Unsurprisingly, the winter doldrums have arrived. Maybe even heavier than usual.
Reading and studying have been occupying much of my time. Since they seem to be well-known and they come up all the time on my Amazon homepage, I borrowed from the library and have read through some books by John Berger and Robert Adams. While there are some interesting points made by both regarding photography and art generally, I can’t say that I’ve been too impressed. Berger strikes me as an old-school activist, i.e., someone whose ideas were set by European Leftism of the ’50s and ’60s. I liked his analysis of the role of capitalism in art and the art world. Otherwise, his writing seems pretty dated and more of historical interest than as a guide to contemporary creation. And, given Adams’s photography, I expected him to be more progressive. But he comes across in his writing as a demoralized idealist and traditionalist. Not that that isn’t surprising, given our socio-political-economic situation. But, again, what he writes seems addressed to a different world than that of today. Maybe the fact that Aperture Foundation publishes some of their books says something about their outlook, as well.
There are several other things I’ve been reading, as well, among them books on Ernestine Ruben and Jitka Hanzlová. Ruben is a good find for me. Her use of nudes as a source abstraction is along the lines of my own tendencies, although limited to black-and-white. Similarly, I find Hanzlová’s work with the forest very apropos to my work. There’s a moodiness in her work that is fascinating.
At any rate, I have made some time for creation. Some of it feels a little more experimental, as I try out some new techniques, both in-camera and in post-processing. One area that I’ve been working with is having highlights with very dark background and nice chiaroscuro. I’ve learned that this requires some thought, since the internal light meter in cameras takes a general reading of illumination. Which leads me to think that getting an incident light meter might be a good next investment. Another area that may become more important is printing and the photo as object. There is a smoothness to digital prints that somehow I need to supersede. I have zero interest in exploring antique chemical processing itself, but the surface effects possible with collodion are attractive, as is the ability to have some physical texture on the surface and variable edges on the image.
So, if not a lot is being made, there is percolation under the surface.