Social Documentary

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

Women's March 2019

Hey everyone!

Last Saturday I walked alongside thousands of inspirational women and men who support their cause for equal rights and so much more!

Of course I brought my camera’s and documented the day. Shot some digital. And shot some analog. And the scanning is still not done yet. But here is what I can share at this moment. And when the scanning is done I will either update this post or make a new one.

Hopefully my photographs can be of assistance to the path of equality…

- Cristian

A quick date with Kodak Tri-X.

Leftover rolls…

I thought it was a good idea to write more about some of my processes. And especially when I shoot something different than regular. Of course I would rather give you constant travel and adventure updates. But unlike the internet likes you to believe, real life is not always like that.

I shoot both digital and analog. But all of the experimenting you can do with film is just so much fun! Of course when I shoot with film I have my preferences. I just love Ilford and particular HP5+ 400. For me it is the perfect film. But sometimes I just have to try out new stuff.

And in that case, old stuff. Because when I was cleaning up my fridge I found out that I had two rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400 left.

Good excuse to go out and shoot.

Sidenote: I noticed afterwards that I even had some more. But those are expired. I will safe all the expired film for a later fun thing when I have plenty of time to spend.

Just doing random stuff…

I had no particular plan or anything. I just went out and shoot. First roll of Tri-X 400 on EI 1600 and than pushed two stops with developing. Same as I actually always do with my film. And the other one on box speed so I could screw around with long exposures.

The thing is. You do have to develop twice in that case. So don’t plan it when you are in a hurry and you want to see your results quickly. You can’t dump them in the same tank.

The first one which I have shot wasn’t all that different from every other film you eventually push two stops. So that was just walking around Amsterdam, Haarlem, and Utrecht and having fun.

For the second one I have brought along my tripod. I was trying to experiment with long exposures and multiple exposures at the same time.

The long exposures as a single shots turned out well. There was nothing wrong with those. But when you combine them with multiple exposures you miss the definition in the people. You only can get them when you are really quick with the “please don’t advance the film“ lever I think. I guess that is the whole reason why Titarenko was so good. Making good long exposures with people in it are just goddamn hard.

Technical details…

As far as the technical details of the developing process. I have used Ilford DD-X developer, Ilfostop, and Ilford Rapid Fixer. All of them on 20 degrees Celsius. So nothing fancy actually.

Deja Vu…

No philosophical message this time. Except for maybe just have fun and try new stuff… But what I did remembered is why I don’t like Tri-X! And that is it is curly as hell! And the film also damages quite easy I think. And it is not that I am a ruffian with the medium.

No dust magnet though. So that is a plus…

On aesthetics. I think that is just a matter of taste. I just like the way Ilford looks more. It is more me… Although Tri-X also has that classic look that all of the legends had. Sometimes you get that whole Garry Winogrand or Bruce Gilden vibe.

Speaking of legends!

What I always get reminded about how much shooting analog differs from digital. Especially mirror-less… You get instant feedback how your image looks. Particularly with those electronic viewfinder… Oh boy. I get why people like it. And than to think of it what kind of amazing work all of my heroes produced with all of the equipment from that age.

No auto focus…

No electronic viewfinder…

No feedback…

I mean, you have to visualize the entire image. And your feedback how it looks can take from hours to days. No fancy gadget makes you a better photographer. But it sure makes life easier.

But I digress!

Like always!

My damn monkey mind…

Not the longest post this time. But in the end it is just about sharing work and words, and hopefully that it reaches someones heart somehow.

Have a good one….

- Cristian

Learn from this mistake... My adventure with Ilford PAN F and a jetlag.

Happy new year to you all!

First blog post of 2019. And let me start off by saying that I appreciate every single one of you that takes the time to read my articles.

Thinking in soundtracks…

I was supposed to write this earlier in the day but I had a severe case of procrastination and I finally bought magnum contact sheets. Than my monkey mind got tricked in by looking at my scans again because if all the master could make it look that beautiful back in the day. I should’t have a problem with all this modern equipment!

Well…

I actually don’t have too much problems with scanning. Except of those pesky Vietnam negatives. Did some tweaks on my more recent scans I took on an estate close by. And my self confidence was restored.

Yes! I did not suck as hard as I was thinking I was!

So with those tweaks. Got my Vietnam negatives in the scanner again. And they still are the same…

That triggered a track from the band Down - Learn from this mistake

I always seem to think in lyrics or soundtracks or whatever if I do something. Don’t know why. But that is just how my brain works.

How it happened…

Everything went well actually! I found film in Ho Chi Minh. Got through customs with a hand check. In China as well as Vietnam. And got the film home safely.

Like I told you in the last blog post, the security officers treated me so nice. Hand checks were never that easy. So if you are a security agent at Chinese or Vietnamese customs. You are appreciated to treating this film photographer so nicely.

So I came home…

And being as excited as I always am I immediately got to work. Backed-Up all of my digital files. Threw the into Lightroom. And of I went.

Same goes for my analog shots…

I do all of the processing myself…

Processing yourself is way more fun than bringing it to a lab. And with the amount of rolls I have shot I am getting quite proficient in it.

You have so many advantages like, being more cost effective, in charge of your own quality, experimentation, magic. (Yes developing and printing analog film really is magic…)

But because I am so proficient my ego got the best of me…

I apparently had a jet-lag!

So that means I am human after all…

Into my dark bag I went…

I popped everything into my dark bag. Rolled the films on the spools. Got it in the Patterson tanks safely without light. That part… Went well… Like it should!

Than the developing started. Mixed my chemicals according to the massive dev chart.

BTW! I haven’t mentioned it in this article. But the film I just in Vietnam was Ilford PAN 400.

I love Ilford.

And unfortunately they did not have HP5+. Or at least I could’t find it…

Anyways. Back to the story…

What happened during developing is that because I was so tired and almost fell asleep I mixed up the order of the treatment. After I was done I have gotten in the fixer first and than the stop. It should be the other way around…

I still had and image but the grain was bigger and harsher, and there were some glows over the film. And weird other stuff.

I never would have have taken a risk normally. And especially not if it was work for a client. But somehow this one time I slipped up.

So why write about it?

So why write about it huh… Well. If everything went well in life we never would have gong any better. You need to indeed learn from your mistakes. Even if at the moment a situation doesn’t look import, in this case being tired. It would never make me a better developer. Or a photographer!

Also appreciation…

We are so lucky now with all the digital stuff. Writing this article with Magnum contact sheets next to me gives me the realization how much of a craftsman all of them were, and are.

We all hopefully know that a good photograph is not made by the camera. Even if you have the most advanced device ever. And that thing in your pocket is no slough either. You still need vision and creativity to make an image. Composition is everything…

But I am more trying to say is that everyone in that book, or even wasn’t in that book was so more aware of what they were doing. Craftsmanship and thinking things though were the order of the day. While the internet now is complaining about no dual memory card slots in the new Nikon Z1, they just had one roll. And for 36 exposures the same set ISO (ASA). And after that when it got send back, it was all in the hands of the gods. Than a lab technician came into play. The list goes on and on…

A bit more technical…

If you are curious how I developed it…

My recipe for this bunch was:

Rodinal 1 to 50.

Ilford Ilfostop 1 to 19.

Ilford Rapid Fixer 1 to 4.

Developing time 24 minutes since I pushed the Ilford PAN 400 to 1600. All of that on 20 degrees Celsius.

I always love to push my film. And this time I chose Rodinal. Other times I use Ilford DDX. Actually. That is now my preferred developer…

And now for the photographs…

Cris! They look like crap! Well… Yes, if they would have looked pretty this story would have been a lot shorter haha. They are shot on a Nikon FM2n with a 50mm f 1.6 AI. 50mm is totally not my focal length… But it is what it is. My 35mm was on my digital one. And I always travel minimal. But I immediately got my hands as soon as I got home on a new old 35mm AI that will replace the 50mm.

For comparison. There are some later developed photographs. Same method. Only not screwing up.

But now… A few minutes later when I am looking at them again they actually are not that bad. At least aesthetically. But you have to ignore the tint shifts and other weird spots you see haha. And I seem to have a memory they looked worse when they came out than they look now.

Here there Vietnam photographs. (Navigate by pressing the buttons on side).

As you can see there are spots and tint shifts. The inversion process was like always. Smooth. And right on time.

Same process. But not get the order wrong. Images are way more clearer and sharper.

Conclusion.

People say that black and white is the most forgiving format to develop. And is less prone to mistakes. Of course they are right in comparison to color film. But that does not mean they are bulletproof.

You still need to get your hours in and fine tune you whole process.

Take your time…

You only have one shot with your negatives. So give them the attention they need…

The small KOZP demonstration photo series...

Protest…

Last Saturday I attended the “Kick out Zwarte Piet” demonstration to document it held at the city of the Hague.

In the Netherlands where I live we have a holiday named “Sinterklaas” or in English, Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas is accompanied by Black Piet, and that is where the whole story is about.

Black Piet is portrayed as a black face. And in these times while we try to fight racism so hard on one hand, and the world is getting more polarized on the other. Is there really still a place for a character like Black Piet…

Pro or Against Piet. This is a tumultuous time which exposes some horrible cracks in the, for the outside world, the very tolerant society of the Netherlands.

And that alone makes it an important time for Dutch history…

For me… That means it needed to be documented.

Tolerance…

If you are curious where I stand on this topic…

I am against racism, intolerance, and discrimination in any, way shape or form. Period.

We should go back to Krampus anyway.

He is way cooler and is the first OG of Piets…

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The one about how photography is looked upon across the world. A sour market salesman. And you and your work are important.

Ah Sunday morning...

The day I am finishing up this blog post.

Getting through some world news. Having some coffee. And listening to some vynil. Perfect conditions to finish this story up. It is going to be a long one, so get ready to challenge that millennial attention span! 

We will touch a couple of subjects like GDPR (law), differences how photography is viewed around the world, and that your work is important.

So let's start...

I wanted to write this article for a long time. And my encounter with an incredible sour market salesman in one of the busiest places of Amsterdam sped it up a bit.

I was so happy last Friday. It was finally raining again... Oh boy I waited for that moment so long! Rain for me is the ultimate photographic aphrodisiac. I write about it sometimes in my captions. Rain makes the masks fall off from people. People wear multiple masks. Especially here in the rich west. As soon as it starts raining they disappear and start getting real.

Some get angry, some get happy, and some just don't want to get wet. For me as a photographer that is important because you can document how they are. Not how they pretend to be. That is a big difference in the story you try to tell.

I got on the train and started walking. It was not a bad day, and I think I walked around 12KM or something. My usual distance...

Unfortunately the rain was not as present as I hoped. And it took a while before I got in the flow. But after a while I started to warm up and gotten more and more shots in. 

After a couple of hours I was almost done for that day. But I made small detour because there is always a market in Amsterdam on one of the squares in the city center. And market is a good opportunity to work with layers and lines. 

So I walked around a bit. did some layers shots. Walked to the end. Shot some more. And looked for some interesting scenes, stood still for a bit, and decided to walk back because I was in the mood for a beer.

The moment I decided to walk back I got spoken to by a market salesman sitting on a stool. Apparently he noticed me and he made a very weird remark. And instead of letting it go, or even worse, get affected or angry, I decided to start a conversation with him. 

The reason for this; a couple of weeks earlier the lady of flower shop not far from there started yelling at me because I took a photo of her shop from 20 meters away. And that is quite the distance with the focal length I am shooting with haha.

For your info. I use a Fujifilm X100F at the moment. That one has a fixed focal length of 23mm on a APS-C sensor. That means 35mm Full-Frame.

Normally nobody notices me, or they just don't care. Or they like what I do. Especially when I talk to people. I actually never had any bad experiences before. There are four I have ever had in all the time I have been photographing. Including the sour market salesman.

Once I got a message from someone who thought he could get rich of me. A junkie somewhere in the middle east tried to shoot me, but I think it would have been the same if I walked around that neighborhood without a camera. The flower lady. And the sour market salesman.

Three out of four incident happened in Amsterdam.

Let that sink in...

So before that last situation happened I started thinking about that subject matter. And what it means and let my whole monkey mind go nuts on it.

Remember my monkey mind?

Back to the conversation with the sour market guy.

Because of I was so intrigued by his remark and why he and the flower lady reacted like that I engaged the conversation.

So I stayed very polite. I explained him who I was and what I do. And asked him why he reacted the way he reacted.

The sad thing is, he could not give me a good explanation...

He just kept saying it was not allowed to take pictures. And after I told him what I do with the photographs. A brief history lesson about photography in Amsterdam and Ed van der Elsken. And actually that I am allowed, he still didn't get it.

His buddy who was sitting next to him did get it. And actually was very interested. Thank you sir. You were actually very kind...

After that he started getting mean. He told my I would fail in all of my endeavors, did some additional cursing and some other very rude remarks that were completely unnecessary. And I don't need to repeat to get my point across with this blog post. I giving the situation enough attention as it is already. Also some bystanders came to support me and tell the guy off.

The thing that stood out most from that conversation is he could could not explain himself.

Besides that. The market in that area is based upon selling artwork. So why don't you understand that photography is art?

From a commercial standpoint you are hurting your own business by making a scene in front of your shop. So why do you want to do that?

And I think most import. You are in one of the busiest sections of Amsterdam with your stand. You know that there are a lot of tourist there that just want to have a good time and take photographs. Why in the hell do you think your ego is so important that you can get mad at someone for taking a photograph?

I could go on and on... But I guess I need to start getting to my point before it becomes more of a rant instead of a informational piece.

One of the explanations I gave was that I am documenting life and when I am not traveling I document Amsterdam. His response was; photograph somewhere else.

Of course there is a lot more nuance in the whole conversation. But still...

And I did not even take his photograph. And even if I did, and he didn't like it. He could have told me in a normal civilized matter. I can totally understand that.

But unfortunately being angry and rude to people is a trend see evolving in the city. Espacially bikers yelling at tourist. Come on! You know that you are riding your bike in the city center. Most tourist have never seen so many bikes in their life. So why be angry at them? Just take the other lane one more street further where there is nothing to yell about...

But back to the core of the article!

On "How photography is looked upon in the world"

I was curious; Why!?

It is so strange that of all the places I have been the one back-home is the one with the weirdest reactions?

In Japan for example photography is a big part of the culture. Everyone likes it. Same goes for the entire South-East Asia. You will not have any trouble there. I know tv shows from Korea which are totally dedicated to photography and they follow heroes like Alex Webb and David Alan Harvey.

Northern Africa is a bit more difficult but if you use your common sense you will not have any trouble. But you can run into that sometimes people cover their faces. Same goes for the Middle-East. But that should not give any problems if you are just polite.

And of all places Iran has been the most photo friendly country I have been so far! People want to be in your frame! In Tehran I have gotten so many nice responses. Who would have thought that!

I still have to go to India. But I will be there in October so I can tell you more when I get back.

So why here...

Is it because of the paparazzi that ruined photography for us all?

Is because everyone has a cellphone with a camera on it and we see so many crappy photographs?

Is it because the west is getting less and less educated in art?

Or is it because we have became so wealthy that with all the technology and living in a  "Garden of earthly delights" like society  (the painting by Hieronymus Bosch ) that were are so into instant gratification  and are just motivated money, lust, and ego?

I sincerely hope that someone can tell me that answer. Or maybe I will find out myself in the near future...

It is fascinating how big the difference is from country to country.

It is not all bad. And maybe it even differs from city to city.

For example: In the city of Scheveningen. Which is a small town next to the Hague. There is a huge exhibit going on about Street Photography / Social Documentary which has been shot and exhibited on the beach. And everyone likes it!

The exhibit is on the big pier BTW! It is worth it so go check it out... 

The other things that I took from that conversation is the "I hope you fail...", and "You are not allowed..."

On "I hope you fail..."

Besides it is just very mean to say. I think we as photographers. Or as artists in general we have an very, and I repeat very Important job. We are story tellers. Either it is through photos, painting, music, or sculpting. It is made to move people. Make them happy when they are sad. Heal them or giving a feeling that they are understood. Or even educate people and hold a mirror in front of them. Or maybe even a critique to society...

Also! Art is a way to tell how life was during this time. How it was perceived. I see photography as the only way we have a real life time machine. The one thing that can stop time itself. Other ways do not exist. And there is no way the most important moments in life can be relived than through this medium.

So yes. To everyone that reads this that is a photographer or a artist in general...

Your work matters!

Especially now. In a time when there is more polarization than ever. More conflict among each other. From the Netherlands to the United States. More people dictating each other what they should or shouldn't do. Racism and segregation.

Sometimes for me society feels like we are repeating history and have not learned a damn thing!

So continue to inspire others with all the beautiful work you are making. And never ever do not let someone else tell you otherwise!

You matter!

Not only as a artist. But as a person too...

So ergo. You matter to me...

On "You are not allowed..."

Of course you are!

*Small disclaimer: I am not a lawyer

Besides from that we have established that social documentary is an art form and not paparazzi. And ethically you are not doing anything wrong.

Laws in Europe have changed. GDPR is now in affect. But after I have done lot's and lot's of research on the matter. Nothing has changed actually...

If you are in a public place you are allowed to take photographs. And you don't need to ask for permission in doing so. 

As soon as you press the shutter button you own the copyright.

But! There is always a big but...

You do have to do it from a journalistic, artistic, or educational standpoint.

Some might even think that you have to erase your photograph. But depending on the country you literally don't have too if you don't want too. That goes for European countries and Northern Parts of America. Remember that the copyright is yours.

You cannot use it for commercial purposes. That means you can not sell it to a big brands and say: here, use this one in your marketing campaign. You have to get model releases.

But you can use it as fine art. Make a print. Or a book.

Like always. There are some nuances in play. But I will link some sources (In Dutch) below. So you can read it yourself.

That of course does not mean you can walk around and being an ass and annoy people with your camera. Remember that you have an important job? That can only be done with ethics and a good heart.

My final conclussion...

This experience raised more questions than answers I am afraid. But more about how we treat each other than about art itself.

And maybe even how hypoctritical we are as a society. 

And when you have gotten to this last part of this article probably means you are a photographer yourself. Or a lover for photography.

So let me explain myself with a question I get sometimes.

"Do you ask for permission?"

Well... Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. And if it is not personal work but commissioned or a assignment people know in front that they are photographed.

We look at pretty pictures and all enjoy the works of Steve McCurry, or attend a World Press Photo show, or read the National Geographic... But how do you think those photographs are made?

The decisive moment is once and it disappears in a heartbeat. And you will never get it back. Photographers or artists are the only ones who can make sure it is captured otherwise it is gone forever.

It is not easy to document life. And tell how beautiful the world is. And sometimes very sad...

Let that sink in for a moment and go on by your day...

I guess it is time that I put up another record. I have spend to much time behind the laptop already...

- Cristian

Sources:

NVJ

Arnound Engelfriet (Internet Lawyer)

Ivor Rackham

Freelancer Club

RAW Photo Tours