Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Darkroom

One of the best parts of working in a wet darkoom, watching your image come up under the safe lights, prodding it with the tongs, is the collective that forms. In a place where everyone's images are set one on top of the other and you're looking at your neighbor's photograph as much as your own, you have the opportunity to talk about the process and critique. I love reading photo blogs because I get that same sense of seeing all the images as they come through the print dryer, still a little tacky. But the difference is that there is no conversation. No peering at a friend's negs through the loupe. There's no bulletin board to pin your finished images to, squeezed between everyone else's. You don't get any feedback on the process. You don't have as much discussion. 
Sure, there are comments to read, but it's not the same sort of unrehearsed, colloquial discussion. You can't say, well I like that shot, but this thing in the corner is distracting. It pulls your eye away and well, I just think - let me see that loupe again - yeah, I think this one is a much stronger image. 
So when I go through these blogs, sometimes I get a sense that there is no real community. Or, to be more precise, in this economy I get the sense that the community is also competition. If you can't make a photograph as good as the one on that blog,  you'll never succeed. There is so much more tension. And I feel like now that we're all holding our prints close to our chests, keeping them locked up in LCD screens and terabyte backup drives, you lose the intimacy of the print dryer. And the creative melting pot that comes with it. And the community. 

It can be immensely difficult to make interesting photographs every day without feeling the collective support and creativity of the community around you. That is sometimes the hardest part. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Miscellaneous... playing with strobing.

A few different techniques for strobe usage last week. 

Balanced with late afternoon sunlight. I wish her family was better lit, but I would have had to flash them separately... This woman "won" a sweepstakes at the town center and got the run-around. She still hasn't got the car she supposedly won. Story here.

Bounced off the ceiling. I tried to make it a little unobtrusive here, balanced with the ambient lighting. Just enough for me to tone down the ISO a bit and reduce the noise.

Bounced off the ceiling here, with exposure set to completely obliterate the ambient. It was Thelma's 100th birthday. What a gorgeous woman!

Direct flash here, to balance with the sunlight. I wanted to flash off-camera from the front of the little yellow car, but I didn't have the equipment or time to set it up properly. Anyway, I was able to get the sky nice and contrasty with my polarizing filter and balanced with the flash. Looks pretty good.

Bounced off the low ceiling again here, upped the flash a couple stops for some drama. Worked well with the moody ambient coming in from those windows. Fortunately for me, the fluorescent lights in half the wrestling room were out, so I didn't have to wrestle with them.


Baseball lately.

I shot a portrait of these four Agoura High School players last week. I tried to do something different. The more experimental shots didn't run, but I suppose that's the way it goes sometimes. Here's a link to the story.




And the Grace Brethren Youth Baseball league had its opening day. I absolutely adore shooting youth leagues. Pub page is here.