Almost since the upset of the COVID-19 pandemic, members of VI have been creating and sending photographs to each other by mail, as Paul explained in his blog “This Side Up?” (March 28, 2021).
Here is one of the many beautiful gifts that I recently received from Paul. His accompanying note reads, “Some scenes from the UVic trails, printed with piezography inks.” A photo of photos cannot do justice to the delicacy of these images. They have a softness and at the same time one can almost see every leaf. The warm tone of the inks is subtle, yet lush.
I learn a lot from my colleagues and I’ve been learning so much during the last year and a half with the opportunity to have photos in hand to study and enjoy at my leisure. However, a while ago, I began to display the various photographs sent by Mike, Paul, and Francis. They have graced my living room and often end up on the fireplace mantle, as this picture illustrates. But I have not quite been happy with just leaning the individual photographs or laying them flat. So, I asked my partner Stephen to build me some interesting little stands. Now I have a Miniature Gallery that changes up every now and then.
VI has been making slow and steady steps toward our next zine over the last seven months. We’ve assigned ourselves four photowalks; chosen in turn and conducted sequentially – and it has been a lovely way to share some of our favourite local spaces with each other.
Here’s a peek preview with a few photos that won’t be included in the upcoming Call & Response 2021.1 zine.
Birdhouses: Along the E&N
This last week saw the final instalment of our latest call and response, the thought behind this one being that we should document places/things that give us pause, to relax and put our minds on things other than our day to day—work, Covid, stress. You get the picture.
I’ve been spending a fair bit of my free time enjoying walking and biking, in particular along the Gorge Waterway (walking) and both the Galloping Goose and the E&N pathways (biking). This has certainly contributed to relieving any tension I may be feeling, or the urge to be out breathing outside air rather than inside air, as well as opening up potential photo opportunities along the way. All in all, a pleasant way to spend an hour or so.
The above quadtych (?) is from a stretch along the E&N pathway that I’ve passed numerous times, and as I ride by I always give a look, thinking that this row of birdhouses deserves a picture or two, or in this case, four. Always brings a smile. I like the fact that whoever put these up along their shared fence line, put them so they are overlooking the pathway so those of us passing by have a good glimpse of them and any potential bird activity.
Given the intent of our last project, the timing, lighting and motivation were just right this time around to add this to my cache of photos for this theme.
Another lumen print, this time a composition of zucchini slices, leaves and blossom. Have you tried making any lumen prints? If so, please add a comment and share your experience.
This is a lumen print, which is basically a photogram. It’s made with expired black and white silver gelatin photo paper. That’s right – you get a colour print using black and white paper. You might be thinking, what kind of darkroom magic is this? Guess what – you don’t need a darkroom to make lumen prints! The only chemical you need is fixer to freeze the image you get after exposure in the sun for several hours of the paper with plant material on it. Remove plant material, wash to see colour (which you will probably love), then accept the fact that those lovely colours shift when you fix the paper. There are infinite possibilities for experimentation. A totally fun away to make photographic prints all summer long. Without a darkroom. (Important note: if you open a package of photographic paper in white light to make lumen prints, it can never be used subsequently to make darkroom prints).
I’ve been spending some isolation time sorting, tweaking, trashing and sometimes printing my too numerous photo files and projects dating from the early 1970’s up to the present (haven’t even begun to sort the boxes and binders of negatives). And as I go through file after file I come across images that I’d worked on, processed and saved, moved on and forgotten, to now revisit and ponder these pieces in the light of a new day and the passage of time. It’s time worth spent and an interesting look at what at the time captured my imagination and to note my creative frame of mind. Many of these images are pre-digital, using a variety of cameras and films which were later scanned to have the ability to view and work with these files as I had given up my darkroom many years past.
This image Billiard Hall, Todos Santos BCS 2002 was from a trip to this small town on the Baja Peninsula in which we had rented a small suite in a local neighbourhood within walking distance of the town centre. I didn’t come away with a great number of ‘keepers’ as some of the film seems to have been affected by the X-ray scanner at the airport. I’m glad that some did survive and looking at them now I’m still quite please with the results.
I love the coloured doors and the vivid green highlights here; this use of bold colours throughout the neighbourhood was a visual delight, a wonderful contrast to the earth tones of the building materials, streets and surrounding hills.
Nikon F3, 35mm f2.8 lens. Fuji NPH 400 film, 17collaged frames
I spent a couple of pleasant hours in the darkroom this afternoon making a few proof prints. These two images were juxtaposed on the film and contact sheet as shown here. When I made the proof print on the left, I realized it’s correct orientation was portrait, but on the contact sheet it was of course displayed in landscape mode and fortuitously lined up perfectly with the branch extending from the image on the right. If I had not seen that on the contact sheet (for example if there had been intervening exposures between these two) I’m not sure I would have made the connection. But now that this has happened, I’ll be looking for interesting combinations in future.
Further to the conversation here on mystical, magical and special places.
This photo was taken late in the day in mid October during a road trip to Santa Fe, NM in 2012 to attend a workshop given by Jon Cone and hosted by Don Messec of Making Art Safely. I remember being in awe as we came into sight of this magnificent structure, remember the bite to the air and the total silence, the silence of the desert and wide open spaces as we stood and pondered.
Tsé Bitʼaʼí (Rock with Wings) refers to the legend of the great bird that brought the Navajo from the north to their present lands. It stands about 1,583 feet (482.5 m) above the desert floor and Its peak elevation is 7,177 feet (2,187.5 m) above sea level. Located close to the Four Corners region in New Mexico.
Joel’s Lake, The Highlands, Jan 2019
This pic, in response to Paul’s previous post re: Mystical was taken on a misty (or is that mysty?) day a few years back while spending some time with family at nephew Joel’s place out in the Highlands. As I recall, it was a typical Vancouver Island January day, damp, grey, cool. When there we always do a bit of a hike past this small lake and up into the woods—always an invigorating and calming adventure. I’m thinking that on this particular trek the camera I was carrying was my iPhone, and as we passed by the lake I took a quick snap. When viewing this image later at home, I was struck by its sense of calm (the warm toning was added to enhance this), possibly coming close to mystical. At any rate, a magical place.
Thanks to Paul for the nudge
I captioned this image as undisclosed location a bit tongue-in-cheek. Just looking at it I cannot unequivocally say which of the local parks I was in when I made the image. I’m sure it’s noted on the negative sleeve and even possibly tagged in my Lightroom library so I could easily find out. But the location is beside the point, and assigning it as undisclosed or unknown is more mystical which suits the feeling I get from this image well.
Making pictorial-esque images is a theme that runs through the VI group, although techniques employed vary from person to person. I’m scheduling this post and my previous post on my use of the Holga; as they appear I’m hoping they will prompt posts from Mike, Francis and Kim.