Black Folds & Soft ContrastSunday, April 07, 2013
For anybody who might be reading here besides looking at the “pics” you might know that I will be having a gallery opening in Celia Duthie’s gallery in May. I have been instructed to stress three aspects of my photography, the portraits, the plants (and particularly the plant scans which I call scanographs) and the erotic. I firmly believe that the retirement community of Salt Spring will look at a picture of, let’s say, Martin Scorsese and wonder, “Why is he wearing a beard?” And they will immediately go to the next, “Who is this guy Gene Simmons?” And they will not buy.
They will look at large scans of Rosa ‘Reine Victoria’ and comment, “What a nice rose. Honey we should have one of those roses in our garden.” And they will not buy.
This leaves the erotic element of the show as the only possibility of having any sales. Galleries exist to attempt to make money. And it would be nice to have some of that money trickle down to this un-Republican poor guy.
What this means is that I have been studying and looking over my erotic stuff. The possible conflict of Duthie telling me that her gallery is a family gallery might be softened by having the erotic stuff in a separate room and having husband Nick Hunt stand guard and shoot (I mean shoo) minors away. Will the idea of a room only open to a select few liberal adults become a draw? Might I sell some of them?
Meanwhile it has been fun to select and see what I will print in my darkroom in the next few weeks or having my artist friend Grant Simmons print as giclées.
The pictures you see here are standard 6x7cm b+w negatives. I will explain the look.
In my years (since 1962) of having printed in my darkroom I have swung from making prints that are in extreme contrast to prints that have soft lack of it. During the years that Chris Dahl was art director at Vancouver Magazine he instructed me to use a technique called split contrast control. I would use variable contrast b+w photographic paper and initiate part of the exposure from my enlarger using yellow filtration. Yellow filtration is for low contrast. Then I would finish off the exposure with a maximum amount of magenta for high contrast. The prints had a weird but interesting look of soft and hard.
In my photography and figure photography I always put an emphasis on hands and I avoid neck folds and armpit folds. Why? They are particularly ugly because folds are always the blackest black in a photograph. They will be the first thing your eyes will gravitate towards. I avoid them like the plague. One of the advantages of having some experience with figure study is that one learns how the body responds to movement and how limbs fit into the picture. There are many ways to avoid folds. There is no excuse for me to show them.
Here you see folds in all their glory. These are armpit folds mimicking far more interesting ones.