The iPhone has had a major impact on personal photography. While it’s nowhere near as capable as my Fuji X-T1, it is both an exceptionally capable and flexible photographic implement, and the camera you always have with you. One of the very cool built-in features is the panorama function. On my way home from work today I was having fun playing with it, and testing out the low-light quality simultaneously.
As you can see, you achieve a panoramic image by swinging the camera from left to right (or in some cases top to bottom- This can also be reversed and swung the other way). You can do an up to 360-degree image. Because of the rotation of the camera, you get linear distortion.
When used carefully, This can make for some interesting images. The curves really highlight the shapes and the light in the scene. Used poorly, it can drag your eye (and hold it) in an ugly and/or uninteresting part of the image.
Another effect is if you have subjects moving through the scene, they can get stretched or compressed, depending on their speed of motion and direction, relative to the camera’s rotation. You can see that very clearly in this image.
Nighttime exposures present some challenges to image quality, especially when combined with the swinging of the camera to stitch together the exposure.
I’m thrilled to announce that two works by a brilliant Japanese daguerreotypist (and the man who taught me how to do daguerreotypes) have been acquired by the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
I couldn’t find links to the images in question that were acquired by the Smithsonian, so I’m linking to two related images from his website.
A Maquette for a Multiple Monument for Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
2014, Daguerreotype, 67x280cm
The Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima
2014, Daguerreotype, 25.2×19.3cm
Do you want to improve your photographic vision, but find yourself frustrated with your images? The Primitive Eye is a six-week guided exercise in seeing. The course meets on Tuesdays from 7-9pm, September 12 to October 24th. The only requirements are that you are ready and willing to tackle some challenging assignments, and that you obtain a pinhole objective for your camera. This could be a pinhole in a body cap, it could be a custom pinhole objective, or it could be a dedicated pinhole camera that shoots film or photographic paper. It could be a digital camera or it could be a Quaker Oats tube.
By stripping down your gear to the most basic of photographic tools, the pinhole lens, you will be forced to contend with the three fundamental components of a photograph – light, composition, and time.
Light: light itself, with directionality, quality, and quantity, must be critically accounted for in pinhole photography. There’s no gaming the system with a fast lens.
Typically, pinhole objectives are wide-angle. Because they are so small, composing through the objective is difficult at best. You have to carefully plan your composition, or you have to open yourself up to serendipity. Either way, you have to know how your camera sees before you set it up, or you’ll have no control over what you get.
Pinhole objectives force a recognition of the importance of time in a photo. With modern, automated cameras that have mechanical shutters that freeze slices of time as small as 1/8000th of a second, and electronic ones much faster, we are used to thinking of photographs as truly static objects, and movement and blur are objectionable. With pinhole photography where a 1 second exposure is quite fast, you must carefully plan for how movement will be captured by your camera, because it will. It will also force you to re-think the notion of a photograph as being time-less and two-dimensional, and being time-ful and four-dimensional.
The Primitive Eye: Learning to See Through a Pinhole is a six-week class on how to develop your vision through simplification. Strip away all the bells and whistles of technology, and you have to concentrate on the fundamentals of photography: light, composition, and time. To register, go to the Photoworks website or click here:
I want to invite you all to come see the Labor Day Art Show at Glen Echo. I have two pieces in the show, and it would be great to see you all at the opening reception on Friday, September 1st. I will be there on Friday evening to meet attendees and talk about my work. I’m showing two of my miniature prints from Rome. Each print is made using the historic platinum/palladium photographic process that requires preparation of the paper by hand, applying the light-sensitive metal salts (in this case palladium) with a brush, then sandwiching the negative with the sensitized paper and exposing it to a UV-rich light source to form the image, and then processing the print in a series of chemical baths to develop and make the photograph permanent.
Platinum/palladium printing was developed in the 1870s as another alternative to silver-based processes. It peaked in popularity in the early 1900s, but fell out after 1917 when world supply of platinum dropped in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution (Russia was at the time the world’s largest producer of platinum). It is notable not only for the extremely long tonal range it provides, but also its long-term stability and permanence. With a properly processed print, your platinum/palladium photograph will last as long as the paper it’s printed on lasts.
Tiber River from Castel Sant’Angelo
All work is for sale, and people come to this show to buy, so if you see something you like, don’t hesitate, or it may not be available when you turn around. This is a great show to support local artists, as park takes only a small commission, and 100% of the commissions go to support Glen Echo Park, which is a truly unique gem in the National Capital Region.
Exhibition Dates: Saturday, September 2 – Monday, September 4, 12 – 6 pm
Public Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 7:30 – 9 pm
Spanish Ballroom, Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo MD 20812
The 47th Annual Labor Day Art Show at Glen Echo Park will be held in the historic Spanish Ballroom from Saturday, September 2 through Monday, September 4, 2017 from 12 pm – 6 pm each day.
Sponsored by the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, the
exhibition and sale runs from 12 pm to 6 pm each day. Admission is free.
The exhibition features the work of more than 200 artists from the mid-Atlantic region. The show includes works in a wide range of artistic media, including:
I just had an image of mine published in Hallowed Ground, the journal of the Civil War Trust. It’s a photo I took of Ed Bearss on one of his battlefield tours through the Smithsonian. The theme of the issue is “30 years of battlefield preservation”, and Ed is, rightfully, the star, as he has been one of the greatest champions of historic preservation over the last sixty years.
Reading the article clipping below, along with my image (see credit at the bottom), you can get a sense of Ed’s larger-than-life personality. I’m very happy that my image is the one being used to depict and honor Ed.
The photo of Ed was taken at the Balls’ Bluff battlefield site, which he was involved in helping secure and preserve against development. Were it not for his work, all that remained would have been the smallest military cemetery in the United States surrounded by townhouses. Instead, thanks to his work and the efforts of a local/state public/private partnership, we have an exceptionally authentic battlefield to walk and understand how the events of the day played out.
You can find out more about the Civil War Trust on their website: CivilWar.org
For those who care about such things, the image was made with Kodak Tri-X in my Rolleiflex.
If you’ve been following along and paying attention to my blog, you know I’m a huge history fan, especially with regards to the US Civil War. I have had the great opportunity and privilege to attend perhaps a dozen tours through the Smithsonian Associates program led by Ed Bearss. Ed is the Chief Historian Emeritus of the United States Park Service, a combat-wounded World War 2 veteran, and even today at 93 he is still leading history tours over 160 days a year. He has an inimitable speaking style, a beyond encyclopedic knowledge of US history (especially military history), and a boundless energy rarely found in people less than half his age.
The trip where I took these photos was in the early spring of this year, to visit a lesser-known early battle of the Civil War, known as Kelly’s Ford. The battlefield is just down the road from Brandy Station, where JEB Stuart faced off against a now-competitive Union cavalry, and Robert E. Lee’s son Rooney was injured in the leg.
Kelly’s Ford was a smaller engagement and marked the beginning of the rise of Union cavalry, where previously Confederate cavalry had utterly dominated the field. Despite the relative minor character of the engagement, Ed, with his signature presentation and his admonition “if you want to understand the battle, you have to walk the battlefield”, manages to make such minor events and historical footnotes compelling.
I love this last photo of Ed as it really captures his spirit and personality.
In my latest iteration of my Intro to Platinum/Palladium printing class, I dug up some old negatives I had made, since my student this time was sufficiently skilled with wet darkroom processes and not interested in getting into shooting large format (in my standard group class, we take my Canham 5×7 out around Glen Echo and make a dozen or so negatives for students to work from). This was a print from that session.
It’s a memorial to the transitions on U Street. This is graffiti art that has since been obliterated by gentrification and re-development – the alley where this was has been re-graffiti’d, but with “sanctioned” artwork a bit more sanitized and easier to interpret.
This print is a 5×7 palladium print. The usual chocolate-brown color is missing because I gave this emulsion mix a shot of NA2 contrast agent to give it a bit more snap. The NA2 contains platinum, which is what cools off the image and makes it more neutral. If you’d like to learn how to print this way, contact me through the blog and we can schedule a class, either one-on-one or I can fit you in to an upcoming class at Glen Echo Photoworks.