Wednesday, 15 September 2010

On Film and exposure

There is a difference in intended results between purposefully over-exposing print film vs shooting it at a speed higher than the manufacturers rating. I base print film speed on the amount of exposure required to build a midtone density that hits a reference film supplied by the manufacturer.

Using the toe/heel method will drive you nuts and isn't practical with print films because of the different ways that Fuji and Kodak emulsions handle increasing density.

Notorious examples of print films that don't work well at their rates speed are NPH, VPS and to some extent older Reala.

Print films that do work well at their rated speed are Kodak Supra 100/400 and Kodak Gold 100. Most of the amatuer films handle well at their rated speeds, expcuding Superia-Reala which tends to prefer being rated at slower than EI 100.

Example: Shoot a grey card with Gold 100, and then NPH exactly two stops down. Now measure the density of those frames while subtracting the difference in the clear base. You'll find that NPH IS NOT two stops faster than Gold 100 and NPH will correspondingly suffer if shot at EI 400.

The other side of the coin is simply over-exposing print films to alter their inherent picture qualities. 10 years I might have agreed that halving the ASA of any print film will lead to better images. With current emulsion technology that's not the case, and too much over-exposure can get you into trouble, especially with higher contrast Kodak films like Supra. Fuji print films by nature of their built in compensation technology typically like a full stop of over-exposure. Kodak print films like the Portra series work well rated about 1/3 slower that their listed speed, but they gain less advantage than the Fuji print films in terms of deliberate over-exposure.

So, what's my point: The problem with rating all print films 1/2 of their rated speed is that doing so may result in several frames of random shots on that roll ending up much more over-exposed than a single stop. A stop of over-exposure is no big deal for print film, and even two stops. The problem is that a frame of print film two stops over-exposed is going to be a bitch to scan later on and throw off the color balance on any automated printer. Guaranteed that shots with proper exposure will have a different print color balance than shots one or two stops over. Most commercial printers can barely slope out a one stop bracket either way in terms of keeping linear color balance.

Increasing exposure with print film results in increasing saturation of the dye-clouds in the emulsion, and the net result is a "smoother", and in some cases more saturated color. The drawback is that you'll start to lose detail and sharpness because of halation effects, dye-coupler crossover, and other strange things that happen with more over-exposure. NHG I and Agfa Ultra 50 are two films that could not be safely over-exposed without some obvious loss of image quality.

The best way to get around all these variables is to shoot a test roll of any print film at various speeds, take notes of those speeds, and compare the proofs when you get them from the lab. Note where your proofs tend to "even in out" in terms of quality and this will be a good personal EI for that print film.

Photo by Yannick J.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Dora Maar

Dora Maar, most famously known as the sitter, muse and partner of Pablo Picasso, notably ‘The Weeping Woman’. Maar also documented Picasso’s iconic painting ‘Guernica’. She was however already a famous photographer when she met him in 1936. She supported herself in the 1920’s and 1930’s as a commercial photographer. She brought her own vision to an otherwise uniform genre. Her avant garde and Surrealist imagery made her famous within the art world.

This Is Not The Chelsea Flower Show (now on at Diemar/Noble Gallery London) displays work by seven world-class photographers including Dora Maar. Each photographer has explored the use of floral imagery in their own unique way, re-appraising our notions of the flower within the photographic image.


A glimpse at the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, from growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris through his successful song-writing years in the 1960s to his death in 1991 at the age of 62.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Utopia Matters

With more than 70 works of art, encompassing painting, sculpture, drawing, decorative art, design, photography, and printed matter, the exhibition examines the evolution of utopian ideas in modern Western artistic thought and practice, taking an international sequence of case studies that reveals some of the faces that utopia can assume when embraced by artistic movements—from the brotherhoods of the 19th century to the avant-gardes of the period immediately following World War I. The groups addressed are the French Primitifs, the German Nazarenes, the English Pre-Raphaelites, English polymath William Morris and the international Arts and Crafts movement, the American Cornish art colony, French Neo-Impressionism, Dutch De Stijl, the German Bauhaus, and Russian Constructivism. The exhibition includes loans from some of the most important museums in the world, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, Tate Britain, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. This exhibition is organized together with Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin where it was exhibited from January 22 – April 11, 2010.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

What goes around comes around - James Clar

James Clar’s work is a fusion of technology, pop art,street culture, and visual information. His work has been an exploration of media technology and often charts the common intersection that is light, the shared element between all visual mediums. Throughout his artistic career,through various developments of media technologies, a defining factor of his work has been a questioning of what we see and how it affects our behavior.His journey of creating, manipulating and shaping light began as an undergraduate film student at New York University (NYU), concentrating on animation. Under the influence of various media theory, and specifically the writings of Marshall McLuhan, James’ outlook on visual systems began to be stripped down to the basic idea of light.

Following his Masters at Interactive Telecommunication Program (ITP, NYU), he moved away from screen-based work and decided to work directly with light. He began creating his own systems with which to manipulate light - thereby doing away with a reliance on traditional systems such as television or film. James currently has three patents in the US for new engineering systems he created while developing his light art.
James’ early works dealt with understanding how people see, often times being represented by sculptures that manipulated light information. His relationships with new media technologies have also led to various site-specific and interactive architectural installations - 3D environments that respond to the viewer, or to the space.

Following a move to the Middle East in 2007, his unique vantage point as a new media artist from America has led to more conceptual works that deal with nationalism, globalism, and popular culture in the age of mass information. His two previous solo shows, ‘For Your Eyes Only’ and ‘Acceleration’ both dealt with human behavior in a hyper-tech world. ‘Acceleration’ in particular dealt with highly politicized themes such as xenophobia and violent nationalism. Recent works have been a mix of visual systems with socio-political ideas and popular culture.

Mood Fix

As with cocaine in Coca-Cola, lithium was widely marketed as one of a number of patent medicine products popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, and was the medicinal ingredient of a refreshment beverage, 7 Up. Charles Leiper Grigg, who launched his St. Louis-based company The Howdy Corporation in 1920, invented a formula for a lemon-lime soft drink in 1929. The product, originally named "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda", was launched two weeks before the Wall Street Crash of 1929.[12] It contained the mood stabiliser lithium citrate and was one of a number of patent medicine products popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The beverage was marketed specifically as a hangover cure. Its name was soon changed to 7 Up. According to Gary Yu (UCSB) and researchers for the "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader", the name is derived from the atomic mass of lithium (approximately seven daltons). Lithium citrate was removed from 7 Up's formula in 1950.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Je suis dada

Je suis dada, an exhibiton on Surrealism and design, travelled to Turin, Vienna, Prague and Brussel. After Milano, it will travel to Oslo and Madrid.
It is no coincidence that Belgium is the country of surrealism; of René Magritte (1898- 1967), of visual paradoxes such as “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” in the painting La Trahison des Images (1928), of the mussel pots of Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976), the female nudes of Paul Delvaux (1897-1994), the collages and controversial film L’imitation du Cinéma (1959) by Marcel Mariën (1920-1993), the poetry of Paul van Ostaijen (1896-1928)... It is also no coincidence that singer Jacques Brel (1929-1978) described Belgium as no more than a “state of mind. A dream, a fiction, a product of surrealism”...
Although Surrealism has not been around long as an artistic movement, its influence is here to stay and it continues to live on in all areas of art. Whereas James Ensor (1860- 1949), with his irony and unbridled imagery, can certainly be considered as a pioneer of Surrealism, Belgium still produces artists in the Surrealist tradition.

Belgians are raised on a certain form of stratification, of disorientation. This applies equally to design. This should not surprise, given that surrealist artists such as Dali and Magritte readily incorporate everyday objects in their compositions.
This is why Design Flanders decided to centre a travelling exhibition around the surrealist theme. The launch took place in November in Turin during the Torino World Design Capital event, where it attracted a great deal of interest.
Je suis dada shows objects with hidden meanings, full of emotion, poetry, irony and relativism. They get us dreaming, fantasising and smiling again, only nowadays there is nothing wrong in setting out to shock. Imagination reigns again.
Functionality and beauty are no longer specified as the only conditions, or even as conditions in themselves. These are generally limited-edition objects produced in small production runs, but industry too can fall for their sexy appeal.

The title itself refers almost literally to this drive towards freedom, it intrigues, raises questions, and carries the same weight as “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. Je suis dada grew into something larger, in which not only the objects but also the graphic design (by Barlock), the scenography (by Pieter Boons and Annemie Lathouwers), the visuals and the music became part of the surrealist story the exhibition brings to you.
The exhibition will be extended with several innovations including Baobab by Xavier Lust for MDF Italia and a new version of the lamp Equilibre by Luc Ramael for Prandina.