Friday, July 15, 2011


Image by Mike Gray
Several senior photography students from the South Australian School of Art have been selected to take part in the 2011 Pingyao International Photography festival. The PIP Festival is held from the 19-25th of September and is one of the largest photography festivals. The festival is attended by curators, academics, gallery dealers, and arts practitioners from all over the world.

Representing the school in the curated student exhibits at the festival, Aurelia Carbone, Alice Blanch, Courtney Bignell, CJ Taylor, James Tylor and I, Sundari Carmody, will be showing a selection of work in the ancient city of Pingyao. The group will be applying for funding to participate and attend in the festival in Pingyao.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How To Steal Like an Artist

How To Steal like an Artist and 9 other things nobody told me, by Austin Kleon.

Really, I just show this link to everybody. Read it and try not to get inspired to go and make stuff.

(Now, go make stuff.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Silver Halide

Okay, so, when you start to get into the nitty-gritty of silver-gelatin photography, the term "Silver Halide" will pop up a fair bit. Frequently used but infrequently explained, today we'll find out what it is. The simple explanation you'll often encounter is that silver halides are the light sensitive part of the silver-gelatin photographic emulsion. These silver halides are suspended in the gelatin that make up our film and our paper. Easy-peasy, right?

But what the hell is a halide?

Well Halogens are a group of chemical elements:

  • Flourine (F)
  • Chlorine (Cl)
  • Bromine (Br)
  • Iodine (O)
  • Astatine (At)
  • Ununseptium (Uus)
And those of you who remember your periodic table will conveniently find them here, under Group 17. Ununseptium is one of those quirky newly discovered elements that we don't know much about, and Astatine is a product of Radioactive decay. The other four elements are what we're interested in.

Now, the salts of these elements, known as Halides, are what we're concerned with:
  • Flouride (Halide of Flourine)
  • Chloride (Halide or Chlorine)
  • Bromide (Halide of Bromine)
  • Iodide (Halide of Iodine)
Flouride you'll have heard of in toothpaste and being added to your water supply by communists. So, it's water-soluble and thus not suitable for photographic emulsions. The other three are.
When you combine Potassium Chloride, Potassium Bromide or Potassium Iodide with Silver Nitrate they form silver halides.

To make film, a combination of Silver Bromide and Silver Iodide are used, as in Kodak's AJ-12 Technical Document and many other silver-gelatin emulsion recipes.

(When you make a salt print, you are combining Silver Nitrate and Potassium Chloride on the paper to produce light-reactive Silver Chloride.)

In photographic paper emulsions each of these halides lends a different quality to the final print. Silver Bromide emulsions tend to be faster, reacting more quickly to light and producing larger grain. The tone of the paper is generally colder, black to blue-black.

Silver Chloride paper emulsions were generally too slow to make enlarging papers, and were instead reserved for contact printing purposes (gas light papers), such as Kodak's AZO and the contemporary Lodima Fine Art and Foma Fomalux (Available from Blanco-Negro supplies). Silver Chloride emulsions are finer grained and generally a warm brown-black colour.

Now, what if we could combine both of these materials to make a fast, fine grained paper emulsion? Well, that's exactly what they do. Most paper emulsions use a combination of both Chloride and Bromide in varying ratios to give either Bromochloride papers (More Bromide than Chloride, for a neutral tone) or Chlorobromide papers (More Chloride than Bromide, for a warmer tone). Silver Iodide may also be added in smaller amounts to change the properties of the paper even further.

So really just saying Silver Halides is a gross over-simplification, and especially in regards to photographic papers the different halides in play clearly have a great impact on the finished image.

(Alex Bishop-Thorpe is a Senior Photography student at the South Australian School of Art, Architecture and Design)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

American Dreams at the Bendigo Art Gallery

Running from the 16th of April until the 10th of July at the Bendigo Art Gallery is a surprisingly comprehensive exhibition of works from George Eastman House.

There are original prints from Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Margaret Bourke-White, Harry Callahan, Robert Capa, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Imogen Cunningham, Edward S Curtin, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Lewis Hine, Gertrude Kasebier, Dorothea Lange, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mary Ellen Mark, Tina Modotti, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Joan Myers, Barbara Norfleet, John Pfahl, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, Aaron Siskind, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Weegee, Edward Weston and Gary Winogrand.

Well worth a look if you have a chance to pop over to Bendigo.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Days with my Father

An amazing series of work, where the artist photographs his dying father, very moving.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Magic in photography

It may be stretching it to say that the instant image (commonly referred to as a Polaroid) is like the modern-day tintype, but it definitely has very magical and nostalgic qualities. The way that the image appears on a blank piece of glossy paper only minutes after it was taken still gives me butterflies every time.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Digital Manipulation

Published: July 8, 2009
The alteration of digital imagery is a critical issue in contemporary photojournalism. The New York Times has a strong policy, but is not entirely immune.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Become a collector

Hello, and welcome to the AAD Photography blog, hopefully to become a nice little hive of activity where you can hear about all the happenings in our neck of the woods. I'm tossing my hat into the ring to write something tonight, and hopefully you'll humour my procrastination. I've got a paper due in a week so I've been switching between haphazardly baking and staring at a blank Word document for much of the day.

My advice, for all artists, is to become a collector. Collect photographs, collect books, collect people, collect art, collect music, collect skills, collect experiences, collect your friends, collect the things that you love and that feel like they love you back. Whether you like it or not you're influenced by what you surround yourself with, and you wont be able to help it coming out in your work. You only get out what you put in, so put in wonderful things. You're holding these things up and seeing if they're you, if they reinforce and help you define what you are doing, why you're doing it. It can help if they're not related to your practice - even artists need hobbies. The problem is the hobbies that artists take up risk being used to furnish art, being used up, and then you're stuck taking up flower pressing and giving up Indian cooking because every Dahl you make reminds you of that exhibition you did of photographs of all those Dahls you made.

I've been participating in print exchanges for a few years now and I now have, at last estimate, around 250 prints from people around the world. Some are postcard prints, torn at the edges with stamps on the back (I am dangerously close to collecting stamps), some are platinum prints, gorgeous hand-crafted fibre prints with a hint of warmth from selenium, Lith prints, Kallitypes, or just C-type prints. But, regardless of the medium or how technically perfect, they're all photographs, they're all bits of other peoples little collections of reality and little bits of them that they're sharing with you. Some are painfully beautiful, some are mediocre, some are pictures of peoples cats, some are pictures of Yosemite National Park, but they're all little conversations.

One of my favourites is a small 6x4" colour print made at a minilab somewhere in Spain that I got as part of a postcard exchange. It came to me in an envelope stuck down with glue to a piece of pink card, with the details of the image written on the back in thick red marker, "Parents' room. Agfa Portrait 160. Homebrew C-41. Homemade SW Pinhole Camera". There's a rocking chair in the centre of the image with a coat hung on the back, a portrait of Jesus hung above the television that the chair faces, and in the background, doused in light from the window and overexposed, is their bed with a thick wooden crucifix hung above it, dominating the whole room. I've never spoken to the photographer, I don't know if his parents are alive or dead. I've had the photo on my desk ever since I got it last year. I only just noticed that there's a lump under the blanket, as if somebody is in the bed. After hundreds of prints its still one of my favourites, and it reminds me that I actually do love photography with a strange passion that my girlfriend no doubt finds concerning.

I collect postcards too, and paperback novels if I can get them for cheap enough. My list of books to buy is 322 entries long. Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams changed how I get on with the universe, and helped me define my practice as well as myself.

If you're a photographer you're already a collector, you're just collecting bits of the world and internalising it.
Folders of negatives and harddrives full of still frames all add up to the same thing - you're building yourself. One of my favourite ways of explaining and justifying this habit came in the closing paragraph of an essay I read last year, written by John Berger, "Every photograph is in fact a means of testing, confirming and constructing a total view of reality." (from "Understanding a Photograph").
Berger was talking about ideological struggle and truth in photography, but it's just as applicable to our own practice. When you go out to take photos you're not just looking at the world, you're destroying it and constructing it anew for yourself.

This is good advice for anyone, but especially for artists: exist actively, remain restless.

[Alex Bishop-Thorpe is a senior photography student at AAD]


Hello and welcome to the UniSA Art, Architecture & Design Photography blog. With time we hope this blog becomes a wealth of information and inspiration within the world of photographic art.

As World Pinhole Day falls this week, I thought it fitting to start the blog with a pinhole photo.

Mt Crawford 2011, pinhole on 4x5 film, 125 iso 4minute exposure, S.Wilson.