I made a number of 5×4 negatives for the 2015 Magpie Springs Photography competition. This is one image that failed to make the cut, and as the outtake didn’t really work in colour, I converted this underexposed negative to a black and white image using Silver Efex Pro 2 software.
Though it looks better in black and white, and I’ve overcoming the over sharpening problem caused by the Epson software, I still have the other problem of blown highlights caused by scanning the negative. However, looking at this image of straight photograhy makes me uneasy, and this unease is over and above these technical flaws.
I cant help but feel that straight photography, exemplified by this image, appears as a rather archaic discipline—even in its digital form, let alone the chemical one. There is still the attitude in the art institution that contemporary visual artist’s love for the photographic medium is because it is so “simple,” so “non-artsy,” so “direct.” Photography, in this sense, has always been an important counterpart to modern art, The corollary of this is that straight photography has gradually acquired a strange status of something not completely artistic and yet highly artistic.
Despite this there is less and less photography (and photographers) in contemporary art exhibitions.Those that exhibit–Bill Henson, Rosemary Laing, Trent Parke— are seen as artists rather than photographers. This implies an identity crisis for photographers because art is about ideas whilst photography is about resemblance.
This suggests to me that contemporary art photography needs concepts and ideas, and it needs books where photographers can present both their writings and their images. It’s not just a book of sophisticated images–art photography needs to reclaim its conceptual heritage.
I spent a couple of days in Wellington, New Zealand. I hadn’t been there since I worked in the CBD as an economist and lived in Hataitai on a ridge above the shoreline of Evans Bay in the early 1970s. I was expecting a lot of changes and I was prepared to be rather disorientated.
It was a quick photography trip built around renewing my NZ driving licence and I spent the two days that I had available walking around the CBD and the inner suburbs such as Thorndon; then seeing photography exhibitions and checking out the art hubs/centres when the wind turned into a gale and/or it started raining heavily.
Wellington is a very walkable city, it is easy to get around, and it offers good photographic opportunities due to the CBD being on a narrow coastal plain located between Wellington Harbor and the Wadestown hill face.
I came across a fallen log whilst walking along the Heysen Trail near Jagger Rd in Victor Harbor yesterday. This is part of the Cape Jervis to Kuitpo Forest section of the trail, and it is a section that is located close to Encounter Studio.
I was looking for some subject matter to finish off some old film that had been sitting in the 6×7 and 6×9 film backs of my Linhof Technika 70
. This is the digital scoping picture that I made in the late afternoon whilst on a poodle walk
with Ari and Kayla.
Though I used to use this camera a lot, it has has been sitting in a wooden box in a cupboard unused for several years. I have been using the Rolleiflex 6×6 instead. These are much quicker and easier to use as the baby Linhof functions like a view camera. You line the image up through the ground glass, take off the viewing plate, put the roll film back on, expose the film, take the roll film back off, then put the viewing plate back on to line up the next image. It is a slow work process— very similar to large format photography.
The Nik Collection suite of software, which has been owned by Google since 2012, was downloaded to Encounter Studio this afternoon. I know very little about the different software products in the collection—-Color Efex Pro 4, Nik Sharpener Pro, Viveza 2, Dfine 2, HDR Efex Pro 2 and Analog Efex Pro 2 apart from Silver Efex Pro–and I’m not interested in some of them–eg., HDR Efex Pro or Nik Sharpener Pro as I detest that digital aesthetic. Nor do I know if they add much to what you can do using Adobe’s Lightroom or Photoshop.
The reason for downloading the collection is Silver Efex Pro 2. I find that Lightroom is not that good for post-processing my scanned black and white files — they come out a bit flat and they lack a rich tonality. I’ve been without Silver Efex Pro 2
since I upgraded the Mac’s operating system to Yosemite, and I’ve missed using it for post-processing my black and white medium format negatives. Silver Efex Pro works well, but it is now part of a package, rather than a standalone software. Hence the download.
I have started exploring Analog Efex Pro
—a film emulation program—to see what it offers. When people nowadays think of the film look, and when they go ga-ga over the film look, they aren’t really going ga-ga over the look of film. They’re fetishising a simulation of an idea. An implanted memory of something that didn’t really exist. That’s Analog Efex Pro.