Platinum Palladium

As some of you may know, I am a big fan of the platinum palladium process. About 15 years or so ago, I first learned the process the traditional way, in the darkroom, making enlarged negatives. Last year I revisited the process once again in a private workshop with Carl Weese. This time however, we used modern day technology to make digital negatives. I was blown away with the results. I truly love this process not only for its tonal range, and archival qualities, but also for its beauty and depth. Prints must be seen in person to truly appreciate the process. What follows is one of my images printed using the process and a link to an article on some other alternative processes. Be sure to scroll down to the  short video on the work of Japanese photographer Nobuyuki Kobayashi. Enjoy.

Cyclist ©Alina Marin-Bliach This image says NYC to me. What do you think?

Cyclist ©Alina Marin-Bliach

This image says NYC to me. What do you think?

Thinking warmth

Because it is so cold outside I thought I would share a personal image from a few summer's ago. Yup, that is me, holding on tightly. About a minute after the photo was taken, probably by my daughter, the tube flipped over with me caught underneath. I was not able to push the tube away from on top of me or swim under it. I was under for probably less than a minute. My husband who quickly brought the boat back around as soon as he saw that I flipped, realized that I was caught underneath and grabbed the tube to release me. Always the adventure. Love summer!

Polaroids

I started using Polaroid film back in the late 70s, early 80s, and do still own a couple of expired boxes of Polaroid 55 and 669 film that I am not willing to part with. Polaroid transfers, emulsion transfers, and SX-70 manipulations are all processes that I greatly enjoyed and truly miss. With the introduction of instant film from the Impossible project and the New 55 film, I get to once again play and will be sharing some results in the coming weeks. So excited! Be sure to read the short article on Andrei Tarkovsky's Polaroids. Love this work! Link follows.

https://magazine.the-impossible-project.com/andrei-tarkovsky-polaroids%E2%80%8E/

 

 

We Shall Never Forget

On September 11th 2001, we lost 7 residents to the events that transpired that day. This beam now sits in our local park as a remembrance to those that lost their lives. Never Forget! 

My punctum

The great French philosopher, Roland Barthes, defined punctum as a sudden prick that "shoots out" of the photograph and pierces like an arrow. 

With September 11th being a couple of days away, that definition seemed especially relevant when I came across the photo that follows. Let me explain. I live about an hour away from NYC. We are a commuter town with people taking the train in daily to NYC. A beam, very similar to the one in the photo, now sits in one of our parks. The beam itself is the prick that “shoots out” and pierces like an arrow. It brings up an uncomfortable memory that reminds me of all the lives that were lost that day. 

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, by Charles C. Ebbets, September 20, 1932, RCA Building NYC

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, by Charles C. Ebbets, September 20, 1932, RCA Building NYC

Lighting Food

Doing a little food photography. Using top-back lighting to photograph the food. Getting hungry looking at this. I'm not really into the meats, but do love the olives, cheese, bread, and oranges.

Louis H. Draper

Though not very famous, and perhaps not known to many of you, Louis H. Draper made significant contributions to the medium of photography. Lou was my first photography teacher and a true inspiration. He was a master printer whose work always showed depth and dimensionality. Lou taught me how to print with what he often referred to as “appropriate contrast and depth.” He would often let me use his own enlarger and taught me how to selenium tone a photograph. We would often have lunch together, and he would share stories from his time in NYC where he became good friends with the poet Langston Hughes and was often mentored by photographers Roy DeCarava, Harold Feinstein and W. Eugene Smith. Before I met Lou, most of my work encompassed the landscape and nature. Lou taught me to look at every day life as a way of connecting with people, sharing their stories and chronicling history. He inspired me to look and patiently wait for the magic moments to reveal themselves. I will forever value his guidance and constant encouragement. Lou passed away in 2002 and left behind an impressive body of work that is currently being archived. A book of his work was recently released. I highly recommend that you all consider including this book in your library.

 

Available on Amazon.

Available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Image Workflow

The image that follows was digitally captured and brought in Lightroom for adjustments. In the Develop module, I opened the Basic panel to make adjustments. The exposure was increased to brighten up the overall image causing a shift in the histogram and distributing tones to the right. Fill light was added to open up the shadow area to the left of the image. A touch of clarity added a bit of contrast to the midtones and popped the image a bit. A little saturation slightly popped some of the colors. I don’t like to overdo this, but did feel that a slight saturation was warranted in this image. 

The image was then brought into Photoshop for further editing. The working space was verified to be Adobe RGB 1998. The background layer was duplicated for cloning. I used both the cloning stamp tool and content aware fill. I typically like to do my cleaning up prior to any adjustments. I do find that this method works best for my workflow. 

The black point and white point in the image were adjusted with a Levels layer. I painted back a white pipe in the mask that was slightly blown-out with the adjustment. A very slight adjustment of a Hue/Saturation layer helped to further bump up the intensity of the roof tiles and windows in the image. A Vibrance adjustment layer further helped to increase the intensity of the more muted colors. Another Levels adjustment lightened the gray in the pants hanging. I filled that layer with black to affect only the area that I wanted to lighten. A Brightness/Contrast layer also was used to add a little contrast to the pants. The Background layer was then duplicated to sharpen the image. I used an Unsharp Mask with an Amount of 85, Radius 1.0 and a Threshold of 3. The blending mode was changed to Luminosity.

The before and after images follow. I have also included a screen shot of my Photoshop layers.

"Before" image, prior to adjustments.

"Before" image, prior to adjustments.

"After" image.

"After" image.

Photoshop Layers.

Photoshop Layers.

Before and After

I love Photoshop! Using the right tools can yield amazing results, significantly improving and oftentimes saving an image. Photoshop is our modern day digital darkroom. 

Look at the photos that follow. Though the first image, our "Before" image, was underexposed, there is still some detail coming through in the shadows. Remember, while Photoshop is a great tool to have, it cannot save an image that has no information in the highlights or shadows.

Now, look at the second image. Exposure was adjusted using a levels adjustment layer, shadows were opened up, highlights were brought down slightly, a bit of contrast was added, lines were straightened and the image was color corrected.

The "After" image. A most definite improvement!

The "After" image. A most definite improvement!

I'd rather collect the work of a master photographer

I just read an interesting article on Peter Lik's alleged 6.5 million dollar photo. I would personally much rather spend money collecting the work of a respected master than that of Peter Lik. If you have that much money to spend, wouldn't it make sense to hire someone who has some knowledge of art and could better advice you? I would much rather own any photograph by Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, Stieglitz, Diane Arbus, Margaret Bourke-White, Cartier-Bresson, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, and countless other master photographers, than the best Peter Lik image there is out there. How about you? What are your thought on this. 

Have a great day everyone!

Alina

 

Here is the link to the article:

http://news.artnet.com/in-brief/new-york-times-exposes-peter-lik-photography-scheme-264858#.VO-IxEXqpqc.facebook

Autumn Color

I have always been drawn to the landscape and specifically to the work of the Hudson River School Artists. This local landscape, reminded me of the work of Jasper Francis Cropsey. If you are not familiar with these group of artists, I recommend you look them up. There is no better way to get inspiration than by looking at the work of others. 

Printing Process

I have always felt that printing is an important and significant step in the photographic process. Printing completes the cycle so to speak. Rather than just viewing images in your computer screen, printing lets us physically hold and enjoy the images. 

Once I print my images, I like to wait about 24 - 48 hours to spray the prints. I use Hahnemuhle Fine Art Protective Spray to help protect the prints against scratches and enhance U.V. resistance. The prints typically sit overnight prior to me handling them and getting them ready for matting and shipping.

Spraying Prints

Spraying Prints

Matted prints ready for shipping

Matted prints ready for shipping

New Life to an Old Image

Don't you just love when you come upon an old image from several years ago, and using the tools available to us today, you give it a new life? This is exactly what happened with this image. I was sorting through some of my photographs from the southwest and I came upon this image. I brought it into Lightroom and opened up the shadows in the rock range in the background, then I brought down the highlights in the sky ever so slightly. I then went into Photoshop where I converted it into black & white, using Nik Silver Effects. Though the color image is beautiful, I decided to represent this, as I have not seen, in black & white. I then did a levels adjustment to boost the contrast slightly. Lastly, I sharpened it in Photoshop. And here you have, Early Morning Mesa Arch. Enjoy!

05_BliachAlina_EarlyMorningMesaArch_027.jpg

It's Been A While

Yes, life sometimes does get in the way of the "once in a while blog." So rather than getting into a month by month account, I thought I would highlight a new recent favorite image and talk a little about the story behind the image.

So being that it is summer and this is the image in my home page, I thought it would be appropriate to talk a little about this image. This image is actually a composite of about 5 different images -- the sky, the clouds, the small wooden pier on the left, the water, and the old jetty in the middle. The original image consisted of the jetty leading our eye into the ocean. As I made my image I envisioned something a little different. I imagined what this area must look like at high tide with the ocean water actually slowly moving over the decaying jetty. I made a few more images being sure to capture the movement of the waves, the small pier, and the clouds. I had an idea of what I wanted to do. It was as if I was standing there putting it all together in my mind's eye. "Cape May High Tide, " is the final result of my efforts and is what I had envisioned. Enjoy!

Nature Has Taught Me ...

My father in law was a great artist.  He was not famous or known. He was a shy, quiet man. He had no formal education. He however, had a true gift. He could look at something, and just draw what he saw. He could build something out of nothing.  He was an observer and enjoyed bringing things to life. My father in law passed away recently. I will miss him. What I will always remember about him was how generous he always was in sharing his gift with others and creating art that would bring a smile to your face. I was inspired to create the video that follows. It is dedicated to my father in law.  Please hit the arrow to view.

Adios. Alina

 

Filling You In

Hello Fellow Blog Followers,

The last several months (August till now), have been kind of busy, with work, my website, teaching, workshops, photography and travel. So let's see, to fill you in:

1

. I was in Israel and Jordan for a couple of weeks. A totally awesome experience, kind of surreal in many ways. The photo above is from Israel.

2

. My website is also up, finally! Still need to work out some issues, but it is up, nonetheless. The website is http://www.alinabliach.com or/and 

http://www.alinabstudios.com

Both url's bring you to the same website. 

3

. Have been busy shooting so many headshots lately that I feel I should perhaps add a tagline to the website --Headshots and More?

4

. December just flew by with holiday type portraits, attending and hosting holiday parties, attending kid's choral performances and just getting together with family and friends. I also picked up a new corporate client as well.

5

. January brought more headshot work. Also attended a Farber workshop, 

http://www.farber.com/home.html

. Learned some very cool techniques that I'll be incorporating into some of my portrait work.

6

. Planned and organized a vendor type show with various types of vendors selling their goods and services. It was a first for me and it proved to be quite successful with a nice turnout. I showcased some of my portrait work and awarded some prizes to some of the attendees. It was definitely a lot of work to put together, but well worth it and the feedback has been all positive.

7

. Keeping up with the food photos has been kind of tough, because hey, when I cook, I like to eat. I have to make it a point to serve a separate serving of food just for photo purposes and just photograph it as soon as we are done eating. I tried doing it before we ate, but that did not go over too well. I've shot a few, but I am way behind on that project. Hoping to catch up. I'll post some when I get a chance.

8

. This weekend I'm scheduled for a couple of portrait sessions with some really cute kids. I'm really looking forward to this. It should be fun.

I love the colors in the image above--the blue of the sky, the green of the plant and the brown tan-like tones of the wall and vase. I like how the greenery seems to be coming out of the vase or the ledge itself. It's hard to tell from the angle in which I took the image. I was shooting up at the ledge from about 10 feet down. I love the straight angled lines on the wall of the ledge and the curved lines on the vase. I feel they work well together. They go hand in hand. There is such beauty here, in this simple image. You have nature coming together with something that has been made by the hand of man, coexisting harmoniously. It just feels peaceful. Enjoy.

Until next time,

Alina

Working it.

Working it.

Wow! Where does the time go? It seems like the days just fly by and I'm always trying to play catch-up on the many projects and ideas I have going. I really enjoy writing this blog, but sometimes I feel there are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish all.

I had a very interesting conversation with a few people recently regarding networking and networking groups that I thought I would share. Some people are just so turned off by the whole networking group idea that they just won't hire you because you are part of a networking group. Even though your work is excellent, you provide great service and your prices are fair, they still won't hire you because you are part of a group and they feel it's unethical. This just makes no sense to me. They like you, your work, etc., but won't hire you because you belong to a networking group?  I don't really think it matters whether you belong to a networking group or not. We all network. If you belong to a group, good for you. I hope it's helping you in your business. I think what matters is the work, the service, the price. They should all be top notch and fair. Remember if you are going to recommend someone you are in essence putting yourself and your reputation on the line. Recommend only those that you feel are worthy of it and you in turn make sure your work is worthy of a recommendation.

The photo up top is that of dinner two nights ago. It was so, so good. It was an herb rubbed chicken with spinach, tomatoes and a balsamic wine reduction. Delicious!

See ya next time. 

Alina