Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dark Glass

Through the Window Darkly

In the midst of night
sun-warmed Adobe walls cool
doors close
against secrets
behind dark glass.

The mud bricks weather
and crumble after decades
of sheltering 
ages gone and to come
light dying in window panes.

Illumination of the moon
banishing the dark of night
shedding light
on blossoms long dead
the dark glass.

J. Binford-Bell
February 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First you take the picture

Images in the wall

And then you hit the darkroom. In the film days the distance between the two activities could be days or weeks. First you had to finish the roll of film. Waste not, want not. Then watching the timers during all the various baths to process the film. That was the boring part. Though your tummy always hurt for fear that you had done something wrong and ruined the picture you thought you had taken.

And it was expensive. I took several college photography classes in part to have access to the darkroom facilities with and the tools and equipment. Out of college and into color photography I would shop for the best processor I could find. Never the cheap ones like Walmart. Now I have my dry darkroom in my computer. Yesterday was cold and blustery and I spent several warm hours in my computer dark room.

Blue window panes

Sometimes you have to do very little to an image beyond adjust the brightness and contrast. We all did that automatically with the photo enlarger, the negative and photo paper. And sometimes you pushed the limits even in the wet darkroom. Class projects demanded it sometimes. But we were all artists and sometimes we just played around. The wind howling outside my Black Lake Studio yesterday seemed to entice me to stay warm and play.

Do you see Jesus?

And then sometimes there is a photo that requires a little teasing to bring up what you so clearly saw when you snapped the shutter. In this case I first noticed the reflection in the glass in the field taking the picture. When I stood directly in front the reflection was me. So setting up the picture took some teasing too. Getting the light just right which meant standing in a -10 degree wind chill waiting for the sun to pop out from behind a cloud.

Reflections in Time

Then the captions. Sometimes I have noticed the titles come easily. And sometimes not. I also was in the studio yesterday matting and framing up photographs I had printed in Taos. My sister and I each have three that were accepted in an exhibit of New Mexico Women Artists in Raton at the Old Pass Gallery. I was really stumped on titles. I was going to do La Cerva I, II and III as they are all of the same building. My sister and I figured out one before going to bed but that almost made the other two more difficult because they are like a series.

This morning as I awoke the titles were all there in my head: Through a Window Darkly, Window Pane Trip, Windows of My Mind. You might notice windows are a reoccurring theme of mine. So are doors.


BTW photography is cheaper these days because you don't need that dark room but it becomes rapidly more expensive when you opt to print. I was giving that a lot of thought yesterday. Maybe I need to charge more for my photographs. I began rather low because I was an emerging photographer even though I was a professional painter. I was going by the rule of thumb of three times the cost (print, mat, frame) which I could keep relatively low due to the fact I can mat and frame my own work.

But both my sister and I have won prizes. I have just sold my forth photograph. Time to rethink pricing? They say the economy is getting better.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Art of Acceptance

After Dark
I have in my six decade past practiced theatrics, been a freelance writer, and of course an artist and now a photographer. Even my straight job, as a project control engineer, seemed to rest on a selection process and a win or lose decision out of my hands once I auditioned, sent in my copy, entered the art work, or submitted my job resume.

You would think I must love living on pins and needles. Not. I try not to get invested in the outcome. But the more victories under my belt the more I obsess about failure. Tomorrow is the judging of the Moreno Valley Arts Council Winter show. And hopefully in the next day or two is the notification of another show to which I submitted three pieces for consideration. And what I have done all day is rethink all of that.

Bygone elections
I have been looking through my photo files and coming up with those I should have submitted as opposed to those I did. Or perhaps I should have been painting things instead. Once photography was just a step to a painting. I find myself looking at the first photography and imagining a painting of it.

Or maybe I should have submitted another car. My junkers always get in.

Junkyard Dog

In fact my cars win prizes. Though it is my landscapes that get the oohs and aahs from the public. And animal photographs that sell.

Good Morning Elk

Art is expensive these days. Exhibitions are even more so. Prize money is much less then before because companies are not coming up with as much in sponsorship nor organizations as much grant money. The first place I originally won had only glory attached.

But it is one of the cheapest ways to advertise that I am still out there. Still painting (well, need to paint) and still turning out awesome photographs that are winning prizes. I just need enough financial encouragement to pay for frames, printing and antacid.

Help! At least make comments and help me keep my mind off of the approaching decisions.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Let Go - Magpie 104

Let Go

Set me free
Release me from these mortal coils
You are pulling me down
with this love
that drowns.

J. Binford-Bell
February 2012

This Magpie prompt after Whitney Houston's death seemed entirely too dark and suffocating. I could not get beyond the comparison in spite of the expression of bliss on the woman in the image.

First Place Ralph Solano Emerging Photographer Exhibit

Get your kicks on Route 66

With all the landscapes and wildlife photos I take it seems to be my junk yard cars that win the prizes. Last year I won a second in this same exhibit with my Been There photograph.

Been There

And last fall I won a fist place in the Moreno Valley Arts Council Fall Invitational with another wreck. This time a rusting Volkswagen.

Volkswagen Acid Trip

I have been working on some more treasures from junkyards and abandoned buildings around my area.

Through a Glass Darkly

Metal Picasso

Paint Job
Always out there looking for new photos of old cars and other bits of junkyard furniture. Who knew I would win prizes photographing junk.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Magpie Tales 103

Novodevichy Grave

Heart of Stone

So clear now
So cold in my hands
Fracturing the light
life now gone
Reflecting my love
once so alive.


For more takes on this image see Magpie Tales

Friday, February 3, 2012

Playing around in my digital sand box

Original photo

My theory on learning how to use my post processing software is to take one image - one with a good strong but somewhat simple composition - and run it through the paces. I loved this old adobe building in La Cuerva and especially the window and shutters. I was looking first for a way to make that aspect more dynamic. And reduce the weight of the eaves.

Subdued original
I first tired to make the picture more colorful by raising the saturation level but the white and blue of the window actually was more prominent with the saturation level decreased. The shadow of the tree on the wall also became a stronger component of the photograph with the more subtle coloring. And I though it added a sense of drama. Especially in contrast with the delicate pink flowers behind the glass.

I then decided to play around with films and filters. The night filter seemed to be the logical choice given the shadow of the tree.

Night view

The photograph now looked as if it was taken at night with only the illumination of a full moon. And the eave vanished into the dark and ergo reduced the elements of the composition to the window and the shadows on the adobe wall. The pink flowers are more delicate and look almost withered behind the panes. It seemed a very good place to stop my exploration. But the glory of digital photography is that every single one of my versions is saved to its own file so why not try one more step.

Some moon lit night
This effect is called polished stone. The shadows take an even bigger part of the composition and a sense of foreboding to the picture. And I am happy I took one more step in the dry darkroom of my computer. The final picture is a painting in pixels.