Friday, June 24, 2011

Solargraph results

YES the results are in. And I am really happy with them. I wanted to do this for so long and I am glad I was able to leave all of the cams alone for the full 6 months. I checked up on some once in a while and of the 10 cams I hung, 9 returned home. Only one got lost. 90% succes rate is pretty good for a first try.

This project made me learn a lot of things about film and pinholes in general.

- I need to use gloves next time when I put the film in.
O well, it does not really matter since this is all so lo-fi. A finger print here and there actually adds some character right?

- Not all photo paper is created equally.
I used three types of paper. If I recall correctly it was Ilford Resin Coated Multigrade IV, Ilford Fiber Based Multigrade and Kodak Fiber Based graded. The Ilford RC is the most stable of the three. Even after scanning, the image is there. The Kodak paper produced the most red results of the three. BUT is still very sensitive to light, even after 6 months. Kodak paper produces the most detail as well.
All the photo paper was expired by YEARS. But was still perfect for this project! I think in some shots you can actually see the silver grains popping through. I think those are the jagged edged little things that look like frost crystals. OR it could be frost crystals. Hell I don't know.

- Dust bunnies anyone?
It is impossible to keep dust out of these cams. Even whipping them down with a 'swiffer' cloth before putting in the paper did not help.

- Some cams worked better then others.
Definitely the square and round cans worked best. Long boxes work both did not produce the result I hoped for. But either way I have some weird looking stuff and that's what I was after.

- Aim the cameras a little better.
For sure next time I have to hang them up using a compass. Aiming them a bit angled upward and due south. That will give the best results.

All in all, this is a cool way to introduce your family to a cheap DIY photo project that incorporates science, astronomy, weather and photography. Awesome for the kids don't you think?

Solargraphs - Images by Olivier Du Tre

Monday, June 20, 2011

One more sleep!

The wait is over. Tomorrow at 11.16am Mountain Time the sun reaches it's highest point in the sky and summer will officially begin. Not that we have seen much sun lately but anyways.

I've been looking forward to this date ever since I hung up a dozen or so pinhole camera's in and around Cochrane and Calgary. Yep. Tomorrow I am taking those cans down.
Funny thing is, just did a feature about this type of photography today. If my photo's turn out this good, I will be a very happy guy!

I will keep you updated.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I had an epiphany!

Last weekend was a good weekend for my photography. Why? Being out there in Claresholm – photographing in rain – I had an epiphany. Being pushed by my surroundings and the weather there was eye opening.
I made the decision to stop looking at other people's work. Let me re-phrase that. I will stop letting me get influenced by other photographers. Maybe that sounds kind of arrogant or even plain stupid but bear with me here for a second.

Back when I started out with photography I was shooting film. Digital was non existing. So I was/am formally trained as a black and white photographer/darkroom adept. Even now it is hard for me to shoot in colour. Somehow it is just not working for me anymore. Somehow I can not put the amount of emotion I want and need in a photo, in a colour photo print. But I can – without even thinking – in a black and white print. It is just second nature for me to do that. I don't know how, what or why the reason is. It's just is.

If I reflect back on my photography over the last 6 months I can only notice that my photography has changed a lot. Honestly it did not change, it just went back to where it was in the beginning. I used to shoot exclusively with wide angle lenses. Now, not so much. I shoot 50mm and up. Again it is more natural for me to do that. Also my compositions have become very empty, very minimal. Not something that everybody likes.

I guess as a graphic artist I am more looking for that 'artsy' shot that has a nice graphical composition then making a wide angle comp where I show everything, from the rocks beneath my feet to the mountains in the back. Sure, those shots are dramatical in depth and I do love them but my heart is in a place now where it needs simplicity.

Of course this does not mean that I will ONLY shoot minimalistic black and whites from now on. Shooting sunrise or sunset colours in black and white does not make any sense right?

Did you experience something like this before? Please do share. I am looking forward to read your thoughts on this.

Here are some examples of what I mean with my ramblings above. These where all shot last weekend.


Wind Catchers

Triangle Coulee

It's Clearing


Friday, June 10, 2011

Claresholm, here I come

Sarah has a horse riding competition in Claresholm this weekend and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to explore the Southern foothills a bit more. So I am taggin along. People that know me will tell you I love doing research. I'm not lying if I tell you, my trip is fully planned! ;)

I think researching a new location is key to come back with something worth post-processing. That is my opinion at least. I know a lot of photographers will not agree with this. They just 'go with the flow' or 'follow the light'. That is all well, but I'd like to be somewhat prepared and have at least some idea what locations I want to see and when to visit them.

Google Earth/maps is awesome to do that. Not only can you pull up the terrain maps of the area you're looking at. But you can also add images, and see what the place actually looks like. Or why not use StreetView to scout from your desktop?
Another good resource is Flickr or just good plain old Google Images. Get a sense of the place your planning to visit before you jump in that car! I always get inspired by looking at Google Images. And I don't mean that in a 'I need to find out where that shot is taken and take it myself in the exact same spot'-way. No I mean, 'visions' pop into my mind of images I'd like to make. And I just hope I'll come across similar views so I can make them.

This weekend, if it is somewhat possible, I want to visit at least one of these three places:
- Visiting the Wind Farm in Pincher Creek near McBride Lake.
- Checking out the Porcupine Hills.
- Visiting Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump.

Of course I might just wander around some Range Roads and 'go with the flow'. Who knows.

I'm leaving you with two pictures I took some time ago but only decide recently to process them. Often I come home from a shoot and I know EXACTLY what the winning image is. In these two cases, I liked what I initially saw but it took a long time to 'process' these images in my mind. I finally decided to do both in black and white and applied some old style darkroom techniques – aka my friend dodge and his friend burn.

Enjoy the weekend!

Storm's Coming

Stormy Sunset

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Photos are everywhere


The photo above was taken Sunday on one of the range roads West of Calgary.

My parents are visiting from 'the old country' and we took them out to Drumheller for the day. The day itself was great. It was hot and sunny and we saw all the sights in Drumheller that I consider touristically interesting.

Photo wise it was a dud. I find Drumheller very difficult to photograph. I love the way it looks! Almost desert like. But those coulees just have way too much contrast for me to handle. It's also located just too far to wake up in the morning and drive all the way out there to catch the sunrise. I tried to do some details but nothing really caught my eye.

When we headed back, everybody was basically asleep in the car. Except for me! And when I saw this out of my drivers side window I had to stop. I said: "I'm sorry but I need to photograph this, I promise it won't take long." Nobody noticed what I 'saw' but the moment I got out of the car something flashed through my mind. I had to think about Cole Thompson's body of work called 'Harbinger'. This is kind of my tribute to Cole. This was my Harbinger.

It just proves that you ALWAYS need to be on the look out for photo opportunities. You always need to be aware what is going on around you. Even if you don't take a 'real' photo you can take one with your mind. I do it all the time. On my way to work, coming back from a scouting trip or the grocery store. Every time is a good time for training your eye.

I keep seeing stuff in squares and rectangles... what about you?