Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So much for New Year's resolutions

Sadly, I was unable to fulfill my desire to make a photograph a day in 2011. In the course of a day I was unable to accomplish all that I needed to do and make a photograph. I chose not to, in desperation, whip out the camera and take another photograph of my cats to maintain my requirement. I think that in the long run that would have been unfulfilling. Rather I intend to make at least one very good a photograph once a week.
I have been frantic this new year preparing for our trip to New York for the Power Portfolio Reviews in Brooklyn. Since I have been living in Southern California for the last twenty years I am not all that prepared for tons of snow, so I pray the weather will mellow once we arrive. I've reprinted my "Lakewood" portfolio using Epson's Exhibition Fiber, and I am very pleased with the results. The paper is thick so it can be handled without bending, and it's semi-glossy surface brings a nice punch to the photographs. In addition, I've also ordered a new custom portfolio for the "Lakewood" project, see mach up above designed by my friend and mentor F Ron Miller. Years ago we used to live in the same bungalow complex in West Hollywood. He completely gets my sensibilities, so I just send him the artwork and words and he arranges it beautifully. What I most admire about Ron's work is his knowledge and use of fonts.
I've put so much time and energy into the Lakewood it deserved a handsome portfolio. The label on the front of the portfolio is letter pressed and reads "Lakewood: Portraits of a Sacred American Suburb." Letter press is an old process that stamps the type onto a thick piece of of card stock. It's expensive, but it adds a second dimension to the portfolio. The work was done at Aardvark, the one place in Los Angeles that still does this process. The guys there were very accommodating considering the small magnitude of my order. I was there at "press check" giving the approval of the final layout and colors, then watched these well tuned machines over 100 years old create this beautiful label (see above).
Finally, yesterday in the middle of the Los Angeles River in Long Beach, with the help of Sydney, I photographed my nude self-portrait for Brian's portrait class. I made the photograph with my 4x5, so even with Sydney's help I'm not sure at all what it will look like. I look forward to seeing the results. I will post it, but I guarantee you it will be cropped. Cheers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Photo per Day

4. 9 I 2011, Downtown Long Beach, 1st Saturday of the month art walk.

3. 7 I 2011
2. 5 I 2011, Alamitos Bay

  1. 1 I 2011

This year I intend to make a photograph a day then post at least one photo from each day of the year. However, on some days I will be shooting film, so it may be a month before I'll be able to post an image for that day on this blog. Or perhaps even longer, because I may shoot an image which may lie dormant in one of my Hasselblad backs until I get around to finishing the roll of film, taking it to L.A. to be developed, selected, scanned, cleaned up and adjusted, sized down and finally posted. Oh dear, it's so much easier shooting digital.
9 days into the new year I have not failed to make a daily image, however one image I shot on 3 I 2011 I accidentally deleted in Aperture. It was a photographs of some limes I took with the 5D Mark II @ ISO 4000. It wasn't very good. I just wanted to see what a digital image looked like at that ISO. I sure looked noisy on the back of the camera.
The first image made on New Year's day-above- was made with Sydney's Canon G-12 that Santa left in sock for Xmas that she so kindly let me borrow to make this photo at Badwater in Death Valley. Due to the recent heavy rains the brine pond was deep with beautiful reflections. I made other 4x5 images on 2 I 2011 with my Super Graphic and will post those later once I scan the film.

4 I 2011- I made images on film for my project: "Lakewood: A Photographic Journal of a Sacred American Suburb."

5 I 2011- I am working on a project for my friend Mark Shadrow's real estate website. In this project I make images at Long Beach's cool locations. This image is of Alamitos Bay seen from Naples in southeast Long Beach.

6 I 2011- Lakewood, see description for 4 I 2011.

7 I 2011- Another for Mark Shandrow's website in the Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach.

8 I 2011- Another for Mark Shandrow's website taken in downtown Long Beach during 1st Saturday of the month artwalk.

9 I 2011- Lakewood, see description on 4 I 2011.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Death Valley

Over the New Year's weekend Sydney and I took a road trip to Death Valley. Ignoring the getting trapped for 3 hours on I-15's Cajun pass by the returning Las Vegas crowd and the snow dropping below 2500 feet it was a wonderful trip. Sydney brought her new Canon G-12 that Santa left in her sock, and I my very old Super Graphic that I got for a song. The uploaded images are from her camera; my sheets have yet to be developed. She shot 300 images, I 30. There were photographers all over the park, mostly amateur, but by the looks of the some of the gear I saw there were many serious amateurs and a few pros in the mix. Except for one other guy porting a 4x5 everyone was shooting digital.
If you've read any of my previous posts you know I am stuck in the middle between analog and digital. Let me tell you it's not a very pleasant place to be. Digital photographic technology is expanding so rapidly that if you're not on top of it you're eating binary dust with one hand still holding your film camera. During our trip there were moments where I felt very stupid and archaic carrying my heavy tripod and film holders. It would have been much worse if Sydney wasn't assisting me. She shot with her G-12 and simultaneously assisted me. I've got the best wife!
While on the dunes we ran into a couple of French-Canadien photographers, Remi and Guillaume. When I walked up the dune breathing heavily due to the long climb up and down the sand with my 4x5 and heavy tripod on my shoulder to where Remi was shooting I noted he was using a neutral density gradation filter to darken the sky of his image. I jokingly announced "A gradation filter, while that's cheating!" They got the gist of my joke, because gradation filters were used long before the digital camera was created. Well, in ear shot was a another serious amateur who took offense to my joke, and yelled rather coarsely "Why is it cheating!" I didn't reply to her hostility. She didn't get that the joke was on me.
Remi was kind enough to show me the affect his filter had on the sky. The only filters I use are a yellow and a red to darken the blue skies or add contrast to my black and white images, yet I was very impressed with what I saw on the back of Remi's camera. I chatted with Guillaume and Remi for a while and was very impressed with their knowledge and gear. They had everything they needed professionally organized in their photography backpacks. They had modern gear and they were young and mobile. The sun was setting, the contour shapes I had trekked nearly a mile to photograph were fading and still to far away. I didn't have a lens to capture to make an image, so I returned to the car feeling very dejected with Sydney trailing me happily snapping away with her G-12. I began doubting myself thinking I was an old stubborn codger stuck in the past.
Yet this was New Year's Eve and I was not about to let my doubts spoil the evening. Before dinner Sydney and I toasted the end of 2010 by sipping on a wonderfully cheap Napa Valley sparkling wine. At the Stove pipe Inn we had the worst Cornish Hen ever placed on one's plate, yet after dessert we went to the bar and were actually, at least I was, entertained by the band consisting of a couple of old rock and rollers. I capped the evening off with a shot of Jameson Irish Whisky. We were back in the room by 10:00 pm and due to the long day of driving and hiking we sadly passed out about an hour before 2011 began.
The following day we travelled a couple hundred feet below sea level to Badwater. There it was magical. The pool of brackish water was deep enough for one distant visiter to Kayak upon. It also created marvelous reflections and there were a plethora of tourists making photographs. Perhaps I was reveling in optimism due to the new year but my bad mood from the day before had dissipated, and once again I unfolded the Super Graphic. But this time I didn't bother myself with what everyone else was shooting. I just concerned myself with my image, and what I could do with my analog camera. I don't know if I took any memorable images; I'll just have to wait to view the results upon development. If I have any keepers I'll show them to you in a future post. But I do know that when I am making my photograph I've kept the demons at bay and I'm content. Until then Happy 2011!!