Friday, September 30, 2016

Umbrellas of New York

New York, New York

Today was finally a break from work on the print offer, to travel into New York for prep and setup of the weekend Digital Platinum Workshop at CAP/Penumbra. It was raining, and I was struck by all the umbrellas. Don't often see umbrellas out in the countryside. Along with small and large plain black ones, there were lots of bright colors and many variations in size and shape. I ended up spending at least an hour scuttling from one spot to another where I could stand on the sidewalk under construction scaffolding. Might have some interesting things. I always like the way wet surfaces reflect light and enhance texture.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Print Finishing

Woodbury, Connecticut

Not my favorite part of the process. Any contact printing medium is going to end up with white spots once in a while from dust (or unidentified mystery specks of something) finding their way onto the glass of the vac frame or the negative itself. Also, I've never found a paper that doesn't now and then show a small dark spot, which invariably lands in a clear, light-toned area.

Same print after ten minutes of very delicate work:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Goings On

Woodbury, Connecticut

That's yesterday's stack of prints resting under plate glass to smooth out the slight curl when they emerge from the drying screens.

Also, when I went to the Post Office and the dump—er, Transfer Station—and then to the grocery store for a loaf of bread I noticed this in the parking lot.

I don't think this truck will ever be great again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In the Darkroom

Woodbury, Connecticut

It's a good thing I like these two pictures, because I'm sure seeing a lot of them.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Woodbury, Connecticut

Getting to work on print offer fulfillment. Just a few prints today to see if I want to tweak anything a bit, then into full production tomorrow. That's "Fog" in the first water rinse.

"Dixie" in the vac frame, waiting for the pump to come up to pressure.

Exposure finished, neg moved aside.

Just right, pale, printout ghost image after exposure.

First rinse again.

Fog in the final wash.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Print Sale Ending/Last Tech Article

August Morning Fog, in the first water rinse

A final technical article—related to the platinum print sale that ends this evening—is up now at The Online Photographer. I'm using a new paper introduced earlier this year. The article describes my tests/experiments to see how good the paper really is, and then to refine exact procedures and conditions to get the most out of it in my darkroom.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Next Door to Hermann's Automotive

Torrington, Connecticut

The other evening I read the text by Keith Davis in the Todd Webb monograph that was part of the TOP photo book offer a few months back. It’s an excellent essay. Davis seems to have a real handle on writing about photographers and their work. However, what struck me was his mention of the inaugural show at the Hallmark Gallery in New York, back in 1964. Well over a hundred prints by Harry Callahan.

I saw that show, and it made an immense impression on me. I was a high school kid wandering around New York with my Pentax H3, looking for stuff to take pictures of. I’d never heard of Callahan. He wasn’t the sort of photographer who got profiled in Popular Photography magazine. The pictures bowled me over. I looked at everything, left the building and walked around a bit, then came back and looked at everything all over again. Slowly.

The first thing that struck me was how ordinary the subject matter was. Unspectacular, undramatic. Then I had the grok. These things weren’t pictures of stuff at all. They were, themselves, stuff. Objects in their own right. They didn't exist to record a building, or a person, or some blades of grass. They took that subject matter and transformed it into a new thing, a photograph. I even think I got an inkling of a notion that later became pivotal for me—that every bit of the picture is important, every bit of it has to work. There is no subject vs background, there’s just everything.

The titles also struck me. Every picture was titled with the name of a city. A radiator, a window, a nude woman, all might be titled, “Rochester, New York.” To this day I follow that convention for the pictures I post here on the blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


New Preston, Connecticut

Last Sunday, 9/11/16, was an anniversary marked around the world. For Tina and me it was also a much smaller, private anniversary, our 45th. We decided to go for a drive in the countryside. The weather was appropriately ominous, which is fine because we both prefer that to plain sunlight. My car has Sirius XM, and the Symphony Hall channel was playing Dvorak's requiem. Utterly beautiful music, but when it ended, they went on to another requiem, so we switched to Real Jazz.

Millerton, New York

Things brightened up a bit as we moved west into New York state, but the clouds stayed heavy and interesting.

Millerton, New York

Claverack, New York

Meandering around narrow back roads through fields of corn we spotted this simple bare white cross.

Claverack, New York

Hudson, New York

As it got toward noon we realized we were close to Hudson, where there are plenty of nice restaurants including Mexican Radio, where we've eaten before, so we decided to head there. Between the municipal parking lot and the restaurants on Warren Street I always seem to find some interesting stuff to shoot.

Hudson, New York

Hudson, New York

Some very faded graffiti adjacent to the parking lot. The sky was clearing, the light getting harsh and flat, so we took a leisurely drive back home.

Germantown, New York

Sail boat and cement plant, sun and cloud.


I'm a little tied up writing stuff for the print sale at TOP, so here's a link to the latest thing over there.

Maybe I'll have a regular WP post to put up here later today.

Monday, September 12, 2016

TOP Platinum Print Sale

The third occasional TOP Platinum Print Offer has gone live, over at The Online Photographer. We did a similar sale back in 2010 with a choice of three 8x10 Pt/Pd prints, then again in 2014. There was a good response and between the two sales we got something like 360 alternate process prints out into the world.

Here are the two prints we're offering.

Dixie Milling, Easley, South Carolina, 2000

August Morning Fog, Eggleston, Virginia, 2001

Both were shot on 7x17-inch film. They're printed slightly larger than the original image size, exactly 7x17 inches. Scans, digital negatives, and prints all made by me. Other details about the sale available over at TOP.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

HERMAN'S Automotive, plus

Torrington, Connecticut

Simple buildings in strong light always get my attention. An old faded sign is good too. I shot this one last month, and of course it's a color digital capture. I've been doing this for a long time, as the next two pictures will show.

This was made in the southeastern part of West Virginia in 2004. The building seems to have gone through several incarnations as gas station, grocery store, maybe other things as well. Shot on 8x10 film.

Another abandoned gas station, also in West Virginia, but way over on the western side of the state. Shot in 2005 on 7x17-inch film.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

New England Impressionists, "Hollyhocking," and Runaway Squash

New London, Connecticut

Today we went on a mini-expedition to the LymanAllyn Art Museum and the Florence Griswold House and Museum. Tina was particularly interested to get to the show "A Good Summer's Work," which ends this week. It's essentially a small but wonderful collection of work by the circle of J. Alden Weir, and the paintings and sculpture they made around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries with subject matter in eastern Connecticut. There's also a room of Weir's portraits of family members including the dog, Bush.

One of his paintings was accompanied by an informative placard explaining his use of the term "hollyhocking." I'll quote it here in a picture. It's important to understand that to make this picture, Weir substantially moved the location of the mountain in the background to make the scene more harmonious.

Key sentence, "As art historian Hildegard Cummings explains: 'If, to be good, a picture needed the introduction of a hollyhock or some new bit...then holyhocking was in order.'" The current term is, I think, "Photoshopping."

From there we were off to Old Lyme for the Florence Griswold Museum, "Home of American Impressionism." Tina was curious about the current show here because she'd seen something about in on the web and thought it was a bit of an odd topic, something about American Impressionists and gardens, but she was curious because several of the pictures were credited as on loan from her old school, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Old Lyme, Connecticut

It turned out, the show was organized by the Academy. "Paintings and stained glass from the Pennsylvania Academy are blended with paintings, sculpture, prints, books, and photographs from the Florence Griswold Museum's permanent collection, as well as selected private loans." This was a wonderful surprise. At school, to escape from the student classrooms and studios in the depths of the building, she would head upstairs to the galleries to study the work on the walls for hours on end. Suddenly she was seeing the same paintings 45 years later. With very different, vastly more experienced eyes. A real treat.

There are also beautiful gardens on the grounds and while exploring those, moving from the large flower gardens to the smaller vegetable garden, we encountered this overambitious squash.

Pumpkin, maybe? It seems bent on commandeering the contemplation bench.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Rainy Day Bicycle Race

Woodbury, Connecticut


I was out to explore the rainy weather, but the cyclists made a nice extra touch, though it would take a pretty big print to make them obvious. I love rainy day light and what it does for colors and textures and surfaces, both in the city and out in the country.

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.

Monday, September 05, 2016


Naugatuck, Connecticut

This weed is trying to communicate something. It's dancing. Don't know what the message is.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Digital or Film

Torrington, Connecticut

Actually, it's neither because the 1 hour photo place, which seems to have shared space with a barber shop, is out of business and the space is for rent.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Two Trailers

Torrington, Connecticut

Retired over the road semi-trailers sometimes lead interesting lives. Both of these appear to have been repurposed as storage units. The second even has a door cut into the side with a set of steps for access. I've shot quite a few of these over the years but never thought of them as a collection or series. Thinking I should rummage around in the archives to see how many there are.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Rest in Peace

Torrington, Connecticut

This is the side street wall of a currently non-operational corner store about a quarter mile on South Main below the central Five Corners in the middle of town. I'm used to seeing roadside memorials to people, usually young men of course, who've died in car wrecks. When you see one of those, you know exactly what's going on, though with total ignorance of the thoughts and lives of the people involved. Here, I have no idea of what could have happened to Freddie.

Trying to find the best picture of this, it came into my mind to wonder if I was being intrusive. There was no one around to ask what had happened, and I'm not sure how much anyone who might have been around would have wanted to tell an elderly tall blanco about this private thing. But, then, the people who made this improvised memorial must have wanted people to see it, and now it will be seen by a lot of people who would never have encountered it in Torrington. Perhaps a fair enough use of photography.

Thursday, September 01, 2016


Torrington, Connecticut

This building has been empty and boarded up for years even though it's just off Main Street only half a mile from the town center. There's been a lot of urban revival and even an up and coming art and theater scene down by the Five Corners, but renewal hasn't come to Pearl Street.