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 26: January 16, 2014


I was doing more experimenting with my Sx-70. It seemed that the shutter was stuck at only one speed, so only images taken in certain lighting situations would work.  january 16 small

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This was my favorite image from that day.


Polaroid Sx-70 camera

Impossible Project Px100 Silver Shade film

Film 365 – Day 25: January 15, 2014

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Trying to get my Sx-70 to work again. I was scouring the internet, looking for repair guides, and trouble shooting tips, anything I could find. This was the best image I had gotten from it in a long time. (It gets better!)

Polaroid Sx-70 camera

Impossible Project PX125 CP film.

This new year is still new



I am still getting the hang of this new year.

I have introduced a lot of new practices into my creative life. Some are sticking well, others not as much.

I have kept up with my film 365 project, and in the process fixed one of my broken cameras.

I have kept up with my ‘morning pages’ journaling practice, though not quite every morning, and not always 3 full pages. But I am journaling and writing more, and it is helping me more than I ever thought.

I have started doing yoga. I went to three classes last week, and really enjoyed the challenge and calm they provided. (Also, yoga makes me feel warm, which I desperately need now!)

I have started working with the studio manager at MCBA on a very exciting project there.

I have started a new book making class at MCBA that will guide me towards making a new editioned book. I admit, I was scared to death to go to this class. I still am, though much less than I was. It is intimidating studying under and next to book artists that I look up to and admire, and feeling like my work belongs. But it has been amazing. I have a lot of work to do on this project, and many articles and books to read to help guide me through this design process, and I am looking forward to it!

Through a very kind friend’s amazing generosity (if you happen to be reading this, you know who you are!) I am the owner of an Impossible Project Instant Lab camera. This amazing little invention creates instant photos of any image you can put on a cell phone. I have played with it all weekend, trying different exposures, making images of cell phone photos and artwork compilations, and double exposures. 2014-02-08 11.31.45

There will be a full blog post on this very soon! I am still too amazed at what it can do to really put in words yet.

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I have had to do more healing this winter than I ever expected to. For the first in quite a while, I finally feel like I have a better grip on it. 2014 is still new and still fresh, and still great.

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Today also happens to be the birthday of the guy I adore. I am very happy to be enjoying 2014 with him. Happy Birthday love!

The house on the hill

I mentioned in my last post (almost 1 month ago…sorry!) that John and I were moving.

It finally happened.

I survived.

Everything is starting to get settled.

There are not as many boxes anymore.

And we now live in this beautiful little house on a hill.

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With yards filled with day lilies and hostas…




and a large front window that looks out over the world…




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It all seems quite perfect!

We are working our way through the long part of settling in, but already it seems to feel so much more like a home. Our home.

Updates will be much more frequent now. I have a lot of things to tell you all about!

Until next time,


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Film photos with twinkle…

This may be the fastest I have ever gotten film photos finished and posted. I posted on Sunday a little update about the Luminary Loppet and going out to take night photos of the ice candles. I posted my digital photos, with the promise of film photos to come later.

Well, guess what. It is already later! On Tuesday I had a bit of time in my studio and was able to develop the roll of film I had taken, and today I managed to get the photos all scanned in and cleaned up. So here you go! Night film photos of the Luminary Loppet!

The black and white photos were all taken with Kodak TriX 400 film using a Hasselblad 501c/m camera at f11, one minute long exposures. I love how some of them look like they were taken in daylight, and others don’t. This is the un-predictability of film I adore, especially with night photos. There is no exact way to meter, but after a bit of practice, you get pretty good at guessing how long your shutter should be open.

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(The light trails in the back are cross-country skiers going post. Many of them had on colored glowing bracelets and necklaces.)

Below is the only photo I managed to get with my Sx-70 out there. After this photo, something stopped working. I’m hoping to get it back up and running soon. No, I am not at all a camera repair person, but The Impossible Project has a few really good tutorials and trouble-shooting guides. I’m hoping that will help me!

This photo was taken with the Px70 Cool film, probably around a 10 second exposure, and stuck in my shirt to develop.

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Thanks for looking!