This is an iPhone capture using a wide angle Moment lens mounted on my phone. The location is Bodega Ysios in Laguardia, Spain, in Rioja. This place has been on my bucket list for years. The architect is Santiago Calatrava of whom I am I big fan. What’s cool about the image is that during the conversion from RGB to grayscale, those strange artifacts popped up in the upper corners, For me that’s a positive, not a negative.
Fine Black & White Photogrtaphy
Prowling the calles and the ramparts of the Medieval Spanish city of Caceres after midnight, the rain was falling in a fine misty drizzle. I captured all the images with an iPhone and Moment lenses. Although I had a tripod, I chose to hand hold every capture. A couple of great nights of “street” photography.
A black and white triptych made with film; Astypalea, Greece.
I spent two months this summer on small Mediterranean islands. Although I captured color images digitally, all my B&W work was exposed on 120 film using a Hasselblad. Needless to say upon returning home, it was thrilling to process B&W negatives and to make work prints. For the past several months I’ve been printing B&W images digitally; I’m convinced that my return to black and white film and format cameras justifies a dedicated B&W printer. More on that in the New Year.
I’ve started thinking about my self portraits again. I have a folder of them which I occasionally look through. Most don’t really stand the test of time, but there are a few which could make the cut. This one was from over twenty years ago, on St. John USVI. It’s an accidental double exposure on 4×5 film.
This one was captured yesterday. Photographic technology certainly has changed in the time span between them, buy my intention hasn’t; nor has my commitment to self portraits.
Today, I was photographing swimming pools for my pool company. For fourteen years, we’ve had a barter system whereby I photograph their newly constructed pools and, in return, they service and maintain my pool. After nearly a decade and-a-half, I can say without fear of contradiction that I am an expert at swimming pool photography. So this afternoon, I was at a brand new, 15000 square foot, “mac-man” lodged in the dunes overlooking the ocean. The pool was all right: I guess what made it somewhat photogenic was its location and its proximity to the ocean. But for about ten minutes, I became really preoccupied with photographing the walkway through the dunes and down onto the beach. The raw file capture below was rgb color, of course, but with a small digital back rub, I ended up with this image.
And what’s cool is after fourteen years of doing this, the pool guy, Mikie, knows to leave me alone when I wander off, and I start to photograph random things. In fact, by now, he’s always really interested to see what has attracted my attention.
While languishing on the Mystic Bridge in a mind numbing traffic jam back in the ’70s, I grabbed this image by sticking my right arm out the passenger side while I was holding a 35mm camera. I really like the graphic quality of white stripes on the motorcycle cops’ pants and the white line on the pavement. I also really like the expression on the cop’s face who’s standing to the right. I’m sure they could have cared less what I liked or what I thought. Looking at an image from that far back, I wonder where these guys are now: if they’re still alive, I bet they’d like to have a print of this.
How many of you long time Newburyporters remember the CP Cigar Shop on State Street. It was several doors up from Fowles. I don’t recall it still being in business during my tenure in “River City”; but I made this photography of its front door sometime around the time I made Joy Ride in the late ’70s. I came across my master print of it within the past year as I was going through various portfolios. The image still stands the test of time for me. And what I also recall about CP Cigar Shop, is that former Newburyport mayor, Byron Matthews, bought a print of it from me back in the day. Price? Twenty-five dollars for a 11×14 split toned print, unframed. Boy, did he get a deal…the perks of political office. I googled him, and it appears he’s still alive. I hope he still has my print.
I was recently urged to search my way-way-back B&W archive for an image of a long ago departed local Newburyport character, Duncan Chase. He was the local drunk who had an acute fondness for loudly proclaiming to all passerby that he was “a cool, cool cat from New York City” and that he “walked the line…yeoahhhh”. Many afternoons he could be found slumbering in sunlight-warm doorways and sharing that warmth with an empty whiskey pint right next to him.
But that’s not what I want to talk about here. While searching the way-way back archive, I stumbled across a couple of B&W negatives that are of major significance for me. The one below, Joy Ride, is on my top ten, all time life time list. I have a silver gelatin, split toned, selenium print of it on my wall as I post this. I fondly remember making the print back in Newburport, and I recall how amazed I was that I finally learned the nuance of split toning. The print has been on my wall almost everywhere I’ve lived since I made it.
So what’s so cool about it? To start with, it’s a seriously gorgeous print. But the image itself is one that can walk and chew gum at the same time. Back when I exposed the film for this image, a friend lent me a real short focal length Nikon lens. I was using a Nikkormat then, and I was enamored by images from short focal length lenses. In previous posts, I’ve talked about the importance of Salisbury Beach for me. Joy Ride was taken at Salisbury Beach at the end of the summer season, a day or two before workers folded everything up for the winter. Even at the time of exposure, I knew I had a winner. It wasn’t until later, much later (like years later) that I fully grasped the graphic impact of the designs on the cars, the punctuation of the light bulbs, and how the white lazy clouds are layered onto the sky, yet behind the ride itself.
Mine is a small print, nine inches wide. After twenty-five years, a print may be labeled as a vintage silver gelatin print (VSGP in galleryspeak). Joy Ride is now in that club; after nearly forty years, time’s patina has washed over my Portriga Rapid Afga paper print with a gloved hand, gently burnishing it with a soft blush of autumnal mellowness. (Do I sound like I miss wet process printing and the darkroom? Yar, you betcha!) Sure, I know how to replicate split toning in Photoshop, and sure I wanted you to see what my little print looks like; but trust me on this one, digital can’t come close to what time has meticulously rendered without bytes, without digital tools, brushes or filters. Without asking it, time has done its job on my print of Joy Ride like it has etched the lines and wrinkles on my face. Ever since Nicéphore Niépce, everyone has agreed that, if nothing else, photography is about time.
Another recent self portrait which just goes to show that behind everyman there’s a woman. And, the woman behind me in this image was kind enough to suggest that this picture was extremely creepy looking, and that I looked dead. Nah…I just didn’t want to get blinded by the flash. Although after looking at myself in this image my vanity whispers, “consider plastic surgery”. Nah…I earned everyone of those wrinkles and grey hairs, one by one.
May and June light are amazing on the East End of Long Island; that is, when the sun comes out. Actually, the fog light has been pretty amazing as well, and it seems we’ve had a lot more of that than sunlight. Anyway, afternoon sunlight was pouring into my downstairs bathroom yesterday, and it splashed all over the guest towels. I was walking past the doorway with my little four-thirds panasonic in my hand when I saw this.