Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Le Salon de MitMoi - Photography

A salon is a gathering of stimulating people of quality under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation and readings.

The Photographer’s Mind

Photography fascinates me, does it fascinate you? I am amazed that you can point a small box at an image and have the image transferred to a gelatinous film and then reproduce it on paper. It is a highly evolved form of magic, if you ask me.

I’m not just intrigued by the mechanical aspects of this art and craft – but also by the artistic aspects. Why can two people stand side by side, look at the same object and take two completely different images? Also – why are some images so powerful – and others under whelm you when you look at them. Have you ever just walked by something, and never given it a second glance – only to have it presented to you in a image that takes away your breath?

I come from a family of photographers, yet I dislike taking photos. I think it’s because what I see in my minds eye, I cannot translate through the box onto the paper. Having a “good eye” is a gift. But successful photography involves more than that one component.

In our midst, we have a talented artist. By day he designs living spaces – by night he lurks on OKC. When he escapes these two mistresses, he photographs our world.

Recently I asked him nine questions:

Blue – when did you first start taking pictures?

My parents gave me a camera for Christmas, I’m guessing 1975. It was a Konica Auto S-2, which was a classic Japanese Rangefinder. I still have it, and recently started using it again. I took a Photography class in high school, and learned to develop film in the school’s dark room.

How did you acquire the “eye” ?

My mother is a very good photographer, so I’m sure it’s in the genes. She also had an extensive library of photography books. In particular, the Time Life Library of Photography, and I remember reading those books for hours on end.( I recently found the whole set of those books on eBay) I believe I was born with a naturally artistic eye, honed and refined by years of watching the art of photography.

How does your photographers eye influence your design esthetic?

They go hand in hand. I fell away from Photography for years…. Most of the 80’s to the mid-90’s. But during that time period I developed into a designer, so I still gravitated to a very visually oriented field.

Always looking and mentally picturing designs and images. My Photography and my design work both tend towards minimalism for the most part. My design work does not always allow total freedom of expression, due to client input and desires. Photography allows me that total freedom.

Black and White vs Color

For me, the only true photographic art is B & W, but that is very subjective, and I would not even say that in certain circles! I do work in color, but rarely consider it among my best shots. I don’t consider one easier or better than the other. It has more to do with the minimalism that I strive for. For instance I do like color photography with very muted and monochromatic tones.

What styles of photography do you admire most?

I most admire the highly technical and perfectionist works in the style of Ansel Adams or Edward Weston.

Though not my favorite photographers, their work is certainly the most difficult to produce and emulate, and represents the highest standard of the photographic craft.

How difficult was the move from film to digital?

Too easy… but digital is what got me back into photography. I currently use an Olympus C-500, which is a digital SLR. Digital provides immediate gratification, but it just lacks something for me. Images that look gorgeous on the computer screen look amateurish on paper. etc. I have been moving back to film, and using a high quality film scanner to process the results. I am using this method for my Medium Format Rolleiflex, and with my $5 eBay Polaroid camera. I am currently really excited about a project I am working on with Polaroid scans.

Name one historically prominent photographer you admire.

Minor White He has been called a poet with a camera, and his work is not just visual poetry, but he also often accompanied his work with written verse.

Name one “hot” new photography who’s work your excited to see develop.

Zoe Strauss is a Philadelphia based photographer. Her work is the polar opposite of mine, it is hard edged, in-your-face street photography…color even! But it is work that draws you in and won’t let go.

What are your favorite images from your portfolio?


Black & White

Polaroid Scans

Additional Information about BlueWingTeal’s photography and selected artists:

Blue's Flicker Page Blue's Photo Blog Minor White's Photo Work Zoe Strauss In the following section are some comments from last night that were interesting and informative.


Markioli: If anyone reading this was not an avid photographer, I’m quite convinced that BlueWingTeal would have just changed that.

Well done on such a great presentation of words to make other people look at the world in a different way, as I’m sure they now will.

MitMoi: Markioli, you're right. He's always presenting images that make you re-evaluate what you're looking at. All three of his examples highlight this.

When I first looked at the nude, the shapes and shadows were so pleasing. But it didn't register WHAT I was looking at. I went back to the title - and then looked again. Then suddenly the breast "popped" into view.

BlueWingTeal: That's a really good question about seeing the world differently.... I think it is just about seeing... not necessarily different. I have always known that I notice things that others don't. Actually, just this winter my Father told me a story about a time I was very young, and the whole family walked past a spider's nest, and I was the only one who saw it. I have always been that way.

Ireland: Blue what type of camera do you have and lense?

BlueWingTeal: My Film cameras are....Olympus OM-1 35mm, and a Rolleiflex TLR Medium Format, I really prefer fixed focal length lenses..... 50mm on my OM-1, I also have a 35mm for it. The Rollei has a 28MM lens.

Markioli: Do you like taking pictures of nature Blue? If so i would love to know how you capture that?

Frreenie: Yes, to expand on Markioli's question - nature shots are so hard to stage, can you tell us about how you find the lighting and timing you're looking for? Do you stalk a scene waiting for the right moment, or find inspiration in the moment as you go along?

BlueWingTeal: Frreenie..... a bit of both. If you have looked at the Flickr stuff, there is a Pennypack set and a Wissahickon set. Those are both places I have walked countless times with dogs and friends and many times just alone. Some shots are scenes I have returned to over and over.... but many are just shots that spontaneously happened. The Rollei set has four shots that were taken last year in Minnesota.

Markioli: I have a passion for drawing. I love looking at the world in a way other people don’t always appreciate. But saying that, I feel rather humble having just seen your photo of snowy path.

MitMoi: I really like Eastern Forrest #1 and #2. For me, they have so much movement. I told Blue they reminded me of water rivulets running down a window.

Which I believe, just highlights the whole, "I thought I knew what I was looking at, look again", quality of his work.

BlueWingTeal: Mark and Mit.... those shots are my personal favorites, along with the shot of my dog on this journal. They were all taken on the same day. Most people just don't get them.

MitMio: You know Blue sometimes that's a huge hurdle to get over, trying to "get" the art. Sometimes I can jump over it and sometimes I can't. I always find I do better if the artist gives me a story. But sometimes their words!

It just hit me, sometimes reading the placard is like reading a comment by SovalDues, my élan man. The words make so much sense to them ... but I feel like I'm sinking in a quagmire to make the words fit my experiences.

It is frustrating; especially when it's not something you can look at and immediately place in the "pretty" category.

Does this make sense? Do you face this frustration when viewing other people's work?

BlueWingTeal: Makes perfect sense Mit. To me, the absolute best way to experience art is through the artist. If you can hear or read what the artist feels about the work, or what he/she is trying to express in the work.... it completes the art. I don't want to get overly philosophical here, but..... to quote E.H. Gombrich in his introduction to The Story of Art... There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists. I truly believe that.

McWho: Been viewing all the photos in the links, great range of subjects. I love quite a few of them, being especially partial to found lettering like the signs and those amazing stories written on the buildings.

BlueWingTeal: McWho...Those found stories blew my away when I discovered them, and they still do. I am working on ways to mount them as a set, and want to submit them in an upcoming photo contest. I have to get working on that soon.

Platypus: I wonder how I would turn out if I'd pose for you. I bet I'd be all pretty and stuff, because all your pictures are :)

MitMoi: Platypus, you know, I was thinking the same thing. He seems to really "see" the beauty - or make us discover the beauty in someone. I was very impressed with the Nudes series. I think it would take a lot of trust to allow someone to do that.

BlueWingTeal: Very interesting subject Platypus.... I am very proud of my skill in "seeing" beauty in a model, as Mit calls it. I would like to think I could create a gorgeous photo regardless of who the model was.

“I think it would take a lot of trust to allow someone to do that.”

There are two models in the set of nudes. Before last year I had never done a nude shoot, and decided it was something I should try. I found the first model on Craig's List (we could do a whole discussion on the "model search") I was way more nervous than she was, but we have done three more shoots since, and have become good friends. The other model was already a friend, who, after seeing the first shots, asked to give it a try.

Trust is the key word.... professionalism becomes a reality, and maintaining respect and boundaries for the model, balanced with the intimacy and relaxed atmosphere required to get decent shots....it was a great experience.

Mote_Already: Just wanted to express my appreciation of the images, particularly the last one, the Polaroid scan. Was the washed out ground all from natural light?

BlueWingTeal: Mote If I had to pick an all time favorite....that is it. Those are Marble steps.....the building is a police station in Philadelphia known as the "round house". I did very little alteration to that that shot except clean it up a bit.

Mote_Already: Yeah, that's the one that really grabbed me, Blue It almost even looks like you used a bit of a slight fisheye effect, but if it's round... that could be the reason! Great framing. Very stark and gritty image. Nice work indeed!

BlueWingTeal: the best part is it's taken with a Polaroid Spectra I got on Ebay for $5

Adrnoc: Serendipity plays a big roll for me when taking photographs. Do you ever transition from serendipity to knowing it is a good shot before you take it?

BlueWingTeal: I am constantly disappointed with the results of what I thought would be a great shot....and constantly surprised by great shots that I never expected....That's what keeps it fun!

Then it got fun as people started posting photos to share. I will include a few here:

ButterFlyMating, Aaron Dock

MoonTower, photo by Deedlebomb
 FlipFlop Crop
photo by PookieSue, shared by TrafficGuy 
photo by Erdos0

Photo by Mote_Already


Photo by Arron Dock

Nepal around the Kathmandu Valley, winter 2001. Photo by Ayamikhan.

Spoken View

photo by Mote_Already

Last time I looked at the entry there were more than 246 comments – so I count this as a successful first venture of Le Salon De MitMoi.


Joe said...

Donde esta' el salon de MitMoi?

Talla Paula said...

this was a wonderful discussion ! I agree with a lot of Blue's philosophy.

Really looking forward to the rest of the discussions !

TP said...

The bottom line is: Composition, composition, composition - everything else comes after. And, yes, they are all important elements of photography.

Christopher Paquette said...

I love that you included the additional photographs at the end of this blog post.... beautiful way to complete the Salon event.

Mit_Moi said...

Talla Paula, The topic of composition did come up. I was surprised at the response. Here is the conversation.

McWho: Could you tell us some of what you know about composition? Do you frame shots with the camera exclusively, or do a lot of cropping in the developing?

MitMoi: Blue ... Regarding composition. Learn the rules/mechanics, then learn to bend them into forms that are pleasing to you?

BlueWingTeal: Composition....yes. I would love to say that all of my shots are pure, without any cropping. My friend Randall (NorthstarOrion) is a non-cropping purist. I believe in trying to get the shot you want in the frame, but I do crop when I think it is needed.

Mit.... I hate rules. I like to try to mimic the type of work I have admired over the years. Most of that is subconscious. I think "mechanics" is for Golf or Tennis.... you learn the mechanics first then you can learn to break the rules as you get better. The reverse is true for Photography..... especially with digital, beginners should just go out and take shots..... shots of anything and everything.... with no thought to rules. As you get better, you will want to hone the craft, and then begin to learn the rules so to speak.