# 134 Relearning the Craft. Part Two
As committed as I am to some of the benefits of analog film photography even I must face the facts that the digital realm offers some advantages and is dominant in the current melieu and markets. Most particularly, working in color in the digital realm is vastly easier than was possible in dye coupled silver processes. Anyone who ever personally went thru the precision tedium of home processing color film and put hours into “ring-around” exposures to calibrate a batch of color paper before getting a worthwhile print feels no nostalgia. We do feel some awe for those craft adepts who mastered processes like carbro printing or dye transfer. Younger digital natives who’ve never been thru the agonies of the vintage color methods can hardly imagine the reverence for the craft that veterans still hold. This post is mostly for those with little direct experience in digital post processing
Not that that should make a difference. The object is to make pictures, and technologies do change their characteristics with time…some of these changes are even progress.
Some aspects of the digital realm take the craftsmanship out of the direct hands of the artist and put it into the marketplace of corporations. This was true even in the film era. Almost no one coated theie own film stock or printing paper when you could get a reliable product in a yellow box from Rochester, NY, USA . Technologies like automated C-41 processing removed a tiny factor of personal craftsmanship to hugely gain convenience and consistency…a price well and willingly paid as it allowed the photographer to spend more of their effort on the semantics of picture making and less on process tedium.
In the digital realm however almost everything in the intermediate steps between picture conception and a finished monitor screen or print passes thru digital manipulation by firmware and software that are layers below the knowledge and direct control of the artist. A few people mess with source code, but mostly…almost entirely…the intermediate steps consist of menu choices in camera or post-processing software packages or printer setup options. The craft is mostly done and dictated by code jockeys almost all of whom work for proprietary vendors. The artists choice of crafts depends largely on where they spend their money…spend two months mortgage payments on a full featured post processing package from Claymore Software or contribute to some cool GNU public license program that does almost everything the big kids do for a small good faith contribution.
The big post processing package has unquestionably been Adobe Photoshop. There are, today, some useful alternatives but everything is still measured agains’t Photoshop. It reamains to be seen whether Adobe will commit hari-kari by replacing it’s older business model…”you buy it, you own it” with their recently announced “limited term rental license” model where you have to keep feeding the meter to prevent the program from auto destruction.
I’m not a digital native and have never been software savvy, but I am realistic and still try to make my peace with industry standards. I was floundering in Photoshop 2.5 once day in the 1980′s when a 20 something year old kid sat in the sunshine on the front stoop of the Maine Photographic Workshops editing the code that would become PS 3.0. That issue became the standard taught at the National Press Photographer Association members seminars. The kid became ten times a millionaire. I still have my three floppies, each holding the code for one of my favorite images.
For years I’ve post processed images in PS 6.0, purchased for me by the professor of a laboratory I supported. Written and ported for Win 98, it still works in WinSys7. I recently legally purchased the full CS2 package and have set out to re-learn the craft…making pictures in this corner of the digital realm.
The place was visually interesting, but the image as recorded by the camera seemed dull…what to do ? Simple Photoshop manipulations; very slight cropping to concentrate the mind. Contrast and saturation slightly augmented. The result has neither more or less information but higher impact. The weeds in the foreground look wrong, as if hit with an on-camera fill flash. This doesn’t really work.
An unsatisfying picture. I liked the retro diner, but couldn’t steel myself to go inside and ask ” Would the owner of the Subaru please move their vehicle so I can get a period feeling in a photo ?” I started with the basic menu of photoshop adjustments. I tried the sepia approach to get the feeling , but never got the color exactly right After tinkering excessively I tried the vast array of filter menus settling on “solarize,” a digital simulacrum of the film Sabbatier Effect. It might have made a cool graphic if that modern Subaru wasn’t there.
This picture deserved a lot of attention. There’s a fine 6cm B&W negative of the site taken on the same expedition. I prefer it, but I’m trying to learn the craft in color and it was an adventure simply getting my creaky 72 year old frame down into the valley of the Susquahanna to reach the remains of the long abandoned river crossing on the defunct Lewisburg & Tyrone R.R. at Lewisburg. There’s many a story here for the railroad historian or industrial archaeologist. It takes six such truss spans to cross the river. They are nearly lost to human attention. The sun soaked river was lazy that day. ( Suzy Q can be a bitch when riled !) Even the fish were loafing. The top left frame is more of less straight as recorded in camera. The top right is a monochrome version crafted not by the ‘de-satuarate’ and colorize options, but by the more elaborate channel mixer adjustment menu when enables tinkering with the curves of each color separately. I liked this version, but the rusty truss…visual star of the show…tended to recede behind the foliage of the mud bank in the right foreground. I also wanted a color rendition which might not be true to nature as seen on site at the time, but rather evoked the emotional feeling of the lazy, dusty day. This feels successful, the colors were considerably re-balanced in the adjustment menu, then delicately desaturated. The backstory of this picture is worth googling.
This landscape of Soft Run Creek valley near Belleville, PA was juiced up by Photoshop color balance adjustments. The slightly cropped ‘before’ image is pretty much as recorded by the camera with auto white balance . It was not only a little dull, it didn’t look right for the late afternoon light. The PS menu allows relative re-balancing of RGB/CYMK to be applied separately for shadows, midrange tones and highlights. It’s a lot of power. The menu default opens the balance for the mid tones, but in this case I left them pretty much alone, while cooling down the shadows and warming up the highlights. It’s easy to imagine overdoing this process and photoshop adepts will immediately know that the image has been juiced, but I don’t feel that I crossed the line into graphic fiction; I’ve merely tried to have the picture more accurately recreate the ambiance of the vista as seen at the time.
This heavily deteriorated hydroelectric facility below Beebe Lake on the Cornell University campus served to instruct a long past generation of electrical and civil engineers. It also, long ago, reduced the dependency of the campus on outside sources of energy. I’ve watched its dilapidation over maybe 35 years. A technically superior facility further downstream today fills the same functions, but it remains a favorite spot for camera testing. On this overcast day with slight mist cast up by the falls the scene was almost entirely monochrome. I feel fine having enhanced the picture by the ‘curves” and ‘saturation’ menu’s.
This next example begins to get to the heart of a positive aspect of photoshop manipulation
The ‘before’ image on the left was shot very quickly with my tiny “C-team” Lumix DMC-LZ8 point and shoot camera on full-auto-everything as I was trotting to keep up with a companion who was striding away. I was struck by the similarity of the colors on the theater to colors of a series I shot of children playing in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, in the summer of 1959. I used Anscchrome 100 Daylight slide film. It’s been unavailable for decades and the original slides have been lost to the entropy of a chaotic life or perhaps to the dye eating fungi that have destroyed so many old color pictures. Anscochrome, was an interesting film with a corporate history scrambled by two world wars. It produced color renditions nothing like other color film on the market, particularly Kodachrome 25 and my old personal favorite the West German Agfachrome 64. Anscochrome 100 was the first slide film in MY experience that allowed user processing. The home processing kits didn’t use enough toxic formaldehyde in the stabilizer bath and consequently most slides have perished. The Anscochrome color rendition was extraordinarily good at pastel shades in the upper half of the tonal curve while remaining relatively natural in effect. It was a lovely film which failed in the market onslaught of the Big Yellow Father in Rochester. Kodak also made some technically deficient films.
The ‘after’ image on the right was slightly cropped to reduce distracting detail and then severally treated with subtle tinkering with the curves, contrast, darkness and rotation of the image to try to recapture the feeling and rendition of Anscochrome as I remember it from 40 years ago. Perhaps the ‘before’ version is closer…I’m unsure of this one.
I very much wanted to dip into the menus of photoshop and discover filters that would replicate the characteristics (H&D curves) of favorite film renditions from the craft I worked so hard to achieve in my apprentice and journeyman times. (Not that I’ve masteedr them… the digital revolution in some ways requires a return to sqaure one…re-learning the craft.) I’d love to have Photoshop filters for B&W film/Developer combo’s gone by… SuperXX , Versapan, Royal X pan, all developed in D-76… Adox KB17 in Rodinol…Tri -X in Acufine… Panatomic X and Tri X in Microdol. Each of these combinations produced their own graphic signatures that were part of the grammar of photographic statement. They were in a sense firmware menu selections in analog craft. I’d also love to have color Photoshop filters yielding the slide renditions of Kodachrome 64, Agfachrome 64, Anscochrome 100, Gaveartchrome (from Belgium) and the house brand 3M slide film sold in many discount stores. There are a number of color negative films that would also be interesting to have in the filter palettes: Agfacolor200, Kodacolor Gold. Vericolor VPS to name just a few. A search of the many photography on-line forums turned up a proprietary professional package of photoshop plug-ins which seems to do about what I’d want these filter to do…except that it costs about seven weeks of my grocery budget. I’m not sure I’m ready to dive into C code to build the filters I want, so maybe I’ll be forced to learn the sequential workflows that will enable me to gain the same end results. This is not for nostalgia. It’s for having quickly available tools to work the visual grammar of digital source files that are shaped…mandated… by the Commanding Canon, the Nefarious Nikon or the Mind of Minolta. The French Academe had their aesthetic criteria; Cezanne had his. The digital image industry has theirs; I’m still learning mine.
It appears that I’ve enough material left on this subject for Part Three of “Re-learning the Craft.” but I feel a need to move on by posting what I’ve gotten so far. Here’s a parting pair of before and after images.
There is an internet current term for what I’ve done here: it’s called “Polishing Turds !” The image is basically weak and not very informative without it’s backstory…hiking along a backwater of the Wisconsin River in an environmental education center outside the tourist mecca of Wisconsin Dells. It was a nice spot…but this picture really doesn’t do it justice even after extensive tinkering with photoshop Lasso tools and massive messing with the color balances, levels and contrasts of several layers. The ‘after’ version is somewhat better, but a few minutes further exploring the picture on-site in-camera would have been far more productive than many minutes of post-process “polishing.”
‘Nuff for now…Part Three is in the pipeline.”
# 133 Relearning the Craft…That’s the Least of It. Part One.
Thinking about pictures…making pictures…selling pictures. ? What’s the point ? What’s the market ??
I’ve completely lost the vector of being a photographer in this era. In the early times of knowing I wanted to be a photographer there was magic in it.
It was also a recognized profession and there were a fair assortment of paths between learning the art and technique…the craft…and finding a livelihood. There was also the hobby…family and vacation pictures…slide shows after Christmas dinner and all that stuff. Now, it seems, the distinctions have blurred. The camera industry and the digital revolution have changed the entire game into something I can hardly grok. There are photography blogs and sites and markets and tutorials beyond count on the web. Tens of thousands have on-line stores where you can put picture purchases on plastic funny-money accounts. There are still professional photography businesses in the phone book…if you can find a paper phone book. I used to know what they did, and how they charged for doing it, but as I look at the scene today I haven’t a clue how it’s done today. Someone must be deriving a livelihood, but it surely isn’t me.
Part of the problem here has nothing to do with my talent or skill as a photographer. I may have it…or not. I know very well that most of my current work falls outside the universe of current style. I’ve posted here about that in the past and pro’lly will again.
The current escarpment blocking my ascent is a deepening battle with agoraphobia, the dread of crowds and the marketplace. I don’t understand and can’t handle basic social games that most people learn as four year olds in Sandbox 101. This mental region has been described as “social paraplegia” or “social dyslexia” …the inability to read and appropriately respond to or act on social messages. A mild case produces wallflowers, medium cases are just debilitating…severe cases become mentally disturbed or catatonic. I’m somewhere in the middle. It’s hard to market work when there is dread in every communication.
So why bother?
Well, “winners never quit, quitters never win.” (attrib. Vince Lombari). I’ve been doing this since I was eleven…that’s more than sixty years, and I AM counting. Besides, what else am I going to do. ??
I still can access the magic of watching a fine print becoming realized in a print tray… a joy which seldom extends to watching a print emerge from a digital inkjet printer. I can also still remember and relate with the ambition of the late 1950’s thru the early 1980’s that humanist photographers could exert a positive force on the direction of society. There are still today photographers who believe in that ambition, but the milieu in which they operate these days is confused beyond recognition and they have become tiny signals in the huge noise of cute cat pictures, selfies, Etsy gift shops, online galleries and photobombs. There are more photo stock agencies operating these days than could possibly be imagined a generation ago. The price of pictures approaches zero as the supply approaches infinity. The profession has seldom been an outstanding path to a livelihood, even for the young, healthy and unencumbered. How can creaky old farts like me manage it today ?
How you manage it is your problem.
How to manage it for myself is certainly my problem.
How, at an age when the body is already deteriorating to the point where the physical demands of the work are daunting, can I go about competing in a vastly overpopulated field ? How in the world can someone increasingly agoraphobic operate in an economic world where networking with other people is almost universally recognized as prerequisite for success ??? It has been said that on the internet no one knows if you are black, tiny, yellow, a genius, green, stupid, talented, obnoxious or agoraphobic until you show them. It’s all about brand management…and being software savvy. Software savvy comes hard. I was born when Alan Turing was legally a sex criminal…before the punchcard computers of Bletchley Park cracked the Enigma codes of the Third Reich… and remember the joyous geeks entering an OpSys to the 8080’s one bit at a time by hand with toggle switches. ? I can follow the pace of today’s technology ?
I know from Java ? I know from Java that it always demands more resources and I’ve never seen any direct benefit from it.
I know from software ? I know from software that it’s usually expensive and almost always frustrating. The GNU public license allows free ! frustrating software. ? I know from HTML ? I know from HTML that it pro’lly won’t come out looking like I wanted it to, but I can pro’lly thrash my way to something close.
As for the human networking part of the problem I can just do what I can as best I can. ? Did you know that people can call themselves social dyslexia therapists only if they are certified by a Dot ORG in the U.K. that has an international service mark on the very term ?? They charge over a KiloEuro for certification! Certified practitioners charge for an hour therapy session about my two week grocery budget ! So much for seeking help in that agora ! The prices are enough to make you MORE agoraphobic. So what to do ?
A great classical concert virtuouso…I forget which one…said to the effect “If I skip practice for a day, only I know it. If I skip two days my agent knows it. If I skip for three days the whole audience knows it.” Photography like music depends a lot on timing which in turn depends a lot on practice. Many of my life choices make practicing photography difficult these days. Field work costs gasoline and large blocks of time and even the digital realm has cash costs.
Still, I need to keep the tools sharp.
Part two of this thread will be about post processing tools as I am currently learning them.
One of the first things I managed to learn in Photoshop post processing is that sometimes…more often then you’d think…the best option is “Don”t Mess With It !” This picture of the grain hopper car on a CSX siding in Cortland NY was shot both in color, and with the camera’s B&W option. I could spend a lot of time in Photoshop tinkering with this picture and only make it less effective.
Part Two of this post will be a some before and after pictures photoshopped in CS2 entirely as self tutorials. I want to address both the aesthetic logic and the craft workflow.
Part Two may have to wait a week or so as this Friday, 13 Dec.’13…I’m not especially superstitious, I’ll be showing lots of my work at the Alternative’s FCU Holiday Market in the credit union lobby, 125 North Fulton St. Ithaca, NY. Some of my pictures may make fine holiday gifts. I hope Ithaca friends will stop by.
#132 Ubuntu in A Strange Land
….”dish heaya ma fust post produced entirely in the linux environment. I gotta keep it simple till I understand the workflow a little better.
Today I took a slightly clandestine side trip…photo safari…to Wisconsin Dells. My New Jersey ‘paisans’ can imagine the town as SeaSide Heights, NJ, before Hurricane Sandy but raised an entire order of magnitude. I’d seen the brochures…scanned the web pages…and knew somewhat what to expect. I just couldn’t grok the MAGnitude ! I wanted to feel and experience the whole tourist trap…which I why I had to go all alone…but I also wanted to see if anything of the original values remained. After all, I’ve observed, all the tourist trap towns got to be where they are because there was Something ! worth going there for to begin with.
The Dells, as a town, got to be where it is because of the Wisconsin River. The more I see of it the better I like it….the river, that is.
On a cold winter day when the sky is so clear it’s hard to imagine what a madhouse this town must be in height of its season.
Even on a day with the thermometer in the teens (F.) there are still a few places trolling lures for dollars.
I wanted to find some of the places where I could feel what drew people to the Dells so long ago. There are places you can still find it.
‘Nuff for now: maybe I’ll squabble with the HTML again tomorrow to see if I can’t get the piece to lay out more appealingly.
#131 Hip 2B Square
It’s been a while since I’ve put up a substantive post here. Life has been busy in other arenas.
Some may have seen posts elsewhere about my trials with repairing the foundation of the house under my darkroom. I was hard put to get into photo work when this huge project was hanging over me. It ate the entire summer, but fortunately has been fought to deadlock until next spring.
The vector of what little photography I’ve been able to fit into the summer field work season got changed by a chance encounter in a junk/antique store where I took a a gamble of a week-and-a-halves groceries for a tired but genuine 1951 Auto-Rollieflex. It had survived many, many rolls of film, had some problems, but seemed worth a chance. I’ve never before owned a a Rollie, though some of my best early work was done with ones loaned to me. A Korean War U.S. Airforce photo technician came out of retirement and reconditioned this one for me. Here are some of the directions it has led me down.
The square format twin-lens Rollie, with the image in the finder reversed right to left, is a camera that prefers subjects that move only very slowly. This strip on the theme of industrial archeology moves at a pace understood in decades. All three of these locations have about them an ambiance and evocation of almost mystical history. The dual gauge railroad yard of the East Broad Top RR is lost in plain sight behind the Mickie D’s of Mount Union. It’s been maybe twenty five years since the coal trains rattled into the yard. Dozens of them are still there, masked by a jungle growth of trees and weeds Some of which have grown right through the rusted out hopper cars. The town life goes on all around it but there is a hidden riot of shapes and colors and growths…a visual feast for eye or camera. There are more than half a dozen stub tracks in there. One of them holds the oldest boxcar I’ve ever seen.
Of particular interest is the partially restored and extensively researched pig iron smelter village at Greenwood Furnace state park near Huntingdon, PA. http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/Greenwood.html I’ve been exploring this site for several years as part of a visit in early autumn for a fine small amateur musicians gathering I count as a highlight of my musical years.
Ore for the furnace was dug with pick and shovels from on open slash mine four miles away. It was carried to the loading ramp up the side of the furnace along a tramway, first with wooden, then later with iron rails. The carts were hauled by mules. You can still walk the tramway trail today and see remains of the rotten, mossy cross ties. One spot I couldn’t adequately photograph was a trench, ninety feet long, maybe eight feet wide, and six or seven feet deep where the laborers hit a particularly rich seam of ore. From that one trench they loaded, by labor of back and arms and legs, somewhere about 860 US tons, or sixty ore cart loads of iron bearing rock.
“Good Morning, Captain…Good Morning Shine…Do you need another mule skinner out on your new road line. I like to work…I’m rollin’ all the time…and I can pop my initials on a mule’s, behind.” Jimmy Rodgers
The Rollieflex itself didn’t make the images of the following two themes. I have several 6cm square format cameras. Someday I may hit the Lotto and work with a real Hasselbladski…no matter…it’s the deliberate approach of the format that’s rekindled my dedication to using analog silver photochemical processes where appropriate.
There are some older technologies, like analog silver photochemical processes, or barn raising, that are not completely obsolete, and in fact can be so important to preserve that someone, somehow has to find the resources to do it even though it seems in the short run uneconomic. Our Uncle Sam owns the replica East Indiaman barque Friendship of Salem as part of our living history. Boatyards along the Atlantic seaboard are paid for its maintenance so that someone retains and preserves the skills to, for example, rig the foretopmast of a full rigged merchant ship. It’s a classroom as well as a museum.
One view of photographic aesthetics holds that a picture should always be able to stand completely on it’s own as a visual statement for which no text is necessary. In some cases this may be true…but I’m coming to feel that the extreme of this aesthetic creates the high impact, low information content of so much current imaging. I find myself more and more being curious about the backstory of interesting pictures…find that many of them make no sense without the related real information, and recently fell hook, line and cliche for an image posted on a social media site which purported to show one thing and turned out to have a very different back story.
These pictures from the town lands of Sandwich, Mass., on Olde Cape Cod really need their backstories to be useful to our understanding of some genuinely important environmental issues. I’m not going to tell the backstories..only give you hints that will allow you to follow up the history if you’re interested. The clay of Sandwich gave rise to a pottery industry that created domestic kitchenware for the early settlers and still turns profits for knowledgeable (or unscrupulous) antique dealers. It also irreparably altered the agricultural resources of the region. From this bleak landscape in the public trust came an essential commodity creating metropolitan Boston. Today it’s pretty much forgotten…so are lessons that should be revived.
In working with the Rollie I came to feel even more strongly than before that I don’t want to abandon all of analog silver photochemical processes in favor of the sometimes obvious advantages of digital image making. For some themes the craftsmanly, as opposed to technically, centered approach seems to lead more directly to understanding of complex, longer gestating, ideas. Just as the invention of silver photography didn’t destroy the manual visual arts, but rather changed their universe of discourse, digital imaging doesn’t negate traditional photography. It allows us to change our vectors.
These pictures have all been downwardly modified for posting on line. The original prints are nominally 11 x 11″ and can only be seen as prints. They are priced at $165 + tax, S&H.
‘Nuff for now: Next post: I need to move forward with my conversion from Microsoft and Adobe products to open source based workflow of the imaging that I do in the digital realm. I hope to be able to post about that. Also upcoming is the holiday art fair season.
#130 A quickie…no pictures yet.
Last Sunday I went to Ithaca’s Porchfest, a neat event where 140 bands get one hour sets in four possible hours on about 35 front porches in the Fall Creek neighbourhood. This post isn’t about Porchfest. I have a mini review on my facebook page if you are curious. While there primarily for the music I carried my much loved 1955 Nikon S-2 rangefinder film camera and shot about half a roll. I found myself explaining to those who asked ” ? You still shoot film ?” Yes, I still shoot film. Several times I added “Ernest Hemingway supposedly said “Write Each And Every Word As If It Were To Be Tattooed On Your Skin.” A film photographer is disciplined to shoot each frame as if it were going to cost them a quarter for the parking meter.
There are costs associated with making pictures. Is this, or that, picture worth making in silver…or only in cyber bits…somewhere in the cloud ?
Just finished with a third evening in the darkroom where printed 22 8×8″ workprints from my new acquaintance with a 1951 Auto Rollieflex. None of these pictures are likely to appear here on my blogsite. I’d be proud to show you ( or sell you ) a few of these jewels. Tomorrow evening again in the darkroom making final prints…11 x 11 or 16 x 16 ? that is the question. ’nuff for now. -30-
A friend found out about this show only after it closed, so it occurred to me to post the pictures and commentary here. . . by request.
Although I am forced by current market and viewer expectations to operate in the digital realm I prefer traditional photochemical processes for many picture making tasks and for almost all of my artistic work. I consider film photography no more rendered obsolete by digital imaging than drawing and painting were rendered redundant by photography. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Such digital image processing as I’ve done in the last decade has been entirely accomplished with used, recycled and re purposed equipment…most of it from Finger Lakes Re-Use. Largely this is because it has taken half a century for me to accumulate and learn to use the analog equipment I have, and partly because I am not in a financial position to throw vast amounts of money at the latest of the constantly changing array of digital gadgets. Learning to use ‘behind the curve’ technology means that it is not immediately junked, but rather used out, in a reasonable, sustainable, service life. Additionally, I’m thus forced to understand the workings of the technology I decide to adopt. Since I am not a digital native this requires learning the compatibilities and interfaces of devices from chaotic markets.
The picture “Ship Breaking Bath,” was made on the banks of the Kennebec River in Maine, upstream from Bath Iron Works. At that time the steel of ships past their useful service life was still reused within the US economy. Maine once was a leading location for ship building for the American merchant marine, the world’s foremost. Today, ship breaking for the salvage and re-use of steel is mostly performed in Bangladesh, Mumbai, Istanbul and Korea…sometimes under nearly inhuman conditions. It has been decades since Bath Iron Works has built any shipping except missile frigates for the U.S. Navy. The American merchant marine would today scarcely exist save for contracts with the DOD Sealift Command. Complex economics dictate these circumstances and no administration of past half century has addressed the problems of global shipping.
“Russian X-Process” is a picture about technological evolution and social change. It was made during the late 1960’s on an abandoned farm in Tompkins County. The technical aspects are interesting in themselves. In the early 1960’s reports reached the west that Soviet spies has developed a technique for making very high speed color photo’s. At that time in the west most color films were limited to a speed equivalent to today’s ISO64. The Russian process allowed espionage at ten times that speed. The process was to partially develop positive color slide film in color negative chemicals, pause the process, and add a step of high speed B&W chemicals. The film was then re-finished with the color negative process. The results, using made-in-USA Kodak materials, delivered the promised speed advantage, but proved an awesome challenge to print with faithful color balance. Kodak concentrated its attention on juicing up it’s own materials and the Russian Cross Process was quickly abandoned, despite its ingenuity. Except by me.
The one roll of film that I processed this way in the late 1960’s contains emotionally evocative pictures of the decay of Tompkins County rural life that I couldn’t discard. Many are personal, but this image of the neglected pump which once supplied a hilltop homestead kept nagging at me for a faithful color rendition that I could never achieve handcrafting dye coupled analog prints. No amount of filtration ever seemed to yield natural appearance. Finally, in PhotoShop, I was able to re-curve the color channels to an accurate representation. The next problem, still not completely solved, was that Windows and Linux drivers for my Finger Lakes Re-Use refurbished HP 9800 printer produced different levels of control over print effects. This print very closely reproduces the graphic effect of the original scene, except for an overlay of forty five years deterioration of the negative emulsion. Still unanswered is why the homestead became abandoned…a generation of work to build a farm. Why did they walk away ?
“Doomed Tree.” Is the clearest statement of my study of this site while on an artist’s residency in Cape Cod National Seashore. The entire residency addressed the re-processing of lifestyles, openness to the lessons of nature and of personal memories. It recapitulated the experiences of Henry Beston’s nature journals and of the Provincetown artist’s colony of half a century ago. It also allowed me to reprocess memory of my own life on Cape Cod ion the early 1960’s. The tree seems a metaphor for my own life…its support blown away by years of winds of change. With each storm more sand joins the shifting dunes, more roots lose their sustenance. There will come a gale….
I re-use analog photo techniques in large part because I find the planned obsolescence and chaos of digital markets distasteful and grappling with manipulations in software to be frequently frustrating…even maddening. I still like working in the traditional craftsmanship of analog photography; nothing quite beats the magic of watching a fine print emerge in the darkroom trays. Unfortunately the economic pressure of the digital world means that the entire idea of silver based photochemistry must be restricted to subjects of actual artistic importance.
OK, Here, with Jordan & Clarissa’s permission sight unseen, is the full deck, 52 pictures from the wedding with the Jokers Removed. At the actual ceremony I photographed in B&W with the same type camera I used to photograph Jordan and the rest of East Hill School in the early 1970′s. It seemed appropriate somehow. At the reception I attempted to move into the 21st century digital realm as best I know how.
For software reasons beyond my understanding or yet ability to control the chronological order of the pictures has been reversed. You could try going to the bottom of the post and working your way up. OR – You could consider the time machine as running backwards. Software drives me nuts sometimes.
#127 Real-Life-Funnies…the little kids revenge.
Two boys were playing in the gravel campground road near the Porta-Potties. There was some altercation, loud, but purely verbal…well, maybe there was some shoving where the littler one got the short end. The bigger one, maybe 11, confident in his superiority, then decided he needed to use the facilities. Maybe there were scatological remarks hurled before he went into the toilet and latched the door. The younger, smaller one, maybe 8, waited until the big kid had time to drop drawers and get installed for a stay on the seat of honor. The little guy searched in the road for suitable missiles. He tried lobbing the rocks onto the fiberglass roof of the outhouse. Perhaps by accident, at first, one rock dropped down the protruding vent pipe. There was a soft “sploosh” and an audible shriek of outraged disgust heard thru the thin plastic walls. The boy outside took a moment to imagine the stone splashing in the blue aromatic fluid under the vent, then he scurried in the road for more ammunition. It took a few rounds loudly bounced off the roof before he got the vector, range and elevation. Then he dropped two in a row, right down the pipe like a crack marine mortar team. One more went amiss, then a third hit. He switched to rapid fire with more noise than accuracy. Then, at the first sound of wads of toilet paper being stripped from the roll he took off at a flat run for the concealment of a sheltering tree line a safe hundred meters away. Don’t always bet on the big kid.