John Austin: Black and White Photography, Rae Starr: Pinhole, Cyanotype and Textiles


Kat and the Casts, 2011 - Picture Story

Jan 5th, 2021 • Stories

Kat Campbell, professional artist model, Fremantle 2011

Late afternoon light moves quickly, very quickly.

Kat Campbell, Fremantle, 2011

This image should have been on the 10x8" Sinar Norma camera, but we had finished work and that kit and lights, tripod and all the stuff was already packed on the ute.  Kat was wandering around Greg James Sculpture Studio.  It was a hot day and still naked Kat climbed to the plaster cast store.

Fiat Lux

Fiat Lux, and there it was, bouncing across the Indian Ocean and illuminating the upper part of Greg's studio as it does just before sunset in Fremantle.  I saw Kat in that light, the whiteness of her, the whiteness of her hair, the whiteness of the plaster casts; amazing light exploding everywhere.  But the light in Freo at the end of the day moves quickly, far too quickly for getting the gear off the ute and upstairs again, so I made some quick note-pix with a Nikon F as a reminder to organise Kat for a late afternoon session specific to this light, this location and this time of year.

These things never repeat, Kat moved to the Eastern States, where she now cares for dingos, Janet put sculpture stuff up there, stuff that was not white.  I did threaten to spray her stuff with white paint, but that never happened either.

So all I have from this moment are a few 35mm black and white negatives to print from.  But I have come to really enjoy this image for what it is, sponaneous and unplanned, lacking the tonal subtlety of a 10 x 8" negative, but treasured as it is, 35mm and grainy with 1960s lens quality.

Exhibiting this image at John Austin Survey II Exhibition, Bunbury 2017

The first showing of this image was as a 7 x 11.5" snapshot during the John Austin Survey II show in Bunbury Regional Art Gallery in September 2017.  Since then it has been printed to 12 x 18" image size and matted ready for showing as an image in its own right.  I may print it to 14 x 21" image, as big as I can make it go with current paper sizes, but I have other work to print in the meantime.

Technotes - Image quality on a computer monitor

Whatever I do with uploads to the web the subtlety of gradation I achieve in real silver gelatine prints is lost when it gets to a monitor screen.  The computer generated loss of subtlety in this picture really annoys me.  The shadow detail on Kat's body is very carefully printed and is far more luminous than it appears here. There is nothing I can do about this, except ask you to see real silver gelatine prints whenever you can.


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