If you didn’t catch on from my end-of-semester update a few months ago, I’ve returned to phtographing industrial landscapes this year. The reasons for this are simple, really. I have always been attracted to the oft-overlooked and much maligned structures that allow us to live the way we do. It has been a real treat for me to spend so much time in and around cargo and air ports, oil refineries, and chemical treatment plants. While waiting for the right light (and most of my time is spent waiting), I like to scrutinise the various systems and machinery, trying to discern – with my limited knowledge of industrial engineering – what it is that they do, and why.
I am shooting on a Toyo View 4×5″ large format camera on FujiChrome Provia slide film. This medium yields some technically spectacular results in terms of detail and colour reproduction. It is a slow process, largely because there are many ways in which you can make mistakes. The film must be loaded manually in complete darkness, and the camera itself requires a great deal of attention in setting it up for a shot. (One can rotate and move the lens and back plate each in five ways.) You do get faster at it with practice, but I’m enjoying the fact that there’s no way I can take more than three or four shots on any particular outing. (Often I’ll just shoot two in an afternoon.) This is a huge leap from the Hasselblad 6×6cm medium format, which allows you 12 frames per roll, and an uninterrupted view of what you’re shooting before pressing the shutter. (To take a shot on the Toyo you must load the film, which then obscures the ground glass that is your “viewfinder”.) All this makes you put a lot more thought into each shot.
This semester I will complete my major studies in Photomedia, which means I will be part of the COFA Annual art exhibition. For the show (and for my assessment), I will be having two or three of my photographs printed as Duratrans and mounted in custom-built light boxes. This is like those ads that you see in bus shelters, except printed at much higher quality (and hopefully not defaced by graffiti). Today I sent the above photo to the printers, and commissioned a signmaker to build the lightbox. With luck they will be ready by next Wednesday. I’m both excited and anxious to see how it all turns out.
The COFA Annual opens on Wednesday the 26th of November, and will only be open for four days (closing in the afternoon on Sunday the 30th). This is because COFA is being drastically redeveloped over the summer and most of next year. I have a lot more to say about this (traditionally the show is open for several weeks), but I will save it until I have time to write a fair account of my experience at art school. If you are in Sydney during this time then I encourage you to come down to Paddington to see the show.