Photo Books

St. George’s Day, Georgia from
Wonderland A Fairy Tale Of The Soviet Monolith by Jason Eskenazi

By now you figured I gave up. I haven’t. I have been more domestic lately because my wife has been teaching two graduate classes for the past few weeks. When I have free time I have been keywording my Lightroom catalog, not blogging.

I have always enjoyed photography books. It is how I have learned about the medium and history. It is how I learned about photographs that go beyond the typical fair I was seeing in newspapers.

Until recently, photo books have been exploding on to the photo scene. Technology has democratized printing. Presses in Asia have made it cheaper to print a book. There are a ton of books out there. I tend to be particular in what I purchase. Aren’t we all?

Wonderland, the book photographed above, is a gem I have had for some time. It is one of a few focusing on the former Soviet Union that I own. Eskenazi’s singularity of vision draws me in and holds me throughout. The wide angles, complex compositions, depth of layers are all presented in glorious black and white. The photographs are showcased with a sparse design which helps the viewer engage the rich and diminutive book.

At this point I would say go out and get a copy, but they are sold out. I thought about this book today after an email from a friend reminded me of it. I am glad he mentioned Eskenazi’s skills because it had been too long since I read this book.

Reading a photo book on a nice summer night in the middle of a pandemic helps quiet the noise of the world that is rattling around my head.

More later.

Digital Spot Tone

Note: I let life and some projects around the house get in the way of posting.

For the past couple of weeks I have been going through folders with names like: Go Through This, Scanned Film, Photos for LR, etc. I started doing this because it seemed like a logical first step in trying to restart my creativity.

I have been re-editing a variety of scanned images. These scans were made on Flextight X1 scanner and were all made about 6 or 7 years ago. I had intended to work on these images before now, but life happens. So, I have been opening images in Photoshop, zooming into about 200%, and using the spot healing brush to remove dust and scratches. Each image, which I scanned rather larger, takes about 40 to 60 minutes to clean up. Then, I color correct and tone the image. A folder named to LR is where they end up before I eventually move them to they new home.

Why use film? This process is tedious and mind numbing. For a variety of reasons I have always used cheaper film, which does have a certain look to it. If I want to use film, I want it to look like film. In terms of color negative film the choice boils down to Kodak Portra (which has a certain look). Or Fujifilm Pro 400H (which I never use because it is expensive) or Superia 200 (which I use in bright light) or Superia 800 (which I used if I needed faster film). At some point I probably switched to Superia 400 (to split the difference).

I use Fujifilm because it is the film I used back in my newspaper days. Also, Portra is popular right now, and I tend to go against the popular methods of working photographers. That means I use 35mm cameras without fill flash and Fujifilm. There are a lot of film photographers out there using larger formats and fill flash. They also tend to use Portra. Most times, if I reach for film, it will be black and white, and probably Kentmere 400, which is cheaper. It looks like black and white film. The grain is a bit stronger, especially when it is pushed. Like I said, if I use film, I want it to look like film.

Unlike many art photographers I do not have a problem with film grain. There are times where I wish I used better film though. I think that would solve my problems.

I have run into some students that feel that dust and scratches on a scan make it a more meaningful picture. This is a falsehood. It just means you are lazy and sloppy. The generation I came up in was more willing to express that idea to each other. I like the idea of the darkroom. The process of spotting a print takes a lot of practice. The spot healing brush in Photoshop makes life so much easier, even though the process is more than a bit dull and repetitive.

More later.

Pink Light

It stormed again yesterday. After the rain stopped the light turned pink as it was setting. Trying to get my phone to translate the light I saw was not the easiest. This is not the photo I wanted to use, but it was the best one to represent what I saw. The one I wanted to turn out does not always turn out. Photography is an unforgiving medium.

I was being lazy using my phone. My camera was upstairs and I was afraid the light might would be gone if I went to get it. That was my excuse at least. Laziness and excuses are what usually usually stops me from grabbing my “real camera” to make a picture. As the days and weeks build up from the last time I made an intentional photograph, it is easy to just use my phone.

This whole post came about via my phone. I made the picture with Lightroom CC and edited with the same software. I am writing this via the WordPress mobile app. Maybe it is a good thing that I just share some truth about my process here. Does it matter that I created it all with my phone?

More later.

It rained last night

Rain knocked over these flowers. Well, I think it is was rain, so I will say it was the rain. Today, while walking the dog, I thought about how these flowers getting knocked by the rain is a good metaphor for life right now.

After updating this site last night, I removed Instagram from my phone, logged out of Facebook and Twitter, and removed their saved passwords from Chrome. If I want to visit one of those sites, it will involve changing passwords, which is probably enough of a roadblock for me right now.

I went on Facebook and Instagram and made a post saying I would not be active on either platform during this summer, then cleared out of there fast so I could not change my mind. I have not deleted any accounts, just left them for a while. Not being on Twitter often has made it easier to leave. It was easier to uninstall Instagram than I thought it would be.

The plan is to post here daily. Shaking off the cobwebs of writing and posting is something that will take some time, but I hope will be worth it in the end. I am turning away from the current social media environment to blog. How retro.

More to come.

Change Happens Slowly

I made the above photograph one night recently while I was walking the dog. The way the light was in the neighborhood struck me so I made a picture with my phone. I usually would have gone home and processed in the image in Lightroom and sent it to Instagram, the one social media platform I find it hard to leave. I took Facebook and Twitter off of my phone and only use them an a Chromebook I have. Doing that helped me get some distance and mental head space. Instagram is visual, so it makes me hard to quit it. Lately though, I am more of a consumer rather than a creator. This has been going on for longer than I want to admit to. It is time to make some changes.

I had been staying off of Facebook pretty well, until the shutdown brought on by Covid-19. I went back in there and dived into a couple of groups around photography. It helped get me through the semester. Now it is summer and I feel like the crossroads of my future are upon me again. More on this to come, but the take away from tonight is I removed Instagram from my phone, I have logged out of Facebook and Twitter. It is time for my social media diet. If I am going to post anything it will be here. If you need to contact me you can always email me (tdleininger at gmail dot com).

I have also closed off my website because it is due for a refresh. The look of this page may change over time, or it may not. We will see. I have done this before without much success, but I have a goal for the summer, and social channels distract me from the goal.

More to come…