These are culled from four rolls of Tri-X that I shot during the final week or two of taking Advanced Photography, from which this post was taken. All that semester I had had my instructor Stacy to go through and edit the shots, help me pick out which were the best shots. But she never got to look at these last four rolls, so even though I had them developed before the Summer break started I never looked too closely at them, I think I just wasn’t feeling too confident with my own editing skills back then. I feel more confident now, but still I’m sure some day someone might go back through all my shots and say, “Well why didn’t you include these?” So it goes…
I started my Instagram going in mostly chronological order and have gotten through all of my VA4110 images plus these.
I had just purchased my 2/35 Super-Takumar lens so was trying it out quite a lot back then, and found that I really liked that particular focal length so I didn’t take it off the body for weeks. Even though I started shooting Nikon in early 2020 I didn’t buy my 35mm f/1.4 AI’d Nikkor until nearly a year and a half later. Since I have though, that and the 50mm f/1.4 are nearly the only two lenses I use.
Well I mean I found reasons not to do it for a long time. But going back to my Advanced Photo class that was one thing that my instructor Stacy suggested that we all do was to keep our professional Instagram account separate from our personal one. Well I never had a smart phone and never had Instagram…back in those days I’m not sure I could even do anything from a computer, it all had to be on the phone. I really don’t stay connected online very well and have a very ambivalent attitude towards most social media; I’ve had Facebook since about 2005 and that’s been it, and even that has really worried me in the last half decade or so. I don’t even know what else is out there…Flickr? That’s all I know.
But with so many people on Instagram and it being primarily for photo sharing, I think I had it in the back of my mind enough to start an account back in 2017 or so but just sat on it since then, nothing I could do with it until recently (I’d read about workarounds but never went through the trouble of trying one). I decided that this year’s resolution would be to get my professional account set up so I could continue the Cowboys & Jeeps project there. And then I discovered that Instagram announced back in the Summer 2021 that people were going to be able to upload photos from their computers, making it that much easier a decision for me.
So here it is, my own Instagram dedicated to this 4-year-long (and counting) photo project, named after my AOW cowboy handle. Instagram: Thefamouspdog It’s been running since 4 January, 2022. That only puts it 8 years behind this WordPress site. But the format I have decided to take is to post one photo a day and keep that up until I run out of pictures. If you happen to be heading that way, please check it out, and if you have any helpful suggestions that will improve my new site, and help me get noticed/recognized, please contact me. I’m new to this.
So why did I take that step? Because Stacy our instructor told the class that having a dedicated professional Instagram account to share only your best work was very helpful in getting noticed in the art world. Evidently there are a lot of curators, exhibitors, et. al. who will search for up & coming artists on Instagram. There’s a story she told us about this this one website editor (or was it magazine?) who was following a guy who only posted pictures of meat (he evidently worked in the industry). And after about two years, there was an article being written about meat processing plants and needed pictures and this woman thought of the meat guy and reached out to him, he ended up getting a paying photo gig because of it. So who knows, it could be the start of something.
I’m hoping that I can start up a professional portrait photography business piggybacking off this, because I think if I’m going to be getting paid for work, why not something for which I spend a lot of time doing anyway? Next up…revamping my professional website to be more balanced between photography and music.
This is where I start jumping around in time a little. After shooting ~40 rolls of film summer 2019, I found out that on the last few rolls the camera shutter had developed a problem. I had already decided that I would start using my Olympus point & shoot, which has the same focal length lens as I’d been using, plus weighing a heck of a lot less, so it wasn’t like I was obliviously using this camera and ruining so many images; it was only the last 2 rolls of Tri-X that I shot with the camera, thank God. If you look at a lot of the exposures you can see that the right side of the frame is underexposed, to the point of being clear.
Still, it was annoying since I’ve had this exact camera serviced twice in the last couple years, but this time I think it’s my own fault. I’m extrapolating from what Sover Wong says about the Nikon F2, but seems like it might be applicable, and I’m a guilty offender: I left my shutter cocked for hours, overnight, even several days in a row. It’s a habit I have that as soon as I take a shot I’m winding for the next shot, I like to make sure I’m cocked and ready to shoot. And I never thought about burning a frame at the end of the day to let the springs inside rest, so I did this to myself. The slower shutter speeds are fine and I shot a roll of Tri-X at 1/60 back in the Fall but I’m hesitant to go above 1/125 which means outdoor shooting will be tricky. I’m smarter now than I was earlier this summer, but this has put me at a bit of a crossroads.
This was a 1/1000sec exposure which should have been a good shot, alas!
I sent my Pentax ESII to Eric Hendrickson a few years back but he couldn’t bring the camera into spec. My other ES has developed the same problem it had before which means I’d need to take it apart and give it a bit more valve oil. And despite giving my beloved SPII twoCLAs there were still other problems that came up this Summer (outside of the 6-month warranty), namely that the film spacing is starting to become a bit erratic and the film counter has stopped working. Is my local camera tech to blame for not checking everything thoroughly, or is this just the consequence of using a nearly 50 year-old camera? Until this I’ve had no problem with the build quality of the Spotmatic and the lenses are top-notch of course. While the shutter problem would require a CLA anyway and is totally my fault, what that means is that I’m looking at another $120-150 repair. I’ve shot M42 (and this specific Spotmatic SPII) for a complete decade now and I’ve been so pleased with the Takumar lenses but with my current needs I’ve decided that it’s time to move on to a more capable camera system.
We had a pop-up show for one night, this was what I had printed and installed. It’s hard to sequence them exactly linearly but the last picture gives you an idea what I had in mind. Final sequence can be glimpsed among my exhibition photos here.
Yee-haw State – Joseph Irvin
Coming from Ohio, all I originally knew about Colorado were the stereotypes: mountains, skiing, Coors, and cowboys (this was pre-marijuana). I was initially forced to embrace the Western aesthetic when taking a job as a Jeep tour guide around Colorado Springs, but I’ve gotten into the spirit over time, to the point where it is now a lifestyle. Every time I go to a thrift store I’m looking for more western shirts and cowboy hats to wear on tours. I’m paid to present a certain aspect of Colorado culture/history to visitors and new arrivals, and the boss’s mantra is “Make it like Disneyland!” While it might not have happened quite like that in real life, we live in a postmodern settler society, where the cowboys have traded in their horses for 4x4s. We’re driving them on old wagon trails and railroads. A lot of my time is spent in Garden of the Gods, now the #1 visited park in the country (and it’s being loved to death). In a state that is experiencing massive population increase and a rapidly growing tourism industry, what is it that makes Colorado unique, and what about that are we selling? A lot of people say that they hope I never take this landscape for granted, and I didn’t…back when I moved here. But one does get used to it over time: now it has the familiarity of Home.
Everything was printed on Ilford fiber paper at a custom size of 15×10. I’d got my usual box of Oriental 8×10 but my photo instructor insisted I go bigger which was frustrating because I’d bought this paper months ago in preparation and now had to find something last minute. Thankfully Cameraworks came to my rescue cutting me a deal with some 16×20 Ilford they’d had for a while. I had less than 2 weeks before the show and had to print like mad all day everyday and still didn’t get everything finished, but enough to display at least. I suppose that printing on 11×14 paper would have been easier to frame (I just hung everything with putty) but I had to come up with a plan fast to print as much as possible and use the entire frame. So I cut my 16×20 paper in half, trimmed an extra inch, and made a custom taped-off template. I had a negative holder which showed the edges of the frame so I tried as much as possible to give every print a black border, a nice differentiation to the usual white. I think I’ve ranted before about cropping the side of a 35mm film frame when printing to a 5:4 aspect ratio, something else my photo instructor insisted on was seeing my entire frame. Thankfully everything worked out.
We had an online critique and then for the exhibition I had to decide which images to print from this series as well as the other three critiques. This is 11 rolls of film here, I asked my instructor to look through what I had and pick out the strongest images, so these are all the ones that work best (she said my hit ratio’s getting better). No particular order besides chronological, except that there are several images that go together as a sequence.
The first four rolls were developed at the same time as this roll, and as the darkroom tech left out paper developer instead of film developer, they’re extremely high-contrast and difficult to print or get right in Photoshop. Once I was on a roll I kept going and by the time the semester was over I’d shot about 150ft of Tri-X, around 30 rolls of film. Then I shot another 20-25 rolls of film over the Summer during the height of the tourist season, and about 75 sheets of 4×5 in the Fall ’19 semester through February in the semester that technically is still in session. By the time I get everything compiled I hope to have enough for an exhibition and a book but current events have put that on hold a bit.
This is when things really started to come together. After meeting with my instructor for a one-on-one critique we were able to separate most of the pictures into three categories:
Cast of Characters
Shots from the Road
Gawkers as Spectacle
What also helped is that by this time tours had picked up a lot. I was working more and had more opportunities for great photos. One of the suggestions from last student critique was that I needed to ride along on other drivers’ tours and that accounted for four of the shots, in all three categories.
This is when I finally got some photos that I was proud of, and that the photo class liked. In many cases they don’t have too much to do with my final conception but there are hints here and there, just in need of refining.
The other thing is that these were taken in February and March or thereabouts and really I didn’t have much going on work-wise but it ramps up quickly after that, as it’s about to now again.
I was just getting the ball rolling at this stage, there weren’t too many things going on in January/February. The most important thing was to hit the ground running. I had to convince the class that my Cowboys & Jeeps project was worth it, but I did narrowly succeed.
The alternative was to revisit my personal project from the first time I took Adv.Photo, but I wanted something fun, and could shoot this project while working which was a big plus. I was shooting bulk rolls of Tri-X but it hadn’t come in yet so I pulled out my old bulk roll that expired 20 years ago.
Half these pictures are the result of my instructor suggesting that I make a series of pictures of coworkers off-duty, and that didn’t go over as well with the class so I promptly dropped the idea. Of the rest are a picture when my cousins came to visit as well as a few from Garden of the Gods’ annual bighorn sheep day. It took some time to really home in on what this project would become but there are a few seeds in one or two of the pictures.
A 100ft roll of Kodak Tri-X and a box of 8×10 Oriental paper, my preferred brands. Actually my photo instructor told me that 8×10 was way too small for what I was doing plus she didn’t want me to crop the sides off (evidently I was getting too good at filling all of the frame), so I got a box of Ilford 16×20 paper, cut the sheets in half and trimmed off an extra inch, printing 15×10 (which can be seen here over a couple rows of 8×10 for comparison). It’s a non-standard size.
I’ve read other photographers complaining of the crop factor from a 1.5:1 35mm frame to a 1.25:1 paper size, and I have to agree. If 35mm cameras shot 7-perf frames instead of 8-perf we wouldn’t have to deal with losing so much of the sides when we print, plus we’d have that extra real estate converted into more frames per roll! It’s all Oskar Barnack’s fault. Shooting 4×5 film for once I didn’t have to worry about things like that, so I’m using this paper as test prints and gifts.