. Except that people who wear their hearts on their sleeves like I do don’t make excellent liars.

The spirit of Weegee mocks my timidity. Did I take some pictures? You talkin to me? Yeah I took some fucking pictures…

Oh well. I got my shot and it was worth it…

IMG_0630

Abandoned Motel – Lumberton, NC.

Dang…I wish I could wander around that site and get a few more shots. But I don’t think they want to let me…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Things I Do For A Damn Photo…

May 29th, 2009

Western Light

Yes…I haven’t been very talkative here lately.  I’m on vacation and these days I try to keep the world at arm’s length when I am trying to rest and relax.  I’m at my brother’s house in Oceano for a bit…then on to San Francisco and the Java One developer’s conference.  At the moment, I just don’t want to deal with the world.

Here’s some images for you, until the talking feather comes back my way again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Western Light

May 22nd, 2009

On The Road…Topeka, Kansas

Truckhinge – Topeka, Kansas

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on On The Road…Topeka, Kansas

March 16th, 2009

Undeveloped Film As Archeology

Holy Crap!  Remember those old rolls of film I mentioned in the previous post?  The ones I’d mistakenly put into the color film reserve in the fridge?  Two of them were almost thirty years old.  No kidding…I have new found images of my life from 1979 to look at.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Undeveloped Film As Archeology


Hectic Weekends With The Absent Minded Photographer

[A longish post about developing film and the wages of procrastination…]

I have a little staging area in my basement bathroom/darkroom, where I sit the odd roll of exposed film to be developed at a later date.   If it’s something immediate, I do it then and there.  But if the roll gets put into the staging area who knows when I’ll develop it.  I’ll get to it later, I tell myself.  Later being anywhere from tomorrow to the heat death of the universe.

Point of fact, as of Saturday morning I had about twenty-five rolls of exposed 35mm black and white film from various periods in the past decade that I hadn’t yet processed.  Some of it was stored in the fridge, and some in the darkroom staging area, and none of it was labeled.  This became important when I decided this weekend that I absolutely positively had to develop the last roll of black and white I took at the class reunion.  Over a year ago.  Okay…now which one was that…??

I’d turned in the digital images from the reunion, and tons of shots I’d taken back in high school, long ago.  But that last solitary roll of Tri-X I’d exposed mostly just for old times sake, just to see myself snapping some Tri-X with my classmates as I had once upon a time back when we were all kids, just hung out there waiting.  And waiting.  This weekend, I was determined to get to it.  I reckoned I’d just develop what I had in the staging area until I got to the roll I was looking for.  Ha.  Setting up to develop film isn’t as simple as copying your digital image files from the flash card to the computer.  It’s a tad messy and you have to be careful. This is probably why I’m getting so lackadaisical with my roll film backlog.  The digital camera is spoiling me.

I needed to make fresh chemicals and for that I needed to go to the store and buy distilled water.  A gallon for Kodak Rapid Fix, Indicator Stop Bath, Perma-Wash and Photo-Flo, then enough to make a half-gallon of HC-110 stock solution.  From the stock solution I make a working solution of one ounce stock to fifteen water.  I have a Kindermann stainless steel tank that can hold two reels of 120 roll film and four 35mm.  The tank needs a quart (32 ounces) to cover four reels of 35mm, so that’s two ounces of HC-110 stock solution to 30 ounces of water to make 32 ounces of developer.  That’s a one-shot solution…that is, you use it once and toss it.  The advantage to a one-shot solution is you always start with your developer at a consistent strength.  But I was going to need 30 ounces of distilled water for every batch of film I ran through the tank.  So I went to the grocery store and bought six gallons of distilled water.  I swear one of these days someone is going to look at me going through the checkout line with all those bottles of distilled water and think I’m running a meth lab or something and call the cops.

So I get my plastic jugs of distilled water home and start cooking up a batch of fresh chemicals.  I have a large assortment of measuring flasks, and a bucket I’ve marked off with half-gallon and gallon tick marks (my European readers are just going to have to endure my constant references here to U.S. measurements…sorry.).  I pour the old chemicals out of their storage bottles and rinse them thoroughly.  One thing this process isn’t is very green.  I use tons of water and all sorts of chemicals are going right down the drain.  Whether the chemicals needed to create the circuit boards and memory sticks of the digital realm are any greener when all is said and done is something I wonder about.  But from a household point of view, film is a messy business.

I have the basement bathroom light sealed.  All I need a darkroom for these days is loading film into the tank.  That needs absolute darkness.  I have a routine.  I set down my film cassettes and lay out all my tools…the stainless steel film reels and developing tank, its lid, a pair of scissors and a tool for popping open 35mm film cassettes.  I need these things to be where my hands expect them to be, because once the lights are out the darkroom is, must be, so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  You have to know the room by touch.  You have to do everything by touch.

A 35mm film cassette is a metal case with a length of film inside, wound around a plastic spool.  When I have the lights out, I feel for one, get my fingers around it, and then find the opening tool and pop the case open.  Then I ease out the roll of film inside.  There better be not even the faintest breath of light in here now or else the film has just been ruined.  I carefully put the opener tool back Exactly where it was, then get my fingers around the scissors.  The start of a roll of film is shaped into a little tab that goes into the camera’s take-up spool.  I have to cut that off to make the end square.  When that’s done and the scissors put back, I feel around for one of the stainless steel reels and carefully try to get film started on it. 

The reel holds the film in the tank and allows the processing chemistry to circulate around it.  Some folks use a loader device but I use my fingers.  In the darkroom it’s all about touch.  So long as your hands are clean you can safely touch the back of the film and the edges and you’re fine.  Just never touch the emulsion side.  You need to feel around the edges of the reel to know which way it’s oriented so you don’t try to load the film on backwards.  Then thread the film into the center of the reel and start working it around the track.  Once you get it started correctly it’s not hard to wind film onto a reel.  If it jumps the track you can feel it start to kink and you just backup until it’s going on right again and continue.  You must do all this by touch.  The saving grace of it is that the natural film curl helps you out in this.  It just wants to slide nicely into the reel.  If it’s fighting you then you know it’s jumped the track somewhere and you need to backup and do it over.  When I reach the end of the film I need the scissors again to cut it off the spool.  I let the pieces…the metal case and the spool, just fall onto the floor in the darkness.

When I’ve wound a roll of film into a reel it goes into the tank.  Rinse, repeat…  I do this four times for four rolls of film and I’m done.  I put the lid tightly down on the tank and now I can turn the lights back on.   My floor is littered with film cassette cases, spools and film tabs, which I clean up then and there.  It’s Real Easy throughout this process to let everything turn into a big mess and you can’t let that happen or you’ll get sloppy and make a mistake and ruin your film.  You have to concentrate.  I am not a naturally tidy person, but I will keep my work areas clean and well organized because that helps me keep my focus on what I’m doing.

I take my film tank around to the art room The rest of this can happen in normal light.  Thanks to the scanner and the computer I don’t need a paper darkroom anymore.  Processing film is nothing compared to the work and mess of making paper enlargements.  Nowadays I can make bigger prints of far, far better quality with Bagheera, my art room Macintosh, and my nice Epson wide bed printer, then I ever could with my old enlarger setup.  And it’s a lot less of a mess.  But processing black and white film is mess enough.

The art room is the finished front half of my basement, which the previous homeowner made into a clubroom.  It’s got the usual knotty pine walls and thick carpet.  He’d put a bar in the back of it.  I set up there.  On the bar I lay down a work rag because no matter how careful I am there is always some spillage.  I put out three one quart measuring flasks.  Into one I carefully measure and pour two ounces of HC-110 into 30 ounces of distilled water.  Then I pour a quart of stop bath and fixer into each of the others.  I have a precision Weston dial thermometer I dip into the flask of developer.  It responds quickly and I get a fix on the solution temperature.  From that I calculate my development time using the Kodak charts.  I am using a non-standard dilution of HC-110…the photo hacker children call it "dilution ‘H’".  But it’s simply a double of the standard times for dilution ‘B’.  I also take the temperature of the other two solutions.  This is important.  If they’re not close enough to the temperature of the developer I have to take steps to equalize them.  Tri-X is a fast, but grainy film.  If you keep everything the same temperature during the process the grain you end up with will be nice and uniform and not bother the eye really.   But if the temperature of your solutions diverge very much the grain will tend to clump together and it will look horrible.

When I have all my chemistry ready I hang an old fashion stop watch around my neck and click on and pour developer into the tank and I’m off.  For the next fifteen minutes I can’t be disturbed or distracted by anything.  While you have solution in the tank you have to watch the clock and agitate every so often.  That’s because the solution against the more highly exposed parts of the film gets exhausted quicker then what’s against the less exposed parts, and so development slows down there sooner then elsewhere.  Agitation brings fresh chemical up against the parts of the film that are exhausting it quicker.  If you don’t agitate those areas of the film don’t get as well developed and overall contrast suffers.  But on the other hand if you agitate too much the effect is to over develop parts of the film.  This effect is something a film photographer knows how to manipulate depending on shooting conditions.  This, and adjusting the development time, is how we used to finesse contrast in the negative before Photoshop.

So I’m sloshing chemicals in and out of the tank.  11 minutes development time at 65 degrees f.  10 minutes at 68, which is the more ideal temperature.  My basement nicely oscillates between the two in the winter months.  In the summer I have to let my chemicals cool down in a bath of cold water before I can begin.  Pour out the developer and then pour in, and right back out, the stop bath.  This is just a very weak acid solution.  The developer is a base (remember your chemistry class?) and when the stop bath hits what’s left of the developer sticking to the film it kills it.  It’s like an instant off switch for the developer stage.  Then in comes the fixer.  Fixer is acidic too, and so some photographers don’t bother with a stop bath for film.  I do it on the ground that at least it protects the fixer from becoming exhausted too quickly.  But it isn’t critical.  The developer changes the silver salts in the film that were hit by light to metallic silver.  The fixer dissolves the silver salts that were not developed, leaving the negative image on the film.  4 minutes to fix.

Then I have to wash it.  I take the tank over to the sink, take the film reels out of the tank and drop them into a film washer that holds the same size and number of film reels as the tank.  It connects to the sink faucet and two holes at the base draw in air and create a vortex that swirls around the film, getting the last of the fixer off it.  That’s very important.  If any fixer is left behind on the film it will begin to slowly stain it and then your negatives are ruined.  Again, I have to monitor the temperature of the wash carefully.  It needs to be the same as the chemicals I used for developing. 

Now I can relax a bit.  The critical part is done.  I will usually take a quick glance at the film now, to reassure myself that everything is okay.  I can let my mind wander a bit…maybe go grab a snack from the kitchen.  But I still keep the stopwatch around my neck.  After about fifteen minutes of washing I pour a solution of Perma-Wash into the tank and dip the film in it for a minute.  This is supposed to neutralize the last of the fixer.  Then wash for a few minutes more, then I pour a solution of Photo-Flo into the tank and bathe the film in that for a minute.  Photo-Flo is a simple wetting agent that prevents spotting on the film as it dries.

Slosh, slosh, slosh.  By now I have little spills everywhere.  I’m not exceptionally clumsy, but you have to get these solutions in and out of the tank pretty quickly and I won’t fret if a little spills now and then.  Your kitchen isn’t going to remain spotless while you’re busy cooking in it either.

Then I take the film back to the bathroom and hang it up to dry.  It must dry in as dust-free an environment as I can manage.  At this stage the film emulsion is soft, and if dust gets on it now as it is drying and hardening it’s there forever.

Once the film is up on hangers to dry, I begin cleaning my workspace.  Even if I am going to do another batch right away, I clean everything up.  Especially then.  The used developer goes down the sink.  The stop bath and fixer back into their storage jugs.  The tank and reels and empty measuring flasks into a wash bin I carry upstairs to the kitchen sink.  I mop up every spill until the workspace is clean and dry again.  I rinse out the tank and reels and flasks and set them out to dry, or hand dry them if I need to use them again right now.

Take a breath.  Pause.  Think about what you are doing…go over your mental checklists…  Wash…rinse…repeat…

I did this all weekend long, looking for that damn roll of film from the reunion.  And I didn’t find it.  Twenty-five rolls I processed, and none of them were the one I was looking for. 

There was one roll left in the staging area…a roll I wasn’t sure was Tri-X.  It was in a Fuji color film cassette, but I’d often re-used those for bulk reloading back in the day.  I usually make sure to put a piece of tape over it to identify it as Tri-X though.  This one didn’t have that, but it was one of the older Fuji cassettes I usually used for that.  So I turned off the darkroom lights, popped the case, cut off the tab, put the film back in the case, turned the lights back on and looked at it.  Even before I’d turned the lights back on though, I knew it was one of my bulk reloads because of how I’d shaped the tab.

I had a batch of film from the big tank in the wash.  I had some smaller tanks though that held only one and two reels, and a spare reel.  So I ran that roll through the process while the others were washing.  That wasn’t the roll I was looking for either.

I was beginning to get desperate.  I dug around and uncovered three more unprocessed rolls of Tri-X in a part of the fridge I’d reserved for color.  They’d gotten mixed in, but this was old stuff and I doubted the film I was looking for was one of those.  I dug through my camera bags looking for anything I might have missed.  I found a partially exposed roll still in one camera body that I though might…just might…be the roll from the reunion.  My habit is to use one body for color and one for black and white, and at the reunion I had both of those plus the digital camera.  Maybe I just hadn’t taken out the roll of film from the black and white body.

But I was done for the weekend.  I’d used up all the distilled water I’d bought and before I could process any more I’d need to buy some.  After a thorough search of Casa del Garrett I’d come up with four possible rolls of film and a fifth that had still been in the camera.  Figured I’d do them Monday.  I was already thinking out my apology to the reunion committee for loosing the film.  It wouldn’t have been a big loss…I’d given them a ton of stuff already.  But that one last little roll might have had some good shots on it too, and it seemed now that it was gone.

So this morning I get up and start cutting all the film I’d developed down from the hangers.  I cut a roll to lengths of six shots each, and store the strips temporarily in glassine envelopes until I get them scanned.  During scanning the roll gets assigned a number based on a system I’ve used since high school, and then it goes into an archival film holder page with that number written on it, plus a few notes about what’s on it, and the page goes into a binder for safekeeping.  As I’m cutting I’m looking at what’s there.  It’s an odd assortment of images from almost a decade’s worth of odds and ends…film I hadn’t gotten around to developing because it wasn’t pressing.  An office Party.  Images of Kansas and Monument Valley.  Shots from around my Baltimore neighborhood.  Oh…what’s this…??

I’d worked my way back to the beginning of my weekend’s work and there, in the middle of one of the rolls, were the shots from the reunion.  I hadn’t taken a whole roll of black and white that evening, which was probably why I’d not developed it the next day.  I’d likely wanted to finish the roll first, then in the process of getting the color film developed and working on the digital images plus all the stuff from my high school years, I’d let it slip.   I’d developed the roll I was looking for in the very first batch I’d done and I’d missed it completely.  The reunion shots were right there, in between a trip to Stroudsburg to visit my friend Glenn, ironically another high school classmate I hadn’t seen in almost two decades, and Peterson’s performance at Gallaudet a month after.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere but I am unlikely to learn it.  Considering the volume of film I still shoot, even with the digital cameras in my stable, I actually don’t stage all that much.  It’s mostly odds and ends that I put aside for later processing.  There were another two full rolls from Peterson’s Gallaudet performance that I’d developed right away, and one from that first visit in years to see Glenn.  The reunion shots were in the middle of both of those and I had tons of other stuff from that event that I’d taken care of.  It fell between the cracks. 

I do this all the time…staging odds and ends for development that I never get around to for years, and then suddenly I do it all at once.  And what I discover every time is how facinating the odds and ends are when you look at them after years have gone by.  It’s like re-living random bits and pieces of your past all at once.  But I need at least, to make it a rule from now on, that no film goes into the staging area without a tag on it that tells me what it is. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Hectic Weekends With The Absent Minded Photographer

March 9th, 2009

Photos And Browsers And Books

If you’re picky about how your photos are displayed, then putting them up on the web is going to make you pull your hair out.  You can get it just right…perfect even…in your photo software (I use Apple’s Aperture).  Then you look at what you’ve done in a browser and it isn’t the same.  The browser rendering engine renders it just a tad differently then you see it in your photo software, or any of the operating system’s built-in picture viewers.  And what is more, each browser seems to render your image files a tad differently. 

I was looking at some of the photos I posted yesterday in Firefox and the contrast was off.  I started up Safari and they looked better.  I’m looking at them now in IE and they look very flat.  I took those shots in overcast conditions and paid careful attention to the contrast values as I was making the image files for upload, and the browsers just make all that work go for nothing.  Hopefully something of image content gets through to the viewer.  That’s all I can do.

I’m going to re-arrange my photo galleries a tad in the next few days.  2, 3, 4 and 6 are coming down, and I’m going to create a few loose galleries that group the images together better then the topics I put them under there.  Rather then the context of how I came to take them, I’m going to try something a little different.  I’m working myself up to producing a nice book of my art photography later this year.  It won’t be cheap and I doubt I’ll sell very many.  But I’m going to arrange with one of those print-on-demand outfits so I won’t have to buy a lot of inventory all at once, which I can’t afford. 

I’ve got some books on self publishing, and getting set up with those ISDN numbers and such.  They hand them out in such a way as to indicate clearly to book sellers and reviewers that the book was self published, but in this day and age I really doubt that makes much of a difference.  Whatever I produce will be as high in quality as I can get, which will probably make the book somewhat expensive, but this is going to be my declaration of a lifetime’s work so far and I’m going to do it right.  What will be in the book is the images as close as I intend them to be viewed as I can get from a printer.  The only thing better would be right off my own printer, which you can always ask me for if you want.

That’s the other thing I’m going to put on the gallery main page…how to order.  I sell them for $40 for 11×17 inch prints, plus shipping.  Signed and dated on premium gloss photo paper in non-fading pigment base ink at maximum resolution.  They will look much better on your wall then in a browser, so if there’s something in the galleries that you like ask me about it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Photos And Browsers And Books

March 8th, 2009

Weekend In The Lost World – Part 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Weekend In The Lost World – Part 2

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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