In the light of disaster, one soldiers on, right? It’s what my dad would say, along with, “give it the old college try”, “glad I thought of it”, and other worn out axioms. In the past 2 months I have sliced open my finger (9 stitches), got the flu, and broken my foot in 2 places. This has totaled nearly 3 weeks in time off from work. Now had I obtained such luxurious time off under circumstances in which I was operating at 90-100% I would have thoroughly enjoyed myself. However, being weak or in pain does not generally add up to high enough number to function properly and all that time has been wasted on pesky healing.
Periodically, everyone takes new directions. For me, they happen perhaps more than they should, making me feel like I am turning in artistic circles. Sometimes those revolutions are good, but most of the time it’s hard to tell.
I have taken up printmaking, a not illogical step on a photographic journey. I took a class on using photopolymer film, which morphed into solarplates, followed by KM photoploymer plates, and finally resting at copperplate photogravure–someplace I never knew I wanted to go. But working with ink and beautiful paper is very rewarding and I only have to make one near-perfect print in the darkroom to produce a plate capable of reproducing that image another 50 times. And each of those 50 can have variations in technique, color, paper, texture etc–all things that a silver print won’t do (but yes of course other methods will).
Every time I embark on a new direction or new aspect to image-making, I think I have finally landed on the technique that will be the ultimate, the one I will stick with for the remainder of my artistic life. Haha. Aside from photography in general, nothing has held my interest for that long, and, really, if you aren’t exploring new directions, you aren’t growing. Or that’s my feeling.
With shock and horror it has come to my attention that I haven’t updated the pages on this site for a long time–in the case of one page, since 2012. I assure you, I continue to take pictures! I update my flickr page far more frequently than I do this site: http:www.flickr.com/photos/amandatomlin
Meanwhile, I am trying my hand at printing ziatypes, messing up the carbon transfer process, and scratching my head over why I never thought to make Pyrocat HD with distilled water instead of the stuff out of the tap when I noticed streaking.
Instead of walking away from what has become an arcane and archaic process, I instead have chosen to delve deeper into film and what it can do. My ambition is to combine many processes in one piece, but with the exception of a project that I have not yet finished, this as yet eludes me. When I do figure it out, I’ll share it here, as I must.
Sometimes it’s the weather that keeps me indoors and away from shooting with a big camera, but usually it’s more complicated than that. I’m sitting here on my bed in my parents’ house in France vacillating between complete apathy and frenzied activity. I was out the other day in sub-freezing temperatures to shoot the ice and snow because of their novelty and I was shooting in a heated studio yesterday because I had a model. In between I look outside at the rain and overcast skies and the winter landscape and I cannot gather the energy to shoot in one of the most meaningful places on earth (to me). I have schlepped my camera 6000 miles to shoot here and I don’t. Actually, that’s an untruth: I did not come here to shoot, I came to say goodbye to my father who passed away before I arrived. Maybe that has something to do with it.
I am underwhelmed by what I brought back from the Death Valley meetup. Ironically, the only good shots are either not of Death Valley, or exist on roll film rather than sheet. There are a couple of the dunes which would have had possibilities had I not under-developed them.
I have always thought of myself less of a landscape photographer than as a….don’t really know what kind. Portraitist? Night photographer? Dabbler? All I can say is that I feel pretty weak about landscapes, especially landscapes like Death Valley that are a challenge to shoot.
I actually started to cry a couple of times when I looked on the ground glass. The landscape is overwhelming and I was shooting outside all my preferences. This may explain why I didn’t get much. I was not inspired, confident, or happy with what I saw–as a photographer, that is. As a tourist, it was beautiful.
I am going back in Feb and I am going to concentrate on the two places that actually inspired me–the dunes and Badwater. Both of these place held features that hold my interest because they are best at sunrise (dunes) and sunset (Badwater), the two times of day that I tend to shoot landscapes, if I must. And I will be more precise in the darkroom.
In June I went to the eastern Sierra to shoot with a group of large format wielding women. It was great and I learned lots. One of the things I learned was the lith-printing process and I have been putting it into practice with a remarkable success rate. It is the perfect process for the less-than-stellar darkroom technicians such as myself. I have been using Moersch lith chemicals and Fomabrom classic paper. Depending on how much solution D (bromide) you put in the developer, the paper gives a lovely brown to orange. Not so fond of the oranges, but put the paper in a weak selenium solution for just a few seconds and you’re back to a warm brown. I will have several of these prints on display and for sale at San Francisco Open Studios, Oct 13-14, 2012