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Film: Garradunga Hotel, Front Bar.

Garradunga Hotel, Front Bar​

Gelatin-silver photograph on Freestyle Private Reserve VC FB photographic paper, image size 16.4cm X 21.4cm, from a 67 format Tmax 400 rollfilm negative exposed in a Mamiya RB67 single lens reflex camera fitted with a 37mm f4.5 fisheye lens.

The Garradunga Hotel is an isolated building surrounded by thousands of hectares of sugar cane fields in the hot tropics of Far North Queensland, Australia. In more than a hundred years it has slaked the thirst of bands of cane cutters blackened by the harvest of burnt cane. It has been a haven for railway passengers stranded for days or weeks by wet season flood waters over the tracks. The Kanakas, indentured labourers from the pacific islands, virtual slaves, have come and gone at Garradunga.

The old pub is under new management, the steak sandwiches are filling, the beer is cold. And yes, atop the cold drinks cabinet at the right is a crocodile head.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Garradunga Hotel, Front Bar​

Gelatin-silver photograph on Freestyle Private Reserve VC FB photographic paper, image size 16.4cm X 21.4cm, from a 67 format Tmax 400 rollfilm negative exposed in a Mamiya RB67 single lens reflex camera fitted with a 37mm f4.5 fisheye lens.

The Garradunga Hotel is an isolated building surrounded by thousands of hectares of sugar cane fields in the hot tropics of Far North Queensland, Australia. In more than a hundred years it has slaked the thirst of bands of cane cutters blackened by the harvest of burnt cane. It has been a haven for railway passengers stranded for days or weeks by wet season flood waters over the tracks. The Kanakas, indentured labourers from the pacific islands, virtual slaves, have come and gone at Garradunga.

The old pub is under new management, the steak sandwiches are filling, the beer is cold. And yes, atop the cold drinks cabinet at the right is a crocodile head.

Who would have predicted that a fisheye would ace this scene so admirably. What's amazing is the lack of distortion. Remember that we can safely assume that no digital intervention came between the genuine film process to the appearance of this picture as is, on photographic paper, appearing out of nothing in the tray under the developer. I'd doubt that most folk would immediately note the extra details here like the person in the doorway at the right to sufficiently satisfy our gaze but send us, doe some unknown reason back to the center again. The only hint of a circular formation is at the very edges where door frames have a gentle indentation.

I have admiration for this and wonder whether part of the success isn't just slowing down and taking each shot seriously. There's much more at stake when with a simple roll of film! It actually uses up materials and so everything assumes importance.

so the result is a wonderful image of a bar, taken from a perspective that gives a sense of openness and camaraderie. I'd like this repeated with a packed bar!!

Asher
 

George Holroyd

New member
Remember that we can safely assume that no digital intervention came between the genuine film process to the appearance of this picture as is, on photographic paper, appearing out of nothing in the tray under the developer.
Umm, we're looking at a scanned JPEG on a computer monitor. That is, unless you happened to be staring at the print itself when you wrote your post. But your statement implies that this lovely image, and it is a great shot, would somehow be "less-than" had it been created by digital means. Is it necessary to elevate process above content here?
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Umm, we're looking at a scanned JPEG on a computer monitor. That is, unless you happened to be staring at the print itself when you wrote your post. But your statement implies that this lovely image, and it is a great shot, would somehow be "less-than" had it been created by digital means. Is it necessary to elevate process above content here?
George,

Of course you know what film does, but allow me, for others, to state in long form why I'm so much in awe of the film photographer who actually does everything him/herself.

The direct reaction of photons with the silver salt inside a layer of gelatin gives a direct negative of the image. It requires no digital intervention for the analog representation of the incident light intensities to be discovered. Simply placing this film on the similarly sensitized paper, and re-exposing tho light, makes a series of corresponding inversely distributed silver grains embedded in the media, not just on it. Also this is the way that the pioneers of photography developed the art.

Of course, the modern digital camera can do wonders. However it does not force the photographer to be as contemplative in most instances. So use of film means a way of thinking and working that has the utmost respect for intent, need and end use. So it's not surprising that, in the end, there might be qualitative and stylistic differences dependent on the medium.

I know, for myself, at least, that in using 8x10 film, I scout the area more carefully, snap countless digital pictures of the compositions that compete for attention. Then follows time setting up the camera and choosing what's in the picture and from what height of camera and angle. With my digital cameras, most often, I'd be done in a few moments. The advantage for digital are the immediate translations of impulse. Now with 35 mm film cameras, photographers were able to frame fast and then capture fleeting moments. Still, the number of shots was limited, in general to 36. That still meant thinking more about the selection of when not to snap away.

So, yes, I do believe the medium and large format can make the most impressive images. Simply put, as one goes larger with film, the investment in the cost of the medium and its processing dictates the most care in choosing one's subject and whether one is ready to use up the film at that instant. Richard Learoyd's work with 8 foot high direct to film prints, for example, are the end result of the most careful decision making that hardly ever would be found with digital photography. Also, of course, the approachability of the prints with truth blended with reality, is hard to reproduce. As in real life, one can stare for 10 inches and the person in the portrait still is alive!

Add to that my respect and appreciation for the craftsmanship of those who do all this work themselves, I end up being grateful every time I see a picture that a darkroom photographer has shared with us.

My work, by necessity, is mostly digital. I'm trying my best to balance that with film, but really I'm a pretender. Maris is the real thing!

Asher
 
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George Holroyd

New member
Asher,

Thank you for the well-articulated response. My question was somewhat provocative and perhaps a reaction to what I've perceived as a bias toward film in the manufacture of art photography. Many photographers have made a conscious decision to utilize digital technology, in varying degrees. There are currently a number of artists recording images on film only to scan their negatives and make pigment prints. Others still, are using a 100% digital workflow. I would offer that it is the result that matters, not the method. Lest we become too wrapped up in the particulars to see the art. A wet plate print of someone's cat would still be a picture of someone's cat. There simply wouldn't be any more value inherent to that particular photograph (for me) than there would be if the photographer had snapped the same picture on his/her iPhone and run the file through an Instagram filter.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Asher,

Thank you for the well-articulated response.
Appreciate that! I would normally be averse to discussing film v. digital in anyone else's thread, but I know that Maris has a special devotion to film and therefore it's valid to dwell on the differences.

My question was somewhat provocative and perhaps a reaction to what I've perceived as a bias toward film in the manufacture of art photography.
It's a respect for the craft as well! folk like to think that the artist's fingerprints were there at the onset and until the print was made. My own view is digital has the potential of being another great art form in itself. It's a pity that most folk want to merely use it as a replacement for film. When it's used as just another way of making pictures that seem to be silver gelatin pictures, then we miss out. Such decisions, based on economics of time and workflow work for weddings and catalogs. After all, we can get pretty close to the look of film with digital. But for art, where we want it to look at great as film, why not try to use the genuine article sometimes?

Digital can and should, IMHO, be using the unusual advantages of that medium to expand the horizons of art itself. To merely reproduce a picture that looks like a silver gelatin print is fine for many uses but really doesn't push any boundaries!

I would offer that it is the result that matters, not the method. Lest we become too wrapped up in the particulars to see the art.
Agreed! In fact, I find the iPhone a lot of fun in snapping pictures. It has immediacy like mints and gummy bears!

Asher
 

Mark Hampton

New member
Maris,

i dont care how it was done - i like it !

that don't matter i ken.

come over to Perth (in Scotland) and you can join my Perth Works shop - this fall - we have more pubs with two doors (over here you have to enter through one and leave through the other door - a double must be drunk)- for you i could go down to £1,200 for 5 days.

cheers !
 
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