20120508-005137.jpg 20120508-005151.jpg 20120508-005202.jpg 20120508-005214.jpg

As an art student, experimentation was expected, the norm, a must. I was into cyanotypes, sepia toner, Polaroid transfers, hand coloring, fiber paper, etc. I’d experiment with temperature (weather) and its effect on sepia-toned photographs. At school, I was told to do those chemicals outside, so it was always a test of my scientific consistency (ha!) and the weather.

If you wanted to experiment the way I wanted to experiment, you had to constantly try new things. And I wanted to try everything by the time I was through with school.

Take the 8×10 camera – blah! with those perfect studio images! I’d much rather use that 8×10 Polaroid back to make transfers. And I did. And it was amazing. I fell so hard for the gritty washed out look of Polaroid transfers. They looked like they’d been wrung out through the ages of time: crumpled up, spit out, spilled on, and scraped off of someones’ old boot.

Today, the process is less complex. In a way, I’d say it’s more stable than it used to be, and I wonder if that’s a metaphor for being 31 as much as it is true about the nature of digital photography. Much of the complex thinking is removed from today’s process and it’s easy for me to focus on that “one thing” that was so difficult for me 10 years ago. Look at PhotoForge2, Hipstamatic, and Camera+. I can make images look gritty, just like I did in the darkroom with contrast filters, only instantly. Instagram is the same. Gritty and raw with that toy-camera look. It took weeks to get things to look like that with film. With these new-fangled apps, it’s literally seconds. This gives me the opportunity to both experiment and focus on technical skills.

With access to all these apps, two feelings emerge. First is: great! people get to appreciate photography in a new way. Second is: a little saddened that I have all these processing apps in my virtual camera bag and no access to a darkroom. Even if I did, would I want to spend all that time there? Probably not! These days, I’m partial to bright warm sunshine and being better to the environment – certainly not toxic chemicals and days in darkness.

Maybe someday, Zone photography will reemerge from those picturesque Ansel Adams quaking aspens and people will want to get out that old dusty 8×10, adjust the bellows, set that F-stop to 64, fasten on that Polaroid back and take some test shots with a gray card. For me, I’ll just remember all those formulas and leave that to Old Ansel. Or I’ll see if there’s an app for it instead.

20120508-005234.jpg 20120508-005240.jpg 20120508-005244.jpg 20120508-012105.jpg