Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Brugmansia photographs. This was done on Ilford fiber based warmtone glossy paper and gold toned. I rarely buy glossy papers because they tend to show the flaws in a print more then matte but that sharpness of detail really brings out the textural especially when working with a large format negative, or a fine grain film. I just got a box of this paper yesterday and I wanted to try it out and I liked the results. Absorbs the gold toner much faster then coldtoned matte papers. I think it is even faster then the warmtoned matte paper.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"Out Damned Spot." I am practicing working with spotone. I try to make as clean a print as I can but on every print there are those annoying little blemishes. Spotone is no longer made but it is fairly simple to find on e-bay or in camera shops that buy up a lot of old stock from defunct camera shops and photo studios. The tiny bottles of different shades of pigment seem to last forever. The way it is used it is hard to imagine anyone in their lifetime actually using up a whole bottle unless they spilled it. You take a drop of spotone and place it on a palette and then spread it around so it will dry out. You then take a very tiny brush and dampen it with water (or some people say in your mouth, yuck) and then squeeze with your fingers or your tongue (no way) till you get a very fine tip on your brush. You then dip your damp brush in to the dried residue of spotone and lightly dot at your little spots on your print until they disappear. If you have the shade right they do, if you don't your little white spot becomes a little black spot. The skill is in matching the shade of the spotone through mixing and thinning then applying very lightly. I worked on this for several hours last night on different prints with varying degrees of failure. I am rewashing some of the worst mistakes in my print washer in hopes the pigment will soak out. I guess after trying it out I can see why the company went out of business and why there are so many bottles of the stuff left over. There is a workshop given at Newspace in preparing prints for presentation that I want to take next time it is offered so I can learn more about retouching as well as dry mounting and over matting prints. Update 9/30. I checked out a forum where someone wrote some really good advice on using this product. Spread it out on a glass surface and let it sit for 24 hours before using. Thin with distilled water to lighten. Instead of trying to paint in a spot you "dot" with the tip of a very fine brush producing artificial "grain" in the imperfections so they blend in with the rest of the print. Tried this last night with slightly better results. Still can't get the shade right for gold toned prints though.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"A picture is a secret about a secret" Diane Arbus.
I started reading Susan Sontag's collection of essays 'On Photography' today. It is a thought provoking work that attempts to define what photography is and what photography does. Take for example this first photograph taken in 1839. In the photograph a man stopping to have his shoes shined stands still long enough to possibly be the first person ever photographed. He wasn't even cognizant of the fact, he was oblivious of the moment that he made history. Perhaps he never knew. This idea intrigues me. A photograph is like a fossil of the present. The man having his shoes shined experienced time as a continuum. He got up that morning, walked down a street, stopped to have his shoes shined. Unbeknown to him from some distant vantage point Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre set up his camera and made a long exposure of the buildings below and froze his moment for eternity. After he paid the shoe shiner he walked off in to the future and mortality but that little slice of time remained trapped and frozen in a photograph. Like that arrow of time that Einstein described he is in motion coming from the past and hurtling toward the future but in the present he is perfectly static. The photograph is the manifestation of that concept. Something you can hold in your hand, hang on a wall. A souvenir of time. A camera may be the only device ever made that can do this. All photographs have this precious quality because they record a static moment in a dynamic matrix. All photographs have value and mystery and a secret.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Juniper berries. The top picture is a picture of how I took this picture.

Scarlet Passion Flower being devoured by ants.

Another view of Brugmansia bud.
Brugmansia flowers about to open. Here is the black and white image taken with Agfa 25 developed in Rodinal 50:1 dilution with the color image taken with Portra 160 NC. Both photographs taken with a Nikkor 105 bellows lens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Flashing Lone Fir. I was experimenting Friday evening photographing graves in the cemetery with a large flash. I used my Koni-Omega with the wide angle and a Metz flash. I shot with Agfa 25 film. The pictures below are both graves of members of fraternal organizations. One is for a member of Woodmen of the World who had these very ornate tree trunk, or perhaps tree stump shaped gravestones that were very ornate and decorated with lots of natural features. There are several of these in the graveyard. The bottom one is a grave of an important Mason, 4 redwood trees were planted one at each corner of the grave. The picture at the top is this enigmatic grave of someone who died with a different name then the one he was born with. A metamorphosis.

First day of Autumn. You'll be able to find a pile of leaves soon to hide in.

Last week I got an interesting comment on my blog related to some pictures I posted taken back in the 1950's of the neighborhood I grew up in. She suggested that her parents had purchased a home in this area and were remodeling it. The house may have been the one I lived in. I e-mailed back to her that I'm very curious to see what house she was talking about and asked her to e-mail a picture to me but I haven't received any response. Here is a picture of the house we lived in and I also found this very beat up negative taken with an old brownie hawkeye probably by my mother of the view from our kitchen window. I tried yesterday to make a print with the negative and it came out pretty good but after scanning it I decided to soften it up a bit and make it just as fuzzy as my old memories of that place. For instance the lovely little mill pond and falls seen here was a place I remember my older brother liked to hunt rats with his BB Gun. Our mother eventually took away Jims B.B. gun and hid it somewhere in that old house where he would never find it and for all I know it still may be there. Funny thing is when my wife and I had a remodel done in our old house one of the carpenters found an old B.B. gun shoved up under some floor joists. That was probably the fate of a lot of old BB guns back then.

A new contact sheet. Developed some pictures taken with Agfa 25 yesterday. I got up early so I could start working with them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Almost Autumn. This is one of those "I can't believe I took this picture, picture." Taken with my Leitz CL while on a lonely walk through Mt. Tabor Park in early November 1979 at a time I pretty much gave up photography. In Cherie Hisers workshop she talked about how first you take an A picture before you can take a B picture. You may by accident one day take a M picture before you made a C picture but you don't get to skip ahead you have to still proceed one picture at a time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Goldtoned Vera.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I tried experiments with goldtoning some prints yesterday. I tried toning specific parts of the print, 'painting' in pure gold chloride, anything to selectively increase the intensity of the gold toner in specific parts of the print before I gold toned the entire print. It didn't seem to work the way I imagined but it seems that this particular print was a partial success. I swabbed in with a q-tip pure gold chloride until it was absorbed in the highlights, then laid over the top of that the toning solution only on the subject for an hour before soaking the print in toner. Seemed to shift the color more towards the yellow beyond the red tones you usually get with gold toner. I also tried this with my Joan of Arc statue print hoping that the gold statue would look more like gold in the black and white print but it didn't work the same way. I want to try this with selenium toner. I also need to try out that sepia toning technique I learned in the Newspace class last month while the weather still permits me to work outside.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


For the last 9 years I've photographed our boys on their first day of school. Here they are on their very first day of Kindergarten and now High School.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Ants go crazy over this plant.

Scarlet Passion Flower in bud and in bloom.

Flowers from the front porch. I noticed this week that the cardinal climber brings a hummingbird to our front porch every morning to check out each new flower as they open up.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Gold Toned image. I tried to minimize my time in the darkroom this weekend so I could work with the camera . As much as I love printing I need some new negatives. I also have been wanting to try some sepia toning after seeing it demonstrated in the Darkroom II class I took at Newspace last month. I want to do it outside because the stink of the sepia toner is really bad. Even if my darkroom is well ventilated I don't want my darkroom to smell like that. I also want to try my hand at retouching after seeing how to properly use Spotone. I've been working with these pens with very fine tips but I had trouble making them work for me. In the Darkroom II class I was shown how to use Spotone with a #00 brush and the results were much better.

More scans of pressed plants.

Gold toned prints from last weekends shooting in Lone Fir Cemetery.

Gold toned Lone Fir print. This was a print from some pictures I took a year ago using a special gelatin filter that only allows infrared light to be transmitted. Using infrared film you get the maximum effect. This was a long exposure and there was a bit of a breeze so the evergreen tree in the background was moving a bit. Taken in the shade the tree in the upper right was lit up with sunlight and came out just a zone above paper base. The gold toning brought this out a bit more.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

This is an interesting article in Alec Soths blog on the virtues of self-directed learning over professional instruction. I agree you start with some formal education and proceed from there alone. I loved the quote in one of the comments that "art is done by the alone for the alone".
Using the scanner as a camera.

Pressed plants. I arranged some of my pressed plants in to pleasing compositions and scanned them. Someday I am going to find an interesting and artful purpose for them. Now that I look at them I think I just did.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Gratuitous Autumn pictures taken on a walk in the arboretum in October 1983.
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