Friday, January 30, 2009

Cyanotype

Since I tend not to go out and photograph a lot this time of year, I try to catch up on other things. One of the things I'm exploring further is my digital negative workflow. These are negatives of digital files that I use to create prints using older processes that have fallen out of the mainstream. I'm currently using cyanotype since it's cheap. Think blueprints, except instead of line drawings, substitute a photograph.

The short and simple process is that you take a digital photograph, convert it to black and white and invert it to make a negative. The negative file is printed on a clear plastic sheet. You then hand coat a piece of paper with the chemicals, and after drying, place the negative in close contact with the paper and expose under ultraviolet lights. Exposure times run in the minutes, and I've had it run close to an hour depending on the process. It's not a process for the impatient. For cyanotype, you wash the print in water to develop it.

There is a lot more involved in the process to do it right. Things like determining your exposure time, which color of printer ink blocks the uv light the best, and creating a Photoshop curve to make sure you get the correct tonality for the process. This is the part I'm working on. There are seminars that would help, but the information is also available on the web with a little looking. It's not like I'm breaking new ground here. Once I get the process down, I plan on moving on to other chemistries. I'll probably move to Ziatype next, which is a platinum process.

One thing I've noticed while I go through this, is the amount of info that is being written about cyanotype lately. "Black and White" magazine had an article in December about it. Another of the British magazines also had an article about it including how to emulate it in Photoshop. Plus it seems that I've seen other instances lately.

Maybe I'm just sensitive because I'm in the middle of this work. Time will tell if all this exposure prods more people to print in blue.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Printing Out Paper or POP was a alternative photographic process that was covered in a class at the local community college. I was sort of so-so about it, but I kind of wanted to give it another try. The special paper has been unavailable for a while, but it's been said that more was being produced. Well, that's not going to happen. The Chicago Albumen Works has a notice on their web site that explains it better than I.

I'm disappointed and I'm hoping someone else picks it up. I'm not holding my breath though....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Looking at Last Year


I continue to go over my photography from last year. It's been slow, I'm only up to May or so. I'm trying to accomplish two things with this exercise. The first is to come up with my best work from the year. This will let me come up with images for a show later on in the year. The second reason is to winnow out the technically bad and duplicate photos. I have to admit to not doing a very good job on the second objective, but I'm making some progress.

I've also found photos that after looking at them I wonder why I didn't do anything with when I took it. So far I've found 5 or so that I plan on doing more work on once I finish this exercise. That is another reason I don't delete as many as I should. I'm wondering if I will go through this again in the future and I might find something else as my tastes change.

I had really hoped to complete this review by the end on the month, but it's beginning to look like I won't be able to get done until sometime in February. You may see a couple of the second look photos later on this spring.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Links


If you have an old camera you want to use, but can't find 620 film. Here is an easier way to adapt 120 film and you don't have to respool it. I haven't tried it yet, but I plan to.

If you need to waste more time on the web, here is one persons list of the top 100 photography blogs. I'm disappointed I didn't make the list....

If you're handy with a soldering iron, here is one persons DIY flash extender cable. It's for a Nikon, but the same principles should apply to other camera manufacturers. Here's another article on extending your flash cord with network cable.

Justin Quinnell takes pinhole exposures over a long period of time, say for 6 months. Follow the link from this site to the photographers work, or use the other link to build your own pinhole camera.

A Flickr set on building a collapsible light box for $18.

The incoming Obama administration appears to be really following through on their promise to be more transparent. Here is the new White House blog.

A look back at the Bush years. A rant really, but I do like the quote, "A perfect vacuum at the center of a perfect storm".

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.




I was 8 when Dr. King gave his famous speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. While I've heard snippets of the speech, I've never heard the whole thing. Thanks to YouTube, I now have. I hope you'll spend the 15 minutes and listen to it also.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Culture Minister?

Producer Quincey Jones is going to ask President Obama to create a cabinet level post for culture or the arts. I'm not sure that this is a high priority item for the new administration and while I have more questions about it than not, along with a few reservations, I signed it.

Cabinet Post for the Arts petition.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January in Michigan



It's been a low contrast last couple of months. Between the snow, rain or fog, I really haven't had a whole lot of days to go outside and photograph. The few days it's been nice, I've already had other things planned. It's gotten so bad, that I've fallen back to photographing burning light bulb filaments. I figure if I'm going to do this, I need to do it soon before they are all replaced by compact fluorescents.

Of course one of my goals is to get out and photograph in this kind of weather, but so far I've resisted that. I need to work on that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Portraits



Mike, (above in his ugly American tourist outfit), put together a casual portrait shoot at a friends studio. There were 3 setups, 10 photographers and a whole bunch of people to photograph. I didn't do much photography, mainly because I got paged for my "real job" in the middle of it, but what I took I consider pretty pedestrian. Especially compared to what I'm seeing of the photos the other folks took. I still don't really have a clue on posing the person I'm photographing. I need to continue to work on that, but I'm somewhat at a loss on how to get better. Something else to ponder on these dreary winter days.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Retrospective

This is the time of year when it seems everyone is making resolutions, goals and looking back at what happened last year. I have to admit, I'm not exactly immune from this trend, as you've seen from my goals post earlier.

I was listening to this podcast from Martin Bailey, where he picked his top 10 photographs from last year. If you haven't listened to it, you should, he has some amazing photography. If you listen in iTunes, you will see the photographs as he talks about them. After thinking about it for all of 10 minutes, I've decided that I'm going to go through my photographs I took last year and try to pick out my 10 favorites. I think this will help me in a couple of ways.

The first one is a little pedestrian. I tend to keep everything I've taken. While I'm doing this exercise, I've decided I'm going to clean up a little bit and at least delete the really technically bad photos.

The second way it will help me is that it gives me a baseline for the future. If I have a selection of photographs I feel are my personal best, I can review those in the years ahead and see how this journey is going.

Lastly, it will help me with one of my personal goals. Once I finish selecting these photos, I will have the nucleus of a personal show. Of course there will be the mundane tasks of printing and framing them, but the hard part will be done.

I'm undecided if I will post them online or not at the moment, I'll have to see what I come up with.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jpg Mag shuts down

JPG Magazine has shut down, though since the announcement some people have expressed interest in helping it keep running.

I've always been of two minds about this magazine. It was the ultimate in democratic photography. You uploaded photos for a particular theme and they were voted on. The most popular were picked for the magazine. I thought some of the work was excellent. I also thought some of it was, shall we say, less than excellent. You tended to see a lot of highly processed work that tended to be eye catching. Duh, if it wasn't eye catching it wouldn't get picked. Sometimes it seemed that photos were picked just because they were bright and shiny.

Anyway, the magazine archives are opened up for free downloads until they shut down on Monday January 5th. There are a couple posts on the magazines blog about what is going on.


http://www.jpgmag.com

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Goals


I've had bad luck with resolutions in the past, so I've decided to do goals instead. I did have a long list of "resolutions", but I've distilled them down to 3.

1. Get out and photograph more. Especially in situations where I'm not comfortable at the moment, like inclement weather or a studio setting. This was the essence of most of what I wanted to do this year.

2. Complete a project. Specifically complete the Solo Photo Book Month project. If I'm able to do another type of project, that would be good also.

3. Work up a solo show somewhere. While my work has been out in public a few times this year, it has always been included with work of other photographers. I want to put together a body of work that I'm comfortable showing.

Three simple statements, all that include a lot of work. We'll see how I do.