Monday, 22 February 2010

Working with the Good and the Undoubted Great

A package arrived Friday from the Kathmandu lab of Kiran Chitraker.  I am working with Kiran on developing my negatives (LF) and have asked him to do some prints.  This is all a new experience for me on many fronts.  Historically I have always developed my own negatives.  I have never had a print made for me and never in large format (LF).  Well it a great learning experience for me.  When I met Simon Roberts last May he had just completed a week working with a printer who he reckoned was the best in the country.  He was blown away by the quality of his large format prints.  It got me thinking - how good would my LF prints look if someone with talent - at the top of their game - made me some prints.  In meeting Kiran, the former Royal photographer in Nepal, and seeing his work I felt inspired to continue working with him.

So the arrival of the prints, 8 of them, from my documentary work was a great moment.  It was also a revealing moment.  Because it showed me how he saw individual images.  What he did was print lighter than I have with my inkjet prints.  His transitions are more subtle as a consequence.  An inkjet print is also a different thing.  My blacks are different, more pronounced than his. More than anything however it interesting to see the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the Large Format camera.  To date I have mostly used the camera for landscape work in the mountains.  In Nepal I moved over into the documentary field and in a different sort of way found it more challenging.  Over the weekend I spent 2 days scanning 40 negatives.  And am still digesting what I have taken. The images paint a moody deep dynamic picture of Kathmandu.  Very dark yet because they are in black and white the feel more penetrating than my colour work.

More on this topic later but for now the image that Kiran printed best, but my scanned version.  With all the amazing detail that LF brings.  It could be a metaphor for Nepal.  An old crumbling monument with weeds growing out the cracks supporting this amazing bell.  Covered in graffiti. And a woman who held up her jacket to avoid being in the photograph.

All comments welcomed.


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