raspberryfool: (shadow1)
Being back in the darkroom is a strange experience, but it's something I've wanted to do for a long, long time. Since leaving university, and the (mostly!) fantastic facillities we had at our fingertips, I've really missed being in contact with the materials I love to work with. Painters work with oils and watercolours; photographers work with paper, film, chemistry and the most magical thing thing of all - light.cut for photo-waffle )

I think i've been a little scared of the series because i photographed it when my father was ill, and just after he died - so it reminds me of that time and I think it has taken on a metaphorical meaning for me. It's that association that i need to learn to ignore if the series is ever going to go anywhere. A fragile leaf, curling towards the sky and looking for all the world like an outstreached hand wouldn't mean the same to a casual observer as it does to me. So i think one has to consider the outer meaning and stay content to not reveal its inner meaning. Anyway I think I'd like to continue the series for another year; i'll have to think about that after the Solstice. Meanwhile there's the gas holders series, which I haven't touched for months, so i should work further on that before the whle lot is demolished and the chance is gone.

As someone on a forum once said; "I love the smell of fixer in the morning. it smells like creativity!"
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
As I've often said, my feelings about photography have changed a lot since I left Plymouth. Work and my father's illness and death dragged me away from my love of image-making and into a dark realm of... i don't quite know what. Calling it a 'no-man's land' might be appropriate; I had neither the opportunity nor the inclination to make new work or to print existing work; my darkroom was in a mess, which helped me into a very lazy mode of thinking - basically 'I can't be arsed with it'.

Now I'm finding fewer concrete reasons not to re-enter the dark recesses of my converted former coal shed; the enlarger is ostensibly fixed up with a new L.E.D. lightsource (PCAD would baulk at the alerations I've made!), I have reams of paper, the weather is slowly warming up... My laziness is the only real remaining obstacle to actually doing something.

The small amount of photography I've done recently is, i think, quite good. My current 'mini-project' is documenting the local gasometers; two large gas storage tanks, both over 100 years old, that dominate the town's landscape. It's encouraging that I'm finally picking up a camera; it helps me to see things differently somehow. When I'm alone, with the camera mounted on a tripod and my subject in sight, distractions disappear and I enter a more creative space that nobody else can share except through my images. It's no longer about capturing an image of a landscape, it's about expressing what that landscape means to me. Sometimes I notice details that others don't see as they rush past in a daze. Sometimes its the way the light shines (or doesn't!) on the subject that catches my attention and makes me want to share it - a fleeting and often very special moment that I want to be able to communicate. Not everything can be communicated in words!

Maybe that's it - communication. From my dark, warm corner of the world that I've backed myself into, it's very easy to cut myself off from everybody else. Nobody within my immediate sphere is remotely interested in my style of photography. They're simply indifferent to the things I want to communicate; thoughts and feelings that just seem to whizz over their heads. I don't show them my efforts because they simply aren't interested or would probably misunderstand it. I really wish I knew more local artistic photographers on my wavelength - that's probably the thing I miss most about Plymouth.

What prompted this is that I'm beginning to research gum bichromate printmaking, something I'd like to learn the basics of this year. Staying in my lazy comfort zone won't help me achieve that; I desperately need to get my arse back into the darkroom if I'm going to learn anything of value. Hopefully that desire, and my desire to communicate visually, will get me moving again in a direction I'd like instead of this strange intertia I've been living in for the past few years.

Please don't read this as a rant or a piece of self-indulgent nonsense; I really do feel this way about the past few years and it's about time I brought that period to a close. Rather, see it as reflective self-feedback and an attempt to kick myself up the bum!
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
Facebookers will know that I've recently been slowly getting my darkroom back into working order. Just in case you missed it, I've made a nice new bellows for my enlarger to replace the old, cracked, ripped and pretty-much-useless one that came with it; okay I've no right to complain because I was given what turns out to be £1800 of photographic equipment.

Making the bellows was much easier than i'd imagined, and also very cool. I have some black cloth, which I think is cotton, that I bought for use as a black backdrop but I didn't use it. It isn't lightproof but that doesn't really matter in this context. The sections are formed with strips of cardboard cut to a precise shape and glued to the fabric. Four sets of strips are laid down and one overhangs the edge so that the seam doesn't form on the corner. Once the strips are laid, a second sheet of fabric is glued over the first, the join is made and the bellows collapsed in a concertina. I was pleasantly surprised that the collapsing stage went so well, even though one corner ended up thicker than the rest. Here's the pictures on Facebook - this has saved me over £100!

I've also made a new negative holder - something else Pcad forgot to give me - which is made from thick card and glue and finished with black paint. I still need to finalise a method of keeping the plates still but that won't me much bother as I'm almost finished now. I've fitted the new bellows and it works very well, except that I had to cut off several folds because the 50mm lens wouldn't focus properly. I'm pretty close to being able to make prints again, although i can't properly finish them without a decent print dryer or a hot mounting press. Although it's been slow, I'm very pleased with my progress on this project.
raspberryfool: (Default)
I went up to Katoomba yesterday, a little later than I wanted but got there eventually. Had a walk around the town enjoying the high quantity of antique shops, and found an excellent second-hand record shop that also sells playing equipment that I'll certainly use if I ever move my arse out here. The antique shops make antiques while-u-wait.

Then, a walk around the cliffs to see and photograph the views of the distant 'mountains' (not really mountains as such) and the Three Sisters, the photo that everyone takes. It's a beautiful place though. And I walked to Katoomba Falls, did some long exposure shots and walked back to the lookout for some dusk photography. I'm disappointed that the NPWS decide to floodlight everything, rather heavy-handed but that's obviously what the grockes want. Bloody grockles! :-)

No sooner had I logged on this morning than the fire alarms went off in the internet place, so after a leisurely breakfast at the YHA, it's back to the hotel to wait for Karen and Steve. then hopefully The Waifs gig tonight, though I think that's across the city so i need to plan that properly.
raspberryfool: (Default)
So, I'm still in Port Macquarie today. I extended my stay for another night, leaving tomorrow and going straight to Bellingen, hopefully in time to catch the monthly markets. I booked myself on the train but forgot to book the pick-up from Port Macquarie, but I think a local bus service may be a better idea. But IDK, so I'll riong Countrylink in a whilst.

Yesterday, I visited the local beaches and found that Shelley Beach doesn't attract nearly as many visitors as those nearer the town centre. So I re-visited it last night after dark. The sky was pretty clear when I left the hostel, but as I arrived the clouds opened; thankfully the local trees offered me shelter until it passed. Then it cleared again, the growing moon lighting the landscape and providing just enough light for some night shots; 35 minutes at f11. I only managed one exposure so hopefully I haven't wasted my time.

Today is sunnier and quite warm, pleasant and not fiercely hot. So I might just grab a camera and do some more wanderings...
raspberryfool: (Default)
The weather here is cool, with a strong onshore breeze. Yesterday I walked part of the coastal footpath, discovering the wartime fortifications along the cliffs. There's a fantastic viewof the city of Newcastle from the King Edward Park, but the weather was decidedly un-photographic. Nice light for portraiture though. So I haven't done much photography on this trip yet; I'm hoping that will change soon.

I booked my onward journey, decided to skip Port Step[hens and go further up the coast to Port Macquarie. The train 13:55 goes to Wauchope (pron. 'war-hope') then there's a coach to Port Macquarie. I have to take the local train to Broadmeadow. I booked it by 'phone using the hostel payphone I fed it 75c, ended the call and about $3 came out. How's that for a win? I love Telstra payphones... ;-)

So it's farewell Newcastle, I'd like to have stayed longer but time's a wastin'. Gotta keep movin on...
raspberryfool: (Default)
I haven't done much the last few days, and certainly haven't been a typical, overenthusiastic tourist. It's been good being back in Sydney, but I see the city through the eyes of an ex-resident, not those of a grockle. Still, it's good to be back.

Anyway, yesterday i went to King's Cross to take a few piccies after dark. I was expecting the drunken hoards to be curious about this box on a tripod, but nobody batted an eyelid, which is fantastic. I get so fed up with idiots (and have experienced a couple of wankers down at Central station!) wondering what the hell I'm doing. But Neh, I'm just a grockle after all! :-)

Today's plan, I dunno. I might take off to Bondi later on, but I'm not sure yet. This is silly; my enthusiasm wanes. I need a kick in the pants if I'm gonna get anything done this week. Tim's a wastin'...