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IRIS AWARDS Semi Finalists Carlo Margaret River

IRIS Awards Carlo Margaret River Bronica 645 Kodak Tri-X. Back in 1987, I started a personal photographic project: photographing some of my family members and relatives around Margaret River. I didn’t set out with any particular plan such as a start and finish date, or a wish list of images, as perhaps you would for a commercial project. It simply took shape as I visited the region, usually several times per year. It depended solely on what opportunities presented themselves, at the time of those visits, for photography. Naturally, at some point during my visit I would ask if they would mind if I made some photographs whilst we talked. In some instances, there was only ever one photographic session, the confluence of opportunities and circumstances never re-emerging. Luckily in those situations I got what I thought was a pleasing image, so mission accomplished.

When I first photographed Carlo, above, he was already 83 years of age. I would often find him out in the paddocks, fossicking around for wood burls or looking for field mushrooms when in season.  Before his passing, at nearly 90 years of age, I had the pleasure of making several memorable images.

Most times I used my 4×5 field camera for the portraits, even leaving 4×5 Polaroid prints with my subjects after my visit, which was always a nice way to say thank you. Other times I used my 645 medium format camera, such as in the image above, which was easier to handle in rapidly changing circumstances. I used Kodak Tri X for both roll and sheet film, metering was all hand held, both film and prints hand processed by me.

I entered this image in the recent Perth Centre of Photography 2010 IRIS Awards, a national photographic portrait prize, some months back, and then actually forgot all about it. Unfortunately it didn’t make the judges’ selection for the final exhibition, but it did apparently make it through as one of about 30 semi-finalist images, according to a PCP flicker posting. How many of these made the final show I don’t know.

I only became aware of the above posting quite by accident, I certainly wasn’t contacted by PCP. Whilst on the subject of the Perth Centre of Photography, isn’t it time some of the digital savvy members amongst the PCP brought the website up to a professional standard? These days it’s not hard, difficult or expensive. The current PCP website has been under construction for far too long, which is farcical if they are a “centre of photography” running “national” awards.  Given that Perth Centre of Photography receives funding from WA’s Department  of Arts & Culture to run two national awards (IRIS and CLIP Awards), it would be nice to see an up to date and informative web site about the awards’ results, both past and present. It certainly would be a more inclusive way, for people outside of Perth of staying informed of the results, after all it’s meant to be a national award.

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Margaret River in winter flood flowing through tea tree forest Australia

Margaret River Western Australia

The real Margaret River in detail. On the day I made this negative it had been drizzling consistently with rain, a typical winter’s day with an overcast sky, and then a late afternoon burst of sunlight. The river was flooded with fresh rain and the noise of rushing water could be heard several hundred metres away from within the marri -jarrah forest from where I had emerged. The forest (now a proposed national park) formed a natural buffer between my grandparents’ farm and the river valley. I have fond childhood memories of the river in various moods, with its secret rock pools, forested banks, jumble of dark rocks and fallen trees. But it is during the midst of a winter flow, with the rush of water over submerged rocks, swirling around partly submerged peppermint trees, that the rhythm of the river is most mesmerising. Kodak Tri X 4×5 film, exposure was probably f22 at 1/2 second, Rodinal developer.

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Coastal heath Rock Thryptomene Margaret River Region

Rock Thryptomene Margaret River Western Australia

Detail of Rock Thryptomene, Margaret River region. The relationships and spaces formed between the living and the inanimate often create a fascinating visual harmony. These wind pruned, stunted coastal Rock Thryptomene sit high on granite sea cliffs just north of Margaret River.  Their tendril like branches of rough, fibrous bark and miniature hard spiky leaves are further testament to this harsh environment. The cliff tops are exposed to the height of winter gales which sweep up from deep within the Southern Ocean, sometimes with hurricane force. Grasping a root hold in shallow soil depressions between boulders, their branches spread outwards, caressing the very surface of their rocky domain, twisting and curving back upon themselves in a graceful, almost calligraphy like gesture.

The exposure information is as follows: Film was Tmax 400,  4×5 format,  90mm lens, f32, 1 second exposure,  developed N+1.  I was interested in experimenting with the contrast of a duplicate negative by toning it in Kodak Rapid Selenium toner diluted 1+3. I toned initially for 3 minutes, but could not detect any change in density, so continued up to 10 minutes. There was still no change so I tried straight toner for two minutes without dilution, still no affect. When I contact print both negs side by side there is no difference. I have only recently started using TMax 400 4×5 film, and this is the first time I have ever tried toning it. Previous toning has worked with Tri X 4×5.  Maybe it is something to do with the chemical state or silver content of processed TMax films? (This is the New TMax film).