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The Reciprocity Effect Modern Analogue

Pixels Are Not A Substitute For Atoms

A LITTLE TEST PLATE

©2014 Quinton Gordon - 5x7 Tintype with Deardorff

As I work more with collodion glass negatives, it’s become my habit to do a 5x7 test plate on aluminum in order to assess final exposure times prior to the glass plate.

I think an interesting series of unique plates from my tests is developing.

QG

LAVENDER HARVEST

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The kind folks at Fujifilm Canada sent me an X100s to play with for awhile and heading up to the lavender harvest in the Comox Valley was a great opportunity to test this wonderful little camera.

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I love the optical viewfinder on this camera, it’s bright and informative (with all the required information) but does not feel overly cluttered. The camera is responsive and I found the auto focus easy to work with, reminds me of working with a Konica Hexar.

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Like any digital camera, it has a few quirks to get use to, but overall I was able to set the camera up for my way of working and quickly get on with the business of making photographs. Setting a specific white balance or working with RAW files seems to be key to getting the right feel, but the files are superb and the fixed lens produces fine results even wide open.

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To improve the handling of this camera, the lens hood and either a case with a grip, or an extra grip are definitely required in my opinion. The camera as is feels a little small and I found it easy to get my finger in front of the lens when adjusting the aperture.

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This simple, well thought out camera will make a superb addition to my standard kit and given that 99.9% of my work is analogue, it is an ideal digital companion, compact, simple, and responsive, with excellent results.

QG

PS - Two or three extra batteries are an essential addition to the kit… the small battery has a lot of work to do in this camera so don’t expect to work all day on less then three batteries.

A TASTE FOR CERTAINTY

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8x10 Tintype Portrait - Copyright Quinton Gordon & Diana Millar

In a 2004 interview with View Camera magazine, photographer Stephen Shore comments on how the high cost and the physical demands of working with large format develop in the photographer "a taste for certainty."

His comments resonate, and perhaps all the more so in wet plate, since the time and labour involved in the making of each plate further reduces any desirability for indecision or uncertainty.

In my career I quickly became selective and have tended not to make many images, choosing to edit before I push the button. As a result, I would frequently come back from assignments with far fewer images then my editors would have expected or probably liked. This led to some rather uncomfortable production meetings as art directors hovered over light-tables scanning through my transparencies and wondering aloud if "this is all there is?"

Trying to mask my annoyance with their comment I would be left to point out that I had made the photographs that I felt told the story. Fortunately, a few months later I would almost as frequently be rewarded by seeing layouts very similar to those that I had envisioned while making the photographs, with significant real estate on the pages dedicated to my images, and the same art directors would call me to say how easily the story and the layout had come together, that it was a real pleasure to work with my photographs.

I’m not saying this to glorify my work, or have my ego stroked, but rather I am attempting to relate the value of knowing what you want as an image maker and that having the determination to make it without fear will pay great personal and professional dividends.

I had a similar experience while watching the excellent documentary on veteran conflict photographer, James Nachtwey. In the film War Photographer, there is a memorable scene where he and several other photographers are at the scene of a mass murder in Bosnia I believe, and it is quite noteworthy how different Nachtwey’s approach to the situation is. He quietly greets the local people and seems to gain their approval with a simple gesture. He then proceeds to make a few, seemingly very select images, while by contrast the other photographers run around shooting everything insight as if they won’t know what it was they were looking for until the edit their work.

It’s important to note that I’m not suggesting that large format is the key to good photography or that a single approach to photography needs to be adopted, far from it. However, as photographer Sam Abell noted about his work, “I have a view camera mentality, but I really like this small (35mm) camera”, and the point here is that as photographers we are seeing, and thinking about the translation of the situation and our subject as a photograph before we even place the frame around the scene.

The more we understand what we want, the more ready we are to recognize it when the scene unfolds, or the more able we are to create it in the moment.

Diana and I have come to working very deliberately as we approach images within a project, and I can safely say that with my best photographs I have frequently seen the entirety of what I want right down to how the finished print feels at the time of exposure, regardless of the format I am working with.

The portrait pictured above is of a family that is dear to our hearts, and this plate is one of only two that we made, the first one fogged slightly in the dark-box, so we made a second plate, quite certain that this was the image we all wanted.

QG

To see behind the scenes photos of the making of this portrait click here.

BACK TO SHAN GAI

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Copyright 2014 Quinton Gordon / Diana Millar

8x20 inch Toned Silver-Gelatin Print from 8x10 Collodion Glass Negatives

This past week we returned to the Coal Creek Historic Park in Cumberland, BC, site of the historic Chinatown 1888 - 1968. This time we brought our portable darkroom, sheets of 8x10 glass and everything we needed to make collodion glass negatives on site.

As we dive more deeply into this wonderful project, we have come to understand the significance of connecting our working methodology and process to the intent of this longterm project.

Q + D

TEA TIME

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Copyright 2014 Quinton Gordon

Nothing better then getting to dress up at school.

Willows Elementary School : Tea Party… a six year old girl’s idea of heaven… and a father’s idea of a well spent afternoon.

QG

MAGIC IN THE WOODS

It feels a little like Alchemy as you stand holding a clear sheet of glass, surrounded by the sounds of birds and wind in the trees, preparing to transform this humble glass into an image made with precious metals and salts.

Working onsite in the comfortable warmth of early summer, Diana prepares and cleans the glass plates as I set up our 8x10 Deardorff camera amongst the trees.

We have returned to Coal Creek to photograph the historic Shan Gai Street in what was once the thriving Chinatown of the coal mining hay days of Vancouver Islands, Comox Valley. Our goal today is to make two glass plate negatives that will work together to form an 8x20 inch diptych  of this historic site… just one of many images in a larger project that will take us two years to complete.

Fifteen minutes later we hold a beautifully exposed and developed glass negative up against a backdrop of forest green… pausing briefly to inspect it before the light changes and we loose the opportunity to make the partner plate.

Q + D

TYPE 663

Polaroid Type 663 print, Copyright Quinton Gordon

I love this film, and I’m now down to my last box… a box from April 2009.

Polaroid 180 with Portrait Kit

QG

PLATE OF THE DAY

Please excuse the rather rough on location copy shot (less then ideal) but this was definitely my favourite plate of the day from our Tintype Photo Booth yesterday… a good friend’s daughter, so lovely and charming.

QG

CAMERAS IN COLLODION

4x5 Tintypes : Vintage Cameras Series by Quinton Gordon

A fun series of portraits from my collection of vintage cameras.

Will have them for sale at the Camera Swap on Sunday so get to our booth early… I only made a few of each.

QG

OLD FRIENDS

Nothing better then having a quiet drink with a couple of old friends!

QG

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