Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vaughn Hutchins and Other News

  Last week I arrived to Arcata CA and parked Gilli securely in the back of a quiet alley for a couple of nights.  Arcata has a special place in my heart.  It was the first stop on a vagabond hitchhiking trip I embarked upon back in 1997, which opened up my eyes to the fact that I really don't want to be a bio-chemist and made me switch my major in college to photography.  It was also during that trip that I saw a glass-blowing bus and was infected with the idea of someday building a darkroom bus.  It did take me a while to get all my ducks in a row and make that dream a reality and finally pulling into Arcata in The Photo Palace Bus was a very sweet feeling.

  While there I met with Don Anton - a photography professor at Humboldt State University and we discussed The Bus visiting that fine institution during the fall semester. Don was pretty excited about my mission and the visit was brief but pleasant.  I think I can swing by HSU on my way back from the East Coast sometime in September or October, hopefully it won't be as cold then as it was last week...

  I also had a great pleasure of meeting Vaughn Hutchins - a respected carbon printer and a very nice fellow indeed.  He contributed greatly to the historic print collection by donating a beautiful carbon print from an original 4x5in negative on 8x10 gelatin photo paper. 

  It appears that Vaughn got the idea of printing in carbon back in 1990 after he read an article on it in Black and White magazine, but it was 2 years later that he actually started on that path.  Carbon is a pretty demanding technique and he said that it took him a while to get prints of consistent quality that he was satisfied with.  In vented in 1855 by Alphonse Poitevin this method of printing relies on gelatin becoming insoluble when mixed this potassium dichromate and exposed to light.  It is a transfer process that uses pigments, which could be of any color and could be combined through CMYK separations to create full color images.  Because of the use of pigment it is a highly archival process and due to it being a transfer process it presents the image reversed left to right unless a second transfer is performed.  It seems that the quality of carbon prints that first attracted me is the same one that caught Vaughn's eye as well.  You see, due to the image being composed of minute layers of gelatin with pigment mixed into it and those layers sitting on top of the support paper each value can actually be seen as a miniature plateau raised above the white of the supporting surface.  That gives photographs printed in carbon a very unique look reminiscent of 3D.  Vaughn also pointed out that carbon can hold a tremendous range of light - 13+ stops!  He said that it was the only technique that can adequately relate the range of lighting found in a redwood forest, where even on an overcast day the shadows are far below the slivers of sky that one may catch through the giant overhanging branches.

  Having practiced carbon printing now for over 20 years, Vaughn teaches new printers how to use this beautiful technique in workshops all over the country.  He does also occasionally prints in platinum.  He uses original in-camera negatives ranging from 4x5in to 11x14in and perhaps on my way back south I may have a pleasure to seeing an 11x14 carbon print.  For now here is a link to his website where you can see some of his work, read the blog, see the impressive list of exhibits and contact Vaughn to inquire about his upcoming workshops.

  On a sadder note Arcata was the final stop on the journey of Kenneth Moilanen, on a sudden and premature departure of I reported a few months back.  Kenneth was a good friend of mine, always full of life, cheer and ideas and strife for making the world a better place for all of us.  He died in a car accident late at night on a desolate industrial street on the outskirts of Arcata and left all who knew him with a feeling of deep loss.  On my way out of town I visited the place where Ken's tracks upon this planet ended and made a little memorial offering upon the spot where his Volvo met a large stored part of a steel bridge.  Rest in Peace Kenneth.

  Now, a couple of announcements as far as the nearest future of The Photo palace Bus and Magic Lantern Show that is offered by it.

  I am now in Corvallis OR, where tomorrow I will be present on campus of Oregon State University giving photography students here a chance to view the print collection from 10am to 4pm.  Then at 7pm there will be a Magic Lantern Show sponsored by the local Photo Guild.  The show is located at 800 SW Jefferson ave.
 Next stop is Portland where I look forward to finally getting my hands-on experience with wet plate photography with Ray Bidegain.  There I will also hold a Magic Lantern Show on Monday March 4th at Newspace for Photography (again at 7pm).

 Then it's back south for Gilli and me - we have Lantern Shows scheduled for March 9th and 10th in Sonoma County.  They will be held in Cloverdale and Fort Ross respectively and I will update my readers with exact details on the next post.

  For now I would like to invite all who live around Corvallis and Portland to keep tomorrow night and March 4th open and come and enjoy the shows!

Anton Orlov

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lantern Slide Show and Cloverdale Historical Society

  Well, another milestone passed and that deserves an update.

  I arrived to Sonoma county on Thursday and stayed at the lovely home of Barbara Hoffman.  The house is located between the towns of Sebastopol and Occidental and it's so quiet and peaceful that I could have stayed there forever.  Plus Barbara and her husband Gary were very hospitable, which made the stay just heavenly.  The reason I came there was to conduct my first full-size Magic Lantern Slide Show and I wanted to do it with Barbara present because she is the granddaughter of John Rahill and it was from her that I purchased the slides in 2011.  She has never seen them projected and I thought that to hold the first viewing with her present would be a terrific start to the Lantern Show run.
  Barbara arranged for the show to be held in a nearby recording studio that belongs to her ex-husband Joe.  The room was cozy with estimated maximum capacity of about 25 people.  A local newspaper called 'Bohemian' did a little write-up on this upcoming event and Barbara was inundated with calls and had to turn quite a few people away for lack of space.  I hope those who couldn't make it will be able to come to the next show in the area on which I will elaborate further down in this post.

  The audience started arriving at about 6pm and I gave everyone who expressed interest a tour of The Photo Palace Bus and showed them what it's all about.  Here is a quick shot of one of the groups and me in front of the print collection.

  At about 7pm we were ready to start the show with all but a few folks having arrived.  I must admit I was a bit nervous as I have not really done much public speaking in the past, but I think the fact that it was dark and the audience was facing away from me while looking at the screen helped the situation and I felt rather comfortable.  

  The first part of my show was devoted to familiarizing the audience with the various uses of Magic Lantern throughout the centuries.  I have about a dozen mechanical slides, some of which are humorous in nature.  Those evoked a pretty lively response from the viewers.  Then I showed a few of dozen slides of various subjects ranging from cartoon depictions of signing of the Declaration of Independence to a lovely little story of "Tiger and the Tub", concluding with a short projection of a Mickey Mouse slides that were made in England under the license from Walt Disney.
  The second part of the show was a bit more extensive and focused on Mr. Rahill's travels through Russia, China and Japan when he was working with the YMCA during WWI.  I have 69 original slides with me, which I carefully curated to give the most comprehensive overview of his journey and mission without having to show all 500+ slides.  Here are a couple of shots taken during this second part by a Los Angeles Times photographer who was sent to the event to cover it for an upcoming story.

  Aside from a few slides being inserted upside down I think the show went off without a hitch.  I will have to get used to speaking while operating the lantern in the dark and trying not to drop the antique glass slides, which can be rather bad.  One of the slides did fall, but luckily it was OK - it's a neat image that I imagine was shown in movie theaters before the start of the film and it alerts the ladies to take off their hats (sorta like today's 'please turn off your cell phones' announcements).  The show ran about 1.75 hours including a little break and introduction about John Rahill given in duet by Barbara and me.  After the show I had a very lively barrage of questions on various topics and I fielded those while trying my best to place the slides back in the box and keeping their order.  Keeping the order is entirely impossible and I will have to re-organize the slides before every show, which I don't mind doing.  I do envy the lecturers of the bygone days who had lanternists operating the projector while they simply concentrated on delivering the information, that way all the slides could be put back in the same order as the show progressed and no further shuffling was required.  Perhaps with more experience I will be able to do that myself and I look forward to that moment.

  After I left Barbara's place I headed to Cloverdale where a gentleman by the name of Will Layfield invited me to visit the Cloverdale Historical Society.  Will saw the story about my discovery of the French WWI negatives and wrote to me that he was a conservator in Cloverdale and had come upon a a trove of old nitrate-base negatives.  He told me that he was making silver prints from them and I was eager to see that.
  The ride from Sebastopol to Cloverdale is not long, so I arrived there around noon.  Will met me by the bus and after a customary short tour we went over to the beautiful new Historical Society building.  There, on the second floor, I was a really neatly arranged display of vintage items.
 Cameras from local owners

 Images of Sonoma County residents

 Stereoscope with views of the area

 A photo postal stamp (I have read about these, but have never seen one live)

 And from the archives a 1909 glass negative of the annual Citrus Fair with a swastika made of oranges.  Back then that symbol was still accepted as one of peace and prosperity.

And here is Will himself, counting the ways that he had to modify his enlarger in order to make prints using glass negatives and the nitrate-based ones that he had mentioned to me before.

  Will also showed me a number of Magic Lantern Slides that are in the archives and we discussed a possible Lantern show to be held during the second weekend of March in the performing arts center.  I am very hopeful that we can clear the space and get over all the needed hurdles in oreder to make this happen.  Then the residents of Sonoma county will get a second chance to view a Magic Lantern show AND we will use some of the slides from Cloverdale Historical Society to spice it up.  
  Seeing how excited I was on the topic of Magic Lanterns Will told me that he has something related to present me with and I was eager to give him a ride aboard The Photo Palace Bus to his home when he ended his shift.  There, from the back of the closet, Will pulled out a large metal box and hoisted it onto the bed.  After opening it up I saw one of the most pristine Lanterns I have ever laid my eyes on.  It was likely made in the 1940s by Charles Besseler and judging by its condition I was barely, if ever, used.  Will said that it was mine to keep and that I could probably put it to better use than he ever could.  I was vary happy because no matter how big this particular lantern is, it is still smaller than the one I used for Barbara's show and I am happy to downsize in any way I can.  Plus, from the information printed on this lantern it uses 750W bulb and that's 50% brighter than the 500W featured by my old Bausch and Lomb.  Here is the latest addition to the Magic Lantern collection of The Photo Palace Bus.  I can't wait to test it out!

    From Cloverdale it was a pretty long drive to Humboldt county.  I have driven that stretch numerous times in a car, but Gilli is a quite different type of a ride and it took me a goor 6 hours to cover the distance I can usually do in 4 or less.  I got to Arcata an hour after sunset, parked (after a few attempts and another ruined lawn) in the back of a friend's house not too far from Humboltd State University and took a breath of fresh redwood forest air. 
  This morning I met with an HSU professor Don Anton and we discussed the possibility of The Photo Palace Bus making an appearance at HSU during the fall semester.  He seemed very impressed by the darkroom and promised to start the ball rolling on funding.  Tonight I am meeting a renown carbon printer Vaughn Hutchins and I can't wait to pick his brain about that beautiful process.  Let's see if I can pull together a little interview for you all to enjoy.

  Tomorrow I will be taking off northbound once again with the goal of reaching Corvallis by Wednesday.  Thursday The Photo Palace Bus is scheduled to have an appearance at Oregon State University and in the evening there will be another Magic Lantern Show sponsored by the local Photo Guild.

Anton Orlov

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Russian Photo Community and Rayko Photo Center

  This update is going to be much shorter than it really deserves to be.  I am in dire need to dive into all the Lantern Slides I'll be showing tomorrow, organize them, make sure that the ones I had to modify work well, repair a few by adding pull-tabs to them and so on and so forth....   I do think that the events of the past few days deserve a post and if I don't do it now I'll probably never get to it, or when I get to it I will forget all the neat things that happened and that wouldn't be good either.

  Santa Barbara was not my cup of tea this time around.  I'll skip the nastiness and just say that I left there rather promptly on Sunday morning and headed up highway 101 in the direction of Santa Cruz.  The drive went well, though I have to try to limit the time driving in the future to less than 6 hours at a time.  By hour 4 muscles start to ache and tighten considerably due to the seat having been made with much shorter trip times in mind.  I am not going to replace it though - it's vintage green and in perfect shape, so no matter how much my body might appreciate an air-cushioned truckers chair, my mind will never forgive me if I get rid of the last big piece of original interior. 

  Santa Cruz is home to a few friends of mine and I knew I would be able to find a parking spot for Gilli.  Indeed a lovely photographer by the name of Carmina did come though with that and we had the bus park behind a really neat little diner at the very top of highway 17, which runs between Santa Cruz and San Jose.  The diner is owned by her roommate, a friendly young chap by the name of Ben.  The food there is great and I highly recommend stopping by there when you are in the area.  It's called 'The Drive In Diner' and its address is 23111 Santa Cruz highway.  While having a meal there do check out the wonderfully provocative cyanotype photograms by Carmina in the main dining hall.  Knowing that Gilli is safe and sound I spent the next day in San Jose visiting my friend Julia Kamoroff.  We stopped by to see her sister Chrystal Kamoroff who is a wonderful conceptual artist living in Santa Cruz, and checked up on Gilli on the way.

  Then, on Tuesday morning, I was off once again to Pacifica to go meet a photographer by the name of Kirill Krylov.  I met Kirill online in one of the Facebook photo groups and really admired his bold image style, not to mention that he shoots primarily on film cameras.  Pacifica is a really quaint little town located just below San Francisco.  Kirill offered me to stay there for a night and I was eager to accept that offer as we are having a cold-spell here.

  When I arrived I felt right at home.  That was due not only to Kirill's classic Russian hospitality, but also to the fact that his house contains a plethora of fascinating photo equipment which (like in my home) is tossed about in a rather random manner all over the place, so wherever you may look you will see something film related.  Here is Kirill with a wonderful little gem that made me all warm and fuzzy on the inside.  Some of you may know that I have a strong affinity toward Rolleiflex TLR cameras and this gold edition GX is a beauty!  Someday I hope to have one of these or a model F in Usuri finish (hint to anyone reading this - it's a perfect gift...).

  Also his house can be toured as a gallery - I did not count how many framed prints large and small are present on his walls, but I would venture to guess over 100.  Here is but one wall.
   One thing that was a pleasant surprise for me was that Kirill appears to be an unofficial center pin in a rather active community of Russian-born photographers in the area and I met a few other members of that circle.  Most of them shoot film and it was great to get a chance to bone up on my conversational Russian skills with people who speak my language in more than one way.  I recommend taking a look through their work.  I think you will find a consistently strong and distinct felling in all their work, especially when it comes to black and white.
Edward Kotovski
Kirill Khanenkov
Alexey Bochkovsky
Elena Zhukova

  On Wednesday we also visited a wonderful exhibit at de Young Museum.  Currently they have two stunning exhibits - Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis and Rembrandt's Century.  Both were a treat not to miss and there I definitely had my fill of fine engravings and oil on various surfaces.  We must have spent at least two or three hours meandering the rooms and being amazed at the craftsmanship and vision of the old masters.  Not being an expert in this area I will leave it to others to write a more cohesive review of those shows and move on to our next activity, which was a visit to Rayko Photo Center.

  For those of you who are not familiar with Rayko Photo Center I would like to say that it's an awesome place for any photographer film or digital.  It is their commitment to darkroom photography that impresses me the most.  They have a great educational program, a fine facility for printing both black and white AND color (you don't see that very often these days in rental labs) and their rates are very reasonable.  Here are a few of the images from Rayko.

 Rayko Photo Center - located in downtown SF for easy public transport access.

 Greeting you in the front room is a large collection of vintage equipment (and there's even a 'for sale' case).  The camera at the bottom of this image is a Gowland - I have never seen one of these beasts live before and it definitely put the fear in me...  I mean this thing is MASSIVE!

 There are a few private darkrooms for those who like to work in solitude.  This one features a Durst 8x10 enlarger and is set up for mural printing.

 For those who don't mind communal spaces there is a darkroom with plenty of well-kept Omega enlargers.

 Film processing room is fully stocked as well with both steel and plastic tanks to suit your preference.

Print drying area.  Perhaps this is not my place, but I will indeed suggest that if anyone from Rayko Photo is reading this they may want to consider an Arkay Dual-Dri and perhaps an Arkay RC Dryer.  I swear - they are a worthy investment and your patrons will love you dearly as they will not have to come back the next day to pick up their dry prints AND will walk out at the end of the printing session with FLAT fiber prints.  Therefore they will not have to spend time flattening them in the dry-mount presses, which will also save Rayko on electricity costs as I think the presses take more juice than the dryers.  Plus, Arkay is a great company - super friendly on the phone, ready to ship parts for all the dryers dating back a few decades and are just a pleasure to deal with.   But, really, I have both of those dryers in my darkroom and I will not go back to drying on screens...  just sayn'...

The cherry on top though is this gorgeous 50in wide color printing machine.  I would love to come back and put some prints through it - largest I have ever printed in color was 30x40in and it was so much fun that I can't imagine what a thrill it would be to print from a 50in roll, provided I can actually buy something like that on today's market...

  Aside from what is pictured here Rayko has a spacious studio for shooting, a full digital lab and printing facility, an area where prints by their patrons can be purchased at a decent price and an exhibit area with plenty of images to get inspired by.  I truly recommend stopping by there next time you are in San Francisco and bring your negatives!

  I did meet with a few of their staff and now am keeping my fingers crossed that something may be arranged within a short period of time for a Magic Lantern Show and a visit from The Photo Palace Bus to Rayko.  It's a shame that even the darkroom manager didn't know what a Magic Lantern is (though she young and it was indeed before her time), so I think the entire community can benefit from a comprehensive Lantern show.

  Today I started on the road pretty early and The Photo Palace Bus crossed the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time ever.  Here is that momentous occasion as captured by my iPhone while trying to stay within the rather narrow traffic lanes.

  The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful and I am currently in Sebastopol at the house where many years ago I saw the Magic Lantern slides taken by Mr. Rahill.  I am glad that the first full-size show will have his granddaughter present at it - I think it will complete a very important history circle.  Now, as I mentioned in the start of this 'short' post, I do need to get some serious work done or the show may not turn out as smoothly as it should be.

Anton Orlov

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day One of West Coast Trip - Freestyle, more Allan Barnes and More

Day One - My first update from the West Coast trip #1.

  Today I headed out pretty early out of San Diego and drove to Los Angeles with a few things on the agenda.

  The trip to LA went smoothly.  Gilli performed wonderfully, as she always does and I even maintained an average speed of about 58mph all the way there.  I do love driving this beast - sitting so high off the ground and moving so slowly I was able to spot numerous interesting things that I have missed during all the other hundreds of times I have driven up I-5.  I am very excited to continue the journey up 101 and enjoy the mellow pace of The Photo Palace Bus as I dip into the redwoods, but more about that after it happens.

  First stop was a private residence in Redondo Beach.  There I picked up a Majestic Tripod for an artist friend of mine.  He asked for me to find 3 of these beasts for his installation project involving photographic equipment.  These tripods are pretty hard to find, but I was able to complete this task and this purchase completed the set.  In return for the tripods I am looking forward to receiving a wonderful 8x10 Kodak 2D camera with all the fixings.  I already have one of those cameras, but this one will serve as a good back-up and it also has a period lens that I am going to use to create wet plate collodion portraits and other images.  It's just not the same working on a 100+ year old camera with a modern lens...  just doesn't feel right.  I'll post a picture of that camera when I pick it up in the Bay Area in a couple of days.

  Then I made a stop at Allan Barnes' studio just south of downtown LA.  He was ever so kind as to provide me with one of the chemicals needed for wet plate and I am hugely thankful for that.  He was actually working with the same pair of students that I met during the time I saw him for the interview which you can read in full HERE.  The two lovely ladies were once again sharpening their collodion skills using their extremely photogenic daughters as models.  The plates they were coming up with this time looked a lot more technically polished and I could totally see the improvement.  The whole gang also took a quick tour of The Bus and all seemed to have enjoyed it.  I didn't want to hold them up for too long plus I was very excited about my last stop, so the visit only lasted a mere half an hour or so and I was off again.

  My third and last stop was in Hollywood at one of my favorite places on the West Coast - Freestyle Photographic Supplies right off Sunset Blvd and within view of the famous Hollywood sign on the hill.  Gilli finally made it to this mecca and we even found a front row parking spot in their lot.

  For those of you who don't know about Freestyle I would like to say that they are the premier supplier of all things that have to do with analog photography and more.  Whatever you need - there it is.  Most people I know order their products online.  As I am based in San Diego I have a pleasure of stopping by there in person, browsing the isles, looking at sample prints, picking through the clearance rack and just breathing in the tradition.  They have wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable staff and it's always fun and educational to pick their brains.  Here are some images of this wonderful shrine of tradition to give you a sense of its scope.

 As you can see the store contains a plethora of chemistry, papers, equipment and finishing products.  I highly recommend making a stop there during your next time in LA - it's a definite photo-vacation destination.  
  However the purpose of my trip there today was not simply browsing and purchasing their products, but a visit with Eric Joseph who is Freestyle's Senior Vice President and is in charge of Merchandising and Product Development.  Upon a suggestion from Steve Anchell (more about whom I will be writing later) Mr. Joseph was nice enough to make an appointment with me knowing The Photo Palace Bus will be passing by.  We had a wonderful chat that lasted over an hour and I must admit I am more impressed with Freestyle than I ever was, not to mention being completely being taken aback by the level of approachability and kindness exhibited by Mr.  Joseph (he did make a special trip to the store to meet with yours truly as he doesn't normally come in on Saturdays).  I must admit that the talk we had was heavily skewed toward him talking and me listening - that is only normal during a meeting of a giant and an aspiring artist such as myself and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.  

  First thing that I saw when I walked into the conference room was a pile immaculate of inkjet prints strewed about the large table.  Freestyle is not adverse to the digital medium and I can't blame them for that.  What is commendable though is that they try to educate photographers old and young about the importance of PRINT QUALITY.  Let me expand on this just a bit.  
  How many photographers these days will spend a week, a month, a year shooting without EVER printing out ANY of their images?  They will share those images on Facebook, post them to Instagram and Tweet them for the whole world to see.  They never commit the image to a real tangible print.  They also don't control what screen those images are being seen and the impact that is lost while looking at a photograph, however beautiful its potential may be, on a poorly calibrated or low resolution monitor.  How many times have we walked into a gallery with a group (or god forbid solo) photography show and have seen prints that made us cringe?  The blacks are all over the place, tones are off...  Curators today select images for exhibitions by looking at them on computer screens at uniform resolution and file size.  Having selected an interesting image they ask the artist to send a print - what they don't know though is that that 'artist' is going to go to Kinkos or Wallmart and send their file though some awful machine to be printed on the cheapest glossy paper and when it gets hung on the wall it screams amateurism.  Therefore Freestyle under the leadership of Eric Joseph have developed an educational program to remedy that.  He travels around the country with a portfolio of 140 prints on every paper available on the market from 8 different manufacturers.  He tells people how to calibrate their system for optimum output and how to select a proper paper for each image.  HERE is a link to all the educational programs offered by Freestyle among which you can find Mr. Joseph's seminars.

  Enough about digital though - that's really not what The Photo Palace Bus is about and my readers know that.  I was there because I respect Freestyle for sticking with film and keeping the darkroom world afloat.  A few years ago it seemed like the world of analog photography is on its way to be six feet under within our lifetime and that scared me personally.  I love the experiences of shooting film, being warmed by the knowledge of a latent image waiting to emerge in the development, going through the steps in the darkroom to bring it to life, caressing the paper in the developing tray (or sometimes struggling with a mural-sized sheet of wet fiber) and then looking at a final product knowing that I put some thought and effort in its creation.  That is why I built The Photo Palace Bus - to inspire and provide new souses of blood flow to the shrinking market of traditional photography.

  It seems that folks at Freestyle were on the same page with me when.  As Mr. Joseph explained to me, 12 years ago they made a conscious decision to stick with film and keep it alive by all means necessary.   They started making contracts with smaller fledgling companies around the world in order to keep them from going under like so many have in those days.   In the past I have heard some grumbles about Freestyle 'buying up all the stock' - now I understand the reality of the situation and know that that is the only way that those companies can still be kept alive.  The enormous effort that goes into coating photo sensitive materials is costly and that cost increases drastically when you have to resort to firing up the coating machine only once or twice a year.  The expenses of cleaning, calibration, chemistry and electricity become prohibitive when you have an uncertain market and what Freestyle is doing by sometimes buying the entire run of a certain film or paper is providing that market for a companies with limited distribution outlets.  Without Freestyle companies like ADOX would likely be a thing of the past long ago and we would be saying 'remember that great film?' rather than having a chance to buy that film from Freestyle.

  Not only that - Freestyle is working tirelessly on encouraging production of new materials by those same old manufacturers and I applaud them for it.  I must admit that the amount of information that was dispensed to me during the hour spent with Mr. Joseph was rather overwhelming as he is a true walking depository of knowledge and I am struggling to recall all of it, but let me give a little hint - watch out for something new coming out very soon by their house brand Arista.   I can not divulge more details at this point, but I'm excited, I know that much, and all the darkroom devotees should be too.  If you have not done so yet - sign up to receive their darkroom catalog by mail and keep your eyes open...  Oh yeah, and you might (or might not) see a mention about yours truly and The Photo Palace Bus on one of those catalogs in the near or distant future.  Be that as it may, those catalogs are just good to have on hand for then a fancy strikes you and you want to try a new paper, experiment in alternative processes, finally invest in a proper storage/filing system and for a number of other things related to your love of film.

  At the end of the day, among a few other wonderful folks who expressed interest in the giant yellow bus parked so prominently in front of Freestyle, I was also please to meet Michael Baker who brought out for me to marvel at some of his gorgeous 20x24in direct positive prints.  He uses a 12in lens and almost nothing else to capture these images.  He simply puts the lens on a tripod, creates a makeshift dark space by the use of black cloth, sets up his fabricated creations in front of the lens and exposes the sheet of paper, which I assume is somehow fastened to a wall in the darkened room.  Because he finds himself 'in the camera' along with that paper he is able to dodge and burn each print during the exposure and the results are quite stunning.  Also, due to the fact that there is no negative, each image is unique and that's always a nice quality in a piece of art. The direct positive fiber paper made by Harman technologies has an incredibly deep and rich black, which unfortunately does not at all show in this quick outdoor snapshot.  I highly recommend giving that paper a try - I loved it and still have 4-5 holders in the bus loaded with it right now.  Here is Michael and his work in less-than glorious representation.

  I left Freestyle Photo as they were closing up and Michael was kind enough to open the exit gate to a wider position so Gilli could fit through on her way out.   In about 3.5 hours I was in Santa Barbara, where I am writing this update from.  Now I am off to the relative comfort of The Photo Palace Bus to see exactly how cold it will get while sleeping in there in the winter.  Tomorrow there is an art walk event that happens here every Sunday along the picturesque shore of the Pacific Ocean and I will be parked prominently by it inviting all to come on board, see the history display and perhaps buy an image or two to replenish the gas fund.  
  Oh!  Almost forgot - here's a shot of my first fill-up of this trip.  $200 - bye-bye....

Anton Orlov

Sunday, February 10, 2013

West Coast Tour Announcement and More

  It's been a while since I posted anything, so it's time for an update.

  I have been swamped with responses to the two previous posts about found images from Russia and France.   The amount of emails and comments that were received has been simply astounding.  I am extremely happy to see these stories picking up news coverage all across the world and am very hopeful that some of the leads may materialize in publication of a book of Mr. Rahill's images and that would potentially pave the road for the coveted re-photographing tour of 2017.

Thank You For Your Support!

  I would like to express my deepest sense of gratitude to all the wonderful people who have contributed toward the indiegogo campaign that ended on Feb. 5th.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I couldn't do this without you all and I look forward to someday meeting You All on the road.  It's true that I didn't raise all I was shooting for, so how I am going to fund journey to the East Coast remains a mystery, but with your contributions I will definitely be able to go on the West Coast Tour. And speaking of that...

West Coast Tour Announcement!

  Next weekend I plan to set course northbound from San Diego CA with the aim or reaching Portland OR or even Seattle WA.  If you live along the West Coast drop me a line - I am more than happy to discuss any possible events that you may want to have Photo Palace hold in your community.  I am looking for art-minded spaces, art fairs and other venues that may want to hold a Magic Lantern Slide Show or have Gilli and me over to show the public the history exhibit, hold a Polaroid Portrait Party or any other event.  First stop will be Santa Barbara, so if you are there do indeed get in touch with me and Gilli and I would love to meet you.

  In the last few weeks I have been feverishly getting ready for the 2500mi journey that lays ahead.  I created a slew of new prints that I will be selling along the route to supplement the gas fund, put together a wonderful Magic Lantern Show, added a few images to the history through technique process and restocked Gilli with essential supplies, some new old cameras and Polaroid film for portraits.  The History of Photography Medium  exhibit is going to be better than ever.

  A little about the Magic Lantern Show.  This is going to be a great experience for all who see it.  I am extremely thankful for all the members of the Magic Lantern Society of US and Canada and The American Magic Lantern Theater who have contributed many fascinating slides on topics that were lacking in my personal collection.  Now I can say with certainty that the show that I will present to the public will be quite comprehensive, educational and very much fun.  The show will also feature select, spectacular and never before seen images by John Rahill - this will be a real treat, so do feel free to get in touch with me and book your show now.

  A super exciting event that I am very much looking forward to on this trip.  In Portland I am going to take a wet plate collodion photography workshop from Ray Bidegain.  I have been wanting to get into making my own tintypes and ambrotypes for quite some time now and I am happy to see this wish finally coming to fruition.  I have already constructed my dipping tanks, collected a few 4x5 and 8x10 holders and mounted a few vintage lenses on the cameras I will be using (because what is a vintage process without vintage equipment...).  This should be extreme fun for a photo nerd like myself. 
  Here's a great thing about wet-plate collodion.  Not only does the photographer working with this process gets to make his own light sensitive material from scratch, but it is The Original Instant Photography - images are ready in a few minutes after they are captured.  In fact there can be no other way with collodion as you can not let it dry and only have about 15 minutes from the time that you pour the plate to the time it must be developed.  That makes for a really fun, messy and demanding workflow to which I look forward to adjusting.  On top of that they are completely and utterly unique and are one of a kind.  I love that quality about them and I feel that this fact gives them a higher sense of validity as an object of art and a real artifact that can range through the extremes of durability (as in the case of tintypes) and fragility (as in the case of glass ambrotypes).  Both processes are difficult and demanding if one wants to achieve a perfectly clean images with a good range of tones and I wonder how long it will take me to master this ancient process.  I can't know that without trying though, so here I come wet plate photography!

  I look forward to being on the open road once again.  It's going to be cold, but I'm from Russia, so it'll remind me of the good old days of Moscow winters.  Next update will be made from north of Los Angeles.