Last month I visited an artist friend in Deal, Kent and took along the Kodak Specialist 5×7, shooting paper negatives on some of my remaining stock of Kentona paper. I had a really nice time. We went to see a painter called Jo Aylward and stayed in the house of another artist called Ruby.
First posted 23 January 2012
Firstly, let me apologise for the late update of my blog. I have had much to think about for the last few months and feel like a different person now. Circumstances have forced upon me a new perspective. Consequently, I have been unable to pursue my usual interests in life and work for a number of months.
For many years I have cycled through all kinds of photography and printing methods, trying to increase my skills and abilities in each incrementally. There is so much that one can do in photography and so many styles to follow. I have been fascinated by virtually every aspect of photography that I have seen, and tried my hand at most of them. All of this takes many years, and I have woken up to the fact that I cannot do everything that I want to.
I have found that time is not as abundant as it once was, so I have to let some things drop. I have decided to concentrate more on my paper negative work, my portraiture, my darkroom workshops and if I still have time I’ll do some more gum printing. If anyone comes to me for a workshop I will of course cover whatever subject or style I have knowledge of, but my personal work has to be narrowed down or it will not grow. The paper negative work is going to be my main focus though, so expect some coverage in the photographic press over the next year or so,…
Workshop enquiries; firstname.lastname@example.org
First posted 4 February 2011
Just before Christmas, I wrote and self published a book on the paper negative process. This technique is something I’ve worked with since the late seventies and one which I am particularly fond of. For those of you unfamiliar with it, in it’s simplest form it is just using photographic paper in the camera instead of film. The reduced ISO, paper texture and Orthochromatic response give a look totally unlike film and not easily faked digitally. In fact, there would be no point trying to fake it, as most of the pleasure comes from the slight unpredictability of the process.
Occasionally this is frustrating, but the flipside is when beautiful surprises occur and provide you with amazing images.
The book was self published on Blurb.com using the Booksmart software. Previous books done this way had all been purely images. This time I had to marry up text with image and attempt page layouts.
That in itself is not too difficult, the Booksmart software gives templates for drag and drop simplicity. However, I hadn’t bargained for how totally bloody frustrating the software could be!
It allowed me to drop sections of text in, but as soon as I tried to change a word or add a new bit, the font size would jump from 8 to 16 and the line below would drop down two spaces. Each time I tried to rectify the problem things just got worse! Whole pages of text would jump across to the previous page and lay themselves over a full page image! Aaaarrrggh!
I battled on and just got the book out in time for a few Christmas sales, only to find that there were one or two typing mistakes and the colour cast of some scanned prints had given a very green look to a few images. Also, the font size was a little too large when seen in hard copy, something that is difficult to judge on screen.
I set about producing a second edition immediately and came up against all the previous problems. Hopefully, this version is a little tidier.
The second edition of the book is now available and I apologise to anyone who bought and was disappointed by the style of the first. The information is still sound, take consolation in the fact that you have a very rare book -only six copies sold I believe.
The new book can be seen here;
First posted 7 July 2009
My posts have been delayed recently because I have been away a couple of times and had a number of teaching workshops to do.
In my personal work, I have been using a 5×7 inch Kodak Specialist camera with old Ilfospeed paper in the back. This technique can produce lovely results, but often the paper negatives are difficult to print.
Recently, I acquired a box of old Ilfospeed RC paper from the photographer David Ellwand (author of the book ‘Fairie-ality’). I tested it and found out the effective speed, then shot a tree in my garden as a test. I discovered that it had an unusual texture (when used as a negative) and I liked the look of it.
I had also been playing around with various lenses on the 5×7 camera and managed to grab myself half a day to go out and do some tree shots. I thought the combination of this paper with one particular lens would give me a really nice result.
That evening I processed the negs and did contact prints.
The resulting images were really disappointing, there was one neg which had potential, but the other seven were terrible. What had I done wrong? I was really hacked off with my wasted half day and had a good old moan to my wife later in the evening.
She wisely suggested that I spend the evening watching a programme on a photographer online (Annie Leibovitz). We watched it together and I immediately knew what I had done wrong, -I was concentrating too much on the process of photography and not actually looking for things that needed photographing.
The next morning I grabbed a 35mm camera and spent 15 minutes at most walking around the garden taking pictures of things that looked interesting. The experience was electric! – I shot a curled up hosepipe, a plant, some interesting pebbles collected on holiday last year and one or two other subjects and totally enjoyed finding pictures instead of playing with equipment.
I can see now that this has happened before and I have allowed myself to get too wrapped up in an enjoyable, but distracting area of photography.
The next free day I have, I will let the picture dictate the appropriate equipment, not the equipment dictate the picture. A valuable lesson learned.