On the festival circuit: Greetings from Durango

March 1-5, the Durango Independent Film Festival.

It seems that each festival I go to is a better experience than the last, but I don’t know that Durango can be topped.  They treated the filmmakers so nicely there, and it being 6 hours away from me, I decided to stay for the entire thing, which was definitely worth it.  I stayed in the General Palmer Hotel (living in Colorado Springs for so long, I could stay nowhere else) which looked largely untouched by time.  There were lots of activities I to do around town (like a trip on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad), plus a special filmmakers only-lounge in the basement of the local Irish pub…assuming you didn’t watch films, and I did try to catch as many programs as I could.  The best part though, was that the entire festival took place in the space of two blocks in downtown Durango, making everything nice and easy to get to.  I forged some great relationships with people and will definitely be going back in the future.

Scoring Session: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Aka “Too Many Hats!”  I wouldn’t consider these the absolute best pictures ever, but it’s hard to be the composer, conductor, and music producer, and also try to take a few pics on the side.  This is the recording session for a new ballet film based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  As a ballet, I had to compose the music and have it recorded by a certain date, without having seen any footage.  Now that it’s recorded, I’m hard at work mixing, mastering, and polishing, while my director Felicity works on the choreography.  While I’d like to say that I drew a great amount of inspiration from Wilde’s novel, reading it would have taken much time away from actually composing the music; I watched Albert Lewin’s 1945 film adaptation instead.

This marks the first time I have used the Canon 7 since Fall of last year, and I’m out of practice: there are one or two rather glaring focus errors, and while I think I would have been better suited with an SLR, I’d say that I really focused on the music first (pun intended), and only snapped a few here shots here and there when not actively recording.  The camera was lying around in a few different places and not all of the pictures were taken by me, as evidenced by the fact that I’m in some of them.  The main visual component was shot by the film director as a “making-of” documentary, so at some point there will be a video of the recording session floating around the internet.

The pictures are almost current, as the recording session took place just a week and a half ago, and a few days later I was on my way to the Durango Independent Film Festival.

On the festival circuit

First, an updated banner.  As is evident, Overwhelming Majority is having a pretty favorable response so far.

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This sort of continues my Advanced Photo project.  Now the show’s on the road.  Here are a few pictures from Blissfest333 in August and the Southern Colorado Film Festival in October.

I’ve met some pretty cool people, had some good discussions, and seen some interesting films.  Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Trump

Please don’t take this as an endorsement.  I’ve been waiting to post for a while, but thought it might be more relevant around election time.  Donald Trump held a rally at UCCS back in July.

We all found out about the rally two days before he was here; it happened to be my day off so I went down.  I can remember a lot of outrage almost at once, mostly individual outbursts on Facebook, but it does remind that while Americans talk a lot about valuing free speech, it’s usually only when it’s speech we agree with.  Word got out of a petition signed by 114 UCCS faculty (many of whom I know) which, as far as I can tell by reading the wording of the text, doesn’t condemn his appearance on campus as much as just declaring disapproval of Mr. Trump in general.  What that petition was supposed to accomplish besides putting on the record those professors who are likely voting for Hillary Clinton, I don’t really know.  Personally, I was excited that UCCS should gain the exposure brought by the rally and was happy to attend.

One could get a maximum of two tickets for the event, free on Mr. Trump’s website, and I saw a lot of suggestions on Facebook discussions that people sign up for tickets and then not show up.  Well, this didn’t accomplish anything at all because room was given on a first come, first serve basis; they didn’t even check tickets, but I did get junk mail from the Trump campaign for weeks after that.  I got on campus around 10:00 (Trump was scheduled to come on at 2:00), walked from a free parking spot, and got in line around 11, with the line already stretching East from the University Center, past Dwire Hall, down the hill and halfway around Centennial Hall.  It took 90min to get inside the building (great organization there) by which time I wished that I’d had some food on me–of course there would be no food served inside, but thank God there was water!

I learned later that only about 1500 people were allowed inside Gallogly Events Center (it’s where we have basketball games) and I must have been among the last few hundred let in.  Most of the bleachers were full already, I hung around on top for a minute before being told off by a security guard, and did manage to spot a friend of mine standing near the stage, so I went and hung out with him.  Trump was late by more than 45min, and I remarked at one point that it was no longer fashionable.

I’ve done my best to stay out of this most recent rat race, and hadn’t heard Mr. Trump speak before.  I have to say, he was quite entertaining, even if he didn’t have much to say.  I think he spent the first 20min or so cracking jokes about the DNC.  People would yell to him to talk about a particular issue, and he’d pause on that briefly before going off on some wild tangent.  He did have some strange fixation on our fire marshal doing his job, I hear he went back to that several times after I left.  I stuck around for about 45min (perhaps an hour), but my back was killing me and I was hungry.  I had heard that perhaps as many as 10,000 people had shown up looking to get in to the rally, and that the protesters had finally decided to roll out of bed and come down, so I went to take pictures outside.

I’ll admit, one of the main draws for me was the possibility of seeing some “excitement” break out among the protesters, but it didn’t happen.  Talking to a few of the photographers and newsmen outside, evidently there were many more protesters that left before I got out, but when I was there they were only 50-75 strong, talking loudly to about the same number of people on the other side of the campus road.  Nothing happened and with not a whole lot of people out there, I went to the on-campus pub and got some lunch, then played pool with a friend of mine.  Well, the day fizzled out so I then decided to go home.

I’ll admit, I feel a little bit like Les Blank on Burden of Dreams here, missing the best parts of an event by being in the wrong place and at the wrong time.  I missed more gigantic crowds outside, and also found out after the fact (from friends’ Facebook posts) that Mr. Trump walked the floor after his speech, so I missed out on getting up close and personal with my camera.  Oh well.  Here are a few links pertaining to the event:

http://www.kktv.com/content/news/Fire-marshal-responds-after-being-called-out-by-Trump-at-UCCS-rally-388720102.html

http://www.uccs.edu/trumpevent2016/index.html#july28

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/160419/donald-trump-colorado-springs-protest

http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2016/07/28/trump-event-at-uccs-stirs-controversy?showFullText=true

Finalist

Well, here’s some more good news:

One of the requirements for the Advanced Photography class was to enter our work in an exhibition.  I was so busy that I didn’t even want to think about this for the longest time, and ultimately decided to enter a single picture in the semi-annual Photographers’ Forum Magazine photo contest (you’ve seen it already).  Not only did I not have to worry about editing the massive body of work I’d been assembling, but the PF Magazine entry cost me a whole $5 and I was done with that requirement.

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Of course now that I’m not nearly as stressed out I feel a bit more like submitting to exhibitions, and this has been an encouraging reminder for me. I’m happy to say it’s one of the 13% that go on to the next round and will be judged by a group of college-level photography instructors.

Ektar 100+Summarit 1.5

My first two rolls through my new (2nd) Canon 7, which I bought to be able to use some nice German-made lenses for Leica cameras.  These lenses are quite old even by my standards: the Leitz 5cm Summarit f/1.5 that I have is a relatively modern copy from 1953, and while it is coated (single coated), the contrast is not nearly what I’m used to with my Pentax lenses (younger by approximately 20 years).  The Summarit also has a reputation for being rather soft, though shooting as much as I could at f/8, I think it’s sharp enough for what I’m doing here (not as sharp as my Takumars though).  I’d still like to pick up a screw-mount collapsible Summicron for landscape pictures, but in a pinch the Summarit does nicely.  I’ve wondered about getting one of the modern Voigtlander lenses (or Lomography’s new Jupiter 3+) for color work, as I wasn’t sure how the low-contrast Leitz lenses from the ’50s and earlier would handle color film, but I was also curious what an ultra-saturated film like Ektar 100 would look like, and here are some of the results.

I need to shoot in the sun more, most of the time I was out it was overcast and that didn’t help much, but also I wonder if they weren’t underexposed a bit too.  I don’t have enough experience with Ektar to say if this is indeed the case, but roll #2 (the last 5 pics) show much improved color to my eyes.  I might just buy a few more rolls and continue testing this film/lens combination at some point.

I processed these pictures the same way I’ve been doing black & white, which is taking PSI output at -30 contrast and adding contrast back in using Photoshop.  I also have the regular PSI output, but prefer the added control.  This film captures quite a lot of information, and as someone who has more experience with black & white, it’s hard to get the color I think this film should have while still retaining detail in highlights/shadows.  But I’m learning.

I’ll probably be going back to black & white next for this camera and lens, but the experiments with color will continue!  I plan to shoot a roll or two of Provia and Velvia through the Canon 7 this Summer, and I hope that I’ll like the results of that, as I’m more used to Fuji’s color than I am to Kodak’s.  And Ferrania is coming soon as well, I hope.  I will say this about Ektar though: it handles different and mixed lighting extremely well!  I shot about half of my 2nd roll indoors and usually under fluorescent lights, and was quite satisfied with the colors even working straight out of PSI; very little tweaking was needed, and it was quite easy (a few examples are here).  Yes it was a bit slow for that purpose, but it has me considering Portra 400 for occasional indoor work now