L'exposition est Ouverte!

 

All over in a whirl....

After all the preparation... the packing... the toolkit.... the spare hanging bits and pieces ... and about four hours of the Private View... the pressure is over – RELIEF!

I've had fantastic feedback from many different quarters, and the icing on the cake was selling a print (Child and Terrier) to a young couple who live in Paris. So even when the exhibition at Le Petit Choiseul ends on the 28th, there will be a corner of France where Under Glass continues to be shown!

 
Child and Terrier, Passage du Grand-Cerf.  Ted Kinsey, 2014

Child and Terrier, Passage du Grand-Cerf. Ted Kinsey, 2014

From Adams & Atget to Edgy!

 

New York is proving to be a hub of great photography, this week.

A wonderful show of classic Ansel Adam images at the Robert Mann Gallery, in Chelsea – including a huge print of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico and the iconic Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite. Sooooo expensive: “We don't publicise the prices”!!!

Saw some lovely Eugene Atget photographs of Paris accompanying a brilliant Toulouse Lautrec exhibition at MoMA. The Sebastio Salgardo Genesis show has made it to NYC at the International Center of Photography – seen in London at the NatHist Museum last year. Impressive monochrome landscapes, some slightly over-Photoshopped for my liking. The contrasts were simply not-believable.

For my own work, we visited two or three locations on the Subway before we found a good elevated section in a gritty area. The stretch along Livonia Avenue at the end of Line 3, in darkest East Brooklyn, provided a suitable backdrop for the types of photos I had envisaged. I took the best part of a roll of HP5 there, so hopefully the journey will have been worth it. Edgy photos in an edgy suburb!

M  oonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.  Ansel Adams, 1941

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. Ansel Adams, 1941

 

London, Paris, New York...

 

Only 10 days to go before Under Glass opens at Le Petit Choiseul, and every picture is framed and ready to go.  But my journey to France will be a somewhat circuitous one – I've taken some of my best images in New York over the years, so I'm really looking forward to spending seven days there... en route to Paris!

I have a wish-list of locations to visit photographically, and top of that list are several places where the New York Subway runs on an elevated section above ground – remember that scene from The French Connection with Gene Hackman driving “underneath” the train? A good one seems to be in Manhattan on the Q line, near Canal Street; another out in Brooklyn, where Line 3 runs on Livonia Avenue. We'll see!

Before I go to New York, I'm giving a talk to Pinner Camera Club on my previous project, City Shapes, photographed in London. I've enjoyed re-visiting all my prints in readiness.

So here, in my opinion, is the best of New York and City Shapes...

 
Crossing Madison Avenue...

Crossing Madison Avenue...

Chevrons

Chevrons

Defense de Fumer!

 

As a street photographer taking candid pictures, I’ve been well aware of the French privacy laws during my visits to Paris for my Under Glass project.

In brief, the law states that if a person is the “principal feature” in a photograph, then permission must be sought from that person before taking it. For me, this makes candid photography almost impossible.

I have one excellent image, taken in August, of a young woman enjoying a cigarette break that I’ve been pondering upon regarding the privacy laws. I’ve now decided that I simply can’t afford to risk hanging it in my exhibition.

So here I am – one picture short of an exhibition. And here it is – suitably stubbed out!

 
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The Dark Arts...

 

Just finished a darkroom session printing up just three images from one roll of film (36 exposures) from my last trip to Paris. You might think that three is not very many from 36, but ask the digital photographers out there and... that's not a bad hit-rate!

One of the images, a long shot down Passage du Grand-Cerf with a girl, sitting and having a cigarette outside her place of work, posed a familiar problem I've had during this project. Namely, balancing skin tones with the bright, sunlit, tiled floor of the Passage, and the glass ceiling.

In the darkroom I might make 9 or 10 test strips until I achieve the right balance – not just the length of the exposure, but also the grading (the contrast levels of the photographic print). The test strips were on different areas of this image. On the girl’s skin tones, the tiled floor in the foreground, and lastly on the glass ceiling in the upper background. As I have three different exposure times for this one print, I use the “Dark Arts” of Dodging (lightening areas) and Burning (darkening areas) under the enlarger light to produce the desired photograph.

And then there is the “Dry down” factor. Dry down is the phenomenon responsible for many fibre prints being sent to the waste-bin. The wet print looks bright and glows, but the following morning the highlights in the dried print are dull and the print lacks the contrast and punch from the previous evening. My experience in using Ilford Multigrade IV Fiber Glossy Paper tells me to subtract about 8% of the enlarger exposure time – once I think that I've achieved the right result on the wet print.

I make notes, both on the back of the final print and in a notebook, of the exposure time, the enlarger aperture number, the contrast grade, the developing times (developer and fix), and the date. Also, in the notebook, I record the enlarger height and the temperature of the developer.

Fibre Paper will buckle unless dried correctly. After washing for 45 minutes, the wet print is dried in the darkroom, pegged from a Sheila Maid clothes airer until 95% dry – this takes about 90 minutes. Then it is flattened overnight between sheets of rigid blotting paper in my 20 x 16 inch Ademco dry-mounting press (switched off).

The next morning I open the press to examine my work. Will it be back to the darkroom?

 

A Dynamic Duo

 

Next week I’m off to Paris again for the day, on what will be my penultimate trip before my exhibition. I know that, currently, I have over 30 prints (maybe 35) that I could hang, but I’m now at the point when I’m starting to think about what images I've got – and, more to the point, what I haven’t!

In my opinion, an exhibition needs pace or dynamics. By dynamics, I mean that the photographs on show will need to vary, and not just in content: vary in composition and in style; vary in depth of field, in shape and form, in light and shade... the list is a long one.

So the prime purpose of my next two trips is to try to complete the exhibition dynamic by filling the visual and/or photographic “gaps”. The trouble is, of course, I’m taking candid photographs with a human content. Despite my best intentions, and perseverance, nothing is guaranteed.

There is one shot that I know I want to try to capture, as it would complement a photo I’ve already taken: namely, Audrey Again, Passage Vendôme. The “Audrey” referred to is the well-known Audrey Hepburn canvas print, sold by IKEA.

A very similar “Audrey” print is on the wall in Little Séoul, a Korean café in Passage Choiseul – just a few shops along from where my exhibition will be. Will the café still be there...? Will it be open...? Will the print still be on the wall...? And even if those answers are in the affirmative, will the other required components of the shot be there? 

Required components??? The truth is I simply won't know until I get there and start waiting for everything and/or anything else to fall into place around the Audrey print, with me poised to click the shutter.

And that might be a very... long... wait...

 
Audrey Hepburn. Pjätteryd canvas print by Phil Handley/IKEA

Audrey Hepburn. Pjätteryd canvas print by Phil Handley/IKEA

RIP FE

 

The demise of an old friend...

Since I started serious photography in 2006, I’ve used my all-black Nikon FE, which I purchased in 1979.

Last September, the tripod it was fixed to (for a shoot on my City Shapes project) toppled – the camera hit the ground and bent the prism housing slightly. Since then the shutter has jammed occasionally, but on the recent roll of HP5 shot in Provence, it jammed maybe six or seven times.

So that’s it: my trusty friend of 35 years is not so trusty, anymore; sadly, now destined for the “spares” box.

I’ve always kept a back-up FE, an “excellent condition” body  from Grays of Westminster, which I shall be using on my next day-trip to Paris, in August.

RIP  my Nikon FE...

RIP my Nikon FE...

 

In the Footsteps of Doisneau...

 

Spent some time reading my Robert Doisneau book about his experiences photographing the Passages from 1975–1980. He said:

“In this aquarium of light, all of these people were preserved as if under glass ...”  and “The magical side of things is invisible for people who are in a hurry, more interested in mechanical things.”

My aim is to capture the ‘magical side of things’ in the Passages, albeit in the 21st century. There is too much to look at for me to be in a hurry – using my 1979 camera!

To think that I bought my Nikon FE that I still use, when Doisneau was shooting his project.

 
Hotel Chopin, Passage Jouffroy . Robert Doisneau, 1976.

Hotel Chopin, Passage Jouffroy. Robert Doisneau, 1976.

Real Photography...

 

Reviewed some of my prints and decided to print two of the best at 20 x 16ins – the largest I can in my darkroom. From a 35mm neg they have enlarged beautifully, though of course all my enlarging notes from the smaller prints were useless. However, that's the joy of film and darkroom. It is REAL PHOTOGRAPHY!

 
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