Saturday 10 June
Saturday I woke early. Actually I hardly slept in Poland at all, my mind too active, thinking about the talk I was going to give, and about all I'd seen and done. I looked out the window and it was raining again.
The picture left above is out of my bedroom window, and the one to the right is from the stairs as I came up from breakfast.
We were starting the conference at 10.30, and again I'd hoped to walk, but a couple of the other photographers persuaded me to take a taxi with them, as they didn't have waterproof coats. Again it took about as long as walking, with a ten minute wait for the car to arrive, then a longish trip around the one-way system and long waits at traffic lights.
The first speaker was Leonid Diament, who spoke in Russian about his father, war photographer Robert Diament. He had mainly covered the war in the Barents Sea to the north of Russia, where the convoys from England brought supplies around the north of Norway and FInland to Murmansk.
Like other Russian war photographers, his work shows a closeness to the ordinary seamen and soldiers in the pictures, and there are also some technically fine action pictures of ships at sea etc.
It was a little slow going, as the Russian was translated into Polish, and then the Polish into English, and it would have helped to be able to see more of the pictures than was possible in the book of his father's work.
Roland Castro spoke in French, but had decided not to say much about his work but simply ask for questions. SInce many of us there were not really familiar with it, this was difficult, but slowly we found more. Again translation was slow, and at times I needed to make a few suggestions as the the English - my photographic French turns out to be rather better than I realised, probably because I often read French web pages.
Castro works in simple way using the gum bichromate process as a single coat in grey carbon pigment on handmade papers. The paper is deliberately distressed before printing, and the creases and other effects in the paper are a deliberate aspect of his process.
In the nature of things these are monoprints, and he restricts himself to making no more than 5 different versions from each negative.
Gunars Binde is the grand old man of Latvian photography, with some fine images, and has also made films. He talked a little about his life and career, but wanted to say little about pictures, feeling that pictures should speak for themselves, and that we should not try to speak or write much about them.
We asked him how he produced some of the images which show flying women, and he refused to tell, saying it was his secret. In fact I'm almost certain that the women were photographed on the top of a table or wall, then the negative carefully opaqued out before some clever combination printing in the darkroom. In some of the images, the lighting on the figures is clearly not identical to that for the rest of the scene.
Gunars has also worked as a film editor, including some fine images by others in the film he showed us.
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