Week-17-Project Development

This week is entailing a lot of darkroom work. This Sunday past I spent 5 hours in the darkroom at Santa Monica College. I have got the printing to the point where I am happy with the final images and have definitely settled on using the Foma Fiber base paper. I will wash and hypo clear for extended times as recommended and not worry about residual hypo at this point. It seems that if I leave the print overnight in a tray or water all the hypo is leached out and with research done on this technique, it seems that all is okay with this long soak time.

Many photographers have done it with no problems, even though its not recommended (and or course the is the opposite camp, who has all types of problems)  However, my own tests, over very long time soak (3 hours) yielded no problems. I am going to go with recomended Hypo Wash (five minutes) wash time for FOMA (35minutes)   Then leave in clean water tray for 30 mins, change water, leave for an hour, change water, then leave for an hour. So far this works for me.


My Bathroom/Darkroom:

I am putting in a chemical fume exhaust system in my bathroom/darkroom today, I have just been working and opening door for air as often as possible, but now feel I have to add the ventilation, I will have to crawl under the house and do the work. I will be spending a lot of time in the darkroom this week and the next 4 weeks printing my exhibition images, so it is imperitive that the ventilation be MUCH better than it has been, which has been none other than natural air seeping through.


FMP Exhibit:

I have my exhibition at the Hollywood  Scupture Garden and Gallery on November the 14th, as this has been okayed by Dr. Wendy on out last 1-2-1, I will give full power to all engines and get it ready. This entails the prints, framing (myself) still have to discuss if 12 will suffice, will talk to Dr. Wendy to-morrow at 11 for my 1-2-1.

I am going to do it in the Garage of the Hollywood Sculpture Garden and Gallery, I will be purchasing a Dog Kennel from Home Depot or Lowes  which consists of 6ft high  x 10ft long panels of chain link fencing, with a gate, which I can configure as a cube, an L, X, S. It is tall enough to hang my 11×14 pieces at the 57″ height. It is portable so I can transort it down to the HSG.

I have got my ‘Mythogolcal’ story of my work down to about 17 images, I will try to cut down to 12 images for the exhibit, but may submit more for the FMP assignment, again something that need clearing up with Wendy.

I will be calling Dr. Robby, curator and artist of the Hollywood Scrupture garden and make an appointment to go and discuss the setup of the exhibition. I hope to do this sometimes towards the end of the week.

Will be heading to my garage and the hardware store to buy what needed to install my LONG OVERDUE effeicient darkroom ventilation system. I will print the images for my book at SMC darkroom  5×7’s about 18 of them.


Final wash. SMC. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
One of my 5×7 images for my book. Photo By: Pierre Chemaly







I will print my FMP exhibit images in my own darkroom.   The visit and meeting Ansel Adams, id finally paying off. Making my own prints, in my own darkroom at home, just like he did. Edward Weston, and making all his images around Point Lobos and that whole study, has also paid off.  As my work now entails image construction, I do a lot of work around my house and also in a very confined area, just like he did at Point Lobos. Seems like with the FMP all my passion, experience, and study is coming at climax of being able to do the kind of work I have always aspired to do. That ‘Old Mechanic” Ansel,as Well as Edward Weston, is a very imporatnt part of my practice at this point in my work. The joy of having the technical skills to be able to manifest my ideas into a print that is understandable and communicable, has taken a very long time. However I am able to do it now in a way I was unable to do it before.


Exhibit at Hollywood Sculpture Garden and Gallery:

Just made a call to Dr. Gordon the Artist/Curator of the HSG, and set an appointment with him this coming Friday to get his suggestions and input. Again he offered me the garage of the gallery for my exhibition and I absolutely LOVE IT.

Dr. Gordons Garage. The door opens and here I will have my Exhibit. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
The Hollywood Sculpture Garden and Gallery view towards Hollywood and Downtown LA. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly







This takes me back to my childhood, when visiting my Aunt Josephine on Sundays in Alberton an adjoining town in Johannesburg. On the way there was a 7 story building, green in color with the name in big red letter on top: C J FUCHS (this is how I recall the image in my mind)  My mother told me as a six year old boy: ‘See that building son, that man started all that out of a garage.’ My whole life I have rememberd that story, and it has been my guiding post. From simple and humble beginnings, great things are possible,Thanks to my mother and C J Fuchs. [only caveat, it’s taking me a long time.]  This is the reason I am happy to have the garage at the HSG.

Yesterday, I looked online to see if I can find an image of that building I saw over five decades ago as a very young boy, to see how good my memory is. However not a single color image exists. I did find part of the building though, in B+W, it turns out it was 6 floors not 7; not bad having seen it once when I was six; 54 years ago. Strange thing is, it is very Bauhaus in design, and I am a big Bauhaus fan. Would love to find a frontal image of the building as I saw it when six.

CJ Fuchs Buidling. Alrode/Alberton South Africa. Google search image.



Fresh air intake vent for my darkroom.

Got the fresh air intake vent installed in my bathroom/darkroom today. That was a chore. Had to cut a hole through the wall and via a 4 inch flexible hose run it to the outside through a wood panel that I can access the crawl space under the house that leads under the house. Now I have a fresh air intake at the top near the ceiling,  and I will exhaust it through the door towards the bottom across the other side,  so the fumes will drawn downwards from the trays to the bottom of the door, and the fresh air intake will enter from above.

As mentioned before a regular bathroom exhaust fan in the roof is above the trays and draws the chemical fumes upward past the nose of the printer from the chemicals, so it’s not a good idea to use the existing exhaust fan in a roof in the bathroom. This is a small second bathroom, and I did not have any exhaust fan in it, so something would have been better than nothing, but now it is done correctly: fresh air coming in from up high and exhaust drawing out from down low.  Now I can print comfortably and healthily.


Week-9-Project Development.

The weeks agenda:

  1. Have a film-negative made from digital file (LVT) and prepare my film for Mural Printing Workshop.
  2. Mix new batch of chemicals for developing B+W film
  3. Shoot my 3D 6×6 Sputnick
  4. Shoot 35mm B+W outdated film (Tri-X 5056/Expired 1978)
  5. Develop 35mm film
  6. Develop 6×6 3D film
  7. Process Digital images from 7D and 5D.
  8. Create composit images for my portfolio
  9. Teach a Camera and Lighting Class Friday and Saturday
  10. Work on my website for FMP
  11. Enrolled for class at AJU  (Professional Development for Emerging Artists)
  12. Follow a lead I connected with at a gallery meeting, she has a studio down town Los Angeles, art scene connected.

This week I am working on getting a digital file converted to a film negative. On the weekend of the the 17+18th, I will be attending an analogue mural printing work shop (large prints) and will be making 2 analogue prints (48x60inches)   ‘mural prints’ The term was coined by Ansel Adams for his big prints that he made in this darkroom in Carmel.

I remember seeing a very large print of Moonrise, back in 1984 up at the Weston Gallery in Carmel. I could  not believe the level of technical perfection that such a large print could maintain. Even close up there was no grain, dirt, spots, or chemical stains. From that time on, the large print has always held an interest for me. The biggest prints I have made is 20×24 inches, I am preparing to make large prints in my darkroom, a converted bathroom.  I do have a room next, to it and if I print at night black out the windows, I can do it. The main objective of the workshop is to get information how to expose for such a large expansive sheet of paper, because of great expense and time to make such a print, it is not possible to do it trail and error. Maybe the same method is used on smaller prints (strip tests) but i do not know.  The paper is expensive ranging from $500 to $800 a roll. (50″X98Ft)

I will send a file to Bowhaus in Culver City where I will have a digital file converted into a 4×5 film negative (B+W) It is known as an LVT (Light Value Technology) it is a continuous tone negative (no dots) and will use it at the workshop on the 17th+18th to print from. I will also take a 6x7cm B+W negative of my own and make a print from that and see how it comes out. I plan to use these two images in my FMP exhibit, so excited to get working on the the prints. I am considering printing these two images:

‘Towards the light’ -Pierre Chemaly ©
Escaping the hand of fate. -Pierre Chemaly ©

Both of which were created this module. These mural workshops are not offered often and another one may not happen again before the FMP. My understanding is that Andrew who runs the workshop is from Exeter, or went to Exeter university.  I will clarify this once I meet him in person. The name of his workshop/school is mural printing at:  The School of Light

Got prepared for developing film today. Mixed up a fresh gallon of Kodak D-76, Kodafix and Stopbath. Wen out to photograph with some old Kodak Tri-X, out dated (1978)  makes the film 41 years old. I loved that film back in the 80’s. The grain, the contrast, the general look of the film was very pleasing to me. With the change of the film, in America, they can never leave good enough alone, always have to “improve” and in the improving took all the beautiful imperfections out. The Tri-X of today is dreadful. No grain, less silver, all the goodness squeezed out. As a result I switched to Ilford HP5+ 400ASA. Ilford has remained faithful to the original emulsion, so it is as it always was, so I have been shooting that for my go to B+W stock. However, when I see some old prints that where made in the 70’and 80’s as I did when I recently went to the Kline Gallery on La Brea, they desire to shoot some of the “real” Tri-X was stimulated. Alison Rossiter  used expired paper for her work, some of it as early as the 1920’s  I have also bout some film as far back as 1918, so excited to get working with that.

I bought a 100ft roll from Ebay. I know its 41years old, and who knows how it was stored.  The base fog on the film must be astronomical, and it most probably has lost speed over the years. I will not do a densitometry test, I will just shoot it, over expose by 2 stops, over develop by 1.5X the recommended time and see what I get.

This unknown excites me, and, as I am scanning the negative it is possible to “fix” some of the problems. This is what I love about the digital age, one can extract information from a negative that is not possible from regular analogue printing. I really enjoy the marriage of digital and analogue, I personally think this is the best attribute of photography in this day and age. I will not mention the word ‘modern technology’ because I have heard it used back in 1968 when they sent a man to the moon, and that “modern” technology is laughable today. The total computing power for the entire moon program was less that sending a single       e-mail today. a  To-days modern technology is to-morrows ancient technology before the clock even strikes midnight. With that, I will just say, I enjoy today technology and use it to it’s fullest capacity, however I do not discard the foundation, I incorporate it into the new temple.

Went out to-day with my Nikon F-3 and my Canon 7D as backup. I have learned that once I has made the last exposure on a roll of film, the most amazing opportunity arrises, and I would rather have a digital camera, than nothing at all. I spent most part of the day out photographing my ‘fences’ however for this module I am looking for fence ‘parts’  pieces I can cobble and stitch to-gether to create or construct my final images. I am using about 3 layers in general now to construct a final image. So I am looking for motifs: Black Birds, Wire strands, trees, interesting formations, and I try to construct a mental image in my mind. I analyze what I would need. Sometimes the ides works forward, other times it works backwards. In other words I see an image, make it then use it later somewhere, other times I need a specific part of the tussle and I go out and hunt for it. So the process has become very fluid.

Shot all day today, come home to develop with my freshly brewed chemicals, and as I begin to rewind the film, there is NO TENSION on the rewind knob. I thought I had loaded the camera but I did not. I had no film in the camera. Great! what a pro. SO the whole day was a ‘practice’ shoot. I did also shoot some 3D images on my Sputnick 6×6 camera. I made 5 film images, and will complete the roll tomorrow.

This happened to me about 10 years ago, went out photographing with a friend, only to find out no film in the camera.  I will go out to-morrow and re-photograph what I missed today. I did take a few digital images, so the whole day was not all for naught.  I do not regard it as a waste, or blame myself, it was another “fence” to cross and I did it well. I did not get upset!

Website: I am working on a website this will be part of my FMP. my website   is under construction. I will be working on it during the FMP

I enrolled for a class at AJU  Professional Development for Emerging Artists. It for 4 weeks, one night per week. A 4-part series of lectures, discussions, and workshops designed to give emerging artists insights into how the art world (and the gallery system) really works – and the kinds of strategies and skills an artist needs to advance in the art world.

I met Richard the instructor at Dr. Robbie’s Hollywood Sculpture Garden a few weeks ago. Richard is a fellow alumni from Cal Arts. He mentioned he offered this course, and it will assist me. I signed up. It begins September

Bowhaus:  http://bowhaus.com/index.php4

Alison Rossiter: https://www.popphoto.com/american-photo/photographic-paper-decades-past-its-expiration-date/

The School of Light: https://www.theschooloflight.com

Mural Printing Workshop: https://www.theschooloflight.com/courses-shop/black-white-mural-weekend-workshop-august-17-18-2019

Apollo 11 computer: https://igotoffer.com/blog/how-powerful-was-the-apollo-11-computer

WEEK-10- Coursework

Week 10- Speaking Photographically.

This week have to consider the works of Daniel Gustav Kramer how it evolved over time and how his work is contextualized.  How my own practice can be evaluated and critically reflected on.

Trilogy, (Woodland,Underwater and Mountain) was inspired by another practitioner Giordi Morandi, who was a landscape painter, whose work was similarly void of human occupation and not geographically positioned.

Gustav’s Trilogy,  was also built around some common themes: namely nature uncontaminated.  The series ranges from the depths of ocean floor, through forest to mountain peaks. All of which are uninhabited and unpolluted by the human species and was produced and developed over many years from 2003 to 2013. His worked developed as time went on. He started in the deserted forest, then moved to the ocean depths, then to the mountains. All three locations have the same theme: isolation, timelessness and non specific locations.

From a historical standpoint, both Morandi and Cramers work is unknown to us. By looking at both these artists work, there is nothing to reference time. I do find the ‘black hole’ interesting [Fig.1.]  It could index death or the unknown. Cramer stops here, afraid to go forward. Malevich stopped at black square. Blake and Gödel looked into that realm, they went past the threshold mathematically and poetically.  In my own practice, I am also at this ‘gate.’ For me there is no blackness or darkness beyond. I have ‘seen’ into that realm with my intuition, therefore I use the fence as the barrier as opposed to a wall a black hole or a black plane as is the case with Malevich and Cramer. For me there is a whole other world beyond that blackness. Like with the fence, one can see through it,  one can have an idea of what’s beyond. One has no idea what’s beyond the black hole of Cramers image Fig.1. below other than faint tree trunks and foliage, but beyond that, darkness and the unknown still prevails.

Fig.1. Daniel Gustav Cramer (2003) #43 Untitled, Woodland.

In the work of  William Eggelston for example, there are many human made artifacts with which to reference time and place.  For example the image below (Fig.2) has a 1969 Ford Torino on the right, this can reference historically when the photo was made, in addition the license plate can let us know what state the car is from, as well as what year those plates were made. There are many other visual clues in the image as well, that can easily point time and place. Especially by someone who owns the store, or lives in that town.

Fig.2. William Eggleston (1970) Chromes.

In Cramers Trilogy there is no human contamination.  The sense of time is erased and geographical location is also difficult if not impossible to pinpoint.

In terms of my own practice, I can see some parallels, between Cramers work and my own.  Firstly that my abstractions have developed over time as well, however it moved from the objective to the abstract, whereas Cramers moved from Underwater to Mountain.  In my practice abstraction is the image itself, with Cramer his abstractum is achieved by what is left out of the image, or beyond the frame. In my work, human intervention is there, but is minimal and indexed by a single strand  of barbed wire fencing joined by someone?

© Pierre Chemaly (2019) Untitled.

This gives some clue to human activity and denotes that boundary between human and nature, body and mind, objective representation and non-objective abstraction. It is amazing just how powerful a single strand of wire can be be. It keeps out human and animal.

© Pierre Chemaly (2019) Beyond Boundaries


Source and post an interview.

Interview with Harry Callahan. An artist whose work I like because he can “dance” between representational and abstract images.  One of the few practitioners to be successful at it. Harry was a protege of Ansel Adams and Stieglitz. He was informed by Ansel’s work, but came to his own realization that he could photograph a footprint in the sand and achieve sand dunes; he did not have to go to Yellowstone to get an image. This ability to work anywhere has always been of interest to me.

https://youtu.be/_LhYs5eq5nw (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


This is something I have always aspired to, which has recently come to fruition.  Much like the painter at the studio, the writer at the typewriter. Works that can be done on a very small foot print and close to home.

Callahan felt that rich experiences with meaning nourished his practice and photography. Callahan’s intent was simple: “I just wanted to make a picture.”  When he got tired of photographing landscapes, he moved to the city, when he got tired of the city he moved onto abstracts. This is something I really admire about him and use it in my own practice.



Fig.1. http://carlabrahamsson.blogspot.com/2012/07/egglestones-chromes-overdose.html





Week-6-Project Development.

This week I went up to Carmel. I made an appointment to meet with the Curator of the Weston Gallery in Carmel. My intention was two fold: 1. For him to take a look at my portfolio for this module and get his opinion on the work. 2. To ask if I could have my FMP exhibition up at the Gallery.

I met Ansel Adams at the Weston Gallery when I was a young film student at Cal Arts back in 1982.  He was having a retrospective of his work and a friend of mine told me about it and asked if I would like to go, because he knew that I was a fan of Ansel and the Zone system.

Many years before when I was in the Navy in South Africa, I had seen a documentary on Ansel in Yosemite and it was then and there that I decided on a career in film/photography and applied to Cal Arts. Here it was some 4 years later and I would finally have the opportunity to meet him.

We drove up, went to the Weston, I met Ansel, had a book signed, and made a series of images of him both B+W and color, which I have had in my possession since. While up there was introduced to Point Lobos and the work of Edward Weston, so both these photographers have had an influence on my practice as both a cinematographer and more recently as a photographer.

My history with the Weston Gallery goes back a long way. I would like to come full circle and have my FMP exhibit there, or at least manage to get some of my work on show.

I drove up, went to the gallery, and met up with Richard Gadd the curator in his office. From the get go it was very casual and comfortable. I discovered he was originally from Ohio, I had done a movie up in that area so was familiar with Dayton (where he was from) Columbus and Sundusky Ohio. We spoke at length about Ansel and Ed, he was interested to see the images I had made back then, which lead into my current work and my Module 702 images.

The Weston is a very conservative gallery and I was a little concerned about my abstracts. So I included a few ‘strait’ images in my series on fences, to make my context clear. Fences is about the barriers, challenges and difficulties that I and other artists experience in life, which can spill over into others areas of life as well, and how to deal or overcome them.

When I showed Richard the series, which included both real and abstract images, I was very concerned that he would gravitate to the real images. However it was the opposite. He said he did not have to see the realistic image of a fence to get the concept I was trying to convey, that all he needed to see was the abstracts.

Veiled View ©Pierre Chemaly

This fueled me to keep moving in that direction. We spent about two hours at the gallery. He showed me some rare abstract images that Ansel made, one was ‘Broken Glass’ that he was getting ready to send a collector. He also shows me an image that Ansel made at Manzanar that he shot over the ‘Fence’ at the back of the camp around 1942 of Mount Williamson. It was ironic that he shot it over a fence, and it also happens to be my favorite or all Ansel’s images.

He later invited me to a talk that was being held at the CFCP (Center for Creative Photography) by Richard Tuschman. It was also an opening at the gallery there on his work. The talk was very informative, I went to the opening to see Tuschman’s work, met him, he asked me for my business card, I don’t know why, but will see where that leads. I will also be in contact with him to find out how he went about getting the exhibit at the CFCP.

I feel that this experience was a great help. It gave me courage to pursue my practice in the abstract direction. I made contact with the gallery curator. The Weston, is gallery I respect and had the opportunity to meet with Richard Tuschman, who I will approach to find out how that all fell in place for him, and how it did that.

I also went to see Kim Weston (Ed Weston’s grandson) at Wildcat hill.  I brought up the fact about burning my work. He recounted a story about Ed Weston doing that, which he later regretted. We had a discussion about printing and printing techniques, and I will return sometime later this year and he will give me a printing refresher, so happy about that.

Made some fence images both on the way up and down from Carmel. Went to Point Lobos, for old times sake and found a wrist watch just hanging on a fence up there, very strange, so made a few images of “time” to add to my list of findings. On the way up found a hand written message on a piece of wood strapped to a fence that said “repent” made a few image of that.

This week was a major step forward for me on many levels and look forward to making some images of the work I did up in that area this week past. And look forward to how things will pan out with the gallery and with  Richard Tuschman.

Week-6-Contextual Research


  1. Ansel Adams Abstracts
  2. Pushing Boundaries.

1. This week I was introduced to Ansel Adam’s abstract work by Richard Gadd of the Weston Gallery at Carmel-By-The-Sea. I am very familiar with Ansel’s work, but up util this point in my practice, I did not know that Ansel dabbled in the abstract.

Richard showed me a few pieces. The subject matter of one piece was a pane of broken glass. Supposedly there are only four known prints of this image. I have never heard of it, or seen it before this time, so it was nice to know that ol’ conservative Ansel, had broken out briefly from the ‘Landscape’ genre.

As I looked at the image, I wondered why he made an image of broken glass. I theorized that it may be linked to a story I had heard about Ansel. Supposedly he was a little drunk, and was supposed to have said: “I was an artist once.” I tried to find some evidence of this story which was in a documentary, but as yet have not been able to substantiate it. However, seeing that image made me think of that. The subject matter: broken glass, the subject: a broken man/artist.

I researched Ansel abstractions, and came upon an article written by Robin Greenwood:  –  ‘Ansel Adams and Abstraction.’   I was hoping to find some accolades about the work, however to my surprise I found that Greenwood did not like them: “these were the ones I really disliked.”  It is interesting to not that not all people like abstractions. here is his reason why: ‘They are clichés now; abstract compositions. Boring.’  This will have to be something I take into consideration in my own practice. It seems that one  cannot please everyone, and one man’s meat is another’s poison.



2. Pushing Boundaries.

Since the first images made by Niepce and Daguerre, photographers have pushed the boundaries of the image. And just like painters, who got tired of realism, photographers followed in the me vein looking for ways to express themselves through images. Much of the photographers work is gleaned from Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. Photographers like Minor White and Aaron Siskind had painterly qualities in the work and Siskind himself worked alongside painters like Kline, and from what I can see they drew from each others works.

Aaron Siskind -Chicago. Photo Credit:https://www.invaluable.com/blog/abstract-photography/

I like looking at works of artists who are abstractionists, I particularly like the work of Kasimir Malevich, Paul Klee and Kandinsky. Malevich abstracted down to the color black and the square shape, Kandinsky moved in the same direction with the use of color alone. Klee abstracted down to still having some recognizable shapes and forms from the real world, but for the most part abstracted them down to their basic forms.

I am doin the same in my practice at present. In my module project fences, I am slowly pulling away from the subject matter of the fence alone and moving into the subject matter of fences as metaphor. Metaphor for boundaries, challenges, difficulties and successes we have in out lives and out art. So I am withdrawing the physical fence more and more from my images. Hopefully by the time the final major project comes around there won’t be a single recognizable fence in the image.




Week-6-Coursework-A Sea of Images

Ordinary images:

I use my i-phone for ordinary images, and by ordinary I mean any photograph that I make to record an event, a thing to remember, or a person I know doing something. My audience is 1. Myself, 2. A family member or friend.  I do not make ordinary images for strangers.

Mass existence vs unique existence:

If this is looked at in terms of value, mass existence allows a ‘one of a kind’ to reside with everyone. If I like Malevich’s Black Cross,  I can go and look at it (which I have/Tate Modern)  I can also photograph it, buy a copy of it, or create my own, as to have a ‘piece of it’ in some way. Therefore mass existence has value in those terms for me. As a practitioner though, I am very interested in unique and making one of a kind (unique existence, and I am tailoring my practice towards that end. I would very much like to create ‘one off’ pieces. In this respect unique existence interests me, and would like to achieve this by aesthetic means.

This thought is now being challenged by this tutorial, because it shows, through works of artists like Andy Warhol,  (Thirty are better than One) that a work of art does not need to be unique, or one of a kind, to become ‘valuable’  Even if a piece is mass produced, the aesthetics, culture and society can determine and create a new value, monetarily or otherwise.

Photo courtesy of: Christies.com Thirty Better Than One. Andy Warhol.

Is it possible to be original?

This is a question that haunts any artist who is interested in producing novel and new works of art in any form, be it photography, painting, or any of the plastic arts.

At some point in ones career, one hits a brick wall, and the realization that there is nothing more that one can do. Many artists resort to all types of trickery, appropriation, intertextuality and fancy to be original and unique. All they land up being, is a bad carbon copy of the greats at best.

There is only ‘one’ Kazimir Malevich, ‘one’ Paul Klee, ‘one’ Ansel Adams. All the rest are phonies, copycats, and conjurers.   Lizette Model talks about this: “There are great artists in every era, who are so new and so different, that nobody can understand them. The ears and the eyes are not used to it. They are the ones, who really contribute to the medium. But at the same time, there are other artists, they work in a non-understandable kind of a way, nobody could understand what they are doing. They are phonies, and they are working with illusions and fantasies, and this kind of difference, is extremely important to understand.”

I came to understand this and know this well. I have battled this part of myself for a very long time. One knows deep down which one of the two one is, and I could never be the latter and wouldn’t even try, I would rather face the brick wall until that moment of revelation and true inspiration comes. I have never felt comfortable with my art-work. . . I can always see a trace, glimpse, of someone else in there, and I have never been able to accept that. There is always that dark lurking shadow, maybe I have no talent, no genius, and will pass on into the yonder as the rest of all time has done, nameless and unknown and never achieve the works of Malevich, Kandinsky or Maholy Nagy.  However, I do have faith, even thought it may be weak at the moment.  It’s not all up to me. There is a Transcendent Other involved in the process, and just have to wait patiently until the creature and the True Creator meet.

I think that any serious artist is aware of this and wrestles with it every time they make a work of art. Is it possible to be original? Yes most definitely, in fact it is pretty common.  Is it possible to be a great contributor to the medium? Yes, to this as well, however, these artists are very few and far between, maybe a handful in a century, spread across all domains.


Lizette Model: https://youtu.be/Q_0sQI90kYI

Week-5-Coursework-Gazing at Photograph.

My Gaze is attracted to the abstract, and the no-objective. There are some representational photographs that I do like, however, in my own work and to inform my own work, I like to look at images that are ‘one of a kind’ unusual, unique and or novel.

This is a result of the ubiquitous nature of the image to-day. How many times more can I see an image of Yosemite?  Ansel Adams was the best at that particular subject matter in my opinion, because of the format he used (8×10) the development of the Zone system, which maintained good shadow detail in the shadow regions of the image as well as the highlights, the image has good focus from foreground to background. Ansel printed his own images and had a tight control how they looked and were consumed. His subject dealt with the ‘Beauty of the American West’ and made me realize that we are in dangers of losing it to pollution, acid rain and environmental destruction due to the consuming of natural  resources.

However, I can see many images that are made by similar photographers, who are clones of Ansel, and I am not interested in that type of photography in my own practice.

I have always found that painters are ahead of the curve, so I like to reference their works The best at abstraction in my opinion is Kasimir Malevich (Black Square) He removed everything visual that is objective (representational) out of his images, which I find very attractive. I also like the work of Paul Klee, who attracted the representational down to basic forms, so there may be a few hints of the objective (representational) in is images which I also enjoy.

In my practice, I have been working towards this end, and so-far this module, I have managed to abstract my subject matter of fences down to images that a fence is barely perceptible. The subject has changed from images and function of ‘Fences’ to metaphors of what fences connote: namely, separation, division, fear,challenge and the like.

The pleasure of the gaze is a biological function. We see to survive and procreate. In order to survive we are attracted to things of beauty. I presume this is why the female sex is made beautiful to look at. Males get attracted, good things happen, and the species survives. If women were not attractive, men would not get attracted, and the species would have died out eons ago. I can presume this extends on to the arts so some degree as well.


The Body and Land:

As far as Adam’s ‘never’ having people in his images, I disagree with that. He did not have images of people in his landscapes, but did have people in his lesser known works, like his photography he did at the Japanese interment camp at Manzanar during the second world war.

” Although a majority of the more than 200 photographs are portraits, the images also include views of daily life, agricultural scenes, and sports and leisure activities.”

As human beings we have a direct connection with the land: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

There are many great artists, who create by looking at nature and the land for inspiration. For me the land and the contents of the land are one and the same. If I look at the works for Edward Weston.  Famous for his Nudes, Pepper series, and landscapes. Weston was preoccupied with the female form, so whether it was a rock, a toilet, a pepper, or a seashell, he always managed to get more out of the image than the subject matter alone. I think this is clear in one of his quotes: “This then: to photograph a rock, have it look like a rock, but be more than a rock.  Significant representations – not interpretation.”

Just Giving: (these ads really annoy me)

All ads have a positive and a negative side. The Mencap ads are no different. I think the fake intentions are good, however, a lot of these companies finance their own needs out of the pockets of donators. Of your two pounds that you donate, maybe a half a crown or less might go in the direction of children’s education, and the rest will go to finance the cars, houses, girlfriends, and drugs of the CEO’s.

Are these children other?  I would have to say yes, and I think the problem with the world today is that all boundaries, are attempting to be erased, and with dire consequences.  The caption on the bottom of the second ad. “More of an education will give Kevin, more of a future.”  More? what exactly does that mean? It’s such an abstract, it’s not even funny. No matter what education Keven gets, he will never be able to hold a job of any significance. I think it’s time to stop bluffing, and put the money where it should rightly go, and that’s towards a home of some nature where these children can be taken care of for the rest of their lives, and a place that they can be encouraged to learn and play but not make the rest of the world that with a little more education, Kevin can be a rocket scientist. It will never happen. These children need civil-rights equality more than educational equality.  Basically it all boils down to I.Q.  individuals with an I.Q. of 80 cannot fold a piece of paper to fit in an envelope. No amount of education or training will enable them to do it with confidence, much more than an education or training will enable my cat (or even myself for that matter) to play the violin. It will never happen. I do feel pity for these individuals, greatly, but I would not donate because I am being manipulated. Dorfman says: “They are other.”  The photographic image allows as to stare, study, gawk, and it satisfies our innate nature to look at the other in a way we could not in actual life. We try out or respect for the ‘other’ to avert out gaze as not to hurt their feelings, but I think they are aware that we are consciously averting the look, and as a result, feel excluded. The question is how do we look and not look at the other so as not to exclude but include. Not out of pity, but from a civil right that every individual, ‘other,’ or not, deserves.

I had a friend, many years ago, if he met anyone with a disability, he would immediately walk up to them an ask what happened to their leg or their arm?  They would tell him and it would be over. Neither he, nor the other, found it difficult to be in each others company. I asked him why he did that? He replied to get it out of the way right from the start, and after knowing, would not have to stare, or steal stares any longer.  I always thought that a very positive way to surmount difficult “other” situations.

“Most people go through their lives fearing they will have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma, they’ve already passed their test in life.”  – Diane Arbus.


Ansel Adams.  Manzanar: https://www.loc.gov/collections/ansel-adams-manzanar/about-this-collection/

Dust to dust: http://bible.oremus.org/?version=av&passage=Genesis+3%3A19&fnote=no&show_ref=no&show_adj=no&omithidden=yes

Edward Weston: https://www.photoquotes.com/showquotes.aspx?id=51&name=Weston,Edward

Week-5-Project Development.

Feb 28. This week is almost over, and have been very busy constructing images. I have moved from the position of just taking/making a photography to be a physical part of the making and constructing the image.

This week about the ‘Gaze’ is interesting. Why we look, how we look, at life images and people are interlinked. Fundamentally, we are attracted by beauty in whatever form it takes. For me it is the beauty of the new, and the unexplored.  I’m a Christopher Columbus of images, always looking for the new and the different. Now maybe shifting gears to ‘create’ the new and the different.

The theme of the: ‘Rise of the Phoenix’ has always been of interest to me, and how I could apply that in my own practice to create something new has been  a challenge for a very long time. This past week, I was going to have a ‘burning’ of my images, in order to start again with new ideas, I have accumulated over my live plus those new ones acquired in the MA.

As I got to the back door to do the burning, the wind started up, it was cold, cloudy, foggy, rainy and snowing. (yes is does happen in California, at the higher elevations) So, that ended the burning. I had printed about 40 inset prints, an the ink was not completely dry, and I threw the images out the back door into the wind, placed a few around the yard, and went back into the house. Some I collected an hour later some six, some were left out all night and other for days.

The images were totally at the mercy of the elements. And they were transformed into totally new images. The ink ran, smudged, concentrated and thinned out, to make some images barely recognizable, and other still recognizable. I then took them inside and rephotographed them. I will also scan them next week, and I played in Lightroom. I have happy with the imaged and finally been able to abstract them in a way I have wanted to do but unable to achieve. I presented a few images to Michelle, and she was pleased with the advancement, and like the abstractions. I have a webinar later with my tutor Paul, so will see what the outcome is on that.

I have managed to secure an interview at the Weston Gallery in Carmel, with the curator Richard Gadd. It would be a dream of mine to be able to have my Final Major Project there. I am going up to have him look at my work in progress and set see if there is any possibilities of getting my work shown. I will be up against Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, who both have been a major influence in my life. I met Ansel at that Gallery back in 1982, when he had his last retrospective there. It was then, that I was introduced to the work of Edward Weston, and Point Lobos. From Ansel I learned, that ‘The Negative’ is only half the story, they rest is in the print. From Ed I learned that one can do work in a very limited area (he is supposed to have said that he could photograph at Point Lobos his whole life)  I always considered that statement very limiting, but as I get older, it makes a lot of sense to me. So, I made my series in my back yard.

Went down to Freestyle Photo, and Blicks in Hollywood, bought paper, ink, and nice portfolio case, and have been busy all week photographing, lite-rooming and printing work in progress print to present on Saturday at the Weston.

All my digital printing in done on a Canon Pixma-Pro10, and so far I am very happy with the color as well as the black and white prints. I am using after market inks, the original Canon Inks are so expensive, and so far they have been about 95% accurate. If I make prints for presentation, I use the Canon OEM inks and the color is about 99% accurate.

I work a lot in 35mm and 6×6, so behind a little on the processing, but will get to it when I come back from Carmel.

Richard Tuschman, is having a seminar up there, so I will be attending it. I did contact him by email, and he responded. so hope to have a little chat with him after the seminar, and hopefully get some nuggets of information on how to proceed with my own practice.


Week-2-Contextual Research.

Photographs not taken:  The book arrived. I was interested to read how some photographers handle the missed shot.  For my project “Fences”  I missed a shot of a kid sitting on this fence. I thought how apt.  As I was on the fence between representation and abstract photography. I did not get the shot, I had no film left. I did not take my I-phone with me, and I did not have my digital camera either. I felt bummed about it, but thought about recreating it, also from then on, I always have my digital camera with me, even if I am shooting film. I keep the last two shots in the camera, I don’t shoot the roll empty, unless I have a spare, so I did learn something from the mishap. Also, I learned this module, that restating the image is okay also, that image construction is not a bad thing.  I also believe that the shot will turn up again, it has happened for me before. I don’t know when, but I will be ready the second time around.

I read: Young Timothy Archibald’s story about leaving his film at home on a film shoot. His dad dropped him off, he had no money, the stores was closed. He decided to fake the shoot. He was afraid of people, but on this occasion it did not matter somehow, as he pretended to photograph.  People were nice, friendly and welcoming. He learned from his missed shots: there is nothing to be afraid of.

I think it’s important to keep this in mind in every aspect of making images. Fear creeps in, in various ways. Also, an opportunity lost is an opportunity gained.


Thoughts on Ansel:  For the longest time, I have put the works of Ansel Adams to bed. He was a landscape photographer, very good at what he did, but for me I needed something a little more “Creative”  Lately however, I am so glad I learned the “Zone” system, and how to develop and print an image. I can expose very well and develop a fine looking negative. How valuable this information is to me. I am technically very competent both in film and digital, and I can use these forms help me express my ideas and concepts. I do not worry about the technical side anymore, and this has given me a tremendous feeling of freedom.

If I see any image in film or digital, I do  to concern myself how the image was made from a technical aspect, I just look at how it was conceived creatively, so half the battle is won, I only need to do half the work.  This is  all thanks to Ansel. He gave me a lot in that regard. Once in a while, I will pull out ‘The Negative” or “The Print” (I have one signed by him which I treasure very much) which I got from him when I need him up in Carmel, back in 1984.  I still do some technical referencing, but not very often. His knowledge has remained at my finger tips, and is used in one way or another, daily.

What attracts in the image? It has always made me wonder, why I love a certain photograph, or painting over another, what pierces my heart for that minute  I spend the extra time gazing at an image.

While studying my B.F.A. at Cal Arts, I finally had the opportunity to meet Ansel Adams. I was working at Panavision part-time while a student, and a fellow camera technician mentioned that Adams was having a retrospective up in Carmel and if I would like to go?

We drove up to Carmel by the sea, to the Weston Gallery, where the retrospective was being held. This was back in 1984. It was here that I had my first opportunity to see an Ansel “MURAL” print, the biggest print he made.

‘Clearing Winter Storm’ By: Ansel Adams. www.lomography.com

The title is: ‘Clearing Winter Storm. ‘ Back then I was all into technique, who had the best to offer, and still does. No-one has ever surpassed the Zone system. And, if used correctly, can compress or expand a wide dynamic range  into VIII Zones of detail, with Zone 0 and Zone X being pure black and pure White. [A small caveat, there is no ‘0’ in Roman numerals, and wonder if Ansel knew that, I guess, nothings perfect.”]   I was enamored by the detail, sharpness, contrast, tonal-range, shapes, edge burn, a dust/spec free image, the list goes on. I remember standing 4 inches away from the print trying to find the smallest speck of dust or air bubble. I searched for any type of flaw.  However, I could not a single imperfection. I had excellent vision back then, I could read newspaper fine print standing up, so, if there was the tiniest imperfection, I would have found it. There was none!  The Mural was technical love at it’s finest, I have never seen a better hand made print since. Then, I finally had the opportunity to meet Ansel, sit in his ZONE V Cadillac Sedan De-ville and have a book signed. It was a great experience, a moment I will always treasure. As a young film/photography student back then, there was no finer moment. I had met the Maestro. One always leaves with something when these events occur, even if it’s being able to re-count the experience decades later, with fond memories. When I look at prints to-day, I still use the same technique. I go up close and scrutinize the print quality in fine detail (technique+form) then I step back to take in the image as a whole (content)

This stepping back and looking at the whole ‘field,’ is what Roland Barthes calls the Stadium, one of two attributes, that calls one’s attention to the photograph. The other being the punctum.

I like the way he named these two attributes of an image, which ranges in looking from the general to the specific, the field to the spot, the square to the point.  That lightning bolt, or cupids arrow, that shoots out at you from the image that paralyses you for that moment, as if venomed from a snake bite. I like the way he talks about the punctum striking outwards.

In Adam’s ‘Clearing Winter Storm’ I was sucked in, pulled inwards, drawn into the bright white light of the clouds in the valley, suspended between Half Dome and Bride Veil Falls. I have been up to that vantage point and never seen it look like it does in that Adam’s print. He did some alchemy in the darkroom up there in the Carmel Highlands.

So, I tried an experiment. I looked at the print as if it were a 3-D image, and started to concentrate, and allow my eyes to draw slowly for the foreground to the background, rolling the focus slowly backwards.  The foreground started to blur and the background began to thrust forward as if the clouds started bellowing towards me. The whole area between Half-Dome and Bride Veil stands out in the most amazing way. The angles of the rock faces get exaggerated, the snow covered peaks become more visible, the cloud climbs upward into the sky like a whisp of smoke, and finally as the eyes begin to focus and the image becomes clear, I am drawn forward to the blackness of the two pine trees in the foreground.

I will still have to do some more study of the punctum, I am just at the beginning of physically understanding it, however intuitively and emotionally, it is very clear. For me Barthes has given me a way to understand how to feel an image as opposed to just seeing an image.


Barthes, R. (1980). Camera Lucida. Hill and Wang. New York.

Stacey, W. (2018). Photographs Not Taken. Daylight Community Arts Foundation, Arron, China.


Peculiar Practice:  Because my work deals with abstracts  and concepts, as opposed to a facts and concretes, it is a little more difficult to communicate.  How does one communicate abstracts, like fear, happiness, freedom, in the form of images?

Continue reading Week-2-Reflection