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Street Photography at CCAD: Part 2

Next up was making contact sheets. We have the option at CCAD to rent out a plain contact proof printer, or a negative-holding proof printer that the negs neatly mount in to. The latter, however, holds the negatives so that they are vertical, not horizontal on the portrait 9.5 by 12 inch paper. For a neater and easier-to-navigate negative folder, I opted to use a plain proof printer and line the negatives up horizontally by hand. This means, with the contact sheet stapled to the neg sleeve, the contacts line up with the negatives stored beneath them. It is obviously a standard method, but it was good to find it out for myself.

Arranging the negs on the paper - making sure they are lined up straight, facing the same way and in the correct order - can be tricky in the darkroom. Though, it does force me to slow down and do a good job of it - so as not to waste any of the pricey Ilford photographic paper used to print on.

In regards to wasting the paper, printing is sure-fire way to do it. Each photograph needs at least one test print to find the correct exposure. Even if every image on the roll was evenly exposed, each print would still need a different exposure time/enlarger lens aperture to look ‘right’. An image with a backlit subject, like my one above, is particularly hard. Finding the print settings that had the right balance between the highlights and shadows took me through two test prints and a failed attempt before getting it right - that’s four sheets for one photograph.

I am enjoying the process other than worrying about the amount of paper, and therefore money, being used. Working in the darkroom is refreshingly-new ground for me (I’ve spent a lot of time staring at a screen) and the facilities at CCAD seem excellent. I will surely miss the ingenious paper developing machine when I leave; it’s a huge convenience.

In conclusion: process wise, from shutter to print - I’m happy and learning well. My issues lie with my behaviour on the street and the images I’m trying to make, I’m overthinking. Though it may work for some, disregarding any thought during street photography will not work for me - I lack the spontaneity. I will try and find a balance for my last few rolls.

Getting to grips with my MPP Mk. VI

Getting to grips with my MPP Mk. VI

Street Photography at CCAD: Part 1

Though I have previously dabbled with street photography, it’s an entirely different art to my usual, considered landscapes. I am unaccustomed to the speed and spontaneity required, but also struggle to wait for moments on the street due to a mix of teenage impatience and the inescapable thought that I’m just missing better opportunities elsewhere. This is evident in the hit:miss ratio of my exposed rolls so far; there are many frames with the subject just in or out of the image and several with the the subject completely absent.

I’m not too shy about photographing strangers. Instead, my finger stays off the release more than it should because I’m thinking, not whether I can, but should take the shot. Looking at the work of some of the masters of street photography (I’ll post said research soon) has perhaps not been a tremendous aid to my confidence in this regard. In many of these images, there’s a lot going on throughout. This means that when I see an interesting subject on the street, I can’t help but scan around them to see what else is going to bring life to the shot. If there isn’t really anything, I’m very reluctant to touch the camera.

Lack of bravery has, admittedly, gotten the better of me once so far. In Newcastle, a dozen-or-so National Front members were protesting in the main square. My image above shows I was scared to get in the faces of those guys. I did outstay my welcome, it seems, despite my nervous approach: an enraged skinhead went forehead-to-forehead with me, telling me to fuck off repeatedly and I was pushed and shoved until being ‘saved’ by three police officers. My camera and face would probably be in a different condition had I been brave. This hasn’t put me off, though.

I am trying to loosen up and get through those rolls quicker. There’s an irony in this though, to me. I’ve never used film for anything other than considered shots. It’s hard-wired into me that digital is for spamming the shutter and film is special. (This is down to the finances for the most part.) This is probably why my aforementioned earlier foray into street photography was more successful than my current attempts have been - I shot with a digital X100s.

Touching on film processing as it is, maybe ashamedly, my first time developing independently: after a tutorial from the technician at CCAD and four rolls of film later, I seem to be getting the hang of it. Back to teenage impatience, I found out the hard way that it’s better to leave film to dry by itself rather than blasting it for a few minutes in the dryer; the chance of having water-marks on the negatives is significantly reduced. To make sure they’re dust free, I hang the dry negatives from a light-stand back at my flat. I cut the six-strips-of-six off, working upwards and giving each one a gentle wipe with a lens cloth before sliding them into the neg-holder. Finally, I check them on my lightbox to make sure they don’t need another wash. (Shown above.)

The Beginnings of Photography: Niépce, Daguerre and Talbot.
In 1826, one of the first permanent images was captured by Joseph Niépce. View from the Window at Le Gras (above) was the first of his ‘heliographs’ - meaning ‘sun drawings’. This is the earliest surviving example, but Niépce created the first heliograph around 1822. An engraved plate was coated in bitumen, exposed, then developed in a solvent. Prior to Niépce, people had only used the camera obscura to project a guide for paintings and sketches. 
After a partnership with Niépce and several years of experimentation, another frenchman - Louis Daguerre - developed the daguerrotype. He announced his invention in 1839. A silver-plated sheet of copper was finely polished (giving the art its nickname - ‘the mirror with a memory’) then coated with iodine. The plate was exposed for a few minutes before being submerged in a bath of sliver chloride. This created a lasting image on the plate - a unique item.


A Daguerrotype of Daguerre
Using his new process, Daguerre is thought to be responsible for making the first ever candid photograph of a person; he caught a man having his shoes polished on the street in one of his early exposures. 
Daguerrotypes were technically superior to heliographs and became extremely popular, spreading throughout the western world. However, captured on opaque metal plates, daguerrotype exposures could not be replicated or enlarged, without photographing the plate - which would deteriorate the quality if repeated. (Like photocopying a photocopy.)
In 1841, Henry Fox Talbot - an English botanist and mathematician - pioneered the first negative from which multiple positive prints could be made. His translucent ‘calotypes’ consisted of paper sensitised to light with a silver salt solution. The grain of the paper was visible, so they did not possess the detail shown in a daguerrotype. Calotypes set the foundations for the modern negative.


A Calotype (or ‘Talbotype’) of Henry Fox Talbot
Through the adaptation or creation of large format cameras, most types of plate-based photography are still practiced today - albeit by a niche number of ‘purist’ photographers who have the funds and expertise to do so. Japanese ‘daguerreotypist’ Takashi Arai demonstrates the creation of a daguerreotype in this video here.

The Beginnings of Photography: Niépce, Daguerre and Talbot.

In 1826, one of the first permanent images was captured by Joseph Niépce. View from the Window at Le Gras (above) was the first of his ‘heliographs’ - meaning ‘sun drawings’. This is the earliest surviving example, but Niépce created the first heliograph around 1822. An engraved plate was coated in bitumen, exposed, then developed in a solvent. Prior to Niépce, people had only used the camera obscura to project a guide for paintings and sketches. 

After a partnership with Niépce and several years of experimentation, another frenchman - Louis Daguerre - developed the daguerrotype. He announced his invention in 1839. A silver-plated sheet of copper was finely polished (giving the art its nickname - ‘the mirror with a memory’) then coated with iodine. The plate was exposed for a few minutes before being submerged in a bath of sliver chloride. This created a lasting image on the plate - a unique item.

A Daguerrotype of Daguerre

Using his new process, Daguerre is thought to be responsible for making the first ever candid photograph of a person; he caught a man having his shoes polished on the street in one of his early exposures.

Daguerrotypes were technically superior to heliographs and became extremely popular, spreading throughout the western world. However, captured on opaque metal plates, daguerrotype exposures could not be replicated or enlarged, without photographing the plate - which would deteriorate the quality if repeated. (Like photocopying a photocopy.)

In 1841, Henry Fox Talbot - an English botanist and mathematician - pioneered the first negative from which multiple positive prints could be made. His translucent ‘calotypes’ consisted of paper sensitised to light with a silver salt solution. The grain of the paper was visible, so they did not possess the detail shown in a daguerrotype. Calotypes set the foundations for the modern negative.

A Calotype (or ‘Talbotype’) of Henry Fox Talbot

Through the adaptation or creation of large format cameras, most types of plate-based photography are still practiced today - albeit by a niche number of ‘purist’ photographers who have the funds and expertise to do so. Japanese ‘daguerreotypist’ Takashi Arai demonstrates the creation of a daguerreotype in this video here.

Blog Maintenence

I will be slightly reducing the posted image-sizes from now on. This is not out of protectiveness; I like showing my work in high quality - but I have had feedback about slow load times. The blog header has been changed to a different image at a far smaller file size.

Thank you for your continued support and appreciation,

Marius. 

The Ethics of Street Photography - My Response
Original article by Joerg Colberg. The following is my reaction to it and my current personal feelings on street photography.
As far as how ethically-sound street photographs are - I know where my image is going, at least initially. I know that I’m not going to title an image ‘Stupid Hat-Wearing Pleb Tying His Laces’ -  I have no reason to feel guilty. I am not openly conveying a negative judgement on the subjects by photographing them. As long as the photographer does not actually harass* their subjects, (perhaps some like, Bruce Gilden, do) I see no wrong-doing. 
The subject, out in a public space, is already being subjectively judged by everyone that sees them on the street. The image does nothing but extend that audience. Would they cower or fill with rage if the space suddenly became busier, so that more people saw them? Probably not. Does the average person actively avoid being caught in the view of surveillance cameras**? No, and it is nearly impossible anyway. If they feel my image is going to be an unflattering representation of them - it’s too late, frankly. They already did, what they did, in public.
Brushing aside what I fear may be perceived as Gilden-level ‘I don’t give a shit’ confidence - I would, if shooting digital, delete an image if reasonably requested to do so by a subject. While still ‘in’ the camera, a digital image is nothing but a reading from a sensor stored in data. They would most likely know how easily I could erase the picture, not doing so would cause further conflict. It’s not like the memory card needs to be incinerated***. With film however, that image exists now and is my possession. I would explain that there is no non-destructive way to get-rid of the image and make my escape.
* To me, harassment would entail:
Intentionally blocking the path of someone
Using a flash close to them
Stalking someone, waiting for the ‘best’ photographic opportunity
Sexual harassment 
Repeatedly photographing the same person(s)
Verbally abusing them for how they reacted to the camera, for example: “YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO SMILE!”
**Colberg elaborates on surveillance cameras:
'Of course, this would appear to be ironic given that there are surveillance cameras everywhere. But I think one needs to understand that there is a difference between these two. If you enter a store that you know has surveillance cameras you implicitly give your consent to being filmed or photographed.'
I, however, was referring to cameras in public (not commercial) spaces.
***An in-camera image deletion is easily undone through recovery software, but I would feel…uncomfortable doing this. If the person had been polite, I would feel guilty reviving the ‘deleted’ image for use.
Above image is my own.

The Ethics of Street Photography - My Response

Original article by Joerg Colberg. The following is my reaction to it and my current personal feelings on street photography.

As far as how ethically-sound street photographs are - I know where my image is going, at least initially. I know that I’m not going to title an image ‘Stupid Hat-Wearing Pleb Tying His Laces’ -  I have no reason to feel guilty. I am not openly conveying a negative judgement on the subjects by photographing them. As long as the photographer does not actually harass* their subjects, (perhaps some like, Bruce Gilden, do) I see no wrong-doing. 

The subject, out in a public space, is already being subjectively judged by everyone that sees them on the street. The image does nothing but extend that audience. Would they cower or fill with rage if the space suddenly became busier, so that more people saw them? Probably not. Does the average person actively avoid being caught in the view of surveillance cameras**? No, and it is nearly impossible anyway. If they feel my image is going to be an unflattering representation of them - it’s too late, frankly. They already did, what they did, in public.

Brushing aside what I fear may be perceived as Gilden-level ‘I don’t give a shit’ confidence - I would, if shooting digital, delete an image if reasonably requested to do so by a subject. While still ‘in’ the camera, a digital image is nothing but a reading from a sensor stored in data. They would most likely know how easily I could erase the picture, not doing so would cause further conflict. It’s not like the memory card needs to be incinerated***. With film however, that image exists now and is my possession. I would explain that there is no non-destructive way to get-rid of the image and make my escape.

* To me, harassment would entail:

  • Intentionally blocking the path of someone
  • Using a flash close to them
  • Stalking someone, waiting for the ‘best’ photographic opportunity
  • Sexual harassment 
  • Repeatedly photographing the same person(s)
  • Verbally abusing them for how they reacted to the camera, for example: “YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO SMILE!”

**Colberg elaborates on surveillance cameras:

'Of course, this would appear to be ironic given that there are surveillance cameras everywhere. But I think one needs to understand that there is a difference between these two. If you enter a store that you know has surveillance cameras you implicitly give your consent to being filmed or photographed.'

I, however, was referring to cameras in public (not commercial) spaces.

***An in-camera image deletion is easily undone through recovery software, but I would feel…uncomfortable doing this. If the person had been polite, I would feel guilty reviving the ‘deleted’ image for use.

Above image is my own.

The Mining Institute 

The Mining Institute 

Eager to see the images from my first own-developed street photography roll, I fashioned a negative ‘scanner’ in my flat. Surprisingly effective!