Wednesday, May 15, 2013

15 of 31 - A post a day in May

An oldie. I was playing with slow shutter. The other 10 or 12 from this series were great but I could have burned them all once I saw this. I loved it. I still love it. I miss the days when she would let me take her picture.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

14 0f 31

Just prior to closing down my last darkroom I had friend/photographer Bojan Furst come by and take a few photos of the action of the darkroom. These photos will find their way to my site where I will use them to reinforce the fact that I use film and I do everything by hand.

It was a great darkroom and was big enough for my computer and office as well although that didn't make it's way into these photos. No computers needed in a darkroom. :) I used this for a little more than a year. I knew I'd be moving on so I didn't fill the walls with test prints like I have done in other darkrooms. It seems plain to me. I'll settle in better in the next one.

My new darkroom is almost ready. Possibly by Monday evening which is the most exciting thing in the world. I have a great craving for the solitude.

Thanks Bojan for these photos!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

13 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

Once, about 6 years ago, I was fully pregnant and appeared on tv for the CBC show - Living NL. I was the "expert" in a segment on how to photograph babies. That's when I first met this guy, he was the baby test subject in the segment.

A few months later I went back without a video crew to photograph him and his new sister.

I recently had the pleasure of photographing them again. I love repeat clients, I really do. There is no better compliment to me and my work.

These two are so articulate and outgoing. They are great kids and were a pleasure to photograph.

At the start of every session I just sit my subjects down and take a few photos. It's a little chat session and usually nothing comes of those photos. These guys were such chatters that I felt this photo was a great representation of that. Something about it I like.

Holga with 3200 Delta film. It's a gritty combination and I like it. 

Can you hear the giggles?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

12 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

My daughter wanted a dress up glamour type party for her 11th birthday. She asked that I make a lighting set up and take photos. How could I say no?

I just developed one roll and found this photo of her friend. Beautiful! More as I find/develop the film.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

11 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

Found film!

I recently moved into a new (to me) house. While packing the old house I found a couple rolls of film among the dust bunnies. I recently started developing the backlog of film since moving (29 rolls at last count) and one of those found rolls was developed. It's so fun to develop found film because while hanging it to dry I am looking at it like a stranger thinking "What IS this?" until the realization rushes over me and I get excited.

In this case we had a roll from last summer. Kids of Steel Triathalon at Bowring Park. I took a bunch of instagram photos but forgot about the few frames of film. It was in the car for over a year and it looks like the heat/cold/freeze/heat of a car interior has had an affect. Extra grain for everyone!

My little guy was 5. He was so far behind that when he finished he was all alone. He thought this meant he was first. He was so excited to win the triathlon that we let him believe it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

10 of 31- A Post a Day in May

My father has a successful welding company and his company, Allan Murphy Welding (no links or other inter web hocus pocus here) is responsible for many of the beautiful railing and fences around town. I used to photograph some of these for him and enlarge them as gifts that he hangs in his office. I hadn't done any in many years and decided it's time to get back to that idea.

My youngest brother is now a welder as well and he was part of the team that installed this one.

This is one I gave my dad for Christmas this year. I waited for the perfect snowfall to act as a contrast to the black iron. 

Bannerman Park, 2012.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

9 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

Yesterday I showed off a darkroom print made when I was 15. This leads into the story of how I started to do what I do.

Back in Jr. High our school had no budget for a yearbook. So a group of us decided to do it ourselves. We had a darkroom and a photography club and the reckless determination of 14 year olds.

We took all the photos and did the layout and all the illustrations. Looking at it now it looks like 14 year olds made it but we were so proud. I was part of the group doing the photos. We took sports photos, group photos, candid photos, event photos - we did it all. Then we developed the film and printed the photos in the darkroom. Some combination of us is on every single page, my grown up apologies to those that also went to this school but didn't make into any candid pages of the yearbook.

I think it's fantastic that none of us could figure out the flash sync problem. It's a pretty ironic "Photography Club" photo. ;) It is as washed out and horrible in real life as it appears here. That's me in the front holding the camera. Obviously.

The yearbook committee photo is slightly better. There I am in the front again. Who was running and hitting the button on the camera? I have a memory of it being a delayed shutter type thing. 

Here I am in my grade 9 glory. 

I really loved the darkroom. I loved the smell of it and the red glow and I just thought it was the most fantastic place.

I felt powerful when I had a camera. I was (and am) shy in a group but give me a camera and that shyness goes away.

Once High school came I didn't have access to a darkroom anymore and that love took a back seat to partying - I mean studying. I was 24 years old by the time I built a darkroom in my house and I have had one ever since. I took a refresher class with Shane Kelly and it was after the first class I felt like I remembered at all and all those great feelings came back in a flood.

I can't really explain why I enjoy it so much - I just do.  To me the developing the film and printing the photos myself is all part of making a picture. It's like the love that good cooks put into the food they make. The darkroom is the love.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

8 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

Today is Paula's birthday. Who is Paula? She was my bff back in the day and also the subject of this: the oldest darkroom made print that I have in my possession. Printed in the school darkroom where I first fell in love with the smell of fixer. I can't tell you where the other prints from that era might be - maybe Paula has them? We were 15 years old when this was made. She was a firecracker and was duct taped to the wall for reasons long forgotten.

Happy Birthday Paula!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

7 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

Instagram. I think it's very fun. And it's photography. I love photography. Needless to say I enjoy Instagram.

donzaramsay is my name there. It's also my name on twitter. Apparently there is another Donna Ramsay out in the world who keeps stealing my identity. So Donza it is. You can call me that in real life if you want. I'm like George on Seinfeld who tries to create his own nickname. Donza.

Everywhere you go there are people taking pictures on their phones. At my daughters recent dance recital everyone - and I mean everyone - was using a phone to take photos. Wait I forgot about the lady using an iPad. No excuse for her. (Please don't use iPad to take pictures in public, you look like an idiot).

I don't think there is anything wrong with using an iPhone to take pictures. It's the camera you always have so it makes perfect sense. The problem is when it's your only camera and you have 4000 photos and have never printed one. Or when you have 4000 pictures on your phone and 2500 that made it to instagram and you haven't printed any of those either. Or a few years go by and you have 10000 instagramed and still haven't printed any and now it's going to cost a fortune and it's all too overwhelming so you don't even bother.

What happens to all those photos? All those dance recitals and first days of school and first teeth and visits with the cousins? Where are all those photos? Gone. Poof.

So today I was thinking of this blog post and I did something I've been meaning to do. I ordered a book of Instagram photos. Mine are mostly my kids and my animals in everyday type setting - snapshots. As happy as I am to have these photos I will be so much happier in 10/20/50 years when I'm looking at the little book of photos and not sadly remembering the day I dropped my phone in the toilet.

I ordered a few minibooks from here. I plan to order posters or maybe some prints for the walls of my soon to be finished rec room. I'm not waiting for any untils or whens. I'm starting today and I hope you do too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

6 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

This spring marks the 10 year anniversary trading portraits for money. To celebrate I am using the blog and doing a Post a Day in May.

Today is Daniel and his cats.

I have a cat named Holga. A while ago Holga had 6 kittens. My brother Daniel and his girlfriend Jess took two of the kittens and named them Rock and Roll. I recently photographed the cats in an effort to save myself a trip to the mall and give a pet portrait as a gift.

If you have someone in your life who is in love with their animal - a pet portrait is a fantastic gift.

I choose to enlarge a photo of just the cats as their gift. This one is my favourite though and I think I'll add it to my family photos wall.

This Holga photo is the one that I enlarged for them.

And a couple more for fun.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

5 of 31 - A Post a Day in May

10th anniversary in the portrait business. A Post a Day in May to celebrate.

Aren't you all dying to know how I became so obsessed with the Holga?

About 10 years ago I had a darkroom and I had cameras and I had young subjects all around me. I was obsessed with the idea of getting a bigger negative but I did not have the funds to buy a high quality medium format camera (back then medium format cameras were still very expensive). Somehow I had read about Holga on some internet forum and knew they took medium format film and could be had for cheap and hey - cheap was good. So a few weeks later my first ever brown paper package with white twine arrived from Hong Kong. I messed up two or three rolls trying to load it but once I figured it out - glorious. That first roll had about 10 useless frames and 2 good ones. The beauty and depth in those two frames sold me on medium format forever. Soon after I acquired a medium format Bronica and have been using Bronica and Holga ever since. I have maybe 25 Holgas and every accessory and just made an order for more. I have dabbled with other "toy" cameras but nothing can lure me away. It's my favourite. I love the challenge in using a camera that has no settings and no focus and a body so bad it leaks light and a lens so bad it has crazy vignetting. (photographers note - It has setting in developing film stage and it has focus in your feet.) Anyone can use a camera that does all the work - it takes some sort of magic to use Holga. (fyi I now have flipped my success ratio - 10 good frames per roll for sure!)

This image was on my first ever roll from my first ever Holga. I enlarged it to 16x16 at the time because I was amazed at the detail in the medium format negative. It had a romantic *feel* to it that blew my mind. It's not the most amazing photograph in the world - but it's amazing to my photography journey.

I'm not a  teacher. If you want to know more about Holga click here:

If you read all that and still have questions please call me - I'd be happy to help if I can. ;)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

4 0f 31 - A Post a Day in May

A son who lives far away commissioned a portrait of his parents. I thought this was the sweetest inquiry I've ever had.

They were a darling couple, and a delight to shoot. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Post a Day in May- 3 of 31

*This spring marks 10 year anniversary of trading money for portraits. Stay tuned for a portrait special TBA.* 

A recent Maternity Newborn session. I enjoy these very much. I get to celebrate the mother and then get to come back and celebrate the baby and new family!! It's a great privilege.

We did the Maternity session on Signal Hill. Literally endless scenes and backdrops to be found. 

Beautiful Mom-to-be. 

Bronica 645 + Tmax.

Holga and bright sun always means fun leaks.

Here are three versions of the same photo. First up - straight and stylish. 

This is Holga with overlapping frames. It is as easy as not manually advancing the film all the way to the next frame. The image is exactly as it appears on the strip of film, including all the film edges. This is something I do at almost every session but it's always a gamble since it relies heavily on the highly sophisticated technique of guessing. In this case I guessed correctly and this was ordered as a fantastic 12x20 print. Framed up it looked amazing. 

This one might be my favourite. It was the last frame of the day. I said "last frame say hi to your baby - she's in the camera" and the parents just LIT UP! For a very split second they looked for her in the camera and it was adorable. 

Who wouldn't be excited to see this little darling?

Sweet little baby who was loved by all generations.

A new family was born!!

Sealskin!! I need to get one.