Yesterday I took a day trip down to San Diego to meet up with some of my editorial and operational team at the Medium Festival. Primarily we were there to meet up with the documentary photographer Louie Palu for an interview I have in process for publication with PhotoBook Journal. Okay, we were also interested in the photobook signings and checking out the publications we had not seen before and an opportunity to talk with the photographers about their books as well as have Palu sign some of his books that are in my collection.
When Palu and I were talking after his lecture, he strongly suggested that we attend the presentation by Megan Riepenhoff later that afternoon, who primarily works with using cyanotypes to investigate environmental issues. Hmmmm, her presentation related to the environmental issues might provide some ideas about how I might structure my project, which I think also addresses environmental issues, such as how buried military ordnance can effect ground water, etc. While listening to Riepenhoff I found myself thinking about the expired photographs from last week; primarily do I use these photographs as-is with minimal tweaking or do I reinterpret the results as it relates to the intent of my project? So a big thank you to Palu for his recommendation to attend the Riepenhoff presentation.
Actually both of these presentations at Medium had me thinking about my recent Gardening For Ordnance photographs that came out of the recently processed expired film from my session earlier in the week.
The first version of one of the expired photographs from this batch that I posted Friday, here, has an adjustment layer I added to reinterpret the image in-line with a darker concept for the Gardening For Ordnance project. Interestingly, in thinking about this photograph, I also recalled something that Palu had stated in his presentation that frequently for his war reportage, he attempts to provide both sides of the conflict and allow the viewer decide. hmmmmm.
I now think that my first version of the photograph that I worked on Friday was a bit too heavy handed, thus I modified this photograph by backing off on the adjustment layer, reducing the contrast, to create a new version that appears similar to the visual results back from the lab, below.
With this in mind I worked on another photograph that I made with the same expired film, above, now with a much gentler hand. My only tweak was to slightly increase the values of the small clouds to pull these out of the sky. This slight tonal adjustment also teased the barbed wire highlights of the background; a nice two-fer as I had pre-visualized that aspect of the composition while I was setting up the camera for this exposure.
I wanted to have the line of the barbed wire move the viewer from the original log used to set this fence line along towards the newer posts and into the trees, essentially to connect the old (WWII) to the current as a metaphor for passing time. The spiny barbed wire could then function as another visual element to create tension. I realize that this is a very small detail within the photograph, but nevertheless an important visual element for me.
So all-in-all the day trip to the Medium Festival was really great and I highly recommend that if you have a chance to attend artists talks that you try to do so, you can never tell how the creatively aspects discussed might trigger an insight into your own process.
Featured photograph, above; O’Neal Park Fence Line (Gardening For Ordnance) 2019 Douglas Stockdale
Featured photograph, below; O’Neal Park Trail (Gardening For Ordnance) 2019 Douglas Stockdale