31 December 2008
Then we broke it over The Bard's head.
Yes. Imagine Bard's head just to the right of the frame. I didn't get it in the shot, because I was holding the camera with one hand, and in the other I was holding the phone on which I had dialed 9 and 1.
I post a lot about why photography is important, and what motivates me and makes up my vision, etc. But really, with friends like these, how could I put the camera down?
We had a New Years party at a house way up in Brush Creek, near the TN line, where we could make as much noise as we wanted and not bother anyone. After midnight, it started snowing lightly, and for some reason we ended up outside. One thing led to another, and we smashed a burning instrument into someone's skull. A natural progression, really.
Now, I know most people would probably call it a night at that point, but not us. I think we played The Gourds' cover of "Gin n Juice" about fifty times that night: It's two in the mornin and the party's still jumpin. Someone had some boxing gloves. We pulled our trucks into a circle and turned on the brights.
The way I see it, it's kind of early for a retrospective. I mean, I'm in my twenties, and I really haven't done the kinds of things most photographers do before they get all retrospectivey. I don't think the Geographic is going to call about these pictures of my friends beating each other senseless.
So I feel pompous and arrogant about this whole SAD Project. Who am I to retrospect? Some prominent folks read this blog--not to mention my students--and what will they think of all this self-serving talk? I'm "just a young ignorant kid with little to no experience in fine art photography." A harsh critique, but looking at the photos in this post, it's not inaccurate.
I'm not doing this project because I think anyone cares why I ditched Tri-X for HP5, or about all the cute mistakes I made. The truth is I'm showing these pictures because they mean something to me. The day I learned what aperture does, the camera I found in a mosh pit, or the jawbone my wife found in the lichen in a big granite wasteland. Pictures that have no bearing on anyone but me.
I could just keep them in the shoebox and look at them once a year. Or, I could own up to how I learned to do what I do, and be proud that I was undaunted by the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. So think of it like a year-long Barbara Walters interview, except without the crying. Or Barbara Walters.
Anyway, it's not really more pompous than anything else I've done. Plus, it's my blog and I can do whatever I want. So here's another picture of a burning guitar.
And don't worry, Bard's head was fine. Well, as fine as it ever was.
New Year's eve is tonight. Now, I know you DarkTopo fans are a crazy bunch (especially you, Moudy), and apt to get into some wild shenanigans and stay up past your bedtimes.
So, to be helpful, I thought I'd post my fool-proof, never-failed headache cure. This recipe got me through five photography finals, about a dozen all-night term papers, and the morning after the Bard's colossal bachelor party.
Here it is:
1 Glass of water
1 Red Bull
1 Shot of straight bourbon whiskey
1 Mile. Run it.
If your head still hearts, you have a brain tumor. Sorry.
30 December 2008
29 December 2008
So last night, in a fevered rush, I started organizing. The early stuff will come first. Easy enough. But as I put things together, it felt like there was something missing. Here was the Bard's first tattoo, but where was Lord's piercing? Where was the seatbelt that saved my life, or the headshots of Billy Corgan?
Then I remembered the giant shoebox (I wear size 15EE) in my photo cabinet, crammed with color prints and negatives.
"It'll just take a few minutes," said the fever. "There are probably only a couple dozen good frames in that entire box. That was before you knew what you were doing."
And the fever was right about the last part. I didn't know what I was doing.
One thing that resonated for me when I read Sam Abell's The Photographic Life was his idea, mistaken in retrospect but held firmly in youth, that black and white was the entirety of real photography. That was exactly how I felt at the same time in my life. Color was for amateurs who didn't understand contrast.
At least, that's how I remember feeling. It's ironic, then, that I have 20 pounds (I checked on the scale) of color photographs in a box in my kitchen.
Some of these were C41 black and white (nasty stuff, really). But most were dirt cheap, four-rolls-for-six-bucks, color negative film. Processed at CVS and printed onto gummy 4x6 paper in envelopes with smiling babies on them. No wonder I hated color.
But sometimes, I got lucky.
Not very DarkTopo. But, like I said, I didn't know what I was doing.
28 December 2008
20 December 2008
"As 2007 began, I had five binders full of negatives in a drawer. Around 15,000 frames, and among them some very good pictures. Every time I went to the darkroom, those unprinted images weighed me down. I will never be able to print them all. So I bought a new binder, and told myself that this year I will work hard, and I will work in the present."
-"About" page of DarkTopography.com
I've been photographing seriously for ten years. To celebrate, I scrimped and saved and bought a film scanner. It was no small expense, but even if I never shoot film again, most of my life is documented in a towering stack of negatives, and it's worth preserving. So here's a project, and a promise:
Every day of 2009, I will post a film scan. A Scan-A-Day, to prove there's a treasure worth digging for in those hieroglyphics, complete with dust and scratches and all the other reasons the world has moved on. I started DarkTopography.com to work in the present, to keep my eyes on the road. After almost two years, it's time to examine the past.
And the past is not far removed. It's just that no one else can see it.
So the project will be raw, retrospective, and it will focus on the foundations, where the truth is laid bare. And like everything else here, it will be topographic: The abandoned dam, the burned-out trestle, the darkroom, the woods at night. Places I captured on film, when film was all there was.
The topography has changed since I started this site, and it's easy to find yourself adrift when the landscape shifts in the darkness. So, for 2009: Eyes on the horizon, hands in the soil, clutching the roots.
17 December 2008
Left voicemail. Waiting breathlessly for a return call.
13 December 2008
LEBANON, Pa. - Before heading out the door to go to Wal-Mart, Meleanie Hain fussed over her children, grabbed her coat and keys, then ran upstairs to get one more item: her loaded Glock 26, which she strapped to her hip.
She never leaves home without it.
11 December 2008
I used FujiFilm 200, because it was the cheapest. Did a film speed test and came out with an effective ISO of 25. Pretty sluggish. Oddly enough, the thing I like most about these photos is that they're inverted. The backwards text coupled with all that red is pretty creepy.
I'm intrigued with the lo-fi movement, but I also have noticed that for most people, it's all about the process, rather than the results. And it seems like the lo-fiers are rebelling against the pixel-peepers, who substitute gear for process. So is either school of thought really about vision?
10 December 2008
I found the pinhole pool on Flickr. Two hours of photo-nerdiness later, I had this:
Made from an old HP5 box, with a pinhole made from a Redbull can (what else?). Shutter thumb-tacked to the body. And here it is with the new tripod mount!
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "How can he be that good-looking AND talented?" I was thinking the same thing. And then my wife came home and said, "A pinhole camera? Are you going to enter the third grade science fair?"
Ouch. Had it coming, but ouch.
08 December 2008
I've got three pieces in the show, all from The District:
$100 each, 16x20 (framed) digital C-prints. Here's the press release:
The Flood Gallery and Fine Arts Center invites you to help sustain your community this year by buying “local” during this holiday season.
If you are weary of buying holiday gifts from national chain stores, Flood Gallery is offering you the opportunity to buy ‘local’ this year. During the month of December, the Pump Gallery of the Flood Fine Arts Center will be exhibiting work made by a variety of local artists that will be for sale for your holiday shopping.
Included in the exhibit are works by popular local clothing designer Stina Andersen and lingerie designer Elise Olson, the metal work of Matt Waldrop, drawings by Taiyo la Paix, Max Cooper’s photography, work by Sean Pace, Michael Hofman of Hofman Studios, Ari Richter, jewelry by Melissa Terrezza, and glasswork by Logan MacSporran and Alex Greenwood.
Other work will include art from Rose Candela, Jennifer Brock, Connie Bostic, Ursula Gullow and many other local artists. The local work will include handmade jewelry, functional pottery, holiday tree decorations, clothing, paintings and photographs and highly skilled and crafted metalwork. Prices range from $10 to $500 for this locally made art.
The gallery is extending its hours for the month of December and will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am until 6pm for your convenience.
Please join us in our efforts toward community sustainability and buy ‘local’ this year.
Flood Gallery Fine Art Center
The Flood Gallery Fine Art Center is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to promoting the arts in Asheville through the exhibition of established and emerging artists from all over the world. Through artist-residency programs, public events and workshops, and educational activities, Flood Gallery seeks to make art a vital and important part of life in Asheville. The Flood Gallery Fine Art Center is a membership organization. You can find out more by visiting the website at http://www.floodgallery.org