Wednesday, September 17, 2008


As in NOT digital. I just finished my first roll of film ever. It was easy for me to decide to mix things up and play with film. There is definitely a different look to the images and there is something about the magic of shooting it and NOT seeing it, trusting it and yourself. The waiting for the results builds the anticipation and in some cases some regrets when you see the pictures and you remember and learn. "Won't do that again" and "How about that!" were things I was mumbling to myself as I reviewed this first roll. So I will try to tone digital images Black and White less to make it clear what is what. I personally have found the two analog cameras I own from the late 60's 70's to be an apex of storts for their technology. They are large and heavy and made of substance, no plastics, real viewfinders. I love my digital camera and will continue to shoot it along with these as well but its a different thing. I shot alot of this simultaneously with the digital so some of my first film images will corespond with locations and shots previously presented digitally, but this wont be the case after this first roll is posted. I posted this very large so you film people can nod and enjoy the grain. I'm very pleased t so be able to say; Nikon L35, Ilford fp4 plus, unaltered scans strait out of the camera...


View on Grey

or View large on black

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Peak technology is past too (for some things)

So my new interest in photography has reminded me of something interesting. That digital is nowhere, nowhere near the apex of perfection that analog achieved in its total evolution from the 1890s to the 1970s. In music recording or photography for two cases in point. The mania for vinyl is more than sentimentality. It sounds good. If you have a good turntable from the 60s or 70s you know they are works of art with their strobe tuners and exquisite tone arm mechanisms that pump out smooth analog tube recordings through a tube amplifier. Warm golden stuff that. Digital equals convenience and a level of quality, but not sublime yet. Same is true with digital cameras, they are fabulous and convenient but the feeling and aura of the old 35mm's or medium format cameras still lingers. Its been such a pleasure for me to move into shooting with analog cameras. They focus differently, the feel different (heavier for one) and this peak technology can be had pretty cheaply. In one case for me I bought a Nikon L35 at the thrift store for three dollars.

Heavy metal casing, excellent lens, range finding, simple use a true SLR in the most compact form that real analog quality would allow. (That means its still pretty big in 1979) The other analog camera I have is a 1966 minolta srT. Its a brute of a camera, heavy, heavy duty. Super lens, super mirror in the camera itself. Its alot of fun to not look at a little digital LCD and really focus on the subject in a way that you can see the depth and the nuance of what you're shooting. Alot of people with digital cameras will never know how difference and still make lovely images. It's the nuance that they miss. Hopefully I can make that feeling come out in the pictures.

So as we get set to switch from analog to digital everything give digital time, someday it will be as elegant as analog was/is. Remember analog had the better part of a century.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

El Greco to Velazquez at the Nasher

The Nasher Museum at Duke University is home to a unique show of the artistic taste and acumen of Spain at the time of Philip III via the inventory of his favorite the Duke of Lerma. This period of history was vital for Spanish art and literature. The first image to grab my attention was El Greco's "The Vision of St. John." The painting depicts scenes from Revelation where those worthy of heaven are raised and clothed. It has an exaggerated composition with St. John himself in the foreground reacting to the scene behind him and looking to heaven. The figural arrangement of this painting (and all of El Greco's work to me) is amazingly modern. The standing and floating figures are not unlike a Cezanne line drawing from centuries later. The paint treatment, brush strokes and perspectives are way ahead of their time in all the El Greco images I saw. El Greco's crucifixion image of Christ is detailed lovely and dark. Its small scale meant for a private devotional space yet the image itself is deep with texture and landscape.

The volume and intensity of Religious works in the show is a testament to the power and influence of the Catholic Church and the cultural reinforcement of the teachings and values of it. This kind of art could viscerally inspire and demand adherence to doctrine.

The first Velazquez I encountered was his Immaculate Conception in all its beauty and apparent celebration of the divine in the mortal. The image of Mary is that of a non-idealized young woman beautifully executed. Her ordinariness makes her extraordinary. She is standing on a full moon in front of the sun surrounded by clouds. The tonalities in this image are soft and somber. None of the drama of color portrayed in the other similar images. To me this image was made to inspire contemplation of the divine mystery on a more human scale. Another Velazquez that telegraphs a story is his portrait of Luis de Gongora y Argote. The suprisingly modern image shows the embittered face of a cynical and lost poet. Someone who has been worn by the machinations the Spanish court.

One of the few other images that stuck with me that were not by these two masters was Vicente Carducho's "The Stigmatization of Saint Francis", Showing St. Francis himself literally being drawn to Christ in a surreal scene. The figure of St. Francis flying to a crucified Christ on a winged crucifix. The idea of a personal relationship with Christ might be the intent here or showing the rapture of St. Francis in his attraction to God in Christ. There is something in this painting that invokes for me the work of Fra Angelico some 200 years earlier.

There is a room full of still life paintings and a large display of pottery and glassware from the period along with Royal portraiture all well curated and displayed for the public.