Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"Straight" Photography

When I was in my first year of study, a very wise woman (Ellie Smith)
once told me to stop dicking around in the darkroom and instead to
concentrate on WHAT and especially HOW I was shooting. When I think
about it, together with a meeting with Lothar Albrecht, that has
probably had a more profound effect on me creatively than anything else
I can think of.

I meet Lothar (http://www.lagalerie.de/) whilst in Germany and to say
it was a humbling experience is to put it very much mildly. I had a
portfolio presentation at his gallery and it put that particular body
of work into perspective quite violently. To be honest, it shattered me
emotionally and forced me to re-evaluate my ideas and especially how I

Quite often I'll find myself drifting and those two moments REALLY pull
me back in line.

It got to the point when I was studying (in combination with laziness)
that I'd set the colour filters on the enlarger to 50M (Grade 2), do
one test strip on one image and if ALL the following images didn't look
right then they obviously weren't shot right.

This manifested itself again in a profound love of shooting slide
films. The films are VERY unforgiving of mistakes and I liked this

Even now, 90% of what I shoot is through a 50mm lense (or 80mm on the
MF cameras) which is very close to the human eye (ie. what you see is
what the camera sees). The B&W is only filtered with a red filter and
the 35mm colour is polarised. All studio work is "straight" and I will
normally only pull out a longer lense (135mm and 150mm) on the
occasional portrait shot.

Lately I've been doing a bit of digital manipulation on images but
mainly to tidy up and/or to muck around with tonality. I work (that is
- in the real world!) a lot with Photoshop and subtlety is much more
attractive to me than the infamous 'Van Gogh' button.

I do however find it extremely ironic that darkroom technique is seen
as 'craftmanship' whereas digital manipulation is considered

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