An Eighty-One Day Exposure & An Eight Day Exposure

Today when I got to work, I found the pinhole camera the students and I  had put out on 12.21.2012  intending to leave it up  until 6.21.2013, solstice to solstice.  At some point, the camera  fell off the wall.  The tape and metal were both wet, the pinhole rusty and face up in the newly mowed grass.  I could feel water sloshing inside.  But scanned!  The 81 day exposure revealed  a vast trail  of the sun rising and setting, forming an ever larger arc across the sky, incredibly beautiful.  I am positive that vivid sun trail did not exist in reality, that such brilliant light was not visible to me as I went to work five days a week for those 81 days.  Tomorrow,  we hang up another camera in the same spot and hope it makes it to the solstice.  Stay tuned in another 90 days, for the the second half of the solstice series.  In the meanwhile, here is one of Hawaii from Arkadiy Tkachev.  Taken last fall with an 8 day exposure.

ArkadiyTkachev

The Pinhole Project goes to Chicago

I made this pinhole image from the 30th floor high above Michigan Avenue this last weekend in Chicago.  It is only a four day exposure but snow had fallen and the sun was out in the cold bright air. Perfect weather for long pinhole exposures.   I went to Chicago to attend the 50th Society for Photographic Education Conference, where about 1500 educators from around the country gathered.   It was inspiring and fun and I am extremely tired.  One of my favorite parts (not counting hearing Martin Parr and Elaine Mayes speak), was seeing the work of several hundred of the participants during the Friday night curator walk through.  I loved showing the Pinhole Project to many people that night.  The next day, I spoke with the Ilford representative, (straight from England) who gave me some interesting possible explanations  concerning the color shifts that we have been getting in the exposures.  I will be communicating these findings in future blogs.   Stay tuned.

Archival Inkjet Print from a digital image, 12 x 8 inches, 2010, 1/15

Welcome to my Blog….

Welcome to my blog.  Anyone out there reading this, I thank you.  This website and blog are an interface for me, a place to act and react to the world of photography.  A public journal.  Ruminations on 30 years of involvement with the medium. A place for me to post thoughts and ideas about photography, the pursuit of the image and the gift of involvement.   I will also  feature images by others that inspire me to think, create and be a better photographer and person.

I learn something everyday about photography.  It is a miraculous invention akin to fire, the wheel and the printing press, this profound ability that we have to image ourselves, our lives and our environment, to create both fact and fiction.  Photography is my life.  I understand how people fall in love with photography.  I did 30 years ago.  I don’t care that everyone is a photographer these days.  I only care that I have gotten to be one.   That said I feature this image:  a self portrait made outside my front door.  I photograph what lies before me.  Sometimes I make it up, invent it and alter reality.  Other times, I am true to reality.  This image reflects that:  I was looking for a picture due to a need to make one at that moment, camera in hand  and good light, outside my front door.  Images are everywhere.

Kid with chair in field copyMy Grandmother, who quit school after the sixth grade, was a remarkable photographer.  She had an eye and she had the desire to take photographs, a need, despite hard times, no money, a stark life full of hard work, many children, and a loveless marriage.  Yet she always had her camera.  So I dedicate  this blog to her, even though she was mostly unhappy, I know that photography made her happy.  I imagine her on the farm, 75 miles from the nearest town, waiting for the mail to arrive with the newest roll of developed film with prints.  It must have been one of those moments when everything else fell away, all the chores and work and stress while she looked at the images she had made months before.  I know she  felt joy at that moment.  She once told me that there is always a picture to be made.  The photograph below  is of my father, out in the  field with a chair.  It is a perfect moment, his hand hovers above the horizon, his expression is serious, nothing else exists at that moment, just him and her, the chair, the empty horizon, the breeze, the smell of the grasses.  She must have carried that good chair all the way out into the field, camera and boy in hand just to make this photograph and I have loved it  for many years.  It is the most important thing to make a photograph when the need makes itself known, when the  recognition takes place.

ADDENDUM/UPDATE:  As a toddler, my father was reluctant to learn to walk and it must have been frustrating for my grandmother on the farm with a two year old that did not walk.  She took several pictures of him (without the chair), left in a field to make his own way back to the farmhouse.  I do not know whether he has walked yet in this photograph.  I love the stories photographs create and how there are so many worlds inside one image.  Five years since I started this website and am happy to report I still love photography. I am still learning and still making photographs.  Thank you for reading.

NIGHTTIME

Featured image:  Stanley Ave South and South Albro

I have been working for the last several years on a project called NightTime. These images were all made within the neighborhood where I live near the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.  The neighborhood  is a mixture of industrial and residential structures, full of train yards, factories, overpasses, trailers, small homes and beautiful gardens.  Situated at the end of Boeing Field, it endures an enormous amount of truck, train  and airplane traffic.  Recently the Argo Yard Bridge, connecting the neighborhood to downtown Seattle via Airport Way was closed for reconstruction for about 18 months.  It was a time of heavy construction on the bridge mixed with greatly reduced truck traffic along the streets.  Georgetown in in the throes of change.  My photographs try to capture both that change and the historical nature of the area.

At night Georgetown is alive.  The freeway, the train yards, the Duwamish River and Boeing Field create the four edges of the neighborhood.   These edges hum with noise and movement, yet there is solitude to be found on the tracks after trains pass, in the alleys after planes land and on the streets when the trucks are silent.

The Nighttime images are a work in progress.  This portfolio will continue to evolve and change, just as Georgetown does.  The images are printed  in an edition of 10/15 x 10 inches.   All images are shot with low ISO, long exposure digital capture and printed on rag paper with archival inks.   Please inquire about print availability, size and pricing.  Please see the blog for updates about this portfolio:  ten of these images were in the viewing drawers of Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon during 2016.  They will be shown at Gallery 110 in Seattle for the month of September, 2017.

 

FIREWORKS: 2007-2009

I photographed people with fireworks for the three years along the Duwamish River in Seattle on the Fourth of July.  Initially I was interested in the time exposure, to see just how much I could blend and blur the fireworks, people and the light to create a workable image.  Reviewing the work after the first year, I realized it was the people surrounded by the light and the fireworks that really interested me. I wasn’t making portraits per se but photographs about people  who moved like dancers, within  an atmosphere that was mysterious, intriguing and ultimately unsettling. Shooting these events, I felt like I was in a war zone that was dangerous and at the same time,  incredibly beautiful.  These images were made with digital capture and printed on 17 x 11 inch rag paper with archival inks.   They are available from the artist in a limited edition of 25.  Please contact me for information on pricing and edition availability.

Halloween, 1989

RED HOOK STORIES: 1981-1991

I made these images of the Red Hook section of Brooklyn when I lived there for 10 years from 1981-1991.  I wasn’t consciously trying to make a statement about the this dilapidated area, I just photographed what unfolded before me as I walked the neighborhood  with my dog, Willie.  Having grown up on Puget Sound, I loved the waterfront and its impact on the neighborhood. The open spaces, vacant lots, wild dogs, rundown buildings, and the strong beautiful light became important elements in my work. I photographed almost every day,  exploring  the area with my neighbor and friend, Maureen McNeil. Over time, I began to collect portraits of the people who lived and worked there, architectural details, and landscapes of the waterfront and the streets.  Now, 20-plus years later, these images have become an historical record of an area that has changed dramatically.  Maureen McNeil and I published a book titled Red Hook Stories with her short stories about the neighborhood and my photographs.

All images in this portfolio are scanned 35mm negatives printed on Cranes Portfolio Rag paper with archival inkjet inks.  Prints are 13.75 x  9.25 inches on 17 x 22 inch paper in an edition of 25.  All images are available for purchase from the photographer and from Kentler Gallery.   Please inquire about editions and pricing. Vintage silver gelatin prints of certain images are available upon request.

KID PICTURES

I photographed my daughter from birth until she moved away to go to college at age 18.  At first the images were casual portraits, made when the moment arose.  Gradually I realized that I was not photographing the events in her life such birthday parties, Christmas morning, baseball games.  Instead I was drawn to emotional moments, when the light was inviting, when she was sick or sad or happy or moody.  I also started early on  to photograph her friends, and the children of friends in the same manner.  Over the years I took hundreds of photographs of the kids that surrounded me with both color and black and white film.  I titled these images Kid Pictures, an irreverent sort of title, of photographs that were not about the happy days of childhood but the less recorded parts, the more painful moments.  I offer some of them here as a kind of tribute to the kids who so willingly showed me the other side of their lives and let me record them.  The Kid Pictures have been shown over the years in many different forms and three of the images are in a public art collection that hangs in a 911 Center as an example of the kind of child that they are dedicated to helping.  All of these images have now been printed digitally and are available in limited quantities.  Please inquire.

 

Helping with the Harvest, South Dakota, 1985, 1/15

SELF PORTRAITS

I don’t know why I have taken so many self-portraits or what meaning they might have as photographs. But I have been taking them steadily since I first started out as a photographer in 1978.  Many of them were/are reactions to conscious or unconscious stimuli, moments presented when the camera was ready. Others were set-ups, experiments with equipment and/or printing processes, attempting new techniques.   And some were made out of reflex and habit to satisfy the urge to click the shutter, not to make any type of statement.

Self-portraiture confuses me.  Like many people, I rarely like a photograph of myself and feel self-conscious when a camera is pointed my way. I would much rather take responsibility for making my own image and the consequences incumbent upon it.  As I edit the self-portraits, I try to forget that these are in fact photographs of me and choose images that I like, that are able to stand alone. I continue to make self-portraits and will post new ones as they are made.  These images were made with a wide variety of cameras and printing techniques.  Some are one of a kind and have been sold.  Many were printed from black and white negatives and are available in limited edition silver gelatin prints.  Many are current digital based images and are available in editions of 15.  If interested, please inquire about pricing and availability.

ITALY

I went to Italy in 1998 for seven weeks.  I photographed daily and made about 4000 images on film with 35mm and medium format cameras.  We lived in a small village in northern Tuscany up in the hills with beautiful light, great food and long days of exploring, napping and shooting.  I realized early on that I was looking for an Italy that I had visited in the early seventies, not one full of tourists, but one with timeless architecture and beautiful landscapes.  I found this  in the Tuscan hills and when  I came home, I spent a year printing and editing the images.  I ended up with 40  photographs that were important to me.  These images have been exhibited widely and were printed in an edition of 10.  All were printed  on semi-matte silver gelatin paper and toned  in homemade sepia toner and  gold chloride for maximum longevity.  An article about the printing and toning process appeared in the World  Journal of Post-Factory Photography, #7, titled  the Power of Gold.  Some of the images in edition are sold out.  Some are still available in the edition size of 16 x 20.  Please inquire.

 

LOUPEHOLES

For several years I wore an 8x loupe around my neck almost every day. I initially used it to examine negatives and contact sheets for my darkroom work. As time went on and my close-up vision grew less reliable, I started to use the loupe for many different purposes, from examining my daughter’s cuts and scratches to finding telephone numbers in the phone book.  What I explored under the loupe expanded as I used it to look closely at the little things in the world I couldn’t see clearly. The loupe became an intrinsic part of my visual field and I fell in love with the way everything looked through it.  At the same time, I had become involved with pinhole photography, including teaching the fundamentals with simple, homemade cameras. My students and I made lots of cameras.  One day I realized that I could attach the loupe directly onto the pinhole and perhaps capture what I was seeing under it.

My first experiment, an image of a butter knife on a cloth napkin, was taken with a paper negative and a cardboard camera with the loupe duct-taped onto front of the pinhole. It worked and I felt like a new world in photography had opened up for me. These images in this portfolio are from the pinhole/loupe experiments over a period  of about five years. All of them were taken with a  4 x 5 inch pinhole camera with an 8x loupe attached, exposed  on sheet film and then developed in a dusty basement darkroom. They were made in the spirit of experimentation that has been a part of photography since its beginnings.

I have long been interested in photographing still life and worked with an 8 x 10 inch camera to do so in the past. With the pinhole/loupe combination, I could not  see these tiny still life images when they were in front of  the camera and the shutter was ready to be opened. I was never sure how much of the subject will translate on to the film.  The process was  fraught with mishap and happy accidents. The loupe showed me a small slice of the world and yet within it exists light, drama, tension and moment.

These images, these “LoupeHoles,” were  a way into  a world that had been right before my eyes all the while. I hope that they amuse, frighten, entertain and inspire the viewer to look more closely at the throwaways in life—the little things around the house that are swept out the door and forgotten.

All of these images were shot on 4 x 5 sheet film and developed by hand in the darkroom.  The images were then enlarged  onto  16 x 20 fiber-based gelatin silver paper and toned in selenium, gold and/or blue toners.  Six of them are  in the collection of the Pinhole Resource www.pinholeresource.com and have been featured in the Pinhole Journal (Volume 20, #2) and  one, The Point of a Pencil, was published along with a my short essay about the technique in Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique,  Eric Renner, editor.  They have also been published in Cambrea, A Photographic Journal of Life and Liberty of Views.  All images are available in a limited edition of 10.  Please inquire about print prices and availability.

SQUARES

These images in the portfolio called Squares  were made over the last 20 years during various road trips. For me, the road trip represents time to get lost, to drive with and without an agenda, to shoot and dream and nap and eat in the car.  The prints have been produced mostly from scanned 35mm film  negatives (with some digital capture) on rag paper with archival inks.  Image size is 10 x 10 inches.  Prints are ready to frame, signed and editioned  by the photographer.  The edition for all images is limited to 50.  The price for the first ten in the edition is  $50.00.  For each set of ten, the price rises $25.00.  Please use the PayPal link on this page  to order these prints.  Note:  Please specify which image you would like to purchase in the PayPal note field before checking out.