October 29, 2013

Velvet Hand and a Hawk's Eye

Elizabeth Reimer, the woman who birthed my mother's father. Here she stands in what I presume to be a Southern Manitoba field for a portrait beside a seated man my Grandpa Syd couldn't name when asked. Was the photographer my Great-Grandfather? Most likely. Who is the seated man in his work clothes? Was she ill then? Was the photographer shooting with a collapsible waistview camera? Was it a snappy new Kodak of the early 19th century? Or was it a Voigtlander from the old country? Lord knows. I love the mystery of history. The negative format from which the photograph above was printed is smaller than 4X5 sheet film but larger than 220 roll film. With this said, those in the know will curse my cropped butchery above! I was simply too impatient for the rare and beautiful glimpse at family history to wait for an affordable 4X5 enlarger to do it justice! In good time. For now, a look nonetheless.

Turning negatives into positives is the calling, no turning back now. There is much to learn and improve upon within my personal darkroom practice. When I observe Craig or Chris print their own work, my own areas of weakness jump out as I rifle through stacks of recently printed photo work. Not good enough. I know both men will read this and note that there is no printed sky detail in the photograph above. The home scan does no favors to print work. Where are the clouds? They are there, layers of tones deep within those silver grains just waiting to be given a little more attention than the heavy-handed exposure of those furrowed brows. Too dark, there is so much detail waiting to shine under there. What could be improved Margot? Dogde, burn, balance.

Looking at my Great-Grandmother for the first time through the lupe in the darkroom was extraordinary. Goosebumps in an instant. I have seen photos of her in the past but never in such an intimate way. Nice to meet you Great-Grandma. That brow. She was very fashionable in her day. Or perhaps people had more time to be thoughtful in their dress then. Slow style.

One hundred and some year old grain finding! Tricky as hell. Very fine grain, nothing like the grain of modern roll film I am used to in this day and age. When my Grandpa slid that box collection of his father's personal negatives across the table, I was overcome with gratitude and understanding. It was as if he handed over my life's work in a single gesture. I said it, now it must be. Preservation of photographic history is an age old trade I am proud to commit to. A beautiful series of photographs to spell out the story of my ancestors to come.

Dear Universe, I am now on the hunt for a 4X5 enlarger. Whatever I need to do to get there, I will happily comply. 

UPDATE: I am terribly pleased to report that the Universe delivered and I am now the proud owner of a Beseler 45 MX motorized enlarger. It's snappy and in a hell of a lot better shape than my antique Omega operation! Bottom line, I can move forward with this personal Ode to PJB project with a vengeance! Life is neat.

October 23, 2013

Greenhaus Dance

Here lie a handful of scanned-as-they-come 5x5" snapshots printed at home. This is a collection of moments I felt free to capture as a guest at Sam & Tristan's beautiful wedding in the countryside. Congratulations Bo & Fast!

Kiev 60 / Tmax 400

October 18, 2013

Monza Babe

Favorite scarf does the trick. Montreal/ 2011

Dear Marj, I felt your spirit all around me this evening in a room full of people from all walks of life. There was a small powwow around a large drum, strong rhythm and unexpected beauty in the rise of five male voices, strawberries dipped in chocolate, red wine, a circuit of art, loads of characters, and strong photography of a great project documented and hand-printed by Chris. I was cameraless, but shooting all the while. One of those nights. You would have been proud. You were proud, fiercely so. I felt it within and all around me physically as the first piercing call filled that basement on St. Matthews. I was seated beside a woman from the Winnipeg Arts Council and when she asked who I was I felt starstruck without knowing who she was or how to answer. Eee boy. Those beautiful crumpling moments always remind me to push harder for what I know I am capable of deep down. She got away before I could corner her, but I left on Craig's arm feeling strong and inspired. I heard myself say to another woman this evening that I do my best work in the summertime. What a load of horseshit! Straight from the horses mouth! I do great work when I feel like it, therein lies the rub. To stuff this theory right back where it came from I got down to work on a new stencil. The moon is (near) full. With the energy gathered from the evening, I ceremoniously sharpened my favorite pencils (Ralph Lauren included, Chanel) with a real deal carbon blade and got to work setting up the Monza Babe in the empty half of my house. Her hot ass has been lying around for too long. Time to get moving Sister. I live alone these days. Lisa has left with the warm winds and them geese and while I miss her laughter ringing through the house, the quiet is appreciated. It suits the season and it suits me just fine. Birth of Winter, hi ho hi ho. Autumn has been slow and gentle this time 'round. Deliberate moves have been made to slow down all modes and in this transition I am noticing much more. The mighty river for one. Leaves and their patterns. This old neighborhood. Light. Darkness. The lot of it. Adios lost woman in the heavy coat and that eye in the sky too, how I would have loved to stroll arm in arm with you through a parking lot this evening discussing all that we witnessed. Proud photographers in an interesting room.

Three sisters and a wino. Winnipeg/ 2010
Hints of Chanel's love of fabric. Montreal/ 2010
Kalman for dinner. Winnipeg/ 2010
Baby's first stencil. Winnipeg/ 2007
Fall sip. Montreal/ 2008
Liza letters. Winnipeg/ 2013
Lo's OUI. Montreal/ 2008
A collection of fine things. Montreal/ 2011
Trosky's lamp alight. Winnipeg/ 2009

October 7, 2013

Hat Trick

A real character named Kip. Elie, Manitoba/ September 2013
A real character named Jan. Elie, Manitoba/ September 2013
Richard Gere owned that hat before Jan wore it home. 

October 6, 2013

Mabes & Sades

Meet Mabel. This is my first shot of her. Winnipeg/ October 2013.
Meet Sadie. First shot of her. Here she is trying to wrap her head around my explanation of "shooting film".

*Photos shot on expired Ilford Super XP2 film processed as C41. That is some wacky film! My first go with it; not to mention the camera these were shot with: a new-to-me Canon EOS 3 with 50mm 1:1.8 lens. Canon! Feels like a swear to admit. I have always been a Nikon woman! These came out nice (for a vanilla lens). Not bad for three dollars to process!

October 5, 2013


What to choose, what to choose? SW Manitoba 2012/ Fujichrome slide film.

October 3, 2013

Fuel for Life

Meet Mark Caird, a man with a soft spot for vintage bikes. He is a real character I met in a back lane in Minneapolis, MN mid September. He lured me into his garage workshop and promptly gave me a cold one. I cracked it, guzzled appreciatively and asked if I could shoot his motorbike portrait. He kindly obliged and set himself up for his portrait with his beloved 70's Shovelhead. I love when subjects take control and all I have to do is frame up the magic. When I was through with the flash, he searched high and low for a sharpie so he could sign the back of that metal sign pictured in the last shot just for me. I gave him my last Get Our Guns Go to the Mountain Take Over the State print for a fair trade. We shook on our newfound friendship, drank more beer and Mark repeated "hair of the dog Meg, hair of the dog" as I took in the details of his space. So many black shades to choose from.

It was not yet ten in the morning.

Hair of the dog.
Fuel for life.

Amen bud.

October 2, 2013

Steal away to the Creek

Craig and I had the pleasure of shooting the wedding of Justin and Britt alongside one another. The bride's godmother Bonnie did all the floral work and her bouquets were fine art. While we were shooting primarily in contrast 35 and 120 film, I couldn't resist to shoot a few rolls of color. The colors on September 7, 2013 were coming on strong. With a pair of beauties at the forefront of it all! Their love, like the light of day kept coming on strong and it was such a special day in which to participate. Wedding shooting is fun/ exhausting/ intense/ disciplined. Every one is dolled and wide open. Fair game for portraits! I have known Justin for a long, long time. He is dear and good. I met Britt years ago through the Bread and Circuses circus. She is a strong woman and I admire her.  Her one request was that she be photographed in her coop with her rooster and hens at some point in the day. My kind of wedding.