Sunday, December 2, 2012

On taking risks, making mistakes?.....

Next time you go out on a limb?... take a saw along! Use it...... ( he-he!)

A recent article in the New Yorker magazine reminded me of why I like traditional darkroom montage, and even though digital is marvelous, it can't replace those three trays, and a wash.
The article was about the Grateful Dead, it's very long, it traces the emergence of the band and how it advanced live performance, sound technology, and the underground market for concert tapes... and the huge library of live recordings that exist.
The thing I found relevant to my work is the improvisation, the risk taking they did.
Just when you thought they were about to fall apart, they turned a corner and came together.
And vice versa, just when you thought they couldn't take you any higher, they came undone.

Grateful Dead article:

It's long read, well worth your time.

Same is true in my darkroom - sometimes (most of the time actually) a print will emerge in the dektol that i didn't quite expect, and could only partially plan in advance.

The most memorable (from my point of view) image is what seems to be the one everyone likes the best - 'Edge of Town'.

All the negs were made on the same 2 week road trip: The abandoned building on the left:

...the silhouette of the Indian ruin at the top/right, a desert landscape at the bottom right... and the one that tied it all together, just a simple shot of some high desert clouds.
I started with three sheets exposing the first three negs pretty much identically, developed one to see how it was shaping up. I knew i had an empty area that turned out to be larger than i thought.

Rummaging thru proof sheets, i came upon this sky:

I exposed it on #2 sheet.
#2 told me that the neg was right, my exposure was not.

I am now at the baseball equivalent of '3 balls, 2 strikes'....
I've got one more sheet left, if this doesn't work, it'll all be for naught.
I managed to hit the next one out of the park. :-)

On to the present/ recent work........
I did a 2 day darkroom session a few months ago, that sharpened the focus on 'risk, failure, and success'... and the relationship between them.
First print was a continuation of a previous thread - a desert landscape, with 'something else' burned in to the sky.
Here's the 'previous/thread' image:

And the new print:

Not much risk....'Nice, but nothing new'. I am feeling like maybe i am repeating myself?... which is not neccessarily a bad thing, but still i am a bit disappointed.

The second one, i took a risk, i had done a sketch:

But at the last moment substituted a different 'cave/hole' on the right. It was not a nice sharp neg, there was motion blur, and though i thought it would work, it didn't hang together.

Trying to add a figure/silhouette made things worse.

(After looking at it for a while, i realized what it needed... and i will be doing this one again, soon. Perhaps as a 'hybrid' - the first part being a darkroom print which is then scanned and then added to digitally -  a new way to work, for sure, this opens up new doors.)

The third print blew open new bigger doors that I am still pondering!
Here's the P'shop sketch:

It is a montage of 2 sandwiches:

At the bottom, a campfire shot in Joshua Tree many years ago, and a shaft of light inside an old building with a starcross filter, and a thin neg of some clouds.

The top is a 3 way sandwich of: a huge old oak tree at Jack London Historical park in northern CA,  some artificial 'stars' (just a big black card w/ some holes punched in it, a light behind it, shot thru a star- cross filter) and a lith neg of some birds in flight.
Two exposures, 3 negs each.

I added a bit more 'starcross' beams coming thru the tree w/ handcoloring, and digitally. There ain't much difference between them.

This one definitely gives me a whole new way to work, but it's harder because I can't change the size or anything else about a negative, it is what it is. I think the montages will be much 'richer', and a real challenge to work out.... but i am up for it!

Larger images as always:

 My 'photoshop sketch book' is gettin' pretty fat, the Xmas/year end vacation I'll be sloppin' some dektol around, so stop in around mid-January.

The whatever catches my eye file this month includes a recommendation to add this blog on your bookmarks, 'behold' at

Then and Now Come Together at the Grand Canyon
By Alyssa Coppelman

Photo © Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Posted Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 mark_klett_and_byron_wolfe_grand_canyon_images_then_and_now_photos.html


Dissecting Photographic Specimens With Michael Mapes
By Christopher Jobson


November 12, 2012
A Question of Color — Answered
Rolling blue waves hit the Antarctic coastline
These brilliant blue beauties, which look like tidal waves frozen at their highest point, were captured by French astrophysicist (and part-time photographer) Tony Travouillon as he travelled across Antarctica.

Have yourself a very merry 'christ-moose'!!!!!!!