Cryogenic Photography

model Angel My Darling, hair Victoria Buge, mua Claudia Aguilera

Otzi the Iceman, Han Solo in carbonite,  Mr. Freeze- practical applications of the force of nature known as freezing.   Photographers have made use of ice as well.   Ralph Eugene Meatyard created images evocative of the splatter paintings of Jackson Pollock where paint was frozen in ice and photographed.   The notion of leaving photographs in the hands of the elements is a fine one- why photoshop in a questionable looking burn on an image if it looks more real and interesting to do a controlled burn on a print?

model Angel My Darling, hair Victoria Buge, mua Claudia Aguilera

A print can be frozen, with the ice acting as a “real world photoshop” filter, and since solid objects can interplay with photographic prints if they are frozen together in one space, negative space in the image can be filled up with something relevant to the image, like a supporting graphic element, or something fun and quirky, such as rainbow sprinkles or toys.  It’s a unique treatment for those photos that may need that extra oomph, or at the very least, a fun way to spend an afternoon with the kids.

You will need:

  1. Photographic print
  2. A pan to accommodate the size of your print and at least ½ inch deep
  3. Water
  4. Objects to place in the water, anything from leaves to jacks to foil- your choice
  5. A freezer

Step 1:

Select a photo that isn’t too cluttered in its composition.  Place in your tray.

Step 2:

Fill tray partway with water, enough to submerge the photo.  You’ll need the extra space later if your photo freezes on top of the water, rather than partway in it.

Step 3:

Add some bling.  Leaves, dust, candy, whatever works.  Keep in mind, whatever you add is likely to drift during the freezing process

Step 4:

Place the tray in the freezer and go run some errands.  No worries about “over freezing” this concoction.

Step 5:

Check out the product, and if the photo has gravitated to the surface, add water and refreeze until your image is sufficiently encased in ice.

Step 6:

Rephotograph.  Then experiement.  Crack the ice and rephotograph the result.  Allow the image to partially melt and rephotograph.

Chances are the initial photographic result will be a little flat, but add a dash of contrast to the images in the computer.  Serve chilled.

model Angel My Darling, hair Victoria Buge, mua Claudia Aguilera


Social Networking for Artists Pt. 1

colored cyanotypes (7 of 9)Social networking is the most evil of necessary evils of the modern creative.  So much of it is people jumping up and down begging for attention like starved baby birds.  There is a science to this though, and when you manage your networks properly there is some payoff.  I thought I’d put together a few thoughts in hopes that my experience is useful to others.

1. Some networks are better than others – Facebook business/ fan pages are now filtered because they want people to pay for posts to be seen when previously it was a chronological list of all posts.  On the flipside, twitter and tumblr remain chronological boards where everything is seen and not censored.  Tumblr allows all kinds of content which is banned on other networks.  Google+ has a vibrant photographer community and, along with WordPress, images posted and tagged properly will show up front and center in google searches.  That’s a huge advantage over fb posts which end up lost in the mush.  I wanted to see other hand-colored cyanotypes on google and was surprised to see my own images as the top search choices, because I’d tagged them right and put them in the right place.

2. All the networks have different audiences- so it’s a bit of a handicap to focus only on one or two locations.  At the very least figure out a couple “starter” networks and feed the rest from there- this WordPress goes to twitter, tumblr and my fb fan page when it posts, and the twitter feeds into my personal fb page.

3. interact with your audience in a positive way- I cannot understand artists who take time out of their day to argue online with people who may be their fans.  That’s a turn-off in the same way as complaining about one’s personal woes or constantly promoting themselves is.   There is a model I’d be interested in hiring if she didn’t post about how great she was several times a day, and trying to hawk merchandise or fund a kickstarter or whatever.

Talk to people like people, be interested in them as they were interested in you.

More next week!

Summer Schedule

Just a quick note of upcoming travel and events:

May 24-26- Palm Springs and Los Angeles.  I’m working with a fantastic designer named Marcel Dejure who I met at the Hive show I was in a couple months back.  Also gonna have more beach fun with the kids and gallery schmoozing!

May 31- one day in Seattle with my son Patrick!

June and July- lots of teaching – my classes are DSLR Basics (Tempe), Beginning Photography/ Product Photography/ Portrait Photography (Chandler), Cartooning/ Making Manga/ Masks/ Watercolor/ Pastels/ Bookmaking for Teens (Mesa Arts Center).

August- Solo exhibition at Chandler’s Vision Gallery

And then?  I don’t know!

Glass Olive starring in Scream Queens 2.0 Concept to Completion

Glass Olive starring in Scream Queens 2.0 Concept to Completion

After the Scream Queens gallery show I got a bunch of new ideas that I hadn’t considered, and quickly sketched them out. One of the easier ideas involved a horrific transformation of hands. Model Glass Olive executed the drawing with the kind of emotional verve many other models almost refuse to put in their images. Surely all the joggers and bikers along the bridge in Portland thought she was having a seizure as she rocked back and forth, staring at her hands in horror.

The paws are from the dog stinking up the area under my desk right now, Worf the Queensland Heeler.

The Million Deaths of Professional Photography

There’s a couple items in my social network feeds about the death of professional photography.

One is Marissa Mayer’s idiotic quote:  “There is no such thing, really, as professional photographers… everything is professional photographers.”

That mangled syntax may reflect the way her brain collapsed under incorrect assumptions.  Because I don’t know any commercial photoshoot that could function completely on mobile device images.  Or print magazine like W or Vogue or Arizona Highways or National Geographic that would accept mobile device images.  Or scientific or medical or forensic outlets that would use cell phones for their imaging needs.  Or ANY sports photographer, or on and on and on.

Or jpgs that have remotely the same quality and uses as RAW data.  Or movies shot on ipads and cell phones that look remotely like video shot with interchangeable lenses meant for specific effects, like the epic wide angle Steven Spielberg imagery or the uncomfortable closeness that Darren Aronofsky’s telephoto work does.

It’s astonishing that a CEO of a tech company would be so clueless as to the wide array of photography.

But I will give her credit for, several years too late, revising flickr from the absolute mess it was.  Here’s a bit of the press conference showing the old flickr and it’s revised state.

The second bit was a quote from an upcoming book Who Owns The Future by Jaron Lanier.

“Here’s a current example of the challenge we face…At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”

Well, Kodak isn’t Instagram, and they don’t make the same products- Instagram is better compared to Lomo, because their product is similar.  To say Instagram is the “face” of digital photography is pure hyperbole.  More like “it’s a significant tool used by amateur photographers for social networking and creative purposes.”  See above how useless it is for professional photography purposes.  If anyone is the “face” of digital photography it would be Adobe, and Canon, and Nikon, and RED, Sony, Fuji, Olympus etc. way before Instagram.  But the author wanted to make a comparison and drew a line from A to X ignoring what was in betwixt.  Or rather, he knew nothing about the photographic world.

And why is Kodak bankrupt?  Because they fucked up.  They made the same stuff without adapting for the future and when they did invest in new tech, like Advantix, it was stupid.

I really don’t want there to be any mistaking this post as a rant against mobileography- in fact I am heavily in favor of anything that helps people foster a love of photography, express themselves, get images of their lives out to the greater world (for example, Syria).  But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that autotuned vocals makes everyone into Pavarotti.

I Got A New Photo Backpack

I Got A New Photo Backpack

My old National Geographic traveler backpack has gotten pretty dodgy and it was time to make a change. But like a man who keeps dating women who all look the same, I didn’t want to make a HUGE change. So lo and behold, Amazon had an offbrand photo pack that was 1/2 the price and basically the same thing, which sturdier padding.
When I was a young photographer I would spend money on accessories left and right, under some false assumption that accessories made my pictures any better. But there is some truth that when you are comfortable with your gear, photography is that much more enjoyable.