Stinky Fingers

Harajuku (C)2003 K Bjorke Six rolls of Delta 400 @ ISO 800, Xtol 1+1 15:30. Three rolls of TMax 100, Xtol 1+1 9:30. One roll Fortepan 400, Rodinal 1+25 7:30. One roll Acros, Rodinal 1+25 7 minutes. Everything at 20°C, everything spot on. Rodinal and Acros — snappy! Funny that I couldn’t find a recommended time until I checked with fujifilm.de…

After running a bit of Rodinal a few days ago, I’m all enamoured with it again, after a long hiatus. The Acros was particularly impressive for the short range and high contrast that the combination delivers, but the TriX had a look that’s also hard for any other combo to beat — even with digital hackery.

Scanning all the negs as soon as they’re dry has both good and bad aspects. The good ones are that if I’m happy with the Photoshopable result, I can be churning out 8×10’s in less than an hour, or blasting them off via the net to all parts worldwide. The biggest downside is storage.

Before I started scanning regularly, I would always make a contact sheet, and store the contacts in three-ring binders. I’d page through them regularly, looking for photos I might have not been interested in one upon a time.

Photoshop can make what it calls “contact sheets,” but they are a very poor substitute for a real, silver-paper contact proof. They just don’t carry anywhere near the detail of the old-style contact, making photo assesment for the sheet near-impossible.

Yeah, sure, you could open all the original scans — but that doesn’t let you see a whole roll at a time, and it takes forever to load all those photos. It’s even worse when the scans have been archived to CD or DVD. I’ve tried slideshows, Extensis Pro, Powerpoint, browsers of all kinds… I’m just about ready to go buy a big honkin’ box of 8½×11 photo paper and start getting my fingers full of fixer small, making contact sheets for these scanned rolls in bulk.

If anyone has a better idea for how to manage the digital “contact problem,” please let me know.

1 min read

Quotations in Today’s Emails

(C)2003 K Bjorke Such a literate bunch today.

• Street Photography is Link Number One

“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”

“Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important.”

“Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact it is a varied andambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is in the instrument.”

“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”

5 min read

Pumpkin Time

(C)2003 K Bjorke Blog listing of the day has to go to Jörg at Conscientious. Conscientious, like PhotoRant, looks for good photography on the web; though unlike photorant, Jörg spends no time crabbing about how barren the desert is, and actually doesn’t seem to spend much time, if any, digging through photoblogs — only photography of established artists. Also unlike photorant, Conscientious is more than happy to post other people’s photos as he finds them — given that he can then choose freely this makes Conscientious a very pretty site. And since he blends his own photos into the mix, this gives them an added haute association, as if we had discovered them hanging at SFMOMA.

Speaking of photoblogs, photoblogs.org is set to release the long-publicized new version of their site later today. I’ve been assured that the new software will restore one of my favborite features, which was to be able to search for similar sites, based on self-assigned keywords (now if only it could display a map of similarities, a la kartoo….).

…and speaking of SFMOMA, KQED Forum ran a program on Friday, hyping and discussing the new Diane Arbus: Revelations exhibit, which officially opened there on Saturday. Clicking on the Forum link above will let you listen to the entire program, with the curators of the show, a writer from Vanity Fair (apparently certifying Arbus’s status as a “legendary” photographer), and a number of call-ins, including the lady who wanted to know why SFMOMA wastes so much time on photography.

1 min read

Blinded Eye

Missile Salesman, Seoul (C) 2003 K. Bjorke Tomorrow, “officially,” is the day of election-like activities in Chechnya.

I’m surprised — alarmed, really — at how many Americans are blissfully unaware of the situation in Chechnya. We think the war ended half a decade ago (if they were even aware of that), and are unaware of the second war. We remember the Moscow Theatre Massacre, but are completely unaware of the human rights situation in Chechnya. We are unaware of how many Russian soldiers die there every week, in greater numbers and with far less conviction than the U.S. victims in Iraq. We’re unaware of how the fighting has spread to Ingushetia, where now the number of Chechen refugees is as great as the original population of the republic, and how the separatists have fanned-out to neighboring states like Azerbaijan (recent new site of U.S. air bases), Iraq, and Afghanistan.

It’s easy to wring one’s hands over the evils of the world, or to earnestly hope that Somebody will do Something. But even this doesn’t seem to happen — these events go on daily as non-stories, not just under-reported but unreported.

People in Spain and Germany march in the street against the US coalition in Baghdad. It’s certainly their prerogative — it’s great fun to wear a grotesque Bush mask and complain about the oil business. But why do these people say nothing about Grozny? Who has decided that these people, Chechens and Russians alike, are worth so little?

1 min read

Expecting the Rapture

Tokyo (C) 2003 K Bjorke Salon day. Theme for the designated period: “transcendance.”

Before I picked a shot for submission (and frankly, nothing from recent shooting came readily to mind until the last hour or so), my mind catalogued the likely shots to be seen — religious iconography, motion-blur ghosting, the brilliant light of inspiration. Got it all in spades, once I had made my shot, sent it off, and then surveyed the field. Hosannah! The only thing I didn’t see, that I had expected, was a rogue Ansel Adams knockoff. Maybe next time.

Expected images — to confirm and conform — are the bane of the single-shot salon, I suspect. It’s hard not to end up shooting along one or two predictable axes: either the picturesque or the ironic (and in the latter, I’d include the “surreal”). At this point in history, when even the smallest of children are bombarded with sophisticated imagery, it’s hard to imagine any great value in any single image. It takes a host of them if you really are hoping to make anything but a very well-worn point.

~1 min read