It's time for another post about the 52-Rolls Project!
I'm up to week 16 already, can you believe it? Time is flying by!
I spent some time visiting my parents in Dayton before going to the Film Photography Project's 2013 Walking Workshop in Findlay, Ohio. And as usual, there's lots of fun stuff happening around Ma and Pa's house.
Dad took out a couple of trees. He's been on a tree-taking-out kick for a couple of years now. This time he replaced one of them and put down grass seed to fill in the bare spots that used to be under the trees. While I was home, he was watering a couple of times a day to get the seed started.
Pa waters the grass seed
Garrett was outside with him, in supervisor mode.
Garrett supervises all yardwork - I think it's in his contract
Pa got a new lawnmower, too. For when that grass finally comes up!
Pa with his new lawnmower - He's VERY excited about it!
Since Ma's birthday fell the week I was there, WICA and I took Ma to the Golden Corral for the weekend breakfast buffet. Woo hoo!
Pa, Ma, and WICA at the Golden Corral
For some reason only half of the week 16 roll turned out. I have no idea what happened. It's one of the joys of working with film and crappy cameras!
I shot this roll at the end of winter. It was cold, but the small amount of snow we got melted quickly.
There's a sign near my house that I've been meaning to photograph for awhile now. I finally snapped it from the moving car. Not ideal, but I kind of like how it turned out.
The Columbia Pike Plaza sign
I also photographed the little house in our backyard. We're in a rental house and it came with a playhouse built in 2000. The squirrels love it. I love photographing it.
The little house in the backyard
WICA and I took a walk, too. We had the park to ourselves.
For the rest of the abbreviated roll from week 15, check out my Flickr set The 52-Rolls Project: Week 15.
April 28th was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2013. I loaded up my MintyCam with 35mm film and my Zero Image with 120 film and headed out the door.
Pinhole photography is difficult, despite the simplicity of the cameras. At least I struggle with it.
My first attempt at pinhole photography was during a photo class at the Smithsonian. I used a Quaker Oats container and photo paper. The results weren't very good. And that's when I actually GOT results!
I built a matchbox pinhole camera a few years ago and was thrilled to get ANY images on the film.
WICA and the gum tree - From my homemade matchbox pinhole camera
Not to be deterred, I came across the website of Chris Keeney. He's a great resource for all things pinhole, including the MintyCam, a pinhole camera made from an Altoids tin.
I bought a MintyCam from Chris and ran a roll through it for last year's Worldwide Pinhole Day. Success!
Poplar Pond - The MintyCam worked!
To see the entire roll from last year's Pinhole Day, check out my Flickr set WPPD 2012.
The pressure was on for this year. I'm happy to say that both the Zero Image AND the MIntyCam came through with flying colors!
Poplar Pond - Made with the Zero Image Pinhole
Bridge Over Four Mile Run - Made with the MintyCam
All of the photos from Pinhole Day 2013 are in my Flickr set WPPD 2013. Take a peek and let me know what you think.
It seems like we're always hearing about bad habits and how to break them.
Well, I have a habit that's actually good! Every time I leave the house I carry a camera with me. Since I'm working on a 52-Rolls Project this year, the FPP Plastic Filmtastic Debonair is it. I can't believe how quickly time is passing -- and I also can't believe how quickly carrying the Debonair has become second nature.
These are a few photos from week 14.
I love Poplar Pond, a small pond that's part of Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, Virginia. It's an easy walk from my house and I go there twice a week on average.
The bees haven't moved in yet
On the day I made these photos, it was bright but overcast and the colors were beautiful.
The platform at one end of Poplar Pond
An Eastern painted turtle relaxes on a log in the middle of Poplar Pond
Last year, in early May, I discovered that Northern watersnakes were living in the pond. How exciting!
An Eastern painted turtle crawls over a Northern watersnake at Poplar Pond, May 2012.
The day I took the photos for week 13 it was still too early in the season for the snakes to make an appearance. I'm keeping an eye on the place though!
All of the week 13 photos are in The 52-Rolls Project: Week 13 set on Flickr.
Be sure to see what my fellow 52-Rollers are up to over at our blog 52Rolls.net.
The film from my trip to Ohio is starting to come back from the lab. I'm so excited!
WICA and I usually try to get to the Oregon District whenever we're in Dayton. It's an old part of the city and it's got great restaurants, coffee, galleries, and vintage shops. It's also home to Ohio's largest Halloween party. We especially like eating at Blind Bob's. They've got an exciting and very creative menu as well as excellent service.
Radio Station Building
I don't know the name of this building, but because it's got quite a few radio station call letters on the side, I call it the Radio Station Building.
We wandered around other parts of downtown after lunch. This is a brick wall that I love to photograph every time I'm there.
I also love to photograph The Flyover, a large public art sculpture by David Black. This 150 feet long, 43-foot high sculpture is located on a median strip of Main Street between 4th and 5th Streets. It represents the first powered flight made by the Wright brothers. Across the street from The Flyover is a bench with two bowler hats on it, also by David Black.
The Flyover by David Black
A collection of my photos from previous downtown Dayton wanderings is on Flickr in The Streets of Dayton set.
Stay tuned! I'll have more photos soon!
A couple of weeks ago I sold my backup DSLR. It served me well, but I nowadays I'm more interested in using film cameras, especially vintage ones. I really enjoy giving old cameras a new life.
Because I suffer from a moderate case of G.A.S. (aka "Gear Acquisition Syndrome"), I've acquired more than a few new-to-me film cameras. Recently, a friend contacted me to see if I'd like to have a Voigtlander Bessa folding camera. He wrote:
"I found it in my grandparents basement about 15 years ago. It was in with some stuff that belonged to my late great uncle who died in the 60s. It had film when I found it."
How could I say no?! Unfortunately the old film that was in the camera didn't have any images on it when he had it developed.
The camera is in excellent condition. Clearly it had been lovingly cared for.
I put a roll of black and white film through the Bessa on a walk to the library. I stopped at Poplar Pond, one of my favorite photo spots, and shot a few frames.
And my favorite photo from the roll:
Many thanks to Brian for giving me this fabulous camera. I'm loading it up with some color film for my next outing.
I'm pretty much in the habit of taking the Plastic Filmtastic Debonair with me everywhere I go now. Here's week 12 at the grocery store!
Sadly I didn't buy any Cheese Balls.
Recently I went back to Ohio to visit my family and to attend the Film Photography Project's Walking Workshop in Findlay, Ohio. My Mum's birthday is in early April and the FPP event was a few days later so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.
As soon as I got to my parents' house out came the cameras. For these I used a Polaroid SX-70 Sonar and some PX70 Color Protection film from The Impossible Project.
We got Ma a birthday cake from The Cakery. It is one of THE best bake shops on the planet. I swear! Ma's cake was white with white frosting. Even Pa had a piece - and he doesn't eat sweets!
Here are a few of the highlights:
Ma's Birthday Cake
Pa & WICA
At the end of March, snow finally came down on the Washington, DC, area. Better late than never!
With a book due, I loaded the Debonair with some black and white film and walked to the library, taking the roundabout way, of course.
There wasn't much snow, and what did fall melted quickly because of the warm temperature, but there was enough for someone to make this snowman.
As you can see, taping the hell out of the inside of the Debonair hasn't helped one bit. There are still wicked scratches on the film. Funny thing is, it doesn't really bother me. In fact, I kind of like the scratches on this week's roll.
Every night before going to bed, my Dad takes Garrett out. I went out with them over the course of several (very cold!) nights.
Garrett checks all around the house
It was pitch black outside and I shot Lomography Lady Grey B&W 400 film in the Debonair with the Holga flash just to see what I could get.
I couldn't see the numbers in the film counter window to wind on each frame so I took a couple of frames each night and guessed. That's why there are only 10 exposures on the roll. Ten photos for week 10!
The field behind my parents' house is one of my favorite subjects for photos. When I was a kid, the farmer who owned the property kept cows there. I remember how they used to walk quickly to the fence when Dad or one of our neighbors was cutting the grass. We'd dump the freshly cut grass over the fence and they'd eat it.
One summer evening the farmer came to our backyard and asked if I wanted to go and see a calf being born. Heck yes! It was very exciting for a little kid like me.
There was a pond back there, too. Supposedly someone dumped an alligator in it many years ago, but I'm not sure that story is true.
The farmer got rid of the cows and started planting soybeans and winter wheat. He got old and when he died he left the farm to his familly. They sold off a portion of the land to developers. I'm very sad about it. Over the years there have been coyotes, deer, and various birds of prey living there. Now they're starting to come into the backyards of my parents and the neighbors looking for something to eat.
When I shot these photos, I was thinking about how much I liked the winter light on the field. Eventually I'd like to turn them into encaustic paintings.
I enjoy walking on the trails behind our house. I love to see the seasonal changes. Spring is beautiful here in Northern Virginia but it arrives very quickly. You've got to keep an eye on it. One day it's winter and the next day there's a soft green mist in the woods and the leaves are out again.
Most of week 8 was clear and cold, with no sign of early spring at all.
This particular morning, on my way back to the house, I saw a baby stroller sitting off to the side of one of the trails. It hadn't been there a half an hour earlier when I walked by. There wasn't anyone else around. Sometimes people will step off the paved trail and climb over the rocks to get a better view of the water. They'll leave their bikes or strollers at the side of the trail.
But not this morning. I went over to the stroller and it was empty. How strange.
I walked along the same section of trail a couple of days later and it was gone.
Today was spa day for my three cats. They get a spa treatment every two weeks. Treatments include nail clipping, ear cleaning, brushing, and treats.
This is how they spent the rest of the day AFTER their spa treatments.
Truman, half in the sun, half out.
Danny. He HATES flash on cameras.
Howie relaxes in his barrel.
Pretty good life, huh?
As it turns out, the big winter weather event that was predicted for my little corner of the country on Wednesday didn't amount to much. Which is just fine with me. I hate shovelling snow.
I do love taking photos though and I thought I'd snap a couple in the backyard from the patio.
See? No snow.
I used a Polaroid Spectra camera loaded with expired film from The Impossible Project. I snapped a few photos inside the house too.
To see the rest of the photos from Wednesday's snow no-show, check out my Polaroid Spectra Flickr set.
Since the film is ISO 200, and I wanted to shoot on a walk along Four Mile Run, I thought I might give microclicks and multiple exposures a try.
I tried microclicks awhile back on a trip to Key West. I used my Holga and a roll of Lomography Redscale film.
The left and middle frames were microclicked at Fort Zachary Taylor. The frame on the right is an unmicroclicked photo of the southernmost point in the continental United States is claimed to be located in Key West, Florida, at the corner of South Street and Whitehead Street. The redscale film worked really well, but my technique needs some practice.
Fast forward to week 7. These are a few of my favorite photos from the roll. Actually, I was very happy with the whole roll. I might do some more microclick and multiple exposure experimentation with the Debonair. If you'd like to see all 16 frames from week 7, check out my Flickr photostream. And please visit 52Rolls.net to see what my colleagues are up to.
One of the reasons we wanted to rent the house we're in is because of the location. Behind us is Four Mile Run and Glencarlyn Park. It's part of the fantastic trail system here in Arlington County.
Several times a week I go into the park with a camera (or two) and see what I can find. For week five of my 52-Rolls Project, I loaded up the Debonair with some Lomography 200 and walked to the library. It was cold and sunny, just right for the walk up the hill.
Here are some of the highlights from my walk:
My Debonair has been scratching the film badly, but it's not happening on every roll. I took a super-fine sandpaper to the inside edges, and apparently that didn't do the trick, so I taped the hell out of the inside of the camera with gaffers tape. We'll see if that takes care of the scratching problem.
To see the rest of the photos from the week five roll, check out The 52-Rolls Project: Week 5 on Flickr.
And you can see what my colleagues are up to on our group blog 52Rolls.net.
My 52-Rolls Project is humming along so far. Here are two of my favorites from weeks three and four.
WICA looks through a photo book while the boys snooze behind him.
I tried using some Lomography Lady Grey for week three. I also used my Holga flash. I like the vignetting very much.
Is it dry yet?
During week four I went to the laundromat with Dad. While I was checking on the comforter in the dryer, Dad picked up the Debonair and snapped a few exposures on the same frame. I love the way it turned out!
All the photos from the project so far are on Flickr in The 2013 52-Rolls Project With the Plastic Fantastic Debonair collection.
Be sure to check out the great work my colleagues are making over at 52 Rolls.
My sister recently adopted a Siamese cat from The Siamese Cat Rescue Center. He was named Indiana Jones when she got him, but we all call him Indy for short. I finally got to meet Indy while I was back in Ohio visiting my family.
He's a sweet and loving cat who has a lot of energy. And boy does he talk!
Unlike Garrett, my sister's chocolate lab, Indy doesn't mind having his picture taken. He'll even strike a few poses for you.
For week 2 of my 52-Rolls Project, I took the Plastic Filmtastic Debonair on a walk around a couple of Arlington, Virginia, neighborhoods.
This house really stood out. I keep wondering where these people store all these plastic Christmas yard decorations. One of the houses across the street from this one was being renovated and the workers stopped to watch me snap a couple photos. One of them waved and laughed.
I stopped by the library, too, and saw this gorgeous bush with the bright berries on it. You can also see the scratches on the film from the Debonair. I shot this roll before I did anything about rough edges inside the camera.
To finish the roll for week 2, I put a Holga flash on the Debonair and took a few frames inside. I LOVE how the light falls off.
Here's WICA making snacks in the kitchen.
Well, week number one of my 52-rolls project is finished. I feel like I'm off to a good start.
As I mentioned before, I'm using the Plastic Filmtastic Debonair camera from the Film Photography Project store. It's lightweight, simple to use, and fun to experiment with. I've got a boatload of 120 film, mostly expired, and one of my resolutions for 2013 is to bust that film stash!
The film I used for week one was Agfa Portrait XPS 160. I bought a lot of it a few years ago and I love using it in my Dianas.
When the film came back from the lab, I noticed quite a few really wicked scratches on it. Once I finish the next roll I'll open it up and see what's going on. A few scratches can be kind of interesting, at least to me, but yikes! These are some serious scratches!
This was actually the second roll I ran through the Debonair. For some reason, I only got six images out of the first roll. (Maybe I forgot to take the lens cap off? I've since tossed it.) With this second roll, I got 15 out of 16 images. Not bad! And I'm happy with them. You can see the entire roll on Flickr in the set The 52-Rolls Project: Week 1.
This roll was shot during a morning walk around the west end of the National Mall in Washington, DC. It was cold and sunny, the perfect day for playing tourist.
I think the Debonair and I are going to have a lot of fun together this year.
Take a look at what the other 52-Rolls Project photographers are doing for the first week at 52Rolls.net.
After publishing my last post, I received a lot of positive comments and encouragement about my 2013 new year's resolution: shooting a roll of film a week.
I'm excited to announce that I'm collaborating with a very cool group of photogs on a new blog featuring our 52-weeks-of-film projects for 2013. The blog is called 52rolls.net and we'll be posting highlights from each week's roll of film there.
You can also see everyone's photos in the 52 Rolls group on Flickr.
We'll each be doing something different so it should be a lot of fun to see what happens.
It's not too late to join us! If you love to shoot film and are up for a challenge, let us know. We'd love for you to come along for the ride.
This time of year I find myself thinking about new year's resolutions. While I don't see myself as a super goal-oriented person, there are usually a few things I'd like to accomplish over the course of the next year.
For some reason, coming up with knitting resolutions is a lot easier than coming up with photography-related resolutions.
I called 2011 "The Year of Knitting for Susan," and I made lots of socks and a couple of sweaters for myself. For 2012 my resolution was to knit through my yarn stash as much as possible and not add any new yarns. I managed to knit my way through a fair amount of yarn and I sent all the acrylic in my stash to my mum who is knitting blankets for shelter animals. I also didn't add any new yarns to the stash, which meant I went an entire year without visiting my favorite local yarn store, Fibre Space. Now that's an accomplishment!
My knitting resolutions for 2013 includes spinning. I'm calling 2013 "The Year of Knitting Socks" (to help bust that sock yarn stash I've still got) and "The Year of Spinning Fiber Stash." Knitting goals are easy to set.
Photography is a different story. I didn't really set any photographic goals for 2012. I acquired quite a few film cameras and increased my film stash by a gazillion, especially Impossible Project and Fuji instant films.
After giving it a lot of thought, I've decided to shoot a roll of film a week using the Plastic Filmtastic Debonair camera from the Film Photography Project. That's 52 rolls of film. I've got a fair bit of 120 film in my stash so I'm going to mix it up -- color and black and white, expired and fresh.
I was inspired to take on this challenge by several photographers whose work I admire. One is Nate Matos, who created The 365 Project, "a photo a day task for 2012 using expired film from Polaroid and new film for old Polaroid cameras from The Impossible Project." Nate's project ended up as a very cool photo book.
Another photographer who inspired me to consider what I wanted to do for 2013 is Urban Hafner, who's also planning to shoot a roll of film a week for 52 weeks using his Yashica Mat loaded with Fomapan 100, and do the developing and scanning himself. Urban was inspired to have a go by Alex Luyckx. Seems like quite a few of us have caught the shoot-a-roll-a-week fever for 2013!
So here are the rules for my version of the challenge:
What about you? What are your resolutions for 2013?
Sometimes I enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies of artists. The subjects don't have to be photographers. I like reading about painters and sculptors and writers, too.
Last month I was on a Diane Arbus kick. I read "An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus" by William Todd Schultz. I also read Patricia Bosworth's "Diane Arbus: A Biography," and "Revelations," which was published in conjunction with a large exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in October 2003. "Revelations" contains at least 300 images and lots of previously unpublished excerpts from Arbus' letters, notebooks, and other writings.
I started off not liking Diane Arbus' photographs. I'm not really sure why I didn't like her work. It certainly wasn't because they're weird, or dark, or make me feel uncomfortable. Those are actually the reasons I've come to like them -- and respect her as an artist. I suppose I didn't know much about her and her work before I read the three books. (I did see the movie "Fur" a few years ago. Talk about horrible!)
I started with Schultz's book, what he calls a "psychobiography." Here's the summary:
"Schultz veers from traditional biography to interpret photographer Diane Arbus' life through the prism of four central mysteries: her outcast affinity, her sexuality, the secrets she kept and shared, and her suicide. He seeks not to diagnose Arbus, but to discern some of the private motives behind her public works and acts."
Schultz is a college professor and writer who writes "psychological profiles, or interpretations, of artists." I enjoyed his book the least of the three. I found it monotonous and uninteresting. And uncomfortable to speculate on such personal matters. Honestly, it felt a little cheesy to me. Maybe because I've never read a psychobiography before. (Note: I'm probably not going to seek out any others either.)
The other two books were much more interesting -- and more traditional. I especially enjoyed seeing some of her contact sheets reproduced in "Revelations," and reading the "In the Darkroom" chapter, a discussion of Arbus' printing techniques by Neil Selkirk, the only person authorized to print her photographs since her death. She did no dodging or burning when she made prints in the darkroom!
Arbus was a very focused and intense person. She comes across as almost maniacal, a slave to her vision. She reverberated with ideas for photo subjects. She had guts. She was brave to push so hard to realize her raw, unflinching vision. She was a trailblazer.
While she's not my favorite photographer, after reading the three books and seeing more then just the most commonly reproduced images (the twins, the boy with the grenade), I have a new respect for her and her work.
Photo credit: Camera obscura ... Diane Arbus poses for a portrait in New York c. 1968. Photograph: Roz Kelly/Getty Images
Yesterday I spent the day wandering around Mount Vernon with my photo buddy Marcia and my new, super-cool custom-skinned Polaroid SX-70 camera.
Can you believe I won this fab camera (AND a pack of The Impossible Project's PX70 Color Protection film) in a Film Photography Project giveaway? Woo hoo! A big thank you Michael Raso!
Marcia stands in front of the main house at Mount Vernon, October 25, 2012.
I've only been to Mount Vernon once before, sometime around 1991 or so, and boy has it changed a lot since then.
The gardens are still beautiful, but there have been some interesting changes. For example, all the buildings on the estate are now an off-white color, not bright white like they used to be. One of the interpreters told us that they recently came across a letter George Washington wrote to his estate manager about using sand in the paint. They obtained sand from nearby areas and it's a light tan color.
Marcia and I ate lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. We both had the Virginia Peanut and Chestnut Soup and the Colonial Turkey Pye. It was delicious, and perfect for a fall day.
The rest of the instant film photos from Mount Vernon are on my Flickr page: Mount Vernon + FPP + TIP.
The photo above is from Provincetown, Massachusetts. I loaded a roll of Konica 220 in my vintage Diana camera for the first time. I didn't count clicks to advance the film, I just rolled it until I felt like stopping and I ended up with a fat roll and lots of lightleaks. But that's okay -- I don't mind at all!
Want to know more about fat rolls and how to avoid them? Check out this post on the Smithsonian Studio Arts blog: Fat Film and Light Leaks.
My friend Marcia and I are spending eight Wednesday nights at the Arlington Career Center working in the black and white darkroom. Offered through Arlington Adult Education, the sessions are open to photographers of all levels.
There are quite a few old hands developing and printing, and at least one person is a complete film beginner! She's had a fair amount of experience with her digital camera, but feels compelled to learn to work with film. Good for her!
I shot and developed six rolls of Kentmere 400 in perparation for the Wednesday open darkroom. I've never used Kentmere before and I have to say I love it. I'm very happy with the way the film turned out.
The photo above is from my trip to Ohio in September. My parents' neighbor John has an unbelievable garden and every year his sunflowers are gorgeous.
Armed with our Polaroid cameras and lots of Impossible Project film, we walked from one end of the District to the other - and back again. The weather was perfect and we had a great time.
I used a Polaroid Spectra camera I picked up from the Film Photography Project Store and I broke into my stash of Impossible's PZ Silver Shade Cool film.
To see the rest of the photos from the photowalk, check out the set on Flickr.
Not too long ago, while I was living in Australia, I went to a few "shows," the Australian versions of county and state fairs in the United States.
These shows offer midway games, rides, and fried foods, as well as competitions in all the usual categories: needlework, pies and jams, flowers, and animals.
At these shows I started wandering up and down the aisles photographing chickens and roosters in their cages. Some had already competed and had ribbons on their cages, while others were waiting their turn.
I enjoyed looking at and photographing these beautiful birds and every time I go to a fair I seek them out. Sometimes they're curious about what I'm doing. Sometimes the roosters carry on a conversation with each other. It's difficult to get a decent photo through the bars of the cages, but it's a challenge I enjoy.
Recently I wandered around the Mongtomery County (Ohio) fair. After leaving the poultry barn, I saw this young woman giving her chicken a bath. I guess that's how she keeps her white feathers so nice and white.
You can see more photos from the Montgomery County fair on my Flickr page.
You'll notice I wrote "cameras" in the headline. That's because as someone afflicted with G.A.S., a.k.a. Gear Acquisition Syndrome, one camera is never enough to document a trip or an event. One camera isn't even an option! (Thank you Film Photography Project for giving a name to what I always thought was just plain hoarding!)
Days - sometimes weeks! - before I travel the agony usually begins. I think about the destination or the event and how I "see" it. Do I see it in black and white or color?
Heading to the county fair? In my mind I only see it in color. Going to Paris? For me that's a black and white, architectural details kind of place.
Next, I consider which cameras and film would be the best tools for what I'm visualizing. Am I looking for a dreamy, plastic camera effect or do I want everything sharp? Yes or no to lightleaks? Should I do multiple exposures? What about low light? Will there be neon? (I love neon!)
And how much do I want to carry? Will I be with other photo nuts or will I be spending time with people who don't have a clue as to what I'm doing. (Yes, sometimes I get stuck with people who roll their eyes and say things like, "Hurry up and take the picture.")
In the great scheme of things choosing cameras isn't a big deal, but all of these questions are still racing through my mind as I write this post. I'm going back to Provincetown, MA, this weekend. And believe it or not, I'm only taking two cameras!
My last blog post was a month ago! Yikes!
What have I been doing? Hmmm.... Well, I just got back from two weeks in Ohio. While I was there, I shot loads of 35mm film and lots of instant film from The Impossible Project.
When I was a kid, I used to go with Grandpa to walk the dogs in Woodland Cemetery. My grandparents lived just a block down the street from the entrance to the cemetery and I loved going with him.
I didn't know it at the time, but Woodland Cemetery was founded in 1841, and is one of the five oldest rural garden cemeteries in the United States. It's also an arboretum. The cemetery's website says that
Over 3,000 trees and 165 specimens of native Midwestern woody plants grace the Arboretum's 200 verdant acres of rolling hills. Many of the trees are more than a century old and nine have been designated "Ohio Champions" by the Ohio Forestry Association.
There are a number of famous people buried in Woodland, too, including Wilbur and Orville Wright; poet Paul Laurence Dunbar; humorist Erma Bombeck; and Levi and Matilda Stanley, King and Queen of the Gypsies. Oh, and Loren M. Berry, the guy who invented the Yellow Pages around 1910. (This might come in handy on Jeopardy! someday.)
As a kid, I had a great time looking at the gravestones, reading the names and dates, and thinking about these people who were born, lived, and died a hundred years before I came along. My favorite headstones were the ones with the little metal hinged cover that lift up to reveal a photo of the person occupying the grave. I only saw one of those on this visit.
Possibly the most unusual tombstone in Woodland Cemetery is Johnny Morehouse's.
According to legend, Johnny fell into the Miami & Erie canal and froze to death, despite his faithful dog's efforts to pull him out. After he was buried, the dog laid on his gravesite and wouldn't move. Eventually the dog died from starvation and sadness. A special stone was made in 1861 to commemorate Johnny's dog's devotion. Visitors to the gravesite leave toys, candy, and other small trinkets on the stone.
Now that Johnny and his dog are reunited in the afterlife, so the story goes, their ghosts are roaming the cemetery and barking can sometimes be heard near the gravesite.
Unfortunately I didn't experience anything remotely supernatural the day I was there.
The sunflowers above are from John's garden. He lives next door to my parents and he's got two big green thumbs. This year his garden was overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cabbage, squash, and peppers. I made a nice ratatouille and some babaganoush. I've never eaten so many delicious tomatoes in my life.
Garrett, the family lab, posed for a few photos. He doesn't really like having his picture taken. Most of the time he'll turn his head away and pinch his eyes shut as tightly as he can. But there's something about those old Polaroid cameras I've pointed his way. He doesn't mind those so much, even when the flash on the Spectra goes off.
For this trip I used an SX-70 with Impossible Project PX70 film, both expired and fresh.
So that accounts for how I spent some of the last month. All I know is that time flies.
Last month's trip to Ohio wasn't at all what I expected, and I'm still feeling somewhat out of sorts.
The drive normally takes eight hours from our house to my parents' house. This time, however, there was an accident on I-68 at the Maryland-West Virginia border. It was around 6:30 or so in the morning when I got to the stopped traffic. We sat on the highway for two hours watching two medevac helicopters fly over and land somewhere ahead of us. And we sat. There was no traffic on the opposite side of the highway either. Both directions were completely shut down.
Early in the third hour, the state highway patrol started turning people around. Finally on the move again, I backtracked to the next exit and got off on US 40. It's a beautiful drive, with lots of fantastic old motels and signs. Some day I'd love to drive from Virginia to Ohio on US 40. But not on this day.
Long story short, I arrived about at my parents' house about 14 hours after I started the trip.
The rest of the week hummed along just fine. I dropped my photos at the Dayton Visual Arts Center for the annual members' show, we went to the Golden Corral for breakfast, I helped Dad in the yard. And then I got a call from Wendell.
Four years ago, while we were in Australia, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with a rare and quite aggressive cancer. Over the last four months, his situation had been steadily declining. All of his doctors agreed: make him comfortable. Wendell called to let me know that he was driving back to Ohio because his brother was scheduled for a blood transfusion and surgery. (So much for making him comfortable.) Wendell drove overnight, arrived on Friday morning at 3:30 am, and immediately went to bed for a couple of hours.
Later that morning, a phone call from Wendell's sister informed us of his brother's death. We immediately went to my brother-in-law's house and for the next four days, spent a lot of time with Wendell's family. The memorial service was on the following Monday and we drove back to Arlington on Wednesday.
I had planned on attending Analog's Pulse in Cleveland, but with the family situation, I didn't go. Here's a summary of the event. (You'd better believe I'm keeping August 2013 open!)
I've been feeling restless and out of sorts ever since I got back. The heat and humidity are unbearable this year and I haven't seemed to be able to muster the creative energy to pick up a camera or heat up the encaustic palette. Even my knitting is suffering. I think part of it might be that I finished the encaustic commission I was working on, and the Arlington Sing-Off and Night of Concert Music photo project is done.
Maybe I just need to take a break.
In September I'm going back in the darkroom as part of an adult ed workshop. I'll be doing some black and white printing -- which means I have to get out and shoot! I'm also cooking up a project with one of my photog buddies in Australia. Stay tuned.
Recently I completed three photo encaustic pieces for a client. She provided the old family photos and I turned them into encaustic works.
I'm thrilled that she and her husband loved the three pieces enough to commission another one! Above is the original photograph after I scanned it. And here's the finished encaustic:
Mum and Baby
© 2012 Susan Stayer
Encaustic, 8 x 6 inches
I really enjoy giving new life to old photos. I hate to see photos languish in a box somewhere, unlooked at and unloved.
All this got me thinking about the current state the the photo print. While I was visiting Ohio, I was talking with my family about how kids nowadays don't really have small prints of photos in an album or a box. My sister-in-law said she's got almost no physical prints of her two kids. They're all images on electronic devices, unless someone happened to give them prints. When my brother-in-law's smartphone died, he lost all the images on it.
I think that's a real shame. There's something truly wonderful about holding a photograph in your hands or flipping through pages in a photo album. To me that's the difference between photographs and images.
Photographer friends of mine know that I suffer from a mild case of G.A.S., also known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
Last week I acquired a gorgeous Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera from a very good friend of my husband's family. I'm thrilled to have it and will definitely give it a good home!
I shot some expired Impossible Project PX70 instant film in the backyard last night. Every camera is different and it takes a little time to learn the quirks. But that's part of the fun!
I returned to Arlington on Wednesday after a little over a week in Dayton, Ohio. I was born and raised in Dayton, and my family and my in-laws are there.
I made the trip back home to visit family and enter a photo in the Dayton Visual Arts Center's annual members' show. I've been a member for a couple of years, but this is the first time I've submitted any work. The theme of the show is "No Borders," and the photo triptych above is my entry.
The three photos that make up the triptych are from the "Perception" series. They're small -- 5 x 5 inches each -- and are printed on aluminum. They've got a glasslike surface that I love because they're images seen through layers of glass.
The members' show opening reception is on Friday, July 15, 2012, from 5 to 8 pm. The show closes on Saturday, August 18, 2012.
The DVAC's hours are 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. The space is located at 118 North Jefferson Street, Dayton, Ohio 45402. For more information, call 937-224-3822.
Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!
Here's the postcard for the show (with a very cool image on the front -- I love it!):
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a woman who saw my work hanging in the Alcove space at Stifel & Capra during the month of April.
He chose three vintage photographs to turn into encaustic works.
They've been a lot of fun to do. As I transfer the photos onto the wax, I love looking at the faces and the old car and imagining all the stories that go along with them.
I hope they enjoy the pieces as much as I enjoyed making them. It feels great when someone likes what you do enough to commission work based on something as personal as family photos.
The three photo encaustics are heading to their new home in India soon. Bon voyage!
My photograph "Spanish Steps" received an Honorable Mention in the Deblois Gallery's annual open show. The theme for this year's show is "Step On It."
The photograph is from the Los Carmonas flamenco dance school recital shoot I did with my friend Lorna in Sydney. All the flamenco dancers were wearing black shoes except for one. It seemed to fit the theme perfectly.
The show runs from March 6 - 28, 2010.
The Deblois Gallery is located at 138 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840. And on the web at www.debloisgallery.com.
Last Tuesday, June 5th, was the final night of competition in this year's Arlington Sing-Off. And what a night! It was a blast!
I finally finished sorting through the photographs from the evening and got them online, along with the photos from the two nights of auditions and the semi-finals. They're all posted on my Flickr page because there are too many to post here on the website.
Congratulations to Ashley, the winner of the contest. Here she is with Tiger after he presented her with a jumbo check:
I'm already looking forward to next year's singing contest. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the fab team that put on the competition. And meeting the contestants was a lot of fun. I hope to see them in 2013.
There's a small pond near our house called Poplar Pond. It's part of Long Branch Nature Center, one of three nature centers in Arlington County.
For some reason I'm obsessed with this little pond. I stop there at least once a week, if not more often. I love how the change in seasons affects the pond. Different critters are active at different times of the year and you never know what you're going to see. I think I've taken a bazillion photos there.
Earlier this week I was on my way to the library and I stopped by the pond. I was shocked to see a small snake gliding around on the surface of the water. I hadn't seen any snakes in the pond before.
As I walked around the pond, I saw several more snakes, including a large one who came out of the water to lay on the platform. (You can see the platform in the two photos above.) Soon she was joined by two smaller snakes and they proceeded to mate. I counted six snakes total.
I went inside the nature center and asked the naturalist about the snakes. He said they were Northern Watersnakes, very common to freshwater here, and that it's mating season. These particular snakes give birth to live babies, usually between August and October.
This morning I went back to the pond armed with my camera, hoping to see the snakes again. One of them was resting on an exposed log, and there were two others swimming and basking in the sun. I walked all the way around the pond looking at the snakes, American bullfrogs, and Eastern Painted turtles.
One turtle climbed out of the water and walked over the top of the snake who was resting on the log. The snake didn't seem to mind at all!
The 2012 Arlington Sing-Off is underway. It started on Friday, May 11, 2012, at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington, Virginia.
A singing competition similar to American Idol, it includes two nights of auditions, a semi-final, and a final. Approximately 40 singers registered to audition in front of the three judges. The auditions are a capella, with music being permitted in the semi-final and final. The final will be on June 5th.
I volunteered to be the still photographer for the contest and I'm having a great time so far. We've got a talented team of professionals organizing and running the competition, and the contestants have been outstanding.
Tonight is the second night of auditions and I'm really looking forward to it.
Earlier I wrote about my previous and not-so-successful attempts at pinhole photography:
And now, all that's changed. I finally got images on my film using a pinhole camera!
This was the first year I've participated in Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, which happened on April 29, 2012. Just to be on the safe side, since I've had limited luck with cameras I've made myself, I used a MintyCam, an empty Altoids tin reborn as a fantastic little 35mm pinhole camera. I bought my MintyCam from Chris Keeney, a very cool guy who makes very cool photographs, and not just with pinhole cameras either.
The image above was the one I submitted to the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day website. If you have time, I highly recommend taking a peek at all the great pinhole photos submitted from all over the world.
You probably already know that I LOVE finding film in an old camera. I've bought quite a few at thrift stores just so I can develop the film and see what's there.
I can't resist old photographs either. The encaustic piece above, All Dressed Up, started out as an old photo I purchased as part of a small lot. Unfortunately there weren't any notes scribbled on the back of the photo. I'd love to know more about these people.
Here's what the photo looked like after I scanned it:
Through the magic of Photoshop, I removed the background and added a little bit of color. I printed the image on parchment paper with a laser printer, and transferred it to the prepared wax surface. Then I added a few additional touches of watercolor and oil pastel before sealing the whole thing with encaustic medium.
It's fun to incorporate these images in my encaustic work and create new stories with them. Have you used old and found photographs in your work?
We went on a Ghosts of Newport walking tour last night. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately we didn't see a SINGLE spooky thing! Boooo!
Last week we drove to New Bedford, MA, for the day. We wanted to visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum and otherwise wander around town.
We went to the Washington County Fair last week. It was a lot of fun. Wendell thought the name of this food stand was hilarious. I called him "Sweet Cheeks" for the rest of the day.
The Wienermobile was there!
I did some experimenting with blur, too.
We walked to Flo's Clam Shack for dinner the other night. On the way home, we walked along Easton's Beach, Newport's only ocean beach.
The food at Flo's was tasty. We each had a lobster roll with French fries and coleslaw and a stuffed quahog. I was the one stuffed after eating all that!
Things are going okay so far. We've almost got all of our household effects, and the house is coming together. I'm looking forward to fall.
I had the Holga set on the bulb setting by mistake, but I like the way it turned out. Think I should do more with it set on bulb.
Here are a couple more photos from the same roll.
Photography is my first love and I enjoy it immensely, but sometimes it's fun to expand on photography and take it in new directions.
Recently I've been working a lot on combining photographs with encaustic. I've been printing photos on Hosho paper and then embedding them in clear encaustic medium. I've also printed them on watercolor paper and used acrylic gel medium to adhere them to the board before covering the photos with encaustic medium.
Neither of those processes excites me much.
© 2011 Susan Stayer, Summer Glow. Photo encaustic, 8 x 10 inches.
Then I tried transferring a color laser print of the photo onto the wax surface and fusing it. Called a "water transfer," in this process the toner becomes part of the layer of wax. After a couple more thin layers of clear encaustic medium, I enhance the piece with watercolors and oil sticks.
Now that's a lot more exciting!
So for the past couple of months I've been experimenting with photo transfers and encaustic. I'm calling them "photo encaustics" for lack of a better term.
And me too!
I just returned home after spending nine glorious days participating in the 2011 Fields Project in Oregon, Illinois.
On the first morning I was there, a few cows from a neighboring farm came by to say hi.
At the Fields Project Art Show on June 26th I was interviewed by Chris Johnson, a reporter and photographer from the Ogle County News. Here's the story: Unique Art Created During Fields Project
And here's a link a Flickr set where you'll find more photos from my time in Illinois. These are some of the ones I took of Grant, Kaitlin, and a few of their critters.
Yesterday I spent some time wandering around the Arlington Arts Center. I had a great time checking out the work of the resident artists, as well as the 2011 International Visiting Artist Simón Vega.
There are 12 resident artists and not all of them were there, but I did have a chance to talk at length with Matthew M. Smith about his pixelated quilts. I especially love the “Quilt of a pixelated dog” and “Quilt of a pixelated cat” pieces.
Matthew is a photographer who found himself looking to work with materials that are a bit more substantial than a photograph on paper. He enlarges digital images until the pixels and their colors are visible and then he cuts squares of fabric to represent each pixel. He stitches the small squares together by hand and recreates the pixelated image. The result is a cross between modern digital technology and the traditional craft of quilting -- and they're fantastic!
There's a pot of these cute little flowers on my parents' patio every summer. For some reason I just love them! I'm not crazy about their other name though. "Scabiosa" just doesn't sound very pleasant.
The photo is on aluminum and is 10 x 10 inches. Not all photos lend themselves to being printed on aluminum, but when I saw this image I knew it had to be!
See a different take on these very same flowers: Summer Glow. This version is an encaustic image transfer that I enhanced with watercolors.
I spent half a day wandering around the Oregon District in downtown Dayton, Ohio, last week. It was the perfect fall day: sunny and cool. I carried several cameras with me, as usual, and shot both of these images that day.
I had lunch at Blind Bob's, browsed the Goodwill Store, checked out a few galleries, and had a coffee. A perfect afternoon!
Oh, and I passed on the peep show.
My first-ever potato harvest! I grew these Russian Banana fingerlings in a black plastic trash bag on the patio. Think I'll give it a go next year too.
I've been on a medium format film kick for the past couple of months. Recently I developed a few rolls of black and white and it's always a surprise to see what's on the film. Usually there are a few frames I completely forgot about shooting.
The image above, Old Town Alleys, is from a one-day shoot where took my black-and-white-film-only Holga and wandered through some of the alleyways in Alexandria, Virginia. Alleys are always interesting. They're kind of like a secret world.
I haven't been to Old Town since the hurricane came through. It's a flood-prone area and I'm wondering what these alleys look like now.
I was in Missoula, Montana, last year for a photography workshop at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. We were so busy during that week I didn't have a chance to explore the area as much as I would've liked.
Last week I headed back to Missoula with Wendell to have a look around. In reading up on Missoula and that part of Montana, I discovered Garnet Ghost Town: "Montana's Best-Preserved Ghost Town." And it IS very well preserved.
There are two routes that'll get you there from Missoula, and one of them is a heck of a lot easier than the other, something we found out the hard way.
Once you arrive, you walk down the path toward the town, which sits below the parking area. There's a self-guided tour of the buildings that are still standing, and the setting is beautiful. The Well's Hotel is particularly interesting because of the peeling wallpaper, decrepit furniture, old beds, and other objects inside. It's difficult to imagine living and working in that little town, mining the gold and enduring so much hardship.
If you're ever in the area, Garnet Ghost Town is definitely worth the visit. Just be sure to take the easy road.
Carlin Hall is a school and community center built in 1892 in Arlington, Virginia.
I got one of my vintage Dianas out and took her for a spin. It was the first time I've used this particular Diana since I bought her in 2005 or so. I think she did okay!
I like to shoot into the sun to get some flare. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. This time it didn't overwhelm and blot out the scene.
I sent the film to Old School Photo Lab and they did a fantastic job on the developing. Check them out! http://www.oldschoolphotolab.com/
I've done a pretty good bit of traveling over the past few months: Provincetown, MA; Oregon, IL; and Missoula, MT. It's been great to escape the oppressive heat and humidity of the Washington, DC, area. I found pictures everywhere I went. Now it's time to develop all the film and edit all the images I made during these trips.
The photo above was a complete accident. I ran a roll of 35mm film through a Lomo Fisheye at Floriade in Canberra in 2008, at least I think it was 2008. This past April I was looking for a roll to stick in my Spinner 360 and I accidentally used the roll from the Fisheye.
I've been selected to be a visiting artist with this year's Fields Project in Oregon, Illinois, and I'm really excited about it. I'm especially excited to be photographing farm life. It's a subject I've been wanting to work on for a long time.
Visiting artists stay with a farm family for the nine-day event, and they're free to work on any project in any medium. Because encaustic is somewhat cumbersome to travel with, and I'd have to have access to electricity, I've decided to leave the wax at home and go with the cameras.
On the last Sunday of the event, Fields Project visiting artists will display and sell their work alongside regional artists at the Fine Arts and Crafts Festival at Mix Park, located on Rt. 2, south of Rt. 64 in Oregon, IL.
If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello!
I spent the July Fourth weekend in the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains again this year. Our friend has a house there.
There's an old farmhouse on the property and it's so much fun to photograph. I feel like I can never do it justice.
In other news, I'm finally back in the studio working on some encaustic painting. The Fifth International Encaustic Conference I attended the first weekend in June In Provincetown, Massachusetts, recharged my waxy batteries and gave me lots of cool ideas to think about.
I enjoyed the talks I attended at the conference, too. "Taking The Leap" by Jhina Alvarado was all about selling yourself as an artist and getting work into galleries. Tania Wycherley gave a presentation on Advanced Image Transfer that was terrific. She demonstrated how she divides images up in Photoshop so she can transfer larger images to a prepared encaustic surface.
I left Cape Cod champing at the bit to try out some of the techniques I saw. The Old Farmhouse photograph is one of the images I'm going to use in my large image transfer attempt.
So, back to work I go.
Last June I spent a week in Illinois living with a farm family as part of The Fields Project artist residency.
During the week I visited different farms and made lots of photographs, including pictures of the three-Cs: cows, chickens, and corn.
One of my favorite photos from the residency was of a cow named Jazz. She was quite curious about me and what I was doing when I was photographing her.
A few months after I got home, I decided to use that photo of Jazz as part of a mixed-media piece. Titled "All That Jazz," the piece was included in the monthly show at the co-op gallery I was a member of, and it sold almost immediately, but not before I received a commissioned to make another, similar one.
I'm excited about having the chance to work with Jazz again. I really enjoy her company.
It seems that every spring I have the overwhelming urge to shoot infrared images. I think it's because after the long winter, spring bursts onto the scene with lots of green, which is perfect for infrared photography.
At the beginning of April I got out my dedicated digital infrared, charged up the battery, and went for a walk. The trees in the park behind the house start slowly, with a kind of soft, green mist. Then BOOM! You wake up one morning and there they are -- green leaves.
©2012 Susan Stayer, Blurred Vision iii
When I got home I also took some images through the faceted glass in our front door. The glass created some strange -- and fun -- effects.
Later, while downloading the photos onto my computer, I saw that it had been almost exactly one year since I had the infrared camera out. Time sure flies.
For more infrared photos, including ones from last year, check out my Infrared set on Flickr.
It dawned on me today that I've only got one week to get ready for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2012! The annual event takes place the last Sunday of April.
I've never taken part before, mostly because my pinhole photography experiments have been complete disasters. Well, maybe not COMPLETE disasters. I did manage to get images. Just not very good ones.
My first pinhole camera was made out of one of those cylindrical cardboard Quaker Oats containers. I used sheets of 5 x 7 photosensitive paper inside to capture the image. I think I got maybe one picture that was halfway interesting.
A few years ago I built a pinhole camera out of a matchbox. (For a good tutorial, check out matchboxpinhole.com.) I carried the darned thing around in my pocket for a week. It used 35mm film, and I (stupidly) attached a roll of 36-exposure film to it. It seemed to take forever to use up that roll, especially since I was dying to see what I got, if anything.
Keep your fingers crossed!
On Saturday morning I stopped by Stifel & Capra to hang another piece in the Alcove space. It was super busy on Friday evening during the FIRSTFriday and I didn't have a chance to look and see what's new in the shop.
On the way out I saw a camera kit in a glass cabinet and had to take a closer look. It was a Voigtländer Bessamatic in pristine condition. It came with three lenses: 35mm, 50mm, and 135mm. It also came with a leather carrying case and little leather cases for each of the lenses.
This camera is really heavy! We're talking more than two pounds! It also had a roll of film inside.
I think you know how this story ends. I bought the camera kit. Later that afternoon I took it out for a walk and finished the roll of film. Stay tuned for photos.
For more information on the Voigtländer Bessamatic, check out the Camerapedia page about it.