Just Another Stellar Day

Yesterday we saw pictures of the surface of Mercury for the first time. That was special, but it was just another in a series of exceptional darkroom days @ B”Fun”HS. How can the day be exceptional if it’s a similar one of a series? I’ll tell you how: it’s another in a series of exceptional darkroom days because every day is different. Here is a stunning collection of work prints in no particular order from periods 1 through 7.

These are the work of Kendall Wallin, Ola Susol, Zach Rowe, Charlotte Richardson, Myles Porter, Hannah Mills, Madeleine Lebovic, Kristin Kuhn, Justine Kaszinski, Mikayla Johnson, Caroline Horswill, Hannah Hornig, Michelle Henneberry, Molly Hendrickson, Alex Hallerberg, Nicole Deligio, Christina Buerosse, Kristina Bastidas, Brooke Baily, and Hailey Anderson.

MGA News

Multigrade Art paper is poised to appear in the States. I’ve converted the prices from pounds sterling to dollars for a pack of ten sheets of 11×14, for comparison’s sake:

Multigrade FB, 20.80=$33.28

MGA, 27.49=$41.98

Caveat emptor.

Here is a detail from a picture of a print, made with glancing light to emphasize the matt surface and its slight texture:

(Please do not salivate on your keyboard.)

OTOH, most (if not all) incarnations of Plus-X are disappearing. It was an excellent family of emulsions, but the Great Yellow Father has deemed it expendable. On, Ilford.

Useful Rules for “Writing”

Elmore Leonard produced 10 rules for writing (fiction), and the Guardian then asked many other writers for their personal guidelines. You could look it up. It’s a long article, and all of it is worth reading. Here are a few choice excerpts; substitute “photograph” for “write” wherever bracketed (and “study pictures” for “read”), and the entire enterprise translates fairly well.

Geoff Dyer: “Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary. Beware of clichés. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought – even of conception.”

Anne Enright: “Only bad [writers] think that their work is really good.”

Richard Ford: “Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a [writer] is a good idea. Don’t have children. Don’t have arguments with your wife in the morning, or late at night. Don’t drink and [write] at the same time. Don’t wish ill on your colleagues. Try to think of others’ good luck as encouragement to yourself. Don’t take any shit if you can ­possibly help it.”

Jonathan Franzen: “You see more sitting still than chasing after.”

David Hare: “Never complain of being misunderstood. You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to.”

P.D. James: “[Read] widely and with discrimination. Bad [writing] is contagious.”

Michael Morpurgo: “The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.”

Andrew Motion: “Honour the miraculousness of the ordinary. Think big and stay particular.”

Helen Simpson: “The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying “Faire et se taire” (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.'”

Zadie Smith: “Protect the time and space in which you [write]. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.”

Colm Tóibín: “Get on with it. Stay in your mental pyjamas all day. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. No alcohol, sex or drugs while you are working.”

Jeanette Winterson: “Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom. Be ambitious for the work and not for the reward.”

Viv’s Viewfinder

…courtesy of Ms. D.:


Hah thkoo field trips have their advantages and disadvantages. Typically, an entire school day is consumed and transportation is provided. OTOH, that school day comes at the risk of falling behind in some other courses, and those trips are necessarily to destinations that can absorb our numbers; plus, some people simply do not want to be seen on a Big Yellow Safety Bus. What’s a ’tog to do?

How about customizing your own outing?

Consider a set of concerns:

Location: your yard/block; another city; Bhutan.

Companions, for which consider St. Walker Evans’s opinion (taken in context of the 1960s): “Work alone if you can. Girls are particularly distracting, and you want to concentrate; you have to. This is not anti-feminism; it is common sense. Companions you may be with, unless perfectly patient and slavish to your genius, are bored stiff with what you’re doing. This will make itself felt and ruin your concentrated, sustained purpose.”

Time (calendar & clock), variable by light/weather, especially if you’re working solo.

Film & developer combination, not variables for some of us but very critical for others.

Goal(s): emulation of a recognized style (Winogrand, Callahan, Friedlander); nominal subject matter (bullfights @ midnight, fallen horses, lumpen menschen)

See what you can glean from http://2point8.whileseated.org/2005/09/06/rule-1/ (1 through 9, anyway)

Isolate your field trip from everything else. Have a photography to-do list with only one thing — shooting. Figure out how to eliminate other agenda items that get in the way. Suppose you had a to-do list with 10 things:
(1) Clean your room.
(2) Write a paper for Film Crit.
(3) Shoot for a project.
(4) Take a shower.
(5) Answer e-mail.
(6) Meet someone at Einstein’s.

…et cetera… it would be pretty easy to get everything done–except for (3). You would have been busy all day, but being busy is not the same thing as being productive.



What Day Is This?

Are we living a series of lies? A nearby town held a mini-festival of events on the 12th, claiming it was a St. Patrick’s Day event. Barrington Fun High School will be the site of a Mother’s Day celebration, but on this coming April 10. In recent years, Palatine has held their 4th of July parade on July 1st and on June 30. What’s going on? Is it related to the shaky nature of the vestige of a sense of place when one “goes to” a Web site? Can we attribute this slippage to having moved federal holidays to the nearest Monday regardless of the date being commemorated? Am I a coot, or do we try to get by with as little ceremony as possible (to all of which Mr. Lynn replies, “Well then, Happy Birthday!”)?

And when does a grading period end? At 2:35 on the last designated school day on the academic calendar? Or is it when I leave the building on that day? Or is it the first day back after a break? Or the last possible moment on the morning of posting grades? Or whenever you say it is? Or whenever I say it is?

Postscript: Daylight Savings Time is currently in effect for eight of twelve months each year. Q.E.D.

A Game Changer for Film

…or at least a game, anyway:


(You don’t have to wait until the day after March to watch this.)

George Santayana Weighs In

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Only coincidentally, both these links happen to be to National Public Radio.



W. o’ W.: Robert Adams

Here is the preface to the (35th? 36th?) 2010 book of pictures from the cliche-free photographer:

“In common with many photographer, I began making pictures because I wanted to record what supports hope: the untranslatable mystery and beauty of the world. Along the way, however, the camera also caught evidence against hope, and I eventually concluded that this too belonged in pictures if they were to be truthful and thus useful.

The only people of whom I knew who had in some measure resolved the conflict were writers like Emily Dickinson and painters like Edward Hopper, individuals who searched the world so diligently that they occasionally caught glimpses of another. Theodore Roethke’s notebook entry was the victory I wanted: ‘I see what I believe.’

As much as I try to stay away from abstractions, I often find myself asking three questions, and I repeat them here as a point of entry into this book: What does our geography compel us to believe? What does it allow us to believe? And what obligations, if any, follow from our beliefs?”