Otherworld uses photographs taken in the upper Midwest to render possible models of the Earth-like planets currently being sought by NASA’s Kepler mission, and it also references the mythologies of many cultures that establish a land that is home to spiritual beings or the dead. These mythical other worlds of hope or doom often share characteristics with our familiar earthly landscapes, and I am using photographs of real places to suggest realms that may or may not exist. The images use barren terrains to suggest the earth-like landscapes photographed by rovers and other missions in space.
More images and information about the project can be found here.
The Rfotofolio Annual Call for Entry 2017 is open for submissions, with May 5th being the deadline, which is still some way off yet. But as we all probably know, these things can get away from us, so act now! There is an entry fee but it’s open to however much you’d like to donate to the worthwhile cause that is the Rfotofolio Grant. The money raised for the fund is used to help one photographer a year, who has suffered a hardship of some description, whether that be the loss of a workspace or equipment due to a natural disaster or theft, an illness or accident or some other form of hardship.
I am featured in Rfotofolio‘s series Where We Work.
Please tell us about your work space.
I share the space with the photographer Cy DeCosse. I’m fortunate in having such a large space although the darkroom is now on the slightly small side for all the processes I work with – platinum, silver and polymergravure.
At one end of the studio is the darkroom. I used to have two enlargers in there but now have just the one Omega 4″ x 5″ enlarger, sinks and a 5kW ultraviolet light source with a 30″ x 40″ vacuum frame. This is necessary for making the platinum prints and the polymer plates for polymergravure.
The large studio area can be used for both photography and as a work area. My computer, scanner and printers are at one end, while one of the walls that runs the length of the studio is used for hanging work prints and proofs. If I’m working on a series of images or a portfolio over the course of many months, I can see the progression and how individual prints relate to each other easily.
At the far end of the studio there is print, paper and digital negative storage in eight large flat files stacked two high, with a huge work surface on top. Beyond that is bookbinding and portfolio case making equipment, such as the Kwikprint press for debossing and hot foil stamping, dry mount press, intaglio press and everything that goes with making polymergravure print editions.
Suspended on an intricate pulley system from the centre of the studio ceiling is a 7′ x 12′ softbox with 20 flat panel LED lights in it. It makes for a beautiful, soft work light.
What “objects of inspiration” do you have in your space?
I have many framed prints (not owned by me, unfortunately) that are on the wall above my computer and that I look at all the time. Irving Penn, Sarah Moon, Imogen Cunningham, Robert Parke-Harrison, Kenro Izu, Sheila Metzner, Frederick H. Evans amongst others. It hasn’t gone unnoticed either, that the print that hangs above the Epson printer, and the one I look at every day as I wait for the printer to output my digital negatives, is a Robert Parke-Harrison print titled “The Waiting.”
Books are very important to me too, although most of my treasured books are at home and I bring them in as necessary.
Do you have any favorite tools in your work space?
I love combining 21st century technology with that of the 1800s, so I have a RAID setup, for storing image files, sitting under a platinum print of Imogen Cunningham’s along with a cast iron book press from the 1800s.
The one tool I use every day though, and because of which it must be my favourite, is my Mac Pro, because without digital technology I’d be lost. However an image is made, digitally or with film (I still prefer to use film most of the time) everything printed in platinum or polymergravure goes through Photoshop at some point.
My silver prints are still made the traditional way with an enlarger and chemistry in the darkroom though and I’m very attached to my set of dodgers that I still use and have been with me for over 35 years and five darkrooms.
The studio has a great stereo setup and I usually need music around me. I also keep up to date with things happening back in Britain by streaming BBC Radio 4, which has great documentaries and plays. Again, only possible because of digital technology and the computer. Did I mention the espresso machine?
How did you set up your space to accommodate the different media and techniques that you use?
The darkroom was originally designed solely for platinum printing, but over the years it has morphed into what it is today through natural progression. Gelatin-silver printing was quickly added, then polymergravure and finally gum dichromate. Bookbinding and portfolio case-making also requires space and equipment but fortunately not in the darkroom.
If there was one thing you could change about your space what would it be?
The answer is probably the same as everyone else’s; I’d like it to be slightly bigger. Having said that, I’ve worked in some very large darkrooms and hated the experience! I prefer the intimacy and comfort of working in a smaller room with good safelighting and music.
How do you keep track of all of your ideas?
I love technology, as I’ve mentioned, but I’m also one for a good Moleskin book (only squared, mind you) and a fountain pen. I much prefer paper and pen. I do use the software Omnifocus to keep my work, clients’ work and projects organized though, and that syncs across all my devices, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro and iPhone, so I’m up to date and can make notes wherever I may be, with or without notebook. This probably makes me sound organized, but in reality it’s likely a futile attempt by me to be more so.
Does your space inspire you?
Yes, of course! I wouldn’t be able to work easily or creatively if it didn’t. My darkroom has always been a comfort to me and a place that makes me feel good.
The INPrint call for entry puts the focus on the final product of the artist vision, the photographic print or object, not the jpeg on the screen. Rfotofolio wants to encourage and promote the art of making the photographic print.
This call for entries will be judged not only on the image, but by the craft, skill, and quality of presentation.
All media are welcome, including but not limited to traditional film, digital, collage, three-dimensional, encaustic, small books, and alternative processes.
Last week I returned from a five day trip to Arizona for the opening of the Rfotofolio show Depth of Field. This was held at the beautiful non-profit photo-center Art Intersection, in Gilbert, AZ.
The show and the associated events were so well organised by Connie and Jerry of Rfotofolio and Alan Fitzgerald and his team at Art Intersection.
On the Friday evening there was a roundtable discussion between many of the photographers in the show, gallery directors and curators, around the theme of professional sustainability, moderated by Becky Senf of the Center for Creative Photography. Saturday evening was the opening which was great fun, but tiring. Lots of wonderful questions were asked of everyone’s work, and we got to meet old friends and new.
Photo by Rfotofolio.
Photo by Rfotofolio.
Jennifer Schlesinger and myself — Photo by Rfotofolio.
Impending Storm, Saguaro National Park.
Saguaro National Park
On Sunday I drove down to Saguaro National Park, near Tucson. After hiking halfway up a mountain trail in the heat, I decided that the thunderstorm I could see developing in the far distance was indeed getting closer. The lightning was the turning point for me. Within minutes of getting back to the car and driving I got caught up in a small dust storm but then the torrential rain started. After making it back slowly to Gilbert via flooded roads and slow moving freeways, I was ready to meet up with the others for a drink and dinner. We made it into the restaurant just as the rain and wind started again. Monsoon season in Arizona.
Dust storm, near Saguaro National Park.
Dust storm, near Saguaro National Park.
Rain storm, Saguaro National Park.
Center for Creative Photography
On the Monday a small group of us drove down to the Center for Creative Photography, in Tucson. We met with an assistant curator, Andrew Kensett, and Jennifer Jae Gutierrez, a conservator at the center, to look at about 40 prints – iconic images of photography – that had been pulled from the archives.
In no preferential order there were prints by Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Ruth Bernard, André Kertész, Margrethe Mather and Sonya Noskowiak.
Seeing these prints, unglazed and in some cases with the mat lifted to reveal the entire print and its support, and under nice soft lighting, was amazing. Two prints stood out for me that I hadn’t expected to. One by Edward Weston, Contraband Bayou, Louisiana, 1941 and the other by Brett Weston, Cities Service Refinery, 1956. Both these prints I had seen before, but only in books. The print by Edward Weston has so much depth and detail that is lost in books and the refinery image by Brett is so luminous and metallic. Spectacular. And the intimate Harry Callahan prints, Eleanor, Chicago, 1949 and Cattails Against Sky, 1948 renewed my love for his work.
The one print that did disappoint (can I even say that about one of the masters?) was Aaron Siskind’s Jerome, Arizona 21, 1949. At just over 18″ x 13″, it was the largest print there and much softer, greyer and flatter than I would have imagined it to be. Exactly the reverse experience of the Weston’s.
The Center for Creative Photography print room. Yes, I did ask permission to take photographs!