When it rains it pours… I’m going to have several busy weeks ahead getting ready for three (THREE!!!) shows at the same time. I’m going to have work in a group show of large format photography at the River Road Unitarian Church, an alternative process show at the ArtDC Gallery, and a solo show at Mad Momos, a restaurant here in DC. Fortunately the Mad Momos show won’t be until the end of June, so I’ll have more time to prepare for it.
For the group show at the Unitarian church, I’m contributing some of my color nighttime shots of DC -
Georgetown in a Rainstorm
Burma Restaurant, Chinatown, DC
Secession Sushi – The Wok ‘n Roll in the Surratt House
Fountain, Georgetown Waterfront, Kennedy Center
The ArtDC gallery show will have my 14×17 palladium prints from Eastern State Penitentiary (don’t have them printed yet so I can’t show them – the negs are too big to scan).
Mad Momos will feature my “street” photography I think – mostly my documentary stuff from around DC. Probably all color work, but I haven’t decided yet.
Well, the results were announced today, and my Ficus, Recoleta was awarded 2nd Prize in the contest overall. You can see the results here – April 2013 Issue, Rangefinder Magazine.
Lightbox Gallery call for entries – Katherine Thayer memorial Gum Bichromate show
Regular readers of my blog will probably remember the notice I posted last year about Katherine Thayer’s passing. Katherine was a tremendous gum bichromate printer and an extremely generous teacher of the process. Lightbox gallery in Astoria, Oregon is organizing a commemorative exhibit and has put out a call for entries for the show (link above).
To reprint the notice on the LightBox web page,
LIGHTBOX PHOTOGRAPHIC GALLERY CALL FOR ENTRIES
Two Friends Who Never Met
An Exhibit of Gum Bichromate Prints
In Memory and in Honor of Katharine Thayer
featuring the work of Katharine Thayer and Diana Bloomfield
with a juried exhibit of Gum Bichromate Prints
Juror – Diana Bloomfield
We welcome you to share in the beauty of the hand-made print, and specifically, the gum bichromate print,
with a juried exhibit as part of this memoriam for Katherine.
This exhibit serves to illuminate Katharine’s artistry— her admiration for, dedication to, and mastery of gum printing.
This exhibit also celebrates her legacy and her years-long friendship with Diana.
I had a mental picture of the kind of photograph I wanted to make. I had never seen any photographs like them, but I was determined to find a way to make them, these pictures I saw in my head. Their colors were soft and relatively unsaturated, but with a kind of glow about them . . . I set out first to teach myself to print in gum, then to adapt the method to produce the kinds of pictures I wanted to make, and have been making them ever since – Katharine Thayer – katharinethayer.com
Katherine Thayer was a long-time resident of Oregon and a masterful gum bichromate printer. She was also a generous teacher to those who struggled to learn this ultimately rewarding, yet often challenging, 19th century printing process. In Katharine’s words, “learning gum printing involves some trial and error, and there’s no short cut to mastery; a person successful in mastering the process will have some staying power and possess a sense of humor and some tolerance for failure.”
Katharine was also a decades-long member of “The List” , an Alternative Process listserv— a free and open online discussion list related to all things ‘alternative’ in the photographic printing world. For Katharine, of course, this meant gum printing. Currently, over 600 people world-wide are members of this List, and this is where Diana Bloomfield, a native North Carolinian, photographer and printer, first met Katharine. In the middle of teaching herself to make gum prints, Diana gleaned invaluable bits of information from those on the List, but she learned the most from Katharine and from her website (KatharineThayer.com). In the midst of all the questions, and in-between Katharine’s tireless mentoring, the two became good friends. They corresponded via email almost daily, and they were once in a group pinhole exhibit together in the Seattle area. Diana was also in a group exhibit at LightBox, where Katharine was a frequent visitor. Still, they never met.
Over my lunch break today I caught a wonderful exhibit at the National Gallery of Art entitled Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. The exhibition opened in mid-February and runs through May 5th. It moves to Houston in July to October. One of the singular points the exhibit drives home is the fact that photography has always been subject to manipulation even from its earliest days when daguerreotypes were hand-colored to make them more ‘realistic’, and skies were printed in via multiple negatives to compensate for the shortcomings of early emulsion formulas. One of the coups of the exhibition is the inclusion of Steichen’s “The Pond – Moonlight” from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most people familiar with the work know it as a multi-layered gum bichromate over platinum print. What most don’t realize, however, is that the image may in fact be a composite with the moon having been added, and may also never have been photographed by moonlight (a feat that would have been difficult to achieve with the emulsions available even in 1904). The moon in the image may be an addition or otherwise a manipulation of the print, and the nighttime feel of the image merely an effect of the color choices in the gum layers of the print.
Images have been manipulated for a whole host of reasons, from a desire to make them more real (hand-colored daguerreotypes) to conveying an inner reality (surrealist photography) to evoking an emotional resonance (The Pond, Moonlight) to suggesting a reality that could exist (a Zeppelin docking at the docking tower of the Empire State building) to creating something that never existed (giant crickets consuming giant produce on the back of a wagon) to re-shaping reality for political ends (Nazi and Soviet propaganda posters and publicity photos). All of the above are represented in this exhibit, and placed in an historical and artistic continuum.
There has been much controversy lately over questions of photojournalistic integrity with regards to digital manipulation to include/exclude details to tell a story, from the Iranians photoshopping additional rockets into a picture of a missile test to Edgar Martins getting caught claiming his work was unmanipulated when in fact he was heavily altering his images. This is not new, but in fact the question of manipulative ethics is far more unsettled for far longer than most people realize. In 1906, Horace Nichols was photographing the Epsom Derby on a rainy day. There were gaps in the crowd, so to convey the feeling of the event he wanted to convey, he spliced in a whole sea of additional umbrellas. This was common practice for Mr. Nichols, and he rarely cited it in the captions of his images, but he sustained a career as a serious photo-journalist. It makes you think long and hard about your assumptions of photographic verissimilitude and the historical moment in which photography ‘ceased to tell the truth’.
The exhibition is well worth the visit if you have an interest in the history of photography and questions of honesty and integrity of the photographic medium.
Also worth noting is that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is currently hosting (through May, 2013) a companion exhibit (which I hope will travel as well) entitled After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age
I’ll be up in New York in April for a weekend and so I’ll try to catch it then and see the two shows as brackets for one another. The comparison should be very interesting.
The judging is done, and my Ficus, Recoleta has been selected as one of the finalists in the Rangefinder Alernative Process competition. I’ll find out how well it does when the April issue of Rangefinder is published. The print is still available if anyone is interested.
My new batch of Kodak Portra 160 just arrived today. For a long while I thought it would remain a pipe dream to get to shoot this film again in this size, as the price had more than doubled since I first purchased it. But B&H Photo, the ultimate camera superstore, had a batch on sale, so I snapped up two boxes, hopefully enough to complete a project.
I now have an official 100 followers on WordPress (plus 2 via email)! I know it’s a rather tiny milestone, but it’s a milestone nonetheless.
Please vote for my entry in the Rangefinder Alternative/B&W Competition People’s Choice awards! This is my (in)famous Ficus, Recoleta shot that I took in Buenos Aires. The tree is outside Recoleta cemetery in a little park, and the tree roots themselves that you can see are over 6′ (2m) tall, to give you a sense of scale for the tree. The print is a 5×7 palladium print on heavy weight paper. And it is for sale should anyone be interested! The prints are available in an edition of 10, starting at $250. Please click on the image to go to the competition web page to vote! And while you’re there, browse around and see all the other incredible work submitted.
I got a favorable review in the DC City Paper for my image in the “Signatures” exhibit at Photoworks. The exhibit is (well, was, it’s now over and I’ll be picking up my print after work today) a brief show of images by students and instructors at Photoworks, with the theme of “signatures” indicating characteristic images that can be viewed as representing you and the work you do – pieces you would be recognized for. I submitted my Ficus Tree, Recoleta, Buenos Aires as my contribution to the exhibit, and it was one of three pieces singled out by the reviewer as praiseworthy. The reviewer did get the process all wrong, calling it a faux-toning process (he obviously didn’t ASK, or try to contact me about it before publishing the review), but I’ll take any positive press!
City Paper Review
Ficus, Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Woo-hoo! I broke 20,000 hits in a year, with a little time left yet before we close out 2012! 2011 had 8500-ish, which means my readership has more than doubled. Thank you all, kind readers, for paying attention to my ramblings about my collecting addiction.