Category Archives: B&W

First exhibition print

This is my first print in an exhibition. I do not remember much of the details but it was in Coventry probably around 1976, could have been a Coventry Photographic Society annual show. I was out one Sunday morning on an old WW2 bomb site in the Hillfields area when these kids came along with their dog. A few quick shots and they continued on their way.

Camera was a Pentax Spotmatic F with 50mm F1.8 lens Not sure which film but probably Tri-X or FP4 developed in ID11 at 1:1

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The Human Document

Last week I discovered the Mead Gallery, at the University of Warwick, are showing an exhibition – “The Human Document, the photography of persuasion from 1930s America to present day”. As it includes around 100 prints from the FSA (Farm security Administration) I just had to see it. And what an absolute thrill it was. Having studied the FSA photography 37 years ago as an undergraduate I just could believe that I was finally standing in front of prints by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Arthur Rothstein, John Vachon, Marion Post Wolcott and others. To see the prints and examine close up – as all photographers do – was overwhelming; the quality of the images is superb and you can see detail that is not possible in even the best reproduction.

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The biggest surprise is that Mead have not been shouting about this exhibition from the roof tops. The other surprise, or maybe not,  was that very few people were there, maybe 5 in the hour and a half it took get round. I would have thought there would be queues of college courses bringing students. Maybe they do not teach about the FSA now? Is documentary – photographing the real – not considered as art?  That was certainly one comment I heard in the gallery, “…can’t understand why the exhibition is here because it’s not art”.

migrant-mother-and-child

 

That is the second time the ‘art’ and ‘documentary’ thing has come up. For some documentary is not art because it deals with real life or is ‘too real’ for modern photography students. Has the conceptual overtaken photography so that documentary has become just too passé? I sincerely hope not because in these times of rapid political change we need photographers to document and question what is happening.

The modern photography included works by Paul Graham, Chris Killip and others. I thought that theses two fitted in the overall theme but the other photographers seemed out of place. They seemed to be trying to produce something more than a document and as such lost impact. I heard a visitor say that they looked staged, false, not authentic which was an interesting comment.

plates2What is evident is the enduring power of the FSA images, the stark fact that they are equally applicable today as they were 60 years ago. There have been similar photos from migrant camps in Calais and other places and I am sure there are images of poverty and desperation everywhere if you take the time to look. History repeats itself,

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Trial of B&W pigment prints

Feedback from the Great Dome Art Fair included a number of requests for smaller sized prints of the B&W series “Fractured Landscapes”. Making smaller silver based prints takes as much time as the larger prints and uses almost the same amount of materials.

Trying to keep costs down is becoming crucial as the price and film and paper continues to rise sharply. There has to be another way to make good quality prints with the same archival qualities as correctly processed gelatin silver prints.

I have always said that if I make images on film then I will use conventional wet printing. I stick by that but I have decided if there is another way that produces high quality archival prints then it is worth investigating as an alternative.

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This is a photograph of a trial print – it looks a million times better in reality!

Looking at the longevity of prints using pigment inks on cotton rag paper Wilhelm Imaging Research say that they will last around 100 years which is reassuring.

Having completed trials on Hahnemühle 100% cotton, smooth fine art paper I am impressed by the image quality and the neutral blacks. The aim now to produce a series designed for 250mm square frames. They will be available in September 2016.

 

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New work – Great Dome Art fair

The Great Dome Art Fair is fast approaching and I am in the process completing the first series in my Fractured Landscape project to be launched at the Dome. The gelatin silver prints will be around 28cm square in frames 48cm square. Each print is processed to archival standards and mounted on archival board with an archival over mount or matt.

Here are two samples from a recent outing. Please note: these are scans of the negatives and do not represent the much higher quality of the finished gelatin silver print.

BE-260616-4-008-e1-s_CR BE-260616-3-009-e2-s-cr

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Working on the new “Farmwork” book

I am working on the next book from CRB which is due out in June. Just spent many hours indexing all 639 contact sheets from the “Farmwork” project ready for the final edit. The photographs were taken between 1984 and 1986. Looking through them brought back lot of memories. From all the snow pictures it looks like January 1986 was cold!

Kate, 75 years, picking heads off tulips, Lincolnshire. Farmwork.

Kate, 75 years, picking heads off tulips, Lincolnshire. Farmwork.

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