June 25, 2013

Anotomy of a Shoot w/ The Wee Pixie

Music | Heaven by Lamb

Since moving to Wet Plates as my main passage to photography, my shoot count has plummeted. Even back in the film days, shooting with the Hasselblad, I'd shoot at least 3 rolls, or at least 36 exposures. 35 mm would up that ante to at least 72 exposures for a portrait session. With digital, that count multiplies.

On a recent session I had, which took a little over an hour, we shot 4 exposures - 4 plates... My mind set in the past would have been, We are on a roll, lets keep shooting! But having settled in on my way, I've shot as little as 3 plates for a portrait session, to 6. Granted, the mind set for me on a shoot like this is that I'd like to get at least one killer shot. However, often I find that my collaborators and I bat a 1000 avg.

The Wee Pixie - A woman with many interests and who is a very intersting person.

The Wee Pixie is a woman who I've wanted to photograph recently. I thought she would be a great subject and would have a lot to say. We didn't nearly touch the limit of who she is as a person, but tended to keep things simple, but different for each plate. I love getting to know my subjects during a shoot, because out of context of 2 people getting to know each other, the idea of creating art diffuses some of that tension, at least for me... Under the guise of a photographer, I can be... not me. The funny thing about that is that I tend to communicate much better in that realm than if I were myself, which often, doesn't have a lot to say.

The beauty of seeing what we created shortly after shooting certainly helps in keeping the number of exposures down. With Wee Pixie, we just didn't miss a beat. Four was all it took, and we both knew it...

June 24, 2013

Spreading Out, Spreading Thin?

Music | Kiss the Sky by Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra

I've been pretty focused on working on Wet Plate Collodion, exclusively. I've strayed a bit, recently with getting into Cyanotypes and shooting film for content. My eventual goal is to learn how to print with Platinum Palladium as well. To make things even more diluted, I have been working with the Polaroid Land Camera I just got and Fuji 3000B instant film. I think I can handle being spread out, knowing that the Wet Plates will be the priority.

I had a nice run of having 5 shoots in 4 days last week and was able to shoot exposures thru the Polaroid camera. Besides the nostalgia of using instant film, I do really love how the Fuji film renders a negative. Unlike the contrasty print, the negative brings about nice round edges, excellent contrast range (though I'm finding I like it a tad flat), and a nice natural border.

Ovata, scanned negative with some tone added in PS

Ovata, untouched print rendered by Fuji 3000B

So yes, it is good to explore this new direction, right?

June 23, 2013


Music | She Cries Your Name by Beth Orton

I've been curious about diptych and triptych works and how each of the images relates to the others. Sometimes trying to communicate a message, it takes more than a single image. I didn't have any deep seated meaning in wanting to create a piece with 9 or 16 and maybe eventually a 25 piece structured collage, other than I thought it would be interesting to view the individual images and as a collective whole.

I love Aimée as a muse. I've not had a session with her where I felt we didn't get anything meaningful. I got a last minute opportunity to work with her and made sure she had enough time to work out multiple plates. We actually ended up shooting 12 in all. Even though small, 2.5 inch square final plates, it still a slow process. I didn't realize how draining for me it would be. I will know next time to prepare a bit better to keep my energy level up.

I thought I would try and work a bit faster by prepping one plate after another and shoot 2 plates within a short time period. I'm realizing that when working with Wet Plate Collodion, work with the rules the Photo Gods intended. Turns out 2 of these images are vastly out of focus, something I didn't initially notice as the plates are so small. As soon as I scanned them however, it was apparent.

This was a good exercise and sometime later, I will come up with another idea, maybe another nine or a 16...

June 21, 2013


Music | Galexy of Emptiness by Beth Orton

I was talking with Sarah about how it has been quite sometime since I have done any shooting. I know it is therapy for me because when I go for long periods of time of not creating, it starts to affect my psyche, and not in a good way. It is no wonder why doing this keeps my mind at bay, allowing me some peace.

With the help of my model, we just created something amazingly beautiful. For a period of not more than an hour and a 1/2 together, introductions, selection of wardrobe, some giving some taking, conversation... We shot 4 plates and in between, some instant images and a few digital to get our minds going. One thing leads to another, ideas created out of action.

We didn't shoot a bad plate. This was the last...


I'm feeling much better now...

June 20, 2013

Fuji and Sarah...

Music | Breathe Me by Sia

In between plates, I got to shoot more with the Polaroid and Fuji 3000B Instant film. The camera does tend towards shooting a little dark, but on camera adjustments make it easy to fix. The Fuji film developes a very sharp, contrasty image. I do get taken back to the 70's seeing the beautiful black and white print with the big white border. As nice as the print is, I'm seeing the real beauty in the negative. The scanned results, inverted to a positive renders round edges, subtle tonal range and just something uniquely beautiful.

In my excitement to scan an image, I jumped the gun and accidentally layed a partial wet negative on the scan bed. I didn't realize it until the scan was complete. Too late to totally salvage the original, I worked on the digital file to have the image reproducible.


Needless to say, I'm heading out tomorrow to pick up another pack of film...

June 17, 2013

Under the Bridge...

Music | What I Wouldn't Do by Serena Ryder

So over the weekend, I picked up a late 1960's Polaroid Land Camera 230 for $15!

Polaroid 230 Land Camera

Today, I got some Fuji 3000B instant film and was able to test the camera under the St. Johns Bridge. Lighting conditions were a bit harsh, but I just couldn't wait to try it out. The prints come out with very nice blacks and a bit contrasty, but as I mentioned, the light at midday was severe...

I was talking to another photographer about why I was planning to shoot this way. Why I just didn't shoot digital and make the shot into what I want it to be. I listed off several one word answers and the one that seem to resonate with him was, serendipity. Even without seeing what I was talking about, and as 95% digital shooter himself, all of the sudden, he understood why I wanted to shoot with the polaroids.

I like the idea of relinquishing control to the photo gods and let them do what they do... I love happy accidents. I love the idea that there is a force beyond my control that will do whatever the hell it feels like it to alter what the image might look like. I love the word collaboration. Sometimes it is with people, with nature, object or whatever I happened to be photographing. My love for shooting the analogue process opens that door and gives me something a little different each time I go out.

So today, I shot 4 exposures just to get a feel of what the camera, film combination would serve me. The print is tack sharp, contrasty in a nice way. However, the neg seems to carry a lot more detail and reproduces a bit softer. These are the conclusions that I came up with today, but we'll see what I think on the second go around. Fun, fun stuff!!!

Under the St. Johns Bridge

June 02, 2013

Conflicts... Traditions...

Music | Don't Look Back by Bliss

During the short time I have been trying out Cyanotypes and the eventual desire to start Platinum Palladium printing, I've come to realize the negatives I have to learn and practice the process, they simply do not have the contrast range needed to create a print with proper tonal range and density. What works well for silver gelatin prints don't quite make it...

My obvious action to take is to start to shoot and process my negatives accordingly so that I can create a negative with the necessary contrast and tonal values. The alternative and the issue that this post is about is to use digital means to create my proper negatives. I can simply scan my old negs or plates, throw a profile to it, make some quick and easy adjustments, print out a negative that could render the perfect contact print.

I live thru principles and hold fast to traditions. I like the idea of taking no prisoners and not taking the easy way out. I also want to learn and improve my photography by technique and aesthetics.

Am I over thinking the idea of using modern technology to recreate my negative by a digital means? Going this route enables me to work effeciently and inexpensively. I could start learning now. But in the back of my head, I hate the idea of losing the purity of what I am trying to accomplish.

more as time moves forward...
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