Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Succesive Prostrations: Another View

You see them on the right. I would estimate it would take about 4 times as long to complete the circumambulation this way.

Pilgrimage Via Successive Prostrations

This is the beginning of the Kora circumambulation around the Monastery. Some pilgrims prostrate themselves succesively around the 3 kilometer route. You see them to the left. On the right, you see pilgrims making the circumambulation in the normal way.


There is a prayer area as you go from the village towards the Monastery on the road past the monk's cells.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

God Bolts

Shooting into the sun often produces this kind of refraction called "God Bolts" by some. I shot into the sun at Labrang to make an HDR, but found this image with "globules" extending from the sun to the head of the person passing by. Different filters accentuate the bolts. "Lighter" will give a sweeping set. "Maximum Black" gives a more temperate set shown here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boots (in Color)

Here is a case where it is hard to give up color!

Boots Outside, Praying Inside

Philosophy College, Labrang. The occasion called for the best in adornment. These wonderful boots were left outside for the services within.

Philosophy College Court

This is the outer court of the very well-appointed philosophy college. On this morning nearly a 1,000 monks could be heard praying inside at about 11:30am.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Entrance Expanse, Single Monk

Given the competition for space, the vast open areas of the Labrang are impressive and clearly intentional.

Rapid Pilgrims

Pilgrims make a 3k circumambulation of the Labrang Monastery complex and they do so at good speed. Here they pass the GongTang Chorten in their clockwise movement.

PS5 Red filter tweak.

Alone, White Walls

Here is simply tried to find a pleasing compositon of cool, white walls and a single monk.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Walls and Wind

The Monastery lodgings fan out around the main buildings.

Walls Like Tunnels

The "yellow" filter has some good effects, opening up the sides while still preserving contrast.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monastery, Shapes

Used the "red" filter with some tweaks for this one.

From Town to Monastery

The clear air was filled with smoke in the mornings, cooking and other fires, even incense in the Monastery itelf, which is to the left (west) in this picture (maximum black).

Labrang Monastery

At nearly 10,000 feet, the air was quite clear and intense at mid-day. I'm interested how these bright and saturated images translate into Black and White

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apartments, Perifery, Bodi School, Xi'an

There is a wonderful walk around the edges of the Bodi School. Here are some apartments not far from the main gate.

Check Facebook, Also...

I may have some images on Facebook that don't appear elsewhere, on this Blog, or Picasaweb or in the Xinjiang Ver. 3 Blurb book. So feel free to find me, Jim Manley of Claremont, CA on Facebook.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bodi Garden by Moonlight

Actually, by sunlight on a murky day using HDR. Adjusted yellow in the BW conversion.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jincui Templei

HDR; worked with yellow in BW conversion.

West Lake: Boatman

NW part of West Lake in Hangzhou. A murky day, but the color program and the BW conversion helped put some snap into this.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Lotuses: Black and White Version

A soft image with still perhaps enough contrast. Used PS CS5 BW conversion.

Hangzhou: the Lotus Brewery - Color

The HDR Color Version

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Xi'an: South Wall Facing West

An HDR image, one hope against dull days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Old Man of Tuyuguo II

Less tinkering. Maybe less is more.

Old Man of Tuyuguo I

Veveza 2 to bring out the face in color; default BW conversion. Some tiny sharpening. Some structuring/texturing in the face.

Old Man, Dangjiacun, Medieval Village near Xi'an

Am interested in the texture of his face. Used infrared filter in converting to BW

Old City, Kashgar, Silk Route, Xinjiang

This is a street in the Old City in Kashgar, on a rainy day. Used Vevaza 2 to add texture to the street and walls.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hemu: Light Rain Morning

White Sand Mountain: Pamir Plateau

Nikon D80; RAW; Red Filter; Adobe RGB. This is Mr. Lee.

New Blurb Book: Xinjiang

I continue to revise and update the large, hardcover, Blurb book on my Xinjiang travels. The current revision is Rev. 4 here. I will keep the revisions logged on this Blog. If any are interested in buying (or just looking using the good Blurb Viewer), check to make sure you are looking at the latest version.

Near Tashkurgan Reserve

Nikon D80; RAW; Adobe RGB; Red Filter

Tashkurgan Reserve

Taken at the Tashkurgan (or Tashqorgan) Reserve area en route to the Khanjurab Pass to Gilgit, Pakistan, with a Nikon D80, RAW format. Set Levels boundaries and BW with Red Filter. Adobe RGB (1998).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gonger/Hawks BW

Gonger is in the clouds, with a line of hawks across the sky. This is a black and white image, but it seems to suggest color. So should the palladium print.


From China, 2010 - Karakoram Highway, Xinjiang, and Xi'an
This is Gonger in the Karakoram range. Let's see how it works as a BW...

A Black and White Version

Saved this in 16 bits as an option from Photomatrix. The red filter gave the best results going to Black and White in Photoshop CS5. Ron Reeder suggested that adjustments be done in 16 bits where possible.

Some Interesting Images Developing...

From China, 2010 - Karakoram Highway, Xinjiang, and Xi'an

This is an HDR image that should make an excellent black and white print. It was taken at sundown in Hemu, Northern Xinjiang with my Olympus 350SP using automatic bracketing. That is normal exposure and then 1 stop over and 1 stop under. Photomatrix Pro merges them and uses tone mapping for the final treatment. I have also used the PicasaWeb as a source for this picture in order not to double post. The linkage also involves the link to the album as well.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Arrived in Xi"an

Settling in at the Bodi School. It's lovely and quiet here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Silk Route Blog -- More than Palladium Prints

For clarity's sake, I thought it would be best to have a separate Blog for the Xi'an and Silk Route portions of my trip to China this Fall. So I've created the Distant Past: Silk Route Blog for postings, photos, maps, Google kmz files and more. I'll be posting mostly color pictures, not just the ones that might be candidates for Palladium printing. In addition, I'll be posting videos, audio notes, GPS tracks and other travel-related information and interpretations on the new Blog. I would invite those who have followed this Blog, especially the "official" followers, to follow the Silk Route Blog as well. The first postings are of Silk Route maps and other materials that set out the scope of my destinations in western China. Later postings will show new possibilities about how the Blog might be used. Some of these are CPU-intensive, but are all worth at least a glance. I'll be posting in embedded windows not only photos but video and GPS routes as well. This is important because one can use many interactive features of applications like Google Earth and Everytrail, but all within the Blog itself!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back to China; the Kind of Blog Postings to Come

I'll be bringing my Nikon D80 this time to Western China, including some of the sites along Marco Polo's route into China, such as Dunhuang, Urumqi, Turpan (the old Turfan) and Kashgar (though not in that order for either Marco or me). I'll be looking to make palladium prints from these exotic subjects, but I thought it would still be within the spirit of this blog to feature some of the soon-to-be palladium prints in color. This is especially appropriate, I think, because I am also planning a companion color publication to the Sense of the Distant Past Blurb book which is referenced earlier in this blog, though considerably longer. I'll also be attempting to post from China, the account of which should be interesting in its own right.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blog Archive -- This Blog in a PDF package

Some have asked whether there could be a compact, easy-to-read, easy-to-print "package" of this Blog. In fact, there are several programs (Blog2Book/Sharebooks) which do this. You can find this blog (minus this posting) here.

(If you actually download the full PDF rather than "view" it, the Table of Contents entries actually link to later pages in the "book." And you can print it easily as with any other PDF file.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 10th - New Second Saturday

The show opened the previous Second Saturday. It is now down, but 4 excellent pieces are now in the bookstore, including the "Camels" Quadtych. All of the other unsold prints are also available through the Bookstore. Just check the Catalog/Pricelist. A copy of the Sense of the Distant Past Blurb catalog is also available at the Bookstore at $45.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Show Comes Down July 3rd BUT....

....it will still be possible to purchase a print from the SCA Bookstore after that date. (And you can do so for as little as $75.) Here is how you do it:
  • Find the print that you want either from the Featured Prints or on the list here. (Some may already have been sold.) Make a note of ID # number.
  • Then contact the bookstore at 909-865-0252 and let Kate or Cheryl know the specifics.
  • They will take it from there and you will can pick up your print at the Bookstore or make arrangements (extra) to have your print shipped to you.

But there is still time to see these palladium prints before they come down. The Gallery hours are 1-4 this coming Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Featured Print #11: 4 16x20's in 32 x 40" Frame

When I got my equipment for palladium printing, I was thinking of the 16 x20" format. My medium-format printer (17" wide) could print that size negative for contact printing. My UV light source (and old NuArc plate-burner) could provide light on a tray a little larger than that. But the temptation to print larger images is inescapable. My solution is to create a "quad" image by dividing the original image into 4 sections. This is easy to do in Photoshop, if one starts with a clear image. The challenge is in making sure that the tonal range of the four separately developed positive images is the same. This is possible to do if the chemistry is under control and the step-wedge calibration is good. I'm pleased with with these aspects of this large print.

ID #36 32" x 40" $750 Pricelist

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Root Web Page Settling In

Commendations to my daughter, Philippa, for suggesting a web page that includes this Blog and links that are more direct than here (and for alerting me to Tim Burton's Coraline, though I have obviously proceeded anyway). The main link is here, but I've added a short biographical piece here.


I've put up a new home page linking this blog, but also linking the images and catalog more directly. There are links on this home page. Check them with the "cursor over".

I've also altered the look of this blog -- made it a big less dark and coordinated the home page with it. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Commenting and Following

Blogspot has an excellent interface but with security it's a bit complex. Here is what I've found out over the past few days. In order to comment on a blog posting, you need to have an account on Google or elsewhere. I'd recommend Google and you can create a few account, with a nice set of features, at Google here. Remember your ID and password. You'll be asked for those when you Comment.

Following. You can follow this blog by clicking on the "Follow" button at the top right of any blog-page. Again, you'll be asked for credentials. I'd recommend your Google account information here as well. When you follow a blog, you will get updates of what has happened on the blog that you follow. If I post a new entry, that will show up on your Dashboard.

As an interesting note: I've created the blog, but it is not automatic that I follow my own blog. When I, too, click follow I get an update of what has happened on my blog on my Dashboard - no alerts are sent. Your Dashboard will be available to you once you start following a blog. It's possible to get updates for several blog at once, as happened when each of my students had their own blogs.

But the general "tip" here is to have a Google account (or Yahoo -- you'll get a choice) at hand to use when you want to comment or follow this blog.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A (Whimsical) Self-Review

Do you remember the luminous black-and-white images you saw at famous museums when you were a kid? Many prints by the most famous photographers, Adams, Weston, Stieglitz, Steichen were made by the platinum or palladium processes. They were famous for their range of "blacks" and wide tonal range in general. But with the advent of newer, more controllable techniques, the platinum and palladium processes fell into disuse. (This is a platinum print of Robert Louis Stevenson from an article on the processes.)

In recent years, however, they have been resurrected by those interested in the special qualities of the two media -- the cooler blacks of platinum and the warm tones of palladium. The latter process (palladium) is alive and well -- and well represented -- at a new show which opened at the SCA Project Gallery in Pomona, California, June 12th. The title is Sense of the Past: Palladium Prints from Digital Images by James Manley. The show evokes the past through early associations of black-and-white images, but also of ancient and remote geographical areas such as the area around Dunhuang, China, which 2,000 years ago, was the place where caravans on the Silk Route entered China through the Jade Gate and proceeded east along the Great Wall.

The vistas themselves are sweeping and impressive, but poignant in the well-crafted palladium shadings which mask the colors of modernity. Clockwise, Up is an 11" x 14" composition which records the movement of camels as they might have appeared 1,000 years ago, or 2,000, up and over the dunes into the Gobi desert. Camels is quite striking as a vertiginous exploration of point-of-view as well as a design composition using swirl-lines from the dunes. This last print is 32" x 40" and is a "Quad-tych" created from four 16" x 20" palladium prints, consistently developed. There is a "Diptych" of the Great Wall in two adjacent prints, which, together, suggest supple movement.

The photographer attempts to tie the time, objects and places into more of an historical perspective that would be typical in a photography exhibit. As a professor emeritus, this might well be expected, though the result is perhaps more poetic or philosophical rather than historical. The presence of Buddhism comes through loud and clear, however, in the omnipresence of meditation huts (one can imagine the "meaning-of-life" guru being sought out in one of them) and in the face of the temple-attendant.

A surprising percentage of images invite a return look. The Tiger's Nest (Tak Sang Monastery in Bhutan) is one such on a far southern branch of the silk route. This is where Buddhism allegedly entered Bhutan from the north in the 6th century. The show is complemented by a handsome catalogue done by the author using Blurb. The images around Dunhuang comprise the first part, but the second explores the sense of the past in California's Missions, in particular La Purisima Mission, in Lompoc. The third focuses on natural landscapes. One hopes that it will be possible to see these images in a southern California gallery sometime soon. The show was excellently hung by Robert Pece the SCA's Curator. Prints are available through the Gallery. Contact Cheryl Bookout at the SCA Gallery Bookstore: 909-865-0252
The Sense of the Distant Past is up until July 3rd. A Last Saturday reception will be held June 26 from 6-9 at the Gallery, 281 South Thomas Street, Pomona, California.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 26th -- Another Party!

Second Saturday has the most noteriety in Pomona, but Last Saturday recreates much of the activity that occurred two weeks before. So there is another chance to do an Art Walk, see the galleries in the area and to visit the SCA Project Gallery in the evening 6-9 on June 26th. That's Last Saturday. The show will come down July 3rd.

Featured Print #10

Clockwise, Up is the title for this print. Remarkably, the camel population remains robust in this area, though they are now put to use carrying sightseers rather than goods. But this image evokes what it would have looked like a 1,000 years ago as the Caravan departed from Dunhuang across the Gobi Desert.

ID #6 11 x 14 $125 Pricelist

Featured Print #9

The is a scene on the Grand Canal in Suzhou, China, over a 1,000 miles east of Dunhuang. While these are probably 19th century residences, the banks of this canal were populated with grand residences in the 14th century when Suzhou (and Hangzhou, then known as Quinsai) were described in Marco Polo's Travels. It is possible that Marco Polo boated along this very canal. In any case, I am struck by the textures in the stucco walls, especially of the building on the right.

ID #1 11 x 14 $125 Pricelist

Policy on the Number of Prints from a Negative

One tradition among photographers who printed a certain number of prints from a particular negative would destroy the negative after that number had been made. I've heard of the burning-the-negative" ceremony for such occasions. After a run of 25-50 prints, the photographer would stage an event at which he would torch the negative for that run. Here is a discussion from the late 1990's about this.

How would one stage a similar event in the digital age? Would one erase every copy of every digital file used to make a digital negative? Would one torch the digital negative itself? This would be purely symbolic unless the digital source files were expunged as well.

My policy is to distribute no more than 100 prints from a single image source file. There would always be some variation in these prints, but that would be as expected. This policy would permit the creation of more than one digital negative in the interest of strengthening the image within the 100 print self-imposed limit, but the number of final palladium prints from the source (or root) file is the important thing and that would always remain at 100 or less.

In this show, the typical print-number is "1".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Featured Print #8

This is an expansive vista, but I printed it in an 8 x 10 format (in a slightly cropped form). The smaller format notwithstanding, the print conveys a sense of breadth and space.

ID #47 8 x 10 $75 Pricelist

Featured Print #7

This "Flowing Sands" print has cooler palladium tones than many. The tonal range is good, even on a very bright day and this is, in part, due to palladium's wide tonal range. If the image had greater pixel density, a red filter in photoshop would have darked in sky more dramatically, but since this is not the case, a more muted filter effect was used. The good density of the digital negative invites creating a larger composite image which I have done much like the "Quad" 32 x 40 inch central piece in the show, but unlike that piece the task was to make a "seamless" composite. The central piece, with visible dividing lines seems the more satisfactory and the "Flowing Sands" Quad (Quadtych?) is not in the show.
ID #11 11 x 14 $125 Pricelist

Featured Print #6

In the hills just opposite Dunhuang, there are many, many small meditation huts. This is one of them. It is a part of a complex of two and from them, one can see Dunhuang on one side and a valley from the other.

ID #21 11 x 14 $150 Pricelist

Featured Print #5

Tak Sang monastery is far south of Dunhuang, located in Bhutan south of Tibet. But it was accessible from Dunhuang, though with great difficulty. Take Sang means "Tigers Nest" from the legend that Buddhism was brought to Bhutan in the form of a monk riding on the back of a tiger. In any case, the tiger chose a very scenic place to land and this is much photographed.

My photograph is a 35mm color slide from 1988 which became a 4 x 6 color print, which I scanned at about 1200 dpi in 2007 and made into a digital negative and then into a 16 x 20 palladium print.

ID #33 16 x 20 $200 Pricelist

Featured Prints #3 and #4

Here we have a "Diptych" consisting of two adjacent images. (I suppressed the middle dividing line for display purposes.) They compose a wide landscape view of the 2,000 year-old Great Wall of China, as it begins at the Jade Gate in Western China near Dunhuang. In emphasizing the left-right sweep of the way, I hoped to evoke something like the motion in a "Lion-Dance" where the right hand is the "Lion" and the left, the tail of the Lion.

#'s 18 & 39 2x 16 x 20 (Portrait) $450 for both Pricelist

Featured Print #2

The detail surprises in Two Bystanders

A close look will reveal a tiny stick-like figure on either end of the ridge and (perhaps) one in the middle. I looked back at the meta-data from September of 2005 and noted that the shutter was set at 1000/sec. This clearly minimized camera motion. Also interesting is the tonal range which permits reading of the details in the shadows on the right while maintaining details in the sky. Palladium printing permits this kind of wide tonal range, if the digital negative is properly adjusted in Photoshop.
ID #14 16 x 20 $200 Pricelist

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Invitation: Your Questions are Welcome

One of the nice things about the blog-format is that it is an opportunity for two-way communication. If you have questions about the palladium process, any of the featured prints (more annotations are on the horizon), or anything else, please feel free to add a comment and I'll be happy to get back to you. You have perhaps picked up on my enthusiasm for photography. The blog is a natural way to share thoughts about the techniques and aesthetics of this collection of palladium prints.

Featured Print #1

I call this print "The Sentinel" because it is so prominent on the first ridge of hills outside of Dunhuang. It is most likely a meditation hut but could also serve as a lookout post as well. Is is interesting as a palladium print because of the tonal range -- wider than that of a regular silver-gelatin print. It is possible to "read" the detail in the shadow on the right while at the same time there is no white "blowout," and the gravel on the lower left is clear and distinct. This print has quite intense blacks, perhaps "cooler" than many palladium blacks. It printed well at 16 x 20 inches even though the pixel density is modest. It is at the Gallery but not mounted. Cheryl would be happy to show it. I've also printed it as in the larger "Quad" format and the exposure and tonal range are consistent with the smaller 16 x 20 one, although I've not placed this one at the Gallery.

This image also highlights a key historical temple at Dunhuang. Look past the right side of the "Sentinal". You will see a taller building rising up against the foliage along Dunhuang's central creek. That is the building an explorer saw more than a hundred years ago. Dunhuang was abandoned at that time and but for that building, the discovery (or rather rediscovery) might have occurred much later.

ID # 25; 16 x 20; $200 Pricelist

Show Backgrounder

The palladium prints now on display are a subset of those in the catalogue. What they all have in common is a way of invoking the "sense of the past." They do this in several ways. First, they look old. After all they are in black and white. They are palladium prints, such as you would see in an early Weston exhibit. But they are also of old things: old buildings along the silk route, camel caravans and such. Hopefully, the "sense of the past" is an emergent property, occasioned by these overlapping aspects.

Finally, there is an historical component, even narrative, having to do with beginnings and endings. The Jade Gate is an ancient customs house through which each caravan arriving in China had to pass. Moving through the desert, the customs house would appear in an almost unrelieved desert setting, just beyond the last of the trail-guide banners of the old silk route. (You can see the tall tripods even today.) The Jade Gate is a terminus of the silk route outside of China and the beginning of the route within China along the Great Wall. The far Eastern terminus is on the East China Sea. Quinsai (now Hangzhou) was one of these destinations and is described in Marco Polo's "Travels." He describes a meeting with the deposed Southern Sung Emperor whose palace compound even then is in ruins.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Great Party!

Many thanks to those who made the trek to this past Second Saturday at the SCA Project Gallery! The turnout was awesome and this photographer very much appreciated the support of friends, fellow faculty, and the Claremont Cyclists.

Many thanks to Bob Pece, who hung the show, and to Cheryl Bookout who is a master of human resources, even with an injured foot. It was great to have my brother and sister, Linda and Randy, and daughter, Pippa, present for the event.

I found the conversations at the gallery were stimulating and I thank those who stopped by for the opportunity to talk about the special palladium printing process. I welcome "followers" of the blog. All this means is that you are updated when the Blog is updated, so that you no longer need to stop by in order to see if anything new has been posted. It's my plan to offer some thoughts on particular prints from a technical and aesthetic point of view. If you are interested, joining would make it easier to extend the conversation.

For those who asked about buying a print, the SCA would be very happy to oblige. Let Cheryl know. If you are in the vicinity, stop by the SCA Project store which is next door to the gallery. Her email is cherylbookout@gmail.com Telephone: 909-865-0252.

Let her know the ID number of the print you are interested in from the list in the gallery or this copy, which contains the ID and thumbnails of the prints in the show (and those at the far end of the gallery as well).

She can put a "sold" marker on the your print. (There are a couple up already - #'s 15 and 22.) You can then collect it when the show comes down. A commision goes to support this excellent gallery.

You may order the catalogue here from the Blurb bookstore either as a hardback, with or without a dustjacket, or as a softback. I would recommend premium paper in any case.

Your cost is Blurb's standard fee plus plus a small royalty for the Gallery of $2 for the paperback and $3 for the hardback version. Blurb is charting new territory in my opinion and I think you'll find excellent workmanship, relatively low cost and efficient delivery. You might also be intrigued enough, as I was, to make your own book.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Posters: The Show Title

It's been fun to put my Epson 4000 printer to a use other than printing digital negatives.

Posters: The Palladium Process

It's a challenge to try to encapsulate the palladium process. Here's a poster that distills the essentials from the previous postings. (Don't forget to click on the thumbnail. It is possible to read the text.)