Success in the Dark

I tried printing photos again yesterday. I did so two weeks ago without success, but it was better this time. Perhaps it was just new printing paper that I needed to get.

The first negative that I tried to print was one of my Holga images of Madame Bink (at top), made last September in California at Joshua Tree. I tried printing this one last time, so I thought I’d try it again to compare the old paper (three year old Forte) and new (Oriental) papers. I chose this negative to print as I like the image and I figured that the print would not require any dodging or burning, which would keep things simple.

Unfortunately, it probably was not the wisest choice to begin printing after three years by starting with a very underexposed negative, as this one is. Still, I went ahead with it two weeks ago, and the results were too low in contrast. Yesterday’s prints were definitely better, and though the contrast could have been greater, it was still acceptable.

The other print from last time that I tried yesterday was this photo of some cute kids in a village of the Lanten minority ethnic group in Laos. Again, the results were better, with the image from the medium format negative looking very clear.

Sadly, as Lin from England wrote about Stephen Haynes’ blog photos of kids at the Minnesota State Fair, photos such as this one could get you arrested in the UK. I presume that such things apply to posed photos on the street as well as candids. (Perhaps Elizabeth I should have just let the Spanish win the battle way back when.)

Finally, I decided to print another Holga image, as I hope to enter the next Soho Photo Gallery Krappy Kamera Competition and I’d like to get some prints ready for it. The one I chose was this freaky unintentional double exposure image of Rachel, made at a workshop on Prince Edward Island in 2006. It may be the best Holga photo that I have.

Now that I’ve started printing – and feeling like a real artist – again, I went to keep at it, but I don’t plan to print too often. If I’m lucky, I’ll do it once or twice a month on my bi-weekly three-day weekends. I hadn’t planned on it originally, but I may try again in two weeks.

I had hoped to develop film then, as I plan to do most of Labor Day week (I’m taking the week off from work), but looking at my schedule, I see that my next possible day for printing after that won’t be until November. (A family visit and other things on the weekends between now and then will prevent me from doing any printing.) So, it’s either two weeks or more than two months, and I think I’ll probably go with two weeks.
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While printing yesterday, I listened to some CDs with British and Celtic themes. Jethro Tull’s Aqualung album, along with other songs of theirs on a disc I compiled. A few of my compilations of favorites Celtic songs from Scotland, Ireland and Brittany. The first two that I listened to however, were the two most recent albums by the British singer and songwriter Al Stewart. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time but I only had three of his albums from the mid-1970’s.

That’s what I consider his ‘classic’ period, but Stewart’s been recording from the late 1960’s up to the present and I’ve been doing some catching up lately. Those two recent ones were purchased last week and my darkroom session was the first time I listened to them. I’m listening to one of them now, and I’m glad that his work is still good.

One of the things I like about Al Stewart is that his lyrics are very intelligent and literate. On his latest album, there’s a great song about a football (soccer) hero who dreams of scoring a big goal that’ll be long remembered, but instead he missed the shot and is forever remembered for not passing the ball instead.

My favorite of his lyrics, though, deal with history and myth. He’s written songs about Helen of Troy, Nostradamus, the French revolution, etc. Probably my favorite of his songs is called “Roads to Moscow,” about the Second World War, told from the point of view of a Russian soldier. Here are some of my favorite lines:

“Two broken Tigers on fire in the night
Flicker their souls to the wind

We wait in the lines for the final approach to begin
It’s been almost four years that I’ve carried a gun
At home it’ll almost be spring
The flames of the Tigers are lighting the road to Berlin”

Rod may be the more famous of the Stewarts, but while I like some of his work, I’ll take Al’s literate songs over his any time.
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Finally, for those who are interested in World War II and its aftermath, particularly involving the Soviet army, I read that there’s a new film out called “A Woman in Berlin” that deals with the travails of German women at the hands of their victorious Russian occupiers. Apparently this is a subject that has been swept under the rug for many years, and even the woman who wrote the book – her own story – that this film is based upon used the name Anonyma and had her identification hidden until she died.

The film doesn’t seem to have a website of its own, but you can see the trailer 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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