Inside the Watercolour

Today’s image was taken last weekend, when the Cherry blossoms in High Park, Toronto were briefly in bloom. In this image, I was going for a luminous look, like being inside a watercolour painting.

Emily Among the Blossoms

(Nikon F3, Vivitar 70-210mm Series I zoom lens, Fujicolor Colour negative film)

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Looking In the Mirror

Sorry in advance for the introspective post, but I wanted to talk about where my creative energy comes from. This is a post that I have been thinking of writing for some time, but I’ve always hesitated — what would people think? I’ve finally decided to take the risk.

For me, creative work such as photography draws its energy from a lack of emotional equilibrium, either of the present or of the past. When I’m having to deal with something and my thoughts/feelings are jumbled, the work  seems to flow easily. When “life is beautiful” the well of energy and ideas can often dry out.

One motivation or source of creative energy I’m (at the very least) conflicted over is my need for feedback and attention. As an introvert and a loner for much of my life, my art is a way of screaming “I’m here, don’t ignore me!” It provides me with a lot of energy, but it is definitely a two-edged sword.

There’s more, but that’s enough for now.

Adox CMS 20001
Scrollwork Detail in Guild Park
(Leica IIIf, Jupiter 8 lens, Adox CMS 20 film at I.E. 20, Adotech developer)

Not Safe For Work

Today’s image is Not Safe For Work (NSFW for short), so I am just providing a link and some commentary. Images are  normally marked this way for nudity, regardless of context (anything from porn to art nude to images of breast feeding of all things). I don’t see as many “NSF” images of violence, guns, or hunters posing beside a defenceless animal they’ve just killed, which is a pretty damning indictment of our society.

That’s not my main point of the post today though; I had a meeting with a model a couple of days ago about an upcoming shoot, and she mentioned that because she planned one day to be a teacher, she need to pose using a pseudonym (actually a couple of different ones), in order to segment this part of her life from the rest of her online persona that would likely be evaluated when she entered the field. The assumption is that if nude images were connected to her, the controversy would end her career.

Now it goes without saying that the vast majority of teachers are dedicated people with a positive influence on the lives of their students, but when I think of the news stories of teachers who were pedophiles, or engaged in exploitative relationships with students, were violent, or taught racist/homophobic ideas, I don’t recall hearing any of them being nude models, yet people still make snap judgements about a person’s morals, based on images that are seemingly Not Safe For Working. How about recognizing courage and risk taking for the purposes of making art?

About a year ago I did a self portrait where I am surrounded by cameras (and nothing else). It’s not a nude shot, in the sense that certain pieces of equipment are hidden by other pieces of equipment, but it is on the edgy side, and I had one person at work who saw the image draw me aside and tell me I was taking a risk. It was hidden for a while, but then I made the link public again, and public it has stayed; to keep it hidden would in my mind be hypocritical, disrespectful  to the models I work with, and a sign I was giving into negative public attitudes.

Trying a Fine Grain Film

I’ve been shooting more 35mm lately (in addition to medium format), and of course with the smaller negative, grain becomes more of a reality. One can either embrace the grain, or try super fine grain film. For today’s image it is the latter: it was made using Adox CMS 20 film (with a speed of ISO 20, so it is very slow and wants a lot of light). It’s basically high contrast microfilm stock, but developed with a special developer to allow continuous tones. This type of film requires some taming, but I love the look! I used my Leica IIIb and a 50mm lens for the image, taken in Guild Park, Scarborough, Ontario Canada.

Guild Park, Toronto, Ontario

Old Friends #1

Today’s image is the first from my new project “Old Friends” Originally the concept of the project was images of two people who had been friends for 25 years or more, but the parameters of the project have broadened, bringing new opportunities and challenges. In this image, we have Mallory, Kendra and Caitlin, friends since high school. It was a fun evening of shooting, a lot of laughter, talk and general positive vibes, with very strong connections of friendship between the three, and hopefully I caught that here.

Old Friends #1

Catching a Train and a Break

Toronto is testing some new subway cars, and one of the nice features is that with these new cars the train is open from end to end, so you can walk between cars. From a photographic point of view, seeing right to the end of the train offers some interesting photographic opportunities. I had been wanting to shoot one of the new trains with a super-wide angle, and this past Saturday morning I lucked out. I had my Leica IIIf with me, with the 21mm/f4 Voigtlander Color Skopar lens. I had to shoot wide-open at 1/40 second, but I did get some that were sharp.

New Subway Cars - Toronto