climb higher, go farther, do more.
one more installment of black-and-white

I took most of these photographs months and months ago (some as long ago as April or May) and only recently developed the rolls. Imagine my excitement as I put three rolls through the chemicals, not knowing what would appear once finished because I had no recollection of when I shot the rolls, or where! I found photographs from New York City, Cape Cod, and Acadia. Here are a few that I scanned and uploaded.

arches on Broadway

Bridges have always fascinated me, appealing to my appreciation of geometry, math, and architecture, not to mention my deep wonder at how these structures support so much weight. I love the repetition of arches into the distance, and I also love the way the small aperture allows for good detail even on the far reaches of the bridge. The cars turning onto this street are heading toward… One can only guess!

preparing for lunch

The dark interior of this Indian restaurant provided an interesting shot, and I remember using the table as a makeshift tripod so that I could use a slower shutter speed. I also remember thinking that the restaurant would soon fill up with hungry patrons, but it never did. Brooke and I were the only ones in there that afternoon.

i’m going to get you with my crab claws!

Yes, definitely weird. I think the photo’s title says plenty.

early morning on cadillac

I took this photograph early one morning in June as John and I waited for the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Although no one else made the hike up, as we did, a number of people waited in their cars on this chilly morning. Those who ventured out ended up backlit by the increasing light, and I captured this group with a crescent moon high above.

pop at hunter’s

This is another photo from Acadia, though I took this portrait of Pop much later in the summer, during our August visit and a trip to Hunter’s Beach.

the evolution of photography as an art form

It’s been a while since my last update. It’s not been because I haven’t been taking any photos, though. Film has dominated a lot of my photography as of late, and I have not yet had a chance to scan the negatives to share here.

It’s been amazing to me how much time it takes to create a photograph in the darkroom. The processes of using filters to play to contrast, dodging and burning, cropping, enlarging, etc., which take seconds in Photoshop, can consume hours in the darkroom. I am so used to instant results, from viewing a photograph on the LCD of my camera to seeing the effects of image editing (not to mention the ever-powerful command-z), that I have gained immense respect and admiration for those who made their living in film photography. What an amazing art form that is slowly fading from our experience.

The digital revolution has made photography more accessible to the masses, however, and for that I cannot complain. Last week, the New York Times ran an article about the decline of professional photography. Advances in digital media have allowed anyone with the will and desire to produce images worthy of trade on the consumer level. Stock photography is rapidly replacing commissioned pieces, reducing the field of those who might refer to themselves as photographers amidst a simultaneous explosion in the collection of people who are engaged in the art of photography.

But today’s photographic art differs from that of yesterday. My own lack of experience in this media limits what I may contribute to the next step of this conversation, but I sense great loss as this field experiences its own rebirth (I feel that there is something to my writing this on Easter Sunday). Photography today rewards those with technical savvy, the ability to digitally manipulate images, and the ability to press and hold a button. Whereas composition, anticipation, and perfection ruled the roost, autofocus, continuous shooting, and a whole host of auto-functions make photography a thoughtless task for most. We are at a point where many people hold the thought that “anyone can do this” and if that really is the case, is there less value placed on photography as an art form?

venturing into the world of film

I’ve done it! I shot a couple of rolls of 35mm black and white film, developed them, and created some contact sheets. Next week, I learn how to enlarge! I don’t know how to convey my excitement here(!) without throwing exclamation points left and right, but too many exclamation points just looks stupid. What you see here are not printed photographs but unedited images created from scanned negatives. (Thanks, Todd!)

Getting into the darkroom has been on my list of things to do for a long time. After shooting in digital for so long, it’s amazing to pick up a camera and have to do everything manually, including winding the film after every photograph I take. I love handling the film, rolling it myself, and inhaling the chemicals as I bathe the film and bring it into the world. It is through this process that I truly come to understand and appreciate those who describe photography as “creating images,” rather than simply “taking photos.”

Film photography, as wonderful as it already is, provokes quite a bit of anxiety. Not being able to review each image on an LCD screen means that it may be a while before I see the result of my efforts. Film also carries with it an unspoken need to be frugal. I can’t just take as many photographs as I want. Film costs money! And it runs out after 36 frames! Then there is the reality of having to create all the settings and focus manually. Imagine being outside during the winter, trying to take photographs of a fiancée who gets cold very easily, and fumbling around with the camera just to take one photograph…

I’ve been shooting in manual on my digital camera for a few months now, paying more and more attention to the interplay of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, but nothing makes me learn how they work better than the pressure of shooting in film. I’ve been recording the lighting conditions, aperture, and shutter speed for each photograph, experimenting a bit with the settings while using the built-in light meter as a guide. Fred Parker’s Ultimate Exposure Computer has also been immensely helpful. The goal is to be able to get the correct exposure without the light meter, but I am a long ways off from that!

On another note pertaining to stress, imagine my disappointment when I developed my very first roll last week only to find out that a damaged shutter curtain in the SLR I had inherited rendered my film unexposed and imageless. Yes, 36 photographs down the drain. I had an inkling as I shot that something was wrong, especially as the shutter made more and more weird noises to the point where it stuck and only released when I advanced the film. I took the camera to Nippon Photo Clinic, a highly recommended camera repair store. The man took one look at my camera, shook his head and made a face, and told me to go buy a new camera. But I’m a graduate student with no money!…

See the rest of the album here.