Saturday, September 10, 2011

911 Memorial, Construction Site Slideshow

Click here to view slideshow
--> Back in July, I was contacted by one of my clients about shooting a magazine cover at the 911 Memorial in New York City, even though it was still very much a construction site. The magazine had a tight deadline and wanted to have the issue out before the official opening. The art director and I went to the site to scout, in hopes that there would be one iconic view that would work for our cover. We creative types tend to be eternally optimistic and often that optimism pays off, sometimes it doesn't.  We  found one vantage point that would have worked except for one thing, out of respect for the family members of those who lost their lives on 911, we could not remove the covers from the signature wall. The magazine ended up using a computer generated illustration. This slide show is a compilation of images from the scout.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Could've had a V8," Deardorff that is!

I just completed a class entitled Photo Communication Concepts. One of the objectives was to explore non-traditional methods of photography and image production, in other words, “Put down that damn DSLR and do something you haven’t done before.” Some of my classmates chose to shoot with plastic Holga’s and cross-processed film, one shot with nothing but a fish-eye lens, another shot Polaroid and one shot with his iPhone and experimented with various photo apps. I chose to shoot with the schools 8x10 Deardorff  V8* and make contact prints using some type of alternative process.

 Reserving the Deardorff was not a problem, no one else wanted to use it. I checked it out from the equipment cage only to find that there where no film holders! Quick check at the B&H website and one holder is going for $200!  I was okay with paying $100 for 20 sheets of film but I couldn’t justify buying the holders as well. My initial thought was to just shoot 4x5 but I didn’t want to let the Deardorff go that easily.

I posted an injury on Facebook figuring it was a long shot. Much to my surprise one of my friends had a dozen 8x10 holders that had been left behind at his rental studio years ago. He was happy to lend them to me, as he wasn’t using them. Who said social media was nothing but a waste of time? I loaded the holders with Ilford HP5 and was off.   

The Deardorff is heavy and cumbersome, so I decided to try it out close to home. As subject matter, I once again chose my neighbor’s old Dodge that is permanently parked at end of our street. I know the old car well; I’ve studied its curves and lines from many angles and in all types of light. It is patient; it does not care how long I fumble around with tilts, shifts and swings, it will not complain. Above all it is trust worthy; if I fail to get what I need today it will be there for me tomorrow and the day after, and the day after that. I made eight exposures and headed for the darkroom.

I don’t have 8x10 hangers or a processing tank deep enough so I processed the film one sheet at a time in 11x14 trays. It took awhile but eventually they were all processed and hung to dry. I thought the negatives looked a little dense but I hadn’t processed film in a while and wasn’t use to looking at negatives that large anyway. It wasn’t until the next day when I made contact proofs that realized the film had been fogged on the edges. There had been a light leak somewhere. The shots taken with the telephoto lens were fogged the most. The obvious suspect was the camera bellows.

 I took the camera into the darkroom, removed the back and extended the bellows. Running a flashlight inside the camera I was able to find two pinholes, both in the corners, on the top left side of the bellows, one in front and one in the back. This explained why the negatives shot with the telephoto had more fogging; the bellows had been extended further exposing both holes.

 After some online research I opted to use liquid electrical tape to repair the holes. Liquid electrical tape would fill the holes and when dry would be opaque but still pliable. I inserted a needle into each of the pinholes then coated the shaft of the needle inside the bellows, with liquid electrical tape. I then removed the needles slowly. Just to be safe I brushed some liquid on the outside corners as well. The trick to using liquid electrical tape is to pour a small amount into a container and wait awhile for it to begin to congeal; otherwise it’s too runny. If you use this repair method be sure you buy black as it comes it several different colors but the can looks the same. The color is marked at the top of the packaging.

I waited 24 hours for the repairs to dry then went back to Gus’s Dodge to recreate the shots that had been fogged. The repair worked, this time the negatives were gorgeous!

* V for view camera, 8 for 8x10 as Deardorff  also manufactured, a 5x7 and a 4x5 version, affectionately know as the "Baby Deardorff." 

In my next post I’ll write about my experience printing these negatives using the cyanotype process.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, 2011

I didn’t participate in “World Wide Pinhole Photography Day” last year. I don’t remember exactly why, maybe the weather was lousy or maybe I was too involved in a project around the house to go out and shoot. This year was different. My wife and son left to visit relatives, our recent house guests returned to Maine and the cloudy skies and rain of that morning had given way to a warm, sunny afternoon.

I had forgotten WWPD was the last Sunday in April. But was reminded after reviewing  my  Google alerts. This year, because Easter falls on the last Sunday as well, participants have the option of shooting the Saturday before or the Monday after and still be eligible to upload their image.

My darkroom is a mess, more a storage closet than a room for making photographs. I had no Dektol to process paper negatives, no  D-76 to process film so I decided to use the pinhole body cap I had made for my digital cameras. While searching through various boxes for the body cap, I came across my NPC instant film back for my Canon F1 film cameras. The back still had film in it, not a full pack but hopefully enough to get one good photograph. Even though the film was several years out of date, I had faith it could still produce an image. I wasn’t concerned, that due to it’s age, the color might be off. I'd be scanning the print and could  make color corrections in Photoshop. I kept digging until I found the Polaroid 100 camera that I had converted for pinhole use.

I love the Polaroid 100 for pinhole for several reasons. According to The Land List, Polaroid made 1,200,000 of these cameras. They have little value to the collector and can be bought cheaply at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets. They use relatively inexpensive pack film that can be purchased in a variety of  emulsions, both color and black & white. While Polaroid has ceased production, Fuji instant film is easily obtainable. Expired Polaroid pack films are also available from places like The Impossible Project.

Naturally, the Polaroid 100 can be used as a pinhole camera with the bellows drawn all the way out, as with traditional picture taking . This yields an image with normal perspective. It is also possible to make pinhole photographs with the 100 by not extending the bellows at all, by doing so you are shorting the focal length ,yielding an ultra wide view. The only caveat is that you need to change the pinhole to match the shorter focal length. I tape this smaller aperture to the removable plastic front cover so I can switch between the two focal lengths.

The Model 100 has a flip up viewfinder that is accurate enough for normal shots and even when shooting ultra wide it helps to at least determine the center of the frame. There is a tripod socket which is a must for the long exposure times necessary due to the tiny apertures. The lens can be removed with out too much difficulty or special tools.

The Image above is of The Manayunk Bridge over the Skuylkill River. Based on the design of a Roman aquaduct , The bridge is the symbol of Manayunk, a Philadelphia neighborhood. Once a railroad bridge now an icon, soon to be bicycle path. I’ve lived here 20 years and had never photographed it until yesterday. My inspiration came about a week ago, after viewing the web site of another local pinhole photographer Mary Agnes Williams. I have never met her but perhaps I should.

There's still time to make your pinhole photo, if not today, maybe tomorrow. Happy Easter!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Super Moon

When I heard there would be an exceptionally large, especially bright, full Moon Saturday evening, I knew I had to photograph it. Even if the image didn't stand on it's own, I could use it to add visual interest in future landscape composites.

Luckily Saturday evening was clear and the moon was nothing short of brilliant.  All I had to do was wait for it to clear the tree line, walk out onto the deck, and take the shot.

In preparation I set up my heavy duty Majestic tripod, dug into the menu on my Canon 7D, set the mirror lock up function to enable, set the ISO to 100 and shutter speed to 1 second. I Attached the longest lens I own, a Canon 300 f/4 and attached it to the tripod. To avoid any possible camera shake not only did I enable mirror lock-up but I also set the self timer to fire two seconds after the shutter button was pressed.

I didn't trust the in camera meter as the Moon was extremely bright and the space surrounding it was pitch black so I made a test exposure at one second wide open at f/4.  Reviewing the image on the LCD screen revealed a large white dot encased in a sea of black.

Okay so it's a Super Moon, super bright, super close. I stop down a couple of stops and shoot another test, still no detail in the moon so I run the shutter up two more stops, better but not what I'm seeing with my eye. I keep bumping up the shutter speed until I find an exposure that shows detail in the surface of the moon. That exposure is 1/500th of a second at f/4. A much less exposure needed than I originally thought.

Realizing that I can get a sharp exposure without locking up the mirror and without setting the self timer I turn both functions off, take the camera off the tripod, turn the auto focus on, select the center focusing dot and fire away hand holding the camera.

A Super Moon happens when a New Moon or Full Moon is closest to the Earth in it's orbit "Perigee" The energy of a Super Moon intensifies the gravitational pull on the oceans tides, the tectonic plates of the Earth, and can influence our emotions.

This was the second of three Super Moons we will experience this year. The first was on Feburary 18th and the third will be April 17th.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Rosh Sillars @ SB3 Philly

I'm sure many of you, like myself, started blogging with high hopes of  developing a large following of loyal readers. We started out enthusiastically, uploading our best photos and writing clever, insightful copy. We posted often and always had one or more new ideas percolating in the back of our minds.

After awhile and dozens of blog posts, reality sets in, our following consists of only family members and a few close friends. Disillusioned we stop blogging and turn our attention to Facebook, or the 140 characters or less, Twitter. Yes, Facebook and Twitter have their place but they are no substitute for an interesting, well maintained blog. 
Rosh Sillars presented "Secrets to Driving Traffic to Your Blog," at Strictly Business 3 in L.A. and in Philadelphia and will be presenting in Chicago as well. 

Rosh gave insight on finding your own voice and developing your own style as well as tips, tricks, and tools to build the following your blog deserves.

For me the biggest take away was "Givers Gain." Help promote others and they will do the same in return. So I'll try to give a little back to Rosh and say, go hear him at SB3 in Chicago, or visit one of his links below.
@roshsillars (Twitter)

Rosh co-authored The Linked Photographers' Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media along with Lindsay Renee Adler. You can order it from Amazon by clicking HERE.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Not going to SB3? Shain on you!

One of the criticisms levied against ASMP's Strictly Business is that it's only held in three cities, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago. That's once on the west coast, once on  the east coast, and once in the mid west. Yeah, you may have to fly, take a train or drive to get to one. You'll need to book a room at a hotel. Is it worth it, you might ask? Ask Christopher Shain. Chris heard about SB3 then traveled half way around the world to attend the Philadelphia Seminar. Christopher is an architectural, industrial and corporate photographer based in Sydney, Australia.  He won the prize(ASMP hat) for traveling the greatest distance to attend. Chicago doesn't seem so far away now, does it?

Hey!, isn't that Rosh Sillars in the background let's talk about him next.

Click on the title to see more photos from SB3 Philadelphia.

Christopher is pictured above with our fearless leader, Eugene Mopsik.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

ASMP SB3 Thomas Werner, "Finding The Right Gallery"

I was fortunate enough to be asked to be "Photographer of Record," for the Philadelphia Strictly Business 3 seminar sponsored by The American Society of Media Photographers. I had covered SB2, Philly back in 2009. Some posts from that seminar can be found here, here, here and here. This is the first of several posts I will publish about the event.

SB3 made it's first stop in L.A. on Jan 21st-23rd, then came to Philadelphia this past weekend. If you wanted to go but didn't you have one more opportunity to attend in Chicago, April 1st-3rd. This program is not cheap to produce so don't assume you'll just go next year. There was a two year hiatus between SB2 and SB3 and nearly a decade between SB2 and the first SB seminar. I'm sure your aware how quickly the photography business is changing so even if you attended SB2 I assure you there is be plenty of  new information to help you grow your business in today's marketplace. Here's a link to register for SB3 Chicago.

Pictured at left is Thomas Werner of Thomas Werner Projects. He is an educator, lecturer, curator and consultant based in New York City.  Thomas reviewed and compared galleries in several major U.S. art markets. He offer insight and advice on to how to match your body of work to the appropriate galleries. Your not just looking for a space to hang your photos but seeking representation by someone who understands and shares your vision, ultimately leading to increased sales.

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