Almost all my eggs in one basket

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The last twelve calendar months have been rewarding as far as making work but difficult in regards to finding an audience for it. The somnambulist project has engaged me like no other photographic project but it has many features to it that really have kept it from gaining traction.

Scale, permanence, and similarity to to work done by Adam Fuss and Karen Savage have led to some push back. I go blindly into my photographic projects. They do marry technique and concept although I will be the first to admit that I get lost in materials and processes.

Although I have been feeling this, there has been a spot of good news this week. The New Orleans Photography Alliance has announced the finalists for the 2014 Clarence John Laughlin Award. I am one of the thirteen photographers selected. Also included in this group are Keliy Anderson-Staley, Anne Berry,  Susan Burnstine,  Benjamin Dimmitt,  William Guion,  Leslie Hall Brown,  Jaime Johnson, Meghann Riepenhoff,  Euphus Ruth, J Michael Skaggs, Cheryle St. Onge, and S. Gayle Stevens.

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Camera work, part I

During the late spring and most of this summer, grinding up pigments, collecting flowers, coating paper and arranging clothing into the exposure set- ups have taken up a lot of my studio time. In other words, I’ve been making only anthotypes. Perhaps “only” is the wrong word. Three weeks ago I broke out the view camera to photograph support stockings laid out on the grass.

I am working with anti-embolism stockings as a way of looking back to my father who wore them late in his life. I would find them in the laundry area or see him wearing them with his summer pajamas as he watched the “Tonight Show” in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Although he didn’t wear white thigh highs, I wore these for about three hours. I am now at the age that my father was when I noticed him wearing support socks and my primary care physician is encouraging me to adopt them for daily use.

So in late July I tried the three hour experiment in the morning and then set up the camera in the backyard around 3 pm. Accompanied by a squadron of mosquitos I made four exposures, which I finally began printing this week.

It is only the second time this year I have used the 8×10 camera and it was a struggle especially with the elastic of the dark cloth around the film back area. Forgetting the numerous mosquito bites, I feel like I am ready to get back to more camera work.

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slower than molasses in january

Yes, I do camera work. The view camera has been described as a slower way of working than smaller, hand held cameras. In the hands of a slower worker, it’s like pouring molasses on a winter’s day.

Saturday I loaded film holders.

 Sunday I took up all afternoon working with buckeyes and using the 8×10 view camera with the extension rails.

 To compound it all, I used a Rodenstock Imagon 360mm lens. Mine has no shutter and the unusual aperture set up is initially a bit confusing.

 Today I developed in camera paper positives.

 I am still uncertain as to the final arrangement. I like to challenge myself with negative space but find myself drawn to the initial arrangement which was lost due to camera set up, difficulty of working with the Imagon and the rickety nature of the buckeyes (they are in pieces and barely want to stay put).

original arrangement
view camera set up for final image
front view of the imagon
uncropped in camera paper positive
detail from the above image

I do like the look of the eye in the original set-up. I think I will revisit this image once I get a few of the sheets of film developed. In hindsight, I don’t think the soft focus lens was the best choice so I may go back and expose it with a sharper lens and with more depth of field.

Some notes to keep on hand:

I photographed from about 3 pm until 4:45 pm yesterday. The paper positive exposures were made with window light around 4:30 pm and I rated the film at about ISO 3. I’m thinking that it should be rated about ISO 1.5. The first exposure was about 8 minutes. I calculated a bellows extension factor of about 4 stops and ignored any reciprocity failure for both film and paper exposures. I did a second paper negative exposure of 25 minutes. It was going to be 16 minutes. Then it was twenty which I stretched out to 25.

I was doing dishes and couldn’t be stopped.

Both paper positives were developed in Sprint paper developer diluted 1:18.

Film exposures (not yet developed) were 32 seconds and 16 seconds for ISO 100 film (Shanghai?) and 16 seconds and 8 seconds for some older, fogged TMax 400.

the appearance of being active

Tomorrow should be a good day of sunlight so I am strongly leaning to “bringing in” the first onion skin anthotype.

What follows is, admittedly, just the ins and outs of recent exhibitions for record keeping.

Last month I was able to exhibit Forty-six at IceCube gallery in Denver, Colorado loosely part Denver’s Month of Photography. The exhibit, Icebreaker4, was juried by Nora Burnett Abrams, the Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Also last month the Rosewood Gallery’s Annual Works On Paper came down. I was able to show three anthotypes including Somnambulist #3 (Cut Grass Poultice) and the two little saffron anthotypes, Nightie Negligee (Barbie) and Sleeper Set Pajamas (Ken). Somnambulist #3  was selected for an award of merit by juror Robert Robbins, Chair of Drawing and Printmaking, as well as a professor in the fine arts department at the Columbus College of Art & Design.

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Later this month I will be installing work at the Riffe Gallery for Photography’s Back to the Future curated by Catherine Evans of the Columbus Museum of Art. Look for installation shots later this month. The work included in this exhibit will be (all vandyke brown prints) Forty-six, Mis-mitosis, and Don’t Take This Personally.

the nostalgia for seeing an ocean horizon

As a way of moving out of the back of the blue sky gallery, a decision was made to utilize the overhanging dry wall that diagonally bisected the space. I really can’t pinpoint when I decided sidewalk cracks were going to be part of the show, but I had hoped to begin installing it the week before “Your Turn” opened. The idea was to create a crack near the ceiling as a way to make use of more of the gallery. Bridgette Bogle and I didn’t have time to execute this by February 1st. The actual photographing of the cracks happened mid-January and the printing finally commenced a month later. Last weekend was a quick run to Columbus to pick up an additional roll of 100 feet of generic luster paper, the other having run out by the time I got through the first crack.

These “sidewalk cracks” were printed out 15.5″ x 67″. Some were connected to each other in pairs. One set formed a triptych. Bridgette created her own crack with pink ribbon which was marked in intervals with blue and green masking tape. This made each of the sections part of one larger piece we ended up calling “lost horizons”.

I haven’t had time to properly document this part of our collaboration but I am posting a cropped detail of an image from the closing.

The name comes from the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon (and the subsequent movies) but is meant to reference my nostalgia for seeing the ocean horizon from my childhood home in San Diego. The cracks become a horizon line high above the gallery floor which mimic the height of the ocean horizon viewed from a hill.

However…in the process of determining a print size for that massively long strip of gallery space, I printed out three smaller versions of the sidewalk cracks and stacked them on the same sheet of paper. There is something appealing about this scale and arrangement that exists independently of the gallery installation. There may be more of these.

The decisive (anthotype) moment

In any medium there can be a moment when you are finished with your making but not recognize it. There can also be a moment when one thinks something is finished and one doesn’t recognize that the making needs to continue.

This isn’t indecision necessarily but the opposite namely a wrong decision.

Anthotypes are prone to this error in the decision process. I usually stop them too soon, take the whole thing apart, look at the underlying exposure and put everything back together and continue the exposure.

Here is the pokeberry anthotype of Clem Wolfham #2. It’s pretty dark but this time I think I’ll err on the side of print density. There are subtle details that are difficult to make out in the documentation but I think it will buy this print a few more years of life as it goes from storage to exhibition and back to storage.

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Onionskin Anthotype Day 1

Another day and another anthotype. Over the last couple of weeks, I been squeezing in a little bit of time to coat a sheet of paper with brown liquid made from boiling the skins of yellow onions.

The paper has about eleven coats of onion skin broth. The pajama is in-labeled meaning their is no name from a previous owner. It has been cut along the seems to leave only the button front and collar. The paper is Fabriano Artistico Extra White Hot Press.

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