“The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great that I thought I was in a dream.” -Jack Kerouac
My reason for visiting San Miguel de Allende was primarily to photograph around the Day of the Dead, but a large part of our time there was spent simply wandering around the town, totally free of any agenda. I was checking things out to determine if this was a place I could relocate to for a few years while I recharge my creative batteries and immerse myself in the task of learning the Spanish language. It is really quite a lovely place, full of friendly people and, literally, a photograph waiting around every corner.
Here is a gallery that will give you a general idea of the local architecture.
I seem to have an obsession with walls, windows and doors. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I can’t seem to walk around in any new place without constantly scanning for interesting, decrepit, colorful, overgrown, tumbling, rambling edifices to photograph. Turns out, San Miguel de Allende is right up my alley. I could have spent my entire time there just making photographs of one window or door after another. It was all I could do to make myself occasionally look elsewhere and take pictures of people or Day of the Dead alters or the cemetery full of flowers. Here is a small gallery of some of my favorite walls so far. I’m certain that when I head back to San Miguel I will find many more incredible, old, shabby walls, full of beauty that I can share with people.
The image of the elegantly dressed skeleton has become the symbol of Dia de los Muertos throughout most of Mexico. The original lithograph was produced by José Guadalupe Posada in the late 19th century.
Somewhere along the way, the image of the dapper skeleton came to be merged with our Halloween traditions and these costumes emerged. Some of the young people you see in this gallery appear to embrace this new tradition with gusto, parading around the town square and posing for pictures with anyone who wants one. They stay completely in character and don’t speak a word to anyone, although they are not above drinking a Coke or sending a quick text to a friend.
I hope to learn more about these young people and would like to get an opportunity to photograph them in depth, but I will first have to become fluent in spanish. Currently, “mi espanol es muy mal”.
I have been working this past week on transferring some of the things I have learned to printing on a new substrate: canvas. These may eventually show up on some clothing if things go well.
This is a lightweight canvas that I am printing on here. It holds up very well to the cyanotype process. I am finding that some images that didn’t work as cyanotype prints on traditional papers, seem to be much more pleasing on the canvas. This is one of my most popular images, taking on a whole different mood when printed this way.
My uncle’s 70th birthday was this past weekend and I travelled to Dayton to share the special day with him. More than a hundred of his friends were on hand to celebrate with him, and his neighbors Ruth and Harry were kind enough to open up their home for the event. Their home is quite a spectacular place, having been created from a turn of the century church in the St. Anne’s Hill historic district. It was grey and flurrying this morning, but I managed to capture a few shots of the church that I liked. This is my favorite of the bunch.
I was visiting my uncle in Dayton this past weekend and had a free hour to walk around the lovely historic district where he lives. Most of the homes in the district have been restored, but there are still a few that have that “well used” look. I’d like to spend much more time exploring this neighborhood, especially when the light is better than it was this morning.
This is my latest effort with the Van Dyke brown printing process. It is Van Dyke over pigment and is accomplished by coating and contact printing the Van Dyke over colors laid down by my Epson printer. I chose a very challenging subject for this first print. Not only was I working with two negatives at the same time, but by choosing to add colors to the sign lettering, I had to insure perfect registration between the negatives and the pigment coloring underneath.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to make many photographs of these wonderful structures while they sat in this field on Route 9 near Georgetown, Delaware. They began their life in downtown Rehoboth Beach as small rental cottages before being sold at auction in the name of “development”. They spent about 2 years in this field before being purchased by someone else who has since resold many of them individually. I know of at two that have been restored back to living condition and I can only hope that the other three will also find good homes with loving owners.
I made photographs of these structures in every season while they stood here. This image was made in the fall, when the trees had nice color (which gives them a variegated look in black and white) and the foreground was full of soybeans that were dried and ready to be harvested.
This is my most recent effort in the Van Dyke process and is one of my best alt process prints to date. I don’t think the scan does it justice. The actual image is 4″x9″ on Arches Platine paper. It will be toned in selenium to improve archival qualities which will also alter the tone and color a little bit.
I’ve been working pretty regularly on this process for the last few weeks. For those who aren’t familiar with Van Dyke brownprints, they are produced by hand coating paper (I’m currently working with a nice hot-pressed cotton rag paper called Arches Platine) with an sensitized solution of iron salts. The paper is then contact printed with a negative under UV light. The sun was the earliest source of this light, but I am using a bank of UV florescent bulbs, lent to me by a friend. This produces a very warm toned image on a heavy matte finish paper. The finished print has a wonderful rich quality about it.