Tag Archives: alternative process

SW Regional SPE: Skott Chandler

Sharing photographers that I met at the SW Regional SPE Conference hosted by the Center of Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado….

I think most of us would like to think we lead interesting lives, but Colorado photographer, Skott Chandler provides the evidence that much of what we do is routine or banal. Skott gave a spirited presentation at SPE that spoke to his creative approaches to making images. The photographs featured today from his project, House Watch, are the result of self-created pinhole cameras secured to the ceilings of a whole host of living spaces.  The results reflect how people (and dogs) use space–those who are in focus or semi-focus are more stationary, those who disappear are only moving through the room.

Skott is a  photographic artist in Denver, Colorado where he teaches at the Art Institute of Colorado. He received his degree in Studio Art at Southern Utah University, and during that time he received a UGRASP (Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Program) grant for his surreal Photocubism series.
He then received his MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Skott has exhibited work throughout the United States, as well as internationally in Bordeaux, France, Hong Kong, and Geneva, Switzerland. His work was selected for Klopmpching Gallery’s inaugural FRESH 2011 photography competition and he was recognized by Gallery 263 in Cambridge, MA, as one of the Top 30 Emerging Artist Under 30 for 2011.

 House Watch

Humans have many levels of connection with their personal spaces. Narratives within these domestic spaces differ depending on the inhabitants and their activities that may be mundane, ambiguous, hilarious, absurd, or unsettling. The space within a house affects the inhabitants, and the inhabitants affect the space–an oddly intriguing phenomenon that proves difficult to visualize. 

Creating a photographic representation of such an abstract emotional experience was my motivation. The photographs take the perspective of an omniscient voyeur investigating the dynamics of space within a home. Ceiling mounted pinhole cameras cast an unflinching gaze upon the inhabitants and rooms within the walls; not to judge, but to witness.

Gayle Stevens and Judy Sherrod: Nocturnes

Photo NOLA is about to gear up for an amazing week of all things photography, and one of those events is the exhibition, CURRENTS 2012: NOPA Members Showcase,  at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, featuring work by sixteen members of the New Orleans Photo Alliance:
Thom Bennett, J.T. Blatty, Lee Deigaard, Nell Dickerson, E2 (Elizabeth
Kleiveld & Eric Julien), Frank Hamrick, Christopher Harris, Vivian
Keulards, Eleanor Owen Kerr, Maria Levitsky, Colleen Mullins, Donna
Pinkley, Rylan Steele, and S. Gayle Stevens/Judy Sherrod.

Today, I am sharing the work of two of those sixteen,  S. Gayle Stevens and Judy SherrodJudy is the box-making partner in the Nocturnes project. She  designs and makes all the cameras used in her collaboration with Gayle, ranging from two and one-half inches square to forty by forty inches. She drives from  Wichita Falls,Texas to wherever making photographs and schlepping equipment and chemicals with her constant companion, a very funny dog named B. 

The cameras in action….

Gayle Stevens has worked in antiquarian photographic processes for over fifteen years. Her chosen medium is wet plate collodion and she exhibits extensively across the United States, in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Gayle received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the artist in residence at the Serenbe Institute in Georgia in August 2012. Named one of the Critical Mass Top Fifty Photographers for 2010, and a finalist in 2011 and 2012, her work has been featured in numerous publications and held in significant collections. Northlight Press is publishing a book of Stevens’ work in their 11 + 1 Signature series in 2012. Christopher James will feature her work in the third edition of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. She is also a member of the When Pigs Fly photo collective and divides her time shooting in Pass Christian, Mississippi and Downers Grove, Illinois, where she resides. 


Nocturnes 
Nocturnes 8



Our Nocturnes series began as an experiment, an adventure, a collaboration. A pinhole camera-maker and a wet-plate collodion artist collaborated to produce mammoth plate tintypes, echoing the work and process of the early survey photographers. Carleton Watkins, William Henry Jackson, and Timothy O’Sullivan, surveying the expansive landscape of the western US, found themselves at the mercy of nature. James McNeill Whistler, inspired by the visual melody he found in dark skies and seas, titled many of his paintings nocturnes. In turn, these paintings provided inspiration for the orchestral nocturnes written by Debussy, musical impressions which ebb and flow.

 Nocturnes 9



Inspired by these artists and the waters of the gulf in Pass Christian Mississippi we too found ourselves at the mercy of the tides, our images determined by the capriciousness of the water before us.
Because of its infinite depth of field, the pinhole camera conveys the vast expanse of the sea while the collodion-silver emulsion flows across the plate like the waves across the sand.
The plates delivered an unexpected serendipity –a daytime nighttime, a sunny moonscape. There is ebb and flow between night and day, dark and light, as silent sentinels watch waves writing verse in the sand. This push and pull of tides, this melody of the waves, this lyric creates a visual dialogue that is the inspiration for Nocturnes, a little night music.
 –Judy Sherrod and S. Gayle Stevens

Nocturnes 1
Nocturnes 16

Nocturnes 17

Nocturnes 18
Nocturnes 19

Nocturnes 2

Nocturnes 3

Nocturnes 4

Nocturnes 6

Nocturnes 7

Peter Liepke

It’s not a secret that I love all things New York City.  When Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind comes on the radio, it sends me right back to those years of feeling like everything was possible when I strode down Fifth Avenue.  And today’s post on Peter Liepke’s terrific work brings me back to that feeling of complete adoration for the Big Apple. Here’s hoping it weathers hurricane Sandy safely.

Peter Liepke creates New York images that feel like charcoal drawings, timeless in their appeal and magical in their effect.

Peter was born St. Louis Park, Minnesota.  In 1979 he moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to attend Art Center and later opened an advertising photography studio in Los Angeles. His client roster included Chiat/Day, Daily &Assoc, J Walter Thompson, American Honda, Sunkist, FTD. After the 1987 Los Angeles earthquake, Peter decided to move to New York City, and in 1988 reinvented himself as a fine art portraitist. Peter resides in upstate New York with his wife, and two sons. His articles and  photographs have been published in PHOTOGRAPHIS, GRAPHIS Showcase, Photo District News, Town & Country, B&Wmagazine, The Photo Review, View Camera, Silvershots , The Book of Alternative Processes and numerous other publications.

 My series “ABOVE & BEYOND” is the most ambitious fine art project I’ve done to date since leaving the commercial photography world. The images shown here are only a small portion of the entire project. The series is still very much in production, and when completed will comprise at least 40 images or more.

The inspiration comes from a city that I love, where I met my wife, and where many artists from around the country still flock to today. 

Some of my collectors have said that perhaps it might be my own personal and visual love letter to New York City. I suppose maybe that’s partly true in a small way, but for me it’s much more than just that or showing “pretty pictures”. To me the series is much more about breaking away and chasing a dream. After growing up in suburban Minnesota…as an artist, like many before me, and many more who will continually arrive in NYC each day, we embrace the challenge of wanting to broaden our lives by moving into a bigger arena. So for this series I wanted to go back and try to remember my feelings or first impressions upon arriving in NYC as an outsider for the first time well over twenty years ago.

 It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the noise, and feel isolated or lonely despite being surrounded by a sea of humanity. It’s much more difficult to look beyond that which is what I chose to do then, and now. As I continue to seek out, explore, and experience my own sense of place, the reality becomes clear that each of us are small but very valuable individual pieces of a much larger jigsaw puzzle. 

My vision for illustrating the project is the challenge of looking beyond the gritty streets by depicting an urban atmosphere with beauty, utilizing a more intimate cinematic approach engaging the viewer, as opposed to the current more popular trend in contemporary photography of massive sized prints overly saturated with color. The series when completed, will total at least 40 images or more culminating in to a published book, 3 different editions of small handmade platinum palladium collector portfolios, a special photogravure edition, and large limited edition of framed prints all sold and distributed through my galleries.

The Mohawk Ironworkers: Rebuilding the Iconic Skyline of New York

For more than a century, ironworkers descended from the Mohawk Indians of Quebec have helped create New York City’s iconic skyline, guiding ribbons of metal into the steel skeletons that form the backbone of the city. In the tradition of their fathers and grandfathers, a new generation of Mohawk iron workers now descend upon the World Trade Center site, helping shape the most distinct feature of Lower Manhattan—the same iconic structure their fathers and grandfathers helped erect 40 years ago and later dismantled after it was destroyed in 2001.

Driving some 360 miles south to New York from the Kahnawake reserve near Quebec, these men work—just as their fathers did—in the city during the week and spend time with their families on the weekends.

One year ago, around the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, photographer Melissa Cacciola began documenting some of these workers—not an easy task given that the roughly 200 Mohawks (of more than 2,000 iron workers on site) are working at a frantic pace, helping One World Trade Center to rise a floor a week.

Cacciola, a photographer with a background in chemistry and historic preservation, is one of few photographers who work exclusively with tintypes, images recorded by a large-format camera on sheets of tin coated with photosensitive chemicals. Having previously photographed members of the armed-forces for her War and Peace series, Cacciola looked to document those continuing to help the city move past the shadow of tragedy.

“It seemed like a real New York thing,” she told TIME. “And it made sense as the next chapter in the post-9/11 landscape. Rebuilding is part of that story.”

Just as towers like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center mark the height of America’s skyscraper architecture, tintype photographs are inherently American. Tintype developed in the 1850s as early American photographers looked for alternatives to the expensive and finicky glass-plate processes popular in Europe. Recycled tin was a readily available resource in the new nation—less than 100 years old—and so the tintype grew in popularity, earning its place in American photographic identity. Even Abraham Lincoln’s campaign pins contained an inlaid tintype portrait of the candidate.

“You don’t find tintypes on other continents,” Cacciola said.

Slightly blurry and sepia-toned, Cacciola’s portraits feel timeless, save for the occasional modern stickers on her subjects’ hardhats. Each portrait focuses tightly on the men’s strong facial features.

The 30 tintypes in the series are each made from bulk sheets of tin, although Cacciola has also used recycled biscuit jars in prior tintype projects. Coated first with a black lacquer and then a layer of collodion emulsion to make them light sensitive, the plates are dipped in a silver bath immediately before exposure to form silver iodide—a step that bonds actual particles of silver to the emulsion. Nothing could be more fitting for men working with steel to be photographed on metal.

In the tradition of 19th-century photography, Cacciola’s process is slower than today’s digital systems. But the finished plates are more than simple portraits; rather, they hold their own weight as tangible objects. Just as histories often reflect the blemishes of times past, Cacciola’s tintypes are fragile, containing marks and slight imperfect artifacts that reflect the medium’s limitations. Working by hand rather than machine, each portrait records the artist’s intentions as much as her subject’s.

“These tintypes are so much a part of me,” she says. “Like the fact that you get partial fingerprints or artifacts from the way I’m pouring collodion on the plate—it’s all human. The way silver and light interact in this chemical reaction is a testament to the Mohawk iron workers and this early [photographic] process—it’s unparalleled in terms of portraiture.”

Melissa Cacciola is a New York-based tintype photographer.

Legacy in Leaves: The Vietnam War Remembered

When Binh Danh was a child he noticed the impression of objects left on a grass lawn over time. This observation, combined with an early fascination with science and a personal legacy of war—Danh immigrated to the States as a child refugee from Vietnam—would later coalesce into the series of images for which he is most widely known. Danh appropriates iconic images of the Vietnam War and prints them on organic material such as leaves and grass, using a unique printing process he calls Chlorophyll printing. The images—ethereal and fragile, endowed with a sense of heart-wrenching loss—speak poetically of memory, impermanence and the remnants and aftermath of war.

April 30th marks the 37th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the official end of the Vietnam War. For Danh, a Vietnamese American, the legacy of that conflict is complex and profoundly personal: photography is his means to connect with the painful shadows of that legacy by empowering a narrative that grounds him in his own identity. “It’s something that my parents I think want to talk about, but it’s difficult for them to communicate because they have such a direct relationship to what happened,” he says.

The artist uses two different processes to create his images. The first resembles traditional black and white printing where a negative is placed on a living patch of grass or leaf. Like the imprint of a hose on a green lawn, light-blocking material removes the green chlorophyll pigment from organic matter. The image transfers when the dark portions of the negative block light, removing the pigment, while the transparent sections keep the underlying portion of the grass or leaf alive. In the second method, grass is cut and layered on a board to form a canvas onto which the artist projects a positive. The clear part of the transparency that lets sunlight through gets washed out, forming an image.

In an ode to the impermanence and fragility of memory, it is impossible to chemically fix the photograph like a silver gelatin print. The artist recommends pressing the material in a book to retain color, and displaying and storing them away from direct sunlight. However, Danh takes this a step further and casts his work in resin, which, for him, becomes a way to preserve the leaf to hold onto that memory. “I feel that when we forget about the memory of war, war can happen again,” he says. “And of course in this country we forget very quickly.”

Binh Danh is an artist presented by Haines Gallery in San Francisco and Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz. See more of his work here.