Sunday, August 31, 2008

So back to the view camera project. The plan i thought up was reworked when i realized how much money it would cost as well as the importance of aesthetics. I decided on going right into instant color film because the photos being in color are very important to me. Furthermore sheet film (which would have to be developed elsewhere) for the camera for 75$ for 10 sheets. The only possibility was with Fuji FP-100c color instant film ($35.99 for 10 sheets). 

I took the camera to N. American St right below Lehigh Ave because there is this dump that has glorious mountains of trash which so elegantly tower over some over  grown weed-trees behind a rotting tall green fence with barbed wire at the top. 

I was out there for 10-20 minutes just setting up the camera before the first police car stopped by to investigate. The two cops first asked if I was shooting  a movie, then asked if they could be in it, then  remembered that it was against their duties as officers of the law to appear as officers of the law in my movie which i wasn't even making. I had a few more run-ins with other concerned/curious folks of N. American St but thats not really what this blog is supposed to be about is it?
Anyway i wasted about 5 pictures- three are white, one is black, one is blue. I finally got the hang of it  and have about 4-5 pictures that i can work with. I then decided i needed more film now that i am getting the hang of reading the light meter and setting the aperture and shutter correctly.

I go back to calumet ready to drop another $35.99 for another 10 pack of film to find out that i had bought the last pack way back when i was there and the two closest locations were Boston or Japan. With the holiday just around the corner the store was closing early, i had 3 hours to find someone that i semi-knew that would be willing to drive to Cambridge pick up the film and wait about 5-7 hours for me to get there as I had convinced a friend with a car that a road-trip to Boston is just what we need right now. Sadly it didn't happen. 

So because of this I have taken the project in a bit of a new direction. The project is a kind of log of events, images, thoughts, and contemplations all generally about the ideas of large format photography, particularly how its being treated with digital photography, the photographing of the landscape and a few things in between. 
More to come...


After the north philly night time shooting i went to europe for 18 days and shot some landscapes there. There is really only one that i would like to included in this blog because of its dire relevancy to the contemporary industrial landscape and i feel the photo itself works better in a singular setting. Here it is:

This photo was taken in Antwerpen, a Flemish city of Belgium. The 6 cranes are only there now as a sort of decoration, they aren't being used for anything except a place to hang up some holiday decorations. If you look really close (in front of the 5th crane from the left) you can see my traveling partner, Jenna along with out native Antwerpen friend Tony, who took us in and showed us around. Noticing the people really gives you an idea of how colossal this sight was. The cranes were huge!!!! The cranes stood on the edge of the waterfront of the river Schelde.
I may or may not rework the photo to make it fit a bit better in the other images i am showing in this blog. The cranes don't really look isolated as much as thy look cramped. Having the view camera in Europe would have been also very inconvenient considering my backpack was huge already and we were doing a great deal of walking. However, it would have definitely made for a better photograph, as you can see from the curvature of the earth at the bottom. 



So, summer is over and the school year has finally begun so I am able to use the view camera. During the summer I continued exploring the idea of a contemporary landscape with an emphasis on the representation of industry, voyeurism and a bit of surveillance. I spent some time shooting in the northeast part of Philadelphia, (primarily Kensington and Fishtown) at night. The photographing is happening at night because that is the time when the landscapes seem the most isolated. At night there are no people around and the buildings are empty- this is when they really come alive and you can truly experience the landscapes of Kensington and Fishtown. There is also something about the landscape emerging out of blackness that is really important to me because I want the image to exist as an individual moment instead of a component of an entire block, street, or even a city. In this way i suppose there is a kind of personification going on. Anyway. Here are a few photos: 

Because these locations are in a shitty area I find the photos are taken best with a small digital camera, no flash and a fast bike or a friend's car. These aren't photos I can take with the view camera, sadly because its just to great a risk with an expensive camera that i don't even own. I guess the question now, is why? Well, I think the industrial landscape has become important to philadelphia, especially put in context to the specific area i am photographing. As we know, the northern part of philly is changing, and its happening very fast. This area is becoming heavily populated with young artists and musicians, galleries and organizations, coffee houses, thrift store, etc. The question is, what stays and what goes. With all this new culture theres no telling what the neighborhoods really were about. There is also the stigma of the "unsafe neighborhood" which is much less a stigma and just a reality in some parts more than others. The point however, is not the risk (if any) that is being taken to make the image. There is some kind of subtle peacefulness that i found in the outskirts of the city, the endless landscape of nameless factories, industrial establishments and there fences, dumpsters, shitty paint-jobs and broken signs. I feel that maybe its important to pay some kind of homage to what else these newly populated areas have, or had beyond the coffee shops and galleries (which are great too).