Jes Lee

Books and plates and instant film

I had hoped by this time to have my film 365 posts going again. I’m still taking the photos! But this year has kicked my butt in a few ways I wasn’t expecting, and some things that I just haven’t had enough time for. Posting a photo every day here has been one of them. I still really enjoy having my favorite cameras with me every day, and this project really has helped me to get back in touch with my cameras again, so I have no regrets of doing it. There are many days that I take more than one photo, just as I had hoped there would be. I imagine there will be a big ‘catch-up’ type post on that project sometime soon, or I will create a gallery here or on Flickr to keep all the photos. But that will come later.

I have been enrolled in two very amazing classes at MCBA this month.

The first is called ‘Guided Book Projects’ and it is taught by Chip Schilling. I admire his work, and his style of teaching and knowing what you need as a student to get to the next stage. The book I am working on for this class is pretty epic compared to the other books I have made. I’m not bragging. There is more to this book technically than I have usually taken on with my projects. I started out with one plan, and have moved in a complete other direction. My book will involve making polymer plates (which I normally avoid), printing on one of the Vandercooks at MCBA (which I also normally avoid), teaching myself a new binding, and working instant film photos into the covers.

The Impossible Project released their first “camera” awhile back called the Instant Lab. What this allows you to do is put your cell phone on top of an instant camera-like base and make an instant film image of any photo on your cell phone. This opens up worlds of being able to take photos with other cameras, manipulate them, make collages and multiple layered images, and by finding a way to get those images on your cell phone (not hard) be able to make instant photo prints of them. For artists that work in multiples and editions (like many book artists, like myself currently) this means that it is now possible to make multiples of the very same image with quite a large amount of control. I am an extremely lucky girl to have gotten one of these Instant Lab image makers! I have played with it quite a bit, working out how exposure works and experimenting with some of my compilation images.instant lab003 small

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As well as some of my other cell phone images, just for fun.

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This all fits into my book project better than I ever thought it would. The book itself contains a series of cell phone photos I took last year. My plan is to use the Instant Lab to create instant prints of some of these photos that will serve as the covers for the book. This all may be a bit hard to imagine for some of you, but I think it will be awesome. There will be more photos of this project coming soon, as well as a dedicated post.

My second class at MCBA is also being taught by Chip Schilling. This class focuses on making photopolymer plates. We are almost half way through the class. So far I have already learned many things about turning photographic images into polymer plate negatives, as well as a few more ways to get plate negatives made (a few of them being much more affordable).

I am also still working on getting going on photopolymer photogravure. That process is moving a long slowly, but it is coming. We have the facilities at MCBA to do this process, and I am working on making sure it happens. It involves a lot of time, and a lot of experimenting, but I am really enjoying the challenge, and of course really enjoying working there. Hopefully I will have more on this to share soon.

So all of that, coupled with some ‘life-in-general’ issues, I have been running around a lot more lately than I expected to be. And of course, this little blog has been neglected in the mean time. Honestly, when things are getting to me, I turn more to my journal than my blog or social media. That’s just part of who I am. And I have come to peace with that. Really, it gives me a good excuse to keep up on my book making skills, so I can make a new journal when I fill one up! I do have a lot of projects, and many great photo shoots that I hope to share with you here soon. This blog won’t stay quiet for long.


Film 365 – Day 21: January 11, 2014

It was a fantastic little day wandering around the Grandview Lodge resort area, walking along the many paths through the trees and by the lake. There were company sponsored activities (such as board game tournaments) and many people to talk to. John and I took a few hours out of the day to walk around the lake by ourselves, and recharge mentally. I was still photographing with the Nikon FG-20 and the Ilford HP5+ film. I’m still not thrilled with how grainy the film ended up being, and how some of the photos turned out. After I finished up with that roll, I loaded up a roll of Lomography XPro. I have learned that this is really color slide film, but packaged so that it looks like it could be developed as c41 film. What this does is distort the colors. This is actually a pretty common practice, but many film processing places won’t cross process film for various reasons. So it ends up usually not being the cheapest experiment. My local lab where I take my color film doesn’t usually cross process film, but because I hadn’t tried this film before, and because the woman that works there likes me, she developed it as c41 anyway. I must say, I really don’t like the way the colors come out with this film. I have had other slide film cross processed before, and have gotten pretty cool results, but not this time. I have not yet tried all of the Lomography films yet, but I have tried a few. Sadly, I think this film will be added to the ‘not trying again’ list.

Through this 365 project, I have been taking photos of everything with my cell phone as well as my film camera. I’m doing this for many reasons.

1. Because I am often developing and scanning the film multiple days after taking the photo, it can sometimes get a little tricky to remember when I took each photo. Having a digital record of this helps.

2. I can record the photos in my ‘Day One’ journal app, document the camera settings, and then have a record of what the weather was like where I was taking the photo.

3. The cell phone photo gives me the geolocation data of where I was photographing that day, and I am a bit obsessed with location data right now.

That said, I won’t always do this with my posts, but this time I am posting many of my cell phone photographs as well as the film photos. The cell phone photos come after all of the film photos. Honestly, I like them much better. I know this could be fodder for all of the many arguments over cell phone photography, film vs. digital and all that. But I am really quite tired of all of those arguments. I am experimenting with so many different types of film over the course of this project, many I have not tried before, and many that are quite expired already. I am not going to like every type of film I try, but this project will help me figure out what types of film I love. The fact that I ended up with two rolls of film I didn’t really like on this trip is just unfortunate, but not the end of the world. I’m not giving up using that little Nikon camera, even though I do whine about scanning 35mm film! So here you go, many photos, in many film types and formats.

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Poinsettia flower in the snow

30˚ and hazy

Nikon FG-20 camera

Ilford HP5+ film developed in Ilfosol 3.

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Path to the lake

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One lonely Christmas ornament.

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Walking on a frozen lake, looking back at the shore and the snow covered trees.

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Ditto again.

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And again.

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Pine needles covered in frost.

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Tree bark (with the Lomography XPro film)

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Path light

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The cake table in day light.

And now the cell phone photos:

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Processed with VSCOcam

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