A new SPE editor

I interrupt this irregularly scheduled hiatus to announce that Stacy Platt has been hired editor of Exposure, journal of photography for the Society of Photographic Education.


While that might not mean a whole lot to the rest of you, I’m proud to say that she was my intermediate and advanced photography instructor, and I’m happy that she’s finding success in the photographic world.

Congrats, Stacy!  (Also, I see the current editor is named Stacey, is that a job requirement as well?)

Final project – Intermediate Photography

The pursuit of technical perfection can be an ideal to live up to, or an annoyance to avoid. I embraced William Klein’s ethos in my own work, caring not at all about trivialities such as focus, exposure, lighting, sharpness, or grain. Much of the process was simply the act of using a camera that performed the way I needed it to, and for this I chose a cheap consumer travel model that has only two shutter speeds, one of which is a slow 1/40sec, and zone focusing. I shot primarily expired film. There is a great difference in how people in Colorado Springs interact to each other as compared to large cities that William Klein shot in, such as Rome, Tokyo, and New York. I endeavored to find events where people would respect personal space just a bit less than normal, be rowdier, exist more intimately in the space and their interactions with others.

Now on to different projects.  I’m scheduled to take Advanced Photography next semester, and in the interim I’m preparing to make another film.

Week 15 – Intermediate Photography

Colorado happenings.  I printed one of these images for my final project, and that and another will be part of an upcoming post in a few days.

It’s been …interesting… having to create new work on a weekly basis, plus choosing a photographer to research and showcase.  Everyone else in the class, even the film users, has been shooting digital for most of the weekly output, but not me.  I don’t even own a digital camera.  I do have a ridiculously fast scanner, which makes my work nearly as fast as digital.  As I write this (Friday), I just developed three rolls of film, and will go home and scan them, then come back tomorrow and run them through Photoshop on a school computer.  I keep the Trip 35 on me at all times, and am always shooting.  I tried expired film, bulk rolls, cutting rolls in half, pretty much anything I could to keep the costs down.  I’ve scrambled to get film developed, scanned, and post-processed in time, but I worked it out to where I’d develop a roll on Thursday which would give me time for everything else, and immediately start on a fresh roll.  Those pictures above were shot last Saturday, the 28th.  As far as the class goes, we developed a pretty close bond and the core group (myself included) will be coming back together for Advanced Photo next semester.  Here’s to you, guys!

(not all classmates pictured)

Our final projects are due Monday, so I don’t think we’re actually looking at weekly photo blogs, we might be done with them, and in that case, this is an extra post.  Back in October I joked about choosing Anne Geddes as one of my photographers for these weekly assignments, and my instructor joked back that if I did she’d fail me.  I think she was joking, but maybe I’ll find out Monday…

Jack Holding Maneesha, 1993 – Anne Geddes

If you’ve ever come across a photo book in your life, chances are it was by Anne Geddes.  I can’t think of any photographer so famous or ubiquitous as her, and depending on what kind of person you are, your standard response will be “Awwwwww…” or “Oh God, not again…”  I fall into the second category myself, and personally, never could understand the aesthetic appeal of babies much (or Anne Geddes for that matter).  I think kittens, puppies, and other baby animals are much cuter.  That being said, every child is precious, and I’d include even the unexpected and unwanted in that.  Children are our future, and they all have the right to a future.

“Babies are the human face of beginnings, but all of nature is caught in this insistent stream of seasons, of aging and rebirth, of concealment and bursting forth. Every time I unwrap a newborn, even after all these years of photographing them, I am aware of the miracle before me.” – Anne Geddes

Cheesecake – Anne Geddes

Why?  Because I can.

Week 14 – Intermediate Photography

My first roll of Eastman Double-X.  I bought two 36-exposure rolls from Cinestill more than a year ago, but I needed the right occasion to bring it out, and I think this was it.  I still have one more roll left that I’m planning on using in the next week or so, plus a 100ft roll on the way from the Film Photography Project, probably the easiest way to deal with this particular film.

Developed in D-76 1:1 for 10mins at 68F.

Initial impressions?  It’s not bad, but I don’t know that it would replace Tri-X for me.  I can’t say it’s handled high-contrast situations all that well, I had read that the highlights can tend to block up quickly and I agree.  That said, I’m still using the Olympus Trip 35 and underexposed about half the roll, and there seems to be a fair amount of latitude, so I need to work on getting my development technique down, I’m sure.

A few weeks back, I talked about Herman Leonard’s jazz photos.  Well, here are more jazz photos, this time by Lee Friedlander, whom I knew primarily as a street photographer.

Unknown and Joe James, 1958 – Lee Friedlander

Friedlander was also working in NYC, about 10 years after Herman Leonard, and became a photographer with Atlantic Records making many album covers, including John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Ray Charles’ What’d I Say, and the Ornette Coleman Quartet’s This Is Our Music.  He published the book American Musicians on this subject, as well as The Jazz People of New Orleans.

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)

Mini 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

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 (toy) 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.

Week 9 – Intermediate Photography

It’s back to the Trip 35 and I’m dipping my toes into the world of night tripping, which basically means using high-speed film and resorting to the highest-light setting on the Trip 35, which is f/2.8 at 1/40.  A lot turned out fine, some were so thin that my scanner would just skip right on over those frames.  Thanks a lot, Pakon.  I think I probably shot the roll between 800 and 3200.  I developed around 1600 (D-76 stock + KBr for 15min at 72F).

I’d try some fresh Tri-X in the Trip 35 for some really low-light stuff, maybe bring out a roll of the Cinestill 800T for it, but for now this works.

When talking about photographers who have influenced me, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Chris Marker.  He is an artist that has worked in many areas over the years and even has published several books of photographs, but I know him mainly from his films A.K., Sans Soleil, and of course La JeteeLa Jetee is special and I’ve mentioned it before here as being a direct inspiration to some of my own work in short films.  I use the same format of still images, as it allows me a cost-effective way to work with film, and 35mm no less.  La Jetee is one of the best examples of a no-budget picture and holds an honored place among the great French New Wave films.

stills from the film La Jetee – Chris Marker

A little trivia: this film was shot with a screw-mount Pentax SLR, the predecessor of my favorite camera, the Spotmatic.  Marker’s film inspired Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, itself a great film; both are worth owning.