Week-22-Project Development

Getting ready to exhibit:

This week entailed getting ready for one of two exhibits. This week is on November 14th at the Hollywood Scupture Garden and Gallery.

The week began with making and finalizing all the prints for the exhibit which consists of 12, 11×14 images, 2 (16×20)’s and one diptych consisting of 2X(40×30″) images. The 11×14 images  (trimmed down to  10×14) to give more space for the frame surround.  The full frame images on the 11×14 paper left too wide a border and the paper white drew the attention.

I did some tests and cut down the border to approximately 1 inch all around the image and was very happy with the look. It allows the eye to concentrate on the image. This, in addition to the floating frames I used, which has a very thin black frame and black backing allowed the images to “float in limbo” which I feel gives the image the ability to pop out at the viewer. I also trimmed down the 16×20 images, giving about and inch and a quarter border, to the same effect.

“Guiding Light” Image framed and floating in frame. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©

All the images had to be spotted and prepared for floating, framed and signed, both back and front.

Spotting the prints. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©
Adding spacer for floating the print. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly







Cleaning the glass was very tedious and time consuming, in addition the cleaner the company suggested left streaks and I began to experiment with all types of cleaner from alcohol to disillled water to mixing the two. I tied various lens cleaners and various cloths all to no avail. In the end I went down to the hardware store to see if they had a solution. The sales girl suggested a product with vinegar in it, I was skeptical but desperate and to my surprise it worked very well, that to-gether with plain old (very soft) toilet paper: WORKED! I had minor lint, but rid that with a big camera bulb blower, and a wipe with lens cloth and a photograhic lens brush and finally got down a sytem that worked. I attached the spacers to the prints, and then the print and spacer to the backboard, signed the print (which also takes some practice and had to reprint quite a few images because the signature was not right, the list goes on.

I have to say that this whole process was extremely time consuming and difficult, I am glad I did it. The benefits far outweighed the problems, because I could tailor and tune the presentation of the image to the point that I was very happy with it. A professional framer  would have been way too expensive, to work at this level, in addition I would not have been able to choose the look I was finally happy with had I gone that route. I experimented for weeks, no framer would do that, unless paid an exorbitant fee.

The title cards are hand made (with deckled edge, I learned how to do from the paper company) I brought out my old Olympus typewriter and typed out each title onto paper, in courier, then mounted the paper onto black cards cut from black photo matt card.

My old Olympia.Very appropriate and linked at Ariane’s Thread. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©
Title Card with typo: Words and image by Pierre Chemaly©







Title cards for the exhibition. Words and image by Pierre Chemaly©

Again, very time consuming, one typo, and the whole thing has to be redone. Was a lot of fun, brought back good ‘remembrances of things past.’  figuring how to center the type. The information about the show was also made, printed onto cards and framed. I used the computer type to do this.


‘Fences: Between Ideas and Dreams’ Words and Image by: Pierre Chemaly©

All this making  is making me think about constructing my own book as opposed to haiving one made. I chose to print my own work, frame it, make the title cards  build my own space, because I like working with materials in all forms and also in terms of making the art and housing it. For me the two are one. The frame as important as the work of art.  It is through the materials that the work is transformed from the idea to the concrete, and I enjoy making that happen. I can only presume, that my meeting Ansel, had some indirect effect on me printing my show, albeit come to fruition some  three decades later. I always respected the fact that he could photograph and print his own work, not may photographers can boast that skill. Even the greats of the past like Henri Carier Bresson to the contemporaries like Andreas Gursky  do not have the ability to print their own work. That part of the process has to be done by someone else.

The diptych I printed (40x60inches) photochemical process on resin coated paper. However had it professionally mounted onto 1/2 inch black Gator Foam.

Half of my Diptych 40×30″ Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©
Attaching wire to back of image. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©

It is very light weight and easy to hang, but very difficult to mount unless one has a huge vacuum table. I had this done at Hadas Picture Framers in Van Nuys, it was the cut into a diptych, which I decided upon so           I can transport and store it easier than one long image 40×60 inches. Hadas helped me with the hangers and I hung it at the back end of the exhibit fence with relative ease

Installation and setup.

I bought the ‘fence’ at Lowes Hardware, a 10×10 foot dog kennel with a gate. A friend helped my pick it up and install it at the HSG location. So here is also a materialization of an idea.  I thought about using a fence to hang my images, searched the streets and the internet and came upon this ‘almost perfect’ cube fence with a gate.  A dog kennel, repurposed to enhance the theme of  labyrinth/cave/forrest in which to hang my images.

Outside Lowe’s with the dog kennel. Photo by Joe Bagley©
Loading up the kennel at Lowe’s with my friend Joe. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly






Drove up the the Hollywood Sculpture Gargen and Gallery (HSG) and set up two days before on the 12th, to give me a day in between the set up and the exhibit. I am glad I did that, as my big frames for the 16×20’s came in late on the 12th and I had the next day to frame the images. It was a close call, I almost had to go with conventional frames if the floaters did not arrive. But it worked out, albeit last minute. By this time I was very confident and experienced at framing, accomplished the task in a matter of hours.

Set up at HSG.

The decision here is: Do I leave the fence open and see through to the garage, (ie hide nothing) or do I enclose? In the end I decided to use a see through black burlap,  allowing one to ‘see through the glass darkly.’

The back of the HSG, the garage Dr. Robby gave me for the exhibit. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©
The 10ftx10ft Cave/Labyrinth set up, draped with black burlap. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©





I found the length I needed at Joann’s fabric store in Los Angeles. When I saw, smelt and felt the material, I liked it right away. There is something very ancient and mystical about burlap.  It takes me back 1000’s of years.  Joann’s is a massive warehouse of cloth and fabric, they had the 14 yards I needed plus everything else: burlap thread to stitch it to the fence, big eyed needles, red thread. I abstarcted a careful list, to see if I could construct the whole thing without missing an item.  I almost achieved it, but needed some extra hooks to hang the images, other than that I had everything I needed.

Joann fabrics. Glendale Calif; Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©
Large selection at Joann fabrics. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©



The burlap is dark black, yet see though. maintaining what I like about fences.  They are always see through, one can always see the dream or nightmare ahead (foreshadowings of what is to come) At the same time it gives a feel of separation and closure symbolizing the forrest, cave or  labyrinth.

While at Joann’s I selected the red thread that would provide the link between the idea and the dream, the connection between cause and effect. So we covered the fenced area with the burlap, hung the images and I ran the red thread from entrance of  the cave/forrest/labyrinth all the way around to the exit.

Black annealed wire on back. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly©

The images are all double stranded with black annealed wire on the back.and came up with using lamp chain as links to hang the images. Originally I looked at S hooks but they did not quite extend to form a complete S and could easily unhook if someone bumped a picture.   The lamp chain links are study  and at the same time easily bendable into a S form with two pairs of pliers and can be shaped so as to hook onto the fence and the picture frame so it could not easily dis-lodge.  I used two hooks per image.





























The event went fairly well, not as many people turned up as I had hoped but could not expect much on a Thursday morning. I am hoping that the Sunday event will have a better turnout not so much people that I know but individuals who can tke the project to the next level. Other curators newspaper  etc. Glad I had that day experience, It will help me prepare for the second showing on Sunday the 17th.

This is where the reality of this business is, this part is the easy part, it’d making the show move on and upwards from here that is the challenge. I am hoping to use this event as a stepping stone to the next gallery. I would very much like to tour with it if possible so putting my enertgy in that direction.

Week-18-Project Development.

FMP-Book Prints.

This week have been working on printing images for my book. I will be hand printing 12 images into 5×7 prints.  Used my time on the refresher printing course at the Labs at Santa Monica College to do this.

SMC neg prep area and print washing and drying, final week.  Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

This was week 6 and the last day of the printing refresher. I completed the series yesterday for the book. (3 weeks work) at SMC on Sundays.  I use the facilities there to get equipment I do not have in my own dark room, plus it’s nice to get feedback from other printers, regarding my prints. I take them home let them dry overnight, then rewash and dry on my dryer at home.

I did the work in Ilford paper, and really like the look. So of course, I’m going to print my FMP on Ilford all the way It seems that the contrast and the very deep blacks of the images lend themselves well to the  look of the images, so I will be printing the series for my exhibition on the Ilford Fiber Base paper.  This printing refresher every week as well as my own darkroom work has been very beneficial to my printing. I have finally achieved the level of making a print, that I feel is on the level of any professional or professional printer.

I had the opportunity to use the Macbeth Densitometer TD-504 to do density readings on my negs to see that they are in range from clear base to max density. I like to keep my highlights and shadows well within range, so I overexpose the negative and under develop it to give a slightly lower density of the highlights with good shadow detail as this helps printing in the darkroom, that way I can keep my printing lights somewhat consistent.

So far it has been working well, and my exposures and development of my negs are just where I like them to be. The D-Max is 2.10 (TEST STRIP) Actual on meter reads 2.12, so it’s accurate to 1/200th, close enough for me, plus the test strip may not be new. My max destiny on my negs were around 1.30-1.40, Just where I like it, and compensate for density with the VC filters to increase the required contrast.

Clibration test on the Macbeth TD-504 Densitometer. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
Kodak B&W test strip 6017 in the Macbeth Densitometer. My negs on the left.  Photo by: Pierre Chemaly










Home Darkroom Printing:

At the home darkroom I have printed some of my final images, 11×14. I have finally decided to go back to Ilford Fibre Base, so a lot of them will be reprinted. I have also changed the stop bath to a citric base from the ascetic base, less smell and less irritation for me. I have added a fresh air vent to my darkroom so this has made a huge difference.  This week I will be printing all the images for my Pop_UP exhibition on November the 14th at the Hollywood Sculpture Garden.


5×7 Dry with curl. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

Finishing 5×7’s at home.

The prints were brought back from SMC, I allowed to dry, of course the fibre paper curl set in. So I resoaked in filtered water, sometimes I use distilled, give it a good soak and rinse, squeegee, and dry on my dryer.

I made 18 prints over the past three weeks.  These are for the book. I will use them also to do the final edit for my pop-up exhibit, it will be nice to see the prints on ilford paper in a smaller size and then get my series together, better than looking at cheap paper prints which I have done before.

5×7’s soaked in filtered water/sometimes distilled. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
Squeegeed after the soak,ready for drying. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly







Above the prints soaking in filtered water, it also serves as a final wash. The water where I live is very hard, even though it aids in removing the hypo, it can leave mineral on the surface of the print (even though, I have never experienced any residue) once the print has dried. However, as I am going for longevity of the print, I archival was, use hypo clear, do the residual hypo check, and not I will do the residual silver check to make sure the prints are properly fixed. I do a 2 bath fix for a minute each. The test is done with Sodium Sulphite, 2 dropped on the print and if there is a change in the image, there is resiual silver and it’s not fixed enough. I found some Sodium Sulphite at Sammy’s camera last week. I bought some paper there as Freestyle Photo was out of stock. As a result of that, I saved $10 on the paper, it was cheaper, so I guess I will buy there from now on, and I found a small bottle of sodium sulphite.

I was going to order it from the Photographers Formulary, but found out it has to ship via UPS or Fedex instead of USPS (some safety reasons) but this added $22 dollars to the shipping, plus a weeks wait. I would have bought it, but luckily a bottle was available at Sammy’s so overall I saved over $30, so as I was close by to Canters my favorite Deli, went for lunch and did some reading/research of my new book: “The Photograph as Contemporary Art.”




B+W Analysing Process: https://www.paulwainwrightphotography.com/biblio_files/silver_conf_a.pdf



This is the beginning of the second module for the FMP. I had my 1-2-1 with Dr. Wendy, which went very well.

Over the break, it seemed as if everything finally gelled and formed into place. I completed my series of images to present to Wendy and  for the FMP exhibit/Assignment PDF. consisting of 16 images. The experimentation period is now done, and the next stage is to begin making the fibre prints for the FMP and my book. The FMP images will be 11x14inches and the book images will be 5x7inches.  These are all going to be done by my on hand, so a lot of work lies ahead. I will also be framing them myself in 11×14 floating frames.

I do have a place to exhibit: At the Hollywood Sculpture Garden and Gallery in the Hollywood Hills, by the kind offer of Dr. Robby Gordon whose sculpture and artwork is exhibited there. I am in the process of getting a book made, so need to get those elements to the binder.

Dr. Wendy made some very good suggestions to improve the presentation. Which I will work on this week. But one I really like very much, is to put the artist statement at the end of the book, and the PDF submission, to let the images and the associated prose work freely as opposed to being set up by the artist statement.   I may use this idea in the same way for the FMP exhibit, by giving the viewers the brochure/statement when they leave, not when they arrive. (just a thought) but do not know if possible or even a good idea. will discuss with Dr. Wendy as well as Dr. Robby.

Just got of the Phone with Dr.Robby of the Hollywood Sculpture Garden abd Galley.  I have set an appointment for next week, to go and discuss the installation. He offered me November the 14th, so it’s not too far away and I will begin working on my presentation prints and fine t uning my presentation at this point.  I feel I have come far enough with the testing of everything as well as the series of 16 images. I may cut them down for the exhibition, I do not know as yet. I forgot to ask Wendy what the minimum is. Less is best, less is lazy, I have not made up which it is yet. But I do want to have a bit of a safety valve.

Wendy suggested I attend the Victoria Forrest talk on October 1st;  as Victoria is very good with book presentaion and may be very helpful in getting my book and the series into a presentable edited form, so I will attend that.

I am still doing my printing re-fresher at Santa Monica College with Ed Mengus, and I will most probably start printing my book images there, and my final images at home in my own dark room. I have three more sessions there on Sundays, and if he offers the class again, I will sign up, that way I have two darkrooms to work out of, plus feedback on the prints if I need any, it is available from fellow printers and of course Ed, who is a wonderful photographer and printer himself.


Week-7-Project Development.

Hollywood Sculpture Garden – Pierre Chemaly©

I went  to an art reception in the Hollywood Hills, at the invitation of Dr. Robby Gordon, an artist and sculpture, to his  Hollywood Hills Sculpture Garden, where his work is on exhibit along with other works of art.

Dr.Robby Gordon at desk. – Pierre Chemaly ©

It is in the beautiful Hollywood Hills, overlooking Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles in the distance.

View of Down Town from the Hollywood Sculpture Garden. – Pierre Chemaly ©

Nice to see the fruits reaped from one’s art. The place is an artists dream. There is art everywhere. From the moment one walks into the yard, the front house, to every room in the house including the kitchen, bathrooms and the bedrooms, has works of art exhibited. Even the garage, is a work of art.

The Artist’s Garage. Pierre Chemaly©

There are paintings, sculpture, ceramics and 3D-art on display. While at the art reception, I met a fellow artist from Cal Arts, he offers a small workshop on getting one’s art exhibited, he invited me to join, as he would be able to help me get my work show, so that was a nice connect. Dr. Robby also offered me the opportunity ho have  my FMP exhibit at the gallery, so I will be talking to him more about that. I also met an Artist from Downtown Los Angeles in the Artist Loft district, she makes 30ft high sculptures and paints, she offered to introduce me to the arts district in Downtown, so I will explore that avenue for sure.  Overall, it was very beneficial for me, on many levels, and will persue these avenues, for my current work and for my FMP exhibition.

‘Seize the opportunity’  Artist – Pierre Chemaly ©
‘Escaping the hand of fate.’ Artist – Pierre Chemaly ©

I have been doing a lot of image construction this week, and have made quite a few new images. Using some old images and combined them with new imagery, I am layering.

‘Towards the light.’  Artist -Pierre Chemaly ©

I have made since this module began. It seems if I will be using leitmotifs like trees, stairs, windows, black birds, fence wire, for my image constructions. I am using film and digital images (35mm B+W) (6X6/7) My Canon 7D and 5 D, Lightroom, Photoshop, and my darkroom. My final exhibit will consist of digital as well as analogue images, still deciding whether to introduce color or not, I will see how that goes as the FMP progresses.

I did receive my shipment of Svema 35mm color negative, and will go out and photograph with it this week end.