Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Looking back, looking forward...

 Update: Fifteen minutes after I posted this, the buzzer to the apartment rang.  It was la poste.  They had my 5in1 reflector.  I came back up stairs and not five minutes after that, as I was taking a leak, the buzzer rang again.  It was le livraison with my Elinchrom system.  Yea!  It's all here and I'm off to visit a new dance studio to see if I can get a more inexpensive but very serviceable place to shoot in.  Whee... the creativity train is set firmly in motion...


Les lumieres, ils ne sont pas ici!  I should believe it, but I don't.  The French delivery system from ProPhot.fr is not working as the salesman said it would.  The lights have not yet arrived.  It's going on a week since I placed my order.  I might have to go back, ask a few questions, and see if I can't find the warehouse to go pick the Elinchrom system up myself.  I don't want to be a Horrible Incorrigible Foreigner, so I might have to see if I can get my Indignant Parisian "on".


While kafeching my plight with a friend, he sent along a suggestion.  Maybe I should give up all this digital madness and work "real" art.  Wet plate collodion.  The process is interesting, if not a little convoluted, complex, and potentially explosive.  Ether can be that way.  Explosive, that is.

To whet my appetite my friend sent along the following video.

Dana Geraths - Wet Plate Photographer from Kia Anne Geraths on Vimeo.

It reminds me of my many years of hauling around very large cameras in search of ultimate image quality.  The man in this video showed up at the 2012 Brooks Steamup out in Oregon.  I beat him by several years.  My first trip to the Steamup saw me hauling an 8x10 Deardorff and lenses and film holders and tripods and dark cloth.

Hood ornament

The things I came away with pleased me well enough and there are a few fine palladium prints in storage that I'm particularly proud of.

Alas, times change and the following year saw me carrying a new digital whiz-bang DSLR.  Such a difference in approach and such a difference in results too.

Thinking about it, the old alternative process ship has sailed for me.  I can't go back.

Locomotive - Snow Plow

Sure, it has it's own sense of beauty and grace.  Yes, the final results can be pure photographic.  But I wonder about the flexibility and I worry that so much process could easily sideline my rather mercurial creativity stream.  I'm not sure my wife would appreciate my bringing explosive materials into our small Paris apartment.

So, I sit here impatiently waiting the arrival of my now very late Elinchrom studio lighting system.  Between fits of anxiety over whether it'll ever arrive, I dream of photoshoots and creativity and ideas and artistic frameworks of reality.  I test my ideas and hopes and dreams against other artists output.  I remain anxious to get going on new projects.

I feel like a horse pulling against the reins wanting to get the show on the road.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

OK. OK. It sputters and starts again...

To avoid shipping charges, I sold my Paul Buff Einstein 640, PLM 64 kit before moving out of the US.

There were times when I regretted that decision.  I loved that kit.  It was flexible, fast to set up, and easy to carry.  Three heads, tripods, parabolic parapluies, portable back drop rig, and I was good to go.

After arriving in France I realized that for me to replace that kit would set me back nearly 4000USD.  Quel dommage!  Quel horreur!!  C'est vraiment trop cher. 

What to do?

"Use the Force", hook up Google's search engine, and do a little investigating, that's what's to do.

It took me some time, since I was so partial to the Einsteins.  I really wanted that old system, so nothing I looked at was ever good enough.

The problem, I saw, was that Paul Buff's European rep added a ton of uplift to the cost and padded things a bit to make sure their doors stayed open.  In other words, the cost of doing business put the cost of the Einsteins straight out of my price range.

Fortunately, after the fog in my thinking cleared and I realized there MUST be other good, if not better, manufacturers of photographic lighting equipment, I stumbled upon Elinchrom.

Elinchrom offers several light sources, heads, stands, and battery packs.  Since I plan on using these lights only where power is readily available, I could by-pass the rather large costs of a battery pack.

There were several kinds of heads to choose from, so it came down to choosing what I felt I could afford.

I sit, even now, out on the back porch of our new apartment down in the 15th arrondissement, in Paris, France, on a rather hot 33C day, listening to a couple several floors up eat a very late dejuner, watching the doves nesting in a tree near by, and wait, not so patiently, for ProPhot.fr to deliver my new three head Elinchrom BX 500 Ri kit.  They said they'd bring them before 18h00.  It's now 16h00 and my foot is tapping the varanda.

The portable backdrop, muslin, 109cm parapluies, and reflectors should arrive tomorrow from Amazon.fr.

With luck, I might have two models lined up to work with in August and maybe two more to make images with in September.  Though I'm still looking for creative people like those I worked with back in Portland, Oregon, USA.  They'll come.  Soon, I hope.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I'm growing stale...

It's been a full three months since we've moved to Paris, France.

My wife and I have been rather busy.  We needed to visit the OFII to process our long stay visa requests.  We needed to find a new apartment, one that we could live in for at least a year.  We need to get things moved.  All of this has taken an incredible amount of time.

Time Keeper's Goddess
Timekeeper's Goddess

In the meantime, I have been attempting to make connections into the creative community here.  I've been hoping to begin making images again.

Alas, I'm constrained, just as I said I would be, to making travel photos.

I have started to look for a place to work in.  I started with dance studios to see if I could find a room I could rent by the hour.  It's possible that there is such a place down in the 14th, but I'll have to see how far it is from our new apartment.

I have started looking for people to work with.  This is where the differences in cultures between the USA and France seem to be hitting hardest.  The French are indeed conservative.

Sometimes, back in the States, I would come across someone who felt that the only valid art was "good, professional" art.  In other words, art that hangs in galleries and museums.  Art that plays out on a "professional" stage.  Art that is somehow "acknowledged" to be good by some ill-defined group of "experts".

Saint Rationalism
Saint Rationalism

It's disappointing to find this approach to art is in full play here in France.

I'm used to finding creative people, sharing a bit of what I do and how I do it, and to come to a point, in many cases, where we could find common ground where all parties could share the results of an art work party.  Some on some level were professional.  Others were simply very creative people looking to extend their art.

I have yet to find that kind of creativity, quick understanding and engagement here.

I will need to remain patient.  We've only been here three months.  Still, I look forward to getting out of the habit of making travel photos.