Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Painting with Light, Still Life of Foxglove

The above image was “painted with light,” although perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement. Here’s how it is done.

The camera is set on a tripod; the subject (the still life setup above) is in darkness, or near darkness. The shutter on the camera is opened, and left open. At that point I use a taped down flashlight, which only lets out a small beam of light out, and I move it over the subject adding light by moving the light back and forth. Wherever the light strikes the image will show, and where it does not there will be darkness. By using the hand to partially cover and uncover the light source, there can be lots of effects and tonal variations. In the case above there was also light from outside the window, which accumulates over time. It takes some practice, and frequently it will take a few days of experiments to get something I like.
The plant is Foxglove, taken from our garden in Charlottesville.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Night Photographs on Postcards

What I’ve always liked about night photography are the results. The stark lighting isolates shapes as does the dark sky. Shapes are simplified and dramatic. Even without a camera, I like wandering at night.
I’ve collected a few postcards of night scenes over the years. For some time they were in vogue, perhaps encouraged by the increase of film sensitivities. Some of them are really day shots that have been “painted on” to resemble a night scene. These almost always have the same image of the moon-in-clouds in the background sky.
This card is from Dallas, Texas. The color is the classic hand-coloring with transparent tints.
The theater marquee says “Red Snipers Slay Nazis in Stalingrad Streets,” making it easy to set the time of the photograph.
The next card is one I suspect to be more of an artist’s rendering. The Monmouth Hotel in Spring Lake, N. J.
This one has a 1939 cancellation stamp. The message is " Down here for the weekend. Having a wonderful time, even if it terrifically hot. I can't think of anything more to say.
Love Betti"
It has the classic perfect moon in clouds. As does this one of Baltimore;

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Window, West Main, Charlottesville

West Main, Charlottesville

Towns and cities tend to be named and thought of as a conglomeration of different areas. So it is for C-Ville. There is the University Area (or “The Corner”), the Downtown, 29 North, Barracks Road. West Main is Main Street between the University Corner and Downtown Charlottesville. It happens to also include the Charlottesville Amtrak Station. It runs between some of the older residential areas. Since I’ve been living here it has been a strip of some hotels, businesses, auto shops and restaurants. Across from the train station there is a block of two story brownstone buildings with commercial spaces on the bottom floors. This is possibly a sign of a prior plan for the area, or not. If so, like many plans, the result was different from the plan.
The photo above is the building now used by the Albemarle Baking Company. This was taken during the demolition of the old space. The motorcycle belonged to the gent doing the construction work.
Taken with a Koni-Omega 6X7, and a Hexanon 60 mm lens. Never heard of it? Well, here;
http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/index-frameset.html?KoniOmegaRapidM.html~mainFrame .
The film was Tri-x 120 roll film.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Charlottesville, music venues over the years

Before the Downtown Mall became the magnetic center of Charlottesville, there were spots in and around the “corner” that drew people. Many of the music venues of years ago were either on West Main close to the Corner, or on the Corner itself. Above are some photos from what was called the West Virginian, which was located in the basement below the Virginian.
I have no record of the name of this band, although they were excellent. The fellow playing the short-necked electric resonator guitar might have put the instrument together himself. I tried discerning the logo on the head. It looks a bit like a “Harmony” logo. As you can see, he ended up improvising from the floor.
There was the “Mine Shaft,” another basement, in this case, under where Studio Art is located, and “Trax,” a bit like a barn just over the railroad tracks. It’s said that Dave Mathews did his first playing there. Tracks booked all sorts of acts, including a few international groups. Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens played there, which was probably one of the best African music groups I’ve seen.
Miller’s has always been here, and will always be here, hopefully. When I first moved here, Dave Mathews was behind the bar at Millers, serving drinks and sandwiches. In this years film festival he played a “heavy” in “Lake City,” which has Sissy Spacek in the lead. Dave is convincingly menacing in the role.
Gravity Lounge is my current favorite place for music. The favorite act: The Asylum Street Spankers can't be beat, bringing together, humor, scathing commentary, and a bit of historically naughty swing. They've played there at least four times.