Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Magazine Cover Version 3

I am finding the hardest part of doing up this magazine is finding scanned negs that are big enough to use. I have plenty of images I love and want to include but the problem is finding 5 meg files of my choices. I could go and search for all the right negs and scan them all again at a higher dpi but that is just so painful to do. I am trying to get by with what I have and still produce a good product. I will have to do a few scans but want to limit how much time I spend on this project. Here is tonights capture of the magazine design back cover page on the left and front cover page on the right, this is version 3.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blurb Magazine?

I am downloading the program to make magazines on its called "BookWright". Blurb mags cost $4.99 USD  (20 pages) each and you can also upload a eBook version to Apple. The mags come with glossy paper and are supposed to look just like the real thing. I thought why not lets give it a try, maybe if this works I can make up 5 or so for the "Exposure, Life in the Margins" show. I am sure Larry will have some beautiful book-catalog type thing to show (he did 3 years ago). I need something at least half ass decent to put beside his wonderful work. This might be just the ticket, I think a mix of some favourite photos might be the best option, with a strong cover.

Here are my first attempts at a strong cover for the magazine:

Photo Idea: "Bangkok At Night", Revisited

Years ago I had an idea to do a series of photographs of Bangkok at night. That idea came back to me tonight, fresh and exciting. In the past I thought of shooting it with the Banarama 4x5 hand held camera and flash but now I am thinking it might work better in 35mm an the Ricoh GR-21. This is the way I see it.

Tri-x the GR-21 and Rodinal developer. I would go for a high contrast and higher grain look then print the work on the high contrast Durst 1200 condensor enlarger. These images would be very harsh and stark looking, like nothing I have ever created before. I would wander the streets shooting everything, everything of interest, allowing myself the freedom to chase and create in new and different ways. No rules, no limitations, just shoot and shoot and find my story. I would photograph at night and in Bangkok but put no other restrictions on myself. I might use the on camera flash or a separate hand held flash (the GR-21 has external flash sinc capability) or I might try pushing the film all the way up to 6400 ASA. I would do everything I want, blurred images, strange angles, grain, contrast, tough strange subject matter etc. Everything and anything would fly. NO RULES.

This would be a fun type of photography a freeing type of expression, just me and the streets, one simple tool and creating from what I find. The Toot Yung Gallery in Bangkok has promised to show my work, this might be the work that I show. This could lead to strong and powerful work, worthy of the gallery time and space. Heck this stuff could even sell which I feel I owe the gallery, they are letting me in, the work needs to have the possibility of selling to help me pay them back.

If I stay 6 months in Bangkok I could work on this project nightly or every second night. With Rodinal a little goes a long long way so I could develop the film as I go over the 6 month time period, using a 1/50 or 1/100 dilution. Seeing the work, posting it on the blog and feeling my way along as I go would be very helpful. Having the immediate feedback would be a great and positive way to create, I would know where I stood day to day and week to week.

Shooting the cheap point and shoot GR-21 at night would be safer to do than any of my Leicas or other big expensive looking machines. I would no doubt be entering some pretty dangerous worlds as I wandered at night so its best to travel light and simple. I might even carry a separate pretend wallet with a bit of cash in it, I could hand it over freely and hopefully without conflict if I was mugged. Just don't take my camera!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quotes: Daido Moriyama

"I think the most important thing that photography can do is to relate both the photographer and the viewers memories."

"At first sight a photograph looks straightforward as it slices off a scene or a moment in time. But the images that photography captures are actually ambiguous. And it's because of this ambiguity that I like photography."

Link: GR-21 Use?

The huge advantage of the Ricoh GR-21 is that it is a pro level camera that does not look like it. The camera is an extremely well made Japanese built machine with a world class ultra wide angle 21mm lens (9 elements in 6 groups). The unique and great thing about the GR-21 is that it looks like a simple cheap point and shoot! When using it I am less likely to get shouted at, pushed around, beaten up or robbed

Carrying around a camera in the field that does not look pro like has lots of advantages, the main one is it might not scare off your subjects. I remember when I walked on the streets of Phnom Penh years ago with my Nikon F5, some of my subjects ran on seeing the camera, figuring I was a pro shooter who was going to shut down their business with bad publicity (I was in a red light area).

With the Ricoh I might just be able to make pictures in places and with people that are scared of more fearful looking gear. I am thinking that if I do the "Lost Innocence" brothel portraits this camera might do a better job, it might allow me easier access than the big ass digital Mark II or the Blad cameras. I was also thinking of wandering the streets and shooting away going everywhere to work on my "Bangkok At Night" series I planned years ago. I might also try to concentrate on one or two workers from a some sort of bar in Thai and document that workers life at home and on the streets.

The camera also has a built in flash, I have always liked the harsh look of direct light. I would probably print this work quite contrasty and grainy, playing to films strengths as Larry suggested I do. So direct flash or pushed Tri-x, most likely at 800ASA, maybe even 1600 or 3200.

Another advantage of this camera is it is very small and light. I want to try and carry it everywhere I go. Imagine having a camera with you and using it everyday, every hour of your life.

Here is a YouTube link to a book by Daido Moriyama, he used a GR-21 to make it, you can see what this camera can do in the right hands. I would like to try stuff in a similar style but with a more documentary serious side to it. Photograph important subjects but in a more abstract less formal manner. Through the abstraction I hope to capture more dynamic feelings and emotion in the work.
Daido Moriyama, "Farewell Photography"

Photograph by Daido Moriama
Photograph by Daido Moriama

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Video: Printing 'The Bride And Groom from Mae Sot Garbage Dump"

Here is a video of the first attempt at this print, a bit off but close. I did up print number 2 after making and pretty well nailed it. I will make up 2 more prints trying to make minor improvement to each, then move on to the next print. I will print one of 2 small child standing in garbage prints I want to make for the exhibition.

"Ain't Photography Grand!" There is no other thing that gives me more happiness.

I feel better about the recent camera purchase now. This is what I do, make photos, I am sure I will make good pictures with the Ricoh point and shoot, so nothing else matters. Money comes and money goes but good photography is important and great photography can live on forever. I will try to make a great picture with the camera, I will try to tell an important story about a forgotten life.

Now back into the darkroom to attempt to improve on the bride and groom neg. Everything in photography is so challenging, but I love it.


Lewis Payne Portrait

I watched the Robert Redford directed film "The Conspirator" tonight. The story dealt with the trial of Mary Surrat and her eventual execution by hanging with 3 men involved in President Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

This photo  of one of the jailed conspirators Lewis Payne by civil war photographer Alexander Gardner I have always found powerful. There is bewildering beauty in Payne's youthful defiance and acceptance of his fate. Gardner made 3 different exposures. In 2 of the photos Payne ignores the photographer, in the best one the 3rd he confronts Gardner.

Tbe greatness and power of photography is displayed once again.

Lewis Payne by Alexander Gardner 1865

Friday, October 17, 2014


Not sure I should have done this but I bought another camera. It is a point and shoot film camera that cost $950 USD (over $1100 CAD). This might be a big mistake, not sure just yet. I think if I make 1 great picture of 10 or so good pictures with it I can rationalize it away but right now, am not sure I did the right thing.

The camera is the Ricoh GR-21, it has a world class 21mm F3.5 lens on it. The lens is made by Leica and was so revered by those who used it that it came out as a separate lens that could be used with Leica range finder cameras. I learned about this camera when I was studying the work of Daido Moriyama, he used it to create many iconic photographs. The camera I bought is in NICE shape and in 100% working condition. I will probably shoot a lot of pushed 800ASA Tri-x with this latest tool.

Now for the rationals for this expensive maybe silly purchase.

- I can carry it in my pocket and use it at dads funeral.
- I can carry it anywhere use it quickly and easily.
- I can use it to create lots of big grain, higher contrast, more abstract fun work.
- I want to make non traditional composed work, happy accidents and quick haphazard choice looks.
- It has a 21mm lens, the only film point and shoot around that has.
- I got it at a reasonable price (believe it or not) it runs around $1495 mint, mine was originally listed at $1080 USD. I was able to get the seller to come down in price, probably because its a film camera.
-  The seller is from Japan, where they take care of their camera gear. Hopefully this unit will last me many years, maybe the rest of my life.
- I hope the camera will completely free up my shooting and allow me to freely flow and create more emotion and feeling in my photographs. I want what I feel in my heart to be able to translate quickly and easily into a picture.

The underlying motivation was to have a camera I could carry in my pocket when I say goodbye to dad. I might also be able to use it in the bars of Asia to be less conspicuous. The great sharp beautiful extremely wide lens was a big selling point as well. Still it all came down to having a camera to say goodbye to dad with, that was my number one motivation for the purchase.

A Ricoh GR-21, not mine.

Quote: Sebastiao Salgado

"I adore photography, talking photographs holding my camera, choosing my frame, playing with the light. I love living with people, observing communities, and now animals, trees and rocks too. It is the desire to photograph that always drives me to leave again, to go and look elsewhere. Constantly to be taking more new images."

This is from the cover of the new book I mentioned in the previous blog.

Link: Highly Recommended Book

Today I got a book from Amazon that I ordered last week from work. It is called "From my Land to the Planet by Sebastiao Salgado. The book is a first person account, Salgado telling the stories behind his great, compassionate photographs. I am going to devour this, it will be joyful and inspirational to read. If anyone is interested here is the link again. The book cover is a bit boring but the interior is filled with magic.

From my Land to the Planet by Sebastiao Salgado

Note* When you shop with Amazon you can get free shipping if your purchase is $25 or more.