Robert Mann Photography: Blog en-us (C) Robert Mann Photography (Robert Mann Photography) Mon, 01 Jun 2015 09:46:00 GMT Mon, 01 Jun 2015 09:46:00 GMT Robert Mann Photography: Blog 110 120 Buffalo and the Erie Canal Just spent a few weeks in May photographing along the Erie Canal and Buffalo waterfront.  The Erie Canal (now called the NY State Canal System) is functioning mostly using 100+ year old equipment.  The lock masters have the job of keeping the facilities they supervise in working condition, and they do an excellent job.  The level of polish on old brass, and the general appearance of the control rooms for the locks is amazing.  As part of a group led by Tillman Crane, we were given access to the canal system and were able to photograph the behind the scenes workings of the locks.  


Also, I spent some time visiting the area of the Buffalo waterfront known as "Silo City " - this is where lake freighters unloaded midwestern grain for storage while waiting to be transferred to barges on the Erie Canal, or to be stored until processed.  It is a large complex of grain elevators and warehouses, most of which are now abandoned.  They are in an amazing state of decay and disrepair!  I find old industrial settings to be full of surprising images and exposed a large amount of film.  Also, I have the privilege of gaining access to the City of Buffalo's water pumping station.  Beautiful old building where new modern pumps are next to the old cast iron 100+ year old pumping equipment.  The city has decided to keep the old equipment intact even though it is no longer used for pumping.  Again, I found the variety of images to be found in this industrial setting to be fascinating.

Over the next few months I will be posting some of the images I made.  

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) buffalo erie canal silo city Mon, 01 Jun 2015 09:43:39 GMT
Soot prints - something new (at least for me) This winter has been a little demanding - snow and low temperatures!  So, to keep busy I have been doing some work with soot prints.  I have posted a series in the platinum gallery.

What is a soot print?  Simply, it is a deposit of oil lamp soot on a glass sheet which is then altered to create an image.  I have used water, soapy water, paint thinner, and Windex to make changes by spraying, dropping and dripping on the soot layer.  You really can't predict how these actions will alter the soot - sometimes there is very little change, and at other times large sections of the soot layer moves.  I find the results to be unlike anything else I have done - hope you enjoy them.

Soot #1Soot #18x10 Platinum print - soot on glass

The glass plates are very fragile in that the soot can be easily damaged.  I have been using these glass sheets to make platinum prints, but after one or two prints the plates have additional scratches or dust deposits which makes each one of them a unique image.  I have also yet to find a good way to store the plates without further altering the soot layer.  So, I have decided to reuse the plates after making two platinum prints.

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:23:52 GMT
I have had to change some of my equipment, and how I work ... Well, I have had to rethink some of the equipment I use.  Due to health reasons, I just can't haul the large camera on all of my outings.  I have changed to a lighter, smaller large format camera system.  I now am using a wood field 8x10 camera made here is the USA by Keith Canham.  It is about 2/3's the weight of the camera equipment I had been using and is slightly smaller.  Also, I have added a converted baby carriage to help me with moving the camera, tripod and film gear. I still prefer my large film cameras, and use them often, if I can drive close to where I am shooting.  But, on those occasions when I can't easily drive, I have been using a digital camera and from the digital files I make a negative on transparent film using a digital inkjet printer.  I still prefer the image quality I can achieve with film, however I am impressed with the results I have been able to get using a digital negative.  So, my current work is a mixture using either large format film or digital files converted to transparent digital negatives.  

The New York City gallery are all images that I have made using a digital camera and digital negatives.  Most of these were made on a visit to the High Line Park, which is the old elevated railroad on the West Side of Manhattan.  I decided to use a digital camera on this trip because it would not have been physically possible for me to get my regular film equipment up to the park.  Also, because it is a quite popular park with fairly narrow walkways, there are restrictions about blocking the pathways with a camera and tripod.  I loved the park itself, a mixture of old industrial 20th century structures - current Manhattan city life - and a park with grass, flowers and trees and the occasional art installation.  Certainly worth a visit if you are visiting New York. 

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) 8x10 High Line New York City canham Sat, 15 Nov 2014 13:51:43 GMT
Winter It seems to be a very cold and windy winter so far, at least compared to recent ones.  So, I have not been outside shooting for a couple of months.  Snow can be a lovely subject to photograph, but lately it seems just make my feet cold.  And once my feet get cold, it seems like everything else just gets even colder.

Lately, My darkroom has had most of my attention.  The enlarging equipment I have been using developed a few problems that needed to be repaired.  Unfortunately, getting replacement parts for some of the equipment has not very easy - so, I have been working on adapting/fixing/repairing things to get the darkroom back up and running again.  Seems like the simplest things can present the biggest challenge and take tens time the effort and time to get accomplished.  Now, I have everything back on line and a back log of work that needs to get done.                

To hasten spring along - I should do some in studio work, perhaps some florals would be a good idea. Bug RestingBug Resting

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) Sun, 26 Jan 2014 18:27:31 GMT
Went on a quick visit to Upstate New York with my 8x10 Camera Late October Road Trip - to Rochester and back

     I had a chance to get away from home with my 8x10 camera for a few days in late October, we went to visit family who live near Rochester, New York.  One of the stops along the way was Steam Town in Scranton, this is one of my favorite places to visit.  I just can't get enough of the old, large steam engines with the cast iron, pipes, valves, rivets, connecting arms, wheels and the toll of time make this place just magical for me.  Every time I visit I see something new, or something I have seen before in a new light.  I was working away until the late afternoon as the daylight was fading into the darkness.  I did spend about three hours there, but as is always the case I wish it would have been longer.  The low angle of the sun in the fall does make for interesting lighting effects, but the short hours of daylight means your working day is shorter.  So I packed up my gear, and we found a place for the night.

     The next day our first stop was at Taughannock Falls State Park on the west side of Lake Cayuga.  This rather modest creek falls about 200 feet into a gorge, one of the highest drops in the Eastern US.  It was a very nice fall morning when I was there, but unfortunately the main falls were in fairly deep shadow so I was unable to get an image of them.  The park has a very nice trail up into the gorge and along the way I did stop to make a couple of images of the creek where the light was better.  That morning the park was not very full of visitors, and a few of them stopped to ask about the large camera I had with me and what I was using it for.  I had a fairly long conversation with some visitors from the UK who were interested in the camera I was using.  While it does look old, it actually was made two years ago in China.  And, the film I was using was made by Ilford at a factory not far from where they lived in England.  But, most of all they were intrigued by my baby carriage - when I am out and away from the car with my large camera ( And the 8x10 camera with its lens set and film holders is a fairly large amount of equipment ) I use a baby carriage/stroller.  I much prefer to push the load, than carry it - I would guess if I weighed it the equipment I have with me would be around 50 pounds. 

     Later,  I was able to get to Letchworth State Park just south of Rochester, this is where the Genesee River goes over three rather large waterfalls.  The river has formed a large canyon over time and it was just a little past peak color for the fall foilage, so the hillsides blended into a muted brown, red and orange display of colors - still quite nice to enjoy even if the very bright yellows and oranges were mostly gone.  I did get the camera out for a couple of images of the falls before I ran out of film.  One of the things that a large camera user needs to plan for, how many sheets of film to take on a trip (or how many loaded film holders can I fit into the car).  On this trip I underestimated how many sheets of film I would use at Steam Town and how much time I would be able to spend making photographs.  So the after the last shot in Letchworth, I packed the camera away for the rest of the trip and just enjoyed the scenery and visiting with family.

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) letchworth steam town taughannock Thu, 21 Nov 2013 21:37:43 GMT
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Last weekend I had a chance to stop in at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Rhinebeck, NY.   While I had hoped for a nice afternoon there, the weather turned a little wet and windy.  I was still able to make a few images of the planes that were parked in their hangers despite the weather.  It is an interesting museum in that part of their collection is used in a weekly air show.  When I was there on a Friday afternoon, they were "tuning up" one of the planes for the Saturday show.  The rotary engines are a work of art and have a very unique sound when running.  The plane is about 100 years old and it was working just as designed.  The graceful movement and simple designs along with the noise of the propeller and engine make for a trip back in time.  To go along with the aircraft, they also maintain a small fleet of autos from the same era.  They also have a large collection of aircraft stored in hangers for viewing that are not air worthy, but the ones they have maintained really interested me.   I hope to get back here again fairly soon when the weather is better and would recommend the air show to anyone who has an interest in WWI or earlier aircraft.  

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) old rhinebeck aerodrome Fri, 20 Sep 2013 21:03:41 GMT
Platinum/Palladium Gallery I have added a gallery featuring platinum/palladium prints.  It took a little while to get them together and will be adding more as I get the chance.  I am finding that not every image seems to work with this printing method and the steps in making a print take a lot more time.  Each print is different because of the hand coated paper.  Even duplicating each step exactly will not produce identical final prints, they will have slight differences, which makes each them a one of kind print.

The images on the website are scans of the actual prints which are made the same size as the film negative.  The steps involved are hand coating paper with the Platinum mixture, placing the negative on the paper, exposing with ultraviolet light, and finally developing the image.  Because you must use ultraviolet light it is not possible to make an enlarged image, and the time needed to do each step in the process is much longer than silver printing.

There is a warm tone to these prints unlike a silver print as well as greater separation of the middle tones which gives each image a rich appearance.  Because the image rests on the surface of the paper they do not have any of the surface sheen found on silver prints plus the surface texture of the paper gives the image a slight degree of softness.  

I have made mostly 4x6 prints because I have been using a lot of 5x7 film, but I expect to be taking the 8x10 camera out more often as these prints are really nice in the larger size.  When mounted and framed the 4x6 needs to be approached to be appreciated, the 8x10's can be viewed from a greater distance.  I did do two 8x10's that are in the Platinum Gallery, both were studio set ups of a vase with flowers with slightly different background treatments that I had shot with 8x10 film.  

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) Sat, 31 Aug 2013 15:30:26 GMT
Peter's Valley Workshop - Platinum Printing In the spirit of being never to old to learn I just spent a week at the Peter's Valley Center in New Jersey working on Platinum printing techniques.  This is a type of printing I have worked on before and felt I could use a little refresher.  I was very fortunate to get a space at the last moment.  As I have found true at most workshop type events I have been to it was a very interesting week.  The other participants had varied backgrounds and it is always interesting to share experiences.  Peter's Valley I find extra special because it is not just a photography school, there were workshops being run in black smithing, glass, textile, paper, ceramics and silversmithing when I was there.  The platinum printing workshop was being taught by Tillman Crane, a great person to work with and an outstanding platinum printer.  He helped me work through some "rough areas" in my technique and I feel good about be able to make this type of print.  I get a real sense of satisfaction in creating an image this way as it starts with selecting a paper, hand coating it, exposing it to UV light and processing.  All of this does take a great deal of time, much longer than working with traditional silver prints, and each image is unique in that no two prints made from the same negative will look exactly alike.  There is a "richness" to the tones that can be achieved this way as well as a certain softness to the image detail that I think will work really well with some subjects.  I will be working on a new Platinum Gallery set of images in the coming months.

]]> (Robert Mann Photography) Peter's Valley platinum printing Tue, 09 Jul 2013 17:12:02 GMT
Website Refining A few more days on the internet and a few more things learned about getting the settings correct.  While I have a fast connection, the feedback from a few early visitors was about the time to upload images - way too long was their reaction.  Ummmm - that resulted in my having to resize the image sets.  That did take a little time, but I think I now have it set up to load fairly fast, even on a slow internet connection.   A couple of other settings have been changed to make the home page work "better" - I am pretty satisfied with how it looks for now.   Next, I will need to find some time to scan and upload some more images into the galleries.


]]> (Robert Mann Photography) Fri, 24 May 2013 09:01:03 GMT
I have made a few changes, and learned a lot Its been a few days of managing a website, I have made a few changes that I think make it better - only time will tell if I am on the right track.  I still need to make a decision on whether to "watermark" the images.  I need to research that a little more before making up my mind.  I have gotten to know the help pages on Zenfolio fairly well - and while I do get lost in cyberspace on a few issues - they have been helpful for the most part.  I don't know how I could have gotten this far without their template system.  Perhaps the hardest decision was agreeing on what photo of myself to put on the "About me Page" - there was a fairly long discussion about that around the house.  I think I am going to take a few days off from this to get to some other pressing matters.


]]> (Robert Mann Photography) Mon, 20 May 2013 18:13:28 GMT
First Day on the Web This is the first day of my "presence" on the internet.  There are a lot of decisions that need to be made in setting up this website and I am sure I have made a few that will be changed, but it sure is a nice feeling to have the first few images uploaded.   Perhaps, someone will find this site before too long, any suggestions on how to improve it will be gladly received.


]]> (Robert Mann Photography) Sat, 18 May 2013 20:46:27 GMT