Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Washington Post

I’ve just spent a bit of time this morning, time I really didn’t have, looking through articles on the publication of a seven-year-old girls circumcision. To say that I’m sickened and outraged would not provide a level of understanding to my feeling at this particular moment.

Tewfic El-Sawy, over at The Travel Photographer, first brought this to my attention in his wonderful blog. I’ve not been over there in some time and was catching up this morning when I saw the posts. He has some links to other writers that are equally outraged. What I didn’t see were any US based commentary (other than Tewfic’s) that spoke of the hypocritical editorial decision to publish these images.

I travel quite a bit in my job and am fortunate to see other view points other than what we get force fed here in the US. That, and the fact that I was exposed to a variety of cultures as a kid, provide me with a willingness to see other viewpoints. I also spent time in the Navy traveling the world and going to places I would have otherwise never been exposed too. All of that provides me with a deep appreciation of world viewpoints.

And what I’ve found over the travels and years is that we aren’t very different when it comes right down to it. We all want to be treated with respect, we almost always respond in kind when a smile is given and we just want to get along in life without a lot of hassle.

But what I increasingly see is a complete disregard for anyone from another part of the world that doesn’t have a voice to defend themselves. In this case, Andrea Bruce might have been exposing an abhorrent practice that provides that voice. But when she took images of the the seven-year-old girls face, submitted them for publishing and then took an award for the photographs, she became part of the hypocritical nature of this country in particular.

I won’t go into the arguments that others have made. If you want to see what the issue is read here, here and here. But I will say to those that are reading this and think “What’s the big deal?” I’ll ask you to do as Tewfic did and think about your own daughter ,or son, or family member, and tell me what the big deal is. But of course that wouldn’t happen in the US because we would all be in an uproar about protecting the kids. But a seven-year-old Kurdish girl doesn’t deserve the same respect. And that, given the state of the world affairs, is the crux of the problem. When we stop caring what happens to the individual we stop caring about what happens to the whole.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Does Photography Do For You?

Over the last several weeks I’ve forced myself out more often with the camera. I’ve got several rolls of 120 to develop, multiple rolls of 35mm (from my extensive travels of late) and about 10 sheets of 4x5 that needs processing. All of this has led me to thinking what photography does for me.

The biggest thing it has done lately is really reduce the stress and allow me to forget any other stuff while I’m out making images. That is especially true with large format, and to a somewhat lesser degree with the medium format gear. While out, I’m getting better at looking and seeing, and in the end, making images.

This is an image from the San Juan Capistrano Mission. It’s a favorite place to go and see if I can see an image and practice with the Chamonix. This isn’t a particularly good image but it’s a start, at least for me. I set up in front of the door and if I had one person stop I had ten. It was an exercise in maintaining some amount of focus as I tried to set up. It also was an exercise in learning how to use the camera properly in order to use it improperly for the type of images I want to make.

Friday, March 20, 2009

USA Network's Character Project

Here is another image from the travels over the last several months. There are a lot of images to come and to be added to this body of work.

When you get a chance to check out the new project over at USA Network. It’s a group of photographers going out into America and checking out the character of the nation. It’s not a TV show - which I’m entirely thankful for - but it will be a traveling exhibition and there will be a book.

There is one photographer in particular who’s video is especially good in my opinion. Check out Anna Mia Davidson’s work on farmers up in Washington that have committed to organic farming. The video does a better job in explaining what she is doing, and why, than the other photographers that I viewed. Looks like and overall interesting project from some good image makers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Large Format Rejection

Here are some examples of the learning curve associated with moving into large format. I found this site not far from my house one evening just as the light was going down. I got up early the next morning to shoot again and decided to take the QL film I had and see what I could do with color. I also wanted to see how easy it would be to get it developed at my favorite lab.

When I got the film back there was an obvious light leak as well as dead space that I had a difficult time figuring out. With large format I’m still getting the process down and when mistakes like this happen it can be difficult to troubleshoot. And as much as I dislike electronics, my background in troubleshooting makes this a bit easier for me to break down to find the cause. It’s one of the rare times when I am methodical.

Anyway, I was shooting some Type 55 on Saturday (images to come) and I was having the same issue. I wasted two sheets of this valuable stuff before I saw that I wasn’t getting the packet properly seated once I made the image. Sure enough... light leak. One problem solved but I should have done it before I went out that morning.

The other issue is lost likely a result of not puling out the packet far enough. Both images that show this have the exact same of unexposed film so I think that is the cause. I’ll make sure I pull the packet out all the way in the future. So now you know the other reason I had to crop this image.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Headed To Shanghai

I’m presently sitting in seat 13G on an American Airlines flight to Tokyo headed ultimately to Shanghai. That’s 5451 miles to Tokyo from LA and another 1119 miles from Tokyo to Shanghai. That’s a lot of miles no matter how you look at it.

In my bag is one Leica, two lenses, 8 rolls of Provia 100 and 16 rolls of black and white film. That’s 864 images to be made and the goal is to shoot all 864 frames this week. That’s about 123 images a day; approximately 3 rolls of film over the 7 days. Of course I don’t have an actual 7 days since I just crossed the international date line (I can see it on the flight map). It’s an exercise of making myself shoot, see and find out if I can make an image that resonates with me.

I like the word resonate. It means something to me I can’t quite identify but I know when I feel it and when one of my images resonates (at least for me)... for that matter when any image resonates.

Here is an image that doesn’t resonate. It’s a poor attempt with the Chamonix and it required a crop. I studied under Jack Corn, a renowned documentary photographer in the 50’s and 60’s, who taught me to frame in the camera. I’ve never really shaken that, especially when I shoot 35mm.

But LF allows for some of that and it’s going to make me come out of a comfort zone and basically learn to shoot in a very different manner. I’ll still try to compose in camera - why lose the real estate - but will be more open to other arrangements.

This image is an example of that. I really enjoy panoramic images. This image was something I just saw in a panorama when I was setting up. I couldn’t get close enough because of a fence to cut out the cloudless sky, nor did I have a lens that would have brought anything closer. So here it is. My second posted LF image which really isn’t. Taken on Portra 160VC with a Fuji QL holder which is another post altogether and another reason I had to crop.