Hard to believe, but true; I became a (fake) student again for about 11 weeks and attended The American University of Paris' "Introduction to Photography" continuing education class. Unlike my earlier attempts at getting a "real" education, I actually attended every one of my 2.5 hour classes, did all of my homework, and even continued working on photos after the class ended. The class was taught by Bob Bishop, photographer and founder/editor in chief of The Paris Voice, an English language magazine that Michelle and I have read ever since moving to France.
The most fascinating part of the course covered darkroom technique. The following images are my attempts to reproduce some of the pictures that I shot and printed, using the digital equivalent of the dodging, the burning, the contrast filtering, and the time/exposure manipulations that I learned in the darkroom. All the digital image manipulation was made possible by the Gimp. Thanks go to Gimp's developers for such a cool piece of free software.
Above, An attempt to capture something with texture. The result was a tremendous flop, and was never printed.
Bob Bishop asked us to go out a shoot a roll of film in Paris, taking pictures of things that we thought best represented the city.
|My very first print! The real product is a little bit lighter. Taken on the little rue La Vieuville, in the 18th arrondissement at dusk. This image received Michelle's stamp of approval. Professor Bishop invented a story behind the emotion evoked - a young Parisian, rebellious and sensitive, smoking a Gitane, waits for his sweetheart in anticipation of a lover's rendezvous. The girl never shows up...||View from the apartment. The camera was on a tripod, exposure set to 7 seconds, f-stop at 5.6 or 8, and the shutter was opened by a timer to avoid camera shake. I got lucky and the shutter opened just as the Eiffel Tower's searchlight swept across the frame.||This image received Michelle's stamp of approval. Taken on a very foggy day, the final image is rather grainy (400 speed film didn't help). Also fits well into my dogwalkers virtual series.|
|This image received Michelle's stamp of approval. It was never actually printed.||Cafe "Au Baroudeur" just down the street from the above lamp.||Paris as viewed from the Observatoire de Meudon on a foggy day. This image never made it to photo paper.|
Second Assignment: Shapes, Forms, and Textures
Bob was trying to get us to simplify our images down to their most basic elements. The goal of the assignment was to better compose our later pictures if we could more easily pick out these simpler elements in our shots. Overall, I wasn't very happy with the images that I got. If we had more time, I'd shoot at least a couple rolls to try to get better shapes, forms and textures down onto film. If I ever install my own darkroom, this'll be one of the first things I do.
|A weak example of shapes, nearly ruined by the light spot on the floor, which I argue is a square, dammit!||A higher contrast filter was applied, and the bottom half of the image was burned for a long time to get the shadows to really stand out. Too much work for a disappointing result.||Professor Bishop thought this image was a decent example of form- I don't really like it.|
|This was taken during the "photographing Paris" assigment, but I find that it fits in better with this assignment for shapes.||There is good texture on this image, in my opinion. Sadly, the negative never saw the light of the darkroom. The ivy leaf in the middle of the cedar bark is now dead (I guess I caught the "decisive moment" for this leaf!).||This one was never printed either. I thought it might have potential for shape and form.|
Third Assignment: Portraits
I shot a roll of portraits at the last minute due to a general inavailability of my muse, and wasn't able to print all that I would have liked due to time constraints. A couple my darkroom efforts do not appear on this web page. (My muse is very shy).
|1) Subject is skeptical||2) Subject is hesitant||3) Subject is curious||4) Subject finally decides that the photographer looks like a big dork|
Fourth Assignment: Place
We were supposed to photograph several aspects of a place. A public garden, a train station, or the grounds of a large monument were suggested. I chose the bridges of the Seine. I set out from the pont de Bir-Hakeim on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and walked upriver on the left bank, shooting as I went. Three hours and two rolls of film later, I was able to print out most of the following photos in the darkroom.
|Looking down the middle of the pont de Bir-Hakeim: water below, metro above, automobiles on either side. This shot never got printed.||The Eiffel Tower as seen from the pont de Bir-Hakeim. This shot was awarded Michelle's stamp of approval.||The underbelly of the pont d'Iéna.||Study of one of the many beautiful sculptures on the pont Alexandre III. This angel never made it to paper.|
|We owe the graceful arches of the pont Royal to the architect Jules Hardouin Mansart (also responsible for the golden Dome church of Invalides, the Chateau de Chambord, portions of the Versailles Chateau, etc.). I ran out of darkroom time, and couldn't put this one to paper either.||Arches, arches, arches! Vue of the entrance to the Carrousel du Louvre from the other side of the pont du Carrousel. Received the Michelle stamp of approval.||The Academie Francaise is in the background of this shot of the pont des Arts. Received the Michelle stamp of approval.||A study of the architeture of the pont des Arts. Never printed.|
|A lazy Sunday afternoon on the pont des Arts.||Pont des Arts and the right bank of the Seine. The darkroom lab assistant thought that this was a picture of penguins. Michelle gave it her stamp of approval.||Contemplating existence on the pont de l'Archevêché.||Notre Dame as seen from under the pont de la Tournelle. This also fits into my dogwalkers virtual series.|
A couple of photos that were taken to finish up a roll of film and that I was able to put to paper thanks to the friendly Parsons Paris School of Design darkroom-assistant-guy, Nicholas, a week after my class ended.
|Gotta have cats!||The Meudon sur Seine Tramway stop on a foggy morning. I cross the footbridge in the distance to get to this stop every day. This received the prestigious Michelle stamp of approval.||Funeral bust of a Parisian chemist who died in the mid 1800s. The chemist is resting peacefully, and his funeral bust is weathering nicely in the cimetière Montparnasse. This photo was never printed.|
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