Photo Notes

December 8, 2015

Rainbow in the Sky

Filed under: Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 3:47 pm
Rainbow in the Sky

Rainbow in the Sky

This shot isn’t an atmospheric phenomenon, and it isn’t even the sky, but it’s named Rainbow In The Sky. It’s a picture of a prop plastic ice cube. I took it with a 4X5 Toyo camera, a Zeiss Luminar (63mm) and about a yard of bellows. Effectively this is a microscope. By the time you make a 13 inch wide print of this the magnification is much more than 100x. I do a lot of work with microscopes of various kinds, please check out (www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/microscope.pdf) on the magazine page on my website and these are links to blog articles I’ve done on close up work and micrography:
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=424
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=415
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=405
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=394

I really like working with the microscope; it’s like going on a safari to an unknown land. You never know when something as mundane as a prop plastic ice cube will turn out to be fabulous. I still remember seeing this image appear on the ground glass, absolutely stunning! I’ll also be posting pictures of butterfly wings and all sorts of interesting microscopy images as I work on the fine art pages of my website. I hope you’ll continue to watch.

If you’d like to buy a digital print of this image, mounted and matted on archival cotton rag board, please use the PayPal link below. The image will be about 13 inches wide mounted on 16X20 board. The price includes shipping in the United States, for other countries please ask first.


This image, and many others, is also available in my book B-Four. You can look at the book at this link, and order it as well. I hope you’ll take a look at the book.

You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:

I’m going to be using my blog to add information about images to the fine art pages of my site. This part of the site isn’t functioning yet, but it will be. These posts will enable me to put up information about the shot and to add details about buying prints. I think it’s very useful to talk about the details of creating specific images. I hope to hear from you about this-use my e-mail to let me know: john@siskinphoto.com. Of course I hope you’ll also want to buy some prints. I’ll be offering more types of prints in the future.

December 7, 2015

What?

Filed under: Looking at Photographs,Photographic Education,Portraits — John Siskin @ 3:48 pm
What?

What?

This is the most successful image I’ve ever made. It’s been published several times, including in the New Yorker Magazine. I’ve sold more prints of this shot than any other. And I almost missed it. Of course we often miss shots because we recognize a moment too late, or because something goes wrong, but this shot had a different problem. I made this shot, and made a proof sheet, and put it in a file without noticing how effective this single frame was. I don’t know why I missed it, maybe I just didn’t have time to print, but it ended up in the files. Fortunately I like to go through the old files, because I sometimes find good things. Sometimes you just need fresh eyes to see how effective an image is. Anyway I did notice the image, and it’s been an important part of my portfolio ever since.

Photographing animals in the studio is similar to making studio photographs of children: you need to be ready before the subject steps onto the set. You’ll probably only get the right look one time, so you don’t want to waste that on a set-up shot. In this case the dog came into the shoot after I finished shooting his owner, so everything was ready. I shot the image on Kodak TMAX film with a Mamiya C-330. I used the 250mm lens for the shot. It’s just about the only time I ever used this lens. I liked the Mamiya C-330 cameras because I could afford to have just about everything in the system. I did a lot of good commercial and personal work with these cameras. I still have one C-330 body and the 180 Super lens, a great combination.

If you’d like to buy a digital print of this image, mounted and matted on archival cotton rag board, please use the PayPal link below. The image will be about 13 inches wide mounted on 16X20 board. The price includes shipping in the United States, for other countries please ask first.

This image, and many others, is also available in my book B-Four. You can look at the book at this link, and order it as well. I hope you’ll take a look at the book.

You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:

I’m going to be using my blog to add information about images to the fine art pages of my site. This part of the site isn’t functioning yet, but it will be. These posts will enable me to put up information about the shot and to add details about buying prints. I think it’s very useful to talk about the details of creating specific images. I hope to hear from you about this-use my e-mail to let me know: john@siskinphoto.com. Of course I hope you’ll also want to buy some prints. I’ll be offering more types of prints in the future.

December 6, 2015

Indiana World War Memorial & Museum-Stairs, 2015

Filed under: Film Technique,Looking at Photographs,New Photographs — John Siskin @ 3:31 pm

Indiana World War Memorial & Museum-stairs, 2015

Except for dance and the human voice, art requires people to use tools. Of course tool use is so basic to human beings that we often differentiate ourselves from other animals because we use tools. I think that tools are important to artists, and I know that they’re important to me. Some cameras inspire me to take pictures: some lenses seem to bring images to life. I recently got a Graflex XL, and I’ve carried it with me ever since. The camera is nice, but the real star is the lens: a Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8. This lens is also on the classic Hasselblad and Rolleiflex cameras.

I like the way that stone and concrete look in black and white images. The stone has a real presence in this image probably because of the way the lens capture texture. The precision of the stonework is evident in this shot. Indianapolis has some really amazing stonework throughout the city. I’ve made some fine images of buildings here, and I continue to work with these subjects. Indiana has been a source of limestone for many buildings in the U.S. and the stuff has a great monumental feel. I really like the brighter highlights on the columns in the middle of the image.

I’m still committed to film for many of my fine art images. One reason is a second moment of discovery: when you shoot in digital you see a picture immediately, with film you don’t see an image until the film is developed and printed. The separation between shoot and image gives me a chance to imagine how I will work with the image. The sense of seeing a good negative is very rewarding. Of course it is also rewarding to work with a craft I’ve been practicing for decades.

If you’d like to buy a digital print of this image, mounted and matted on archival cotton rag board, please use the PayPal link below. The image will be 14 inches long mounted on 16X20 board. The price includes shipping in the United States, for other countries please ask first.


You can buy one of my books at these links:

I’m going to be using my blog to add information about images to the fine art pages of my site. This part of the site isn’t functioning yet, but it will be. These posts will enable me to put up information about the shot and to add details about buying prints. I think it’s very useful to talk about the details of creating specific images. I hope to hear from you about this-use my e-mail to let me know: john@siskinphoto.com. Of course I hope you’ll also want to buy some prints. I’ll be offering more types of prints in the future.

December 4, 2015

Train Trestles, Indianapolis 2015

Filed under: Large Format Photography,New Photographs — John Siskin @ 4:37 pm

I’m starting something different with this blog with this post. I’m going to post an image and talk about that image in the blog. There are a couple of reasons for this, and I’ll be discussing them at the end of this post.

Train Trestles, Indianapolis 2015

I made this shot with my Toyo 810M and a Dagor 14 inch Lens. The lens is one of the last Dagors, made by Schneider Corporation. Actually the lens is made by Kern in Switzerland. This is the only large format lens I’ve ever seen from Kern; mostly they made movie camera lenses. Dagor lenses were first made by Goerz in the early part of the twentieth century. They are legendary large format lenses because of the way they handle sharpness, model subjects and for the bokeh. Although bokeh is often used now to refer to a lens that throws the background out of focus it used to refer to a lens that retained detail in the background and created a good sense of depth and shape. The print shows the quality of the lens in a way this digital reproduction can’t. The camera is a metal field camera that shoots 8X10 film.

The position of the camera, and the photographer was precarious, clinging to the side of a hill. I use Ries tripods for location work with my large format cameras. This shot is a good example of what a Ries can do. I’ve attached a phone shot here of my position.

Setting up the camera and tripod

Setting up the camera and tripod

The image was composed as a panorama, rather than being cropped after it was shot. I often make two negatives, roughly 4X10 inches each, on one sheet of 8X10 film. I use have a dark slide to keep one side of the film from being exposed. This system works surprisingly well. The film is HP-5+, developed in ID-11 for recommended time plus 50%. I think of this as my normal development because I like a denser negative and because I like to see full development in the shadows.

The word trestle reminds me of San Onofre where I went surfing as a kid. The family went to that beach about every other week all summer. Trestles is the name of one of the breaks at San Onofre.

If you’d like to buy a digital print of this image, mounted and mated on archival cotton rag board, please use the PayPal link below. The image will be 14 inches long mounted on 16X20 board. Price include shipping in the United States, for other countries please ask first.


You can buy one of my books at these links:

I’m going to be using my blog to add information about images on the fine art pages of my site. This part of the site isn’t functioning yet, but it will be. These posts will enable me to put up information about the shot and to add details about buying prints. I think it’s very useful to talk about the details of creating specific images. I hope to hear from you about this-use my e-mail to let me know: john@siskinphoto.com. Of course I hope you’ll also want to buy some prints. I’ll be offering more types of prints in the future.

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