I have never considered myself to be a great writer. I had recently went to a workshop (Flash Powder Projects which I highly recommend) to help advance my career as a photographer. The two people who run it, Jennifer Schwartz and David Bram stressed the need to write and write often, so here it goes.
Lately I have been working on building my darkroom and I think I finally have it in a state that is ready to use. The only problem is that the weather is too hot and humid for Carbon printing and Platinum printing so I have to wait. After years of trying to establish a place to do my work it can be frustrating to have to wait. I am trying to learn Carbon Printing on my own, with the help of Sandy Kings Carbon group on Yahoo, but so far it has been a disaster. A good one though, I have learned a lot.
I recently read an article in Time about the resurgence of film, I have been shooting with film since 1995 as well as with digital cameras, but I am really in love with being able to combine them in my workflow. Basically I am shooting film, scanning and then making contact prints in Carbon or Platinum. Two months ago, I acquired a free Nuarc 40-1k print that will technically make contact prints up to 30x40 inches. People often ask me where I get these things, I built my darkroom for about $300, and my answer is patience and Craigslist. Everything eventually ends up on Craigslist, a lot of times for free.
I have been talking with Carl Weese who taught me platinum printing and some of the issues that have been plaguing us lately. The problem comes from the fact that our favorite paper, Magnani Revere is no longer being made, or at least made in the way it was before. Quite often, paper companies change the way they make the paper and do no disclose it. Things like adding sizing can really change the way it works for platinum printing. The fall back paper for Carl is Arches Platine which is a standard in the platinum printing world, but again, they have made a change and the paper tends to bleed if you don’t add Tween to it. If you add too much Tween, the image will have streaks. I use Bergger Cot 320 which for most people is expensive (I get a discount because I work at B&H Photo so the price is the same as Platine) The Cot 320 is highly recommended by Christoper James in his wonderful manual - The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes I have not printed in a while, but it doesn’t seem to bleed or at least not as much a Platine. I am also going to test some Fabrino Artistico soaked in a Oxaclic acid bath to remove the sizing. I like using Fabrino Artistico in many of my other processes as well so it would be great to be able to have one go to paper and buy it in bulk.
One of the benefits of working at B&H Photo is having access to the photo library. I can borrow most of the cameras, lenses and a whole bunch of equipment we sell for two weeks. This allows me to test a whole range of cameras. I have been lucky enough to try the Sony A7 Mark II with a 35mm and 55mm lens - I had trouble focusing. The Samsung NX1 with a bunch of lenses - the 85mm is incredible. The nikon D610 and D800 with the 24-70mm lens - way too heavy for me. An Olympus OMD EM1 with just about all of the lenses that are made for it. My main digital camera is the Panasonic GX7 which after just a year and a half has broken. I would highly suggest you do not buy Panasonic, their customer service is terrible and did not offer much help. It’s a shame because I really loved the camera, but I think it’s time for a more durable professional camera. I am leaning towards the Sony A7RII. I was able to try most of the Panasonic lenses and I will post some images from all these cameras and lenses soon. These are just my person opinions based on limited use and I don’t want to turn this site into a camera review blog. I feel that if you are a good photographer, you can make great photos with any camera, it’s just that some make it easier and are more intuitive to people which is highly subjective. I do not shoot sports so the need of an optical viewfinder and 10 FPS are not high on my list. A camera that doesn’t scare people when I point it at them is important to me.
Thats it for now.