Contact Sheet: Josie

I adopted Josie years ago. She was a sweetie but was incapable of being around other dogs, and my life at the time involved being around other dogs. We found a new home for her with a lovely woman who enjoyed dogs but had none. What she did have was 5 acres of land and immediate love for Josie.

Josie contact sheet. Tri-x, shot with the Hasselblad.

I recently ran across the above contact sheet taken shortly after bringing her home. I love medium format contact sheets, since they make a fun polyptych. I often make a second contact sheet expressly for hanging. Sometimes I make a third and cut the small images out for my journal.

I could cheat with digital photos and make something similar, but it’s not the same.

You’re Pointing Your Camera the Wrong Way

There is no simple way to banish the ennui of our age, but maybe it would help if we stopped looking at our own faces and turned instead to documenting the vanishing natural world in all its manifestations.

Margaret Renkl, NYT

I love self-portraits but I hate selfies.


It’s just a dumpster, but I like the lines and colors.

Here’s a photo. At least it’s something that’s not about blogging.

Or is it?

Trying again but with digital

I took the same walk, but this time I brought a digital camera (Fujifilm X-T5). It’s just not the same. Maybe it’s the 23mm Fuji lens that I don’t love. Or maybe it’s just that I know they’re digital. Whatever it is, I prefer the film shots from the last two outings.

Roll-100 (Hasselblad 500C/M)

I took the Hasselblad for a walk today on the same route as the one last week with the Leica MP. It’s a lot heavier! This was a roll of Delta 100 that expired in Jan 2011. I didn’t know what to expect, but it looks ok to me.

I don’t know what I want

This has been a tumultuous week for me, photography-wise. Early in the week, I made this silver gelatin darkroom print of a 35mm frame of HP5 film.

On my walk. Ada, MI Silver Gelatin print (Leica MP, HP5)
On my walk. Ada, MI Silver Gelatin print (Leica MP, HP5)

It’s a photo of some weeds I took while out walking. That’s it. But I made it using my favorite camera and it’s a “real” chemical photograph on actual paper. I like it very much.

Then yesterday, I took the following self-portrait using my new Fujifilm X-T5 digital camera in my home studio.

Studio Self-portrait (digital)
Studio Self-portrait (digital)

Here’s my dilemma: I like them both, but never equally or at the same time. One moment I love everything about shooting film with my Leica and printing using only light and chemistry in the darkroom. It feels like making art, even when the objective technical quality is lacking. In fact, the lack of technical quality is what I look for when shooting and printing film.

Then, a moment later, I can’t understand why I’d bother with all that when I could simply shoot digitally and easily produce a clean, sharp, colorful self-portrait using strobes and backgrounds without all the finger-crossed guessing and expensive failures.

What all this means is that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to commit to a single form of photography. There are too many fun and exciting options to limit myself to just one. It also means I’m unlikely to ever develop the “Baty Aesthetic™” that I always think I should have. It means I’ve no “vision”. Oh well, it’ll have to be OK that I’m all over the place, creatively.

Darkroom printing with borders

I like the way prints look with a small black border around the image, like this:

Darkroom print hanging to dry
Darkroom print hanging to dry

I know some people file their negative holders but that means no cropping and there’s no way I’m precise enough with framing to not crop about 90% of my images at least a little.

What I did instead is cut a piece of poster board ever so slightly smaller than my usual print size. I place this over the image after making the initial exposure and do one more quick 5-second exposure for the border.

This works, but it’s difficult getting the board lined up evenly. For now, I’m writing that off as providing uniqueness but I’m still looking for something better.

I taped the edges with dark tape so it’s easier to see in the dark.

I almost always print 6″x8″ on 8″x10″ paper, so this will be fine most of the time. If anyone has a better technique, I’d love to hear about it.

Scanned black and white darkroom print of power tower and tree branches
Scanned 8×10 silver gelatin print. I’m testing my homemade border-maker mask. It’s a bit hard to get even.

Roll-099 (Leica MP)

From my walk. Ada, MI.

I took the MP on my walk and was determined to shoot an entire roll. It was overcast, dreary, and the path I walk is pretty boring, but I did my best and made it through the roll.

This roll was shot at 800 and developed in HC-110 (Dilution B) for 7.5 minutes.