Thursday, December 18, 2008

This is a test from my shoot this past Sunday- my first shoot with my new Mamiya RB67. Here I am trying again to work out a setting that is familiar, but with suggestions of landscape and scale. I was happy that I was able to concentrate and get something done even with Ollie in the house playing noisily downstairs. Feels good to be shooting again with predictable results- a camera that I know and a format I love. All that struggling with the 4x5 was disheartening. When you see the big, luminous image on the expanse of ground glass it looks amazing, but on the proof sheets the same images were flat and dull.

Just got an email from a website called the supermelon where they reviewed my work:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finally! I got my new RB67 in the mail from KEH. I am delighted with it- it is in great condition and the lens is very sharp. The shutter also has a very decisive sound that I love, not like the clomping kind of sound my old one was making. I have never ordered such an major bit of camera equipment online before, but I am happy to say it went well. This weekend I found some time to shoot, and while Ollie and J were playing downstairs I set up in the bathroom and messed around with velvet and talcum powder. Results to be posted soon.
The image posted here is a double exposure of an enamel pot. I've had a long standing love affair going with this pot, and I have shot it many times over the years in different ways. I think I finally got what I was after here in this photo. It looks better in real life, in its form as a big color print. The white specks inside it were one thing about it I loved, the other is the utilitarian shape and the suggestion of containment or measure. Titled "Little Dipper".

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This photo I shot this summer with Rachel helping. It was one of those serendipitous moments where my feelings about Rachel, and her staying at my house played directly into the photos I was making. In another version of this image she modeled for me with her hand reaching for the bread slice under the table- which was analogous to her real behavior, the sneaking around and lying. Her hand taking bread from under the table was hardly a metaphor- she was indeed taking my resources, and probably hoping I wouldn't notice she was unable to give anything in return.
In the end the version showing her hand was too creepy, and I opted for this one instead as a final select.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Women In Photography NYC exhibit

You can see some of my new work in this group show up today on the WIP website:

Women in Photography Presents:
"If There Were a Little More Silence"
December 02- December 15, 2008
A group showcase featuring:

Michele Abeles
Rebecca Horne
Melissa Kaseman
Catherine Larré
Stacy Renee Morrison
Sonja Thomsen
Anna Venezia
Jessica Watson
Sarah Wilmer

Posted here is one of the images from the show by Melissa Kaseman titled Flock.

Monday, December 1, 2008

PhotoAlliance Portfolio Review

I will be reviewing photographer portfolios this year at the PhotoAlliance portfolio review at the San Francisco Art Institute in March. I'll look foward to leaving the dregs of winter in NYC behind for a few lovely days in San Francisco's North Beach looking at photography and meeting talented photographers. Last year I was excited to meet Sara Steele and Benjamin Drummond- an activist photographer and writer team with some remarkable photography about the human face of climate change, among others. Check out Steele and Drummond's work here:

If you are thinking of buying an original print or some art this Christmas you might consider starting here with this collection offered by PhotoAlliance that includes Imogen Cunningham, Terri Weifenbach, Abelardo Morell, Carrie Mae Weems, Linda Connor and others. Right now my favorite is the Terri Weifenbach print featured here. This is one of the more expensive offerings, available for $750.00 as an 11x14" signed print.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This photo is from one of the first ink bath shoots I did. I reshot it because I felt this one looked too much like a spa treatment- the image shows too much of the rest of the room. This kind of shoot always made J really nervous, so I had to be sure to do these kinds of messy set ups when he wasn't home, and have it all cleaned up by the time he got back.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This is the Stephen Hawking cover that Mackenzie Stroh shot in the mathematics department at Cambridge for Discover's December issue. Mackenzie is a photographer who has handled difficult jobs beautifully for me before, and I had complete faith in her. Mackenzie has a body of personal work, of portraits of people who have had medically necessary plastic surgery, that I saw when I was at Newsweek. These images impressed me as being truly sensitive portraiture, of a difficult subject that could have easily been sensationalist, but in her hands was empathetic and moving. In addition to this personal work she also has some beautiful portraits of A-list celebrities, and her lighting is always perfect. These factors made her the only photographer I wanted to trust with this high profile job. Stephen Hawking rarely grants portrait shoots, his assistant told me that he "gets a bit bored" with the process of being photographed. He is nearly completely paralyzed, and responds with eye movements and the assistance of a computer, so Mackenzie directed his eyes only. As far as I am aware, this is the only studio portrait of a contemporary Stephen Hawking, and I am proud of the results.
To see more of Mackenzie's work look here:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here is the Raphaelle Peale painting "Melons and Morning Glories" and the Sharon Core photograph "Melons and Morning Glories".
I'm tempted to compare these on botanical terms alone- is the type of melon that Peale painted available? Look at how much thicker the rind is. Perhaps the melon in Core's photo is a new hybrid variety- with a specially cultivated thin rind. Also the modern morning glories have much bigger blooms- another new cultivated variety?
Morning Glories have some specific properties that may have been significant to Peale. For instance, the blooms live only one day- blooming in the morning and dying in the afternoon. The seeds contain hallucinogens, and some varieties are poisonous.
Seeing the images side by side does raise the question of meaning- what is the point in remaking an image like this?
After all, the idea of a photographic version of a painting is not new.
Nonetheless, I still think that the commitment that shows in Sharon Core's photographs raises them above the level of gimmickry.

Sharon Core photograph courtesy Yancey Richardson gallery.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Raphaelle Peale

Here is one of my favorite paintings by Peale. This painting is a still life too, even though it appears not to be at first. My handkerchief photograph was influenced by this painting.

I had some black feelings after seeing the flawless Sharon Core show at currently at Yancey Richardson gallery. She is a technical wizard, and not just to show off, but as an integral part of her project's concept. The monumental patience this work must take is frightening to contemplate. The details in these photos are powerful and perfect- reflecting cleverly the painted surface Core is conjuring. These are two of my favorite images from the show. Have you ever seen corn silk shown to such advantage? Core is clearly evoking the American painter Raphael Peale, as is apparent even before you read the gallery's press release.

In the meantime I have been struggling with trying to make decent photos with that dreadful 4x5 of mine. Perhaps it is the lens- whatever it is, I can't seem to make a good photo with this set up to save my life. Somehow everything comes out looking flat and dull. My results from last weekend's shoot were so discouraging I had dark fantasies of giving up photography forever. Perhaps a more practical response would be to replace my 6x7 so I can shove the 4x5 back into a corner of my studio and forget about it for a while.
Photos courtesy Yancey Richardson gallery

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I am hopeful about America's future, suddenly. I feel proud of my country and grateful to my fellow citizens. It was great to see the determination to vote at the crowded polls voting here in NYC- if there were any McCain supporters about, you wouldn't know it.
Photos courtesy Robyn Twomey.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Here is my best and biggest project, Oliver. I've been looking forward to this Halloween for years- first as an adult bored of costume parties, wishing I had a child to enjoy it with, then as a new mom with an baby that was too young to appreciate it. This year was great. We went trick or treating up Bedford ave and ended up at the kids parade. Oliver's auntie and uncle and I raided the candy bag for favorites (Smarties! Candy Corn)! while Ollie bugged out on sugar, looking for all the world like an addict with glazed eyes searching for more, more.. as only a boy raised on brown rice and avocados can.

This photo by Dr. Gary Settles was made using the schlieren technique, which involves a lens, a curved mirror, a razor blade and other objects. This technique reveals disturbances in the air. I've ordered the surprisingly expensive book by Settles all about it, and plan to make some of my own, although it will be hard to do better than this candle image. I don't know what it is about these photos, but they have a sweetly dated look. Is it the colors? The clothes? Of course the technique itself is low tech, especially compared to the new kinds of scientific imaging of turbulence you can see nowadays- all digital renderings. To see more schlieren photography and the the New York Times article about it:

Photo: Gary Settles/Penn State

Monday, October 27, 2008

Here is one of Henry J. Fair's aerial photos showing waste processing of pulp manufacture for production of facial tissues.

You can see more of his photos here:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I used to think Kleenex was fairly innocent product- but now that I know the truth about them I'd rather wipe my snot on my sleeve. Photographer Henry J. Fair introduced me to shocking views of Kleenex industrial byproducts as seen in his aerial photos. Old growth forests for your nose. Really. If you want to read some reporting on the topic:

Then go buy a hankie! As it turns out handkerchieves have qualities that are practical as well as poetical.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An incredibly sexy photo of Saturn. One of the best things about my job is seeing the most extraordinary imagery available of the heavens. It can get easy to take them for granted, then one like this comes along. A year ago I would never have described an image from space as sexy- the fact that I did it today without thinking twice makes we wonder- has my nerd makeover been completed?

Edit of caption released with image:
Here is a view from the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn's innermost rings, whose own shadows adorn the planet beyond.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 35 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on April 21, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 620,000 kilometers (385,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 67 kilometers (42 miles) per pixel.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Masao Yamamoto at Yancey Richardson

A departure from the usual installation of various sized images, the majority of the photos here in the latest Masao Yamamoto show are standard size and hung traditionally. The New Yorker review argues that the images hold thier own and I suppose they would for someone whose expectations for Yamamoto aren't as high as mine. The images are unquestionably gorgeous, but this is not the breathtaking sense of unmooring and possibility that I get seeing these images printed in sizes ranging from postage stamp to letter size, and scattered all over the wall in careful positions that reinforce the poetic relationships.
Fussiness and preciousness wins over innovation here. Instead of revelation I felt fustration looking for the magic in these lovely prints that somehow revealed not enough and too much all at once. Above is one of my favorite images from the show.
Photograph courtesy Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Michel Szulc-Krzyzanowski at Robert Mann

This show of clever photos currently up at Robert Mann offers small scale black and white images. The visual puns and optical tricks used here feel effortless, but in most cases probably involved careful execution and a lot of trial and error. The photographer moves himself and objects about in the photos to create impossible continuities. One work I especially admired is posted here. The middle image shows the tossed handful of sand floating in air, the last image shows the handful returned to the beach. Funny and contemplative, these are really worth seeing in person- you simply cannot get a sense of the work from seeing thumbnails online.
I felt this show was a bit like taking a vitamin. I wanted to like it more that I actually did like it. There seems to be a lot of art like this from the 70's good FOR you, but not so tasty.
Photograph is courtesy Robert Mann Gallery

michel szulc krzyzanowski said...
Check out my new photobook called "The PS-series" with my most recent work at:
Full with vitamines !!!

Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski

November 4, 2008 12:20 AM

Friday, October 3, 2008


Alex really is a good sport. Here he drinks from a thimble for a photo. As you can see from this shot something is wrong with my polaroid back. Right now this is the least of my worries as the rest of my Mamiya RB67 has suddenly stopped working completely. The lenses AND the camera body, all pretty much at the same time. I've been using this camera regularly going on twelve years, and I had hoped I could squeeze by with it for one more year. It was a painful moment this week at Nippon camera repair when I handed over my camera body and lenses for parts. Maybe they will let me come and visit it.

Salt Pile

Alex helped me with this one too. He is a good salt pourer, thimble- drinker, and egg dropper.
Last weekend I turned down the chance to fly to London for the Discover photo shoot of Stephen Hawking in my role as Photo Editor. I stayed home and started a blog instead. Today I decided it is time to finally let folks know about it- is there anything more silly than a secret blog?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bread and Butter

This is a study for something I am working on. This immortal pair are like the sun and moon of the still life image. I've tried shooting butter in so many ways, in so many forms, but so far this simple image seems the closest to what I'm after.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

American Tintype

Taken by an Unidentified Photographer, this image is helpfully titled: [Decapitated Man with Head on a Platter], ca. 1865.
This is the standout image in the show "The American Tinytpe" currently up at the ICP, although [Unidentified Young Man with Bandaged Head] comes in a pretty close second place.
Identified Photographers Susan Meiselas, Cornell Capa and Eugene Smith fill the the other exhibition spaces. It is incredible to see so much of Meiselas's work all in once place for the first time. Here is a woman who never gets stuck in a rut- she moves from one worthy project to the next with agility, and never repeats herself.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Perfect form

Photographing paper bags is something I never seem to get tired of. The perfect paper bag photo has yet to be made, as far as I know. When it is made, I hope it is by me.

Hankie drinks coffee

This photo was taken as a part of a group of images about an animated hankie. It would sneak coffee, dance, and even possibly mate with another hankie, one with a floral pattern.

This is R-- taken a few years ago. I was puzzled by her behavior on that visit, she was apathetic, depressed, and didn't seem to care that she was wearing sneakers and sweatshirts all the time. She used to be such a careful dresser- always showing off her good taste. This summer I invited her to come and live with me, and that is when I discovered that she had become an alcoholic. She drank cough syrup on the sly, passed out, hid plates of half eaten food in the stove, lied to me compulsively, and refused therapy. I learned that she had this drinking problem for going on six years, maybe more. All this she had kept a secret from me, her oldest friend.