Monday, February 24, 2014

Wet Plate Workshop

This past weekend I had the excited opportunity to take a wet plate class at Rayko.  The whole workshop was intense, too short, and all too addicting.  I can really understand why tintypes have gotten so much buzz as of lately.  When you see one in person, they are more than what is viewed online or in print.  There's more dimension and textures found in tintypes that I encourage any interested to check them out.

Carlos was a wonderful instructor and I have nothing but the highest regards for him and his teaching practices.  We started Saturday off by observing the entire process from coating a plate, capture in camera, and development.  Sunday we watched how to mix the collodion and later, varnish the plates.

I focused on self-portraits again.  I have been very curious about seeing my ideas in wet plate and working with this new medium.  If only I had a working darkroom!  I worked with the available student 4x5 view cameras and also played with the Holga as well.  Both cameras are dedicated to wet plate and the 4x5 film holders are slightly modified to hold wet plates.

My dreams of owning a working wet plate studio and darkroom will have to wait further along but for now space can be rented at Rayko.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


 Each week in my portrait class that I'm currently teaching, I try and take a portrait of my students.  Try, being the optimal word here.  Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't.  Sometimes we don't have time or someone is absent.  Sometimes they refuse over the idea of an 8am portrait but sometimes they cheese-out in front of the camera.  More over than not, I find that they get more involved and interested as each new week emerges.  Last time I took simple portraits using my Fuji Instax.  We utilized the classroom white board and I asked them to define themselves in one word. 

This week the theme was "emulation" and together we all focused on Martin Schoeller's portraits.  We broke down his ideas and aesthetics behind the signature style and then recreated it in studio.  We discussed the importance behind posing and composition.  I had them think about Schoeller's interest in the eyes and why they were so piercing.  My students get very involved and I feel lucky that I can share these images here.

This week is midterms and I'm excited to see their projects and own work!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


New, new, new.

That seems to be the running theme this week.

To begin with, I managed to get my darkroom set-up.  I blackened out the windows, screwed in the red lights, cleaned out old chemicals, dusted off my trays and hung my apron.  All last week I worked on running my exposure tests and getting a feel for my newly made exposure unit.  (All in all, I say quite a success!)

I worked with some images shot from a few weeks ago via my Stern Grove/Petzval excursion.  And of course, as such imagery does, they came out beautifully in Cyanotype.
Initially, I ran some of what I like to call, "shot in the dark" curves on my Cyanotypes.  This just means that I'm lazy.  I found a random curve that someone had suggested off of the internet and used it as a part of my first tests.  Only two more additional tests [with step wedges] I finally found a custom curve that suited my needs in tonal range. I'm pleased how far I was able to spread out the blacks and the only toning I ended up doing was a quick hydrogen peroxide bath for deeper, more saturated blues.  I also had some minor contact issues when exposing.  To begin with, I utilized a clear piece of plexiglass held down with some weights.  The contact was terrible and all my images were soft.  To fix this, I ended up buying a cheap frame from Walgreens (on sale!) for about $7.  Instant contact, sharp detail.

I started a new series, one that I'll now call Fragments.  I had the idea nearly six months ago but couldn't seem to find the motivation to shoot it until now.  It's funny how the art-making process works.  I still remember exactly why I had wanted to create this series too.  The main idea came from a random accident that occurred involving a side mirror and glass shattering onto the ground.  During that time I also was trying to find relief from the complexity of heavy duty thesis project.  This series is kind of my "stripped bare, back to the roots, as close to straight photography as I'm going to get" kind of project...which really doesn't say anything at all about the images.  But in terms of my shooting style, these do seem pretty far removed.

I'm excited to announce that this coming April, I'll be teaching a gum bichromate class at Rayko Photo Center.  If you've ever been curious or had the desire to know how to take digital images and create historical colored prints, then come join me Monday evenings starting April 21st-May 19th.  Reserve your spot soon, space is limited!

Finally, I'm honored to say that tomorrow is the opening reception for the Imagined Realities exhibit, curated by Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison.  The exhibit shows through the month of February until March 14th at PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont.  This is my second time showing at PhotoPlace and then third time that the Red Bag has exhibited across the country.  The ParkeHarrison's have always been a great inspiration to me as conceptual artists and image makers, so I'm thrilled that they would choose my image as a part of their 40 piece curated show.  If in Middlebury, please stop by!