Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Copyright Kevin Cooley

It's been a joy sharing photography with all of you over the past, crazy year. I've enjoyed our meetings, emails, and conversations and look forward to another photo-filled year in 2010. Wishing you all the best. See you in the new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quote of the week - Giacometti

"What is important is to create an object capable of conveying the sensation as close as possible to the one felt at the sight of the subject"

- Alberto Giacometti

 I don't usually accompany the quotes with a photo, trying to let them speak for themselves. However, I saw this series of photos by Ugo Mulas in his show at PhotoEspana (my third favorite of the festival after "Evidence" by Mike Mandell and Larry Sultan and the Bartolome Ros show) taken of Giacometti as he receives news that he has been awarded the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale.   It's too powerful not to share and admittedly got me chocked up when I first saw it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

(Slight) Mission Change

When I first started the blog, I thought I'd be a bit ambitious and try to help photography along in all of California, or even on the West Coast. I just realized I've been doing this for over a year and it doesn't make much sense for me to try to expand much beyond LA County. It's just not feasible. So, I've slightly altered the mission statement and will be focusing on photography in Los Angeles and hopefully some San Diego, San Bernadino, Central Valley, San Francisco etc. etc. equivalents will pop up and the west will prove best.

Feature - Rebecca Sittler

 Ok - features resume!  I just got back the ability to post from work, which makes things a lot easier (on my lunch hour, of course).

Rebecca Sittler is the Head of Photography at Cal State Long Beach.  I'm drawn to the small figures in her landscapes and I like the fact that she puts her statement after her photos so that you can experience the visual work visually and then delve deeper rather than being influenced into thinking one way or another about them before you even see them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chris McCaw opening tonight @ Duncan Miller

Copyright Chris McCaw

I'm going to try to attend the opening of San Francisco based photographer, Chris McCaw's show at Duncan Miller Gallery tonight, from 7-9.  Any photographer who uses a camera that big...

From the website:

Photographer Chris McCaw has released a new series of original work, based on paper negatives, long exposures, and the sun burning its way across the image.

Opening reception for artist, Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 7-9 pm.

This series is titled P.O.P., and is made using an arcane photographic paper that was popular in the early 1900's. The paper's common name is "Printing Out Paper." This paper produces beautiful, ethereal prints with a range of colors from deep magenta, violet or brownish tint.

The subtle color hues in each piece are quite different in each piece as a result of the paper, the hand processing and the gold toning of each image during processing.

Due to the scarcity of this paper, this series is currently limited to 14 pieces. As each piece is the actual negative that was placed in the camera, they are one-of-a-kind and cannot be reproduced.

McCaw's work has been recently acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Works are currently on display in both museums.

The gallery is displaying a concurrent exhibition, Frank Paulin "Color Works", in our North and East galleries.

Aline Smithson interview on Nymphoto

Copyright Aline Smithson

Aline Smithson, who runs the excellent, LA-based blog Lenscratch has an interview up over on Nymphoto.

Check it out here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

RIP - Larry Sultan

The Golden State has lost one of it's golden boys. Larry Sultan passed away yesterday at the age of 63 due to cancer.

Read "Reconstructing Family: Larry Sultan’s Pictures from Home" by Merriah Lamb over on American Suburb X

Obituary here

UPDATE: His last work with words posted over at American Suburb X here!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Los Angeles per Doug Rickard

Doug Rickard is a master with words, IMO. He had this to say about our fair city alongside a post on the excellent John Humble:

Los Angeles… L.A…. the City of Angels.

The words are charged… they carry a feeling and a complex weight… emotion and human stories seem to be carried within the letters… they come off of the page... a heavy vibe... just in the words. This massive thing is no ordinary place, this is no ordinary city and those that come here, those that are from here… those that live here and those that die here... no ordinary folks. Los Angeles is a living-breathing-epicenter and its waves are felt far and wide. It is vast... it is a dream, it is its people… it is its country… its culture and its effects reach out across the land. Alive... it thrives, it grows, it expands... it gives, it takes, it demands. It is birth, it is death... it lifts dreams up yet it crushes them with impunity… it breathes up the air and it consumes it voraciously. A place where dreams are born, where they fight to survive… where dreams try their best to come true. 13 million souls, 13 billion stories, every spoken language… every skin... every color... every rich-every poor… every good-every bad… every hero-every villain… every thought-every vice… everything that exists under the blazing sun. This is a city that needs to be shown… this is a city that needs to be seen, needs to define and needs to be understood… needs to be experienced, needs to be told… needs to be “felt”. Even if you never go there… you can “feel” Los Angeles and you can know it.

Opening Saturday - Matthew Porter @ M+B Gallery

I'll be headed to the opening on Saturday of Matthew Porter's new series, High Lonesome, in which he continues using his Photshopping skills to merge the Hindenberg with cowboys in the American West in a bizarre twist of history and time. Should be, um, interesting.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Photo Book

The Resolve blog, alongside Andy Adams from Flak have teamed up to coordinate a cross-blog conversation on the future of the photo book so here are my two cents:

I’d just like to say that JUST AS MUCH as a bad quality photo (where the photographer pays little attention to the technical or is inept) can easily ruin a concept for me, so too can a bad quality photo book, a la Blurb. (In case you missed my earlier post, you should make sure to read Jonathan Sounders’ Blurb horror story.)

Joerg over at Conscientious says “…that print quality is one parameter of what makes a good photo book, and I don't think it should be taken as the only one that separates good photo books from bad ones…” Well, I disagree slightly in that I think it is either the most important parameter or at least one of the most. I judge the quality of the printing in the book much in the same way I judge the quality of prints.

The art is in the printing. We’re making photographs here, not JPEG’s. You can take a photo that looks great on a computer screen but can you print the thing and well? Have you shot it “correctly” or is it full of digital artifacts and noise because you haven’t mastered the technical? Did you print it too large for its own good? I mean, you can print a medium format shot at 2m wide but not a 35mm. Sure, I guess you could, but you shouldn’t. I can’t count how much work I like that when I finally see it printed, am disappointed by (and I won’t name names but a certain local and well-known female photographer is the most egregious example I’ve seen as of late).

What I’m saying is that while print on demand is great for some people, as a serious artist, there is no way based on what I’ve seen, that I would be willing to present my work that way. I’m looking to impress so why accept poor quality printing?  I want the value of a book I produce and which people collect to go up, just like my prints.

This, of course, is from a photographer’s perspective who is thinking of publishing his own work for the purposes of promotion (it worked for Ryan McGinley, right?). I’d have to go with hand bound or with a small and affordable, yet quality printer to produce my book and I don’t see this changing anytime soon unless one of these quality publishers starts a print on demand business (which they should!). Yes, I’ll have to print 250 or 500 copies upfront but, hey, you get what you pay for.

If I ever get recognition, though, there is no question I’d go with Steidl. The quality is unparalleled and I don’t foresee this changing anytime soon. One can dream, right?

Joerg next says, “Bad printing can ruin great photography, but great printing doesn't guarantee a great photo book.”

I agree with this but are we really to get into a discussion about things other than quality, price, and distribution? It just seems to me to be way too nuanced of a topic. There are a million different ways of arranging a photo book, deciding upon content, design, text etc. that I don’t see how to possibly cover all the possibilities in a general discussion.

If what he means (and I think he does) is that we should think of doing something other than just presenting photo after photo in a basic design, then I agree – we definitely should.

So I guess to finish my thoughts, I’d say that to me, the future of photography books looks just about the same to me as the last decade has - not much change when you are talking about producing something of quality.

But then, I didn’t see the financial crisis coming… In fact, I’d love to be proved dead wrong by the emergence of a quality on-demand printer with unlimited design options.

Read everyone else's views over at Resolve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wet Plate Workshop - Julia Dean @ Translight

Trying to figure out how to setp away from the crowd and shine?  Why not get back to basics?  I mean, really basic in terms of history but actually complex.

The Wet Plate Collodion Workshop
INSTRUCTOR: Allan Barnes
DATE: December 12th & 13th, 2009
2 Session(s) Sat 1-5pm, Sun  10am-4pm   
CLASS FEE: $245.00

Workshop Fee does not include $85  Lab Rental Fee to be paid to Translight Photography Center.

There is much conversation today about the changes in photographic technology, but these changes are nothing new. In efforts to advance photography in the mid-19th century, Fredrick Scott Archer, an English sculptor and photographer, experimented with collodion in the hope of producing a photographic negative on ordinary glass plates. This process was perfected in 1851. The Wet-Plate Collodion Process replaced the first dominant form of popular photography, the Daguerrotype. There were three phases of this technology: The Ambrotype, (a glass positive) The Ferrotype, (or Tintype) and the Glass Negative. Eventually, the dry-plate process replaced the wet-plate process. Then along came George Eastman and gelatin film, which made photography accessible to the masses.

In this hands-on workshop, participants will use vintage cameras to explore the craftsmanship of coating their own glass and metal plates to make a photograph, using the three sub-fields of WPC. First, we delve briefly into the history of this process and its revival. Then students will be trained in the coating of a photographic plate, exposure, development and preservation of the plate. Participants will also be provided with the information needed to purchase their own WPC equipment. Chemistry, media and cameras will be provided. Participants should come to the workshop with aprons and work clothing (materials are not overly toxic but can easily stain clothing). Students will be required to pay $85 to Translight Photography Center (TPC) for use of the facility. Upon completion of the class, all students will receive a free one-month membership to TPC, which includes a 25% discount off the regular darkroom rental rates.

Enrollment limit: 12 students

Enroll here.


Copyright Dalton Rooney

Hey, it's holiday season, which means you probably need some gifts, right?  Collect.give is a new effort where each photographer donates 100% of the profits of their sales on a chosen edition to a cause of their choosing. L.A. local Emily Shur's edition is sold out so my next recommendation would be to pick up a print by Dalton Rooney for $40 to benefit MillionTreesNYC.  Having one in my collection, I can assure you Dalton spends the greatest of effort on his prints.  Or, grab someone elses.  Either way, it's a win-win.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I couldn't help it. There is an amazing photo essay on winter hunting in Greenland in the NYT travel section by Ragnar Axelsson.

Copyright Ragnar Axelsson

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Translight Changes - Support!

I received the following email detailing changes over at Translight. Like everyone else in this economy, they're having trouble turning a profit. I'd urge everyone to go check out this last existing darkroom resource in the L.A. area to help ensure it's survival.

I've used the Espon 9800 myself a couple of times and I can assure you that you won't find a better deal on digital printing in town (plus, you get to control it yourself or with a bit of guidance):


My intention when I purchased TPC at the beginning of 2009 was to keep this facility operating
and servicing the photographic community. Since the purchase TPC has invested in new digital
service, expanded our hours, increased our marketing expenses and efforts, solicited art patrons,
continued to service and maintain our equipment, and done whatever we could think of to try to
move the lab closer to a break-even financial situation. However, as many of you have no doubt
struggled during this recession, TPC continues to experience monetary losses at a monthly rate that
is increasingly difficult to sustain.

I remain as committed today as I was in January to keeping TPC around for years to come. In
order to make that a reality, TPC is undertaking some changes in the hopes of narrowing the gap
between expenditures and revenues. We hope you remain as committed to us as we are to you. 

Changes [Effective Tuesday 12/1/2009] are as follows:

New Hours of Operations
Based on our analysis of facility usage over the past eleven months, we have identified these days
and hours as the most popular. This reduction in hours represents a significant salary cut to our
staff, but we feel strongly that cutting expenses is as necessary as increasing revenues.

Monday  Closed ***
Tuesday  Noon- 9pm
Wednesday Noon-10pm
Thursday  Noon- 9pm
Friday  Closed ***
Saturday  11am- 9pm
Sunday  11am- 6pm

NOTE: Classes/Workshops can be scheduled for any dates or times.

*** Minimum Commitments for Special Arrangements [Assuming Staff Availability]:
Entire B/W Group Room-4 Hours                        
  Color Darkroom-6 Hours
Digital Printer-$150.00                                         Digital Scanner-4 Hours
The required minimum commitment is to be pre-paid at the time of scheduling. Overages will be
collected on the day of service. No cancellations or refunds for these special arrangements.

Cancellation Policy
TPC has been experiencing a reservation cancellation rate of over 50% this past year which has a
strong negative impact on staffing and operational expenses. As a result, we feel reluctantly
compelled to implement this policy.
> $25.00 charge for all cancelled reservations scheduled for regular business hours. 
>  Reservations cancelled by 2pm PST on the day prior to the reservation will incur NO
      cancellation charge.  Cancellation by Phone Only [No Emails or Text]. Customer can leave
      a voice message [fyi: TPC’s messages are time-stamped and saved at the phone company’s
      messaging service]. 
>  The cancellation fee will be collected prior to any subsequent service. 

NOTE: We continue to strongly recommend customers make reservations in advance. If there
are no reservations for a particular day, it is highly likely that TPC may not open in order to
reduce expenses

New Rates [Effective Tuesday 12/1/2009]
TPC will be offering a quarterly membership for $90/quarter [3 months]. The monthly member
rate of $35/month is discontinued [Existing memberships will be honored through their end dates].
This new membership level will continue to give its’ holders a 25% discount off darkroom rates
and additionally a 20% discount on the Nikon Film Scanner.

 Color Darkroom Rental Non-Member  $23.00/hour
 Color Darkroom Rental Member  $17.00/hour
 B/W Darkroom Rental Non-Member  $16.00/hour
 B/W Darkroom Rental Member  $12.00/hour
 B/W 20 x 24 Rate  Non-Member  $23.00/hour
 B/W 20 x 24 Rate  Member  $17.00/hour
 [One Hour Minimum usage and 15 minute increments thereafter]

 Press Mount  $20.00/hour [No Change] No minimum usage. 1⁄4 hour increments.

 Epson 9800 Digital Printer [Self-Service]  TPC  Paper $10/sq. Ft.
 Epson 9800 Digital Printer [Self-Service]  Cust. Paper   $9/sq. Ft.
 Standard Size Examples:           11x14          16x20         20x24          30x40
 TPC’s Paper                             $21.00          $30.00       $37.00          $60.00  
 Customer’s Paper                     $19.00          $27.00       $33.00          $53.00 

 Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED Film Scanner Drop-Off Service [No Change]
 Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED Film Scanner [Non-Member]  [Self-Service] $25/hr.
 Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED Film Scanner [Member]  [Self-Service] $20/hr.
 [One hour minimum. 1⁄4 hour increments]
As always, I thank you for your patronage and understanding. To demonstrate TPC’s solidarity
with our customers I am pledging that there will be no additional rate increases for at least 18

Michael Gotz
Translight Photography Center

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Silence Explained

So, all of a sudden, starting about 2 weeks ago, I lost the ability to post from work.  This makes it much harder for me to keep up with the blog but I will continue to try to find a solution (The IT dept. is unhelpful for obvious reasons - stupid PC's!) and will do my very best to jump back into the swing of things regardless.

As for now, I had my wisdom teeth - all four - yanked yesterday so once I'm out of this world of pain and feel like speaking / writing again, the blogging will resume. I hope to see you all again soon!