Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vermilion Parish: 120 Film Series

Here are a few 120 film results from the recent trip out to Vermilion Parish. The weather this time around was very hot and muggy; I would usually have to wait five minutes for the camera to de-fog every time I stepped out of the air-conditioned truck. At this point, my general feeling about the twin-lens Mamiya is that it doesn't always work, but when it does, the result is solid. My favorite thing to do when people are present is not ask them to do anything; I will just line up a shot and let people walk in and out of the frame as they please, without telling them to look interesting or do anything - or even mentioning I'm making a photograph. When I do this, strangely enough, someone will always ask if the picture was posed or if I was "directing" the people in the photo. The best results from this trip seemed to come in waves or fits of good sunlight. Vermilion Bay had a lot of natural contrast and moody lighting after a short but powerful thunderstorm rolled past Cypremort Point. The bottom photograph is a path cut through dense summer growth near the northern shore of White Lake.
(click on photos for larger view.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Vermilion Parish

 The last few days were spent out in Vermilion Parish, continuing work on the 120 film collection (see earlier post below) which I will post a few teaser results from in the near future. Making photographs with the twin-lens Mamiya is a pretty slow process compared to digital photography, so after a shot or two I'd grab the digital camera and run around looking for a few quick images to break things up a little bit. These are a few of the more interesting failures; they were all pretty spontaneous pictures, taken on quick "breaks" before I had to get back to staring through the Mamiya viewfinder making endless micro-adjustments in the 98-degree heat.

Vermilion Parish is the slightly-more-populated sister of Cameron Parish, with a mix of cypress swamp and prairie, and a lot of land taken up by sugar and rice fields, which exist alongside oil refineries and countless gas wells. Although Vermilion Parish is a coastal parish, no part of the beach itself is accessible by car. I usually stick around state highways 14 and 82, and towns such as Abbeville, Pecan Island, Gueydan, and Kaplan. Pecan Island is the most remote and least populated, but starting to gain popularity thanks to Liz and Jess, the alligator-killing mother-daughter team from the TV reality series "Swamp People." Gueydan is next up in size, with a population of about 1500, but every time I visit, it seems like the town has been completely abandoned (see "Main St." pic below). Kaplan has produced country singers, football players, and Espera Oscar de Corti, aka Iron Eyes Cody, the Native American impersonator who played the part of the "crying chief" in the 1970s "Keep America Beautiful" campaign.
(Click on image for larger view.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sneak Preview of Southwest Louisiana Medium-Format 120 Film Series

 I recently returned from a trip to Cameron Parish,
where I began a large portfolio of images made on 120 film with the Mamiya C22 given to me by Jamie Derevere from Athens, GA, in hopes of scoring a new exhibition somewhere when I feel like I've amassed enough to call it a set. The three-day trip yielded about 70 shots, so I'm giving a sneak preview here and keeping the rest secret for now. The film is Kodak Portra 160, "not a film for horse races" as they say (average exposure for these is around 1/30 or 1/15 at f/22), but virtually non-existent grain and terrific color; there's nothing that needs to be done to them once you've made the shot. The detail is incredible and the subtleties in shadow and things such as diffuse light reflecting on water are things that the best digital cameras on the planet just can't do as well as film like this. I considered doing the project with black-and-white Tri-X but decided against it because a quick look online shows an overabundance of medium format twin-lens b/w shots (mostly anonymous portraiture, one of my biggest pet peeves grrr), many of which are very nice, but in my mind's eye I always see the Louisiana coast in color. The greatest difficulty in using a twin-lens camera for me is that what is seen in the viewfinder is backwards, and the viewfinder lens is a few inches above the lens that puts to film, so that adjustment has to be made while thinking with a backwards view, along with the fact that it isn't a natural act to see in square format. But it was a lot of fun, and the next trip for this series will take me east of Cameron to Vermilion Parish. I'll keep moving this project east, and hopefully I'll wind up with enough to whittle down to a concise series by the time I hit Grand Isle.  (Click images for large view.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wetlands Art Tour, New Orleans

Nine of my photographs from Cameron Parish and The End of the Great River will be hanging alongside encaustic paintings by Ember Soberman at Satsuma, 3218 Dauphine St., Bywater, as part of the Wetlands Art Tour - a daylong event centered in the St. Claude Arts District, with 75 artists at 20 venues, mostly within walking distance of one another. Though the event itself is for May 10th, the photos will continue to hang at Satsuma for a few months afterward.
All the info you need here:


Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I finally upgraded to a much-needed new system for photo processing; my previous Mac had been obsolete for years. I've had to start the long chore of remastering older photos with the latest version of Aperture, which can "see" many more subtle shades of black than the previous, outdated one I was using.
Above is an example; to me the colors look much more natural and not so digital-psychedelic; and there's a ton more micro-details that previous versions of Aperture or iPhoto were not able to register or interpret decently. I've found in this mastering process I really haven't had to do much of anything to edit or change the details present in the original RAW files. The most startling examples come from remastering photos taken with the lousy old Canon Rebel-XT; they are much improved.
The End of the Great River has been completely remastered, as well as the "Landscape" portfolio, so check those out first. I'll be changing out the other portfolios and projects on the website, as well as archiving some for a while and presenting other remastered portfolios. Right now I'm in the middle of remastering a ton of Cameron Parish images. A handful are now in the "Landscape" portfolio; others may be compiled in a projects portfolio later on.