From Doom-scrolling to Darkroom

St.Albans paddock with pylons and burnt grass
Circa 1989, St.Albans 19 x 19 cm silver gelatin print. Printed 2021

Today was the beginning of the term break for me as I only work 3 days a week now. I managed to procrastinate online all morning. I fitted in some quality time in my darkroom after lunch though. I have a solo exhibition application in the works. So if I’m accepted into the space I want to have plenty of time to make the best quality prints I can. The negatives span more than 30 years of shooting film and are mostly images that I have liked for and of themselves. But may not have fitted in with other series and bodies of work I exhibited in the past.

It’s a bit weird working with such old negatives. I started in my first year of University with a Mamiya medium format TLR camera. I used Microdol-X as my developer in those days. I now use a Hasselblad as my main medium format camera. Recently switched to Xtol too, a commercial developer also by Kodak. Prior to switching I had used a home made developer called D25. I’m still using the same film though, Kodak T-max 400.

Papers too, have changed radically since 1989 when I was at University. Now most papers are multi-contrast as opposed to graded. This is actually a good thing as I feel I can eke more out of a negative using the 2 extreme filters, 00 and 5. A technique called ‘split filter printing’.

I hope then to better match my expectations of an image using the split filter printing system, and a variety of home made paper developers. Compared to my University days, when a neg may have been put aside due to it not being able to printed well on a single grade of paper.
The differences between cameras and eras seems noticeable. The developer not so much. I switched film developers mainly for environmental reasons but technique also played a part in that decision too. I touched base with an old teacher a couple of summers back and he suggested the change.

The weird part is as I’m not really working to a fixed time frame, I have all the time in the world to muck around as I make each print. Some are just “falling” out of the enlarger, others are requiring many test strips and prints. I plan on exhibiting about 14 to 18 prints. Pinned directly to the walls of the gallery.

I applied to exhibit in October 2022.

Fingers crossed.

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New Online Group Exhibition

I am involved in yet another online exhibition. This time with the Friends of Photography Group. This is their 3rd exhibition asking ‘members’ to submit an image made or printed during the Covid restrictions. I submitted a print I made on Ilford Multigrade Fibre Based paper, scanned. I made 2 versions and toned one in sepia and the other in selenium, this is the sepia version.

Here is my ‘statement’ for the image.

Back in 1989, I listened to one of my lecturers talk about his relationship to the landscape and in particular She Oak trees. That notion has stayed with me ever since. This print is a result of this exchange. I continue to photograph these trees as I encounter them. Given that many councils are regenerating their open spaces the significance of these trees is important.

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Creativity in the time of a Pandemic?

Bore Beach San Remo, Victoria, 2020-03-29 14:00:03

I made the picture above on the Sunday before stage 2 restrictions were brought into effect. We had taken a Sunday drive to explore real estate.

Autumn in Melbourne is usually a prolific time for me. The light is beginning to change for the better. I have a two week break from my job, and with a reliable steady income it is easy to be spontaneous and often drive somewhere for the sake of it.

Not so this year.

Despite this lack of movement on my part there have been many, many, emails from all kinds of cultural organisations with ideas for keeping creatively busy. There has been funding support and peer support across every level of the industry. Of course this could only happen because of the internet. This is a wonderful thing. I have submitted a project to HAFNY’s online callout “walking” as a consequence.  Not to mention  the Ballarat International Foto Biennale is partnering with FORMAT International Photography Festival and Gallery of Photography Ireland to create a visual record of the COVID-19 crisis on Instagram. [Use the tags, #massisolation and #massisolationAUS].

Still; I hanker to go outside follow my intuition while driving with a car load of equipment or walking with some equipment.

I guess I will hibernate in my darkroom.

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