Last thursday was the very successful private view of our End of Year Show “Hidden Rivers“. Numerous visitors were on hand to admire the varied and interesting array of works presented by the Class of 2014, BTEC National Diploma in Photography, of the Kensington and Chelsea College. The 2014 End of Year Show Photography Prize was won by the talented and creative Gesine Garz, whom I had the honour of modelling for many times during the past year.
For those of you who have not yet visited our exhibition, I present my contribution.
This is a series entitled “The Internal State of Men”, created in 2014, a group of portraits inviting you to identify the internal state of the model.
The title of this picture, inspired by the oeuvre of Sarah Moon, should speak for itself.
I also included some images familiar to the visitors of this blog, “The Dowager” and “The View, Horizontally“. The photo of “Los Espantos de Baldí” was included in the post about the colours of Costa Rica.
The final image I submitted to the Exhibition was one taken during my fashion shoot. It was created using my very own technique of rescuing photos which would otherwise be discarded. I call the photo “In a Different Light”.
If you like what you see and you are within the “neighbourhood”, stop by and visit our show.
Liquid Light is one of the most remarkable inventions in photography. It is a silver-based sensitiser and is a liquid form of the same emulsion found on ordinary photographic paper. (1) Liquid Light allows you to print photographs on a large variety of surfaces, such as wood, metal, glass and even eggs. (2)
In 2007, the largest photograph in the world was created with Liquid Light. It took 6 artists and 400 volunteers 9 months to create the image, named “The Great Picture”. The negative was created in and took up most of an aircraft hangar in California and measures 3,375 square feet. It was created by converting the hangar into a pinhole camera, which was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Camera. A total of 80 quarts of Liquid Lights were used. (2) One characteristic of Liquid Light is that it develops very quickly.
Solarization is the “complete or partial reversal of tones in an exposed and partially developed photographic print when given a uniform second exposure before being fixed and further developed to completion”. (3)
Recently, I experimented with Liquid Light on watercolour paper and got the (brilliant?) idea to attempt solarizing an image printed with the emulsion. This turned out to be a difficult endeavour as Liquid Light develops much faster than photographic paper. After a few totally black prints, a few tones began to emerge after shortening the already short time of the second exposure. And finally, success! Take a look at the original digital photo, the print using Liquid Light and the Solarized Liquid Light print.
(3) An Introduction to Some Experimental Techniques, Elspeth Ross, 2012
Your experience of life alters when you do something you have never done before. This image is one of those things I have now done for the first time. This image is my creation from beginning to end: I photographed in on black-and-white film, with an analog camera. I developed the film, printed a contact sheet, picked the image, enlarged it and printed it.
I cannot say I have now ticked off an item of my bucket list, but I have conquered another photographic mountain that at first seem unsurmountable. Next!
The exhibit of William Eggleston (b. 1939) photographs at the Tate Modern consists of 30 photographs from two of his series, “Chromes”, created between 1969 and 1974, and “Election Eve”, which is the result of a commission by “Rolling Stones” magazine to photograph Jimmy Carter’s hometown prior to the 1976 United States presidential election  . The images from the two series are not mixed and are presented subsequently, 20 from “Chrome” and 10 from “Election Eve”. Each picture in the exhibit is connected to both the one in preceding it and the one following it, by subject in some cases and by predominant colour in others. Many of the photographs are of cars and gasoline stations, some of Eggleston’s most favorite subjects  . Both series contain photographs of gasoline stations and, as a matter of fact, the two series are connected by three consecutive images of gasoline stations, each of a different brand, creating a seamless totality.
It is clear from the pictures that they were taken in the sixties and seventies. The automobiles, fashions and furniture styles set the historical context of the photos. In one of the gasoline station photographs, the brand evident is “Esso”, one that has not existed in the United States since the late seventies.
It is also evident that the pictures were taken in the South of the United States. There is a rural quality to the images that one usually associates with the Southern states. Furthermore, Eggleston is well known for spending most of his career documenting aspects of the South .
The Eggleston show at the Tate Modern is part a greater exhibition of works from different art forms entitled “Energy and Process”, which according to the exhibit notes looks at the interest of the artists in “transformation and natural forces”. William Eggleston is credited with the transformation of fine art photography by “establishing the acceptance of colour in fine art photography .
Eggleston’s career initiated with black-and-white images and was inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Walker Evans. He began experimenting with colour negative film in 1965 and in 1967 he started to use color transparency film, his ultimate medium of choice.
The one quality that captures one’s immediate attention in the Tate exhibit is the vibrancy of the colours in the pictures, particularly the reds. This is one of the trademarks of Eggleston and is a result of the dye transfer printing process which he started using in 1972 . According to the Tate Modern Exhibition Notes this is a “highly complex and expensive process, which allows various colours within a photographic print to be printed as separations”. The Notes further indicate that “each colour is printed in its richest form, maintaining strong red and green tones within a single image”. The process also makes the prints durable and prevents fading . The dye transfer technique, was initially used for printing advertising images and Eggleston was one of the first non-commercial photographers to use colour in his work.
The Exhibition Notes also describe the displayed collection as images recording “a particular place at a certain time”. For Eggleston what is important is that he photograph and not document every day life .
According to Eudora Welty in her introduction to “ The Democratic Forest” , Eggleston’s photographs “focus on the mundane world”. In his introduction to “Ancient and Modern” , Mark Holborn indicates that these mundane scenes have a dark undercurrent. Both qualities are evident in the Tate exhibit, as the collection evokes an area in decay and a sense of alienation.
The image that immediately caught my attention and clearly exemplifies alienation is that of a white gravestone in a cemetery from the “Election Eve” section. The stone stands out as the only white stone surrounded by grey ones. It is at the center of the image, clearly its protagonist. The name inscribed on it “Smith” which is considered one of the most common last names in the US. The other three gravestones in which the name is evident are all inscribed with “Cranford”, an uncommon name. There are flowers at the other graves, but none at the Smith one. All of these elements serve to accentuate that the Smith grave is different and alienated from the others.
In the image it is clear that this is a new cemetery as to the left there is an empty expanse unencumbered by any walls. In a sense, this sets the photograph apart from other photographs in the series, in particular the other “Election Eve” ones. Those images are of dilapidation and decay, whereas this one is about something new. Then again, a cemetery is where bodies are placed so they can decay in peace. Having a cemetery as the only new thing in a decaying town also gives a clear statement that the town is dying out. The Smith grave, although included with the other graves, sits at the very edge of an enclosure and appears to be in the last horizontal row of existing graves, further increasing the sense of alienation.
As stated before, each picture in the exhibit is connected to its neighbours by a common element. The Cemetery picture is connected to the one on its left by subject, the red earth of the cemetery, which is the same red earth as the dirt road in the neighboring photo.
With the picture on its right the connection is one of predominant colour. The rusted roof panels in the picture on the right side are the same as the colour of the red earth of the cemetery.
The image of the dirt road on the left of the Cemetery picture is also connected to the other photo from the Eggleston exhibit which captured my attention. It is the image of a white flowerpot on a worn out patio deck. The white flowerpot is at the horizontal centre of the photograph and stands out from the others not only by its colour, but also because it is the only one with a plant in it. This is in direct contrast with the Cemetery photo, where the white grave is the only one without flowers. The planks of the deck resemble a dead end road leading to the white flowerpot and are of almost the same red earth colour as the dirt road in the picture on the right of this image.
The four photographs taken together create the impression that the whole town is rusting, in a state of irreversible decay. Images from “Election Eve” images were also shown at the Gagosian Gallery in Paris in 2011. There the photographs were arranged in a different order and this serves to illustrate that the way images are grouped strongly influences the context in which each image is viewed.
“Rolling Stones” never printed Eggleston’s images and in 1977 “Election Eve” was published in two volumes, which contained one hundred chromogenic prints . Thirtysix years later they still make an impact.