Posts

2017 – Year of Photography

I hope everyone has had wonderful holidays and is enjoying the winter weather when it’s not too cold. Our holidays were quiet, as they are every year and like every year, I start wondering about my life and all the various things I could do to enrich it. So. This year is photography year. There. I said it, now there is no backing out.

Last year, due to a few house moves and consequently all of our stuff being in storage, I did not get round too much wet-plating, much to my chagrin. This year will be different; I dusted off my Model Mayhem account and created a casting call, to start photographing some plates in upcoming springtime. Yeah, I know, I don’t do cold weather shooting so I’ll have to be patient. I look forward to shooting a few fresh faces in an exciting new project. The theme was so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before! And – it will take me some time to finish it. Which could be a good or bad thing, we’ll see.

 

No, I’m not telling you what it is just yet! If you are truly curious, go find the casting call on Model Mayhem 😀

 

I did manage to do a couple of plates last year, but somehow they did not manage to enthuse me. They are just not exciting enough! For lack of a model, I used a small porcelain figurine that was left to me by my late great-grandmother as well as a small piece of a wasp nest that I found in the shed (and some wasps that were dead on the ground in summer). There was also a pepper, and a mortar and pestle providing the subject of the images.

 

I was mildly enthusiastic about this plate, where the top of the pepper emerging from the shadows almost looks like some monstrous stag beetle…This could be a fun image, after a bit of work.


I did get to do some medium format shooting last year though, with all that travel. I hope I’ll see more of that coming my way this year, that would be sweet! It’s a shame I don’t actually enjoy the scanning and retouching of my images all that much, it would make things a little easier. Hah! This time round, just like my belated holiday images in my last post, I have scanned them all small and did only the bare bone retouching on them. That way, I’ll finally not waste time on image that I’ll never use or will misplace at some point anyway. Again, time will tell if this is a good of bad way to go about it.

In my second round of scanning, I found a few beauties that I do not want to keep to myself. These are taken in the Chinese Garden in Frankfurt, Germany. It’s not a big garden, and it’s usually busier than this, but it certainly provided with ample opportunity for a few nice shots.

 

 

 

 

 

Coalmine: Cheratte, Belgium.

Since I’m still working on the images from New York, and the house isn’t tidy enough to show any images of that en public, I’ll play a little catch-up and share some images I have taken on my first proper Urbex trip a few months ago.

In my last week in Dusseldorf, I met up with a group of like-minded photographers via Meetup. We were going to an abandoned coalmine in La Cheratte, Belgium, and spend a good two hours on site. We went on a Sunday and even though the weather was cloudy, it was dry and the place was magnificent. For the occasion (and because I’m a geek) I had brought 3 cameras. Please note that some of the pictures are near identical and you can see the differences between the exposure qualities of the three camera’s really well.

Camera 1

My small digital Canon Powershot SX130 IS to take non-important snapshots. I still have one or two moments during a day of shooting where I just cannot seem to guestimate my exposure correctly. I use this little thing in auto to see what it comes up with and check it against my own numbers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. All of my failed film images are too dark.

 

no images were found

 

Camera 2

The Praktica Super TL2 for 35 mm color shots (1 roll of 36). The lens I used was a Panagor PMC 28mm 1:2.5 Auto Wide Angle with an Izumar coated UV filter, and I had it mounted on a small light-weight tripod. This is the camera I have used since my days of Art College in 1999-2001 and I still love it to bits. Some area’s of the coalmine were very hard to get into proper focus but I think I got a few nice images out of it. I used Kodak 160NC film, which is, ofcourse, NOT suitable for this dark environment, but it was the only 35mm film I had at hand – and non-perfect images are still a lot better than no images.

 

no images were found

 

Camera 3

The third and last camera I brought on this day was my trusty Rolleiflex Planar 2.8 with synchro-compur shutter. With 4 pictures left on a roll and 2 spare rolls of B/W film (28 shots in total), I had to think carefully about the shots and how I would set them up. It was a terrible shame I didn’t have my dedicated tripod handy for the occasion as it was still roaming around in a storage unit in the Netherlands, so I had to use it hand-held and hope that the camera-shakes wouldn’t be too bad. Eek! I used Kodak 400TX film and developed in R09 (Rodinal). I love how some of the images came out – especially those with a very classic feel – and I am currently using them to attempt salt-printing.

 

no images were found

 

 

 

Cambridge ahoy!

We’ve just returned from our little trip to the States (images to follow in an upcoming blog) and we’re stiff suffering a bit from the jetlag. On the bright side, everything has been packed, Sky services requested, a sofa ordered and delivery planned as well as a bed and mattress, and paperwork arranged for collection of the key as our move to Cambridge is just around the corner.

Sean will be flying today and – after having seen to our stuff being hauled away – I’ll be flying on Thursday. We’ll not have any internet for a while so I’ll cya on the other side!

Cambridge – A new Home

Last Sunday we returned from a short yet fruitful trip to the UK. Sean will start his new job in Cambridge soon, so we had to look for a place to live. We have moved around in the UK a few times and this will be our second time emigrating from the Netherlands to the UK within 5 years time. We booked in a number of viewings in advance, travelled down and started viewing places.

Cambridge, like London, is not a cheap place to live. The city itself is not that large even though there are a number of smaller (and cheaper) villages around which would be perfectly fine to settle down IF we had a car but more importantly, IF Sean had a license to drive it. Our first couple of viewings were so-so, until we passed a lovely quirky place with a TO LET sign pasted on the outside. We rang, and booked for a viewing the same day.

It turned out to be a lovely little apartment (officially 1 bed, so a little smaller than we hoped for), with its access on a cemetary. Yes, you read that correct – it has to be all my gothy dreams come true at once!  Granted, I may not be able to do any wet-plating, but I’m sure I can figure out something in our teeny-tiny little courtyard, or otherwise maybe stick to film for a little while.

Below some pictures of the house. Pretty much all you can see is not ours, as we are way round the back, but it’s still part of this Grade 2 listed building. Also a view from about 5 steps from the front door, and one from the living room window. I am soooo looking forward to this move!

First up though, we have a trip to New York & Atlantic City booked, and we’re leaving tomorrow. There’s a long list of things we want to see and do, I’m just hoping we can even get halfway. Must-do’s will include an NBA game, video game store(s), Vintage shops, a Fleamarket or two, the statue of liberty, the MoMa, The Guggenheim, 2 or 3 photo galleries and a trip up a tall building (empire state, Chrystler, Rockefeller centre), the Atlantic City Boardwalk, a Casino visit…..any additions of must-sees or do’s? Let me know!!!

 

no images were found

 

 

Hong Kong Film Images

Finally I managed to get round to scanning all those blasted film images – and you’ll have to understand that this is not to complain about using film. Oh no! My fun lies in shooting, understanding and developing film images, not so much the scanning part……but I suppose one cannot go without the other, especially if you intend to post any of this stuff online! 😀

These are images taken in Hongkong, September 2012, on a Rolleicord TLR camera, using 120mm Fuji Neopan 160 ISO color Film. Lab developed and scanned with Canoscan 9000f.

 

no images were found

 

The final images in Black and White are also finally finished. Because we’ve got another upcoming move, this time back to the EU due to circumstances around Sean’s work, I have been working hard to get everything scanned, backed up and archived before I entrust another load of my belongings to a shipping company. There will be insurance in place – but I doubt that will compensate for the loss of my ENTIRE archive of negatives, should this occur.

Black and white images taken with a Rollecord TLR, using 120 Shanghai GP3 100 ISO film. Developed in Kodak D-76 and scanned with Canoscan 9000f.

 

no images were found

 

Pages

Alvin Langdon Coburn

This week, we’ll feature an American Photographer, Alvin Langdon Coburn – I’ve known some of his portrait works and even though I personally might find it very pictoralistic at times, there is such an amazing quality to them that they deserve to be shown.

Alvin Langdon Coburn was born on June 11th 1882, in Boston, Massachusetts, to a middle-class family. His father died when Alvin was seven. After that he was raised solely by his mother, Fannie. She remained the primary influence in his early life, even though she remarried when he was a teenager.

In 1890 Coburn receieved his first camera, a 4 x 5 Kodak camera. He immediately fell in love with it, and within a few years he had developed a remarkable talent for both visual composition and technical proficiency in the darkroom. When he was sixteen years old, in 1898, he met his cousin F. Holland Day. Day recognized Coburn’s talent and both mentored him and encouraged him to take up photography as a career.

At the end of 1899 his mother and he moved to London, where they met up with Day. Day had been invited by the Royal Photographic Society to select prints from the best American photographers for an exhibition in London. He brought more than a hundred photographs with him, including nine by Coburn – who at this time was only 17 years old. He travelled to France to study with Edward Steichen and Robert Demachy, and to New York to work with Gertrude Kasebier. Here he became friends with George Bernard Shaw, who introduced him to a number of the most celebrated literary, artistic and political figures in Britain, many of whom, including Shaw, he photographed.

In 1902 he was elected a member of the Photo-Secession, founded by Alfred Stieglitz to raise the standards of pictorial photography. A year later he was elected a member of the Brotherhood of the Linked ring in Britain. His work was published in Stieglitz’ Camera Work multiple times and he was given a one-man show at the Camera Club of New York.

By 1907 Coburn was so well established in his career that Shaw called him “the greatest photographer in the world,” although he was only 24 years old at the time.He continued his success by having a one-man show at Stieglitz’s prestigious Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession in New York and by organizing an international exhibition of photography at the New English Art Galleries in London.

As a photographer of cities and landscapes (1903–10), he concentrated on mood, striving for broad effects and atmosphere in his photographs rather than clear delineation of tones and sharp rendition of detail. He was influenced by the work of Japanese painters, which he referred to as the ‘style of simplification’. He considered simple things to be the most profound. Coburn produced two limited edition portfolios, London (1909) and New York (1910), in photogravure form, which he produced on his own printing press. He claimed that in his hands photogravure produced results that could be considered as original prints, and signed them accordingly.

While in New York he met and married Edith Wightman Clement of Boston on October 11, 1912. They would move and settle in Britain permanently.

Coburn continued to build his fame by publishing what would become his most famous book, Men of Mark, in 1913. The book featured 33 gravure prints of important European and American authors, artists and statesmen, including Henri Matisse, Henry James, Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and Yeats. In the preface to the book, he says:

“To make satisfactory photographs of persons it is necessary for me to like them, to admire them, or at least to be interested in them. It is rather curious and difficult to exactly explain, but if I dislike my subject it is sure to come out in the resulting portrait . I had thought of using ‘Men of Genius’ as the title for this book, but Arnold Bennett objected seriously, saying, very modestly, that he did not consider himself a man of genius, but merely a working author, and absolutely refusing to join the throng unless I changed it, so I told him that if he would give me a better one I would use it. ‘Men of Mark’ is his alternative.”

In Britain, he became involved in the short-lived Vorticism movement. In 1916 he made a Vortoscope (a triangle of mirrors attached to the lens), with which he was able to take abstract photographs known as Vortographs, which he exhibited (together with a number of paintings) in London at the Camera Club in 1917. He made only about 18 different Vortographs, taken over a period of just one month, yet they remain among the most striking images in early 20th century photography.

From 1918 he dedicated himself to freemasonry, taking photographs only when on holiday; he spent most of his time at his home in North Wales, where he derived great happiness from his study of freemasonry and spiritual subjects. By 1930 Coburn had lost almost all interest in photography. He decided that his past was of little use to him now, and over the summer he destroyed nearly 15,000 glass and film negatives – nearly his entire life’s output. This same year he donated his extensive collection of contemporary and historical photographs to the Royal Photographic Society.

Coburn died in his home in North Wales on November 23, 1966.

Portfolio Items