Educational presentation of B&W analog photography - suggestions?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Denis P., Mar 10, 2007.

  1. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    I'm a member of the local amateur photo club, and we're preparing a small photo exhibition with purely analog B&W photography. Although we have a majority of d****al photographers, there are several of us who shoot primarily on film (exclusively, in my case). Mostly I'm to blame for this "analog renaissance", since I got them "hooked" on film, and usually provide other members with film and paper - purchased locally in Croatia from Fotokemika.

    Anyway, for the past year or so we've been using a provisional darkroom plus a small office space, kindly provided to us for temporary use by the city authorities. We're actually registered as a non-profit organization, and we even had a mini "photo school" for the local high school kids as a community service and a way of "repaying" the city authorities for the use of thsoe offices we've been allowed to use.

    We've had two exhibitions already - nothing serious, but still, we've shown our work to the public. We've also become probably the most active local and regional photo group - and probably the only one with any serious darkroom work.
    Now we'd like to present not only the photos of our "club", but also the way we work - analog photography, darkroom and all... This exhibition will also serve another purpose - it will be a way to show to the City authorities what is being done in those offices we've been allowed to use temporarily.

    So, the emphasis is not only on showing the final product (B&W photos), but also on presenting the analog process. Sure, we'll exhibit some photos, but the idea is also that the visitors will be able to take a peek in the darkroom, see the equipment, bottles of chemicals, graduates, etc. - perhaps ask some questions about the process, etc... I'll probably also display a part of my equipment - i.e. different cameras, ranging from analog P&S cameras, to Nikons, TLRs and "ancient" view cameras :smile:

    In a way, it will be a way to present not only the photos, but more importantly, how they are made, and with what kind of equipment.
    I've suggested that we also display negatives together with the final prints, to show this "intermediate" step in the process - I've thought about placing negative beside the print under the glass - perhaps with a piece of white paper underneath - i.e. frame the negative together with the final print.

    The prints will be mostly 30x40 cm (about 12x16 in.), but I'll probably also display some contact prints - 4x5 and 5x7. I think it might be interesting to visually show the "originals" from which the prints were made - and the contrast between small 35 negative beside a 12x16 print and a 4x5 negative beside a 4x5 contact copy could be revealing :smile:

    I'm looking for any other ideas which might emphasize the educational aspect of the show.

    I've heard about another very interesting and eye-opening concept once - an exhibition under red light, with blank pieces of (exposed) paper on the walls, with buckets of developer under each, where the visitor could apply some developer with a squeegee on the paper, and watch the magic appear :smile:
    Very nice idea, but not easy (or cheap) to implement - we have very limited funds (self-financed), and this would be expensive and technically challenging..... although I must admit I like the idea very much.

    In short, I wanted to ask if anyone has any other ideas we could use in presenting analog photographic process to general public (being what it is today, they probably won't know much about analog process....).

    TIA,

    Denis
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    A view camera set up with an image on the ground glass attracts attention. You could also project a negative on the easel of an enlarger. For this, substitute an ordinary light bulb for the expensive and short lived dedicated enlarger bulb. Display an example of a finished print from that negative. You could even use a negative from the same view as in the view camera.
     
  3. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Thanks Jim,

    I already thought about letting visitors take a peek at the ground glass - but I'm somewhat reluctant letting anyone (let alone non-photographer) within 3 feet from my view cameras! :smile:
    (As you probably know, a good kick on a tripod leg makes for a lot of grief...)

    Maybe I'l make a provisional "camera obscura" (pinhole camera) using a large cardboard box or something like that - with a drafting paper (the "greasy", transparent kind) in place of the ground glass... No big damage in breaking that :smile:

    Denis
     
  4. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    If I were in the audience in this kind of an event, I would be curious to know about the quality of the traditional photo paper. RC and FB prints without frames and mattes to be shown would probably do something.

    In film-based photography, I think the end product is what we care about the most...
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    In Nova Scotia, I visited a museum of photography (the Sherman Hines, in Liverpool) and one room of the exhibit was itself a camera obscura. There was a finger-sized hole in the wall and a big projection screen opposite to it. It actually looked like an upside-down video projection, until you realized what it was.
     
  6. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    You might try something with cyanotypes. Pre-coat many small pieces of paper (100mmx100mm?) and let people make photograms and develop them. Contact a few 4x5 or 5x7 negatives onto cyanotype paper. All this can be done room light (tunsten).

    Make several small pinhole cameras -- give them to random visitors to expose. Keep the cameras small and simple. Determine a good exposure time for them to tell the visitors. Process the negs (paper or litho film) and print them -- install a mini-show of the images (contact prints -- cyanotypes?) at the end of the exhibition.

    You can inform people about analoge photography by showing them. You can teach them about it by letting them do it.

    Vaughn
     
  7. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Well, thanks everyone for suggestions, and sorry for the late reply.

    It was rather hectic - I has a very busy (business) week, and I also had to help with printing for the show.

    In short, the show was opened yesterday evening, and I think it's a success - given that the intention was to present analog photography and workflow.

    We exhibited about 40 prints, ranging from (my) contact prints (4x5 and 5x7), to prints from 35mm negs - we have large frames, and used 2 prints per frame (prints were sized about 12x16 inches, i.e. 30x40 cm), exhibited together with the negatives from which the prints were made.

    Rather strange - and I've never seen it done before - the thing with negs exhibited together with the prints :smile: No doubt some negs will get damaged/scratched, but that's something we wanted to show.

    In short, I don't remember when it was the last time there was a photo show exhibiting B&W analog prints - must be at least 10-15 years, so this was really interesting for the public.

    As we are very limited in funds, the presentation, etc. is rather modest.

    BTW, the prints are unmatted - just bare prints under the glass on black backing paper, and some of the prints exhibit the usual errors in printing (dust, scratches, under/overexposure, etc.), but that was the intention - to show how it's done and what can happen in the process.

    Another part of the show was presentation of our darkroom (rather limited), and in a side room I was seated with a part of my collection of (working) analog gear. One full plate Chinese Seagull view camera (complete with dark cloth), which was the absolute hit with the visitors (I even let them peek under the dark cloth), a 4x5 Speed Graphic, some Rolleiflexes, Leicas and a couple of (analog) light meters. Visitors were surprised to find out that all the gear is in full working order, and that several of the prints hanging in the next room were shot with these cameras :smile:

    The local TV cameraman was particularly obsessed with the view of the ground glass - I guess we'll have good media coverage :smile:

    In short, I think we achieved the "educational" aspect, although many of the prints shown are not really up to the ehxibition standards :smile:

    For me personally, this was a success, since when our group formed two years ago, I was the only one of the 15 members shooting exclusively on film - all the others were purely digital. Yesterday, there were about 10 of them showing their analog B&W prints (with abut two or three of them who nowadays shoot ONLY on film) :smile:

    Denis
     
  8. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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  9. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    Efke t-shirt??? I'm willing to learn enough Croatian to get one!
     
  10. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    Great work, Denis. The club site is wonderful and I'm amazed and delighted by the energy you've created by championing something that every one in that room grew up with! Anyone over 15 has got to be used to analogue photography as the norm. How quickly we forget!

    There is a constant refrain that film is dead while every week more and more museums and galleries are mounting shows that are primarily analogue photography. My d_____l friends insist it's the rattle of the dying medium. I think it's genuine interest in an art that has more than 0's and 1's in its making.

    At any rate, thank you for the links. You're doing great stuff! (maybe a little bit of it with that old petzval?)
     
  11. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Denis,

    Yes! I agree with all they up above this post said.

    But can I be honest?

    I mean, really honest?

    I never did see you or the Efke t-shirt in the You Tube link. I think I was "blonded" and couldn't see anything else! :wink:
     
  12. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Thanks for the kind words, everyone...

    Yes, the site is done nicely - one of the younger members is good with that stuff :smile:

    I have to make a confession, though - it's good that Efke t-shirt wasn't shown in its entirety - it's actually not a Fotokemika t-shirt :surprised:
    I got it at the former Fotokemika store in Zagreb, which is now owned by another company, and the store is called "Digi**l Efke Center" (gasp!). They took over the old Efke logo, but it's a good thing that the "d-word" on the t-shirt is not visible in the photo on our site.

    That's why I wore the jeans shirt over it :wink:

    In short, the presentation was a success, and we even had a lecture on pinhole photography (about 1,5 hours, with slideshow and everything...!).

    My biggest reward is that many of the club members (previous digi-snappers) had their first "wet" prints shown there!

    Denis