I got a chance to edit a few more of my favorite images from my Presidents Day trip to New Orleans and back.
I’m really excited to see that my digital camera with its new lens served me really just as well as my favorite film cameras. Of course, the resolution isn’t as high as the medium format negatives I’ve grown used to, but without access to a super high-resolution scanner, it’s a moot point anyway.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m really satisfied with digital for the types of photos on this type of on-the-move photoshoot. As usual, I wish I’d pulled over to make even more!
I had President’s Day off last Monday, so I decided to take off Friday too and make it a long weekend. I have been working on a rural Iowa photography project for about two years now and people are always telling me that my work reminds them of photos of the Southern United States. So Ethan and I went on a road trip, taking our time and stopping at any small towns that looked interesting on our way down to New Orleans, Louisiana.
This winter I was able to use the university’s Hasselblad camera to continue my rural Iowa photography project over break. My goal was to shoot about 10 rolls of film in the five weeks but I ended up shooting only about two and a half, one still being unfinished inside the camera.
My motivation was definitely effected by the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my images for a month after shooting them because I lacked access to the school’s scanner. My sudden loss of interest made me doubt my long-term commitment to this project and also how sustainable it would be after I gradate in May, losing many of the tools I use.
Regardless, I sat down and scanned my two finished rolls of film on the first day of school and the good images reenergized me. Though I’m open to new ideas, I think I’ll continue this project until the end of the semester.
At the same time, I would like to expand on this project and push it forward. This semester, my goal is to keep working with the same rural Iowa themes and motifs but adding more portraits. I’m not sure yet whether I would like to capture them street photography style (which sounds funny considering they’re rural) or planned/staged yet. I’m not even certain I want to keep working completely on the Hasselblad. I’m considering switching to one of the school’s 4×5 large format cameras or (gasp) a DSLR.
A few weeks ago, some of my work was shown in on online group exhibition called “Auras” on Don’t Smile, a women’s photography blog. I had never received that kind of recognition for my photography before and it was an honor to see my photographs alongside work from talented artists from a range of experience levels.
I realized I hadn’t previously posted anything about this project, though it was completely analog, and decided I wanted to share my process on the blog.
I created the body of work, Artifacts, during a 4×5 large format photography class. My great grandmother had recently died and my family was beginning to clean out her home. Through photography, I hoped to document her house as it was before anything was moved. But equally important, I wanted to find a way to represent an almost spiritual feminine presence that I imagined I could still feel in its spaces.
This lead me to incorporate photogram techniques. Photograms are images created by placing objects darkroom paper and exposing the paper to light. The spots where the objects sit on the paper blocking the light remain white. The parts of the paper that recieve direct exposure to light turn black during development.
I had seen Man Ray’s photograms (which he called Rayographs) and had made similar ones, though rudimentary, in my first darkroom class by dumping all the contents of my backpack onto the paper.
I had not seen any work, however, where photogram techniques were used in combination with images taken on a camera.
I experimented with semi-transparent materials (so they would not completely block out the images) like salt, plastic wrap, artificial flowers, and lace. In the dim red glow of darkroom safelights, I strategically placed the objects on top of the paper (either 11×14″ or 16×20″) where they would interact with different parts of compositions in the images. After exposing, I developed my prints normally.
My artist statement:
During any life event, it is easy to inadvertently obstruct moments by
becoming too engrossed in recording devices. But without photographs or
other memory aids, one must rely wholly on flawed human memory to recall
This photoseries is an experiment in capturing memories retroactiv
ely.I grew up visiting great grandmother’s house almost every day. When I was
there, I never thought to pull out a camera to
preserve special little moments — my grandma cooking, doing laundry, working in her shed, or relaxing in front of the television —
until it became impossible.
After she passed away, my memories of her began to soften. Sharp impressions rounded out and became warmer, even to the point of idealization. I grew afraid of the important parts disappearing altogether. About a year later, I traveled home to capture this effect and, hopefully, halt its progression.
The human mind preserves few memories perfectly. Mine betrays me, imposing false artifacts on my most pristine recollections, altering them and instilling pleasant fiction. These alterations overwrite parts of even my most permanently fixed memories. Three-dimensional objects positioned on the paper in the darkroom illustrate memory’s failures in a way that cannot be captured through a lens.
I began a photography project about rural Iowa almost a month ago and wanted to share some of my first images.
Initially, I started with a different project idea and was shooting digitally but quickly changed my mind. I decided since it’s my senior year of college I want to spend time making images I love, on film. Especially because after graduation, a lot of the film photography resources and equipment I currently use — cameras, film scanner, darkroom, chemicals — will no longer be readily available to me.
With this project, I want to capture visual markers that reminded me of my hometown. I grew up in Northeast Iowa in a small town named Marquette, but I’m shooting in places I never visited before. Yet, within them, I find many of the same familiar elements. This ubiquitousness is developing into the theme of my project.
I’m shooting all my images on the university’s Hasselblad 501CM, which I chose primarily for its throwback square format. They have a great kit with three lenses but I typically use the “normal” 80mm lens (f/2.8) for my work.
Settings, focusing, and film winding are all completely manual, which I personally enjoy. There also is no light meter, but the free Android app LightMeter has always served my needs. The iPhone app is called myLightMeter Free.
So far, I’ve been using Kodak Ektar, a relatively saturated film, for all my exposures because I think its colors the nostalgic feel I’m seeking to create.
This project is still in its beginning stages and there is room for the concept to grow and change. If you have any location ideas or suggestions for my project, please let me know in the comments.
To mix things up, I wanted to try using my Lomography Diana F+ in pinhole mode. I had never made a pinhole image before and I thought it would be a break from the formal images I’ve been working on for a semester-long project. (Some are posted on my Instagram.)
I shoot much more casually with my toy camera because the results are so unpredictable. It allows me to stop thinking and make images just for myself.
Plus, it’s really easy. The Diana can instantly be converted into a pinhole by removing the lens, then switching the shutter to bulb mode and the aperture to pinhole mode, f/150.
The exposure times for 400 speed film were listed right in the Diana manual, so I chose Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film to keep things simple. Of course, I could have done the math and then factored in reciprocity failure instead but Lomography’s approximate times served my purpose.
I used a tripod for all of my images. To avoid camera shake, I covered up the pinhole with my left hand then depressed the shutter and inserted the plastic piece that holds it down with my right hand, based on a suggestion from this Flickr forum. I uncovered the pinhole to expose the film and when I wanted to stop my exposure, I covered the pinhole with a finger again before letting the shutter back up.
I developed the roll of film by hand and I was surprised at how well my images were exposed. They all had the soft, dreamy feel I wanted which was enhanced by the nostalgic feel of black and white film.