Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Tenth Anniversary

That's a screen grab of the first Working Pictures blog post on September 6, 2006. Ten years ago today.

Here's the picture file for a better look, up from the archive:

On one hand, it seems as though it couldn't have been that long ago. On the other, it's almost hard to remember a time when I didn't start each day by posting a recently made photograph to the blog. This first one was shot in Naugatuck, Connecticut, using an Olympus E1 and 14-54 lens.

In 2004 I'd finally gotten a "real" digital camera, that E1. I'd been using digital point and shoot cameras for several years as accessories to my large format film shooting, recording/timestamping view camera setups and locations, making low-res digital proofs of the big negatives, etc. But a publishing project came in that had to be shot digitally and was big enough to cover the cost of acquiring a small set of publication-quality digital equipment and still have money left over for me to pay bills. The side effect of that was that I found I loved digital capture color photography for personal work.

Most of my commercial/editorial assignment work, beginning in 1972, had been in color. Mostly Kodachrome, until clients became too impatient and insisted on E6 to have next morning results. I experimented with Cibachrome prints for personal work shot on slide film, and hated it. When color negative films made a quantum leap improvement in the 1980s I did a series of personal projects that way, using a Jobo to develop the film, mostly medium format and 4x5, and made RA prints. The prints were...OK. Pretty nice, but they just didn't have the presence of black and white silver prints. I loved being able to have color, but found the print medium disappointing. I looked into dye transfer, and decided that one lifetime is not enough to develop as a photographer and also master dye transfer printing.

Then I discovered platinum printing for my large format work, and mostly forgot about color photography for personal projects for many years.

That changed abruptly in 2004 when I was quickly getting used to the digital capture gear and first saw color prints from digital captures made with a little Epson 2200 printer. Better than RA. The RAW captures had vastly more subject brightness range than any slide film, though not as much as black and white or color negatives (this is still true—capture has gotten better but hasn't caught up all the way).  In most other ways, digital captures processed in Adobe Camera Raw blew away color film, and prints on Epson luster were superior to RA prints on Kodak luster. Prints from more current photo quality printers on baryta inkjet papers are an order of magnitude better still. The E1 files were small, but rational size prints were beautiful; gemlike in presentation.

Next, I found out about blogs. Mike Johnston had recently launched "The Online Photographer." I'd written articles for Mike at the ink-on-paper magazine PhotoTechniques for years, and began contributing short pieces to TOP. I became intrigued by the idea of pursuing a better understanding of digital capture color photography with the incentive of posting a very recent picture (or more than one) every day, on a blog. So WP began ten years ago today.

Now, I'm going to change things a bit. I'm going to switch the blog from daily, to occasional. Occasional may sometimes mean daily if interesting things are happening, but if nothing interesting is happening WP won't have daily posts. I'm also planning to write more. That is, if I don't have a picture that I want to write something about, or something I want to write about and accompany with a picture, the blog may go occasional that day. The other thing is that I want to move a lot of my effort back into large format film shooting intended for platinum printing. I don't want to stop doing digital color, but I guess at this point I feel comfortable with it and no longer need to explore the process, but simply use it when it's the best approach to a subject. When I'm working with LF film, any blog posts will likely be of the "behind the scenes" sort, showing what I'm up to with the big cameras, or in the darkroom.

The blog has been an interesting experience. I think it will continue to be interesting in a somewhat changed format.


David said...

Congratulations on ten years of Working Pictures, Carl!

I started my blog in July, 2007, in open imitation of yours. At the time, it seemed that I'd been reading your blog for a lot longer than 11 months. To me, Working Pictures has always just been there.

I look forward to your new direction. I hope that you find it satisfying and enjoyable, too.

David Littlejohn

Ed said...

Congratulations on 10 years of blogging. I first found out about this blog and you from TOP and I've enjoyed all your posts. You have inspired me in my photography and I want to thank you for that as well. I'll look forward to the changes in your blog in the coming year.

Markus Spring said...

10 years has always been a long period, proving someones dedication to a pursuit. But in digital times, 10 years might feel more like 25 pre-digital years. How many platforms that were all the rage back in 2006 have survived into 2016? Was there already a f***book in 2006, did we have always connected supercomputers in our pockets? A lot has changed since then.

But the quest for good images has not. That's where 'working pictures' came into play for me, definitely a hardcore training in non-superficiality. Thank you very much for that, Carl, and congratulations on your perseverance!

Like David I am curious to see what directions your blog takes - good writing with good pictures is certainly something worth trading in daily posts for.


Juha Haataja said...

Congratulations! And thanks for the insights you have provided over the years. Looking forward to the changed format.

lyle said...

Hey, I will keep looking daily, as I always do, just so I don't miss anything. Looking forward to your writing. I have gotten a month's worth of 'workshops' reviewing and thinking about the tech stuff you have written. THANK YOU. BTW, hope to be back up and running within the month so will have some pd/pt to share.

Carl Weese said...

Lyle, the CAP workshop is on for Oct. 1-2, they already have four sign-ups. As always, welcome to come and share prints, hang out in the darkroom, etc.

MikeR said...

a) what they said;

b) almost heart-stopping: Kirk Tuck goes on hiatus for August, Mike Johnston now takes weekends off for writing a book, and now WP threatens to be "occasional;"

c) but wait! writing, commentary, behind the scenes ... I'm smiling again.

Thanks for all your posts.