A blog by Bradley Phillips

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well Here Goes

This is just a digital version until I can get the film developed. Unfortunately my old box of Type 55 is ruined and the images are fogged or I would have used that. That is what I get for trying to use a 5 year old box of Polaroids.

At first I wanted this to look as real as I could, but after reviewing the images the strings really gives the image a foundation of what I had to do to create this image. I have realized that with out that "hand" in photography images seem empty and hollow.

I'm am jealous of a painters ability to create anything they can imagine, because I would have to build it. However, that element of craftsmanship might be just what photography is missing. Not that it was ever non-existent but, simply never the focus.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coming Along

I have received most if not all of parts I need to shoot my next set of images. They are based on my son, and his imagination. My 4x5 came in the mail the other day and I could not be more excited. Things seem to be falling into place. I'm going out of town for a few weeks but I'm going to try and squeeze out a shot before I leave. I'll post my progress...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lothar Osterburg

Three or four years ago while teaching at SUU, Brian Hoover brought Lothar Osterburg in as a guest lecturer and gave me an oppourtunity to watch him make a photogravure print. The process is intense but the prints are unlike anything I have ever seen. Based out of Brooklyn, Lothar sculpts environments by hand, photographs them and prints them using a near hundred-year-old process. Henry Fox Talbot and Nicéphore Niépce grandfathered photogravure in the 1830's.

Lothars web site is a great resource to learn more about how to make a photogravure print. Also he commonly offers workshops on this almost lost art.

Monday, July 20, 2009

4x5 Resurrection

I have been thinking about my 4x5 a lot lately. I placed it in storage 2 years ago, and before that having only used it sparingly. I have a plethora of lovely film cameras that are just gathering dust anymore. I have come to the conclusion that my dependency on a digital process is debilitating.

When digital cameras were just getting to the point of "integrateable" into a workflow, many men and women of the lens would simply not have any of it. But as it became cheaper, better and faster, most came around to the dark side. Those were pretty tough benefits to argue with. No processing times, although I loved my lab and the guys who worked there - Color Services, I miss you, and you probably miss me or at least my money :) No scanning, this is where I should have bought a scanner instead of an DSLR, I had to go to my friend Tyler Matson's house to scan my negatives, despite the fact that it was usually at the least convenient times. Plus there was no dust retouching. (I was just never that clean to scan and not get any dust)

When I shoot any more I no longer rely on what I know as much as I use to. Why should I? I can just look at my LCD after every picture until its right. Just like every other I-just-got-a-camera-for-Christmas-I-can-be-a-professional-photographer-too. My light meter mind as well be buried with Ansel Adams, and who needs one when you have a histogram.

So, I called up my brother, had him dig out the camera -thanks btw. It is now on its way to my house. Now all I need to do is dig up my old B&W processing stuff, and buy a scanner.

A little food for thought, a $2,700 Canon 5D Mark II has 21.1 megapixel CMOS censor. A $2,200 Nikon CoolScan 9000 can scan 35mm and 120/220 films at 4000 dpi. Which means a 35mm negative scanned at 4000 dpi would translate into a 21.4 megapixel camera. (36mm x 24mm @ 4000 dpi = 5669 px X 3780 px) And if you were to scan a 6x6cm 120 negative, that’s the equivalent of an 89.2 megapixel camera. So break out your Hasselblad and buy a scanner, and rub your 89 megapixels into every DSLR owner’s faces.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Where I want to be

My inner eye, as of late, is continually conjuring up images with a certain timeless prose and mechanical sub plot. As I sketch out my thoughts, I feel the images should be somewhere between painter Brian Hoover's Fantastic Hat series and the work of photographer Rodney Smith.

Brian's series are striking and have such a wonderful depth to them. Aside from his impeccable technique, the design, the detail and compositional structure are paramount features of the series. Features that pop into my mind as I sketch. As Far as Mr. Smith goes, his images take on the face of a frozen period between industrial revolution and "The Great Gatsby".

As I further delved into the black abyss that is my artistic muse, I remembered while interviewing a girl for a professor of photography position, she mentioned the influence of on her work by the artists Robert and Shana Parkeharrison. Robert and Shana build a world much like Brian and Rodney do but they add a element of earth, and a sort of carnal desire to be apart of it.

The Parkeharrison's work is corollary to everything I have been building on paper, except mine would supersede their element of earth and replace it with a mechanical or steam-punk like tone.

The more I think about these ideas I become more and more terrified of what I have laid out on paper and the impossible task ahead of me. Damn you afflatus!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sam Milianta

Today I was thinking about a good friend of mine Sam Milianta -we went to high school together. I was going through his online gallery on Flickr.com and love his style of photography. Its raw and fresh, and inspiring. His photographs make me want to take more pictures, and be a better photographer. Also, he is a hardcore film advocate. Check out the new ink on his arm, proof that film will never die. Shooting should be fun, and Sam's images reinforce it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I stumbled across this time-lapse video made by Matthew Wartman. He lives just across the boarder in Ontario, Canada. Its always nice to see work from artist in your area. Its a Neat little clip shot during the night at Niagara Falls. The cool thing about Time-Lapse photography is that you can get the quality of your lenses and resolution of your digital camera. Here is a little how-to I found on the topic at photojojo.com

To watch the movie on Vimo click HERE.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just a little quote...

"Art is life, it in fact has to be. All of life. The awareness, the beauty, the ability to give to the viewer something which makes their life more what it is, more what it could be. Its a clue to everything."
-Richard Tuttle

Monday, July 13, 2009

Losing Sleep

A former student of mine from SUU -Scott Chandler, recently accepted to the MFA program at SCAD- Came up with an interesting process for shooting abstract-like images. To be brutally honest his first images were not terribly promising and he was keeping his process hush-hush, and I happily respected it. He calls the process "Photo Cubism".

Now what brings up the topic is that its done in-camera, that is to say not in Photoshop, which really deserves a note of accolade considering the ingenuity and creativity required to come up with something all by ones self. And Photoshop effects typically tend to have an adverse affect on me, with the exception of work produced a very small group of people (another topic in and of it self). Despite my distaste for the effect, because effects are often trivial and non-ground breaking, It began to eat at me as to how it was done. Photographers by nature are problem solvers and this was no exception.

Being a cheat I took one of his images and opened it in an EXIF program to read his cameras embedded data, but to my dismay the clever dog had deleted the information. After thinking about it for a long time, and loosing a night’s sleep, it hit me how it was done. In respect for him I will not explain it here. However I do believe the process has much more potential then I had initially credited it. His images now have become much more articulate through the effect with a much greater impact. Kudos’ to you Scott.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Michael Kenna

I just found out that Michael Kenna is having a show here in the States. The Charles A. Hartman Fine Arts Gallery is hosting the exhibit. If you live in the northwest region I would not miss this opportunity to see the work of one of today's finest black and white traditionalist. The show is running through this month so there is still time.

Michael's work is has a consuming presence despite the majority of his images being 8 inches square. In fact the size of the image pulls you into an intimate experience with the piece. Many of his images are long exposures and while attending one of his presentations he said he has in the past left his camera to go read a book until the exposure is finished. His use of graphic compositions and tranquil locations makes this world seem vastly more interesting then it is. More likely, we might just need to slow down to see the silent allure.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


My 4-year-old son has been having horrible dreams lately. Every night for the last month or two he has, at some point, crawled into bed with us. More recently he has needed someone in the room with him as he falls asleep. To most this may seem taxing, however after hearing him articulate his nightmares my wife and I have decided to allow him our company until his subconscious settles.

So it’s not surprising that during his bath he built this monster (pictured above). I imagine he was not conscious of what he was building or the significance of it. How sad it is that during playtime these images manifest themselves.

Baudrillard contended that our absence of distinction between simulacra and reality presents a perceived reality. My son's perceived reality is as terrifying as the one that haunts him at night. The line between his imagination and actual life have been blurred, and I believe only he can rectify his reality.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Type 55

Does anyone remember Polaroid Type 55? It was a black and white 4x5 film camera Polaroid that contained a negative. -Pretty fun stuff- It was one of my favorite while in school to use. It has sense been eradicated from production and has been increasingly difficult to find.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much digital photography has removed the "hand" in photography. The control, manipulation and creativity that using a view camera forces you to incorporate has all but disappeared. When I think back to the last time I used mine, I become cognizant of how much slower and deliberate my work was. How emphatic the process was in comparison to now.

I would liken it unto Luthier, who painstakingly carves and assembles an instrument from wood that had been hand chosen and finished to a company who can design an instrument on a computer based on math and formula. The latter would never truly grasp the purpose of each curve and line as the Luther would.

Anymore, in the end all that matters is the end result. I believe that it is because of the accessibility of digital cameras that photography as an artistic medium is less admissible.

The Image above is one I took with said Type 55. I would take the film and remove the backing and chemicals and close the paper enclosing back onto the image. After it would dry I would peel it apart again, and the papers would stick and give it the texture you see. (Old expired Type 55 now can cost up to $100 for 20 sheets!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz, as cliché as it may sound, is solely responsible for my foray into modern/contemporary photography. Many find him to be self-centered, but the quality of his work more the makes up for it. His perspectives on subject matter and use of photography solely as device of delivery, for art that cannot transcend into a presentable form, rekindle my love for the arts and photography in general. -Although that is not the point- More or less it is about the combination of the creation and documentation that only together make his work viable. Also he carries a level of humor and fun that I find myself attracted to.

His most recent exhibition was at the Whitney Museum of American Art titled "Why Does Art Matter Now?

His book "Reflex: A Vik Muniz Primer" is definitely worth a read.

Please leave your comments and thoughts.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang's work is so potent it is difficult to forget. I'm still geeking out about it since I first saw his "I want to believe" -exhibited at the Guggenheim- His use of gunpowder as a medium is brilliant. It provides a sense of chaos in the outcome. There is something about the way he implicitly describes the action and chaos that forces the viewer to absorb the experience of simply viewing or inspecting the work. And watching him "perform" or create one of these pieces makes them that much more enjoyable.

This link redirects to a short video of his process

Please leave your comments and thoughts.