Busy photo weekend

This was another really busy photo weekend. Yesterday was a shoot with two models in the studio. Today was darkroom work. Yesterday was interesting – I went in to the studio in the morning to help out one of my studio-mates by shooting with two models he had brought in from New York and Philly to do some portfolio development work with them. The first one to arrive was a bouncing ball of unfocused energy. I suspected there would be trouble as short attention spans and I don’t get along well. Things worked out ok in the end because I got some decent shots with him, but getting there was, well, challenging. Knowing what I know now, would I hire him as an art model? NO. Would he be fine for a fashion shoot or as a fitness model where poses only last 3-5 seconds each? Sure. I hate to stereotype, but this guy lived up to the male equivalent of Cameron’s supermodel girlfriend in In & Out who couldn’t figure out how to use a rotary phone.

The second model arrived shortly afterward, and he and I shot while the first guy pumped up with some resistance bands. Mr. Fitness (I’ll call him that to distinguish him from the second model) wanted to shoot second even though he was there first because he wanted to get pumped up first. That was the first strike against him.

I generally keep a quiet set so I can concentrate on the work and communicate with my model. Mr. Fitness decided he was bored, so bored I had to stop, dig out the iPod speaker dock that belongs to the studio and plug it in for him so he could have some music. He promptly selected some very obnoxious hip-hop that he then played at an intrusive volume level. Not impressive.

My set that day was my first attempt at re-creating after a fashion the old Victorian photo parlor feel, with some IKEA drapes and tie-backs I found at Bed Bath & Beyond pulled out a couple feet from a backdrop. Since my studio is shared, I can’t build anything permanent, but instead the whole thing gets pulled together with some Manfrotto Auto-Poles which just happen to reach the ceiling of the studio with a couple inches to spare. I think the effect is working, although I’d still like some bigger tassels on the tie-backs. See some of my previous posts here from my collection of CDVs for examples. Images from the shoot will follow. One set of images I did of each model had them posing clothed and nude in the same pose. It’s a visual riff on the standard CDV portrait concept, but with of course modern attire, and then pairing it with nudity, certainly something you wouldn’t see in most Victorian CDVs. I also had some fun posing one model with a neat Art Deco floor lamp we have sitting around the studio.

I did run into some major frustration with gear, as the shutter on my preferred lens, the 240mm Heliar, decided it wasn’t going to trigger my studio strobes anymore. Adapt and overcome, a-la the US Marines – I pulled out another lens I have of the same focal length, but mounted in a modern shutter that never refuses to trigger my strobes, and carried on. Can I entirely fault the Heliar? Not really – perhaps it’s too much to expect that it trigger the strobes reliably, after all the shutter is nearly 70 years old. I’ll feel lucky if I work as well as that shutter when I’m 70.

Mr. Fitness capped the day off by not listening to directions while helping me strike the set so my studio-mate could get his backdrop and lighting arranged. He managed to completely release the background support on his side of the background, dropping it from maximum extension to fully collapsed in the blink of an eye, wrinkling the seamless paper and bending the pin on the other background support. To his credit, he did apologize for wrinkling the seamless.

Today was a big darkroom day. I started the morning off doing a major cleaning in the darkroom. I had been accumulating all these chemical storage bottles from back in the day when I did enlarging onto silver gelatin paper. I went through all of them, pouring the thoroughly exhausted remains of several batches of Dektol and Ansco 130 down the drain, followed by copious amounts of water. Most of the other bottles were fortunately empty. They all got packed up in plastic storage bins and put in the downstairs bathroom. Now I have enough space that I can put all my print developing trays under the sink when I’m running film in the Jobo, and the Jobo has a place to live other than the hall floor when I’m printing. Have I said before how tiny my darkroom is? It’s about 7′ by 8′, with a 6’3″ ceiling. It works quite well under the circumstances. Having gotten that out of the way, I ran four batches of sheet film in the Jobo. 15 sheets of 5×7 and four sheets of whole plate. I’ve got one more batch of 5×7 from Saturday to run, then I’m all caught up, and ready for NEXT weekend! I’ll go from a souping fiend to a printing fiend for the rest of October.

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