re-photographing

The wet,  cold  stormy weather has passed. It is still cold in the morning (I wore gloves on the 7am poodle walk  this morning),   but the wind has dropped, the sun has returned and the sky is blue.  I've picked up my cameras again,  and I've started thinking about photography.  -

I picked up the Sinar F2 5x4 yesterday, got  my pack out, and loaded the battery into the light meter  only to put it down again as I didn't have anything in mind to photograph.    However, I used the digital on yesterday's  evening  poodle walk.  The picture below  is a scoping  study that I made on this morning's poodle walk  along  Baum Rd in Waitpinga using my Sony  (APS-C)  digital camera:

I have photographed this tree before--probably a couple of  years  ago.  It was 5x4 film and I  choose an overcast day with light rain to obtain the dull, gloomy look. I  wasn't all that  happy with what I did in colour.

The Mallee project

The  Mallee group of photographers meet for lunch today at the Ramsgate Hotel in Henley Beach, Adelaide   to discuss the exhibition schedules of their lens-based photography work about the Mallee.  The Mallee photography group is small --it consists of Eric Algra, Gilbert Roe and myself--- and it recently came  together through our mutual interest in exploring the Mallee photographically.   

None of us live in the Mallee, but  each of us has developed a broad photographic  interest in exploring  the South Australian  and  the Victorian  Mallee.  For some  of us, especially Eric,  this interest  goes back several years. What is interesting is that we  approach the Mallee from diverse perspectives.  

What we  decided  over a convivial  pub lunch on a windy winter's day was to come together to put on a series of group exhibitions over a period of years as we gradually built up a body of work about this region of southern Australia.  We decided to exhibit  on a small scale in  Adelaide in late 2016, then produce more work for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in 2017, then doing extra work to exhibit in some regional towns in the Mallee--eg., in Mildura or Murray Bridge.   This  photography gallery in Mildura was mentioned, for instance, as was this one in Murray Bridge and this one in Horsham.   

picking up the threads

I've done little film photography since the start of winter, though  I have  been scoping with the digital camera.   

It's been  too cold, wet and windy along  the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula to use the film cameras. Today was the first time, in fact, that I used a film camera on a tripod since  the  photoshoot along the Mallee Highway.  

I  re-photographed this image  late this afternoon whilst on a poodle walk ( with Ari and Maleko) using my  medium format cameras--( the Rolleiflex SL66 and  the Linhof Technika 70).  This is the digital image from my earlier scoping with  the late afternoon light: 

That re-photographing  felt  like I was picking up the threads again re film photography after going through a fallow period---it's been  about a month since  the Mallee Highway  photoshoot.

winter light and French expeditions

This picture of the  Tobin House, one of Adelaide's Art Deco buildings, made whilst I was wandering  along North Terrace in Adelaide's CBD around  5pm. I was enjoying watching the winter light playing across the facades of  the buildings along North Terrace. 

I was on my way to  the opening of Frédéric Mouchet's interesting  exhibition at the State Library of South Australia. The exhibition centred around the South Australia of the French explorers in the  18th and 19th centuries in that Mouchet has retraced their journey around the unexplored coast of Nouvelle Hollande,   including Kangaroo Island, Encounter Bay (Victor Harbor), Spencer Gulf and the Great Australian Bight.

a disappointing Lamaroo photoshoot

The general consensus is that film-based, large format photography will endure in the digital age due to its simplicity  i.e.,    relying on minimal technology to render a high-quality image. It is true that there is very little that can go wrong with a view camera from the standpoint of technology failure. 

The picture below  is the result of my first steps in the 8x10 Mallee Highway  silo project. This  is a silo at Lamaroo that I photographed whilst returning from Canberra in 2015.  I had scoped the silos  on my way to Canberra  a week earlier,  and I thought that they would be a suitable place  for me to start.   There was easy access  to the silos,  no security and the silos  suited  the afternoon light. 

As it was raining when I arrived in Lameroo, I waited in the Subaru for the squall to pass,  then  I carried  the Cambo monorail out to the location  to make a couple of photos. It started raining just as I finished the shoot, and it rained all the way on the drive back to Victor Harbor.  

The 19th century  photographic look of the  sculptural form of the silo imposed on  the landscape is what I am after. Though there  is  an emerging  climate of photographic nostalgia  for traditional photography and the craft of handmade images,  traditional photography for me  is  just large format + film;   rather than alternative photographic processes,  such as the wet plate  process,  tintypes or ambrotypes.  

Unfortunately,  my  old 240mm Schneider Symmar f5.6 lens could not cover the movements of the Cambo's raised front standard; the trees in the shade on the right of the silo have no detail;  the negative has streak marks from the tank development of Ilford FP4 Plus at the Analogue Lab in Adelaide;  and scanning  the negative  with the Epson V700 flatbed scanner  has caused  Newton Rings  to appear on the digital file.   

All in all this is a  disappointing,  and somewhat disheartening result. Sure  the project and equipment are a low budget, but I had  been hoping for better results than this.  

scoping for 5x4 black and white

On the last couple of coastal poodle walks I've started scoping subject matter  for the 5x4 Sinar F2 and black and white film.  I haven't been using this monorail much since I decided to use it for black and white photography.  

I took the Sinar  with me on the  recent photo trip  to the Mallee Highway,  and  I did find some suitable subject matter. However,  the weather was too bright and sunny on the last day for the planned  photoshoot at Torrita. 

This is one possibility along the coast that I  did come across:  

This location is fairly easy to access with a monorail--it's a short walk along the coastal path to the rocks.  I just need an overcast day for the photoshoot with no rain.   

bleak times for arts and culture

These are depressing days for the  arts and cultural sector in Australia, despite the commitment to greater access, participation   and diversity in the political party's  manifestos.  

The current federal  Coalition government's  strategy  is to officially reduce the deficit and this is being pursued primarily through reductions in public expenditure.  It is strangling Australia's  creative industries with  'austerity'  style spending cuts, without having any clear funding strategy for the sector's  long term future. There is a marked failure  to think long term and a failure to invest in our public spaces and cultural education. Instead there is a  hostile political environment that expresses a deep contempt for the knowledge industries (including the sciences). 

The Australia Council, our principal  arts funding body,  has just defunded about 65 art organisations across the nation.  The reason is that it was  not given enough money in the Coalition's Federal Budget 2016  for the Australia Council to properly achieve its mission of enabling a culturally ambitious nation and a richer and more meaningful life for Australians.  The decline in the number of organisations funded is a result of the  loss of $300 million in public investment in  the arts sector  since 2013.  

So the National Association for the Visual Arts, the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne), the Australian Centre for Photography (Sydney), the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA) and the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF), which is based  in Adelaide, have all been defunded. Now there was a restructuring designed to bring new blood into the funding system --eg., 17 organisations working in Indigenous arts have emerged with new, long-term support---and this meant that  the status quo  was  rejected apart from protecting the small coterie of large performing arts companies. 

However, the Coalition cuts funding to  thriving small to medium  arts organisations and  to individual artists-and projects  (a reduction in funding to both in the order of 70%)  to create a space for new art organisations.  That is a savage decline in  the funding  to  individual writers and visual artists  who mostly work alone   by the Coalition  is a hacking into the  grassroots provision (seed-beds of start-ups necessary for the generation of “innovation” ),  which leads to the discovery and nurturing of talent and expressive ability.   This hacking into those who make the art and write the books is more than  the belt-tightening or "efficiency dividends"  of austerity politics. 

An indication of this 'more than'  is that though the economic impact of the creative industries (around   $50 billion per annum for an investment $7 billion), there   is the deep reluctance by the political elite (Labor and Liberal)  to  provide more reasonable  support arts and culture. There Coaltiion's  slashing the funding to the small to medium sector and individual artists runs counter to its  political rhetoric  about an  innovative, clever nation, an 'ideas boom', or their vision of Australia's ‘future built on innovation’, ‘agility’, and ‘excitement’. 

The implication is that our political elite do not accept that the arts and culture are the great engines of creative thinking, nor can they help to transition and invigorate our economy after the collapse of the mining boom. 

in the Victorian Mallee

I spent 4 days camped at  the Ouyen caravan park with Gilbert Roe  so that I could photograph some of the  grain silos in and around Ouyen  on the Mallee Highway with my large format cameras.   I managed to photography 5 silos--those from Ouyen to Linga--using a 5x7 monorail (for colour)  and an 8x10 monorail (for black and white).   

The next stage in the silo project is to camp at Murrayville so that I can  photograph the silos in and around that hamlet. I prefer overcast conditions  for this kind of photograph the silos, which makes life difficult,  as such  days are few and far between in the Mallee.  It's normally bright, sunny and cloudless. 

I also took the opportunity to start to explore  with my digital camera the countryside of  the Victorian Mallee, which is still economically based around dryland farming and large cereal farms. Even in  late autumn the northern Mallee was dry, hot  and dusty  with dust storms.  The agricultural landscapes  look as if it has extended periods of dryness that cannot simply be put down to intermittent drought. That dryness causes hardship to the local communities, the unravelling of the social  fabric, and the steady decline of the population in the towns and hamlets with their derelict houses and abandoned tennis courts.  

at Wallaroo

I spent several days camping at Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula with Gilbert Roe, a fellow photographer based in Adelaide. We spent the time  exploring the region with our cameras:  Gilbert was using his pinhole camera and I was working with  my  large format cameras. I concentrated on the silos.

 This is one image that I made in the late afternoon with both the  Cambo 8x10 (using black and white film) and the  Cambo 5x7 (using colour film):  

It  was a trial run for me in terms of  camping whilst  being on the road with  the large format equipment. Renting a house,  staying in a cheap motel, or a cabin in a caravan park,  is too expensive these days. Camping was a  trial run because our camping gear is very old and basic,  and I haven't been camping for 20 years or more. So I needed  to see whether this mode of accommodation would work for me as a way of doing the photography road trips.