I’m making it a point to get through some undeveloped film this week. Every so often I have to make it a point to put the camera away and focus my attention on what is probably the most critical step of photography, which is actually processing the image. I admit even I can lose sight of this sometimes. Picking up the camera and exposing frames of film always seems like the most glamorous part of making art but really the entire process is equally important; exposing an image, developing the film, scanning it, and ultimately printing from that negative either in a wet darkroom or digitally.Read More
Black and White Film
It’s been an incredibly busy summer for me this year which isn’t entirely a bad thing. The day job has been keeping me running around quite a bit. In fact, as soon as I post this entry I have to run off to Newberg and babysit an open house for the afternoon only to rush back to Portland to meet up with my jogging group to get a couple of miles in before the weekend.
Oh adulthood. It can be a never ending party sometimes.
I’ve been conducting photoshoots here and there when I have a free moment and in many ways I’ve been enjoying the process quite a bit. My limited time means I’m not getting out on hiking trails as much, but trying to make the most of indoor spaces has been a fun challenge in its own way. I feel like I’ve been learning some important skills around working with extreme highlights and extreme shadows and maintaining details on the negative when both values are present.
This image turned out to be a nice example and I am thrilled with the way the highlights seem to follow around the curves of the body - i.e. the neck, the model’s chest, her leg, and the lines of her face. There is a bit of a light dance going on here that works quite nicely. Of course, working with Devi is always a wonderful experience as she is willing to let me take my time and fiddle around with my exposure settings even while glaring into bright sunlight!
NOTE: If you like this image I did just make it available on my ETSY store!
I have to admit, I’ve been struggling with the internet as a whole lately. Yes folks, I need to vent! Life is pretty rough for anyone out there like myself who enjoys photographing and sees the artistic value in working with the human body. Every single time I turn around it seems I am getting backed further and further away into a corner.
Just this week, I have been put on notice by Instagram for posting an image that they felt violates their policies. Even though I begrudgingly censor everything I put on Instagram but it still feels like I’m fighting against a tide that just doesn’t want me there. This week I was also put on a 30 day ban from posting anything new in my Print Store for offering something up for sale that the internet game wardens did not deem artistic enough to be in the “Artistic Nude” category and should have instead been in the “Adults Only” category. Facebook is off limits all together for me and as much as I love Flickr it doesn’t seem to have an audience beyond people who are photographers themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Flickr following, but sometimes the joy of sharing photography is doing so with people who don’t necessarily practice photography.
So with my frustrations mounting I’m left wondering where it is I want to spend my time sharing, and quite frankly getting compensation for work on-line. I’ve always enjoyed selling prints but that is becoming increasingly difficult as every sight I know keeps getting more and more conservative with what they deem “artistic”. For a short while I had a Patreon account and I’ve considered building one again. The trouble there is I’m not sure what sort of paid content I can offer there that I don’t already have right here for free on my main website. Should I start making more video content? Tutorials, behind the scenes of a photoshoot, etc. etc. Would anyone actually want to see that?
Anyway, just some general thoughts going through my mind as I clean up the house this afternoon in preparation for a house guest the rest of the week. Sweeping my floor and washing towels tends to make me think about the business side of being an artist, something most of us are pretty bad at doing. I’ve been saying for years, I wish there was an industry of social media experts who worked as agents in much the same way that Hollywood movie stars have agents. I focus on the art while someone else puts my work out there and just takes a percentage off the top.
Wouldn’t that be cool?
So here is a comparison that I imagine most photographers can relate to. After developing this roll of film I probably flipped back and forth between these two photographs for the better part of an hour trying to decide which one I liked better. These two frames were exposed one after the other. More or less the same pose. The exact same exposure and lighting conditions on each.
The only difference between the two images really is that one I pulled back the camera in the scene just a little bit to add a bit more of the environment into the image. One little change and I create an hour of anxiety for myself. The life of an artist folks. It’s a constant thrill ride let me tell you.
Ultimately I feel like I decided on the top image as my favorite. I think the added negative space in the overall composition has a better emotional effect in this particular case. Still, both images are nothing to sneeze at. I love the soft lighting and the harsh straight lines of the staircase cutting directly through the frame.
Clearly I was in a very abstract sort of mood when I made this photograph. I think it is worth noting simply because right behind the model there is actually a big gigantic beautiful lighthouse that for some reason I didn’t feel like putting into the frame. Or at least I didn’t feel like putting it in the frame for the ten minutes I worked on this particular composition. There are other images from this session where it is incredibly prominent and I’ll get around to those eventually. For the moment I am just going to enjoy the beauty and the details in this particular image.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sometimes I really just like the details in black and white film. Goose bumps on the skin. Underwear lines. Skin wrinkles on the elbows. The texture of pubic hair and skin blemishes. All part of the equation that keeps me coming back to figure studies in my photography over and over and over again for going on two and a half decades now.Read More