Joy

As always, if you have questions, objections, worries or praise, and especially if you found your picture and want it removed, feel free to contact me. I will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also read my full disclaimer, if you are interested.

 

Sometimes life gets in the way of updating my blog and I certainly had a couple of busy and exciting months. My health has been improving a lot thanks to the new treatment and this gave me the opportunity to go to Paris for the first time. It was a great trip and I’m really looking forward to our next visit to the city! Then at the beginning of this month I actually participated in a wetplate workshop which was really cool and super interesting. The timing of it was perfect, since just a few days later I finally got the opportunity to get my hands on a large format camera I’ve been investigating for a couple of years, a Pacemaker Speed Graphic from 1950! Yes, you read that right, after mastering 35mm and medium format I’m now getting into the large formats, starting out with 4×5! Wait, a street photographer shooting large format and wet plate? That sounds crazy! Well, it is crazy and borderline impossible in fact. At ISO 1-3 wetplate is pretty much entirely useless for street also because you need to process each shot within a very short time after preparing the plate. I’d need an assistant and a big flash to pull that one off, so that’s not happening anytime soon – or at all. Large format street photography on film is much more viable but to be honest, at the moment I don’t think I even want to shoot street with it!

I’m actually coming out of a bit of an artistic crisis right now. This year has been particularly tough for me and for quite a long time I’ve not really felt very inspired to take pictures at all. Part of it was of course my health, but beyond that I actually didn’t really feel like it. I’ve been shooting street for more than 3 years in this town and it’s a particularly challenging place. Always going to the same 5 street corners bores me to death and the range of behaviours in this place is really rather limited. I’ve been pushing really hard and I manage to get some shots out of this place despite these limitations, but my level of frustration is usually pretty high when I’m trying to wrestle pictures from this place.

Boredom is of course part of the artistic process, but I’m a person who tends to get bored even more easily than others. I tend to master a skill and then move on to the next thing, so it has always been challenging for me to stick to one thing over a long period of time. I always need to distract myself with other things to keep my long term pursuits fresh for me, especially if I have already mastered everything there is to know about it.

I can probably say that street photography won’t teach me any new tricks anymore. I’ve shot it in all sorts of lighting conditions, with digital and all sorts of film emulsions, in shutter priority mode with auto focus, with compact cameras, rangefinders and have settled on fully manual 35mm and medium format cameras. I have shot street during the day, at night, in many different big and small cities, in different countries and I can even wrestle pictures from really one-dimensional places too. The thing is though: I’m not actually bored with street photography itself. I’m bored with street photography here! In a bigger city I could just go to a different neighbourhood and I would find something worth photographing, a bit of visual variety, but around here most neighbourhoods are pretty much dead most of the time and everything depends entirely on timing. Figuring out the right timing for each neighbourhood is a tedious process that involves lots of disappointment, so I have been tackling one neighbourhood each year with limited success in some of them. And frankly I’m actually a little sick of having to fight so hard for each shot!

This is not to say that I will stop shooting street. The main reason why street photography is a genre flooded with bad pictures is not only because it’s challenging, but also because people tend to get bored and move on before they actually get really good at it. The road to mastery involves pushing through these challenges and continuing anyway, even if you’re bored or your feet are hurting from all the pointless hours of walking without results. I will continue! But then for my sanity I still need a bit of a distraction that depends less on serendipity, since it obviously isn’t very cooperative in small beach resorts full of boring rich people, their dogs and (grand)children! So, I will be playing with large format, as well as toy cameras, pinhole cameras and alternative processes like wetplates and salt prints!

I’ve been following the work of others with these kinds of tools and techniques for a long time – wetplate particulary – and have also been reading up on a lot of pinhole and toy cameras over the last couple of years. I got myself a Holga and a Diana F+, as well as an Agfa Clack and a bunch of cans that I will convert to pinhole cameras at some point. This alone couldn’t really get me started though, because it was just too far away from what I was doing before. I built a little matchbox pinhole camera and it was far from being a success, so this didn’t quite seem like a more cooperative distraction that would instantly make me happy. I can’t really see myself walking around with just a toy camera or pinhole hoping for good pictures when really the serendipity lies in a different part of the process with these kinds of tools. Yet, there is something there that I’d like to explore.

So, in the end I decided that large format would be the way to move forward for me. It was a bit of a risky move, since it was quite an investment for a camera that I won’t be using for street photography at all – the camera itself imported from the US, a barrel lens, the development tank, the film holders, a new tripod, the film -, but after the first 5 sheets I’m completely convinced that it was the right decision! I actually have two lenses for the Speed Graphic now, an Optar 135mm f/4.7, which is a pretty standard 4×5 lens, and a very funky Leica Hektor 150mm f/2.5 projection lens that doesn’t even have an aperture! The standard lens will be great for learning the limited movements of the camera and for some random large format landscape stuff. The Hektor lens is a completely different animal though. It has a very shallow depth of field and barely covers 4×5. Both the DOF and the lack of sharpness in the corners give it a really special character which fits very nicely with all the other experimental stuff I’m working on. At the same time it’s a lot more predictable in its nature to allow for successful shots without too much guesswork. I already see what I get on the ground glass, so there won’t be any disappointment involved at all, unless I mess up the shot somehow of course. And since toy and pinhole cameras tend to be light, I can just take one along while I’m out with the large format camera and the tripod anyway. After two outings like this I think I accidentally stumbled on the perfect workflow to keep experimenting and get predictable success at the same time. So, new, big things happening and eventually you’ll see some results trickle in on here too.

There has been more interesting stuff happening too. I’ve been printing in the darkroom and working more on my Progress through Demolition project, which has been very interesting – some pictures that I thought would be challenging to print in the darkroom actually turned out great! Still a lot to do, but it’s good to know that the project is finally progressing again. I’ve also been upgrading different bits and pieces of my gear – a plate / sheet film holder for the Rollei to shoot instax, a colour head for my enlarger, a better viewfinder magnifier for my Leica, a cable release bracket for the Diana, all the large format gear, some ND filters, and of course my shiny new tripod. And most excitingly, I even have a new photography related job! Well, let’s just say that not being in pain makes for exciting times!

But then, you’re probably not here to listen to me rambling all day! Let’s get to some pictures of some rich people, their dogs and (grand)children then! These particular pictures were taken in May last year when I challenged myself to only shoot low ISO film. It was difficult, but very cool and I love the results I got from the Nokton 1.1 and Rollei Retro 80s. Difficult to print, but the tones, the delicious contrast and complete lack of grain are well worth it!

Pictures taken with: Leica M6, Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1. Mamiya C220, Mamiya Sekor 80 f/2.8 S, Zeiss Super Ikonta C 530/2.

Starting with M6 / Nokton 1.1 / Rollei Retro 80s / Rodinal.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Fixing the window?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Pre-jump.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Flowery!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Pre-gun violence.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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He’s got three dogs, probably in a tiny flat.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Stylish!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Love the photobombing dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Got bored at the post office.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

These are not pipes.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Blurred out mobile phones are sort of acceptable.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Acrobatics.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Individuality is overrated.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Slight framing failure.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Last year’s trend.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Getting some love!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Look at that dangerous wolf!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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© Lilly Schwartz 2016

I think I was told never to run with lollipops.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Thirsty pup instalment 1.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Thirsty pup instalment 2.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Anonymous self-portrait.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Practicing to become a spy.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I just love this one!

Mamiya C220 / Rollei Retro 80s / HC-110 stand.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Ah, that Mamiya lens is just awesome!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Weird stuff.

Ikonta / Pan F+ 50 / HC-110 stand.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

I was testing the Ikonta and stand-development in HC-110. Super nice! I need to repeat this one with some ND filter magic in 4×5!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

The Ikonta sometimes tricks me into accidental double exposures. This one I kinda liked though!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Retro 80s / Rodinal / orange filter.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Orange filter + Retro 80s is almost IR.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

That Zeiss lens is a stunner! Last one!

Comments

  • beautiful collection Lilly !
    my personal favorites the stuff taken with Mamiya C220 and Zeiss Super Ikonta cameras.
    great tonal ranges in both films results ! looks like i have to try this Pan – its very expensive in my country

    • Thank you Victor! Yes, the results from stand-developing these two films were simply great! Pan F+ 50 is a beautiful film. Not cheap here either, but well worth it! I wish it was available in 4×5!

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