Iceland and Honest Abe

I wrote recently that I’ve been going through my negatives trying to catalog them to make it easier to find things. Among the earliest black & white negatives from my ‘serious’ (1995 onward) era are those from a roll of film that I shot while I was in Iceland for about five days around the first week of May in 1995. This was the first trip that I made with my newly purchased Pentax 67 system, but that camera was used with color transparency film. (That’s what I was primarily using at the time for my travel photos; as I wrote last year – click here – one of those Icelandic photos won first prize in a major photo competition.)

The B&W images that I made and which you see here now were made with my backup medium format camera, a Fuji GW 670 rangefinder. I shot just one roll of 220 film. I wish now that I had done more. Although I don’t think there’s anything really extraordinary here, these are important photos to me as they’re the first serious non-personal B&W images that I made with my medium format gear. Everything I’d done up until that point had just been images of friends and family, and it would be another three months before I tried to make my first nude images.

I’ve also been thinking a bit about Iceland lately as a possible travel destination for next year. I’m hoping to visit my sister in Germany sometime during the spring or summer, and I’m thinking of spending a few more weeks in Europe while I’m over there. It would be possible to fly across the Atlantic with a stop in Iceland (and there are some models there listed on Model Mayhem who do nudes), but it still looks like a rather expensive place to visit, even though the US dollar has doubled in value against the Icelandic currency since Iceland’s economy went into the tank. I’ll keep it in mind as a destination, nonetheless.
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I finally finished putting together all of my new picture frames this weekend and they’re all up on the wall, looking pretty good. The job isn’t completely over, as I’ll need to take them down sometime to spackle and paint over the holes left from by the old nails that I pulled out of the wall, and some of the glass (especially those taken from older frames) definitely needs to be taken out of the frames and cleaned. Still, most of the work is done, which is good – at least, the framing work.

The way that the photos are on wall (which are all my prints for now), I can see that some of the larger prints especially suffer from rippling around the edges. A number of years ago, I bought a dry mount press on eBay to flatten out my prints. Of course, after all of these years, I’ve never tried to use it. (Yes, I don’t even know if it even works, but the way that it was packaged well for shipment, I could see that the former owner took good care of it, so I assume that it does.) Now that I’m getting more serious about cataloging my work, I need to get more serious about presenting them, too – and that includes flattening them with the press.
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I mentioned last time that I finally managed to frame the print that I bought that had been sitting in my closet for ten years. After I went to the framing shop to place a new order for the glass (to replace the piece that I had broken), I walked a few blocks over to the Soho Photo Gallery, a cooperative gallery that I hope to try joining next year. The show on display was the winners of its Alternative Process competition. These photos included things like platinum printing, cyanotype, gum bichromate, etc.

The things that these processes have in common are that they are hands on and not automated. Like me, these artists don’t want their prints to be produced by automated methods (i.e. digital), but unlike the silver printing that I do, they go even further into the hands on process by hand coating their paper, etc. It’s nice to see that in an era when things are going more toward automation, there are people who believe that process is important and that every print should have a unique quality about it. To all of them I say, “I salute you.”
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Finally, I went into Manhattan on Saturday to do some things, one of them being to go to Christie’s auction house at Rockefeller Center to see the items that would be auctioned at tonight’s benefit auction for the Tibet House. It turns out that the items were not on display, and when I heard this, I turned to leave. I had actually left the building but decided to turn back to take advantage of the facilities there. While back inside, I decided to look at the work, soon to be auctioned off, that was on display on the ground floor. These were American paintings and some sculptures, all very nice to see, ranging from portraits of George Washington to 20th Century works. (I especially liked the two paintings by Grandma Moses.)

What really caught my attention was a different, very special piece of Americana: four pages, each individually mounted in a separate case, which collectively had an estimated selling price of three to four million dollars. A handwritten text was on each page. What was this that it should be so important? Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten manuscript of the speech he gave after his re-election as President of the United States during the middle of the Civil War. Reading this now, following a presidential election during an era when our country is at war, made it even more fascinating. Lincoln included a number of things, saying that free elections are vital to a democracy, even during a time of war, and that gold is good, but good patriotic fighting men are better.

It was truly a remarkable thing to see and read. You can read more about it here.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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3 Responses to Iceland and Honest Abe

  1. Lin says:

    Gorgeous landscape shots, Mr D. These really keep drawing me back to look at them again and again.

  2. Dave Rudin says:

    Thanks very much for saying so, Lin. Perhaps I’ll try printing some of them once I start printing again.

  3. They are incredible landscapes. I corresponded with an Icelandic photographer on MM for some time, and he finally folded his site there because the models he met weren’t going to come to Iceland. He was a fascinating person. If you go, I can send you his info.

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