Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The photography is mine. All but one created with a creaky wooden 4x5. Shooting 4x5 (or any large format) is a real joy, to me at least, for it takes awhile. Each shot is about a 30 minute process (when you're not racing the sun that is) and in that time you really get to know the subject. Plus, when you get a negative that is the size of most people's photos from the corner, you get really sharp prints.

Is it art? I don't know. I didn't create the subjects, I simply chronicled their appearance. Some have been there a long time and will be for awhile, while some are fleeting moments at best. I guess some photography can be art, while some not, in the same way that fiction and poetry may be art, but journalism not. Perhaps they would have been art if I "did" things to them, a little longer with the developer here, a little less there. Some color saturation changes in Photoshop perhaps. But I've done none of that, these photos are exactly as I saw them and so, a chronicle, and perhaps not art.

But in the end it doesn't matter to me, because if art is in the joy of the making, then surely the photos below are indeed art, because I enjoyed making them.

This first image is one that I think may be my best ever. Again, little to do with me other than getting the light meter read correctly and not dawdling too much as the light changed. It just ended up wonderfully. This shot was taken late in the day at an abandoned lighthouse on the north shore of the Big Island in 2002. I had just returned from a two and a half month motorcycle journey around Europe and Africa and the trip to Hawaii was to celebrate Melicious's and my 10th anniversary.

This next image is one that I made while practicing in our courtyard probably in 2001 or so. I love this one very much and if you do too, you should really click on it to enlarge it, the image really comes alive larger. Interestingly (to me at least) I took this picture after I tried out a Polaroid back for the 4x5. The Polaroid of this image is slowly fading away, apropos I guess of the subject. I love the layers of the petals on the bottom blossom.

The next image is of the Grand Canyon at dawn. I took this from the South Rim and really had no idea how to use the light meter in this light so I guessed. I cropped the image here to make it more landscapy. This is my Christmas gift (properly framed) to my parents (their request actually).

This Eiffel Tower shot was taken on the Europe/Africa motorcycle trip. I know, I know, I'm an idiot for hauling a 4x5, film, film holders, tripod etc. all over on a motorcycle, but it was pretty cool. Using it got me odd looks in Marrakesh, on the Matterhorn, in Gold Alley, on the top of the Chain Bridge, in La Sagrada Familia and on Le Champs de Elysses, among others. I took over 100 shots and will post more some other time. Anyway, I took this at about 2am.

This is the only non-4x5 photo. It was taken with a Leica D-Lux 2. The Leica isn't the most awesome camera, especially since it's 2 years old now, but it offers a choice of aspect ratios and the 16:9 always strikes me as elegant. I took this in Paris (duh) just a few months ago.

Lots of times people ask how I got started in large format. Well, in 2001 Melicious and I drove cross-country to see my folks and on the way back had time to drive through Monument Valley. I took what I thought were some great shots with a Kodak digital only to find them hideous when enlarged. I resolved then to get a better camera (because of course expensive German gear is what would have made the difference) but amazingly, before I plunked down the coin for a Hasselblad, I read about how only with a large format camera with a bellows could you adjust the focal plane so as to bring elements near and far into focus. You can spend a lot on large format gear too, but I use a no-name wooden 4x5 with old Kodak press camera lenses.

Why no B&W? Well, I just got lazy with the uploads. Then again, here are a couple from trips to NYC. Both taken with the Leica.

PS. the top image is also from the Hawaii trip in 2002. We spent our anniversary day on the volcano watching it eat the highway and fight back against the erosion of the sea. Want to get close to stuff at a national park? Show up with a large format or a Hasselblad (my gift to Melicious, it was the aluminum anniversary after all) on a tripod. Immediately people think you're with National Geographic or something...