Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Category: Finding and Developing Photographic Style

Suspect Photography Launches LEMPACON: The Light Eros Muse Photography Arts Conference

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I”m  proud to announce the Light Eros Muse Photography Arts Conference aka- LEMPACON; a three day event in NYC on October 4th, 5th, and 6th catering to erotic, fetish and fine art nude photography genre. Read all the details below and come out to support this conference on her maiden voyage, it’s going to have the stopping power of .357 magnum and blow you away…

Anastasia and Gun

Photo by David George Brommer

The LEMPA Conference mission is to elevate erotic and fine art nude photography by presenting the subject matter in a responsible and ethical manner.

Too often this subject matter has been associated with taboo and has been shunned by mainstream society and media as a result. LEMPA seeks to rectify this by giving leading photographers and models working in the genre, a platform to showcase their process and work while establishing a benchmark definition of the best practices while addressing the photographer-model issues of the #metoo age.

The founder of LEMPA, Photographer David Brommer combines his expertise in producing conferences with his history of running the maverick Seattle gallery, Suspect Photography in the 1990’s. He states, “There isn’t any conference like LEMPA, this genre needs to be brought forward and I curated the speakers to reflect the many facets of this genre”.

The LEMPA Speakers and Workshop Instructors

Los Angeles based Steve Diet Goedde who is recognized as the leading fetish-fashion photographer for the past 30 years produces work that is widely published in numerous books, magazines and sets a standard for photographers working in this genre hope to achieve.

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Steve Diet Goedde

Conie Imboden’s fine art nude abstracts are in the collections of every major museum in America. Connie’s images are seen through the camera working with reflections and distortions in either water or mirrors. 

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Connie Imboden

Vince Hemingson has perfected the nude in the landscape. By applying a technical craftsmanship and fostering a relationship between model, photographer and landscape his work blends beauty and form in a visually gratifying way. 

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Vince Hemingson’s Tree of Life

Marne Lucas aka Cuntemporary Artist has worked both sides of the camera. From fashion and fetish model to video director she crossed many creative boundaries. Marne will be moderating the models and muse panel where the model’s voice will be front and center.

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Marne Lucas

 

The LEMPA Conference is a three day event in the heart of NYC. LEMPA commences Friday night, October 4th with a party and exhibition of the speakers work in a SoHo gallery. On Saturday, October 5th the conference continues at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Katie Murphy Auditorium for a day long program of lectures, slide shows and panel discussions as well as a mini-trade show, book signings, and photo opportunities.  For a special few LEMPA is offering a full day of hands-on workshops on Sunday October 6th with curated models in locations across NYC under the guidance of LEMPA speakers and special instructors. Sunday’s workshop is limited to under 24 attendees.

The Sunday Intensive Workshop lighting is provided by Westcott. Westcott offers the worlds best continuous lights which are super easy to use and a line of strobes that work in manual or TTL. David Piazza from Westcott’s will be on hand to support the instructors and students to get the most out of the wide range of light and light modifiers.

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Digital Silver Imaging, internationally recognized for their museum quality printing is the exclusive print partner of the LEMPA Conference. Eric Luden, DSI’s founder states, “We don’t just fill orders, we collaborate with our customers to bring their vision to life. We understand and respect the special needs of erotica photographers and collectors. We are proud to offer our services to this niche market.” Friday’s nights reception will feature a DSI printed exhibition of speakers work.

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Tickets are on sale now for LEMPA.

www.LEMPACON.com   

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6 Tips to Make Great Photographs with the iPhone 6

This shot was taken while I was at a stop light sitting on my Vespa. I looked up and the drama of the clouds struck me. I slipped the phone out of my pocket pointed it straight up and make this shot. It looked good in color, but the B&W was more dramatic.

This shot was taken while I was at a stop light sitting on my Vespa. I looked up and the drama of the clouds struck me. I slipped the phone out of my pocket pointed it straight up and make this shot. It looked good in color, but the B&W was more dramatic.

When you leave home and hit the road, be it for work, play, or pretty much anything you set out t do, you should always carry a camera. There is a photographic axiom that says, “What is the best camera? The camera you have with you!” and that is undeniably true. The camera you will sling over your shoulder is going to change over the years and a new camera can stimulate you and put you into a photo-taking mood by simply being new. The technology changes, and even the great masters used a range of cameras across thier careers.

Taken at dusk on a bridge over the Arno River in Florence. I pushed the saturation to give it extra punch. I also shot this with my trusty Fuji XPro1, but made the same shot with the IPhone so I could tag and share it by the time I steppe off the bridge.

Taken at dusk on a bridge over the Arno River in Florence. I pushed the saturation to give it extra punch. I also shot this with my trusty Fuji XPro1, but made the same shot with the IPhone so I could tag and share it by the time I steppe off the bridge.

But sometimes you leave your camera at home because it’s just too heavy and cumbersome. Compositions and photo movements abound, just because you don’t have your camera with you doesn’t mean you aren’t seeing and the photo opportunities are not present. Three things you don’t leave at home that are non-negotiable are; keys, wallet and mobile phone. The camera & phone combo may be the greatest technological achievement of the 21st century because it allows us to always have a camera with us, and the ability to share our images.

Keep your eyes open when walking and when you see something interesting, bam! You can capture faster than you can call your mom. Construction site for Hudson Yards project in NYC.

Keep your eyes open when walking and when you see something interesting, bam! You can capture faster than you can call your mom. Construction site for Hudson Yards project in NYC.

My only ‘photo-phone’ experience so far has been using the Apple iPhone, so if you are going to call me an Apple fan boy, go ahead, I accept that moniker because I believe in the iPhone and started off with an iPhone 3 in 2007. The first photo I took was a homeless person in a atm bank lobby. Later I would shoot what might have been the first IPhone wedding of NY fashion designer Michele Korn using only the IPhone 3. I fell in love with the device, simply because it was always in my pocket! Dutifully I went from iPhone 3, to 4, to 4s, skipped a 5 and got the 6 early in 2015. The progression has been upward, but the 6 was a big leap in quality from its predecessors. All images shown in this blog post were taken this year with the IPhone 6.

Still Life with the IPhone, you bet! This was a homage to Edward Weston's pepper. I added the cherry tomatoes to give the image a set of balls ;-)

Still Life with the IPhone, you bet! This was a homage to Edward Weston’s pepper. I added the cherry tomatoes to give the image a set of balls 😉

So here are my 6 recommendations:

One- Wipe you lens off each time you go to make a photograph. That lens is tiny, and you need it as clean as can be to maintain sharpness. A finger print will substantially soften the image and lower contrast. An actual smudge or what we call “schmutz” in New York will diffuse your image to the point of total failure. Use your t-shirt, a tissue, or whatever you have handy. Of course a micro fiber is the best choice. My wife Barbara keeps her iPhone in a micro fiber pouch to protect it in her pocket book from scratches and that makes a great way to keep the lens smudge and scratch free.

Nikki Sixx on tour with Six AM. I was about 15 feet back and did cropped in post. The colors were awful as most concert photography is, so I just converted to black and white.

Nikki Sixx on tour with Six AM. I was about 15 feet back and cropped in post. The colors were awful as most concert photography is, so I just converted to black and white.

Two- Be touchy. Your phone does have auto-focus and auto-exposure, but it can get fooled. Compose your image first, and then tap on the subject of your photo. Once you have a focus and exposure lock, you can then drag your finger up or down to adjust exposure. Very useful for backlit subjects and in that case, touch up for + exposure. This will come handy when you are shooting at the beach or in a snow scene.

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View from Little Round Top over the Valley of Death at Gettysburg, PA. This is a great example of working the exposure. I tapped the cannon and then had to further adjust the exposure due to the setting sun in the photo.

Three- Capture with the standard camera setting. Don’t bother with the HDR mode, it’s better to adjust your image later in a post-processing app which we will talk about later. The standard photo is a 4:3 ratio which will give you a standard image. You might want to consider shooting in square mode if you plan on using instagram, since instagram forces you to use square compositions. This will save you having to crop later and perhaps missing a part of the image that you wanted in or is needed for the composition. Getting it as close to perfect in the capture, then fine tuning later in post is a great rule of thumb.

I saw this composition across the street and waited about 3 minutes for the traffic to clear. Look close, they are all on their phones! I corrected the perspective in Snapseed to make the lines all straight.

I saw this composition across the street and waited about 3 minutes for the traffic to clear. Look close, All but one (who is eating) are on their phones! I corrected the perspective in Snapseed to make the lines all straight.

Four- Turn the flash off. Yup, unless it is really dark, like the inside of club or outside at night and you are shooting a subject less than 7 feet away, the flash (which is really a led light and not a flash at all) will make a crappy photo. There are three settings, off, on, and auto. By default it’s on auto out of the box, you will want to set that to off. I never ever use the flash function, I hate the way it looks. A trick to use if you must shoot in the dark, is have a friend hold up their iPhone and use it as a flash light. This way, the angle of light gives shape as opposed to your flash right next to the lens making a flat over exposed image.

Go ahead, be that person who posts their food, but make sure it looks good! If you can't shoot your dish in good light then just don't. Use the table cloth to add to the ambiance, feel free to arrange the salt shaker and utensils so it looks good. Never use the flash!

Go ahead, be that person who posts their food, but make sure it looks good! If you can’t shoot your dish in good light then just don’t. Use the table cloth to add to the ambiance, feel free to arrange the salt shaker and utensils so it looks good. Never use the flash!

Five- Use minimal if any zoom. Any zooming you do by pinching the image will digitally zoom it, and it’s better to just do that in a post app. I advocate if you are good with composition to use a little bit of zoom if you can’t physically get closer, like a shooting a building across a busy street, but really cropping should be done in post to maintain quality. When you have to 8 to 12 megapixels like the iPhone has, you have plenty of pixels to crop in post. Also, your focus can be tricked if you zoom heavily.

Street shooting with the IPhone you never miss a shot. Just keep an eye on the street signs so you don't get a ticket ;-)

Street shooting with the IPhone you never miss a shot. Just keep an eye on the street signs so you don’t get a ticket 😉

Six- Use the best app ever invented, and that is Snapseed. Invented by Nik and then acquired by Google, Snapseed does it all. I love Snapseed because it’s free, and it’s spectacular. I used to advocate Adobe PS Express and Camera bag but Google has super charged Snapseed into a beast of an app. And did I mention it’s free? Every image you see on this page was captured with the iPhone, then opened up with Snapseed and edited. I suggest you subscribe to this blog, I’ll be posting a Snapseed tutorial soon.

NY Harbor from a tall building in Battery Park. the Drama filter in Snapseed just really brings out the rays of light and clouds.

NY Harbor from a tall building in Battery Park. the Drama filter in Snapseed just really brings out the rays of light and clouds.

Well there you have it. Six tips to make you iPhone experience rock. Keep shooting!

~David

The house I summered in when I was a kid in the 70's. Bradley Beach.

The house I summered in when I was a kid in the 70’s. Bradley Beach.

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And lastly, my two favorite things to shoot, Barbara my wife and the Raven Wing my Harley Davidson.

wooden bridge and harleyvespa

Seven Steps to Self Editing Your Work

Looking up to Montmarte, Paris. Canon Power Shot A70

Looking up to Montmarte, Paris. Canon Power Shot A70

The most difficult aspect of Photography to master is Picture Image Editing. You can learn to shoot better, to expose properly, to capture composition, achieve perfect timing, master the light, focus on details and blur what you don’t want. You will have to ensure you are in the right place at the golden hour, always coaxing gesture from subjects and understanding the camera you hold in your hands, these are all hallmarks of a great photographer. You can learn these things by shooting a whole lot, or you can fast track an be taught in schools and workshops. However there is one skill that can’t be taught, its importance is paramount, yet is seldom discussed in the arsenal of photographic skills, that of picture editing.

Paris in April. Canon Power Shot A70

Paris in April. Canon Power Shot A70

I’m not referring to post editing, as in using Light Room, DxO, or even Photoshop to crop and adjust, I’m suggesting editing in the sense of “I have these 748 pictures and which ones are the best”? Self-editing is very difficult, I see poor editing while reviewing photographers work frequently and especially among the new photographers. When you have to choose 3 images from your archive, it’s an art all itself to make the right picks.

Notre Dame. This was shot with the Canon Power Shot A70 and heavily worked in photoshop to correct perspective and monochrome convert.

Notre Dame. This was shot with the Canon Power Shot A70 and heavily worked in photoshop to correct perspective and monochrome convert.

The following seven elements are what I have learned to use over the years. They have served me well and this post is populated with images I found in my archive, never before published pulled up just for use here. Some go back 12 years.

One: Take a page from Ansel Adams and pre-visualize the best shot that can be made from the scene before you. Ansel worked with large format cameras and they force you to get it right with an economy of shutter snaps. Contemplate the image in front of you and take time realizing the elements that will make a solid photograph. Resist a haphazard approach like overshooting in the hopes that one image will have a correct horizon and cloud will be in the just the right place. All this creates is a clutter of files and essentially- a bigger haystack to find the best shot.

Two: Archive or develop as soon as possible. Get the images off the card or the film processed before image anarchy occurs. Cluttered memory cards, unprocessed rolls of film in drawers, make bad for editing.

Three: Soak up a good look at what you have shot. This can start a healthy review of work via the playback button the camera. Don’t be afraid to pixel peep (zooming into the image) to check for proper focus. You have a succession of very similar shots, and one or two missed the mark for focus, but the other shots are tack sharp, feel free to delete the softies right out of the camera. I have found that I can edit very well right off the camera in most circumstances. I like to use a Hoodman Hood Loupe if I decide to pack it, it’s fairly cumbersome but it’s great at isolating your point of view when using the camera LCD.

Four: However you archive, be it Adobe Lightroom or manually like me, do it the same way, set up a consistent file structure and keep two hard drives or a raid as a back up. Name the shoot, and I also will date it too. Once the images are off the card, or processed and scanned, run through them again. Pick out a few favorites. Open them up and do a little post editing.

Five: Show them off and get some opinions. Throw them up on Face Book, tweet ‘em, Instagram them (even though I hate Instagram). My rule when I put up a shot on my Facebook if it gets over 100 likes then I know I nailed it.

Six: Move on. Forget about them. Work on your next shot. When you are ready to do something with them, and need them, make sure you have them properly cataloged on your drives so they are easy to locate for when you need them.

Seven: Dive back in fresh and do what really is your third edit. Based on your internal instinct and some reactions from your network look at your edit again, and also, the un-edited archive. You might very well have missed something. Become friends with this edit, improve on them with post processing. If you need to narrow them down further, set them up in folder for your screen saver and then your monitors become a “familiarization device” to better understand which are the strongest images. I learned this trick from Jock Sturges.

Union Square Pogo dance action. I recall shooting this, then dumping into a folder and forgetting about it. When I found it again I was thrilled to post edit and have a solid NYC street shot. A gem, hidden in a seldom used hardrive.

Union Square Pogo dance action. I recall shooting this, then dumping into a folder and forgetting about it. When I found it again I was thrilled to post edit and have a solid NYC street shot. A gem, hidden in a seldom used hardrive.

In summary, don’t shoot so much, go for quality not quantity and ask your network what they think of the images, then sit on them for awhile and keep shooting, return to them and look at your edit and the un-edited again. My last tip is that frequently, a crop is in order. Many a good image can be overlooked but stands out with a good crop. They say it’s all in the eyes.

I honestly don't know who's eye this is. I found a folder nested deeply among other folders with about 10 different eyes. I barely recall shooting this.

I honestly don’t know who’s eye this is. I found a folder nested deeply among other folders with about 10 different eyes. I barely recall shooting this.

~David

Of Indians, Landscapes and Pooping Dogs

All things being equal, The Sky, The Moon and the Mountain.

All things being equal, The Sky, The Moon and the Mountain.

I found myself roaring through desert canyon land over a hundred miles an hour astride a 1810 CC Indian Chief Vintage. I had companions; a lithe young photographer who specializes in portraits blazing alongside in a huge Harley Davidson, and the other just as opposite but more magnetic, a night photographer completely ecstatic as he was rolling on an Indian Scout. Oh, and there was a King with his Queen on another big Harley Davidson Road King, of course.

The strategic tilt is executed in the Valley of Fire. I loved the shadows from the bushes.

The strategic tilt is executed in the Valley of Fire. I loved the shadows from the bushes.

We cut a road that allowed sprits to pass over as we became ghosts leading each other into the Valley of Fire. In this baptism I would attempt to solve a puzzle of the landscape photograph. Not to capture a good one, but to make a great one. One that will undeniably NOT have a strong centralized subject found as a singular element, but rather as a whole would sustain the image.

Like Malcom said, Life finds a way.

Like Malcom said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way”.

The Indian was taking us there clad in chrome and distressed leather. I had one camera, one intention, and lots of questions. The camera was a versatile Sony RX10 that held a long range Zeiss lens that would deliver my vision, and the questions would be in my self critique. Would these images stand up to my own Occam’s razor?

Cliffhangers of Zion

Cliffhangers of Zion

Teaching alongside Bob Krist, Michael Melford, and Ralph Lee Hopkins, this National Geographic trio spoke about the “Pooping Dog” in the image. Of course not literally (but hey it could work if not reeking of ‘lowbrowness’) but metaphorically as an element that is identifiable as the subject and plays an interesting role in the image. The pooping dog tells the story and narrates the message of the image. The pooping dog has a bark and a bite for the image to be successful. Without a pooping dog, the image is flat, lifeless and not fully accomplished.

The Valley of Fire.

The Valley of Fire.

In my critique classes, I frequently admonish beginners for not having the pooping dog in their images. But what happens when you are in a gorgeous landscape, the light is right, you have the time and tools but no pooping dog? Can you still make a compelling image? The challenge of landscape photography is that.

Valley of FIre

Valley of FIre

I found the answer to be what I suspected: if the aesthetic of the image is extremely strong, and the execution dynamic enough, then you can avoid an obvious and demonstrative main subject. The photograph becomes its own gestalt that moves a viewer.

The Three Horses of the Valley of Fire.

The Three Horses of the Valley of Fire.

Did the Indian take me there? Was I able to channel my inner Ansel Adams and execute a formidable American Landscape? I guess i shall have to continue on the road to see if I did.

The Road to Upper Zion

The Road to Upper Zion

~David

On Wanting, Achieving and Sacrifice.

Selfie and found mirror in the Lower East Side. Winter.

Selfie and found mirror in the Lower East Side. Winter.

I do not believe in limits. I do not believe any thing is beyond ones reach nor any goal unobtainable. The only limit you have is weighted against how much you want to achieve that goal and accomplish what you set.

I hate to hear excuses; I feel they hide the hard cold facts to your self. An excuse is certainly easier than the path to fulfillment. I know that I am not treading any new ground, but that wont stop me from elaborating on why I feel this way. I also feel I can add to the established “rah rah- go do it- yes I can- no whining” motivation camp.

First let’s just get honesty out of the way. You have to be honest with your self and understand that you simply can do anything you want. Anything short of achieving the goal rests sorely with you. I wont even entertain the idea of realistic goals, all are achievable and some are more probable and some less. If you don’t believe anything is probable then let us first start off with the 44th President of the United States, President Barack Hussein Obama as an example. Who would have thought a black man, with an Arab name could reach the highest office (arguably in the world) just a generation away from the civil rights movement and post 911 America? Want a different spin on that achievement? Lets look at this scenario, a mediocre actor becoming the president of the USA? How about taking a Hassalblad up to the moon and doing some … moonscapes? In our history there are countless stories of amazing acts of goal achievements.

I would like to use an example someone a little more humble and down to earth, the photographer Michael Murray. I worked with Mike at B&H in the marketing department and sales since the early 2000’s. Bravely, about 6 or so years ago, Mike took a big chance and left B&H to pursue his passion of photography. He walked away from a nice salary, health benefits, and stability. He diligently worked hard to make fine art photography and sell it in the cold, in the rain for12 months out of the year on the streets of NYC locations such as; Union Square, Central Park, Holiday Markets, Mike didn’t stop and busted his ass. He developed his own unique style, stayed the course and now, he will live on beyond his years, with his work published from the crème de la creme of book makers, 21st Century Editions. Take a look at the “Worlds Apart” video.  I must also note that in the interim, Mike got married and had his first daughter.

I hear the books will be extremely collectable and costly. I’m sure that prime gallery representation will follow and Mike from freezing street artist will catapult to Chelsea gallery artist. How did he do it?

He sacrificed. He redirected every aspect of his life to accomplishing the goal and pursuing it. He flirted heavily with the bohemian and realigned his priorities be able to put him self in the position to create art. These included; changing his environment from the costly central to the provincial, managing resources carefully and mostly of all, not stopping. Michael continued to be a photographer, making images, exploring the medium, and bringing it to market. He quit his day job to follow the path of the artist and he is well on his way down the golden path. I’m sure it took a few turns and detours, and the days were dark at times, and the bank account hovering at that dangerous level of emptiness. In the end, Michael Murray wants it. And he got it.

Time is a funny thing, you may want it now, but most times, now has to wait. Staying toasty though, keeping eyes open and on the road, time goes by and you are closer to the goal. Often the goal morphs into a similar reality, and one you didn’t actually plan for, yet by following the passion a new door opens and while not the original goal exactly in detail, it is a similar strata or for lack of a better word, “awesomeness”. Time changes the face of the goal but not its essence.

Whale fluking in Alaska. Shot on the Lindblad Vessel, Sea Bird. Canon 1DSmk2 with 300mm 2.8 processed in Silver FX.

Whale fluking in Alaska. Shot on the Lindblad Vessel, Sea Bird. Canon 1DSmk2 with 300mm 2.8 processed in Silver FX.

Those seeking the path or those on the path, there is a lesson here. Listen to the inner voice, follow your heart and be the artist you are. Bob Krist and Michael Melford taught me that Nat Geo Magazine isn’t in the business of publishing excuses, they publish photographs.

Dream, dream big. No excuses.

~David

The Tuscan Darkroom and Observations in Film Based Photography

The classic rustic darkroom set up in the back workroom of the Tuscan home in Terontola, next to Cortona in Italy.

The classic rustic darkroom set up in the back workroom of the Tuscan home in Terontola, next to Cortona in Italy.

There is a sublime pleasure when you practice the core of photography that includes manual film cameras, red safe lights, and wet chemistry. In today’s parlance you call it “analog photography” and that while accurate, lacks a certain charm. It would be easy for the younger “generation Y” that has grown up in the digital age to dismiss the non-digital analog as an anachronism. Way too much effort to get produce an image. In practice it’s almost laughable when a well-done Instagram feed is not complete without apps to mimic the vagaries of film properties. With out understanding the nuances of the film and dark room to realize your images I often wonder what effect this will have on photography as we know it. Will masters of photography arise from the new generation? Will they create work worthy of Mapelthorpe, Avedon, and Witkin? Time will tell, but I’ll tell you what, with out the discipline of film it will be harder for Gen Y to attain such elevated image making. Let me elaborate on why I believe this.

I’m a late Generation X photographer, the last generation to have access to the core of the medium. In high school my yearbook was assembled with black and white photographs that we, the students printed in a small, narrow darkroom with two enlargers. The art department didn’t have one (I heard in the 70’s they did) and you had to be in the “year book club” to have access. My first assignment was a wrestling match, and I completely botched loading the film into a Nikon FM2. Eventually I learned how to load a 35mm camera and started taking photographs of my NJ suburban life; Milton Lake down the street, a local cemetery, my friends cars and more of what I was surrounded by.  You were limited to 24 or 36 shots per roll of film, and there was a great chance of you messing up somehow, in the early days of film photography your first few rolls of film were often filled with chance and mistakes. 

Chemistry, Film Processing Tank, and Film. Going classic with Kodak Tri-x developed in Agfa Rodinol.

Chemistry, Film Processing Tank, and Film. Going classic with Kodak Tri-x developed in Agfa Rodinol.

35mm film core photography workflow is pretty much performed this way since it was invented in 1923; expose film, transfer in dark the exposed film to a film developing canister, process film, make a proof sheet, pick and chose which to enlarge, and then make prints. This is all done primarily with three baths and a good wash. Exposed film and paper are put in developer, then a stop bath, followed by a nice dip in the fixer. After the stop bath, and mid way in the fixer, you can turn on the lights and get a good look at what you made. This process allows for stylistic choices such as film stock and the developer. The print can be luxurious with fiber paper, or a easy to use (but not archival) resin coated paper. 35 mm film can safely be enlarged to 11×14 and even 16×20. Larger printing sizes can be done, but expect substantial grain to be introduced to the look.

 Spark from the Seattle Suspects

You can become very exotic when it comes to mixing chemistry, often a photographer will entertain one type of film and process it the same way throughout their lifetime (and certainly the duration of a project). During the 1990’s my Seattle work was all shot on Kodak Tech Pan and developed in Agfa Rodinol. Neither the film nor the chemistry is available now, thus that work created then is considered vintage. This is something the photographer has to get used to, our selection of paper and chemistry is not eternally supplied. I recall selling the great American photographer George Tice the last supply of Agfa Portriga paper B&H had in stock. He was simply devastated! But then George adopted Ilford Galleria FB Warmtone and all is well again.

tuscan print station 

Another interesting aspect of the film photography is waiting to see the image sometimes days or months. The cool part of the digital photography and the ability to instantly see your exposure has a profound impact on your vision. With a digital camera you can instantly know if you nailed it or not. Shooting film, often times you can forget entirely what you photographed only to be surprised later when the image turns up on a proof sheet or by holding the negative up to a light. This fundamentally adjusts the “accident factor”, that which happens in an unpredictable manner and effects a expansion on your creative skills. When this chance opportunity occurs you might also be benefited by a stylistic leap and follow something that is entirely unique to you. Not to say you can’t have an accident occur in digital photography, but film photography is more disciplined in execution and easier to mess up! Don’t forget, digital seeks to emulate it’s grandfather and offer you control of effects and looks that occur in film photography easily, film photography does that inherently, but it takes more coaxing.

 

Prints made in Summer 2014. Nicola Tiezzi and I spent a night in the Tuscan darkroom till the wee hours printing. I made the portrait of the old mad and the camp grounds, while Nicola made the tank and the dog and cow prints.

Prints made in Summer 2014. Nicola Tiezzi and I spent a night in the Tuscan darkroom till the wee hours printing. I made the portrait of the old mad and the camp grounds, while Nicola made the tank and the dog and cow prints.

I think the point I’m trying to make is that everyone should practice film photography in one way or another. You can’t go forward with out looking back. 

In the next post, I’m going to elaborate on the actual film camera. As always, stay tuned photographers.

~David

The Summer Project: Back to the Analog 1950’s

NikonGear

 

Every summer I self assign myself a photo project for my August Tuscan vacation. Sometime in May or June I start to think about what I’m going to do and since I have been going to the same spot for 12 years straight now, in the past I have shot 8×10 landscapes (twice), 4×5 landscapes (and made 4×5 cyanotypes under the Tuscan sun), a study of the Terontola house with a Hassalblad (for a handsome book), Instant Italy (all shot with Fujifilm Instax), Olympus Pen FT half frame, and many digital photographs including Italy Looking Up (shot with the Leica M8.2). The past two years I have enjoyed using the Fujifilm Xpro1 extensively and showed them in this blog.

This year I was in a quandary. I considered doing portraits, but truth be told, the effort to work my Italian subjects is too daunting for a vacation, I enjoy the summer work because it shouldn’t be hard, it should be completely relaxing. Over the years I have set up a primitive darkroom in the back of the house. Primarily for developing film and lately doing contact printing. I always dreamed of having a full force darkroom back there, since I have been darkroom-less in NYC since I arrived.

This week I have read two interesting web pieces about film photography. One about an Indian Photo Club dedicated analog film and the other from an old buddy of mine who has relocated Japan and makes a strong case for shooting film with personal reasons. Both of these musings have these influenced me, they got me thinking. I am not going to drone on and on about the film vs. digital argument. That’s moot, and I have done that already in my article “The Merits of Shooting Film in the Digital World” for F295. What got me was the simple joy of hearing a shutter click, and the feel of advancing film with a lever. Loading film, unloading film, and then loading film onto a reel and putting it into a light proof tank. Mixing chemicals, timing it all, reviewing the exposed negative up to a light, cutting the negative, and then lastly, printing the negative. Working in the dark, holding that finished print in your hands after it has dried. Showing the print off, examining the print and noting how you could have printed it just a little bit better.

It’s simply sublime. There is no substitute for this process. It is the essence of photography; skill, vision, craftsmanship, and art. It’s black and white, it’s subtle, and it’s shadows and highlights dancing on fiber paper. Even as I write this, I’m contemplating bringing the last of my marshals oils and perhaps, doing a little hand coloring!

I fired off an email to my friend Nicola, one member of the triumvirate that is behind Cortona On The Move, a photo festival that occurs in the summer months in Cortona, if he could source me an enlarger. He replied he had a cold light Kodak sitting in storage! Perfect, I love a cold light source, and better yet since the back room of the Terontola house is dusty as the days are long.

So this leads me to the choice of cameras. I have a nice collection, actually I pride myself on my camera collection. Since I’m going back to roots here, I think I’d like to keep it simple and that means lets forego large format. I’m thinking 35mm. And my favorite 35mm camera system I have is my vintage Nikon S2 rangefinder. She’s a beauty right out of 1953. Sexier than a Leica, made like a tank, and unlike the more popular Nikon F system cameras, the S2 is a rangefinder. For lenses I’ll bring the entire collection, which includes; a super duper sharp 50 mm 1.4, a great semi wide 35 mm f 2.5, a sweet portrait shooter 105 mm f 2.0 and then just for fun, a 135mm.

I can’t wait to shoot all day and print all night. So keep Suspect Photography bookmarked and I’ll be posting some classic photography during the rest of August.

~David

 

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