Dust Days

Fuel point, Victory Complex. January-2007

near Nasiriyah

Another picture from the files, a quick snap made from a car as we cruised through Nasiriyah in late 2005. The ‘Dust Days’ project found its roots out on this trip, exploring Camp Emily on the banks of the Euphrates River. ‘Emily’ was a small life camp that was only in existance for a few weeks.

Blackhawk. Near Karbala. June 2006

Just a random picture of a blackhawk out near Karbala (Iraq) in 2006.

Felt like chucking a picture on for no other reason than I like it.

Dust Days - prints

A great day in the darkroom. It just seemed to belt along, without the problems or delays that you sometimes get. I didn’t have to fight the negatives, they were delightful prints to make. Buka town was dead, as always on a weekend, just drunks stumbling about in the dusk light.

The Dust Days pictures are exciting to work with, and when I pull a frame from the contact sheet and start on larger work prints, the things I find are great, it is rewarding to visit work shot a little while ago. Working on these photos makes me want to grab the SWC and run out into the harsh sunlight and snap away like I did a few years ago for this project. Got to temper that and stay locked away, splashing around in the hypo.

(c) Stuart Franklin

A post simply to mark the day.

Tiananmen Square has been the site of multiple ‘incidents’, with the 1989 protest and massacre being the most often referred to now. And there is obviously the photographs and footage from the months in 1989 when things went from sit-in to rowdy mob to massacre.

Stuart Franklin of Magnum Photos was up in the building where many pressies were camped, and shot the picture above of ‘Tank Man’, a person so often talked about and who will most likely remain forever anonymous.

There are interviews out there speaking with Franklin about working during the protests, and the smuggling of his film out with a French student in a box of tea.

Off to the Buka darkroom to dig around on some Dust Days prints. Things are going well, and I am figuring out how to best reproduce an essay to accompany the photographs in a limited folio. A bit of a dilemna at present.

(c) Michel Campeau

After the hectic nature of last week, spending too much time on the phone, I’ve set the next few weeks aside for darkroom work. Of course this can (and usually does) change.

I enjoy the print making process. I am not a fanatic, there is no pseudo-science approach or crazy tinkering with chemicals or equipment. At the same time, the darkroom work is not simply banging out the prints, with disdain for the time wasted not photographing.

(c) Michel Campeau

‘Dust Days’ is the project that will be in the enlarger, maybe with some brief breaks for some quick work prints and proofs for other projects. I’m really looking forward to the time locked away in the dark.

Nazraeli Press, along with Martin Parr (Magnum Photos among other infamy), have got together to produce a series of books. He first is ‘Darkroom’ by Michel Campeau, a Canadian photographer. The book was published in 2007, and copies should be able to be found without too much trouble.

(c) Michel Campeau

In some sort of ode to a dying (or dead) process, Campeau has pointed his camera at different darkrooms around Canada, studying the home-made solutions that we all apply to our own space, blocking out light and making it as functional as possible.  The photographs are stark things, lit by direct, hard flash in full blazing colour. All that was hidden under the soft, dim safelight comes popping out in brutal sharpness.

(c) Michel Campeau

In a ridiculous moment I found myself seeing the hooded prisoner on top of a box with wires hanging from his fingers, rather than the enlarger draped in a black bag to keep the dust out that Campeau had photographed. I find these sort of ‘oh I see a face!’ comments aggravating, but admit that when I saw that Campeau picture I jumped straight to the Abu Ghurab image. I apologise for doing this to his pictures! They are great things, and I have used four of them here to give you a quick glimpse.

Campeau’s website, along with Nazraeli Press and Magnum Photos are below. I believe Campeau has taken this project a little further afield following publication.




Dust Days - work print

I promise I am not being lazy, busy trying to make these things right.

Dust Days - work print

 Dust Days - work print

Our phone line is down again, so I’ve snuck into a neighbour’s house, raided the fridge and used their line. ‘Dust Days’ is now front and centre. Concentrating, so just a few work prints to post. My brain can’t handle many things at once.

Dust Days - work print


Work prints from 'Dust Days'

After being away for a little while, it is good to be back in the Buka darkroom, working on prints from my ‘Dust Days’ project.

I’ve got a lot of splashing around to do. These negatives have been sitting there, demanding to be printed, but I have largely left them alone until now. Every time previously that I had picked them up I was tentative and not really committed to seeing them finished. That has certainly changed.

They are wonderful prints to make. Not because of any ease or ‘brilliance’ in the prints, but because the pictures are from a period of my photography now well and truly finished. It is interesting to dig back into the negs, and approach them from a point of new discovery. As things have changed significantly since they were made it is a clean slate, where intentions at the time of snapping the shutter are only apparent in the frame, not necessarily remembered (or important).

It is good to be back in Bougainville. Every time I leave I walk away from the opportunity to get through the backlog of work as well as make new pictures in this amazing place. It almost feels like i’m in a holding pattern while I am away. Right, enough time spent on the computer, back to editing and preparing for the day’s work. Prints to be made.