All Saints Day

All Saints Day

Today is All Saint’s Day. It is also called All Hallows or Hallowmas. Celebrated on November 1, it is preceded by All Hallows Eve or Halloween and is followed on November 2 by All Souls Day otherwise known as the Day of the Dead, a day celebrated with great enthusiasm in most of Mexico. All Soul’s Day is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. The living pray on behalf of Christians who are in purgatory, the state in the afterlife where souls are purified before proceeding to heaven. It is a time to pray for their souls that they may be received into heaven.

I found an Episcopal service with suggested readings for All Saints Day and was intrigued by the selection of Ecclesiasticus 44: 1-10, 13-14 as the initial scripture. This begins, “Let us now praise famous men.” This is also the title of a book written by James Agee with a series of photographs supplied by Walker Evans. Agee and Evans went to Alabama in 1935 to write an article for Fortune magazine about poverty in the South during the Depression. The article never materialized, but Agee eventually published his book. It sold only 600 copies until it was re-issued and became a cult classic in the 1960s. The sharecroppers Fields and Burroughs along with their families were hardly famous. Evans photos are some of the most highly regarded documentary photos ever made and are a part of the book.

These are portraits of Floyd Burroughs and his wife Annie Mae made at their cabin in 1935 by Walker Evans.

floydallie maeEach year I teach about this and more and more I come to realize that Floyd Burroughs, his wife Annie Mae, the Tengles, and Bud Fields are the Famous Men (and Women) that Agee wanted to praise. These people and many like them are the unknown saints that we celebrate on All Saints Day. Walker Evans’ photographs catch the humanity and dignity of these humble sharecroppers because he took the time to know them before he photographed them. Once seen and literally lived with for a month or more, it is easy to see how James Agee could say of these simple hard-working people, “Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers who begat us.”

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Digital Negatives for Palladium Prints



Digital Negatives and Contact Printing Workshop

On Sunday four terrific people arrived at my house and we spent three days making digital negatives then using them to learn the basic processes involved in palladium print making. The workshop was a success. We had one rough day. As you can imagine it was day 2. In the push to get start3ed making prints our exposure time and curves were not accurate on Monday. This was proven by the abysmal results obtained printing Tuesday. I was really frustrated and so were the students, as they should have been. College age students would have bagged it. But these guys stuck it out. I got up really early Tuesday. Made a new step tablet, used it as a crude index of exposure time, and made a new curve. Whammo! Great prints all day long! I will post some images when I receive them as scans from their makers.

I recall that ten years ago I attended a workshop in palladium printing taught by Dick Arentz at the Photographer’s Formulary in Montana. There were about ten of us struggling to get through. I had made my negatives using Dan Burkholder’s method. I brought along his book and the software I needed to make more at the workshop. Since I had a 1280 printer at the time, all my negatives were orange as the workflow added color to further decrease UV light transmission in the negatives. We each had to show negatives to Dick, I was nearly hooted out of the state. “Won’t work, outrageous, unnatural” were some of the jeers I heard. Arentz said he had heard of this effort to make digital negatives, but he thought it was folly. So I made a print. When it finally came out, he looked at it over my shoulder, and acknowledged that things seemed to be working, that I should add another couple of drops of Na2 for more contrast, and he would check back. The next print was terrific, and in a short time frame Dick Arentz was holding joint workshops with another print maker in making digital negatives to use in palladium printing.

This recent workshop was special because all of the participants were accomplished photographers who had gorgeous images as starting points. They knew one another and so it was a very congenial, goal oriented group. A truly superb experience
for me as well as the participants. It went so well that I think I will do it again in the spring, hopefully we can work some outside and won’t have to bundle up to go to the garage where the UI light lives.
Digital Negatives and Contact Printing Workshop

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Healthy Drinking–Springwater Is The Best

A few days ago Roger and I were out sort of cruising in the country, waiting on the sun to get a bit lower before we photographed a really old cemetery near Siler City. I asked Roger if we hadn’t been there before, he looked around and exclaimed,“Why Yes,, this is Mount Vernon Springs.” Came to find out that these springs are both still running since Colonial Times. The name came to be when John Washington, a descendant of George Washington, built a home nearby so that he could regularly visit and gain the health yielding benefits of both drinking and bathing in the spring water. People came from far and wide to do the same thing. There was a hotel nearby for some time. It is gone now. Many people visit and fill up jugs of spring water to take home. They try to drink it as much as they can rather than tap water. Most swear by it. All say that they can taste a difference. Having had a well for the thirteen years I lived in the mountains, I also attest to the difference between spring water and city water

The springs are on the National Register of historic places, they are located near Bonlee, NC just off of Old Highway 421.

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Recent Losses in Photography: Three Prominent Photographers are Gone





Lewis Baltz

In recent weeks and months three monumental photographers have died. They have all passed on quietly, but there are certainly those who mourn their loss. No doubt but what they had many collectors and admirers as well as many students who respected and in many cases loved these individuals for their dedication to perfection, knowledge, and advancing the practice of photography.

Lewis Baltz died on November 22, 2014 in Paris, France. He was known for his formally composed images of somewhat mundane and municipal scenes. Many of these were in the highly influential exhibition, “New Topographics:  Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.” This was presented at the George Eastman House in 1975. Baltz grew up in Southern California, was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute graduating in 1969. He received his MFA from Claremont Graduate School in 1971.

He moved to Europe in the late 1980s and taught for many years in Switzerland and Italy. His work always seemed to contain the thread of skepticism that he held about the photographic medium—or at least the art-photography world. According to his obituary in the NY Times Baltz once said in an interview, “I think being a photographer is a little like being a whore,” with his characteristic bone-dry wit. “If you’re really, really good at it, nobody will call you that.”

On Nov ember 10, 2014 David Stoecklein, Master Photographer of the West passed away in the hospital. He was 65 years old. He had a lifetime of photography just in the assignments from many companies as well as magazines. In addition to this body of work he published 28 books, produced and sold cards, calendars, and posters through his web site. He was a superb teacher and would talk enthusiastically to students about his work and approach to photography as long as they would listen. Recognized and presented awards as the “Master Photographer of the West,” Dave and his enthusiastic imagery will be sorely missed.

Dave also taught many workshops at his ranch in McKay, Idaho. All of his students had positive things to say about their experience. These students will sadly feel this loss.

Ray K. Metzker in October 2014. He had been in poor health for several years. He was born in 1931, earned a degree at Beloit and then attended the Institute of Design in Chicago in the mid-fifties. There Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind influenced him. According to Laurence Miller, Ray’s gallerist, “Ray had a relentless pursuit of personal growth as an artist.”

Continuing Miller added, “What Callahan and Siskind gave to Ray was the belief that you could pursue a lifetime of making pictures, that it was worth doing, rather than being a journalist, or fashion photographer, or commercial photographer as most others did.”

Miller says. “Ray chose to live a humble life and make pictures. His work wasn’t on the cover of Vogue. He didn’t need to scream out, I’m great. He did it very quietly.”


Metzker’s death was the subject of a recent post, this jut contained wonderful comments by Mr. Miller.



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Water Pictures? Five of ‘Em?

“Sittin’ On the Dock of The Bay”


Your assignment this month is to make five (5) good photographs that involve water in some way or another. Let’s think about water-essential for life, becoming less available each year, being polluted by corporate interests (think fracking and coal ash), refreshing, beautiful, and restorative. Nothing beats a good swim or a nice relaxing shower. In the battle between humans and water, it is inevitable that water will win. It already owns 70% of the planet’s surface! According to writer Tom Robbins water only needs humans for one thing-water uses humans as a container to transport itself from one place to another. So how about five photos? Look how water changes the color and texture of the river bottom!



Let’s see—one or two waterfalls, a good reflection, several droplets on leaves or flowers, perhaps a fountain which can be a source of all sorts of images-frozen or flowing in white flumes and foam, either way or in between, there seems no limit to what can be done with water. Remember Frankie Laine singing the song written by Bob Nolan?

All day I’ve faced the barren waste,
Without the taste of water:
Cool water. (Water.)
Old Dan and I, with throats burned dry,
An’ souls that cry for water: (Water.)
Cool, (Water.)
Clear, (Water.)
Water. (Water.)

Water exists in three states (or more): solid-ice, gas-steam, liquid-water. It can be distilled, de-ionized, and de-salinized; and, best of all, made into good Scotch whisky. It separates the continents. Water seems to have a mind of its own. It has debarked from California leaving a drought behind. It has moved to the mid-west where there is flooding. Rain can be a metaphor for disaster- as a flood, it kills. It can also be beautiful creating rainbows, making grass and other plants greener and standing taller. In the song “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival John Fogerty sings a song about the difficult times facing the band because of its internal dissension and its impending breakup. One line asks, “I want to know – have you ever seen the rain comin’ down on a sunny day?” That question has followed me about most of my life. But it is a good question because sometimes a sunny day is just the ticket, other times a rainy day is the answer to a problem., and at times they do occur simultaneously, we just may not see it at the time.

Walker Evans gave some advice to Ben Shahn just before he left for the South Seas. Shahn was begging for just something, anything to better understand photography. Evans said, “Well, it’s very easy, Ben. F9 on the sunny side of the street, F4.5 on the shady side of the street. For a twentieth of a second hold your camera steady,” and that was all. This might serve us equally well in photographing water. There’s not much else to say.




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