On Tri-X: Tri-X on Tri-X

What I used during Advanced Photo.  I pulled out my old bulk roll of Tri-X that expired two decades ago, last time I used it was 3 years ago, but it did come in handy allowing me to shoot ASAP while waiting for my new bulk roll to come in.  It wasn’t the case until recently, but thankfully shooting 100ft bulk rolls of film is back to being an affordable price.

Boxes and cans, 20 years apart.

In fact, I ended up buying another 100ft roll which got used up the first week in June.

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The latest shipment

This summer’s order from Freestyle Photo.  20 rolls of Tri-X for continuing my Cowboys & Jeeps project plus I’m finally going to try out the new Ektachrome.

About this time last year I got a big shipment of super 8 film to continue the documentary.  I might have put that on hold so I can finish this photo project.  I’m on my last roll of Christmas present and already have 6 rolls of this batch in my camera bag right now.

Editorial: Guggenheim Fellows of Photography 2019

Out of the 12 photographers selected for the Guggenheim Fellowship, we were to research the work of three that resonated most deeply with us.

Carl Corey

I was immediately struck by Mr. Corey’s images as they looked familiar…and once I read his project statement I can see why: The Strand all imagery of the Great Lakes and I grew up there, in Ohio, but with trips to Illinois and Wisconsin over the years too.  The Strand immediately made me nostalgic.  In this and his past projects I see a connection to my own work, especially the book Rancher, or the Red Owl, SD project, perhaps also in Blue – Portrait of an American Worker.

I do like the picture of the rancher with the horse, and all the rancher portraits in general.  A lot of his portraits are posed and very formal; it’s not something I do much myself, I tend to shoot more off the cuff but I think I could benefit from this approach a little bit.  Usually their entire body is included in the frame whereas I usually cut something off, something that I’m getting complaints about from classmates.

Jennifer Garza-Cuen

Ms. Garza-Cuen talks of Imag[in]ing America as “…a series of locations in the United States as a residue of cultural memory, an inheritance. It is a metaphorical memoir, a narrative re-telling of facts and fictions and it is also a discovery of the dreamland that still is America.”  This definitely coincides with what I’m doing, I think.  Plus, her portrait appears to be shot on wet plate and has her posing with a large format camera.  What’s not to love there?

I think the picture that definitely drew me in was the one from Buffalo, WY, with deer and antelope heads surrounding a wall-mounted TV playing a western movie (Carl Corey had something similar).  Another favorite from that series is the portrait of the one-handed cowboy.  Ms. Garza-Cuen’s work diverges from my own in that she seems to be photographing decaying landscapes where Colorado Springs (and the state in general) is in a population boom at the moment.  I love the portraits of everyday people living in small towns.

Peter Kayafas

Mr. Kayafas’ new book is to be titled The Way West and seems to be showing the Western culture in the same way that I’m attempting.  On the Guggenheim page the second picture in the series was taken up in Cripple Creek, so of course I had to pick this guy.  A place only half an hour away and I still hardly ever go there.  He’s got pictures dated back to 2006 for this project, so evidently this is a long-term project for him.  I see from looking at his other work that he started The Way West before a few of his past projects, but judging by the dates he must shoot several projects concurrently.

There’s a lot of good street photography there, and I like seeing the shots of people taken from behind.  I have no idea how to take a picture of someone from behind and make it at all interesting.  Looking at his People of New York project and the fact that’s a square ratio, I assume he was using a 6×6 TLR to shoot those, just like Vivian Maier did.  Another project I’m really drawn to is the Coney Island Water Dance, especially because as he mentioned, he got into the frigid water to get up close and personal with the polar bear club members.  The immediacy of the high shutter speed when you see the individual drops of water flying high through the air grabs me.

 

Field trip to Denver

Denver’s Month of Photography is March of every odd-numbered year, so of course it took us until April to get up there.  Lots of galleries and exhibitions, as well as a side-trip to a bookstore, and the Rockmount Ranch Wear storefront.

 

Something happened when developing this film, and I’m not exactly sure what.  Either I got the ratio of the developer wrong, or the temperature/time was over what I thought (or both).  Either way the highlights are waaaay overdeveloped and the negatives are extremely contrasty.  edit: it turns out that some idiot had set out a box of print developer, not film developer.  I didn’t catch it until after it was too late but also didn’t remember if the Sprint chemistry was different between print and film developers.  Now I’ll always look before pouring some out just in case the darkroom tech has another idiot moment.

I suppose using TLX Client Demo and some inversion software I could have gotten better scans; PSI’s contrast adjustment maxes out at -40 it would seem, and I regularly use -30 contrast for well-exposed and developed black & white film.  I did what I could but I’m not a Photoshop miracle worker.  Worse still, I developed 5 rolls total, all in the big tank and while they’re not ruined, none of them look ideal.  I’ll be wet printing for the final/exhibition and hopefully a 00 or 0 filter will tame the contrast enough!  I suppose this is my punishment for digitally printing all my workprints, sacrilege I’m sure…

Dip-and-dunk E6 processing in Colorado

On the first day back in the darkroom, our instructor mentioned that one of the last places doing dip-and-dunk processing was based in Denver.  Evidently dip-and-dunk is gentler on your film and causes less scratches/wear and tear on your film; especially important if an image is going to a gallery, you’d not want scratches on your negatives/positives from the development.  I guess this is also more of a thing for E6 processing, from my research.  And speaking of research…as far as the state of photochemical imaging in Colorado, it turns out that we’re doing alright, because I found three places here that have dip-and-dunk processing!

-Digigraphics (Fort Collins)
-Mike’s Camera (Boulder)
-Digital Imaging Center (Denver)

I’ve always sent my slide film to Mike’s, because they have several stores around the state, one in Colorado Springs, and I’m able to drop off film there and take advantage of their courier service to have my slide film developed at their Boulder store.  Much easier than mailing it out.

Editorial: It’s who you know, an elongated definition of photo editing, and photographing Trump

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-artists-famous-friends-originality-work

The old adage holds true that it’s all about who you know.  One of the main reasons that my composition teacher encouraged me to go to film festivals was for the networking opportunities.  I went mainly for an excuse to travel, as I don’t get many opportunities for vacation, and the festival usually would pay for room and board.  I’ll say though that I can only take so much of it at one time so everyone would be partying late into the night and even with free beer I only stuck around for a limited time.  Who did I really want to meet?  How about a girlfriend; oh well.  I did meet a few like-minded people and stay in touch with them slightly, though I’ve let that slide a bit in the last year or so.  In fact to be truthful I haven’t really hung out with anyone for a long time.  Every once in a while I go out for drinks with one of my church friends but that’s about it.  I think when I lived in Colorado Springs and close to campus I did a lot more socializing, but now I’m just holed up in the mountains.  A typical night for me is watching TV and perhaps having a glass of whisky.  So maybe there’s the potential that I’m hurting my future career by not getting out there, and I suppose I could change that but the reality is that I’m exhausted and don’t feel like it.

It was in a way comforting I suppose, that the rules haven’t changed much (if at all) since the days of Duchamp and Schoenberg, but also dispiriting.

https://aperture.org/blog/campany-photo-editing/

If there’s anything I know after taking photo classes since 2013, it’s that seeking the advice of my peers and getting their opinions on my best images helps me go a lot further than just putting work up in a vacuum and waiting to see what they say during the critique.  I have no idea why so many people say that some images of mine are their favorite, when really they’re ones I couldn’t care less about myself.  Too close to my own work perhaps?  The whole last time I was taking Advanced Photo I was relying solely upon others’ opinions on which way to take the project because I had such a hard time finding the images interesting.  I don’t necessarily get the associations that others do having certain images next to each other either, so I’ll rely on others as much as their willing to determine sequence as well.  What I was really hoping this article would do was give me a little insight into how I could better pick images myself and know which ones are the best ones, but sadly it was a disappointment there, this article seems mostly to tell someone with no knowledge of photography what a photo editor does, if it even does that.  Honestly I think reading this article was a waste of time.  The pictures were nice, though.

(sorry, couldn’t get that big ad to go away)

I once got an opportunity to photograph Trump myself, and also was pretty interested in Ben Rasmussen’s stories about him.  I like that the New York Times is interviewing a photographer, and find it interesting in a meta sense that they have interviewed one of their own staff photographers.  And it’s an interesting insight into the man, reading this interview, like how much access he gives to photographers not only in content but his time.  I can see an in into my own work here in that he’s an outsider that’s been granted access, so he’s in this very privileged position and he’s photographing some of the most powerful and famous people in the world.  I’d call that pretty exciting and I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous.  Looking at these photos, I think I gained a bit more understanding on the lure of celebrity and pop culture.  I love the long paragraph where he goes into the differences in photographing different Presidents over the years; I love all the stories.

I don’t follow the news too closely so I’ve never seen any of these photos before, but Doug Mills’ photos seem to be what I expected from a White House photographer, and it gives me a bit of insight into what modern news photography looks like.  I can’t say that I’m all that impressed with the look of it from a purely visual perspective, I guess I’d just as soon have it all be Tri-X and Cinestill 800T, but then the Times would probably never hire me if I insisted on shooting on film, which means the Times will never hire me.