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Photography Round up

I encourage you to take a look at Raul Gutierrez’s work and his blog, Heading East. He’s having a print sale at the moment, so there are some incredible discounts available. I love his “Man on the Hotan Road” so much. Some of his prints are also for sale on 20×200 (and Christmas is coming up. I’m just sayin’.).I’ve been to the areas that he photographed in his “Travels Without Maps” series, so it resonates with me.

In unrelated photography news, Annie Leibovitz talked about her new book Pilgrimage on NPR yesterday (I ❤ NPR, I just do). NPR has created a slideshow of photos from it. I’ve just returned from the briefest of visits to the UK, where I visited Julia Margaret Cameron’s home, Dimbola Lodge, and I caught the interview yesterday just at the part where Leibovitz discussed some of Cameron’s work. With the visit fresh in my mind, I found it interesting to think of Leibovitz roaming the house recently, photographing fragments of Cameron’s life.

Their work has some parallels. They both photographed celebrities of their time and became known for it. Cameron moved in educated circles; her photograph of Charles Darwin is the one I always picture in my head when I think of him. Both women’s portrait work has, at times, been derided by art and photography critics, but also lauded.

Cameron lived an extraordinary life, one that begs for a screenplay. She was born and lived in Sri Lanka, where she returned until her death after fifteen years on the Isle of Wight. She took up photography in her forties and seems to have gone after it quite energetically. Dimbola Lodge was saved from demolition a few years ago and turned into a museum, but unfortunately it’s obvious that they lack funding. A hodgepodge of unrelated galleries (including a temporary exhibit of Shell Gas company advertisements from the early 20th century) create an amateurish feel, and I don’t think they do justice to Cameron’s legacy with the small prints of hers that they have on display. It’s a pleasant diversion if you’re on the island, but let’s hope they get some money for improvements soon.

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My first tintype

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my very first tintype at John Coffer‘s workshop. It turned out well, don’t you think? That’s because John was standing behind my shoulder at every turn, telling me the exposure time and working with me to develop, fix, rinse, and varnish it.

Ashley, Alex, Bob and I had a great time. After the first half a day or so, John turned us loose on his equipment, producing tintypes to our heart’s content. Between him and his assistant, Travis, we nailed most of our attempts at correct exposure and development.

Happily, I made some of the most basic mistakes of novice wet-platers during the workshop, including putting the plate in the holder the wrong way. Most mistakes happened, unsurprisingly, when we were either tired or rushed or both. Or sometimes the chemicals just didn’t play nice, like with this plate:

The fogging is a result of contamination of some kind. John is a great model, however, and posed until I got it right on the third plate:

Experienced wet plate photographers will be able to see developer pour problems and fogging, perhaps from the hot weather, at the bottom right. But I like happy accidents.

The tintyping bug bit me on the workshop, and I’ve since started assembling the bits and bobs needed to start shooting at home. It’s throwing up challenges at every turn, from fitting a lens to a lens board, to ordering chemicals, to finding a tripod. Stay tuned.

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Glass Negatives Update

Thanks to sleuthing friends around the world, the mystery of the glass negatives has at least been partially solved, and its more interesting than I could have hoped for.

One friend, Chiharu, said that the girl on the left on the third photo is wearing a typical Japanese school uniform, and the person in the seventh photo is dressed for some kind of farm work.

The plaque identifies the young man as the winner of the Odaka Youth Speech Contest at an event held by the Odaka City Crime Stopper Association. At the bottom, it says, “Given by Youth Association of Chita County, and Prefecture Assembly Member Isao Mori.” According to Chiharu, Odaka is now a part of Nagoya city, Midori-ku.

However, another helpful translator read the town as Odako-cho in Aichi, not Chita (or Chiba), and the name of the assembly member as “Isamu” not “Isao.”

This raises the question of what a Crime Stopper Association is and why it was necessary in Odaka (another friend translated it as “anti-crime assocation”). In any case, if anyone has more info on Japanese crime stoppers of the 40’s, or has some ties to Odaka, please do tell me more.

With huge thanks to Bob Stresino and Chiharu Yarling; Yumi Goto; and Katharina Hesse and Momoe Okabe.

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Angkor Photo Festival

The Angkor Photo Festival now has a blog, in case you’re wondering what we’re getting up to!