Saul Leiter

Playing with color...

I am a lover…

I am a lover of Black and White photography…

If I had to pick my soul apart and examine that little bit that is responsible for photography you will find out it will consist out of bit and pieces of Ilford Delta 400 or HP5+ and Kodak Tr-X. DDX and HC110.

But in that whole mess of Black, White, and all the shades of grey, there is a secret part that loves color.

Seduced by the wonderful tones of Steve McCurry and his Kodachrome. A mistress of the vibes of William Eggleston. Or a unspoken connection with the works of Harry Gruyaert.

So got myself some rolls of color film. Just because I felt like it!

I have got my hand on some Cinestill 50D and Kodak Ektar. And luckily for a short while there was no shortage of light. Did some casual roaming around. And had no real structure whatsoever. Just photographed everything that peaked my interest. I mean, I will be traveling in a couple of weeks again to work more on my ever evolving Israel project. So casual and just having fun is all I needed for now.

And it was fun! I mean, everyone knows that shooting analog is always a surprise. And way more difficult than digital. Also you don’t have the luxury of your back screen. But in comparison to Black and White you have to think in color.

So I tried to look for some colorful scenes and just clicked away.

Because most of the all color that I did shot lately was digital I was quite excited! So curious what the end results was... I was particularly excited for the Kodak Ektar. No specific reason. I just love the vibe of it, if that is reason enough. I am not very good at describing color pallets…

Me and my big bucket…

Since I do all of my developing myself I developed these rolls myself too. And in comparison to Black and White development I actually think color is more easy. With Black and White you can influence a lot by tweaking your entire developing process. From agitation to different developers and all of it you can think of. With color it is more straightforward and you can fuck less up.

The biggest challenge with color I think is getting everything to 38 degrees Celsius.

If you have followed my Instagram stories of that day. You might have noticed I have used a nifty little trick for that… If you are curious. Well… I guess you just have to follow my Instagram stories in the future to find that out haha.

Pushing it…

No this is not a reference to a Salt-N-Pepa song. But I did pushed it real good! To 400 to be exact. I think I only shot one roll at box speed. That was one of the cinestills’. But since I always like to push it, and 50 and 100 ASA is really not enough. I was like; screw it! Crank it up!

Added 30 seconds per stop to the developing time and it all went down as smoothly as a nice IPA on a sunny day. Or any other day…

Happy as a camper…

When I scanned the results I was indeed happy as a camper. It all looked wonderful and especially the reds really seem to stand out. This is why I shoot film… The smile on my face when you get the rolls out of your tank and seeing you film dry and after that the end result in an beautiful image. Or a sucky one when you screw up haha.

I would have loved to print some, but at home I can only do Black and White printing. I will look at that process maybe at a later time.

Wrapping it up…

Not wanting to make thing one a too long of a post, so I am going to wrap it up. Like I wrote in the beginning, I am about to work on my project again in a couple of weeks. And I need to get everything ready. So here are a couple of images of the rolls. Not all of them, otherwise there is noting left to share at a later moment…

So thank you for reading. And since you have made it this far. Here are the images.

- Cristian

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

CInestill 50D EI 400.

CInestill 50D EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D.

Cinestill 50D.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Andante - Portrait series of the soul. No 2. - Reham

Andante…

Or in other words… Slow…

A musical term that means slow. And also the name of my portrait series.

I found it on the cover of an vinyl LP record I inherited from my father and the music on it was exactly how I felt. And even represents a side of me. Of course I have a happy side. But my other one is full of romance, love, sadness and melancholy. I embraced it and love it very much.

The name: Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 IV. Andante.

I wrote about it in an earlier blog post which you can find here.

Time…

For me it represents time… When you are doing something you like or love and are having a good time it flies by, and when you are going through hardship or have to wait for something it goes as slow as it can be. But time is only to spend once…

That’s why it is so valuable.

Reham…

This portrait series I just want to do by gut feeling. And that is how I choose the person I ask to photograph. I was thinking for a long time about whom I could make my second part of the series with. Than at one moment, I woke up in the morning I was thinking about Reham. I knew I wanted to photograph her for a long time but the puzzle pieces never connected until now.

Reham is a beautiful young soul of Palestinian descent that was born in Syria as a refugee but was unable to reuturn home. From Syria she went to Dubai, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey, before eventually ending up here in the Netherlands. Now studying computer science at one of the best universities of our country.

She is one smart cookie.

I’ve met her during a diner named “Diner voor gelukzoekers“ (Diner for fortune seekers) a couple of years a go hosted by Roos. The woman in the first version of this series. Everything is connected.

My process….

So how does that translate to my photography? Well… As you can see in the first one. It is full of people passing by as souls. And in this one… Trying to capture it. This through a medium of analog film instead of digital. A slower process of manual focusing and metering and developing it myself. Also, during that slowness I wanted to capture more…

I wanted to capture her power!

Her heart.

And eventually her soul…

A young powerful woman that is youthful and experienced at the same time. So after a couple of hours wandering through her hometown I think we succeeded. And during the editing process I ended up with four frames which I thought that would show everything perfectly.

What EI I shot it at or which film I used is not important. Except maybe that I always use Ilford for everything. With some exceptions of course. Other than that giving someone a safe space to open up is way more important.

The rest is not only film chemistry, but chemistry between you and the soul you are photographing.

So hereby…

So hereby. My second part of Andante - Portrait series of the soul.

- Cristian

Digital vs Analog, Israel, testing stuff, and other project updates.

Hey everyone!

This blog post is not really a dedicated story about something particular. But more of a quick sum up of everything that is going on. I will address my photography and I will be addressing a little bit of my travel plans and projects that I am preparing.

So I am putting on some Tool (The band) and just write away!

And at the end some images… And yes. Even some color… As a reward for reading through everything haha.

That analog life…

If you have been following me you probably noticed that I am getting more and more into analog photography. Not that there is anything wrong with digital, but I just think it is tons of fun!

For everything is a time and a place though.

It started out with just pure curiosity. How it works, and aesthetically it is just amazing. For me there are too many variables in digital photography if you are really into the whole mega post-processed stuff. But I am more of a documentary photographer anyway. So it is not that bad. But I remembered when I started and before I have found my voice photographically the amount of stuff what you can do and achieve are almost limitless. That can be a advantage… But for me… It is not… The less of distractions in my gear the better.

With analog I pick a film that goes with my subject matter. Of course you need to do some post processing. That part is not different. Unlike some people like to believe. But your base is just different. And because of that I can focus more on my composition instead of being a Lightroom warrior.

Sitting in a Ferrari…

The fun thing is. After you have shot analog for a while as soon as I grab my digital camera it feels like I am sitting in a Ferrari. Everything goes so quickly! You can review what you are doing, not to worry about a full roll, auto focus all of sudden… Man! Like a hot knife though butter!

I already mentioned this once before. But every-time it gives me more and more respect of the photographers from the golden age and all of my heroes. In comparison shooting analog is just goddamn difficult!

Shades of grey…

The world is not black and white like photographs, but situations are as grey as they come. Same in the case of photography. And specifically; what do I bring on my upcoming project…

I will be traveling to Israel and the Palestinian territories again at the end of April. Continuing with my everlasting story I want to tell.

And despite I want to shoot most of it analog. The thing that is going through my mind is.

Is it practical?

If you have ever been to for example Jerusalem. The amount of detectors you have to go though is enormous. And the last thing I want is that my film is getting screwed up by all the scanners and stuff. Of course on the airport you can ask for hand checks. And as you have read in my Vietnam and China blog, it is not really a problem. But I just don’t want to take the risk. Because if I lost any of my images again I definitely get a heart attack or something. It happened already to me last year and, I don’t want to happen it again.

In the end my heart will probably kick my brains ass and I will bring digital and analog anyway.

Lomography…

Speaking of grey… I have been picked by Lomography to test their new Postdam Kino 100 film. From what I have seen it looks like an amazing film. It is inspired by old German cinema. And from the images I have seen what they have shot I am actually really curious what it will give me.

The only thing is, because it is 100 ASA I need a lot more sunlight. And the Netherlands is still grey…

But as soon as I shot it I will dedicate a blog post to it. So stay tuned for that…

Developing stuff…

Lately I have written a lot about developing. Especially on Instagram. And filming it to and such. But I am trying to keep it on my own blog to a minimum.

The whole reason for that…

I just want this about the art of photography and my adventures. Projects I am doing. And even maybe a sort of diary with things that come to my mind. Not one of the many gear or technical blog that are out there.

I am a photographer first. The rest is just bonus…

I do like I said, share that stuff in my Instagram. That whole platform is as contemporary as it can be. It has it’s uses. So that seems like the right place for that.

Also you probably will on some guest blogs that I am going to write. And have written already. You can find one on 35mmc. I have written a 5 frames with. Go check it out if you like! Click here.

There are also some other ones in development. But I will let you all know as soon as that will materializes.

Searching for stories…

After I return from Israel and the Palestinian territories and processed all of my work I will be looking for another place to travel to. No idea which one yet. But I am doing plenty of research. Nepal, Papua New-Guinea and Uzbekistan are on my list. But it always can change.

I am open for suggestions though. So if you have some. The comment section is open, so you can always drop a comment if you want.

The stipulation is. I do need to have a story to tell. The main focus is that I want to steer my work towards that I create more depth in my images. Not only with composition. But also ,it needs to be about something. Otherwise it will be just one of the many millions out there. I need to get out of that street photography flow and more into my documentary photo-journalistic flow.

So I am looking for events that are happening. Some special festivals. Tribes or (sub)cultures. It’s a difficult task. But hey, if you want that your work means something…

Ramble on…

Not the famous song of Led Zeppelin, but this time it is me that is starting to ramble again. So it is time to close the lid of my laptop and go to bed. Because I am finishing this story up on a Saturday night…

Oh!

And I bought a “new“ enlarger for my darkroom. Time to print!

Alright. This really was it. For now at least!

- Cristian

Ilford Delta 400

Ilford Delta 400

Ilford Delta 400

Ilford Delta 400

One of my few color shots lately.

One of my few color shots lately.

And another color one.

And another color one.

Did Instagram kill photography?

I woke up this morning...

Thank god...

Because I like waking up!

The smell of incense was still hanging around from last nights meditation... Sun was a shining a bit on my face because I left the curtains a bit open... And my mind went to photography again...

Because I like photography...

Cup of coffee was made... Went back to bed... And turned on my iPad...

Grateful...

In comparison to most parts of the world where I travel to, people don't have the luxury waking up like this...

I started watching "The many lives of William Klein." and Daido Moriyama's "Near Equal.". If you aren't familiar with those photographers go look them up! And make that your main task today...

I let my mind wander... Thinking... Always thinking...

Because I like thinking...

And my monkey mind is always jumping from one place to the other. In this case to a quote from another legend, Elliot Erwitt. "Digital Manipulation kills photography".

Altough I don't completely agree. Because photographs have always been manipulated! Either in the darkroom or in the digital darkroom that is stationed on your computer.

He does have a point!

My monkey mind was going insane again. But it ain't all that bad...

Because I like my monkey mind...

How does Instagram fit into all of this? And what is Instagram actually? And what if William Klein was born when Instagram existed? or Daido Moriyama?

Valid questions... But more so. It gave me also the opportunity to think about the way how the general public uses Instagram. Or any other piece of social media. Or hell! Even how we treat everyday life.

As where I stand now the platform itself is a blessing and a curse at the same time.

Let me elaborate on that.

The positives are quite big actually. It gives any person in the world the opportunity to get their message out there. Either it is music, art, views, or whatever. It can help you build a audience that you otherwise would not have. The whole world at your fingertips! As long as you have a internet connection and a phone or a computer.

Awesome right?

The downside is... Well... us... The people...

Wait wut? What do you mean Cristian!?!?

Well like a lot of things in life it has become more of a popularity contest. We as a species at this moment, and yes I am realizing I am generalizing heavily now, seem to have to attention span of a goldfish! Actually I believe that science already proved that it is even less now...

We choose to get triggered by stuff that is catchy. We see it in our politics, how we communicate with each other, or we rather take a pill to lose weight than change our diet. And even rather send a text than have a telephone conversation because it is scary...

Same goes for art and Instagram.

For me a great photograph is something that you have to analyze... You can lose yourself into... Let yourself escape from reality... Or experience reality more vivid... It is really one big visual story one way or the other. Either it is the traveling tales of Steve McCurry or being in some sort of photographic version of the horror movie the ring and a playboy magazine with Daido's work.

And how does that translate to a medium like Instagram?

Well no worries I will come to that. Life is one big story! And...

Because I like telling stories...

Well, look closely how you scroll through your feed? Maybe another assignment for today?

I goes something like this....

Scroll scroll scroll, Like , Scroll, Like, Comment, Scroll scroll...

And all of that in a couple of seconds...

Did you actually see some of the photographs?

Or did you just got triggered by something catchy?

Would you have the same behavior if you go through a Steve McCurry book?

I think it is a good question to ask yourself. Especially if you consider yourself a photographer, a artist, or just a art lover in general.

That does not mean there isn't a time and a place for the platform. I discovered some amazing photographers who made the platform their own. But it creates some sort of unexplainable distance between one type of photographer and the other. You even got a term "Instagram photographer". Like that a person that uses the platform apparently in a efficient form isn't a real photographer?

I don't know... 

I think photographers that both are on the platform and are not on the platform or maybe less successful on it, are photographers. So hmmmm it can be part of my conclusion...

All I know is I don't like trends... And most of my photographic heroes where from a time that it did not exist. I don't like cropping. Don't like shitty small screens but I do like to print my photographs big. And I don't like it when we fall in the trap of instant gratification. Either it is enjoying art or interacting with humans...

Because I like art and I like humans...

And do we have to copy all the big accounts all the time?

On the other hand I also do realize that times always change. And you either adapt or you die out. And change is good. Altough not always... But sometimes.

And a picture is a picture. It does not matter what tool you use. So should that also count for the medium we use how to show it to the world?

But what I do believe is that whatever medium we use. We do need to stop, and appreciate the art for what it is. Give ourselves the time to enjoy it. Stop a bit longer at the photograph you like and stop scrolling, or walking, or turning the pages...

Enjoy it for what it is.... A story...

Food for thought...

Speaking about food... I am going to have a bite....

Because I like food...

Have a nice weekend you all...

- Cristian

 

F##k instant gratification.

Hey you all!

Some of you might know who follow me on Instagram. I bought a late sixties Olympus Trip 35 for 20,- euros two weeks ago. I did a live video about it and later a instagram vlog when I got the results. I think it is a beautiful camera!

I read some reviews about it online and watched some YouTube clips, and I thought! Why not!

I always wanted to try analog photography for a long time anyway. And as some of you also might know that I really really really like physical things. I just think stuff loses their soul in the digital world...

Anyways! Bought the camera from a guy that lives in my hometown. Thanks Matt Que! It rocks! Bought some rolls of Tri-X 400 and I was good to go! Later when I get the hang of it I can always buy a more fancy analog camera.

The Olympus Trip 35 is a point and shoot style camera rangefinder style. You only got two shutter speed, you can adjust the aperture if you want to. A dial to enter your ASA number and that is it! But I think for the best result in this case is just leave it on auto. In that case you just have to just the distance to your subject. For that purpose there are meters on the bottom and little people figures on the top.

I went out and got shooting. Essentially there is nothing different than normal photography... You see a composition or a situation, aim, and snap the photograph...

What is different, and that makes it very exciting, and that is you have no fucking clue what you are doing. Of course you know technically what you are doing. But you don't have a display that will tell you if you got the shot!

The other thing is you only got 36 shots. So you can't just snap away! You really have to think about the situation if it is worth it. Do I want to spend one of my frames on this situation or composition?

All of that makes you think...

I makes you value more what you are doing... It gives it worth...

In the throwaway society thing that we live in it is a rare occasion...

And all of that just because you really have to work for it!

And that isn't the fun part! The fun part that gives it even more value is taking it to the photo-lab to get it developed! Like normal printing you have to think about stuff like; what kind of paper do I want? How big needs the print to be? Do I want borders? And after all of that you still don't know what your photographs look like!

And than you wait... And wait... And wait some more...

The black and whites had to be send out so it took a bit longer and after 4 days I got them back Developed and print! Ready to be drooled on be me!

I opened the envelop and there they were... Beautiful! I was so happy!

Not every shot was in focus but I didn't care... They were amazing!

I browser through them already a lot of times. And I will continue to do so haha. It is reall, it is physical, and I can hold it. It is magic! That feeling that can't be explained. And it made me happy as a little kid gain.

I will post some of the photographs below. Not everything. Because I want safe some for later... So there are some of my first roll. But I think how it looks digitally does not do it justice. I scanned them with a very convenient app named PhotoMyme. If you want to digitize you analog shot that seems like a easy way to go. You can just use your smartphone for that. And if you want to do it more fancy you can use a real scanner or even scan the negatives. Probably more on that later.

So in the end I can only conclude is shoot some film yourself! Fuck instant gratification and just go out and go analog. It is really fun, I can promise you that!

Finally my Iran work in physical form! Souls of Iran as a Zine!

Dear friends!

I was so busy with everything that I forgot to wright a blog post. And to tell you all a super exciting update!

My Souls of Iran work is now available as a two part Zine!

I am so happy with this. I can't describe it into words. But I will try it anyway haha.

And yes, I know I know, I should write more... I'm working on that!

I wanted to to make a book at first. But I got really inspired by a special about zines. Or zeenes...

The origin of Zines is rooted in Sc-Fi, Punk, and Photography sub-cultures. It was, and is used to self publish their work or their own ideas and spread them around there scene or the world.

And with me being a photographer and still have a lot of rebel in me left from when I was a little Cris, it seemed like a better idea.

The book was actually already done. The spell check was back, had some people look it over and review it whom I hold in high regard. And I was good to go!

Until I was watching a episode of Ted Forbes's YouTube channel "The art of Photography"... Btw, if you are really into photography it is a awesome channel to follow. It brings the art back into photography.

Anyway! I was so inspired! So I decided to sort of re-work it into a Zine format.

Making a version of a4 size paper stapled together was maybe a bit to rebellious for the way I wanted to present my photographic work from Iran I decided to go with the most used self publishing service out there named blurb. Blurb is a very cool platform for everyone who is trying to get his or her work out there and offers incredible quality and services.

I also made the creative decision to split my work up into two parts. Isfahan & Shiraz, and Yazd & Tehran. It seemed more fitting. And that way I think the focus is more on the photographs instead of the volume of pages.

And in this day and age I think that was the best fitting way to present it. Everything is already in bulk. If for example you look at Instagram. I don't now how long people look at a photograph. But it is way to short... I guess that is the reason why I like physical prints so much. You have something real...

Another factor was price.

My fine art prints are expensive as they are. They are of course worth every euro. But it is still a fair amount of money. And I wanted to make something that is more accessible for everyone. A book would cost around 70,- euros. And the Zines are 20,- and 15,- euros. So that is a big difference.

Small side-note. Every cent and euro make it possible for me to continue my photographic journey and tell the story world. And makes new future projects possible. So it is a big support!

The end result you can see below. And yes, it makes me very proud!

Like I said before. It feels good to see your work in physical form. And hopefully all of you like it just as much as I do!

If you are interested you can order it through here or just click on the shop and than Zines menu item.