Tuesday, March 03, 2009

3 Prints Project; March 1, 2009

On Sunday morning Gordon Harkins and I shared our 3 Prints Project work at Saint’s CafĂ©. I arrived with contact sheets from two new rolls of film and three gelatin silver prints. Gordon surprised me with 24 small prints of the work he plans to include in the Blurb book we’re working on that portraits the first year of work. His photographs are quiet, complex reflections of how he sees the world. In my opinion.

My first print this week was made during a walk with my dog. As she approaches her 16th birthday the image has an uneasy feeling for me.

The photograph of the house was made in Lewistown, Pennsylvania as I waited for my youngest daughter at the train station. A woman emerged from the house with baleful looks for the camera and me. In character I sheepishly put the camera down and missed the best shot.

Kim was paging through books at Barnes and Noble. I still enjoy photographing her but I have lost speed in responding to subjects. I have trouble tripping the shutter fast enough.  Often by the time I am ready the moments have passed.

Practice makes perfect.


Earl Thomas said...

While I'm still just a plebe in the art of photography, I wish that I could muster the courage to photograph strangers in public.

I'm still trying to figure out how to get candid shots of people with out coming across as creepy. In the meantime, I'll continue to cut my teeth on landscapes.


Witewater said...

Hi Steve- I have been enjoying your Photographs and blogs for a few months. Ordinarily, I am shy about commenting, but I find the picture of your dog in the snow incredibly poignant. It speaks volumes on many levels. Thank you for sharing.


irondad said...

It amazes me that black and white photos can be so much more vivid than color. It's like the explosion of colors is a big distraction and clouds the subject. Once the colors are gone, we can see what's actually there. When the fluff is removed, the photos are free to speak more directly to us.

Well, that's my thoughts at least. I'm just a motorcycle rider.

By the way, our cat will be 20 next month. I know exactly what you're talking about.

David said...

Lovely photos, and having lost a dog in the last year, I too found your dog photo very heart wrenching. (I still find myself reaching out to pet her sometimes.)

On to more happy topics. As a long time photographer, and occasional dark room junkie, I would like your opinion on film vs. digital. I've bit the bullet and bought a decent digicam (Canon A590IS) but find myself clinging to my old Contax and Yashica film cameras. The quality of film, and the old Zeiss lenses, just can't be replicated by digital. I know for commercial work digital is much faster, and it's sure a lot easier to carry on the bike/scooter. Still, I think we've lost something by forsaking film. What do you think, Steve?


bikerted said...

Yeah Steve the picture of your dog is certainly more powerful for being in black and white. With being the only living being in the shot it makes her look like she is walking to her destiny. Very moving.

Chuck Pefley said...

Steve, curious about your observation per missing the decisive moment from not tripping the shutter fast enough. Would that be because of the very mechanical Leica? Or are you experiencing something else?

Steve Williams said...

Earl Thomas: I've never been comfortable photographing people on the street. It seems aggressive and rude to me though I really admire the work of people who pursue this line. It just doesn't seem to match my temperament.

Landscapes are more my speed.

Witewater: Thank you. I'm glad you commented. It's the comments that often help me understand what I'm thinking.

The more I look at the picture of Essa on the path the clearer I see things with her.

Steve Williams said...

irondad: I agree completely with your comment.

With the right subjects black and white can have power. Color can point the mind in different directions and is (for em) sometimes difficult to gauge.

David: Film vs. digital is a big question and I don't believe there is a simple answer. Each of us who uses a camera will experience both digitally. For me film remains an important part of my creative process. Digital occupies another. Some of it is emotional and some technical. I just need to sort out which is which.

I posted a thread on the RangeFinder Forum almost a year ago on this topic and received a tremendous reply. If you are turning the film vs. digital question over in your head it might be worth a look:

The Empty Mind -- film vs. digital.

Steve Williams said...

bikerted: Perfect interpretation. It's the destiny that makes me squirm and sad...

Chuck: Definitely not anything to do with the Leica. It's merely a lack of practice shooting quickly. I see something but fumble with the camera too much before pushing the shutter release. I am caught in a cycle of perfection. I want to be certain the focus is tack sharp, composition is exactly right. By then the moment has passed.

When I was shooting intensely with the Leica I was always pre-focusing and often would pick the camera up and push the release without worrying if the exposure or focus or composition were perfect. And the results were much better.

I'll get back to it but it takes time for me to release some of the photographic guidelines that get into my head.

Jeremy Z said...

I'm a photographer too, just not quite dedicated enough to take pictures during the ride like you do. That is one nice thing about riding alone on a relaxed bike such as your Vespa.

Steve, I'm thinking about your comment that you oftentimes miss the moment with your M6. I miss the moment too with my Elph and Pentax K100D. You should consider adding another camera to your collection. Either a Rollei 35 or an Olympus XA. These are both small cameras which can be pre-set. Unlike digital cameras, they can be left on and wait for the moment. Just keep your thumb on the shutter release (or pinky finger if you hold the camera upside down.) When the moment arrives, point the camera in the general direction and shoot. You have a wide angle lens, so you'll get extraneous things in the photo. But since you run your own darkroom, this is not a problem.

Regarding digital cameras, I've found that I use my Elph about 4X as often as the far-superior Pentax. It is just so handy, there aren't any good excuses not to take it with me.

Regarding film cameras again, and especially B&W, one thing I've noticed is missing about digital is tonal range. Most of my digital photos are taken in JPG format, and there just aren't many midtones. With a good B&W chemical print, one doesn't have to give anything up, except convenience.

Jeremy Z said...

Earl, same goes for you as I said to Steve. Learn to take grab shots with a pocket camera. Shoot from the hip. They won't even know you're taking their picture. (no flash and no motor drives, of course)

Canon Elph for digital (remember to disable the flash!) or Olympus XA or Rollei 35 for film.

Steve Williams said...

Jeremy Z: I have a little point and shoot camera and it's great for what you describe. My comment about missing shots has less to do with the machine and more to do with my brain that is clinging too tightly to perfect focus and exposure.

As I limber my shooting with the M6 I am getting faster on the draw and telling my brain to take a hike...