Chaff n’ wheat n’ pearls n’ swine n’ mixed metaphors n’ whatnot. AKA Editing

This isn’t really that attractive a topic to many people, but I really enjoy the process of editing. It could be because I have a gathering methodology of just wandering about and snaffling up whatever takes my fancy – I take a lot of really shite photos, every so often I stumble over a good one. Editing is also a bit like that, it’s an exploration.

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Ominous signpost with a crow – it’s a metaphor… Actually if you look carefully it’s a sign for the loo – must photoshop that some time.

So after a year or three I have some reason to go through a set of my files – So I’ll let you in on a little secret, I take a lot of different photos… No really, I shoot everything from Ultra large format through to micro formats, Digital, film, plastic cameras, infrared, scanners, I’d love to get my hands on a thermal camera. But in this case I’ll talk about mobile phone pics. I take a lot of these, it’s probably the camera type I use most often. I have a particular penchant for an app called Vignette – it’s a bit like having a holga in your pocket (I’m sure there’s a joke in that somewhere).

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It’s not always the ideal tool, but I pretty much always have my phone handy – the helicopter was shaking water off the cherries so as they could be picked and to stop the skins from splitting. Serious business. Cellphone shots of things in the distance often don’t work.

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Big things in the distance on the other hand. Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand – it’s acceptably pretty I guess.

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Random Raptors.

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And things which probably only amuse me – I love this sign Smile

Anyhow – Editing…

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I’m aware that these are film…

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and I was talking about cellphones…

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and there’s no segue from cellphones to film, but this is where my methodology comes from. I like to see prints.

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And clunk, back to cellphones – those ‘contact sheets’ on the wall go round three walls by the way & and you can see a second select on the floor where I can walk around on them and kick them about into different patterns – I need to move things and see patterns.

I also use video for the same thing – I make a video from stills and play it at five frames a second – which is just enough for me to gain an impression, but not long enough to ‘look’. It’s interesting how peoples brains work – these methods will be great for a few people, but for many more people they will not work at all, each person is different – you have to try things till something resonates.

Through these methods of selecting, and kicking things around into different patterns I make selections and suchlike – it’s a process of exploration as much as elimination – the irony is that the stand alone images which I really like seldom make it through this stage, they might be nice images, but the don’t play nice with others.

One day I’ll find a use for this image… My favorite chippie in the west end of Brisbane. (Georges).

 

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Bookages

A book I made as a test;

The cover looks a wee bit greener in real life.

Some of my photographic subjects (vandyke pics) piled to the side
Some cyanotypes – which are a headache to mount

Another. – Yup, the blue ones are taxidermied.

Vandykes of wee plastic animals.

Tempera print of a fishing lure.

And a gum print of a model tiger.

I made that as a test to see how people reacted to a particular set of ideas – and discovered that I’m on the right track, but with a few caveats – for one, people devalue regular binding, even hand made – probably because they can pick up something that looks (superficially – but who can see past that these days?) similar for a few dollars from a discount store.

Also how much hand can be visible, and what the aesthetics should look like – As a result I’ll go more towards something like this;

The spine looks like;

This was also a test, just using some ply I pulled out of a skip bin (dumpster) and some heavy glossy card stock I hadn’t found a use for yet – bound with linen thread.

The covers are ok, need a bit of sanding and some sort of treatment Shellac or wax/oil – the thread needs to be much thicker – perhaps embroidery thread, and I’ll probably move to using Hahnemuhle bamboo for the paper stock as it’s cheap, decent quality, and is conceptually in line with the recycled covers – final piece prolly won’t have ply covers, but we shall see..

I might be making some sketch books like this – prolly with laser etched covers. I feel a squirrel rampant coming on.

Contact Sheets and editing

This is more or less how the editing process works for me – it’s an abvreiviated version.
Step One – Film; I expose the film and develop it – I don’t bother to look at it at this time, and usually develop a dozen or so films at a time – it’s not one of my favorite tasks.
Step one – Digital; After capture the shots are put into dated folders so that I can retrieve them at will.
Step two – Film; I make a contact sheet of the whole film onto a sheet of 8×10 photo paper. I tend to do this for 20 – 25 sheets at a time
Step two – Digital; Skip to step three.
Step three – Film; When I have 50 or more contact sheets unedited I put them all up onto a pinboard (or this year staplegun them to my studio wall) – I then go through all of the shots that I don’t want seen at all and cross them out with black ink – then all of the ones that I can’t print due to copyright considerations, permission, or ethical considerations (these things can change) and put a cross on them with a red wax pencil (chinagraph). From here I go through and mark all of the frames that I think look good enough that I want a closer look with a white line (all with waxpencils) around the frames that I want.



Step three – Digital; I change the folder properties so that the icons for the images are larger, thus I can consider the images at a slightly larger scale – i use preview to look closer at marginal images. I then select the images that I want to see as prints and copy them to a new filder before returning the folder back to a normal status and filing the folder – from this point on I work with the new folder with the original folder backed up externally.
Step Four – Film; I then print all of the selected prints as 4×5 prints on black and white proof paper (RC silver paper), and then tape them together as concertina books – I don’t make a point of inspecting them at this stage.
Step Four – Digital; I then Go through the folders of selected files and photoshop them so that they make cohesive sets and are ready for printing (this is my least favorite part of working with digital images). I then print all of the selected prints using a digital printing service – usually for around 12 cents a print – I don’t make a point of inspecting them at this stage. I don’t make concertina books of these.

Step Five – Film; When I have several of these books I lay them out and go through them deciding what to label them as – the labels (apart from rejects are for each of the projects or subjects I’m currently keeping a file for – some images make it to more than one file)
Step Five – Digital; a good stack of these I lay them out and go through them deciding how to group them – the groups (apart from rejects) are for each of the projects or subjects I’m currently keeping a file for – some images make it to more than one file. I move them around in the folders for sorting and delete the rejects (this is why I work with copies).
Step Six – Film; I then break the books up and recreate them as selected subject books – I haven’t gotten to this stage yet in my current project
Step Six – Digital; These are now ready for final selection and being ready for printing.
Step Seven – Film; I then Go into the darkroom and go through the process of making exhibition prints – I tend to make one print as an AP (artist proof) so that I can see how to print the final image and then two final prints of which one will be presented.

It’s not so terribly exciting to see something like this laid out as a step by step process, in practice I find that neither digital nor film is cheaper to work with, and due to experience and a degree of procrastination I’m slightly quicker and more efficient getting silver exhibition prints done than digital exhibition prints.