Wednesday, May 8, 2013
After about twenty years of using chromogenic B&W film to avoid having to mix chemistry at home, I have taken to processing my own B&W film again.
I wanted to use silver based films again to bring back a little texture to my images and to be able to take advantage of the differences in emulsions that exists among the films available today.
The process is fast and the chemistry is reusable over a long period of time so it has a lesser environmental impact than the developers I used twenty years ago. It’s also extremely economical as are the films I’m using. They are much cheaper per roll than the C41 processed film I was shooting on a daily basis. So I’m saving quite a bit of money and bringing my photography more in line with my current yet ever evolving tastes.
Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner
Friday, April 19, 2013
The looking you do today influences the future of your seeing.
It hardly needs to be said that photography, as a visual medium, takes a lot of practice to be able translate one's vision to a two dimensional surface. And defining that vision can take a life time. But being aware of what shapes that vision as one develops as a photographer is vital to achieving that goal.
Everything we look at or watch or see a fleeting glimpse of will in some way shape our personal vision: the way we look at the world, the way we see the world. As I've often said, looking and seeing are different things. Looking can lead to seeing and looking certainly shapes the way we see and this is key to developing a consistent vision.
The more we look the greater the chance of seeing. And the more things we look at the greater the potential for developing that deeper vision.
Photography benefits from a photographer's experience looking at not just photographs, but looking closely at paintings, drawings, typography, theatre, sculpture, every sort of visual media in addition to every aspect of one's physical surroundings.
I've spent a lot of time throughout my life in museums and galleries looking at paintings and all forms and types of art. Having a great many friends who are visual artists, writers and musicians has had a tremendous influence on how I look at the world. All this has shaped and influenced the way I see. Remember: seeing is the thoughtful interpretation of the act of looking.
The image above owes a great deal to the work of Edward Hopper and Ed Ruscha, two artists, among many others, who have shaped my visual language. But, this has happened only because I have spent time looking knowing that eventually I will begin to see.
Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner
Sunday, April 7, 2013
As you come to know light you develop a 'feel' for its presence. You begin to know intuitively when light is performing, really putting on a show.
Sometimes the performance is subtle and full of nuance, but you are aware of all that and you begin to photograph.
Photo & text: @2013 David W. Sumner
Monday, April 1, 2013
I just finished reading a few interviews with Tod Papageorge. And I must say, though I tried to see some merit in his endless references to poetry and his philosophy regarding photography, I found none.
In some cases he parroted Winogrand to such an extent I wondered if there is any substance uniquely his to be found. Indeed it is the current Winogrand retrospective at SFMOMA that set me on this effort to study more about Papageorge. While they were close friends and may well have shared the same view point and philosophy regarding photography, I see no worth while similarity or reasonable comparison beyond that.
I admit I haven't seen a great number of Papageorge's images but those I have seen have not inspired me to seek out others. He seems to have done well running Yale's photography program and inspired several students through harsh criticism on to notable careers in photography, but when asked ( Kolby Yarnell, New York Times Magazine Nov. 25, 2007) why he only recently started publishing books of his work, his response was, "Nobody called." I hope this wasn't a tactic he taught his students: Make your photographs then sit back and wait for ecstatic waves of recognition to pour over you.
I must say I'm not impressed.
Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
This workshop has
SOLD OUT - 3/19/13
"The Best Light is the Available Light" - Saturday, March 23, 2013
Photography is dependent on light. It is the job of the photographer to understand light as the essential resource in creating dynamic imagery and how to best utilize every aspect of this resource to communicate his or her personal vision.
David's March 2013 workshop will show how your personal vision can grow through an understanding of available light and how you can shape it to create your unique imagery.
The workshop will answer the most commonly asked questions about light, including:
- Is the available light always the best light?
- Is available light the same thing as ambient light?
- How do I create a powerful image with available light alone?
David will guide participants through a practical understanding of ambient light, natural light, enhanced light and modified light.
As a participant, you will learn how to take command of the available light to create successful photographs in almost any situation.
Date: Saturday, March 23rd, 11:00am - 5:00pm
Location: Golden Gate Park (Meet at the Music Concourse to the left of the Band Shell at 11:00am)
Instruction & discussion: 11:00 - 1:00
Break: 1:00 - 1:30
Photographing & problem solving: 1:30 - 4:00
Discussion & wrap up: 4:00 - 5:00
Be sure to bring a camera: digital, film, SLR or point & shoot and some sort of note taking device. (Pack a lunch for the break or there is often food available at the trucks or in the de Young Cafe.)
To register email David at: email@example.com
(PayPal currently unavailable)
Friday, February 8, 2013
My personal vision is rooted in a close up, wide perspective of contrast, values of gray and line. Every so often I venture into color photography just to try to better understand my relationship to it. I will probably do this periodically for the rest of my career.
Most recently after listening to several interviews with William Klein and having several discussions about the work of Saul Leiter, I have again become excited about working with color. I'm not sure I will ever develop my own unique style of color photography but I'm gaining a better idea of where on the spectrum of color photography I'm most comfortable.
As I've said in the past, I work best in color when I make color the subject of the photograph. Looking at the work of Klein and Leiter I'm understand that the use of longer lenses than I would normally use is key to isolating color as subject. So lately I've been shooting color transparency film using 50mm and 135mm lenses.
Cafe window on Valencia Street, San Francisco. ©2013 David W. Sumner
Another interesting approach to color I have been exploring is using the various photo sharing camera apps made for the iPhone. These apps come with a variety of filters that recreate vintage "looks" to the final image. Some look like old Polaroids others like faded family Christmas snaps. Some combinations of these filters can achieve very interesting color palettes. For me the most interesting are those giving the low resolution images I make with my iPod Touch a similar look to early color processes such as the Autochrome.
The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.
iPod Touch photo in Eye-Em App
©2013 David W. Sumner
It's all great fun and good visual/photographic exercise. For a while I'll be posting more color work to my Flickr page, but I do hear that dominant, black & white side of my vision clearly calling.