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Monday, 13 January 2014


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Don't you have a car and a laptop? The Curmudgeon's Road Journal would certainly entertain us all. Bring the dog. Motel 6 has free WiFi and allows pets.

Have you ever heard what Red Smith, the great sportswriter said about writing? "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed." I don't know how you write in such an easy an accessible manner almost every day. Some would say it's a gift, my guess is hard work.

As to the old Winter/print- Summer/shoot......didn't you say you got a nice printer?!?! Why not set some time aside (I know, not your strong point) and see what you can make?

As long as you keep writing of course.

You say "the light is dull". I have to disagree with you. I find winter's light to be incredible. The sun doesn't rise as high or as fast in the mornings. It sure seems to set pretty fast though. A fresh snowy landscape and a full-ish moon, wow! Winter might have the best light.

>>What are you doing, photographically speaking?

I'm deleting crap from my back-catalog. I'm also using a macro lens and reversed diffusion-enlarger-head setup to copy old slides and negatives. It ain't quite as much fun as shooting outdoors on a warm sunny day but it will do.

Doldrums? Vodka!

Winter is a nice time to go out and take pictures. Everyone else is at home, less traffic. And you get that low sun in the sky for most of the day, not just between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. It's cold though, and you tend to stop into more cafés and restaurants, so you get to see those too. You get used to the cold, but you have to dress for it. And so it's so nice when you return home. And your friends envy you because you did something they didn't.

Failing that, there will be the Olympics on TV soon, and you can watch cross country skiing or curling.

It's not as chilly around here as it is in your locale, Mike, but the polar vortex rather shocked us. I stayed inside until the temperature got above freezing last Friday. I then ventured out to the C&O Canal park and found some pretty nice ice on the banks of the Potomac. I didn't stay out long, though. (If shameless plugs are allowed in comments, one of my ice shots is here: http://deanwightphotography.blogspot.com/2014/01/winter-at-c-canal-park.html)

Some things don't change too much. The pics are still there, if I take time to explore, although some days are certainly better light-wise. I used to have a Thomas 'super' safelight in my darkroom; now I just have an even brighter conditions in my "lightroom" office. The editing/printing is ongoing, with background music as usual.

If anything, I like the freedom now to digitally print when the mood strikes, rather than having to gear up for a darkroom session by mixing fresh chemicals, making time for the inevitable clean-up, etc. And retirement now makes everything less subject to schedule. I rather like the spontaneity.

Sometimes spontaneity leads to something more deliberate. I'm thinking about a 'project' involving the photographing of same locations at different times of the year. I recently stumbled upon a few 're-takes' and liked the juxtaposition of pics, in different seasons, evoking different moods and visual dynamics. It has me thinking about something more intentional and cohesive.

I spend the short winter here in N. Florida printing my favorite snaps from the year before via an Epson. You could too Mike.

As a Swede I like the winter light good days. For one thing: the blue hour is reachable (currently around 8-9 in the morning and 3-4 in the afternoon), in the spring that light is very early or late and by midsummer the blue light is only a couple of hours in the middle of the night. Different of course further north where they have sunlight 24/7 for a few days/weeks.

That said, the dreary, gray, flat light in combination with wet, muddy snow in the streets will never be a winner in my view and I stay in. Some would start a macro project or something but I play music instead.

For whatever my two pesos are worth, I honestly don't know how you keep it up. Writing, as I can attest, can be exhausting. One of my shortcomings (actually my ONLY shortcoming) is that I am inconsistent. I publish then go lazy for a few months.
So, for me, you are amazing if nothing else, in your consistency...sic devotion.
Keep it up because we miss you when your gone...

Street shooting! Oh it's famously dull and rainy here in Vancouver in January. Yikes! So, the solution is to wander the downtown streets at lunch time looking for those happy souls who wear bright colours that seem to glow on a grey day.

I guess the obvious question is, what's wrong with printing more digital photos in the winter? It does involve more sitting, more computer time, which for a writer might be the last thing you want. I'd like to make one good print a day, but haven't reached that point yet.

Come to think of it, I don't even remember if you have a good large format digital printer these days (besides Ctein I mean).

I've had a very busy fall and winter (far busier than I'm going to discuss here), but I have a backlog of thousands of files that I haven't even sorted yet. If my extreme state of busy-ness were to somehow be alleviated (it ain't gonna happen soon), I'd be able to spend the rest of winter just catching up working on the exposures I've already made. I guess that's the digital version of darkroom time?

109.4 (43 celcius) is predicted for today in my home city of Melbourne, Australia, so I'll have the heat induced doldrums coming home on tram and train. But some of my day will be spent cataloguing wine in 13c with a fleecy jacket on. Such a contrast in todays globally connected world. Still must take my b&w photo for the day though.

Interesting post, as I'd actually been thinking about what a *good* time winter is for light. You can go out at 3 PM and get the kind of low angled light that you have to wait for 7:00 for in the summer. Just yesterday I spent a couple of hours out walking and photographing, watching the sun cut through the branches. Colors are muted, a nice contrast to the colorful pop of autumn and spring. It's also a great time for black and white conversions as you get a lot of crisp, detailed shadows from the low, weak winter light. There's a lot of contrast to be found. Throw on a balaclava and spend a couple hours outside tomorrow afternoon.

As for the doldrums, have you tried a "SAD Light"? I cannot vouch for whether or not these work, but my wife just got one because she takes a mental dive every year around this time. (We're in New England.) Throw one on your desk and see if a few extra lux per day can help you out.

Same thing I do in the other 3 seasons; maintenance on the photo library, culling the images I never got around to reviewing. Also, I embrace the winter weather and drive to known locations that offer great Winter landscapes. Alternatively, I explore the city and suburbs for subject matter to add to open projects. Winter light, sunrise through sunset, can be spectacular. My issue isn't the weather, it's available time.

The doldrums are an area where the trade winds from the northern and Southern Hemispheres meet. The only way the air can then go is up, I.e. It is a zone of low pressure, which leads to a belt of thunderstorms. It is also known says the inter tropical convergence zone. Here's a figure that shows a line of thunderstorms along the itcz.


Cheer up, Mike. Football season may be winding down, but it looks like the Badgers are serious contenders for a national basketball championship.

Winter didn't have any welcome in NNY. We got blasted by snow storms followed by freezing rain and sleet that left 7-8 inches of ice on our roof damaging our skylight and chimney when a thaw made it decide to slide off in one sheet. Then there was that Polar Vortex thing. We now have a more moderate system that almost seems tropical by comparison.

I been thinking about making some prints (digital) but I'm so burnt out from just surviving that thinking is as far as I've gotten. Maybe I should fire up my ColorMunki. That wouldn't take much energy.

Head South for a while and write from the road.

Reasons for a photographer to look forward the winter in NYC: the sun is lower all day; twilight comes before dinner time; more photogenic wet streets and sidewalks; gorgeous snow scenes everywhere on the rare days it snows; and finally, I have to stay indoors and do my taxes anyway, so it might as well be bitter cold and miserable outdoors.

Since photography is my avocation rather than my paying career, I treat Winter as just another subject like Spring, Summer and Fall. Each has its particular and specific nature to record in photographs. It's just a bit harder to be out there doing it in Winter at the more polar latitudes.

Process photos in Lightroom (or whatever software you prefer) and print on inkjet-printer?

I'll admit that digital darkroom processing doesn't take nearly as long as the wet variety (and the smells are much less interesting), but I will confess that I have a large backlog of digital images that I'm starting to work my way through now that the winter doldrums are here. An interesting question: were we better off with fewer images, but much higher cost to "print" each one, or with many more images to sort through, but much faster processing to have them ready to enjoy?

Hey Mike, you can always "go with the flow" and just take pictures of the gloom - http://www.pbase.com/image/154109068/original. Or else wait until the sun makes an eventual winter appearance - http://www.pbase.com/image/154123686/original.

Either way, it's always good to get outdoors for a lungful of fresh air this time of year.

Perfect post for me... I've been shooting film again for a few years - my post-holidays plan had been to relearn how to make prints. The idea was to do it now to beat the winter doldrums

Well, how about some reading then - thoughts on the future of photography?

I'm surely not the first to forward this to you, but Craig Mod posted an interesting follow-up/companion piece to his New Yorker essay "Goodbye, Cameras" entitled: "Photography, Hello."


Some TOP commenters who dismissed his earlier article might be interested in hearing him expand on where he's coming from, his love of cameras, and his discomfort with the changes photography is going through. Even as, at the same time, he's optimistic and excited about the broadening of possibilities.

Still won't satisfy everyone but it's definitely worth a read - and don't miss the endnotes.

No reason not to print - the evenings are long, light is scarce outside and the blue hour early (if at all), so I print digitally. Even without lengthy preparations and cleanup, good prints require a good amount of time, so these drab winter evenings are just made for it.

So. . .whatever happened to that darkroom you were building a few years ago?

I hear you! In Calgary we often hear that our climate can be summed up as 10 months of winter and two months of lousy sledding. I tend to loose all ambition in the winter. The dark dreary days just seem to sap away my vigour.

I suppose S.A.D. is something I should look at and take appropriate measures. I would be quite willing to move to Central America for the winter (to get all that extra sun) but unfortunately my sweetie's work is here.

To stave off full blown cabin fever I have found that if I actually get out and do some snowshoeing I can trick my system into thinking I am having a great time. My Panasonic LX-5 gets attached to my backpack shoulder strap just in case something photo worthy presents itself.

Once home I pour myself something enjoyable and play with the images in Photoshop. Again tricking myself into thinking I am actually having some fun during these horrid month.

More night street photography- which is inherent with the shorter days.

Maybe you need some darkroom activity.

This digital photographer is loving winter! Two weeks into retirement (or "redirection" as a very active 82-year-old friend calls it), I'm staying indoors and finding time for more reading, more writing, more looking through neglected books of other people's photographs, and getting around to cataloguing my own 2013 photographs in Lightroom. I sling my Fuji X-20 over my shoulder when I go out for a daily 30 – 60 minutes on cross-country skis, just in case I'm ambushed by a photograph that is determined to be made.

Don't talk to me about spring — gardening and house repairs that can't be put off, photographic subjects neglected and withering in the heat … bah, humbug!

Mostly I've been reaching for the flashgun, but I have plans.

What I'm thinking is, if I sort out all the stuff I don't need and Ebay it, I can clear enough space to run a semi permanent darkroom down the end of the bedroom. I can use the Ebay gains to pay for chemicals, paper and blackout materials.

I've finally sussed out a way to do it, and did a bit of sorting out today.

I have a 6x6 Zeiss Ikon folder, and a 6x9 No.2 Brownie, so I will be making enlargements from the folder and contact prints from the Kodak.

Here is at least one person who thinks winter is a great time to get out and shoot. http://admiringlight.com/blog/its-winter-go-shoot/

As Jordan Steele puts it, "...the winter is actually one of the best times of year to photograph. The sun rises later and sets earlier, making scheduling golden hour shooting a lot more convenient, and even outside those hours, the sun remains low in the sky all day, providing far better mid-day light than in other parts of the year. Finally, there’s constantly changing conditions. Snow and ice can radically transform your favorite locations, giving you incentive to continually get out and snap some photos."

I can certainly think of more jovial or recreational things to do, but making print worthy files of silver neg scans is one productive (if mind numbingly tedious) way to while away the winter hours....

Living in southern California, the ebb and flow of the seasons is a little different, though winter is still less hospitable than spring and fall or summer to me (except for that yummy winter glancing light). I would sort of welcome a real winter that would keep me inside and force me to go back through the previous year's images and print those that didn't quite make the cut, or which I didn't have quite enough time to print before the next printable image showed up during the year, and finally print them. (I'm a bit of a throwback, image-wise, because for me the print's the thing -- if I haven't made a physical print, the image doesn't go online.) Anyway, you can still spend lots of time in the darkroom -- it's just not a dark room any more.

NAIAS -- the Detroit car show. A day of taking pictures and a couple of weeks making pictures.

Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Try to avoid the people showing off their new Canonikons.

Walk around downtown on a really snowy day. Nobody bothers a guy with a camera when they're watching out for ice and splash.

It's summer here in Australia, so I find it hard to put myself in your shoes. (And for an ex-Canadian like me, even winter here in Jervis Bay is summer; except that the sunrises arrive at a slightly more civilised hour and are more colourful. That's great for photography, but doesn't help at all with the motivation to write.)

"What are you doing, photographically speaking?"

Three things.

1. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot!
Winter may actually be my favorite time to photograph. The snow, the low sun angles, the sunless-nearly shadowless days make for wonderful abstractive and surreal imagery not possible any other time.

This year, in particular, I'm following an enormous construction project that's producing surreal scenes such as this:

I estimate that, on average, one third of my annual outdoor images are captured during cold weather months. I get cranky if something interferes with my winter photography.

2. Read Read, Read!
I tend to squirrel-away photo books for cold winter days. Next to watching classic films there's nothing I enjoy more than studying good photo and art books on dreary winter days.

3. Print, Print, Print!
Winter is when I do a great deal of my non-directed personal printing although, as I remarked in an (unpublished?) comment to your Sunday article, I tend to make at least small work prints year-round.

There you have it! I really look forward to winter. The only time I get winter blues is when other obligations supercede any of the above activities.

ConeyGo to Coney Island of course!

What do I do at the end of winter? Create some web galleries with the images from 2013.

And I'm noticing some great light outside, clouds breaking and the sun looking shy behind them. So enough Lightroom for now!

Lots of comments about how winter gives lots of directional sunlight. That's true, as long as the sun is shining. All too often in northern England it's just grey skies.

I certainly find that winter affects me, and not just photographically - I feel generally down for a few months. I find some solace in my garden, which I do seem to have planted with late winter/spring and early summer in mind. The snowdrop shoots are well above ground now and the first of them will be flowering in a week or just over, and they'll last about a month. The first daffodils will be through in early February, and they should also last a month or so. Then also in March there are the crocuses. I find that I measure these months by the appearance of these flowers, a reminder that spring will come.

The light is dull? When the Sun is low in the south the light is wonderful//almost 3 seasons worth of that. Winter light on super flat days can be pretty cool for some things..Im finding that, in the digital thing, lots of possibilities with flatly lit images.

What's the difference between the darkroom and printing on your comp's printer? Nothing..it's printing. And, you don't have to be sniffing fixer and standing around in the dark room.

You sound nostalgic but you still have the same basic tool set to do exactly what you talked about..do it.

I try to challenge myself to be outside and shooting this time of year..doesn't matter if I come back with good things..Im out and walking and looking around..sitting around is DYeING.


A SCAN a Day keeps the Doldrums at Bay
One old negative each morning with your coffee will do it.
Epson is selling their Perfection V500 scanner for $149 free shipping
The Transparancy unit is 2.7"x 9" so it will do 120 film
It is specified at 6400 dpi but cheap stepper motors being what they are if you hold 35mm negs to 3200 dpi you can make beautiful 6x9" prints -bigger with extraordinary originals. It's even better with 120.
It's not a drum scan, or an Imicon, not even close but it has the potential to surprise you each morning with your coffee.
I have spoken with the scanner community, and they are willing to let bygones be bygones if you try again.
Second, change all the lightbulbs in and around your work area to BlueMax (CRI mid 90's) lamps from these folks https://www.bluemaxlighting.com/full_spectrum_light_bulbs_35_ctg.htm
You'll thank me later.; -))

Mike -- I found the solution this year: I moved to Florida. I can shoot every day, all winter long.

"Phil took this shot from a sailboat with a Waukesha engine when he was passing near the Johnston Islands."

Oh he was just trying to get you to post a picture by pandering


I really like how the light gets in the late fall/winter/early spring here in Pittsburgh. All the low angles and molded shadows make for neat effects.

So I try to get out and shoot stuff when I can.

Otherwise I sit at my computer as usual, and do computer things ... and picture things, and whatnot.

Stick a fast aperture prime on the camera, take a walk downtown near dusk and just wait for the lights to come on.

I love shooting in winter. Bundle up and head out for as long as you can stand it, see what's interesting. The light is always funky, lots of fun. B/W winter pics are a favorite.

In about a month pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Maybe that helps?

From an old post of yours, January is the time I make an effort to "redact and reify!"


I'm photographing frost patterns on windows.

I spend more time in the darkroom, trying to catch up.

I'm out photographing! This is the most beautiful time of the year in the Midwest.

Studio time! Macro and table-top shooting. Image construction.

put together 35 of my B&W street shots for local art gallery director viewing.

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