Meg's Eggplants, Berkeley, CA, 1988. Platinum-palladium print on

Meg’s Eggplants, Berkeley, CA, 1988. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Fabirano 5) from original 8×10 negative.

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Meg's Eggplants, Berkeley, CA, 1988. Platinum-palladium print on

Growth, 1989. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Fabria

Growth, 1989. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Fabriano 5) from original 8×10 negative.

From John Berger’s piece, Francis Bacon (1909-92) first published  in New Statesman (5 January 1952) and recently in  Portraits: John Berger on Artists, Verso, London:

“Bacon’s work is centered on the human body. The body is unusually distorted, whereas what clothes or surrounds it is relatively undistorted…The nervous system for him is independent of the brain.”

and Berger later goes on to say

“We see character as an empty cast of a consciousness that is absent.”

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Growth, 1989. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Fabria

R2D2 and Chicken, University Farm, August 19, 2016.

BB8 and Chicken, University Farm, August 19, 2016. (photo by me, humbly placed here as a nod and a thank you to Eugene Richards)

While looking at the revised edition of Eugene Richards’ book, Dorchester Days:

  • photographers are like time-travelers. They photograph, convinced that the future will look back on this moment with wonder and understanding
  • photographers are dimensional-travelers. Front, back, up, down: all enter a set of relationships that don’t make sense in the normal realm of experience, and only make sense in the realm of the photograph
  • In good documentary work, a photograph becomes part of a ‘telling’ that cascades upwards, defying the gravitational pull of time. The photograph enhances the mundane, the ‘un-event’ into a roaring metaphor for things seen or experienced only because of the photograph
  • We push the drama, the day-to-day burden of struggle and survival, to the edges of our photographic attention, and bring to centre-stage the mundane, the silent, the subservient, and let these silent wonders articulate things not seen. Sometimes this is just an area of homogenous (or highly nuanced) tone, a blank, a nothing, as in Richards’ photograph of a baby reaching out, across a crib, towards a woman.

I love this work, and think it should be on every photographer’s list of must-have books. The Phaidon reissue extends the original’s scope, and is beautifully printed. And it is affordable!

Eugene Richards is a genius, and one big human being.

Bumble bee and nandina

Bee and Nandina.
Sewanee, TN, June 6, 2016.

It is Summer.

Simple.

Skala Shamanka at dusk, Olkhon, Lake Baikal, Siberia, August 13,

Skala Shamanka at dusk, Olkhon, Lake Baikal, Siberia, August 13, 1995. Selenium toned silver gelatin print from 8×10 negative.

That very creamy base white is actually a stain from selenium toning, rendered when the print is fixed, washed without a hypo clearing bath, and toned. My photography class this semester has spent most of the time delving deep into the nuances of printing with silver gelatin, which includes understanding what it means to ‘make’ a negative. Together, we have learned about that exquisite dance between seeing, framing, exposing, developing, contrast, luminosity, surface, image and ultimately (a nod to Thomas Joshua Cooper) vision. We have spent almost three weeks printing just one negative, working with myriad combinations of exposure-to-developer-to-toning work flows. We have slowed down. We have learned to look, with care and kindness. And this class has filled me with hope. On Sunday night, we met for our final critique session, looking at just one print by each person. The session ran for almost five hours, and while exhausting, it did not seem forced. One reason for the ease with which we moved from print to print may be summed up by Paul Caponigro’s contemplation of what he called the ‘voice’ of the print, “where mind and imagination might combine with the world of feeling to bring a new object into being. It is here also that overtones from the symbolic language of the medieval alchemist might be apprehended. … In the same way that I come to see my exposed and developed negatives as a shaped terrain…there is also a deeper cutting and impressing within the psychological landscape. Inner correspondences to the outer shapes and physical events provide me with a magical bridge to link the seemingly separate places and spaces of man and earth. A living and fluid ecology ensues. …the voice of the print wishes entrance to the migrations of ideas and materials.” 

So, I thank all who took this class. I have learned a lot and have had my love of printing with silver gelatin revived.

The quote is from Paul Caponigro, The Voice of the Print, Muse Press, 1994

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detail:Skala Shamanka at dusk, Olkhon, Lake Baikal, Siberia, August 13,

Sorting Coffee, Baptiste, Haiti, May,2013

Sorting Coffee, Baptiste, Haiti, May, 2013

Ziko Jeromè scooping water out of a dried up river bed for his

Ziko Jeromè scooping water out of a dried up river bed for his animals during a drought, Bois Jolie, Haiti, February, 2016.

 

Elephant, Beverly, MA. Christmas, 2015

Elephant, Beverly, MA. Christmas, 2015

Sad.

 

In the Forest, Cumberland Springs, 1986. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Van Gelder Simili Japon) from original 8x10 negative.

In the Forest, Cumberland Springs, 1986. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Van Gelder Simili Japon) from original 8×10 negative.

like an incessant chant:
sudek janacek sudek janacek

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In the Forest, Cumberland Springs, 1986. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Van Gelder Simili Japon) from original 8x10 negative.

In the Forest, Cumberland Springs, 1986. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Van Gelder Simili Japon) from original 8×10 negative.

Plum Trees, Cumberland Springs, 1986. Platinum-palladium print o

Plum Trees, Cumberland Springs, 1986. Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose (Van Gelder Simili Japon) from original 8×10 negative.

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The image is the paper, with pure platinum and palladium particles deeply bonded to the very fibers that make up the paper. The fibers, transparent macaroni-like strands of cellulose, filter, scatter and reflect light arriving at the paper’s surface. Small cathedrals of noble metals and space. One of the great joys of holding a platinum-palladium print in your hands is just this–to bring it up close, and tilt it this way and that, to almost hear the flow of light around tiny clusters of metal. This detail shows the unexposed paper surface beside the left edge of the printed image.

Plum Trees, Cumberland Springs, 1986. Platinum-palladium print o