Jes Lee

Darkroom day

Today, day 2 of my forced residency-style-stay-off-of-social-media-during-the-day-week I spent a large part of the day in my darkroom. It was wonderful! I managed to get my first roll of film from my new little Yashica 635 developed (Kodak TriX) and the film came out beautiful! This little camera is pretty mint! I also managed to get a few prints done of one of the images which will give me something to practice toning later. It has been awhile since I have done print toning…but I found that I have a bottle of metallic toner…unopened! Has anyone tried this before? I do need to get more blue though…

*I would post a photo here of the prints I did today BUT our network at home has sucked today and it is taking waaaaay too long to upload. Check out my Instagram or Twitter feed if you can. It will be up there soon as my 365 photo for today!*

Which brings me to a bit of a strange topic. I am realizing that I have camera preferences. I’m sure there are many of you saying “so??” but it seems like sort of a big deal to me. In many ways I feel bad saying it! I have found over the last two days of film developing and scanning that for medium format film especially I prefer the images from my two main cameras (my Hasselblad 501c/m and my Mamiya C330), my Holga, and now my Yashica 635 over the Kodak Brownies I have played with. I know I am not really making a fair comparison here at all, and I’m honestly not trying to compare. I just notice that I get much fewer usable images from the Brownies than I do from the others. Perhaps because the Brownies have a much slower set shutter speed? I just don’t have a ton of luck with them. I still have one more new-to-me Brownie to try, and I am definitely not giving up on the others, it is just an observation of my work this week. (Side note: I am still totally on board with the idea started by a few of my Twitter friends that Kodak should release a new Brownie type camera! This doesn’t change that!)

I think a major reason I am not a big fan of non-slr or tlr cameras, is that I am a very bad judge of distance. (Just ask anyone who has gone on vacation with me! I am famous for saying “oh, that isn’t that far, we can walk!” *an hour later* “Yeah, I really didn’t think it was that far!”) Therefore I have a really hard time figuring out how far I need to be standing back from an object for it to be in focus when I only have measurements to rely on and I can’t actually see that said object is truly in focus or not. I am practicing and trying to get better at this. I have been shooting a lot with my Lomo LCA which you also have to set distance and not just focus with. I have had fairly good results with that one, but I’m still having some issues. Does anyone have a rule-of-thumb or any good tips on judging distances for photos?

Tomorrow is a waitressing-day-job type of day for me. I do intend on uploading some new images to Flickr tomorrow night though. I’m also hoping to ride my bike into work tomorrow, and since I always have at least one camera with me, that could always lead to a small photo outing!

For now though, I’m off to bed.

Wow what a day!

Today I tried something. I kept myself offline. You know what? It worked! I got a ton of work done today, and because of that I get an almost free day tomorrow to do some much needed work in my darkroom. Seriously, you would think it wouldn’t take me almost 30 years to figure this stuff out, but I guess it does.

So this is my week of work! I am staying off of my chat program and dear old Twitter and Facebook during the day this week (though I may give myself a break on Wednesday since I’ll be working my day job most of the day anyway!) – I am excited to see what I will accomplish! So far I have gotten a lot of photo processing done, as well as finishing up a few jobs for MCBA. It feels so good to finally get a few things off of my plate and be able to do a bit of creative work again! I did catch myself writing snarky little one sentence updates in my notebook today though…I think I missed Twitter a bit much! Ha!

Moving on. My dear Mr. FN is working his way towards a husband-of-the-year award! Really. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post he made me a collapsible light box. I had a chance to try it out today while I was taking photos at MCBA. Woah! That makes such a difference! It is amazing! We are going to work on some finishing touches together (muslin instead of tissue paper, clamps instead of tape, etc.) but it already works like a charm!

– my little set up at MCBA today –

He also thoroughly spoiled me tonight by taking me out and purchasing a new little laptop! The decision was made after figuring out that my little-engine-that-could laptop was at least 5 years old (along with a few odd problems he couldn’t figure out). So off we went to get my new little side kick I’m typing this on! It is so speedy!! I wasn’t going to buy a new laptop until my old one truly kicked the bucket, so this was a shocker today! Now to get it all set up….

And on we go. I miss hanging out with friends online all day (you know who you are!), but I love everything I am accomplishing this week. My experiment has so far been a success! I’ll be back to chatting next week though ;)

Stay tuned! Hopefully tomorrow there will be a darkroom photo update!

Also, film developed! I’m so glad I had a chance to drop this off at West Photo today to be developed. Now to get it scanned in and posted….

Today I am feeling in a much better place with upcoming shows and projects that are due way too soon. I’m trying to keep on top of them all. I don’t want this to turn into another crazy busy summer that disappears before I have a chance to enjoy it. I’m finally off to bed. Good night dear friends! I’ll update more tomorrow evening.


Late night storms…

…and long work days. Sundays will be the difficult part of any 365 project as I spend most of my day at my day job. But I have a bit to work that part out. On the plus side I did get to hang out with my dad at work on Father’s day!

My sweet Mr. FN made me a collapsible light-box today! I’m sure there are many of you that have no clue what I’m talking about, but I am so excited for it! It should make taking book photos much easier! I’ll get a chance to try it out at MCBA tomorrow afternoon.

I have a lot of work time planned this week, and I’m looking forward to it. The work I am doing for MCBA needs to get done asap, so much of the beginning of my week will be spent working on that. I do have plans to get into my darkroom though and get film developed and some printing done as well.

A bumpy weekend is ending, and a new week is beginning. It has a new chance to be a wonderful week. I’m hopeful.



Yesterday was rough. But in the end I finished the day and went to bed with the idea that the next day is new and has a chance to be better.

Today started out a bit rough (complete with a night full of nightmares of photo processing…seriously. That is a new one!). But I kept at it, and kept going, and in the end, it ended better than yesterday. And that is great! And now I’m ready to go to bed soon with the thought that tomorrow is another new day and has a new chance to be better. The cycle continues.

Through everything today, I feel like I am ending with more clarity than I had in the beginning. I had a chance today to go to the Rock The Garden concert and it was great and fun and in the end I left with a few things:

1. listening to Dessa sing reminded me why I used to spend so much money on albums and going to concerts. I truly adore listening to her and today didn’t disappoint. Ironically, this is only the second time I have listened to her live. The first was when she and Aby Wolf opened for Ani DiFranco a while back. From Ani to Doomtree.

2. the Walker is awesome. It is one of the few art museums that Mr. FN and I keep up a membership too. Honestly, I would love to be members of more, but there is unfortunately not an endless supply on money coming in, and choices need to be made. But we always pick them, and they always have awesome shows to see (Cindy Sherman is coming!!!) and host amazing music concerts. And I’m not just saying this because I won a t-shirt and poster while playing Rock The Garden Bingo today! (Thanks again Walker!)

3. I am betting that any concert I go to around here (which hopefully will be a bit more often again) Erik Hess will be there photographing and I’ll get to chat with him for at least a bit!

4. Somehow these things have given me a sense of clarity and a stronger idea of where my next project is going. I’m not telling anymore than that yet.

An obligatory crummy cell phone photo of the Rock the Garden stage from way too far away to make it look more than teeny – Doomtree is on there!

It has been a long day though, but not in a bad way. It is time for me to curl up in bed with a book and fall asleep. It helps that I did get a new book in the mail today from Milkweed Editions. I won it from them during Northern Spark for tweeting a photo of myself at an event after midnight (which honestly is really easy to do when you are working an event all night long!). I’m anxious to start reading this book though! I promise to post a little about it when I’m done!

Until next time!


Long day

Today was a very long day filled with loads of work and loads of craziness, and lots of fixing things for people (which is kind of my job in a way).

I made it though, maybe a little bruised, but I’m still in one piece.

I managed to finish a large photo job tonight. There are more to come, but I am finished for the weekend. Tomorrow I can hopefully head out with my camera for just a bit.

I have been thinking that next week I need a little “retreat” week. I don’t know exactly what that will entail, or how much of the week it will extend to. But I do know I need a bit of time away from social media – at least during the day (I plan to update my blog in the evening) and stay off of my chat program for a while. I just need a bit of time for myself to create. I am already working that time in around two jobs and some family obligations. I need to be able to focus more during the time that I do have. I think it will be good though.

I’m finally off to bed. Thankfully, this very long day can now be over.

Good night.


My way

If I could have it my way today I would be walking barefoot through the neighborhood streets in the rain with a camera (probably two or three) being part of the storm.

But instead I am curled up on the couch with my laptop next to a wide open window, listening and working away. Maybe there will be some storm artwork made today anyway. At least the bunny doesn’t seem to mind this set up.

Funny little note on the topic of laptops. Of course Apple has released new laptops, and of course there have been loads of discussions here about getting me a new laptop. The latest decision? To try upgrading my laptop one last time. I love my beat-up kind-of-clunky laptop. Probably most of all because Mr. FN bought it for me and it was delivered one day when I was really sick and I haven’t forgotten how amazing that day felt then. Sometimes sentimentality trumps everything.

Updates on the Flickr stream coming today! Nothing up as of the time of this post, but it will be later, so check back.

Somedays you just forget

I feel like I have been forgetting* everything today. I forgot many little necessary bits during the morning hours of today. Tonight I find myself frustrated because Mr. FN is talking about a book he is reading, that I read myself not terribly long ago, and I don’t remember enough about bits of it to have a good conversation with him about the book. I don’t know why this is. It could be that I’m still tired and recovering from the Northern Spark activities, but it still bothers me a bit. I dislike feeling that forgetful.

Tomorrow will thankfully be a long day of finishing photo jobs, starting on some new artwork (hopefully!), lots of photo posting to Flickr, and maybe even fixing my bike! … I am very grateful that when my bike chain started giving me major issues on my way home from work that I was already at the parking lot to our building! I at least didn’t have far to walk with it!

I’m really hoping to schedule a studio day in the darkroom soon. It makes me sad to say that sometimes, that I have to “schedule” a day like that in. But that is just how it goes sometimes. It is more from an abundance of photo jobs than a lack of being able to be in my darkroom. If only there were an easier way to balance all the jobs! Anyway, yes. More time in darkroom. More time for art. I have been thinking of a new 365 photo project tonight. Something with film this time as well as writing. Vague ideas are vague!

Also, perhaps I should not blog so late. My morning posts are not as incoherant!

Good night!

wires – taken with a Lomo LCA

* The grammar check program I have installed on my blog just suggested I should change “have been forgetting” to “have forgettd”. I am not sure I trust my grammar check program anymore….



It is going to be a bright day

Yesterday ended up being pretty epic. It started out with me getting caught up on a lot of work, and ended with a wonderful evening out with friends!

Today will be busy, but filled with artwork and friends, so I expect it will be fun.

My work at the ArtStart gallery comes down today. It was a lot of fun having my work on their walls!

Tonight my friend Laura Brown has a book launch party at Minnesota Center for the Book Arts at 7pm. Her book is gorgeous! You should come see it! I’m excited to have a chance to celebrate with her tonight. Finishing a project like that is a huge accomplishment!

I hope to get a bit of pottery done today as well, and hopefully drop off the mystery roll of film I just found in the camera I am giving to my cousin. Yes…I am giving my cousin a film camera! And she says she will use it! This little Pentax doesn’t get enough use from me, and I now own two of them, so one needs to go to a better home and get used. She and my aunt are going to Europe for 3 weeks! I am also sending a long a zoom lens for them to borrow. I am quite jealous that they are going, and that my lens gets to go to Europe and I don’t! ;)

On we go! It will be a bright sunny day!

Who is she?

(one of the images that is coming home from the ArtStart gallery today)

Monday coffee

After staying up all night this past Saturday, and spending Sunday feeling totally off kilter and falling asleep in random places in my living room, I have arrived at Monday, drinking my coffee, wondering if it was all just a crazy dream!

Funny how quickly things go back to normal.

Funny how hard you sleep the night after being awake for so long.

Funny how awesome coffee tastes in the morning when it is actually morning and you have slept all night….

Today seems so normal! Filled with to-do lists and loads of photos to process as well as plans with friends and waiting to hear about Mr. FN’s first day at his new job.

On we go!

Sunny Sunday

It is Sunday, and I thankfully have the day off of work.

I need to do laundry. I need to run some errands. But here I am, on the couch, updating my blog from my smart phone because my laptop is on the other side of the room. Yes, that is my day today.

But last night…Northern Spark! Let’s re-cap a bit shall we?

Northern Spark is this epic overnight art festival in Minneapolis that goes from sundown to sun up one weekend a year. This is year number two. Minnesota Center for Book Arts had a huge event as part of Northern Spark that consisted of four parts: a sound installation in the galleries, independent performance pieces done by participants (we had instruction cards for people), a letterpress project (each participant rolled a set of special dice that determined what press they would go to, and how they would fold their paper for that press. Each visited a total of four presses, creating a unique layered letterpress print they got to take home) and a photo documentation/projection piece. The photo documentation was what I was involved in. I was in charge of setting up the documenting stations so participants could bring their pieces to be photographed. The images were then projected on the windows of MCBA’s galleries so people on the inside could see what other people had created, and people walking past outside could get a little taste of what was going on inside. It was epic! I have no idea how many people came through, but the letterpress studio was quite crowded most of the night. Things started winding down around 4am….then a group of about 20 more came through!

We cleaned presses, got the galleries back to normal and headed home. I was greeted by a beautiful sunrise, and back in bed by 6:15.

I managed to get about 4 hours of sleep before we had to be up and ready for the condo to be shown. I am so grateful that the people who scheduled the appointment actually came, and that we could hang out on my mom and dad’s couch for awhile today. I’m not planning on doing much else today! I survived, but I am already looking forward to sleeping all night tonight!

Would I do it all over again?? Oh yeah!!