« More Updates, Sites To Visit, Slide Shows and Self-Portraits | Main | Painting vs Photography, and Beautiful Fuzzy Visions »

March 13, 2004

Art Blogs Beyond Photography, And One Path Away From the Darkroom

As I'll be going to New York City again this weekend, my posting isn't where I'd like it to be for now...I'll be away until Monday. I do plan to go to the Armory Show while in New York (which most people at AIPAD recommended as a better outlet for contemporary photography along with other art), though I don't how much I'll get to sample while I'm there, as my time will be limited. It will still be fun to check out and contrast against my AIPAD experience.

There are enough photography options on the Web to keep one's time occupied for days if not weeks and months, but I find it's worthwhile to consider photography within the broader discussion of art and the contemporary art scene, and actually eavesdrop on other visual artists as they create and share their work. There are a number of art blogs that I've enjoyed dropping in on, and the ones I tend to enjoy the most are those where the artists share their own art creation experiences, but also happen to be enjoyably open-minded and literate about the art and popular culture they enjoy.

Rachael at Balduffington apparently maintained a zine in the past, and it shows because her voice on her blog is personal, but confident and positive in its eclectic reach across numerous topics, and it's a real pleasure reading her. She's a painter, but she has an active interest in photography and has recently posted some worthwhile links. She has a special skill for making a few words say a lot (something I could use, I have to say).

Tom Moody also has experience writing for art publications, seems to have less interest in photography, and is considerably more opinionated about various topics...he also shares a lot of drawings, animations, electronic music, etc. I just find his wide ranging interests, personal work, and opinions fun and thoughtful (a good read, as they say), though he's frequently likely to provoke readers as well.

On a more mundane note, namely my own work, I'm currently working to photograph ballet dancers during their weekly classes for a local studio, and so far it's been fairly conventional (which is of course what the studio mostly wants). But I'm trying to determine some more creative ways of capturing what they do, without being obviously "arty" i.e. using a Holga or Diana and letting the vignetting and softness act as the expressive element, though that's an experiment I will play with in coming weeks.

One of the hazards of being around a photography school environment (as I have for the last year and a half) is that a fetish develops around larger formats of film, and 35mm comes to be seen as increasingly inadequate outside of sports and photojournalistic type work. I have to admit that for black and white in particular, I almost never use 35mm any more...but when it comes to dancers (especially since I'm not allowed to use any strobes), the smaller format is necessary for speed. So I've been working with my pet high speed film, Neopan 1600 rated at 800...it has a unique look ("soulful" grain and highlights, though not much shadow detail) that is one of the best reasons for continuing to use 35mm film (even at my most snobby).

*However*, printing high speed black and white negatives is one of my least favorite experiences...you can complain about chemicals and the obsolescence of the traditional darkroom all you want, but there's a distinct pleasure in seeing a fiber print from a well exposed medium or large format negative. An 800 or 1600 speed 35mm negative, however, is often tricky to print properly...you can still get memorable results, but I find it less rewarding and more tedious...so lately, I just scan the negatives, clean them up in Photoshop, and print them on thick watercolor or fine art paper. Whatever I say about issues with digital, it's a godsend for managing the problematic dynamics of high speed film and producing good prints.

Anyway, here are two examples of the type of stuff I've been shooting in this area, one in medium format, the other the 35mm stuff. The medium format shot obviously looks cleaner and more detailed (plus I had better light for it), but the 35mm shot has a character of its own, even in the tiny web form shared here.


Ballet class, 645 film, Portra 400


Ballet class, 35mm, Neopan 1600@800

(NOTE: Those interested in seeing a larger version of the first shot above can find it here.

02:03 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Art Blogs Beyond Photography, And One Path Away From the Darkroom:


I like both of these, but that first one seems to stand out a bit because of the girls face and the glow...

I can empathize on the 35mm thing. I really don't like it that much, unless I need it. I almost always try and use my Holga or Rollei for those big negatives.

Posted by: John at Mar 16, 2004 10:38:40 AM

i'm sure it's just my sense of aesthetics, but i prefer the second shot. i think the composition is stronger (there's too many people in the top shot for me, which makes it hard to concentrate on the central figure) and i like the grain that's coming out in the print. but that's just me. that said, recently i've been given a holga and have been playing with that a lot.

Posted by: e.ku at Mar 18, 2004 4:47:40 PM