Tag Archives: Friends

New tintypes

I haven’t shot a lot of tintypes lately, and this blog reminds me of that! Two of my good friends have been very patient sitters lately, and I’m posting all the portraits so that you can see how slight direction or camera tilt can change a portrait subtly.

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I’ve also been working hard trying to achieve consistent results in Photoshop for my tintypes. There’s no easy to filter that brings a flat positive scan to the right tint for a tintype, so it’s a slow color-balancing process that I find immensely frustrating.

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My latest acquisition is a 10×12 Vageeswari that is like my beautiful 5×7 on steroids. It’s quite funny to see them together as the 5×7 is dwarfed by the new one. I’ve had quite a bit of trouble finding a lens that will give me full coverage and is within my budget, and in the end I’ve compromised with a lens that should cover 8×10 for portraits. I wasn’t planning on using the full 10×12 capabilities anyway since my silver bath tank is only 8×10.

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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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Camp Tintype

In June I went up to Dundee, New York to take John Coffer‘s wet plate workshop. On the last day he gave us the option of doing two mammoth plates, but I chickened out. A whole plate is about as much as I could manage. Brave Ashley Julin gave it a go and produced a wonderful portrait of Travis Hocutt, John’s assistant for the summer.  The Big Travis plate was a very organic piece of art – bugs and assorted flyaways adhered to varnish as it was drying.

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Amsterdam

Trying a new system…gallery view instead of single picture uploads.

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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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Sunshine State

After readership figures reached an all time low, I thought I should post some more recent photos to get a bit more up to date. I’ve been dabbling in other photographic mediums and thus the blog has fallen aside a bit lately. I do pull my trusty Mamiya out now and again to go for an outing in my home state. Herewith, random adventures from the first half of the year.

 

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Great Rift Valley

Great Rift Valley, Kenya, October 2010.

As I look over the fence, leaving the stall holders pleading for attention behind me, I look at The Start. The Great Rift Valley is where they say it all began, where humankind started to diverge from the other apes.

This part of the valley is now filled with greenhouses sheltering hothouse flowers flown to cold Europe. Many of the workers live in cottages that are not dissimilar to ones that housed factory workers in England during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.

But from high above, none of that is apparent.

“All that we can do, is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is striving to increase at a geometrical ratio; that each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life, and to suffer great destruction. When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.”

Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.”

Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

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Khmer weddings are khrazy

Sorry, I couldn’t resist…This week I went to not one but TWO Khmer weddings (although the second was a wedding without the marriage part). I still haven’t attended an actual marriage ceremony, just the party afterwards. Music is played at top volume at all times (deafeningly loud, which makes conversation difficult), and beer is served on the rocks (unless you’re lucky enough to find a cold box hidden somewhere).

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La vie en France

Digging in some boxes the other day I found one of my first rolls of 120 film. I didn’t take many photographs of my life in France so this feels rather special.

Early summertime, just after cherry season.

The Renault 4, the only manual car I’ve ever driven. Bit of a mistake trying to learn in that, as the gear shift lever is under the dash and thus bears no resembling to driving in any other car. Second lesson was aborted early after 15 – yes, fifteen – stalls when I tried to move into first gear.

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