Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Exploring the old while working with the new.

As I work with the iPhone to record my Instagram 366 photo project I am still working with traditional methods.  This is somewhat back to my roots as I learned the Palladium printing method back in 1990.  I purchased my Empire State 8x10 camera around that time and worked with it for about 12 years before I put it aside as a show piece.

However in the last nine months I have rediscovered the method and have decided to make a stronger effort to work with the camera and some of the early photography techniques.  I have been particularly inspired by one of the people I consider my newest photographic hero, "Ian Ruhter".  Ian is working with the wet collodian process and has embarked on an ambitious project to take his custom designed truck which acts as a camera across the US.  He intends to tell the stories of Americans he meets during his travels and record the most amazing portraits as well as video of the process.  His first video from this project (he does have a number of other video's on-line as well) can be found at http://vimeo.com/53917349 and is called the American Dream.  It is just over 11 minutes in length but is moving on so many levels.  I encourage you to check it out and to follow Ian and his project.

Another photographer I have discovered who is working in a similar method but producing tintypes and ambrotypes is Harry Taylor. I was simply amazed by the beautiful images Harry is producing and is commitment to keeping this style alive is a testament to the power of photography.  You can discover his work at http://harrytaylorphoto.com

Now I know I have a lot of work in font of me if I want my photographs to be as beautiful and strong as these two gentlemen.  I have taken out the camera and brought it to my lighting class in order out work with it and to get some new negatives to practice the Palladium printing technique.  I shot the two images below last Wednesday of my son's Luke and Cool and I must say that they sat wonderfully considering that they were allowed to bounce around as my student's photographed them with their DSLR's.  So asking them to sit still as I focused the big camera and then put the negative in place to take two shots of each was a bit of a challenge.

I liked the way these first two prints turned out but I have discovered that I do have to work on my coating methods as well as my judgement on the chemistry makeup.  You can see the colour difference in the two finished prints below and this is due more to exposure difference then chemical make up.  I'm looking forward to experimenting more to see what different results that I am able to achieve.  I will share my results and work with this method and my experimentation with the collodian method which I plan to explore in the new year.
Even as I worked on developing the negatives and printing the above photos I knew I still had to shoot an image for my Instagram 366 challenge.  Today is day 325 of the project and 691 consecutive days of at least one photo a day.  I some ways this is fitting as I found this old piano at the school where Cool and Luke have their choir practice.  It was beat up but it is in tune and I felt it would make a nice subject.  I shot this with the iPhone and the HDR Photo Camera app.  Now I had not had a lot of success with this particular app in the past but the wood of the piano and the brightness of the keys was beyond the range of the iPhone so I thought I would give HDR Photo Camera another try.  This time I was pleased with the results as it brought out the richness in the wood front panel but kept the details in the black and white keys. A little extra fine tuning in Snapseed and iPhoto gave me a result I am happy with.

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