This was, to me, a bit of a risk-taking. I’ve done each of the components of these images before, in some way shape or form, but never the combination of all at once. I’ve done pinhole. I’ve done panoramic. I’ve done long exposures. I’ve done color. I’ve done multiple exposures. But never color long exposure panoramic pinholes, and even a color panoramic long exposure multiple exposure pinhole. So these are the results of my experiments.
The first frame is taken from the intersection of Park Road and 14th Street, looking down 14th Street toward the DC USA shopping complex. This was a 12-minute exposure, using the exposure calculator from my pinhole camera. This was at twilight, thus the (relatively) shorter exposure.
This next scene is at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road in Adams Morgan. I love the unpredictability of this kind of photography – you know you’ll get patterns of light, and can kind of figure out where they’ll be, but knowing for example that in the span of the 25 minutes of this exposure a city bus would pull through and stop at the light long enough for Woodley Park to dangle mid-scene like a disembodied phantom, well, I couldn’t have predicted or planned that, especially WHERE in the scene it was going to show up.
This last scene was a real experiment – Not only did I make a total of a 25 minute exposure, but halfway through I moved the camera about 15 feet closer to the primary subject and re-started the exposure.
I keep shooting this building and the surrounding intersection because the architecture provides all kinds of graphical possibilities. Here, today, the drum in front of the tower looks almost like polished metal, whereas in reality, it’s coarse concrete. And a 25-second daylight exposure eliminates all but traces of traffic and the most immobile of pedestrians.
The 6×18 pinhole, when kept plumb, level and square, is virtually distortionless. I’m going to try shooting this scene again but from a low angle, pointing up, to see how curved it gets.
Now, with working with the pinhole, Kodak Tri-X has really turned into my go-to film because I really need the extra speed even in daylight. And the grain of Tri-X, in 120, and in contact prints/scans, really is a non-issue.
I was asked the other day to contribute some images to an exhibit at LOOK3, a photography festival in Charlottesville, Virginia, coming up shortly in June. I decided it was time to troll my negative archives and see what I could find. I came across these images that I had shot probably 15 years ago, maybe more. They were shot on Konica Infrared film, which was rare at the time (they only produced it once or twice a year), and is now defunct. The negatives themselves were pretty dusty, and a couple of them had damage (I was a clumsy darkroom worker when I was younger – what can I say?). Anyway, I thought they were pretty cool, so I scanned them, fixed the flaws, and voila, the results you see below.
The model is an old friend of mine, Jose. Part of the extreme effect you see in the images is due to the fact that he bleached his hair for Halloween, when he threw on some silver shorts, a bit of body glitter and not much else, and then made a big Chinese takeaway box to walk around in that said “Cream of Sum Yung Gai”. That, or maybe “Mi Fook Yu”. It was a clever outfit except for the fact that he could really only wear the box outdoors, it was so clunky. I got him in the studio maybe a week after.
This last one was part of the same shoot, but since the Konica was such slow film (IIRC, it was around ISO 25-50), we decided to play around with movement studies. I think this was about a 2 second exposure. By my current standards of night photography, that’s FAST, but at the time, it was probably the longest shutter speed I’d ever used.
My plan for LOOK3 is to make some digital negatives from these and make platinum prints. Here’s hoping!
Some of my prints from the shoot on Saturday night. These are all palladium prints. The images were shot with my Canham 5×12. All images were taken around Dupont Circle. You can see from the bus photo that these were obviously long time exposures (the bus was somewhere north of 2 minutes, in multiple snaps of 30+ seconds each). The bus was an experiment that didn’t produce the expected result, but in a bout of serendipity turned out something just as cool as my original concept. I was hoping the bus sitting still as passengers boarded would record as a solid object. Instead, it became something far more abstract in the final image – you can recognize the bus, in pieces. It became an essay on motion, transportation and “transit/ion” by virtue of its self-deconstruction.