Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My book has arrived!

Tuesday I got my photo book by courier. I cannot believe how big the thing is. It doesn’t fit on any bookshelf in the house… but it is beautiful. Worth both the money and the wait. I will be buying from them again (as soon as I can fit eighty pages with decent photographs, that is). Actually this has been a bumper week for photographs. I also got a CD of the last roll of black and white film I shot (six weeks ago - I don’t get to town much). The Ilford HP5 Plus - 400 is kind of chunky - the last roll I shot I had underexposed two stops - shot it at 1600 - and had the lab “push” it two stops when developing. I expected that to be really grainy (which it is) but I was expecting it to be quite a bit smoother when shot at box speed. I have much to learn.

The problem I'm having is finding film. I was lucky enough to score two rolls of Fuji Velvia 50 - 35mm when I dropped off this roll of black and white. What I'm looking for is Neopan 1600 - from what I have read, Neopan is remarkably smooth black and white film considering how fast it is. For those who keep track of such things - the flower is the only shot where I am not using my medium yellow filter. I think I might start underexposing a half stop for my next roll of this film... feel free to comment, I'm really new at this and can use all the advice I can get... Especially you Therrr... if you are still scanning :)

I have to get back to fiddling with my pictures and I want to see what the Philistines in DMU are making of my latest offering... I submitted the picture of the cables you see here. It was taken on TV tower road. They are anchor cables for the giant antenna ... but the last time I checked DMU, the picture was doing rather poorly. It's ART I tell ya, Art!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Delete Me: Uncensored - my home away from home

When I first started to take pictures for the sake of the visuals, for the joy of it as opposed to snapshots to freeze the moment, I began looking online for a community of similar minded individuals. As it turns out there are many such places. I found the one that suited me by happy accident. I had read elsewhere about the genesis of the disparaging term “chimping” (looking at the screen on the back of one’s camera and often making approving grunts) and I did an image search of the word. This brought up a number of images, the most interesting of which was in a woman’s Flickr photo stream. After fiddling around for a bit I joined Flickr and stumbled across a picture of a cat, not an uncommon sight on a photography website, what made this picture so interesting was the tone of the comments. The comments were not only varied and not entirely positive, some were downright rude. The rude comments all came from the same source. A voting pool called Deleteme Uncensored (DMU). I was hooked.

From what I can gather there was once (and still is) a group called DeleteMe. Folks who wished to give extremely harsh critiques formed a splinter group and that was the first group I joined on Flickr. If you are going through my photo stream and you see vile, seemingly uncalled for, rude and/or obscene comments… please bear in mind I ASKED for this treatment. There are far too many extremely supportive groups that will tell you just how awesome you are and how much they like your work. I can learn NOTHING from such sugar coated critique. DMU pulls no punches. If you are lucky you might just get a fair critique from one of the many pro photographers who hang around. If not, one of the slack jawed yokels who don’t take photos or contribute to anything but the highly charged discussions that take place in the threads might throw in their two cents. Either way, you might just learn something about your work that you may be too close to it to see yourself. There is one caveat however - if you truly love a picture (or the subject) you might not want to submit it to these wolves.

DMU is an international gathering of photographers, professional and amateur, film and digital, wise and foolish, young and old, of many differing faiths, backgrounds, beliefs all thrown together in the one spot where you can say almost ANYTHING. That is really a wonderful thing. There are rules however. The original DMU did go a bit too far, was warned by Flickr to smarten up and, somehow (I really don’t want to get into the finger pointing) killed itself - dozens of splinter groups formed - three main groups came out the other side of the maelstrom. DMU, the other DMU (that I am not a member of) and the Icebox. The Icebox was formed by a thoughtful DMU member who wanted to provide a place for us to chill from the nasty words, invectives and blame that was being thrown around.

DMU is really not for the faint of heart - I bring it up because it means so much to me and also many of my friends seem genuinely upset that people should say such HORRIBLE things about my photographs. That is a two way street. I not only make rude comments, I truly enjoy making rude pictures as well. Let me post one of my favourites here.

Most of the horrible things I create are image specific. They only make sense if you see the picture they are mocking. I do try to include some advice with most of my comments - but if it just looks like poo...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The book has been ordered...

I finally was able to order the Photobook of my vacation pictures. It took some time as apparently one is nobody without a paypal account. After dealing with on-line and telephone support I was able to pay over the phone. Dealing with the people at Photobook was quite easy. I have only to hold my breath for two weeks or so and I will have my book in my hot little hands.

I found the experience of arranging and editing the book to be enjoyable. If this turns out well I may use the service again and again - though not the giant sized book. I have a feeling 17½" by 12" is going to be hard to shelve and possibly (can it be) too large for the kind of viewing I would like. I would like people ooooh-ing and awwwww-ing, not noticing how some of the images don't hold up well under close scrutiny.

The cover is the de rigueur iconic Peggy's Cove lighthouse. It was pouring rain when we arrived. Horrible weather really, but it slowed down enough for me to take this picture and not get rain on my lens. By this time I had already had to change my drenched clothes by the side of the road - after finding a footpath by the side of the road that looked like it might lead to a photo opportunity of the town from afar (it did). Somehow Peggy's Cove is a touch less charming in a downpour than what I had come to expect.

There were moments during my vacation where I thought that lugging around a backpack filled with four cameras, seven lenses, a flash (and never far away, the tripod and reflector) was a bit much. In retrospect, I'm glad I had it all with me. The picture of the boat here was taken with Ektar print film, the lighthouse - Ektachrome slide film. Neither picture would have looked the same taken with the digital camera, and having a second 35mm film camera meant I had more options.

Since my return I have burned through a roll of black & white film (not pushed this time) on a photowalk with friends in Ottawa - at some point I'll be sure to get that stuff developed. I always used to wonder how photographers could stumble across undeveloped film years later... I think I understand now.