Monday, November 23, 2009

View Camera spread

I'm happy to report that View Camera magazine published some of my pictures and an essay, in its Sept/Oct 2009 issue.   It's still a bit of an ego stroke to see them in print!  And I hope the essay is helpful to at least one soul out there thinking about jumping into the ether world....

Meghan's Hair

Hair.  It is not often that I find the pinnacle of a woman's attractiveness to be her hair.  But it happens.  And it happened in spades with Meghan.  I think I've come a step closer to understanding the force that Jane Morris had over each of the greats, William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Here is my hommage to Meghan and her hair....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

From the Archives, II

Well, it is a rainy late afternoon in Wilmington, Delaware.  And there isn't much to do here besides visit the Delaware Art Museum, which has a wonderful collection (the largest outside Britain) of Pre-Rafaelite Brotherhood paintings.  It is a superb collection of one of my favorite genres.  Other than that.... not much to report from the corporate state.  So, badly missing my either fix, I return to the archives.

I've tried about five times now to shoot away from my home and its (well-lit, fairly spacious) darkroom.  The difficulties with wet plate mount, I might add, when shooting "in the field."  The portable darkroom is great in concept, but in practice it is a MUCH more cramped environment in which to work, ventilation is horrible, the wind can be a real annoyance and problem, and it takes a good bit of effort to pack it all into the car, unpack/set-up, shoot, pack back into the car, then unpack back into the house.  Which doesn't mean it isn't fun, just that it is a lot of work.

But sometimes it is great to get out and try shooting in new environments.  With this model, we went to the local park in my town.  Fortunately, this park is not well travelled during the week, and it has some very remote spots, off the beaten paths.  And, my model was absolutely fine with being naked in public!  She's from Italy, and is a real charmer with her accent and enchanting demeanor.  Fortunately, only a couple people came within 100 yards of us over the course of the day, and we had absolutely no issues -- it worked great.

I had noticed a wall of ivy, and thought it would make a nice backdrop for some shots.  I like this first shot -- it is a bit of a mash-up between Julia Margaret Cameron and Madonna.  The last shot was a "mistake" for a number of reasons, including leaving it in the cyanide too long, the effect of which is that the cyanide starts to dissolve away the image, which you can see starting to happen at the lower left.  But when I got home and scanned it, I liked it!  Also, I'm throwing in the third shot because it shows well the effect of the "petzval" swirly lens signature.  I don't get much swirl in most of my images because I usually use a backdrop that is pretty close to the model (in my small home "studio").  But with an expansive background, especially of plants, the swirl is readily apparent.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


This gal is the last of the Jewish Persians, exiled from her home and land by the righteous ones.  And now a resident of East Oakland.  Talk about a change in scenery!  At any rate, I adore her disposition and her looks, each au natural.  Truly, one of the things I most like about my hobby is the opportunity it provides to meet such interesting people.  And the Yahudi (a term in farsi for persian jew) has been a special treat.  I hope to shoot with her again soon.

Fortunately, there isn't much to report on the technical side.  The day went well.  These are all full (or whole) plates (6.5" x 8.5" inches) at 14 second exposures.  You can see in the bottom image the effect of the depletion of alcohol in the developer (as the 190-proof alcohol fumes out of the bottle over the course of the afternoon) -- without the alcohol, the developer beads up, as it is, how would you say, chemically adverse to the composition of the collodion.  You see it happens in the bottom-left of the image, which is the far side of the pour (I pour from the top right), showing that the effect is compounded by the time the developer makes it across the plate.  I don't mind the effect it has in this image, as it doesn't interfere with the optical focus of the shot, and gives that unique hand-made look. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Angel de Managua

This seniorita recently moved to San Francisco from her home city of Managua, Nicaragua.  And I think she speaks better english than I do!  A delightful and beautiful young woman is she. 
For this shoot I hooked up an angel wing that a friend gave to me from out of his dusty prop closet.  Up close, the wing is pretty nasty, although it is made of real feathers.  So I tried to keep it just beyond crisp view.  I have both wings, actually, but I'll save the double wing job for another shoot. 

From a technical side, the shoot went smoothly.  However, I did get one plate that had a million "comets" on it, which I've posted below (second one).  Also, the winter is upon us.  These exposures were 14 seconds (down from a high of 1 second in mid summer in central California), which gives you an indication of the drop in UV light through the seasons.  Such long exposures really test the model to keep still, and inevitably you get movement on most shots.  c'est la vie (a nod to cafe selavy there ;) 

I wish I could relate how great these look in-hand -- nothing beats a solid layer of silver for visual impact (screw ink).