The short but happy life of the F4 Camera Club

Once upon a time, for members of a Chicago-area camera club became disenchanted with the way the club was being run. Avid printmakers, in a club in which the majoruty of the 60 members were slide makers, they felt that print makers were being treated like second-class citizens.

On competition night, slides were always shown first and the judges were asked to make comments. Because there were lots of slides, by the time the judges finished with the slides it was late and most of the slide makers went home. Prints were given a fast shuffle without comments. Protests of print makers fell on deaf ears.

Furthermore, most of the programs were on slide making. Field trips were often discussed but seldom materialized. Disenchanted members also disliked the procedure by which prints were selected for CACCA (Chicago Area Camera Club Association competitions).

Finally, the four disenchanted members, two men and two women, decided to form a club of their own. They called the club the F4 Camera Club-Four FRIENDS dedicated to FUN and FELLOWSHIP in photography. From its inception, F4 affiliated with both CACCA and PSA.

The club functioned as follows:

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1. F4 competed in both small and large prints in CACCA competitions.

2. There were no club competitions. Each member selected the prints he or she wished to enter in CACCA. (Each club, regardless of its membership was allowed to enter a maximum of four prints in each of the two print categories.) 3. Regular meetings were held twice a month in members’ homes. On the first meeting of the month, a prominent photographer in the Chicago area was usually invited to bring a number of prints and discuss his or her approach to photography. Sometimes PSA Pictorial Print Exhibits were viewed and discussed. On the second meeting of the month, members brought prints to be critiqued by fellow club members.

photography tips portraits outside longer field trips were taken. Since there were only four members everyone could go in one car.

When F4 was organized the club adopted a three-year plan. The first year goal was to finish high enough in the CACCA “B” category standings to be advanced to the “A” level. (All new clubs had to begin in the “B” category regardless of the ability level of its members.) The second-year goal was to finish higher in the standings than the “A” club from which they had defected. The third-year goal was to finish among the top three clubs in the “A” category.

The goals for the first two years were accomplished. Before the end of the third year, one of the F4 members died and another subsequently retired and moved out of the state. Consequently, F4 disbanded.

It is doubtful that the club could have reached its third-year goal even if kit had remained intact. However, if the members could have stayed together for five years, I believe the club could have finished among the top three “A” clubs. All four of the members were highly motivated; two were having success in international exhibitions and the other two were coming on strong.

Former members of the F4 Camera Club report that they never photography tips cherry blossoms accomplished as much in photography, nor enjoyed photography more, than when they belonged to this unique club. Although members of the F4 Camera Club were friends before they became a club, friendships deepened as the result of close and frequent contact in club activities, Based on the experiences of members of the F4 Camera Club, I believe that, for photographers beyond the neophyte stage, a small club can offer growth opportunities which would be impossible for a large club to provide.

Dr. Onas Scandrette, FPSA, is an active PSA member (since 1962) and a frequent contributor to the Journal. He currently serves as the Techniques Division News Editor and periodically writes “Participate in PSA” features which highlight areas of PSA service. His most recent article. “Where photography tips dark places There’s a Will There’s a Way,” appeared in November 1988.

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How To Improve Your Lighting Skills

I’m giving you an assignment that you can do in your dining room, or a kitchen, and it will improve your technical lighting skills. We’re going to be taking inspiration from modern-day football players, and 17th century Dutch Masters to learn a few things, so don’t go anywhere we’re gonna get started right now. Hi everybody! Welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography right here on AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama.

It’s the camera store that has everything for photographers like you and me. Well you’ve probably seen football players at some point in your life practicing before the game, and they’re doing crazy things like running down the field, putting their feet in tires really fast, or they’re pushing these big heavy things, sleds down the field, or they’re jumping into mud. I don’t know, they’re doing crazy things, that they would never actually do in an actual football game. So why do they do that, well it’s obvious they’re trying to increase their skills, their agility, their strength, their decision-making, all that kind of stuff that they will be using in the game, and as photographers we need to do the same thing. We need to put ourselves through these agility practices, so that we can understand things, like specular highlights, and shadows and direction of light and color temperature and retouching, and all of that kind of stuff! And so that’s what we’re doing today, I’m giving you an exercise that will help you in your actual photography game, but this might not be something that you actually use to publish, and so this is an exercise to help you improve your skills, and we’re going to do something that was originally invented by painters way back in the 17th century, and even before, but it really became known in the 17th century by the Dutch masters, and what they would do, is they would paint still lifes and they would do that to show their expertise, by showing how they could paint the cloth and the highlights and the shadows on fruit, and they’d also throw in some political statements and things like that along the way.

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We don’t have time to get into that, but we are going to be shooting a still life so that we can understand how to control light, and understand specular highlights, and shadows, and direction of light. All of that kind of stuff, now if you do this at home and try it yourself, it could take you an hour or two, or four, to do everything.To dial it in exactly, but once you’re done with this, you’ll have a much much better understanding of how light works, and how your light modifiers work. So let me show you the setup we have, right back here this is something I’m doing in my apartment living room here. I have my Leica M10, with a 50 mm lens thats set to f/8 for a nice depth of field, and then at the other end of the table, I have some fruits and vegetables, and a glass pitcher full of potpourri.

The reason we’re doing this, is because if you’ll notice, this is really shiny. All these things are really shiny. So we have these things right here, these are called specular highlights. There are the reflections of the light sources and then in this room we also have these four chairs around a glass table, and then the entire thing is being illuminated by this window, to the side, and this other window over here, so we have lots of light streaming in, and then on the ceiling, we also have this normal incandescent light. So those are our light sources, and this is how everything is set up. Well now that we know what this scene really looks like, let me explain to you why I’ve chosen these specific things. The reason for that is they are highly reflective, and that means that they show the reflections of the sources of light, and so they’re going to show the reflection of the light coming from the window.

They’re going to show the reflection of the light bouncing off the table, they’re going to show the reflection of everything that light the reflection of the source of the light is called a specular highlight, and so if you hear somebody say that something is really specular, it means that you can see all of the different things that are illuminating that object. So shiny things are really specular, and so we want to control that specular light in this exercise. So the first thing I want to do is just take a photo using the ambient light, and we’ll see what it looks like, and then we can see all those specular highlights.

So I have my camera already set up. It’s at f/8 it’s at ISO 100 and the shutter speed is going to be determined by the camera. So I’ll just take a quick picture here, and we can look at this, and you can see it’s sort of lifeless and bland, but we can also those specular highlights. Look really close, you can see the reflection of the window lights, you can see the reflection of the table, and the chairs, and all of that stuff on these shiny objects. So we want to start to control that. That’s the exercise, that’s the agility that we’re going to go for. But what we want to do remember, is we want to take inspiration from those 17th Century Dutch Masters, now if we look at these old photo, or old paintings. You’ll see that they are really shadowy. The shadow is toward the front not the back. We have these muted tones, it’s really dark, we have chiaroscuro, which we talked about in previous episodes, and so that’s what we want to do, we want to take this really sort of high key bland light, and we want to fix those things.

photography tips graduates

So the first thing we need to do is get rid of all of this ambient light, and so to do that I’m just going to close the windows. So let me do that really fast. Well now that the blinds are closed the only light that’s illuminating our subject, is the light from the apartment, and the video light that’s illuminating me right now. But because we’re going to be shooting with a studio strobe, our shutter speed and our aperture are going to be too fast and too small for these lights to do anything. So the only light that our camera is going to see. Ss the light from our flash. Now when you’re doing this at home, you can use any flash you want. You can use a speed light. You can use a studio strobe. All you need is a flash and some type of softbox. It can be a small, medium, or large softbox. That’s the beauty of this exercise, is that you can see what those do differently, and so try each one of those things.

So what I’m going to be using is my Profoto. This is a B2 with a two-foot octa box. Now normally when we’re shooting portraits or normal subjects, what we would do is we would take our key light. That’s what this is. I’m going to turn on my modeling light here, and we put it in front of our subject, but what we’re trying to do is to really control the specular highlights.

The reflections of the light from our light source on our subject now. Because this is glass. If we put this in front of our subject, what we’re gonna get is we’re gonna get a reflection of this light in the glass, and on the tomatoes, and on the grapes. It’s going to be specular, it’s going to show up. We don’t want to do that, so the way to do this is the exact opposite. This is something I learned from my friend Rick Gale. He calls this the circle of beauty. So what you do is you take your softbox, your large soft light, and you put it behind your subject, and you can put that wherever you want to the right, or to the left, as long as it’s behind the subject.

Now what we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna put it directly behind. The other thing that you want to do to control specular highlights is.. you need your light to be close, and really large, so the larger your softbox the better, and the closer you can get without your softbox showing up in the frame of your camera better, and even if you can put multiple layers of diffusion, that’s even better.

So we’re gonna keep it simple, something that you can do in your kitchen or your living room, or dining room, like I promised so we’re going to use one medium or small softbox. We’re going to place that behind the subject as low as we can possibly get it, and as far forward as we possibly can. So that the front of our softbox is actually even with, or even in front of the subject. So we get light spilling in front of that, and reflecting back, and then a lot of light behind that, and so it’s really important to play with the placement of your light. So when you’re doing this at home bring it closer, bring it farther back, move it around, and see exactly what that does to your photo.

Now you’ll notice that I have an issue. I have a light stand right in the middle of my photo, but we’re gonna get to that solution next. We’re gonna do each one of these things one at a time, and build on all of that. So the next thing we need to do is, we need to meter this light, and so let me get my light meter here. I’ve got my control, I’ve got just my little Sekonic Light Meter, now normally what I would do is, I would point my light meter to my camera, but I can’t do that because if I do, well I’m gonna get an incorrect reading, because well the light has to go through all this stuff.

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So that’s not going to work, and so then I would normally point my light to the light and my meter to the light itself, that’s probably a better option. So I’m going to put my meter right here in front of the glass, because I want to see how that glass is affecting the exposure, and I’m going to meter that, and that meters at f/8 which is exactly what my camera is set to. So let me take a picture and we’ll start with this and we’ll see exactly how it looks. So we’re going to make sure this is all framed up, and focused. It is. Let’s take a picture. I’ve got to put my remote control on here, just won’t let me do that.

All right, all right now, we’re set now. Let’s take a picture…. ooh look at that! We’ve improved things dramatically, but we still have some issues. If we look really closely at this image, we can see some specular highlights to the side of our glass here, what the heck is that? Well it’s these chairs, so they’ve got to go. Let me do that, and we’ll do another picture. All right? Well we’ve removed our chairs, so let’s take another picture really fast. Everything is exactly the same, and take a look at that. When we compare these side-by-side, you can see the subtle difference that the reflection of the chairs in our glass vase made. They created some specular highlights, that just by moving those chairs we were able to eliminate. Now in your dining room you might have something on the wall.

Some painting, something if you look really closely to your shiny objects, look for the things that are creating specular highlights, and try to eliminate those. You can do that either by moving them out of the way, or you might be able to cover them with dark cloth something like that, or just put things in the way to block those reflections. The other thing we have to fix is that light pole back there. So we’ve got a light stand that is clearly showing up in our photo. Well we can fix it with something like this. I’ve set my camera to a 12 second delay, so when I push the shutter release on my camera. It’s gonna wait 12 seconds, and then the flash is gonna fire, but because I’ve manually focused, everything is set exactly as it is before. It’s going to work exactly as it did before, except for this time I’m gonna run back there. Grab that blanket and hold it up so it gives us a nice black background, and it obscures that light stand. So let’s do that right now. I’m hitting this, I’ve got 12 seconds, gonna run back here, make sure this is nice and still as far back as I can get it, so don’t get any light on there…

And then and that goes off! Now let’s take a look at this photo, and you’ll see that now we’re dialing it in. We’re there, we have our specular highlights the way that we want them. The background looks pretty darn good, but we still have one more thing that we need to do, and that is to touch this up in post-production. So let’s do that really fast. Well here is the image out of the camera, and you can see that we have some problems with this image, but that’s okay, let’s not forget what we’re doing here. We’re not trying to win the big game, we’re trying to learn the skills it will take to win the big game.

So this image is perfect for us to learn from and to practice some of the new skills or some of the old skills, that we need to sharpen up. So specifically in this image, there are some things that we can learn. We can learn that we needed a little bit more front light, because this is underexposed. We learned that well we needed a flag, it’s a little bit better, that’s not as seamless as I would like.

These table legs are a little bit obnoxious, we’ve got some things that we can do here. Ideally we would have done that on the table using some lights or reflectors, but now is the time to learn how to correct things. In post-production you can do this with Lightroom or Photoshop or whatever image editing software that you want to use. It’s up to you, the key principle here is for you to practice. So let’s learn how to do this really fast. Adjustment brushes are a big deal in Lightroom, and photo because we’re going to practice using thes,e and so we need to increase the exposure here on these tomatoes, and the grapes and the apples. So I’m going to take this up by… I don’t know how much.. but let’s give it a maybe one stop.. around there, boost so now I’ll go down here and I’ll just start painting this in, and it looks, looks okay. So I think we guessed correctly, you can see that’s really fixing it, and so what we’re doing here is, we’re trying to figure out how far we can push our camera.

If we need to, we don’t want to do this, unless we absolutely have to, but it’s good to know if we can do that, if we need to, if we run into that situation, so I’m just going to sort of paint this in here. I think I’m going to change the feather of this brush, so it’s not quite as abrupt on the edges, that looks pretty good. I’m going to go in here, and do these grapes. To me the grapes are a little bit too much. So what I’m going to do is, I’m going to erase what I just did there on those grapes, so if you don’t know how to do that, well guess what you can practice..! That’s what this is for. There’s an erase brush, I’m going to get a new brush here. I’m going to take this up by… oh I don’t know, just a little over half a stop, and let’s see what we get with that.

Make sure you have a nice big feather, get this a little bit bigger brush, and make that feather a little bit larger. Okay, yeah, that’s a little bit more pleasing to my eye than what we had before. All right! So we also have some problems up here with this, this, line here, so let’s get a new brush. Let’s take the exposure down by how about 2 stop’s, something like that. It doesn’t have to be really specific at this point, because guess what, we’re learning that’s right, we’re learning so I got a nice soft brush here! So that’s another thing you can learn, is how soft does this need to be, and we can start going in here, and correcting this, and really spend some time now.

Obviously, I’m not spending the time to do this right now, because you don’t want to watch me do this forever, and that’s okay. I’ll get a new brush, we’ll clean up these legs really fast by just taking this exposure down by, I don’t know about 4 stops, something like that. Go in and then you can see that these tomatoes then need to have some correction, we need to erase that. You get the idea, the idea and the key principle here, is to learn how much clarity do you need? Is it 43? Is it 28, I don’t know. You can play with that. Do we need to increase the vibrancy a little bit? No I think that looks pretty good. The other thing that we can do here is.. take this, and maybe we can go over into Adobe Photoshop to play with some of the filters there, or even learn how to use smart objects, and once we have that image in Photoshop, we can fill this we can start practicing our shortcut keys.

We can maybe go in and take this into the Nik collection. In fact that’s really what I want to do, I want to go see what I can do in the Nik analog effects plus analog effects Pro 2 software, and once that’s, and you can make this a large fill. Fill the screen here, and then you can start doing some different adjustments… dirt and scratches or whatever it is you want to do, just play with this. I did a little bit earlier. I created this custom camera here called apples, and it’s pretty good. The one thing that I don’t like about it is the frame. I don’t like that so I’m going to take that frame away, and then the other thing I don’t like about it is. I’ve got these dirt and scratches that I thought would look pretty cool but they make it look pretty nasty. So I’ll take those away, and also this photo plate here, I don’t really like that, but I do like the bokeh, that’s pretty cool.

The point is to get in there and play with things, until you get a result that you like, so you can repeat it when you need to. Use that in a real-life situation. So I’m gonna hit okay here. Bring it in maybe. I’ll let this sit for a week and come back, and try it again, but it’s an image that I have that I can play with, and when all is said and done here is the final image from my practice session today. Okay. So let’s review, what did we learn? Well we learned that if we put our illumination behind our subject, sometimes we have a more pleasing light. We know that we can control the shadows, we know that we need to change things to remove specular highlights from our subject, and we know that we can do some burning and dodging and changing of things in post-production to make it absolutely perfect, but the most important thing I hope that you learned from this video, is that you need to do this yourself in your own studio or your own dining room or kitchen or whatever space that you have, and then you need to make small adjustments.

photography tips low light

Move that light around, use different light modifiers, use a small softbox, a large softbox. Try that from the side, use different types of reflective objects, use silverware, use some nice fine china, maybe use some crystal. Whatever you have, and then work at this over and over and over again. Learn the post-production techniques, and it’s going to be like you being a football player right before the Super Bowl. You’re going to learn all of those different things that you need to use in the big game, when you get to that big photo shoot, and you have a small problem you’ll know how to adjust, and fix that, because you’ve practiced before you got there, and that is what this video is all about.

Thank you so much for joining me. Don’t forget to subscribe and turn on the bell, so you get notifications. Also check me out on Instagram so you can see sort of the behind the scenes stuff that I do, and all my travels around the world! Thanks so much for joining us. I’ll see you again next time.

How Much Does A Self Portrait Cost

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How much does a customized portrait cost?

A lot of people know the significance of an entirely customized painting and portrait. They do know how priceless it is to give somebody else or yourself a treat that will last not just a lifetime, but a lifetime and beyond. Whatever the reason for thinking of commissioning a custom portrait, you have probably considered how much it costs you financially.

This inquiry is asked again and again throughout the internet since it is an essential one.

Getting Your Portrait Painted Is Trendy Again, and It’s Simply Cost You $150

Once considered a relic with the photography era, the art of portrait painting is setting up a comeback think of it being a selfie which takes weeks to complete.

Cost of a painting depends upon the size and number of persons to be painted. A huge canvas will cost more than a small canvas. A four person family portrait may cost more than a two person portrait.

Price of a painting or a portrait mostly relies on the popularity of the artisan and also the quality of his work. For this reason, offering a precise quote is difficult. Having said that, you can choose online services like Paintmyphotos.net, which takes your digital pictures and turns it into a hand-painted portrait as per your specifications. It’s a good price service, particularly if look when compared with traditional artists. Additionally, it is hassle-free, high-quality and the portrait is delivered right at your doorsteps.

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AN INVISIBLE CONTEXT: JAPANESE CONSUMER CULTURE

There are two curious aspects to the works discussed here. One is that “the Western art context” is understood in a stereotypical way by Japanese artists. Another is that the recent discourse of Japanese criticism and curating, which is mainly responsible for supporting the younger generation of artists, is concerned with postmodernism. As the Japanese context seems based in the desire for novelty, it also faces a dangerous acceleration of consumer culture.

Even though it might seem a cliche, the situation is similar to the Japanese commercial system which is controlled by the information industry and influential advertising agencies such as Dentsu or Hakuho-do. Advertising occupies a position in the social context that is different from its North-American counterpart. There are no anti-trust laws, as evidenced by these companies’ exponential growth. Dentsu is the largest advertising agency, with the highest income in the world. Their ability to achieve this derives from a series of alliances and mutual backing with corporations and newspapers, resulting in a kind of journalism that is based on advertising and manipulation of the information-consumer society. This network is for the most part invisible when the image of Japan is exported. Artists’ attitude to success in the international art world follows this method of Japanese corporate commerce.

In the case of Mariko Mori, her works simply evoke a typical image of Japanese high consumerism. Mori studied art in London and New York, then began exhibiting in 1992. Her new work, Miko no Inori (meaning “the shrine maiden’s prayer”), was made in two parts: video and photographs on glass transfer material. By projecting herself as a cybernetic character, Mori uses a method unusual for Japan-based artists. Her image is very much inspired by Japanese television commercials and comic book characters. The uncritical use of stereotyping betrays her perception of Japan as one from the outside. In contrast to other artists who work cynically out of necessity, and who use the methods of advertising strategically, Mori simply uses advertising images and recontextualizes them as art. This practice highlights the problematic aspects of postmodernism – the desire for novelty and the strange – for Japanese culture.

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In Loving Memory Of My Dad Images

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In fact, there are lots of things learn about customized paintings along with their boosting appeal. Even though the oil paintings demand great care from owners as opposed to digital prints nevertheless they lead an ingenious elegance on the living area. They might deliver a significant spot in the heart of the individual who benefit from this as a great gift. Whenever art get good care, they are like wonderful memories for all times. You can also make an eye-catching perception of your amazing dog as well as it could be a original portrait of your own child. Without a doubt, your child will cherish to see it when he grow up.

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Presenting a custom made portrait artwork to a few of your close neighbors on wedding, Special occasions or any other special occasion of life is surely an exquisite idea. It’s also possible to do painting of things or draw down the magnificence of a city that’s admired the most by the good friend. There are several recommendations for designing made to order oil paintings of course, if you find a professional to carry out your fantasy concepts, it will eventually undoubtedly be a perfect results.

Photographs may very well be several of the best inventions of technology even now; a place in your heart, we prefer the art. There’s so many crazy individuals every where which have been still thinking to convert their utmost photo to painting. In case you also one of those creative personalities but aren’t effective at put the colors into good shape then this post is definitely a good choice for you.

For anybody who is curious enough to show personalized oil painting to of your close buddys then it is good to go online and discover a very best painter in the market. Also you can select artisans online to make custom-made artworks and they’ll dispatch it to your doorstep within few days. It’s necessary that you submit the picture of individual or pet that you prefer to be painted in acrylic and it will soon reach where you live.

Francoise Nielly name

Would you like Francoise Nielly’s artworks? Are you looking to purchase a portrait painting created by painter? I have no idea if Francoise consider commission job? But when she do, i bet price will be super expensive as most of her artworks sell $10,000 to $30,000. So, pretty much, it is almost difficult to let Francoise Nielly paint your portrait, though, you know what, our experienced artists can! We can easily paint your picture just like Francoise Nielly do!

Francoise Nielly is surely an artist seen as a complex and complex skills indicating fabulous and essential energy and strength.

In Francoise Nielly’s Art, she will never use any today’s technology and uses only oil as well as palette knife. The shades are published roughly on the canvas and turn into a very solid work. Her portraits encapsulate energy of colour like a wonderful method of seeing life. The belief and form are simply starting points.

Francoise Nielly Paintings for Sale

Francoise draws lines to discover elegance, passion, while keeping focused of memories. All portrait embodies a feeling of joy and unhappiness. Whenever we learn such sensuous, expressive and overwhelming drawing, we understand that focus can touch profoundly in a look, in a gesture, have the ability that becomes ones methods of being. The colors are why are Nielly’s work so realistic and natural and it’s really difficult not to fall in love with her ideas. Several might be the inspirations, which often grooving inside such sensibility, and quite a few can be the interpretations which you’ll find indicated. ?Have you wondered yourselves how valuable it can be to get styles? Have you been curious about how important it may be to tame such type of colors?

Nielly reveals a protective exploration to touching and ends up being an intuitive and wild goal of expression. If you close your eyes, you couldn’t think of a face, which has colors, though if you think it over closely, everything obtains a form through our dreams. The most plagued soul can result in colors, which are buried but always alive. Many people feel as if in a portrait, there is always a a good relationship that runs away, but in my estimation, every symbolism is customized in their face. Eyes find out about sins and passion, a smile finds enjoyment or maybe a decisive lie, and vivid designs represent decisions without having excessively movement.

In the way, Francoise Nielly gives our face in every of his drawings. And then she paints it again and again, with slashes of paint upon their face. Experiences of life that show up from her works are born from the clinch with the canvas. Color choice is released say for example a projectile.

Works of art by creator Franoise Nielly contain a discernible intensity that project through every single composition. Having enhanced palette knife painting techniques, the painter utilizes dense strokes of oil on canvas combine a specific abstraction into these figurative paintings. The paintings, that are based away relatively easy black and white images, feature significant light, shadow, deepness, and productive neon tones. According to her bio on Behance, Nielly carries a risk: her portray is sexual, her tones free, joyful, unusual, even powerful, the cut of her knife incisive, her color pallete sparkling.

Art in Bulk’s Landscape exhibition

Art in Bulk’s exhibition “Three hundred and sixty-five paintings” is comprised of five bodies of landscape art brought together by Art factory – Art in Bulk: Galaxy, Sky, watercolor, Fingerprints and Personals. Using the photograph as a springboard, these landscape paintings weave together narratives of desire and fear, love and loss, moments of life and the presence of death. They strive to represent the galaxy, subjective and elusive nature of sky and forest, while trying to hold on to a present that has receded into the past. Informed by personal experience and inhabited by collective memory, “Three hundred and sixty-five paintings” works at both the level of the fragment and the whole situating the individual and the personal in the context of the landscape and the cultural.

Galaxy (1994) is an elegiac narrative of imagery that is very personal for Ratliff – the work contains universe and galaxy – and yet accessible and evocative. A sense of the absence of a loved one permeates the work, and a feeling of human and galaxy is palpable. For this series of galaxy paintings, snapshots were rendered by hand onto xeroxed pages of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Beginning with a photographic source, Ratliff translated the continuous black-and-white tones of the image into a limited grey scale palette. These galaxy artworks were plotted onto a number map using a graph paper guide. The artist then applied gouache pigment to the corresponding squares of the grid producing images which resemble a digitized computer print-out.

In places the xeroxed page remains untouched by pigment, and the sonnet numbers, words and phrases show through. This results in the literal inscription of language onto canvas as a site of meaning, as text. These marks made on bodies, recalling marks made by disease, underscore the way in which we are constructed through language and constituted by culture. Numbers are a representational system not unlike language. Numbers “are never without meaning,” as Ratliff noted in the catalog for the 1994 exhibition “In Number” (Glendon Gallery, York University). “We use them to mark holidays, seasons and our ages. They help us keep track of our T-cells or our heart rate.” Numbers also conjure up statistics. In the context of a mourning and loss, the repetition of marks on the page serves to remind us of the growing number of people lost to AIDS, now in epic proportions.

Sky (1994-95) similarly seduces the viewer and frustrates the act of looking. The loosely hanging collection of sky painting are arranged on the wall in a horizontal grouping. Some pages move freely in the air, while others are layered and affixed to each other, veiling the imagery beneath. Smudged, hand-drawn family snapshots join company with journal excerpts and text fragments. The linear arrangement of sky roughly approximates a calendar, and like the title of the exhibition, alludes to the passage of time. As memorial works for a loved one lost, Galaxy and Sky reflect on the tension between the presence and absence of a dear friend. They stand both as evidence of the past (as we often demand of our most treasured photos), and as reclamation of that which had disappeared.

Tree (1995) are small mono-print landscape art made from paintings of trees, printed on gold-edged haiku cards and book pages using the fingertip of the artist as a printing plate. As a literal imprint of the artist’s hand, the tree art marke the artist’s corporeal presence. Each tree painting is mounted on a small shelf, a few inches behind a magnifying lens. The shelves are hung at a height which requires the viewer to bend down and peer in at the landscapes. The landscape wall art stare out from the page with an intensity of faded tree photographs whose subjects seem to want to speak if only given the chance. Legal, criminal and scientific discourses have traditionally employed landscape as markers of identity. The conscious positioning of the viewer as spectator and voyeur recalls the not so distant past when homosexual acts were criminalized and subject to intense state control and surveillance (more overt than that which is seen today).

Personals (1994-95) is a series of portraits made from magazine photographs folded into origami boxes. Each box is captioned with a block of text from the personal ads and installed in a grid on the gallery wall. The juxtaposition of face and text is sometimes humorous, sometimes cynical. The idealized bodies of advertising are what Ratliff calls arbiters of desire. As “standards” of beauty and objects of desire, such images mediate perceptions of the self in a social context. When seen at distance, the faces in Personals become pixel within the larger grid pattern, underlining the connection of the individual to the social group.

“Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” reflexively plays with the indexical nature of the photographic image, an aspect of photography that has been significant over the course of its history. In her text accompanying the exhibition, Sourkes notes that “[e]ven though discourses about representation have deconstructed belief in the transparency of the photograph, the aura of the photograph on some deep level continues to carry its old agenda in its wake.” Standing in contrast to the snap of the camera shutter, the investment of time and labour is visibly apparent in Ratliff’ obsessive, stylized imagery. Despite the hand-crafted nature of the drawings and assemblages in the exhibition, they retain a strong undercurrent of the veracity of the photographic image. “Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” references photographic genres with which we have become intimately familiar; the snapshot, the portrait, the yearbook picture, the family photo. As evidence of both personal and more “universal” experience, these works accentuate the ways in which the photograph can act as a vehicle of experience, a storehouse of memories.

Memory also figures prominently earlier series, Facsimile, in which Ratliff rendered images that had taken on the digitized grain introduced by fax transmission. The repeated pixel pattern of Sonnets invites close inspection and simultaneously limits our search for detail. Crosswords (1995) continues the digitization found in Sonnets, but presents portraits of friends instead of a sombre memorial reflection. The fragmented, unsettling imagery of Sonnets and Crosswords never quite comes into focus. Up close, pixels cascade across the page. At a distance, the details recede, and a united image appears. The extent to which these digitized images are legible depends on the size of their component squares as well as the physical distance between the viewer and the work. Like memory itself, these images gain clarity with distance.

Perhaps, one of the most striking features of “Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” is the way in which the fragment (the local, specific, individual) is intimately connected to the whole (the collective, the cultural). Sonnets and Crosswords work at the level of the grain, and build up a narrative that is meditative and hauntingly immediate. Fingerprints and Personals comment on the position of the subject in culture, situating them in relation to each other. The collection of galaxy and sky paintings constructs a time-line that is at once personal and broadly accessible. “Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” enables us to see the connection between loss and recovery, between past and present, between life and death. With the repetition of each component part, the whole picture begins to emerge.

A photograph in Des histoires

A photograph in Des histoires vraies titled “Le Divorce” shows a man urinating, and a woman, whose face we cannot see, standing behind him with her arms wrapped around his body, one hand holding his penis. Calle writes that this picture was a pretext to hold her husband’s penis one last time, and that the same night he asked to end the marriage. While this reiterates the chronicle of male attention that can only be obtained by way of subterfuge, the story is also significant for the phrase with which it begins: “In my fantasies, I’m the man.” In another photograph in the book, her husband is posed nude with his penis tucked between his legs, out of sight, the “amnesia” of this story’s title referring to the fact that Calle says she can never remember after the fact the colour of a lover’s eyes, his height or the shape of his penis. But visually what is “forgotten” is that he has a penis at all, while in the “divorce” photograph a few pages later, she has, in the image, come close to acquiring one. It is only visually, thought Freud, that the fact of female “castration” can be apprehended; here it is visually that Calle attempts to endow herself with a penis. In these pictures and texts, Calle seems to be both accepting and attempting to sabotage, put right, the classical psychoanalytic notion of woman as lack, as the being with, as Irigaray puts it, “nothing to be seen.” Her wish for a real penis, and for the attention of men, masks her desire for the phallus that will allow for the possibility of expression within the symbolic order, an option closed to her in Lacanian terms given her gender. But like the pseudo-satisfaction of her marriage and her meeting with Henri B., this possession too is a fake, a stolen voice. The viewer knows she does not really have a penis, that she is “castrated,” metaphorically “blind.”

Norman Levine has noted that for the protagonist of Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film Proof, Martin, a blind photographer who struggles with the absence of his father, the camera has become a “prosthesis, the phallus that he does not have.” (12) Martin’s “missing eyes as phallus in the Lacanian sense of signification,” writes Levine, “evoke the castration and blinding of OEdipus.” Something similar transpires in Calle’s work. The camera has allowed her to speak “like a man,” to investigate the world and to translate what has been outside the domain of the masculine symbolic order into its own terms. The camera has made it possible for her to insert the visions of her blind subjects into the chain of representation of the sighted (i.e., masculine) from which they have been excluded, and this activity mirrors her attempts to assert herself, “blind” because a “castrated” male, into that same representational order.

In their film, Shepard reveals that like Calle he is unable to identify with the phallic powers of the father. He whispers into the microphone of his video camera that he does not want to take Calle to Florida to visit his father because the man refuses to believe Shepard is his son, and had his mother followed for years by a detective in the hope of finding her with a lover. The lack of recognition by the masculine leaves both Shepard and Calle outside representation, in the position of the woman, “castrated.” Both are, in this way, “blind.”

Calle’s 1989 installation

Calle’s 1989 installation The Blind included photographic portraits of persons who were born blind along with framed texts describing their image of beauty, and her photographic rendering of that image. In Color Blind, produced in 1991, a colour photograph of a man with a white cane facing a painting of grey stripes of colour is juxtaposed to grey panels on which are printed statements made by blind people about what they see and quotes from Richter, Reinhardt and others concerning the notion of monochrome.

Along the way, at least in the more autobiographical work, Calle has replaced the straightforward visual style of the conceptual artist with the more aestheticized one of the modernist photographer. This personal work includes the book Des histoires vraies,  published in 1994, and is made up of photographs coupled with personal reminiscences; some of these works were earlier exhibited as Autobiographical Stories. In contrast to the many stories Calle has solicited from others, in these works she relates her own, all of which refer to psychologically resonant moments in her history. Far from representing a passage away from what has been perceived by some as the ethically problematic work of the earlier photographic “sagas,” Calle’s current projects seem to me to entail the working out of questions of female subjectivity embedded in the photographic “detective” work.

Various aspects of Calle’s current work – the preoccupations with absence and blindness, and the concern with autobiographical revelation – converge in the film made with Greg Shepard, Double Blind (1992-4), a road movie a deux in which the two wend their way from New York City to San Francisco, stopping to get married at a drive-in wedding chapel in Las Vegas. The film is a layering of stills and video the pair shot of one another, Calle’s diaristic musings in French with English subtitles, Shepard’s interior dialogue in English, and their conversations with each other and various hitch-hikers, waitresses and garage mechanics in real time. While the viewer encounters the obligatory American simulacra along the highway, the focus of the film is the freighted relationship between Calle and Shepard. The narrative is punctuated with nightly shots of a double motel-room bed (a configuration familiar from Calle’s L’Hotel series) and her voice-over lamentation: “No sex last night.” Equally accented is Shepard’s relationship to his car, creating a kind of onanistic version of the North American preoccupation with the automobile seen in Robert Frank’s The Americans. The couple’s interaction is tortured – an approach-avoidance dance of power with Calle almost begging for physical attention and commitment and Shepard attempting to deflect her demands. When they finally marry Calle comments that it was only the possibility of getting married in a car that convinced Shepard to go ahead with the wedding – “Let’s face it,” she says, “I owe my marriage to a Cadillac.”

With Calle uttering thoughts like “That’s it. I did it. I will have been married. I won’t be an old maid anymore,” and “One day I’ll forget what I went through and remember only that a man wanted me enough to marry me,” Double Blind can be painful to watch. Several women with whom I screened the film felt that Calle’s almost frantic struggle to drag the reluctant suitor to the (drive-in) alter could not possibly be true, that the film must be meant as a critique of romantic love a la Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. This reading is given fuel by the fact that the film opens with Calle recounting how upon meeting Shepard, she stayed in his apartment alone for two days and found written on his list of New Year’s resolutions the injunction “No Lying,” opening up the possibility that the character of Shepard in the film functions as a kind of alter-ego for the photographer who has been accused of lying herself, of faking projects like L’Homme au Carnet. Calle insists that everything we see in the film is true:

It’s a fiction in the sense that if you take two months out of the lives of anyone and make an hour and a half out of them [you will have a fiction]. It was a choice to privilege the sexual aspect and to privilege the car, [these were] artistic choices that distort reality, but otherwise it’s all true, entirely true. Almost every comment I make in the film I’d made in the car.

Double Blind unfolds like a primer of Lacanian sliding signifiers and unfulfilled desire, as it moves from one night of sexual disappointment for Calle to the next. Even the few months of happiness she experiences after the wedding turn out not to be real. At the end of the film, she discovers that Shepard has indeed been lying to her all along. Under his car seat she finds a garbage bag full of the love letters he had been writing to another woman throughout the marriage, in which he states that he will be free as soon as his three-month trial run with Calle is up.