today i learned more about cameras then i have in a long time… just by talking to people and taking a bit of initiative to ask questions… this is how i met Daniel Carrillo, an incredible portrait photographer-who creates glass negatives- and is working in a studio behind the Youth in Focus Storefront Gallery on 2nd and James St. (where I am volunteering this summer and working on a photo project). he told me about a wet plate demonstration that was happening this afternoon in a portable darkroom (say what?!) a portable darkroom!
luckily, since I arrived early, the ladies from TinGypsyTravels.wordpress.com were able to take my picture using a large 4×5 format camera with an ISO of 1.5 and an exposure time of about 3 seconds (it was extremely sunny & hot outside…)
below is a picture of the shoot, courtesy of a gentleman i met from the Seattle Flickr group… http://www.flickr.com/groups/seattlemeetups/
to the right of me is the portable darkroom and the camera is in the foreground… the process was pretty neat- basically the women were creating their own negatives, only instead of film they used tin material with silver coating (and homemade adhesive!). sitting in the darkroom i was about ready to grab my inhaler because the fumes were something serious! but it was pretty amazing to see the picture appear so clear from what looked like a glob of chemicals…
while waiting for the photo to develop i began talking to a group of adults who seemed really enthusiastic to be at the darkroom. it turns out they were part of a seattle photographers group on flickr. every third saturday of the month, they go on outings to shoot or to go to events around the city- one member told me. two of the members let me take photos with their cameras. one of these cameras was called a Polaroid Land camera, medium format (below is a google image).
this camera was pretty neat, of course, a lot heavier than the 35mm i am used to shooting on. instead of a focus lens, the camera had a range finder. there was basically a separate peephole i looked into and when i moved the focus lever so that the two images lined up in the range finder, the photo was sharp. how much simpler is that?! two converging images verses one fine line for focusing! anyhoo, the image below (which does the real photo/film quality little justice) was taken with the Polaroid land camera which, by the way, develops in about 2 minutes after being removed from the back of the camera …a little instant gratification eh?i think its a bit more exciting when a photo takes time. but it is incredible learning about all the different techniques people have discovered to take pictures… talking with another artist today- Brian Lane, I learned more about the art of taking close up pictures… really close up. he was kind enough to show me some of his work he’d done documenting graffiti at Gasworks Park in Seattle. instead of just taking pictures of graffiti like many others, Brian would focus on a few square inches (or less) of a piece and take photos that became almost abstract. he’d then blow them up to somewhere around 40 x 20 so the images were all the more stunning…
(what do you think makes something beautiful? is beautiful filler-word, like stuff?)
Brian’s advice to me about taking pictures was to always try and look for new angles, new perspectives. an example he gave was of a toddler who would see the underside of a table, which many adults would overlook… i took the literal practice of zooming into a “big picture” as a metaphor for seeing several things (art included) in different ways, and creating, building and transforming what exists…
as i mentioned, i took in a lot of information today and listened more than i spoke. after a full afternoon of sun and photos, heading to the Youth Speaks open mic (which later transformed into a writing circle) was much appreciated. like Youth in Focus, Youth Speaks provides an avenue for young people to creatively and express themselves, Youth Speaks especially emphasizing speaking one’s truth.
all in all, today was a class in and of itself, from the metro, the darkroom, the streets, from the artist down the street, there is always something to learn. just ask!
also, be sure to check out the radio segment on KPLU 88.5 on Youth in Focus at 7:30am tomorrow morning! the show will also be airing twice between 3:30pm and 6pm tomorrow. my mentor and i will be speaking about the Storefront Project and other photo-related things