The Class That Was: 2009 2-D AP


Don’t be stranglers strangers, now.

Stuck in my Rostromedial Prefrontal Cortex, 8/29/09 a.m.

“If I Had A Nose Full Of Nickels” by Lou Carter.

I can’t trace its appearance to any train of thought, and of course the only way to deal with it is to replace it deliberately with another tune, often more trite. TMBG’s “Experimental Film” has done the trick. What’s stuck in your rostromedial prefrontal cortex?


I Got Yer Zone System Right Heah.

I don’t want to die:

Jonesing for Polaroid,1518,642218,00.html

A Relatively Lengthy Statement From William Eggleston

“A picture is what it is and I’ve never noticed that it helps to talk about them, or answer specific questions about them, much less volunteer information in words. It wouldn’t make any sense to explain them. Kind of diminishes them. People always want to know when something was taken, where it was taken, and, God knows, why it was taken. It gets really ridiculous. I mean, they’re right there, whatever they are.”


Everything is relative, n’est pas?

First Day Topics in Advanced Placement

*** The portfolio requirements for Seniors, to the College Board; and for Juniors, whether to the College Board (or to the Art faculty, in-house)
*** Thinking about the Concentration section of the portfolio sooner this year

*** & as vital sources of information and useful fora (“forums”) in which to participate

*** Delectations for our own edification vs. Critiques with the Drawing and 3-D Design classes

*** Field trips

*** Inspiration from cinema

*** Hoodies, the consensus being no changes

*** Flatfile selection and labeling

*** A portrait buddy system, to investigate the problem of photographic and design principles on a regular basis. What might be due each month: three pictures, either as a triptych or independent images. (I think I will/should/must intervene, in order to help people hook up.)

*** Solarization (the Sabatier technique of printing), then generating print-size negatives for cyanotype (blueprint) work.

*** “Pushing” film by rating it higher (essentially underexposing), then overexposing/under-developing medium-speed film (or shooting ISO 25/50 emulsions) for comparison’s sake.

The Sabatier Effect


Here is a good starting point, with fairly reliable results:

The Sabatier effect is a style of exposure and development whose appearance is markedly different from “normal” photographic representation. Unlike such strategies as negative prints or the use of camera lens filters, the resulting print is a unique distortion of the tonal scale that does not appear to conform to that of the original scene. What is needed for a successful solarized print is a negative that would normally print well with a #2 or #1 filter (dense / over-developed / contrasty scene), and a #5 filter. The printing procedure that follows is a series of steps that approaches repeatability (although the process is notoriously difficult to control).

Each piece of photographic paper receives two exposures and is developed twice. An acid stop bath would inhibit the second development, so set up an extra tray of plain water for a rinse in between the developments.

Use full sheets of paper to make test “grids” rather than strips. Make exposures for, say, three-second increments at f 8. Develop, then rinse thoroughly for up to a minute; drain, squeegee and/or blot in some combination in order to remove all the water from the emulsion. At this point some images may not show much at all for some exposures. Don’t worry: this may work in your favor when the process is finished. Return the paper to the enlarger. (It is practical to place a sheet of contact printing glass on top of the easel to keep the damp paper from the easel and baseboard.) Make a second series of exposures without the negative (but still with the #5 filter) perpendicular to the first, for maybe two seconds each at f 16, then develop, stop and fix the paper normally.

Examine the grid of to find a combination of exposures you think will work for the image. Unlike traditional representational printing, there may be a wide spectrum of interesting choices.


Practice Polymathy: Be a Polymath, with Sprezzatura

G. Spencer-Brown, author of “Laws of Form,” says he is “a mathematician, consulting engineer, psychologist, educational consultant and practitioner, consulting psychotherapist, author, and poet.” Recreations include shooting, tennis, cricket, soccer, chess, piloting anything that will fly, exploring, photography, maps and map-making, listening to Mozart, cooking in commercial breaks, composing and performing songs and ballads, constructing ingenious machines that actually work, and inventing astonishing games that can actually be played.


But here’s why Mr. Brown matters, for our purposes: in “Laws of Form,” a book of mathematics and philosophy which has never gone out of print, Brown includes this afterword:

“Discoveries of any great moment in mathematics and other disciplines, once they are discovered, are seen to be extremely simple and obvious, and make everybody, including their discoverer, appear foolish for not having discovered them before. –Unfortunately we find systems of education today which have departed so far from the plain truth, that they now teach us to be proud of what we know and ashamed of ignorance. This is doubly corrupt. It is corrupt not only because pride is in itself a mortal sin, but also because to teach pride in knowledge is to put up an effective barrier against any advance upon what is already known, since it makes one ashamed to look beyond the bonds imposed by one’s ignorance.

“To any person prepared to enter with respect into the realm of his great and universal ignorance, the secrets of being will eventually unfold, and they will do so in a measure according to his freedom from natural and indoctrinated shame in respect of their revelation.

“In the face of strong, and indeed violent, social pressures against it, few people have been prepared to take this simple and satisfying course towards sanity. And in a society where a prominent psychiatrist can advertise that, given the chance, he would have treated Newton to electric shock therapy, who can blame any person for being afraid to do so?

“To arrive at the simplest truth, as Newton knew and practiced, requires years of contemplation. Not activity. Not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behaviour of any kind. Not reading. Not talking. Not making an effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know. And yet those with the courage to tread this path to real discovery are not only offered practically no guidance on how to do so, they are actively discouraged and have to set about it in secret, pretending meanwhile to be diligently engaged in the frantic diversions and to conform with the deadening personal opinions which are being continually thrust upon them.

“In these circumstances, the discoveries that any person is able to undertake represent the places where, in the face of induced psychosis, he has, by his own faltering and unaided efforts, returned to sanity. Painfully, and even dangerously, maybe. But nonetheless returned, however furtively.”

Hipsters, Flipsters, Finger-poppin’ Daddies…

…hie thee to the place named for Jimmy Petrillo (the man who, once upon a time [twice, actually] shut down the recording industry) for the 31st annual Chicago Jazz Festival. has all the information anyone could possibly want… but I have recommendations anyway.

Friday, September 4
Jeff Parker Quartet

The Trio: Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell




Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet

Saturday, September 5
80th Birthday Jam with Fred Anderson

Dave Holland Big Band

Sunday, September 6
Archie Shepp Quartet featuring Willie Pickens, Avery Sharpe and Ronnie Burrage


A Tribute to Art Tatum, featuring Buddy DeFranco and Johnny O’Neal
Buddy De Franco

Dee Alexander


Handouts Preview

What follows is the content of pages distributed by Your Obedient Servant (wait: that was Orson Welles) on the first day of the new academic year.


Welcome (and welcome back) to The Wonderful World of Photography.
This is primarily a studio course, a course of picture-making (the shooting is the homework) in which more than half of the days in class are lab time (either film processing or printing). There are also writing assignments, some of which will require a visit to an exhibit. Once every quarter we all take a field trip to a promising location that is not normally practical for you to visit.

You’ll need ready access to a 35mm film camera (or a medium-format roll film camera) every week of the term. Art classes traditionally cover supplies by charging lab fees; currently, $60.00 covers two packages of 25 -sheet packages of paper for printing, chemicals, negative file pages and a minimal amount of mount board. Other expenses include film (typically eight or more rolls, averaging 4.50 each), more paper (15-20.00/pkg.), and more mount board. Advanced students often shop elsewhere for stuff like fiber paper, printing filters and portfolio cases.

Every exercise and project that is on time, and complete with respect to its specific requirements, is awarded a good grade; work of exceptional quality (or that which is done well and early) earns a better grade. Work not turned in by the due date earns no credit.

Typical requirements may include preliminary considerations in writing; contact sheets; number and size of work prints, and of exhibition-quality prints. The making of negatives and proof prints is also important enough to be awarded credit for conscientious work: for each roll’s reasonably accurate exposure, for decent processing, and for a correctly made, useful contact sheet. More film shot earns more credit. In addition to evident effort and nice results, credit is awarded for punctuality, preparedness, start-up stuff (such as folder, camera, film), incentive, occasional collaboration, and, of course, “godliness” (cleanliness). Mounted work, as many as one from each project, is usually required from everyone beyond first semester. Writing projects may take such forms of presentations in class, reviews of selected exhibits, interviews of artists, and responses to essays.

One of the stipulations on the application for pass/fail status allows for reverting to a letter grade if the situation warrants. I’ll probably just record a letter grade at the first or third quarter anyway, since those grades are not kept in the computer, but meant instead to be more of a notice to parents.

I welcome work beyond the problems that have been assigned (each for a specific reason), but extra credit is never in place of assigned projects. Photographers who know what they want to accomplish, or who have unique opportunities, make a proposal in advance rather than sidestep the curriculum. Quite often, those workers are assembling a portfolio or are contributing to some other long-range project.

OK, so here’s what you should do to get started, and when to do it:
1. Complete the quurvey today in class.
2. Get a folder to use just for this course. It needs to have two pockets and a three-ring binder inside. Present your folder to me tomorrow (or sometime later this week) in order to receive credit.
3. Bring to class with you, both Thursday and Friday, a camera you are considering using for the course.
4. Get yourself a roll of Kodak 400TX film by Friday (don’t send Mom!). If you are an advanced shooter and you know you want or need a different emulsion, please tell me about that before you do it.


Fo-Do Fussday Quurvey Votre nom, S.V.P.___________________

1. What is your current e-mail address?

2. Do you know which camera you’ll be using?
If so, what is it?
If not, what leads do you have?
Do you have access to a tripod?
How about a cable release?

3. How much sleep do you know you need in order to function well?
What new (to you) food have you enjoyed in the last year?

4. What music do you enjoy, likely more than most people in the
room? Do you play an instrument; are you one? Do you read?

5. Write much? What do you seek out to read?

6. What other areas of expertise can you claim? Any other expressive outlets? Do you engage in any spiritual activities/disciplines?

7. What do you want to know from me today? (Seriously; ask stuff that will be useful for everyone here to know: about the course, the department, the school; jazz…)



School is the perfect situation in which to take chances: you won’t go to jail, or to hell, or get beat up for trying and not succeeding. You have people around you who care, who are interested, and are there to help.

Don’t think of this class as one which educates your mind; rather, it will sophisticate you, which is different. Sophistication is knowledge that’s acquired in the course of having a purpose. You know why you want the information at the moment that you put your hand on it. You’re not just storing it up for a rainy day.

Aspects of sophistication: love and style, spirituality and street smarts. Street smarts? Shrewdness and toughness? To protect something soft that is going to be in danger if it’s exposed at the wrong time and place. To protect a soul. You’re learning about the course of art, the course of society, the course of the world, the course of your life.

Set up a personal timetable for the semester and understand it. Break the term into days, weeks, months. You’ll be surprised how little time there is to shoot. Do it at the earliest opportunity you can make for yourself. Don’t put off working on projects that demand a lot of creative thinking until late in the day or night. Attack such problems and creative thinking when you are fresh and rested. At the beginning of each day organize your thoughts; write them down, if that helps.

Always try to understand that you are your own best enemy. Be nice to yourself when you are tackling the unknown. Realize that you are going to fail a lot before you succeed. Allow time for this to happen. Creative work is not mechanical. It deals with your subconscious, your view of yourself and your emotions. If you’re at odds with your friends or family and you are depressed, don’t do creative work. Do mechanical, non-reasoning, unemotional work such as cleaning up or organizing. Don’t try to do more than is possible in the time you have available to you.

Everyone needs to get out more.

Photographs are made in the light.

 Making new negatives releases endorphins.

Where you stand and where you put the edges makes clear your intention; the center takes care of itself.

The earlier in the photographic process you take care of details, the easier everything is.

“If you suffer any sense of confusion in life, the best thing you can do is make little forms.” -Robert Frost
“Be patient; be consistent; be sincere.” –Fred Anderson