Week 4 – Intermediate Photography

I learned a new word today: reticulation.  It basically describes what happens when there is an abrupt shift in temperature when developing a roll of film, for example when going from one bath to another.  From what I can tell, it looks a lot like having exaggerated grain, except it’s a bit more uniformly placed, and circular.

I don’t know enough about it to say if that’s what went on here, but I think I must have been a bit too sloppy when processing this particular roll.  I think the film may have fogged a bit, which would mean I should have added more Potassium Bromide.  On top of that, I might have pushed the film slightly without meaning to, or at least overdeveloped.  The negatives came out denser and with much higher contrast than I’m used to.  At least I kind of know what’s going on with it, and considering everything I try with this particular batch of T-Max makes it look worse, I’ll go back to what I was doing here, pulling one stop and developing in D-76.

On another matter, my first results from using a short exposure roll didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped.  In fact, there’s almost nothing usable on the roll at all.  Thankfully, it would appear that I don’t necessarily need to keep my weekly assignments completely separate from my larger class projects as I originally thought.  I rushed through the rest of the roll in my Spotmatic and got it processed and scanned yesterday.

A friend of mine gave me that book a couple of years ago, when I was completing my final for the intro class, which had to do with portraits.  While I had been familiar with the National Geographic documentary films growing up, I’d never paid much attention to the magazine itself.  I hear that some big events are afoot there, being bought out by Rupert Murdoch after spending 127 years as a non-profit organization.  I wasn’t familiar with William Albert Allard’s work before owning the In Focus book, and I haven’t found too much out since then, either, though from his site I learned that he’s one of the only photographers of his generation whose entire body of work has been in color.  There were several fantastic portraits by Allard in that National Geographic book, but I think this one is particularly striking:

Eduardo Ramos with his dead sheep, Puno, Peru, 1981 – William Albert Allard

“A taxi had come tearing down the road and hammered through the sheep, brutally flinging half of them off the road…The driver never even stopped.  But we did.  As the boy looked up at me with his shattered face, I made just a few pictures because I had to…More than $6000 in contributions came in from readers from all over America.  They wanted to help.  The Geographic contacted CARE, and that organization was able to locate Eduardo…His family’s sheep were replaced, a water pump was provided for his village.” -William Albert Allard, from In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits

There’s something in the boy’s face that says: “Why are you pointing a camera at me now?”  You can tell by his clothes how poor he is and how the loss of even a few sheep could be a devastating blow.  I think in that situation, my first instinct wouldn’t be to take a picture, it would be to get in and help physically.  Yet with the resources and reach of a magazine the size of National Geographic, as well as the compassion and generosity of its readers, taking that photograph helped that boy more than anything else anyone physically there could have done.  There are alternating stories told of Allard’s portrait of Eduardo; another version is in the video you can see at this site.

This video is also a good one to watch:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

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