Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter's Light



Post-Script: This process of using Harman Direct Positive Paper is such a hands-on, physical process that even attempting to reproduce it electronically is fraught with frustration, because scanning the prints results in inevitable dust spots and scanning artifacts in the shadows that aren't visible on the original, while photographing them with a DSLR camera presents the challenge of an even illumination absent from the glare of the paper's sheen, further complicated by the paper's curl.

Here, I had to set the Sony A390 to ISO800 in order to get sufficient shutter speed, resulting in a bit of shadow noise that's simply absent in the actual print. And you don't get a sense of the glossy, fiber-based paper's sheen, one of the reasons why prints upon silver gelatin paper of this kind is so difficult to emulate with an inkjet process.

I focused the camera upon the seat cushion back, then pulled the focus position a bit closer (by extending the lens slightly further with the bellows) to compensate for my face being a bit closer to the camera than the cushion, which was an absolute lucky guess considering I can't easily be simultaneously seated in the chair and also behind the camera, peering into the ground glass*. You may notice my right hand** is blurry, caused by the motion of squeezing the shutter release bulb during the 1/8 second exposure. I attempted to hide the pneumatic hose from view under my leg.

Typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.

*I did do this once on my 8x10 nested box camera by using a video camera on a separate tripod positioned behind the ground glass, the video camera's view screen flipped around so as to be visible from my seated position. Get up, adjust the box camera, sit back down, check out view in video camera. Repeat. Not highly recommended.

**Is it my right hand or my left? With a conventional photographic image, it would be the subject's left hand, situated toward the right edge of the print paper. But with Harman DPP, the image is reversed as compared to a film or digital camera image, similar to a wet plate process, and so it's actually my right hand holding the shutter release bulb, but also on the right side of the print. Right?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Barely Recognizable



Post-Script: In my many years of dabbling in pinhole photography, I've taken up the challenge of maximizing details and tones to excess, to the point where a downsized copy might appear to have been created with a conventional lens.

Exploring further the limits of visual clarity has meant employing devices as ill-suited to sharp rendition as possible, among these being a much larger sized aperture than what the typical pinhole camera might employ, what I've termed, for obvious purposes of symbolic contrast, a "pencil hole camera," using as a crude, pseudo-image-forming device an aperture about as wide around as a pencil, which forms an image possessing the merest suggestion of the shapes, textures and tones of objects, where sharp edges or fine detail are entirely absent, requiring of the viewer a more active degree of participation in the image comprehension process.

Along with this pencil hole technique I've also explored other methods well-suited to the visually obscure, such as the Pixellator Grid and the Light Pipe Array, which I shall write more about in the near future.

The inspiration for these ideas might have come from observations I've made over the years of shadows of objects cast at various distances by the sun, whereby the further from the object its shadow extends the less sharply defined is its shape, with edges gently transitioning into a softened blur.

Studying the shadows of a plant's leaves cast upon the ground or a nearby wall, for instance, some sense of three-dimensionality can be deduced by the relative sharpness of the shadows' outlines, as those leaves closer to their shadow remain more distinct and denser in tone than those further away.

I write these words, fountain pen to composition book, in the shadow of a garden trellis in a late winter's afternoon light, soft diamond patterns of light-gray trellis shadow contrasted upon paper by the sharp-edged shadows of my hand and pen.

Here's a thought experiment I'd like you to consider, which is to suppose that we live inside a giant camera obscura, and the sun is an aperture, an opening into a distant world of pure, radiant light beyond. All of our activities are merely shadows cast upon the back wall of our chamber, and the closer we approach that light the less distinct as individuals we become.

If, as physicists would inform us, time and space are interlinked, then those more distant shadows, soft-edged and less distinct, seem to resemble something of the past, distant memories more gently recalled, while closer up the pen's nib upon paper seems yet so much more immediately in the present tense, as if in this one small corner of my yard the entirety of history were somehow playing itself out in a microcosm of light and dark and gray in between.

Typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22 and Sony A390, top image via F/25 pencil hole aperture in 4x5 Speed Graphic upon silver gelatin paper negative.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bus Stop Breakfast



Post-Script: If you stop in at the Frontier for breakfast, you have to try the huevos rancheros smothered in green chile sauce, and some fresh-squeezed orange juice. Images via Fujifilm X10 and Sony A390, typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Three's a Charm



Post-Script: Of course, there's the possibility that this new typer will end up sitting in his closet along with the unused electric Hermes. But I'm hoping, because this one was a gift, that he'll take the time to try and get used to it. I tried to sell him on the idea that it not needing a power source was a positive feature, and mentioned the idea of a "trunk typer," a machine to keep in one's car, just for when the need arises, as one possible use.

There's a mental paradigm shift needed with owning a manual typewriter. They aren't exactly replacements for computers, in the same way that computers replaced typewriters, but can be used as a substitute for any other mode of writing, whether that be for specifically creating printed text or in substitution for handwritten note-taking. I encouraged him to place the Quiet-Riter in some prominent place, already loaded with paper, and use it as much as possible, whether that be for grocery and to-do lists or general thought capture. Making a typewriter part of one's domestic life is the best method for bonding with the machine, bringing value to one's life while bringing new life to an old machine. A win-win.

Post-Post-Script: I'm hoping the other two machines aren't feeling totally rejected. I might have to put them into circulation upon the typing desk as typecasting irons, sometime in the near future. Anthropomorphizing our inanimate accouterments is another way of making them seem like members of one's family.

Images via Sony A390, typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.

Art & Love

DSC01843bJoe Fondling His Camera


Post-Script: Art and love can both be irrational. So too is an excess fascination with the tools of one's craft, what is known on the Internetz as GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. The cure is to pick one thing, stick with it, and concentrate instead on the art itself. What I need for this year is a long-term project to work at, something that will challenge my skills and lead to further growth, and hopefully some fruitful creative offspring.

Photos via Sony A390, typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why Fountain Pen?




Post-Script: This story ended up better than expected, given how many things we purchase seem, after time has done its corrosive work, to lose their luster. I prefer to collect fountain pens, like typewriters, to use rather than merely display, and so this limits how many I might desire to own, since the opportunities I have to sit down and write by hand seem somewhat limited. That, and owning both a Lamy Safari and Pelikan, any other pen delivering equal or better writing experience would be rather much more expensive. Oh, and the ink? Parker Quink, in blue/black, of course!

Typecast image via Olivetti Lettera 22 and Fujifilm X10.

Bonus Image: Pelikan M100Hipstamatic app on iPad 2.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Force-Fields of Remembrance



Post-Script: Part of the mystery surrounding my fascination with antiques and junk is that my folks were collectors. Every weekend, for years, they'd wander the aisles of the local flea market and fill their small house with antique china cabinets (13 at its peak) stuffed with curios, bottles, jewelry and nicknacks. An entire room (what was originally intended by the builders to be the living room) was essentially a museum, with antique chairs, tables and couches covered in plastic sheets, that no one dare enter, other than to show off to the occasional visitor. The majority of family life, for what it was, we spent in the small, crowded den, actually intended to be the dining room adjoining the kitchen, sat down in front of the television.

I always told myself that I wouldn't surround myself with such clutter. But now I'm older, and my house, though not nearly as overcrowded with material objects as my folk's, could use a good cleaning out. The good news is that I didn't come home today from the antique stores with more junk. Though I did eye an old Royal typewriter, that was inoperative and overpriced.

Typecast image via Olivetti Lettera 22 and Fujifilm X10.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Good Things Take Time

Light Pipe Array Image - Joe

"Good Things Take Time"

Light Pipe Array Image - Joe's Hand

Light Pipe Array Image - Joe

Post-Script: The completion of this project won't be seen until I buckle down and finish assembling the array. I was lazy over the holidays and hardly worked on it at all.

The link to the earlier blog entry on this project is here.

Typecast image via Olivetti Lettera 22 and Lumix G5.