Thanks Pandemic

Just over the halfway mark with my solo exhibition, ‘Thanks Pandemic’,

With a busy month ahead of me I’m popping my opening night speech here on my blog along with 22 of the 23 images I exhibited in my current solo exhibition.

Here are the details again:-
Hunt Club Community Arts Centre, 775 Ballarat Road, Deer Park, VIC 3023
Opening hours are 9:30 am to 4:30pm


I begin today by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

I would like to thank Brimbank Council for their support, especially all the Staff at the Hunt club community arts centre, including Paulina, Michael, and everyone else who supported and contributed to this exhibition.

The pandemic that swept the world in 2020, is still impacting on many people in many ways, two years later. Prior to the pandemic, I would walk or drive with my cameras to locations I visit often, or see as interesting in passing. Being locked indoors during the Pandemic put an end to all that.

Many people experienced life through a different lens, during the lockdowns. Some feeling challenged others liberated. I too suffered my ups and downs while juggling ‘working from home’ while actually living at home.

One of the positives of all this for me was that I was free to find other ways to flex my creative muscle. I did this by visiting my analogue archive. This archive spans more than 30 years of walking and exploring my home town of Melbourne with a variety of cameras. The last 20 or so years here in the West and Sunshine. I managed to distill this to a handful of images that I hope to offer some insights into how I have watched this city grow and change.  To simplify he process I chose one camera type to make the initial selections. This added to the cohesion of an otherwise disparate set of images, I hope.

Some images more than others stick in your ‘craw’ as you work, this is one of the reasons why I printed these particular photos. In some instances it was the moment itself, in others it was the light, the tonality or some other photographic quality captured by the lens and camera.

These prints are from a loose thread that runs throughout my creative career. The urban landscape and humanity’s attempts at taming it, or at least co-exist with it. Nature has a way of persevering despite our best efforts, wildness lingers and some of these pictures attempt to explore that. Whether we have the desire to allow nature to recalibrate is something we can all hope for.

I don’t remember who said it but it has been suggested that every picture you make with a camera is a self portrait, if this is true then I’m not sure what these pictures say about me. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that point.

Another driving factor in the choice of the final images is, technological. Materials have changed a lot since I bought my first packet of Agfa paper from a US retailer around 1990. These changes have contributed to me revisiting my archive with this in mind and explore other ways making work that I may have felt was not technically feasible all those years ago.

I’d just like to finish with one more thank you.

Lastly my wife for her patience and input and being a steady rock when I needed it the most.

westgate bridge in 1994 or so

All are toned silver gelatin prints 190mm x 190mm.

Here are the details again:-
Hunt Club Community Arts Centre, 775 Ballarat Road, Deer Park, VIC 3023
Opening hours are 9:30 am to 4:30pm

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How I prepare for a physical exhibition?

Prints drying in my darkroom
Silver Geltatin Prints drying in my darkroom

I have been busy the last few days getting my prints ready for my next upcoming exhibition.
The Exhibition entitled ‘Thanks Pandemic’ consists of 24 silver gelatin prints framed and matted.
All up the print finishing took about 12 hours. I don’t recollect how long the actual printing took, as it was done some time ago during several of the lockdowns that Victoria endured from 2020 to 2022.
These lockdowns were the catalyst for me to revisit my archive and print some images that I have always wanted to print. Now with time on my side and changes to materials I was able to produce a series of prints that reflect my skills and knowledge. Basically I like to make work with long tonal scales. This is made possible by using 2 filters under the enlarger, the 00 filter and the 5 filter, from Ilford’s filter pack. Using this technique enables finer control over shadows, midtones and highlights.
After the prints are made they undergo treatment for archival permanence using a 2 bath fixer system and using some dilute selenium toner. In this case it was 1:19 for 3 minutes in the selenium.

My toning setup
My toning setup, I’m using selenium toner 1:19 for 3 minutes

Then into my archival wash tub for one hour. My tub holds 10 prints so I had to undertake this process in 3 batches, 2 at 10 and one at 5 prints. They are then hung to dry in my darkroom.

My archival print washing setup
My archival print washing setup, washed 10 silver gelatin prints at a time

Next I flatten the prints in a warm heat press.
Once they are all flat, I begin the final stages of preparation for matting.

Flattened prints ready for over matting
Flattened prints ready for over matting

This involves making paper corners, 100 in total, then attaching the prints to a backing board that is hinged to the matt. All made using paper archival tape.

Archival paper corners
Archival paper corners, I made 100 of these.

Once the components are assembled the frame is reassembled and the protective corners replaced. Then they are stored ready for transport to the gallery.

A print matted and secured to the backing board, ready for the final touches to make it exhibition ready.
A print matted and secured to the backing board, ready for the final touches to make it exhibition ready.

This body of work is going to use a mixture of frame colours 9 silver 9 off-white and 6 black. How they are how together will be determined once the work is in the space.

All the prints ready for transport to the gallery next week.
All the prints ready for transport to the gallery next week.

Upcoming Solo Show

Washing fibre based paper prints in my home made print washer
Washing fibre based paper prints in my home made print washer

I’m having a solo exhibition soon.

Here are the details.

The show is entitled ‘Thanks Pandemic’. The exhibition  consists of 25 silver gelatine prints printed in my darkroom.  It is on display at the Hunt Club Community Arts Centre, 775 Ballarat Road, Deer Park, VIC 3023, from the 7th of October until the 8th of December. An opening celebration will occur on Friday the 7th of October from 6:30 to 8:00pm.

☛ Website | Flickr | Instagram | Photography links | Twitter | Tumblr ☚

Instagram Alternatives?

screengrab of Vero for desktop
screengrab of Vero for desktop

A while back I blogged about an alternative to Instagram. The service called glass is good and as it uses a paid model doesn’t rely on advertising or algorithms. A recent tweet, by Andy Adams reminded me of another service, vero.

So to recap, I have 5 social media photo accounts:-

Vero has announced a beta desktop app.  Glass has a dedicated tablet app, unlike instagram. Vero has no ads and no algorithm as far as I can tell at this stage,  pixelfed.social is volunteer run and an “instance” of mastadon. So all these services are in my mind superior to Instagram, while offering the familiar smart phone experience, without the “influencers” and the algorithms.

Flickr occupies the most of my online time however. It’s really a big screen experience though. [It has a mobile app and good integration between the website and the smart phone app.] Or at the least a tablet one. So if you were to include flickr I really have 6 social media accounts dedicated to photography.

☛ Website | Flickr | Instagram | Photography links | Twitter | Tumblr ☚

Instagram or some other platform?

my instagram page on 28-08-2022
my instagram page on 28-08-2022

Recently there had been some consternation regarding Instagram’s user interface changes. There was a concerted effort to drive photography based traffic to other platforms including, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

I don’t understand why there has not been an overwhelming response to these ideas. Even so, photographers managed to connect and make meaningful work BEFORE Instagram, so why not migrate to another service?

I guess one part of the problem is signal to noise ratio. This is especially difficult if you are new to a service like Tumblr, or Flickr. Personally speaking I have never cracked Tumblr’s algorithm. And while I’m no Flickr super star I certainly have in my “friends list” on Flickr, plenty of good photographers whose work I enjoy all the time.

So how do you find these good photographers? There’s a couple of ways.  Look at someone you know already is a good practitioner. Their contacts and favourites list will point you in the right direction. Also look at the albums they have created, this gives you a quick insight into their thinking about their photography. For example are they just focused on cameras equipment or places, or other more esoteric ideas about what a photo can communicate? Lastly, look at my favourites or someone else’s you know already.

Here’s a short list of photographers; in no particular order. Well actually in the order that they uploaded work to Flickr, while I wrote this post. Also bear in mind I am heavily biased towards, Urban Landscape, and New Topographic styles of photography.

Then there’s groups. These are groups of people whose interest are shared, whether it be subject matter, or genres or some other connective creative tissue. Find a group whose ideas align with yours and then scroll through and find some photographers whose work resonates with you. Follow them and look at who they follow and before you know it you have consumed a large chunk of time and in the process discovered some great photographers and photography.

Here’s a small  list of groups that reflect my own photography interests; again heavily biased towards urban, landscape and street photography.

Either way the social connections that make the web a great place to connect is never more than a few clicks away.

If you decide to give flickr a go let me know and we can connect there too.

*A caveat in these groups I am administrator

☛ Website | Flickr | Instagram | Photography links | Twitter | Tumblr ☚