Week 13 – Intermediate Photography

This is the first roll of not-expired Tri-X since I started the whole William Klein project.  Well, it expired December 2014, I guess, but that hardly counts.

That last photo (a very shaky, Kleinesque portrait) is someone you may have heard of: Bob Jackson is something of a local celebrity, and a really cool guy.  There is an exhibition of his work at Godec’s Photo at the moment.  He’s lived in and around Colorado Springs for the past 35 years, and made his name as a photographer for this image:

The Murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby – Robert H. Jackson
(and it won the 1964 Pulitzer)

I really wish I could have shown something more than just the picture everyone knows, because he made some great images over the years, of which I saw many in the exhibition, my favorite being a closeup of a fat girl with pigtails and huge sunglasses dancing in the streets with a sign that says “Someone you love is gay.”  He also gave us a little slideshow of pictures not installed in the gallery, and many of them are portraits of celebrities from the old days, from Louis Armstrong and Carroll Shelby (who gave him his start in photography and was a lifelong friend) to Robert Mitchum and Peter Ustinov, The Beatles, Cher, and many more.

Oswald’s something that he was willing to talk about when I saw him in person, which I wasn’t expecting.  I had said “I’m sure you’re all talked out about that,” to which he replied something to the effect of “I know it all by heart now.”  He’s not a big fan of the conspiracy theories (I asked him about JFK the movie, he’s not impressed with it), and was one of the eyewitnesses to Oswald’s gun barrel poking out of the book depository window.  He’s made a good point of it, too: by now, if there had been a conspiracy, surely someone would have made a deathbed confession by now.  I also asked him about this image below:


He said the guy who had modified it (evidently George E. Mahlberg?) hadn’t asked permission, but they worked something out and Jackson ended up getting some nice royalties off it for many years, and free t-shirts too.  I’m jealous, I want a t-shirt!  My sole encounter with the picture is that it was used as a poster on display at Central City Recording for a local band, the New Bomb Turks, as their farewell show in 1996 (I think, though they evidently reformed).  I have no idea if this was the original use of it or not, but it would have been around the same time, still with the Dead Kennedys symbol spray painted on the wall in the background, I don’t know if I’d consider that evidence for or against.  Either way, that picture still makes me chuckle.  He was pretty blase about the whole affair, I get the impression he doesn’t quite get why it’s funny, but he wasn’t bent out of shape about it either.

Jackson is retired from photography now, except for smart phone shots of the grandkids, he says.  This is, I believe, his first solo exhibition, and besides the pleasure of seeing his images in person, it was a privilege to meet him and hear him talk.


(and take his picture)

Masters study of William Klein: Project 2 – Intermediate Photography

Starting with his book Life is Good & Good for You in New York (New York, 1954-1955), William Klein introduced a very new style of street photography: gritty, in your face, out of focus, blurred.  He looked at people, usually in large groups, and there is an amazing depth to his photos, with crowds of faces stretching off into the distance, and while most of them will be watching something going on out of shot, there are always one or two people looking straight into the camera.  Klein is known for interacting with his subjects as well, giving them subtle directions about how to act, and then photographing the result (think of Gun 1).

Klein had no formal training in photography.  After getting out of the Army, he settled in Paris and studied painting under the cubist master Fernand Leger.  From his paintings in the late-1940s, he moved into abstract photography, painting with light.  This brought him to the attention of Vogue Magazine.  Vogue funded Klein’s trips abroad, and over the space of about a decade, he released four seminal photobooks: New York (1956), Rome (1958), Tokyo (1964), and Moscow (1964).  During this time, Klein was working for Vogue as a fashion photographer, something he did until 1965 when he was let go due to his burgeoning career as a filmmaker.  His reaction was to make the film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, a hidden gem of the French New Wave and scathing insider’s look at the French fashion scene at the time, and the nature of celebrity.  Klein has directed two other features, as well as many sorts and documentaries, the most recent of which was released in 1999.

Klein returned to photography in 1990 with Torino ’90, as well as releasing retrospective books like Close Up and In and Out of Fashion.  The cover for Torino ’90 featured a glimpse of Klein’s new direction in art, that of printing his contact sheets and turning them into colorful paintings, mimicking the way photographers have chosen pictures to print by marking up their own contact sheets.  In 2012, the BBC made a documentary, The Many Lives of William Klein, featuring new interviews, and footage of him in action as on old man.  I don’t know what he’s up to currently, but it’s good to know he’s still alive and kicking.

For my own attempts to capture the essence of William Klein, I returned to that fogged and expired 100′ roll of Tri-X from Y2K, and (with the exception of one picture that was taken earlier, no. 6) used the Olympus Trip 35, using its technological limitations to my advantage.  It opts for smaller apertures for better focusing, but is still zone focusing; the shutter defaults to 1/40sec below a certain light level, allowing me to incorporate blur as well, when needed, and the 40mm lens allowed me to take in a larger scene.  The camera itself is compact and very quiet, easy to take with you anywhere you feel like, grocery stores, thrift stores, class, concerts.  I even took it to the Denver Art Museum.

Was I successful?  I’d say not entirely, but I’ll continue to work on it, by extending the masters study into my final project.  There’s a definite difference between people who live here compared to a big city like New York, Tokyo, etc; they respect personal space a lot more, and it makes it harder to get many people in the frame.  I think I could work on interacting with the people more, and I need to shoot outdoors to a greater extent as well.  So those are the goals, and I need to get back out there now…

Week 12 – Intermediate Photography

Pictures of open space, trying to get ideas for placing a sculpture/installation piece for a group final project in my Art in Time & Space class.

I broke out the Mamiya 1000TL for this, because why not?  It turns out the meter is dead, so I had to shoot Sunny-16, and I pulled the film 1 stop.  I think the results worked well, and while I bought the camera mainly for its 55mm 1.8 Mamiya/Sekor lens, the body itself is completely usable as well, and might get some use as a backup body here and there.

I just noticed I have water spots.  Interesting…

A Circle in the Andes, 1972 – Richard Long

Richard Long is a site-specific artist who makes sculptures by interacting with the landscape, by walking, by adding stones, piling dirt, etc, in places where no one may ever see, or know who made them.  He started in the mid-1960s and still continues today.  Since that time, he has documented them as well, and the photographs are quite striking, whether those in nature, or in exhibitions:

Cornish Slate Line, Tate Gallery, London, 1990 – Richard Long

The Read Headed Zombie virus has been eradicated

Bittersweet.  The last Read Headed Zombie show ever was back on Halloween. It’s something that I’ve played sets in, I’ve been part of their art/music contests, and have generally hung out with a lot of these people for years now.  My roommate was one of the performers that night, and he’s one of the first people I met when I moved here from Ohio.  I think he’s singlehandedly responsible for me knowing the people in these pictures.

As this was a special occasion, I broke out my last two rolls of Cinestill 800T and put those through the Spotmatic, plus some more of the expired Tri-X through the Trip 35 (those were mostly so underexposed that they were unusable, even though I tried developing at 3200…the usable ones are the last two shots in the series).  I’m really pleased with the Cinestill, considering I shot it 1200-3000 and didn’t push.  They did start getting pretty grainy, but it didn’t bother me to make some black & white, the grain looks just right, then.  They really turned the lights down low for most of the show, I was shooting wide open at 1/30 and 1/15 almost the whole time, handheld.

Here’s to you, guys.  Whatever comes after RHZ, I’m sure it’ll be fantastic.

Just a few posts from the Colorado Springs scene:

My first experience as a victim of copyright infringement

For the last several months now I’ve been working with my music composition teacher on writing a grant proposal for a new piece of music with an accompanying film, and through that found out that a person or persons in authority at the university (yes, my university) had put out a flyer using one of my pictures, from this scoring session.

The picture had been cropped to remove my watermark, and no one had asked me before using it.  The first I’d seen or heard about the flyer was when the email was forwarded to me a month after it was originally sent, and it took more than a week and two tries to get a response to my email.  Even then, I was pretty much given the runaround, sent to different people, it was always someone else’s fault, and never really even got a satisfactory apology.  There was even a suggestion from someone involved that all pictures of faculty taken on campus during school events belong to the university.  I hadn’t ever heard that before, and my photography instructor doesn’t think that’s the case either.

I understand that maybe several people made mistakes here and that probably nothing malicious was intended, it just sucks how I had to find out about it, that they never tried to contact me.  Evidently this flyer was only emailed out once, and if it was printed out and posted around campus, I never saw it.  By the time I got in touch with everyone involved, the submissions deadline had just about passed and the damage had been done already; there wasn’t much I could do about it except communicate my displeasure.  Sure, I’m just a student, but I feel like no one involved took this as seriously as they should have, and all I can do now is vent.

I don’t want to make a big stink about this, or get anyone in trouble, I just want to let people out there know what it’s like when you actually get taken advantage of.  There’s so much stink out there about things like the “Happy Birthday” song, etc, but really, copyright is a good thing; it sucks when something you created is used without permission, especially when you can’t do a thing about it and will never be compensated.  I’m actually really excited about the possibility of working with the university for images on their flyers, as long as they ask me first, leave them the way I have presented them, give me credit, and are OK with me possibly saying “No.”  I hope it happens someday.

Week 11 – Intermediate Photography

Halloween marked the final Red Headed Zombie show, which I have been a part of for several years now.  I’ll have a full post coming on that soon, but wanted to pick out three of my favorite images for this week’s assignment.  I even tried printing some to my black & white paper, it didn’t turn out all that well, unfortunately.

I broke out the Cinestill for this concert, but the lighting was so poor that I was shooting 1200-3000 and hoping the film’s latitude would come through for me.  It did, in fine style, but with the more underexposed shots, the grain (and colors) were a bit too much to deal with; they look fine as black & white, though!

KENNY CLARKE New York, 1948 – Herman Leonard

DEXTER GORDON New York, 1948 – Herman Leonard

When people think of jazz imagery, it’s hard not to think of a Herman Leonard picture.  I first noticed his work this summer when taking a jazz history course.  Our textbook was Jazz by Gary Giddins & Scott DeVeaux; Leonard’s images are all over the place in there, and so striking.  He got his start in post-war New York using his camera to gain free admission to jazz clubs, and over the years ended up hanging out with (and taking pictures of) some of the great jazz musicians of all time, including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and so many others.  I picked out two of my favorites to show here.  If I had thought of it soon enough, I would have chosen a master’s study of Herman Leonard, considering that I’m myself a musician and spend so much time around musicians.  Too late now, I suppose…

Week 10 – Intermediate Photography

Here they are.

With the Trip 35 again.  It’s a new experience for me, having a set aperture/speed and generally just trusting to the latitude of the film, hoping that the processing times will be adequate for (most of) a given reel.  Pretty much anything shot inside with the Trip 35 will be f/2.8 at 1/40.

Gun 1, New York 1955 – William Klein

This is my favorite picture from William Klein, on whom I am currently doing a masters’ study.  What’s interesting for me is that this photo is semi-posed, according to the tales.  Klein told the kid to point the gun at the camera, and look tough, which he definitely does.  It’s freed me up a bit in my own work, giving myself permission to talk to subjects as I find them, nudging them in a certain way if I need to, with a few helpful directions.