And while I’ve been having tons of fun, the reason that prompted this trip is I have some photos from Haiti displayed at Figment, an art festival. It’s a free festival on Governor’s Island (that takes a free ferry to get to). It runs this weekend, so if you’re in New York and want something to do, you should check it out. There’s a bunch of other cool, interactive art projects including a mini golf course (and the free ferry gives you a great view of downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty).
I like collecting old cameras. I mainly get them at antique stores. I have only three requirements: they have to be under $10, they have to look cool, and they have to work.
Most cameras I come across do work. If you think about it there isn’t much to go wrong. A little lever pushes a spring which pops open a shutter. No complicated gizmos or electronics to break. Just light hitting a negative; photography at its most basic. And that’s what I love about old cameras.
So about a month ago I found a really cool looking Kodak Brownie Super 27 that takes 127 film. This is the smaller version of roll film, though still larger than 35mm. I had a few rolls lying around that I’d gotten as a gift years ago. Turns out they were three years expired, but I figured what the hell.
I walked around campus, photographing some of the architectural attempts at 60s modern design. I had two choices for aperture – big hole or little hole. 12 frames, that’s it. It’s nice to have restrictions.
Possibly more exciting than shooting on film again was going back in the darkroom. Through my friend Ali I managed to crash the campus darkroom for free, and develop the negatives. I hadn’t been in a darkroom for a few years, though I have my own enlarger and everything and vow to one day live in a place that has a closet for a darkroom. The smell of developer was wonderful.
I scanned the negatives using just a regular flatbed scanner, inverted them, and then adjusted the levels to get a decent print. That’s the only Photoshop work done. Everything else is all from a 40 year old camera and some expired film.
The latest cover of Esquire that’s coming out, featuring Megan Fox, wasn’t shot with a still camera but with the RED ONE, the super inexpensive, super high-def movie camera.
Basically Megan acted for 10 minutes, which they filmed on the RED, and then pulled out the best frames. My first thought was doesn’t that defeat the purpose of capturing a moment and photography, and won’t this lead to lazy photography because basically you’re shooting 24 pictures a second, so you know you’ve got something. Plus, at 24 frames per second that’s over 14,000 photos to edit!
I first read about this on Chase Jarvis’ blog. Then this morning it was on A Photo Editor, so I decided to look more into it and it’s actually way cooler than it originally sounded and has some unique potential. First, the photographer behind the cover is Greg Williams, whom I later remembered did one of my favorite photo series ever in the book Bond On Set, which has great set photography from Casino Royale.
Secondly, this wasn’t just a shoot with the end goal of getting a cover photo. The 10 minutes they shot was on sets with a loose narrative, which they’re editing down to 4 minutes and putting on Esquire’s site next month.
But lastly, which I think is the coolest, is you get these really cool, Harry Potter-esque moving photos, or Motos, as Williams is calling them. While this may be the first cover to be shot on RED, Williams has been playing with this technique since Quantum of Solace.
Pretty awesome, right? Movie posters, National Geographic, photojournalism – there’s all kinds of applications for this, to have a little expanded slice of life. Now we just need digital paper to slap this stuff anywhere.
I never thought I’d see the day, but I’ve finally gotten a pretty good hold of Photoshop, dare I say an expert intermediate user. But that hasn’t come without pain, mainly in my shoulder from hours of sitting, coming up with a “look” for the Haiti photos. I blame it all on the Aeron chair, or lack there of.
I had an Aeron chair for about a year. Sort of complicated story, but I had borrowed it from a professor for a prop in my film, but then he went off to direct a movie so I held onto it, and then he came back and I had to give it up. So now I’m back in my old, crappy chair that I haven’t used in, well, a year and now my shoulder hurts.
But I guess no pain, no gain. Yeah right, I’m getting a new chair.
So here are some photos that I’ve put up from the first batch. They’re from when we first landed and went straight to Cite Soleil. It was probably one of the most surreal experiences. It literally is like the edge of the world. Amazingly the kids were really playful and smiling. I guess they got a kick out of a few white guys walking through their camp. They would keep yelling, “Hey You!,” probably the only English they know.
They really got a kick of having their picture taken and then looking at it. Digital cameras – breaking cultural barriers.
Here are a few more photos (all the photos are on my Flickr page):
Here’s a complete special that aired on the BBC. Seven Photographs that Changed Fashionfollows photographer Rankin as he tries to recreate 7 iconic images. The series is chopped up into 8 parts, roughly one photo per clip, and you can find them all on Robert Benson’s site above.
The show is definitely worth a watch. Rankin (one word name should give you a warning) was a bit of a whiner, especially when shooting on film. And I’m sorry to give you this spoiler but I was shocked to find he was not gay when he said one of the models was his girlfriend. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.
So putting Rankin aside, there’s definitely a lot of goodies to learn and pick up in this special.
As for the end result, some photos captured the essence of what made the original iconic while others totally missed the mark. The Richard Avedon original is the one I think is furthest off target.
Avedon’s photo has a surreal quality to it. The lighting is soft but high key. While the elephants were chained to the floor, which is not cool, they were still more featured. There’s such a huge contrast between the model and the animals.
The most striking difference, which I think makes Avedon’s photo so successful, is the white sash. It adds a stillness and statuesque look to the model that just ins’t there in Rankin’s. The only similarity between the two photos is two elephants and a gorgeous model.
One of the more interesting observations in the show is how shooting with film affects the set and model, especially when using an 8×10 camera. With these cameras you only get one shot off before you have to reload, which takes a few minutes. The way everyone works is completely different and in the end that causes a different image.
Going back to Rankin, while shooting with the 8×10 camera he doesn’t actually shoot anything. Having an assistant set up the image and press the shutter when you say, “take the picture” doesn’t really count in my book. It goes back to my curiosity as to why magician’s get all the credit when it’s the lovely assistant that’s getting sliced and diced.
Either way, I think the 8×10 photo-shoot was the most successful and is split up between the two clips below.