Category Archives: technical

Disappeared and back again

Toy camera fans, did you hear the news? The Holga is back.

One of the first posts on this blog, seven years ago, was about a roll of Kodachrome. As Kodak was discontinuing the production of its legendary film, the last lab capable of developing its unique process was ending its work, too. So I caught the chance and shot one roll of Kodachrome myself.

That last roll was actually also my first. While for most everyone else the pull of the film was nostalgia, for me it was something I could only define as second-hand nostalgia. I didn’t have access to Kodachrome while growing up, of course, but experienced its allure as part of the allure of the American dream – yet when I was able to access it, the dream had changed. Continue reading

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The Afghan Girl and what does photoshop – and the Impressionists – have to do with it?

national-geographic-100-best-pictures-coverYou already know this photo – it is the legendary portrait titled “Afghan Girl” that appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 and then went on to become one of the most iconic pictures of all times. No wonder: the resolute gaze of the girl, in such dire circumstances, the unusual color of her eyes are indeed striking. What is also impactful but less  consciously recognizable is the color contrast of the saturated green and red that appeal subconsciously. And if you are a photography enthusiast, you also know the name of the photographer, Steve McCurry, popularly famous for shooting the last roll of Kodachrome ever produced, too. He was given that honor by Kodak because that film, noted for its exceptional saturated colors, was his signature film.  And you perhaps know that his signature style was striking human figures (most often shot in third-world countries) in traditional environments in saturated colors. Continue reading

Humble and archival in photography

beachcyanotype.jpg

Beach cyanotype. Hung home style

Rascuache (or, in its Americanized version, rasquachismo) is a Mexican term for reuse and repurpose of things. It is a strategy for everyday life typical for the poor masses as well as a mark of resourcefulness for people in general everywhere. But in the last decades rascuache is also an artistic term meaning the use of humble materials and unexpected sources of supplies – like plastic for drawing, discarded metal parts for sculpture and others. That may sound like the usual found-object crafts that we often see in gift shops and  at artfests today but actually originate from the revolutionary practices of Chicano movement artists in the 60s. They used it not because it was cool but to make a political point and insert themselves in a process that was seen as the privilege of higher classes. Continue reading

Photo transfer bits and pieces

phototransferDo you have a favored way to learn making new things? Like trial and error? If you overcome the fear of wasting a lot of materials as you learn, that’s one of the best ways. If.  Yet, if you decide to use cheap materials, just to obviate that fear, you may not get good results  and so be discouraged and abandon the whole project. But still. As I always like to say, I learned photography because of digital formats so I didn’t have to worry about wasted pixels.

Here is something new that I taught myself over a period of three years maybe. Continue reading

Mordançage, or the gentle beauty of the tortured print

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©Ellie Ivanova

As the New Texas Talent exhibition at Craighead-Green Gallery in Dallas is drawing to an end, I realize that I haven’t talked about my new work in the show. The images are done in an arduous process that took months to research and produce that it now deserves to be told about. It’s a process that makes for unique prints that also fits so well in the broader direction I’ve been following in the past couple of years. See some examples above. Continue reading

Hand-colored photographs

©Ellie Ivanova. Watercolor on a vandyke  print

©Ellie Ivanova. Watercolor on a vandyke print

I’ve been playing with the idea of hand-coloring photographs for quite some time. But it has been mainly daydreaming about it, researching it, being fascinated with it, without actually doing it.  Somehow I’ve been looking to discover the real reason I want to hand-color; to give shape to my ideology of hand-coloring first of all. Or maybe I’ve been afraid to ruin the prints 🙂

Before the advent of color film, hand-coloring served the purpose of adding color to black & white images. It was meant to restore reality where it was still technically lacking. And as happens with all photography tools, when technology finally catched up with a possibility, people embraced it for all the practical purposes but also disregarded it f0r art’s sake. Since the 50s, hand-painting on monochrome images has been happening for different reasons, mainly to alter the original color, to make a statement, or to embrace the aesthetics of times past.

Here are some approaches to hand-painting that have fascinated me the most: Continue reading

Photography as Printmaking

photolinocut

©Ellie Ivanova. Leaning on a Weak Argument. Silver gelatin print and linocut, 2012 and 2013. Click on image to view it large

Franco Vaccari says that photography is an unconscious act: the technology largely eliminates the necessity of an author with his/her artistic will and hand.  And I bet every photographer hears at least once a day the lamentation that photography can’t really be considered an art, since cameras nowadays do all the work.

So I took the chance to see how my photographs would work if they were prints as a blessing. Prints as in printmaking, made not from negatives taken by a camera, but through the hard labor of your hand. I was curious what my pictures would look like in that form, but first of all, if they would really feel like my own.  And I’d have to say it’s been a very illuminating experience. Continue reading