Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Desert Hourglass

This is an appropriate image for last post of the year - 'here comes 2014' - an hourglass.
(I've done a previous montage w/ an hourglass (click link below), but it's been a few years, time for another.)


I had a P'shop sketch of this one (below) for several years, the idea is nice, but the twist it uses (the juxtaposition between the rocky cliffs and the small rock in the sand) might be lost on many. (The cliffs at top are hundreds of yards wide - the sand at bottom, perhaps a few feet wide.)
I still liked it, the rock that slid down the sand embankment was not something I made, i just found it that way, it's kinda like the rocks on the 'devil's racetrack' in Death Valley.
No one's quite figured out what makes these rocks leave the paths they do, though every year or so i read another story online about how someone has finally figured it out.
Yeah, right - as soon as we think we have figured it all out, we get proven wrong. Whatta surprise.


Then that light went on in my head one day, and I imagined that the rock sliding could be the bottom part of an hourglass. Sand trickles through a small channel, and piles up in the bottom half, but what if the bottom half was this sliding stone? Aha.
So I found my various hourglass negs (once again, from assignment work done almost 20 years ago) and found an excellent sky to sandwich with the hourglass, it completed the top.
Once i had exposed 4 sheets of this, i discovered that the bottom half wasn't quite so easy, i didn't have a 'bottom half' of an hourglass that was full enough to fit on the sheet.
I exposed the sliding stone anyway, putting off this question for about..oohh.. 15 minutes.
I tried one  neg of the hourglass, which was too subtle, didn't work for me.

I could photoshop it to death. But, nah, for me that's cheating. I've seen too much photography that would sink like a stone 30 years ago, but now..? You can resurrect anything from 'needs some work' all the way to 'miserable'.

After some quick reflection ( can 'reflection' actually be quick? that's kind of an oxymoron, isn't it?) i chose to use a neg of the *top* of the hourglass, sandwiched with a sky on the same roll as the sky used in the top sandwich, sorta the same, sorta different.
OK, i developed a print of that. Nice but the middle is lacking....
I developed another print, with additional burning the middle.
Much better, i can say i got one done right.

but then, the cake needed a little icing.....
added a horizon of sorts, from Nevada somewhere....
very simple, didn't even do a test strip, just blew it in.

After I did these prints, i thought there might be 'color' possibilities here, but digital ones, not hand color - you just can't hand color glossy paper, no way, no how. At least I don't do it - you could use watercolors, that sink in immediately, but that doesn't work for me - I like to be able to blend colors, which you can do w/ oil colors. So I took a digital pass at that, and whaddya bleepin' know, it worked pretty well.

I am finding there are definitely some images (prints) that are best colored by hand... and some that work better w/ digital. That's 'how the cookie crumbles'... as the saying goes.

Here's the images larger:

So what is my fascination w/ time about?
Well... uh.. how can you not be in some way concerned about this? We all have it, we all 'spend' it, it passes by inexorably, and is gone. Of course we only have so much of it, sooner or later...we all gotta go.
I have done many images that work w/ this one, going back to my east coast days (30 years ago). And I also include birds, mostly flocks of them. Maybe gulls at the beach, but also a memory that goes back a loooong time, to when i was just a few years old, in NH, living on a farm. If you came out of the house at sunset, and looked at the barn ( a BIG old classic 2 story barn) you could be treated to a swarm/flock of swallows filling the air, a marvelous sight, it was dusk, the barn was a silhouette, the bird calls a symphony.
So that's why birds figure big in my visual vocabulary.
As for time? I've had a few really nice clocks in my life, most recently this one, i inherited from my dad.

I don't know where or how i got the one in the image above, it looks like a cheapo fold-open thing, but I loved it anyway.

Next post will be 'hand coloring', all the way - recently my Mac mini got very, very ill, and i was computer-less at home for 10 days. But it was not hard to dial back the clock (here we go, 'time' again) to a few years spent at a marvelous apt. in SF, before i got involved w/ computer work, and found plenty to do. Going to Ocean Beach, staying past sunset, shooting film, processing it, taking it all into the darkroom for montage, playing tapes of 'Hearts of Space' radio shows, feeling the building sway in the wind ( i was on the 4th floor, wood frame building) and open east and west facing windows to a breeze that i could fly a kite in if i was so inclined.
I pulled out a dozen prints from recent years, spent many many hours working w/ watercolors, then adding oil color, i really honed my skills, it was excellent. I also re-read a few Frederick Forsyth novels. Compared to him?... i am a writer of virtually no consequence, but I try and have a good time w/ it, hope i have enlightened you to some small degree about this 'photography' thing.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oasis - kinda safe... kinda not safe..

This one is kinda safe, and kinda not safe, at the same time.
The top part is a sandwich, which I've started using a lot lately. It's some mountains in Nevada sandwiched w/ a cactus of some sort.

Here's the land...

 ...and the cactus.

I've always been a 'hi-lite' shooter, that is to say I expose for hi-lites, to hell w/ shadows, if they fall into clear film base/nothingness, that's fine by me. And the cactus was shot that way, and worked fine for being that way.
I keep seeing interesting things happen when 2 images are sandwiched, and one or both are thin(just for hi-lites) negs. You can't see it in the full image on the web, here's a detail:

So this sandwich was the first exposure, at the top.

The bottom part is something I shot at the Jack London State Historical Park in Northern California.
The ranch JL built was marvelous, this is a shot of the Koi pool, with a bench for some serious thinking.
I added the bench and Koi pool, second exposure.

(And the Koi fish? They ain't so stupid, we are seeing more and more examples of this all the time. When I came to the edge of the pool, they noticed me, and gathered, expecting food.
In the last week alone, I have read stories in the media about elk playing on a trampoline, a Orca that had become beached letting humans push it back into the water. It would normally attack anything it deemed a threat, but it knew it was in trouble, sensed the humans would help, and allowed them to do so.
And the German Shepard that suddenly left it's owner's side while on a walk, trotted over to a bundle under a tree, and wouldn't return. When the owner went to investigate, he discovered a baby was wrapped up in the bundle.)

Print # 1 (above) looked pretty good, so I did something i have done before, and i suggest you try it too - if print #1 looks pretty good? it's time to improvise! I did the last two prints w/ the bench/koi pool at smaller and smaller sizes.
The cactus starts as being very oversized, and gets larger, and even larger. This plant is maybe waist high, never seen one any larger than that, it's shot from down low to separate it from any background.

For some reason, this one felt like it could use some color, so first I did details w/ watercolor...

and then out come the cotton balls and Q-tips:

I'm still having trouble with the blue oil color, it just doesn't sink in to the paper as well as Marshall's oils did, so I scanned this, and added a blue gradient to the sky w/ Photoshop. Yeah, I am starting to do a few prints that are what I can only call 'hybrids' - they are largely analog, but get a bit of digital help at the end.

As usual, larger images on a page at my website:


Abit more about Jack London's ranch:

In the 'whatever catches my eye' file this month:

This should be enough to pique your interest:

"a 20-by-24 Polaroid camera, of which there are only eight left in operation."


Atlantic Monthly, November 2013
All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines

"We rely on computers to fly our planes, find our cancers, design our buildings, audit our businesses. That's all well and good. But what happens when the computer fails?"

Good question, very interesting reading.

Nicholas Carr Oct 23 2013, 7:08 PM ET

"One of the most remarkable things about us is also one of the easiest to overlook: each time we collide with the real, we deepen our understanding of the world and become more fully a part of it."

Read that last sentence a few times, let it sink in. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Darkroom - "Spinning World" - improvising, as usual

Last darkroom day of my year-end 2012 darkroom binge, I did an image that had been haunting me for a while, but it was the sky that wasn't quite right. The basic part was a shot made in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.
I walked past it on my way in to the canyon, and didn't 'see' it...
but on my way out, it knocked me in the head, like a 2x4 - the reflection of the landscape in the water, that's the key to this one.
I shot an entire roll on this one, on my Pentax 6x7, this is just part of it:

I had done PSD sketches of this one... and had overlaid an image of a wheel, a neg taken at the end of the trip:

Funny how whatever i take on any particular trip just kind of 'finds a place' w/ other images, on the same trip. Is it because it is... 'the same trip'?

As usual, when i got down to printing, the sketch was just a starting point. I exposed the landscape first, dodging out the blank sky & some of the distant rockscape, and holding back the water at the bottom a bit. Then I added a much more interesting sky, both top and bottom, and developed one copy of that, I had 2 more sheets left.

So I added the 'wheel', once again exposing top and bottom one at a time.


So it's 5 exposures all together. Took less than 2 hours, when i get goin', i really bang it out, not much hesitation.

I was recently featured at a site called 'Analog Advocates', the interview has a good bit to say about my process if you're interested:

The site itself is pretty interesting, guess alotta people haven't given up on film and it's many possibilities.

In the 'whatever catches my eye' file this month, 2 items, one very amusing:


And one, very thought provoking:

The Susan Sontag Guide to Photography in the Age of Digital Culture


Happy shooting & printing, to one and all!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

'Combustion' - more darkroom!

Don't know how the idea for this one dropped in to my head, just thankful that it did.
I wake up, too often, at 1AM... what else can I say? I've been doing a lot of small photoshop sketches lately, to try out ideas before pouring out the dektol... but for this one?...amongst the 480 MB's of sketches on my HD, i have no sketch of this one, nothing, nada, zilch. Hey, guess what? The best software is between your ears.

At the bottom, a sandwich of 3 negs: a campfire shot in Joshua Tree NP many years ago, a shaft of light (reflections off water, thru a decaying building on the beach, i used a 'star cross filter') ...and a few clouds - that's the first exposure, dodged out to 'zero' about 2/3rds of the way up.

At the top, another 'sandwich':
A huge tree i shot at Jack London historical park, in northern Ca. ... sandwiched with a few very old lith negs of birds... and pseudo 'stars', just a few holes punched in a black card, shot w/ a star cross filter.
"Sandwiches" are VERY difficult to deal with, you are stuck with the size of what you shot.
When they work? they scream! when they don't, they sink like a stone.
But if i get 1 'scream' for every 2 'sinking stones'...?
That's a pretty good result, i'll take it.

The other three 'rays of light' that compose the 'star-cross' thing in the tree are done manually, handcolored.
It's pretty easy actually: cut a long strip/hole out of tracing paper that's translucent (= you can still see the image below, faintly) and position it *carefully* over the print, tape it down so it stays put. Hand-color in some white... that's it, it's done.
As usual, larger images on a page at my website:


In the 'whatever catches my eye' file this month?
Sand! This is the 'Beach Blog' isn't it? OK, yeah, i thought so.


And if you think film is dead? Got news for ya:


Saturday, August 10, 2013

The more you improvise, the better it gets. Do that!

If i have any advice to pass on to anyone, this would be it = "improvise! fly by the 'seat of yer pants', make it up as you go along!
Do not fall prey to the digital/photoshop creed of tweaking everything to death, and controlling everything all the time."

This is a road to near insanity, don't go there.
Have you ever watched a dog chase it's tail? It's kinda like that.

Many years ago, i wrote this thing called an 'artist's statement', it still rings true:

"....I think it was Robert Rauschenberg (correct me, someone/anyone, if my attribution is wrong) who said it best - "It starts by you telling the picture what it will be -- in the end, the picture tells you what it will be..."

Yep, that's it. Nothing more needs to be said. RR has wrapped it up, entirely.

I've made a habit of pulling out all the negs i want to use in an image before i even start to print. A few years ago i started on a print... then discovered that a neg was not where it should have been, and tracking it down amongst hundreds of rolls was next to impossible.

When i pulled out all the negs for this one, i wasn't happy w/ the way it was shaping up, here's the P'shop sketch:

The campfire flames at the bottom right:

didn't extend very far to the left, making an even 'bottom' a bit trickier than i had anticipated. The window in the abandoned building had too many stray hi-lites from holes in the roof... and the sky was weak, not enough contrast.
It just wasn't working the way i wanted, i had this gut feeling that i needed to come up w/ something else.

So 'plan B' (the image was telling me what it wanted to be) became... make the image vertical - the campfire neg will fill the bottom, drop the window, and just concentrate on the bird emerging from the fire (hence the title 'phoenix').
Much more focused.

It took some effort to get the somewhat blurry image of the bird (it was a crow).

A few years ago, i topped off a desert trip by spending a few days at Pt Reyes, Drake's beach in particular. I was walking along, until i saw something happening that had potential, the way the waves came in and receded. I parked myself, started to eat my sandwich. Then i saw what i thought made some good shots, put the sandwich in my bag, loosely wrapped. It only took 30+ seconds to make the shots, and when i looked back?... the sandwich wrapper was being blown down the beach, the sandwich - GONE! and some gulls flying off w/ food ( MY Food!) in their beaks.

I learned my lesson. Next day, i ate my sandwich sitting in the car, but that attracted attention too. In no time flat i had a gull parked on the hood of the car. And there were crows waiting in the parking lot just a few feet away. Never one to miss a photo opp., i tempted the crows to land on a fence post a few feet from the car with the last of the bread of my sandwich.
It was tricky! I had to put the bread crumbs down on the stump, step back a few feet ( enough for them to approach and snatch) and get off a shot, VERY quickly. I was using a 55mm lense on my Pentax 6x7, wide enough to get it all in. I only got one frame that was worth a damn, it was this one.
Don't call anyone a 'bird-brain' and think it's an insult - it's not.

So the negs on this one are:

The campfire, which has the stuttering effect because i moved the camera vertically during the exposure.

I sandwiched the crow neg w/ a few 'stars', and left the exposure a bit light, so you can see a few details, however blurry, of the bird.

I burned in a few distant birds, that the crow will join soon... then finally i blew in some sky.
3 prints on this one, each one w/more sky, burned in better. All = 'keepers'!

A couple of larger images, & the P'shop sketch:


Wing it, take a chance, go out on a long branch!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another round of Hand coloring....

Spent some time recently hand coloring a few prints that have been lingering for a while.
Quite a while, which actually became something of a problem.

First of all, if you haven't read a previous post of mine about hand coloring, 'all the basics', you really should take it in:


One thing i have corrected/added to this post is:
Yes, ALL CAPS is the equivalent of yelling. I am not quite yelling, but saying most strongly, 'use a non-hardening fixer', and matte paper. You'll be glad you did. :-) Also, don't wait too long to hand color a print, these three were printed a few years ago, and I'll bet that letting them be for a long time led to a certain amount of 'hardening' that made the coloring more difficult than usual. The blues, in particular, just did not sink into the paper well, at all.
Which led me to add an extra step to the image refinement process - scanning the hand-colored print, and correcting the blues w/ photoshop.

My methods/work-flow has changed over the years. Obviously, I start w/ a B&W darkroom print. I scan that at 100%, 300 ppi, so i've got it archived.

I print these out at letter size, on cheapo copy paper so i could do a sketch with colored pencils, to get a better idea of what i wanted to do. I guess i could spending hours more doing this in digital?... I'd much rather do ALL of it in about 30+ minutes with some cotton balls and Q-tips.Yes, i'd rather do it the old fashioned ('by hand') way. I usually do some basic colorization of large areas w/ photoshop, I know that's what I'm going to do w/ the handcoloring.

For these prints? I do some initial 'detail' coloring with a small brush and some watercolor inks.
One thing to do to make the watercolor inks go down right/one good hint on watercolors? add some 'photo-flo' or 'wetting agent' to the water you use, and wet down the areas you want to color, BEFORE you add the color - it'll go down much smoother, you'll be glad you did this, the brush strokes will show MUCH less.
If you are working w/ just 1/4 cup water? 1 drop will do.

Then i did an over hand-color w/ oils, first applying some linseed oil, letting it soak into the paper, then wiping off any excess.
It's hard to get the saturation i want in some areas in just one coat, so i let them dry for a couple of weeks - you really need to let them dry *completely* before you go back and add more, otherwise the oil will still be able to 'seep into the previous layer', and take it off, & you'll end up w/ a miserable mess.
Then i did another round of oil colors on them, in less than 2 hours.
The subtle things i can do by hand are much better than anything digital.
Even after thew second round of hand color, i just couldn't get what i wanted out of the blues, in particular, on two prints. So i scanned the prints, and dragged 'em into photoshop, and solved the problem easily.

So here's the process:

1 - Darkroom print
2 - Scan at 100%, 300ppi, to 'archive' the print.
3 - Do some basic digital colorization, then print that, letter size, on cheapo paper and do some color(planning), w/ colored pencils, as a guide.
4 - Apply what you have learned in step 3...
and do watercolors(for details) ...and then oil colors for all the rest.
5 - Maybe let the print sit around for a while, to dry...and then attack it again, w/ a bit mo' color.
6- A last step?...scan the hand-colored image, and give it another 'kick in the butt' with P'shop.

So here's the three images:

Mountain Mirage
From left to right, the B&W, the sketch, and the final hand coloring.

Top left - the B&W, top right - the sketch, bottom left - the first round of hand coloring, bottom right - the final, w/ additional handcoloring, and some photoshop to saturate the blues extra.

Reservation Required
At left, the twice hand colored version with blues that just didn't sink into the paper, on the right, 'photoshop to the rescue' on the blues.

To see 'em all larger, a page on my site:



In the 'whatever catches my eye' file this month?
Lots of things!

Not a week goes by without another story on the death of analog.


But folks, if you've worked w/ both, you know it's just not that simple.
Here's an interesting discussion of film vs. digital:


'What lurks in the deep water off the most remote inhabited island in the world? This past month, a team of researchers trekked to Tristan da Cunha, an island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, to find out.'

( This is called a Cup Coral - Photo: © British Antartic Survey)



Next Month?... into the darkroom!

Monday, June 10, 2013

I re-opened the comments section! (whoop-dee-doo!)

I'm sure that won't shake your world much.
No surprise, here.
I had closed comments some months ago because virtually 100% of it had become spam, but while researching a previous post about hand-coloring (There will be another hand-coloring post, probably next month), i read a few comments and appreciated that there's actually some people out there reading who benefit from my posts. I am hoping that the hiatus will have discouraged the spammers enough to drop me from their lists. (But I sure as hell ain't holding my breath, ya know?)

So please feel free to speak up, i look forward to intelligent discussion and comments. I'll sift thru the spam if it reappears and bear w/ it.

Yes, even though i send a ton of time in front of this a monitor, i am still a diehard for analog, I still open up the darkroom every few months or so, and my recent round of hand-coloring confirms what I guess I already knew - i can get a whole lot more done in a few hours w/ oil colors, cotton balls and Q-tips than I can w/ Photoshop, in much more time.
Way, waaaay more.

And i really like the way analog is becoming appreciated for it's archival qualities - we are finding that, in the long run, digital is fragile and temporary.
So here's a pertinent link from the 'whatever catches my eye file':

When Artworks Crash: Restorers Face Digital Test
Published: June 9, 2013 - NY Times

"Paintings fade; sculptures chip. Art restorers have long known how to repair those material flaws, so the experience of looking at a Vermeer or a Rodin remains basically unchanged over time. But when creativity is computerized, the art isn’t so easy to fix."


Here's a personal experience along those lines, "digital is fragile and temporary".

A few years ago, my ol' Mac G3 died, over the course of just a few days. The 2 drives in it had been partitioned into 3 sections each, and one by one, each time i started up, another 1 died/failed to show up on the desktop.
At first, i freaked out... then realized that the most major portion of the work had been backed up, it was somewhere over 100 hours of scanning and image prep. When i figured out that the loss was only some digital pix, I breathed a big sigh of relief, and looked across the room to a suitcase that has all the B&W negs I've shot since i moved to Ca. 21 years ago. They are quite intact and will be safe and sound for many years to come.
Flood? I am on the 4th floor, if i am worrying about flood loss at that height? Film is the least of my worries.
Fire? My apt has sprinklers installed, and that suitcase is pretty darn sturdy, and it's wrapped (inside) in a big sheet of plastic.
Earthquake?... once again, if Ca. gets 'the big one' and it is close to San Rafael?....
saving film might be the least of my worries.
An EMP attack by Korea or Iran?... once again, saving film will be the least of my worries.
But will whatever technology exists 10 or 20 years from be able to deal w/ my negs? I suspect so.
Because there is just way too much 'old stuff' for the 'new stuff' to ignore/exclude/ make unuseable.

Here's another pertinent link from the 'whatever catches my eye file':

Vinyl records aren't dead:

I'd *love* to know what my first release copy of Dave mason's first solo album (pressed on 'marbled' vinyl) would  sell for today. It would probably make me faint.
I will be content to still be able to hear:

( a live performance 1977)

studio version

A preview of the hand-color post to come:

As a last word, try and find something good, some glimmer of hope in this crazy-ass world.
I did this montage (below) a few years ago, and that's what it's about - find something good, some glimmer of hope in this crazy-ass world.

I titled it the 'The pass', as in the old line in western movies 'let's cut em off at the pass!'... but you?... should 'pass' on thru. As in the lyric from a Doors song (sad to hear Ray M. died recently) - "Break on thru to the other side".
Do that. :-)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

'Desert' Time

Here's a watch that you won't find in any store, anywhere..
And you can't put it on your wrist.
I've titled it "Desert time".
Glad i took time to revisit a P'shop sketch of this image and then added the 'sandwich' at the top, and a prickly pear cactus along the rim of the sundial, worked out very nicely.
As usual, it started out one way (the first P'shop sketch, below)...

..and ended up coming out of the darkroom much differently.
When/if that stops happening?... i will know it is time to get treatment for alzheimers or dementia... park my ass in an old age home, and play shuffle board and card games.
(Nope, ain't there yet! No way, no how!)

[On second thought, maybe the dementia would be inspiring, and interesting... at least for me, a guy who dropped acid at least 50 times in the late 60's/early 70's.
Hey... who knows... the mind works in mysterious ways, doesn't it?]

For the time being, i am working same as always - some planning, but it's a springboard... and much improvisation.
Improvisation is definitely the best way to go.
I revised the sketch just before i did the print.
The top part is a sandwich of 2 negs - a landscape in Nevada, with this lonely tree growing out of rocks...and a sky.
The bottom part is a sundial, i shot in Golden Gate Park, SF.
But the sundial didn't 'end' the way i wanted... at the bottom.

So I dodged out the bottom part, anything outside the sundial, and then burned in the (prickly pear) cactus.. to surround it ( as in the sketch above), and make it seem to 'float' in desert space...
The sundial definitely becomes a 'desert time piece', the rocks and the tree being the engine to mark time by another standard.

Here's the four negs:

And how did it end up?

It 'ended up' here/ above.

As usual, larger images at a page in my website:


So... given all this, do you know what time it is?
No, i didn't think so, and i don't either... and neither of us should care.


Bear w/ the ads, it's only a few seconds, but definitely listen to Robert Lamm's atonal/ rambling piano intro ( marvelous!).... and continue on.
Chicago's first album was awesome. As was Terry Kath, their lead guitarist.

Another great track, "Beginnings":

Definitely search youtube for 'Chicago+the band' - especially anything w/ Terry Kath.
Signing off... but as always, quoting the Terminator "Ah'll be back". :-)
............. BB

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"There are no rabbits"

That is to say, there are no 'rabbits you can pull out of a hat' to create montage images, there are no easy tricks. Many years ago I came up w/ this "oh-so-catchy/pithy/wise saying", to help me work my way thru learning how to do B&W photomontage.
(No one has written a 'how-to' book about this, maybe i should do it.)
It's a matter of using all the tools at your disposal.. intelligently, creatively, and *one step at a time*... to arrive at a final 'destination'/a great image.. that amazes viewers.

(Basic background will fill in the things i am not explaining in full here - check out my darkroom methods pages: www.bobbennettphoto.net/DarkRm2/index.html )

This one was done 'darkroom', mid 90's.

First and foremost, you gotta have a plan. I did a few illustrations for "Music & Computers" magazine to illustrate stories about how to piece music together digitally. The basic concept was simple: to use jigsaw puzzle pieces filled w/ the different elements that would come together. Simple, but flexible. And 'right on target' as an underlying concept.

I'd been doing illustrations for various Miller Freeman music mags for a while, i had accumulated quite a few negs of individual 'elements' - keyboards, guitars, mixing boards, bands playing, singers at a mic, drumsticks etc etc. They all came in handy.
(Thank you to Guitar Center, 'south of market' in SF for allowing me to shoot anything... so long as i arrived at opening time (10AM) and was gone by 11. I think Miller freeman paved the way on this, much appreciated.)

I spray painted the puzzle pieces white, so i could shoot them and just come up w/ empty pieces, outlines, and shadows. If i wanted to make a piece 'float', i used a bit of putty to prop it up on so there would be a shadow.
So for each illustration, i'd start by arranging the pieces and shooting that neg.
The second important thing about building this one is using RC paper, so you can print a 'guide', dry it out immediately, and it's dimensionally stable, which fiber paper is not so good at. You can then take that guide print, and tape it into position on your easel. That's easy - turn on the enlarger w/ the puzzle piece neg in place, move the guide print around until it lines up, and tape the sucker down to a larger piece of paper, *that stays registered in the easel*

The second not so dark secret to this one is... using this old fashioned stuff called 'amberlith' or 'rubylith'. It is a sheet of plastic base, with a film on one side that can be cut w/ an exacto blade. The red or amber film admits no light. You cut, and peel away, the portions you want to expose.
The exacto has always been a dear friend of mine, for more reasons than art or photography than i can explain.
So i cut quite a few of those, to expose various portions, as necessary.
A brief description?
All puzzle pieces on the right, plus the bottom two in the center, that's one mask.
The piece at top/center... another, for the drumstick.
The pieces on the left all had individual masks, the key boards, the singer, the guitar.
Where there is a 'blur'?.. that's done w/ a small piece of glass streaked w/ vaseline which is placed in a customized/ below the lense 'filter holder'
(see my darkroom techniques pages for more on this one, there's a link to those pages above, & also in the rt. hand column.)

This post is equally relevant for digital montage.
It was called a (rubylith) mask then, and it still is called a 'mask' in photoshop now.
Apply all the above to digital - get out the magic wand tool, select areas..make masks, import all the other images, and use those masks...knock yourself out.
The more things change? the more they remain the same.
You've still got have a plan, you've still got to go one step at a time.

The icing on the cake here is...?
I am sure i hand-colored this print in less than an hour. I was on deadline, time to 'shit or go blind'.
Can you do the same digitally? Maybe so... if so? 'my hat is off' to you.
If not?.... hey, oil paints are cheap, and cotton balls and Q-tips are at any drugstore.
They are MUCH more fun, really.

Here's another one that uses all the same techniques:

On the topic of magic? here's a great music link:

For my next trick, I'll need a volunteer - Warren Zevon

Some interesting photo links this month:

When Eastman Kodak emerges from bankruptcy this summer or fall, it will be a shadow of the blue-chip corporate giant it once was.

A celebrated company whose little yellow packages of film documented generations of birthday parties, weddings and anniversaries, the new Kodak will be more commercially focused, providing printing and imaging services to businesses as well as film to the movie industry.


FYI/FWIW... Hey, guess what??
Hello!..There is still plenty of B&W film, chemistry & paper available!:


I'm tired of reading the 'death of film and traditional' crapola. It's all just a sales pitch, to herd anyone and everyone to digital products. As if American consumerism wasn't pavlovian enough...? Now we've got everything digital breathing down our necks, telling us  'you've got to have this!'..'You've got to have that'.
'You've got to update our browser to get the *latest best shit*!'
Yeah.... right.
**Puh...leeze**! GTF outta here, get over it. Last time i checked, i wasn't a sheep. I suspect you aren't either.
Some nice stuff goin' on elsewhere... 'links du jour'!

Exposures Interview
In Love With My Planet

Dominique Browning spoke with SebastiĆ£o Salgado, the documentary photographer and author, about the inspiration for his forthcoming book “Genesis.”


Not too long ago i did a post about some images of mine, using 'symmetry':


Symmetry is not an new artistic idea, by any means (have you heard of things called  mandalas?)...here's another guy's very nice take on it.

Psychedelic Portuguese Man-of-War Photos Prove God Is a Stoner
By Jakob Schiller - 04.17.13

Enjoy all the above, I hope.
To quote 'ahnold the terminator'...."I'll be back" :-)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How about some more 'beach' in the beach blog!

What do you find at the beach?
One thing for sure, sand. Lots and lots and LOTS of sand!
It is infinitely malleable - if that word throws you, I'll save you from going to a dictionary:

Sand sets the stage for whatever else you might 'find' at the beach - your soul, sanity, peace of mind?
The beach is, after all, the boundary between the 3/10th's of the world we hold dear, the land and all that happens on it... and the 7/10ths of the world that is ocean, in some places 7 miles deep. We explore it relentlessly, and it's like the lyric in a Don Henley song:
"The more I know, the less i understand..."
So here's some sand...

The last one on the right isn't sand but it is a product of the ocean
kicking things around, and then receding.
And it's one of my favorite beach photos.

And some sand that ain't much appreciated:

On April 8, severe winds blew thru SF (up to 75 mph), sent the Ocean Beach sand onto The Great Hiway, the westernmost street in SF, it runs north to south for some 40+ blocks, between the city and the beach. It became, suddenly, impassable.
"Thanks, Mom!"......Once again, 'mother nature' kicks us in the ass!

More/larger images at a page on my site:

A lot of interesting links, things to think about, this month:

Geologic History of North America Gets Overturned
By Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – 4 hrs ago


On Broad Beach, slim progress on restoring sand
Homeowners have spent millions on attorneys, engineers and consultants in an attempt to re-create the beach, which was battered by weather and rising tides.


Heaven’s Gate
Frame for frame, the restored version rivals any motion picture for sheer cinematic beauty.

By Dana Stevens|Posted Friday, March 29, 2013, at 7:11 PM


I was not among those who dissed this film when it was released.
I LOVED it, have watched it several times since, and will be ordering up the new/recut version from NetFlix as soon as it is available. It is drop-dead gorgeous from beginning to end.

A bit more sand? OK....
Voyages | Photo Essay
The Magical Realism of Norwegian Nights



This might be your/our ancestor... think about it...
500-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature With Limbs Under Its Head Unearthed


The best software is between your ears... isn't it?


A Surreal Life With Double-Exposures
By Judith B. Herman
Posted Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at 11:00 AM


For photographer Tierney Gearon, her personal and artistic lives often collide. Her 2008 series “Explosure” not only examines Gearon’s life through double-exposed images, but it also plays upon themes of chance, controversy, and self-exploration.


Picturing the End of Analog


Analog ain't dead yet. I still have a Beseler 45MXII enlarger living in my bathroom...
And a couple of boxes of B&W paper in the fridge. :-)
As the terminator put it so well... "Ah'll be back"!