Following Old Trails

following another’s footsteps makes you a tourist not a guide

Arriving Late

You may miss the plot, the arc of what came before, and think the ending is the story.

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You begin in the footsteps of others; you walk behind them before you make your own path. you follow their path, retaking their footsteps, you learn how to do it: you follow the technical. the technical, if it’s amidol and azo, lead you into a narrowing market space; an expensive place in which you have to solve technical and  the economic, before you can set yourself free enough to solve your own problems; the problems that you define. This dalliance keeps the romance without requiring esthetic commitment. To keep yourself from realizing this, you rationalize the affair, calling it Printmaking.

The Printmaker Excuse

thinking that the problem to solve is just a printmaker one, your task becomes making yourself into a printmaker. this is codeword for saying you don’t have to have an image concept, an origin aesthetic; rely upon an aesthetic concept that’s been done. You can follow the prepared guidebook. Picture types come prepared with payment. you already know what you’re going to point the camera at. Maybe a rock, or sunset, a girl..

How bout a girl on a rock at sunset

massArtistsLF.001Unless you are a Carnie. Most long time participants in online photo forums limit their discussion to method and technique. They never understand this limits their growth. Carnie is one longtime dedicated participant. He serves as archtypical printmaker. As he notes: Now I just have to think of a subject.

 

Simple Complex

The simplified process of Weston becomes a complicated process without a manufacture. Mistaking the wand for the magic. No one bemoans the end of Weston’s light bulb, neither do they ask the type of contact frame used. Charis on a dune, with perfect drop shadow is more important than bulb, camera, developer, or paper. Translation is never better by reading a more accurate dictionary.

Take What You Need

Rather than taking from Weston the specifics, take the general, the bigger constant — work simply, but work a lot. Use what is at hand until it runs out. Then find another.

What Weston did was point his camera well. He, also, was first on the calendar; it was his footprint you saw on the dune. If you’re going to follow, follow the awareness, not the technical.  that is the artist’s move, not the salesman’s gambit.

References & Notes

early printing was platinum requiring contact prints, which he abandoned when it became scares and expensive. He switched to Azo and Amidol in California. [Newhall 1984, p. 110.]

  • weston bad portrait studio .. retail portraits need retouching . big neg makes easier
  • contact prints on slow paper
  • paper no longer produced
  • weston switches paper, but keeps camera
  • improves exposure quickly adopting Weston meter. more single negative exposures. cheaper, easier field work.. more images
  • At Pt Lobos he worked on the edge of the coast.. a long distant horizontal — down was detail, up was the line — the distance marker.

webionaire links AMIDOL CHLORIDE PAPER

[3 of 3: Nov 10, 17]

Thin Ice

film is on thin ice.

When a major film maker, Kodak, Ilford, put film onto reduced production schedule, we are on the edge of another meltdown.

When production can be triggered by a handful of large users, film is in low use. This is a hotdog stand waiting for the game to end

Ilford makes 3 of my most used films. Ortho plus and SFX are coming up on short supply in the US. Apparently I have bought the last of the O+ from B&H several months ago. This triggered the special make run. Following up on the special, special run, I discovered that Ilford will be making O+ every other year.

Tough to make a business based upon a weak supply line. (bob carnie and friends)

SFX was also cleaned out, with only 28 rolls! So, I went to Freestyle and took what they had. That order is on the road, parked in Red Rock Arizona. Will be at my door in the morning.

I have said that I’ll be shooting film until 2020 – that may be optimistic, given the fragility of film supply. Film, that I use, has a decidedly film look, and use. Most films are made to eliminate grain, scan easily, produce flat/linear highlight and shadow rolls – These are all characteristics of digital’s innate performance; except, no need to scan – shoot and go.

What this means to me, is that I will have to order more – sadly, the IR type films don’t store, 3-4 years is their limit for extended sensitivity. The sensitizing dyes are only, just barely stable enough to last.

And so it goes.