About FrankDeLuyck

Welcome to my photography blog - I am a Belgian photographer located in Aalst, East-Flanders. I specialize in architecture, travel and lifestyle photography. Please come back often, I will try to keep this blog as up-to-date as possible.

Masterclass by Luther Gerlach

Continuing my interest in the “wet plate collodion process”, I enrolled for a masterclass by the master of the process himself: Luther Gerlach. He’s a true master on wet plate photography and his work is currently hanging in the White House as part of President and Mrs. Obama’s art collection. Gerlach’s work has appeared in Architectural Digest, American Photographer, People and View Camera Magazine, and exhibited at over two-hundred art festivals. He has won major awards at Cherry Creek, Coconut Grove, Tampa Bay and Salt Lake City. 
Celebrity clientele include also Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Nick Nolte, Bruce Willis, Michael Wilson, Oprah Winfrey. The class was given 14th and 15th April, during the 1st European Collodion Weekend, at the FotoAcademie Eindhoven.
Amazing to see how Gerlach’s experience managed to get such a beautiful image on the first try… and even more amazing where the images taken with a mobile darkroom in the forests around Eindhoven. A short movie of the class can be found below:

Masterclass “Wet plate collodion process” by Luther Gerlach from Frank De Luyck on Vimeo.
For more information on the process you can as well check out Alex Timmermans’s blog: http://collodion-art.blogspot.com/

Wet Plate Collodion process

For some time now I have been interested in the wet plate collodion process, checking out websites from photographers using the technique (one of the more famous photographers using this process is Sally Mann), and reading blogs / watching movies on Youtube trying to find out the details involved. It seemed however so complicated I almost gave up… until I saw a workshop for this process organised by the Antwerp Fotomuseum: of course the same day i enrolled.
And finally the moment was there: 2 days of pure photographic joy employing this technique. I love workshops like this: they make something that looks impossible well… not easy but at least do-able. The most complicated about the process is the chemistry (with some quite dangerous chemicals such as cadmiumbromide, kaliumcyanide, etc…), but once the products are ready the technique is (more or less) a breeze (for the ones used to large format photography). What amazed me most is the remarkable sharpness (due to the fluid emulsion) that can be achieved with this 19th century process. Agreed, although some dare doing it, it does not look like a technique to use in the field, since plates have to be made lightsensitive in darkroom and then photographed/developed within approximately 10 minutes – hence the term wet plate. For studio work however it looks like a very nice process, yielding fantastic results. Below some pictures taken during the workshop (last 2 pictures show collodion plates photographed and developed by myself, and quite proud of it!): 

 I took as well a small documentary video of the workshop, to allow me to remember the required steps during the photography and development process:

Wet plate collodion process from Frank De Luyck on Vimeo.

First Time-Lapse Movie

Finally after a long silence another post on my blog. One of my New Year resolutions is to update the blog more often (besides renewing my website), so we will see… Fingers crossed!
Below you can find my first timelapse movie, made from pictures taken from Tienen’s water tower during a cold winterday from 10:44am until 18:10pm on 15th January 2012. The timelapse forms part of a project for the “Vlaamse Maatschappij voor Watervoorziening” (VMW) for which they requested me to supply them with pictures for each of their (87) water towers. Although the principal idea was to photograph the towers on a large format technical camera (4X5, both colour slide and B&W negative), i found it a good idea to as well have a go at a timelapse of one of the more modern water towers, ie. the one located at Tienen, Belgium. Since it was the first time I was trying out a timelapse, some trial and error was involved: arriving on site already before sunrise (around 07:00am or so) I was hopefull to be able to capture the period from sunrise upto sunset. However, some problems along the way resulted in only being able to use images as from 10:44am:
1) Setting up in pitch dark proved challenging, since focusing in manual focus mode (too dark for autofocus) was not as easy as it looked (Large format lenses have clear distance scales marked, digital lenses have this much less so). End result was that for the first 3 hours focusing was off (i saw only later), and the tower was actually unsharp…
2) during the course of the first few hours, the lens started fogging/freezing up (it was quite cold that morning) which necessitated me to clean the lens every 2 shots. This would have eventually not been a problem would the tower have been sharp at the first place.
Anyways around 10:40 I decided to check the shots on the Eos5DII’s screen (earlier I was scared to touch the camera for stability issues) and noticed the unsharpness… which I then corrected (in a way I am happy I noticed it at a certain point, imagine sitting there whole day with as end result all unsharp pictures (aaarghh)).
The shots were taken with a Canon Eos5DII, a 16-35mm lens zoomed in at 35mm, aperture at f5.6, ISO100, Av-priority, Autofocus off, Wb fixed on Sunny, JPEG – frequency was programmed for 1 shot every 32 seconds (to cover for maximum exposure time of 30 seconds). One 1 battery camera lasted (with camera review screen switched off) from 07:30am until 18:10pm. The camera was mounted on a Gitzo carbon tripod.
Conclusions from the trial: 
1) Ideally camera should be tethered to laptop/Ipad: pictures can as such more easily be checked for sharpness/composition;
2) Batterygrip (allowing camera to use 2 batteries) is mandatory for longer (summer days);
3) Eventual lens fogging to be checked on a regular basis during the shoot;
4) If anyways possible try to include the sun/moon rising/setting since this will make for more spectacular effects. 
Enough talked, here is the movie:

Timelapse Water Tower Tienen from Frank De Luyck on Vimeo.

Paris – Mois de la Photo (Day 2)

The following day after a (too) short night’s sleep we had quick breakfast (as an evening person coffee is more then enough for me to get me comfortable in the morning (or in other words: to get the grumpiness going haha) and then checked-out from our (for Paris standards: nice) hotel ,

Lobby Paris Hotel

and placed the luggage in the minibus before embarking on our ongoing museum stampede… For the ones wondering, we travelled Paris by metro:

Paris Metro

First in row today was “Musée national de la Marine” where some pictures from Rineke Dijkstra were exhibited (Dijkstra’s pictures are (for me) immediately recognizable: teens on the brink of becoming adults, and not sure knowing where they belong – they are clearly feeling awkward when photographed, and this recognizable feeling is what makes these pictures so fantastic):

Rineke Dijkstra

Rineke Dijkstra

When leaving the museum had to take the obligatory picture from Eiffel tower:

Eiffel Tower, Paris

and went on to the next exhibition in “Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris” where the idea was to visit the “scandalous” exhibition of Larry Clark – but hey, the fact it was so scandalous made for waiting rows until the next block. So we skipped this one, and instead went to the (probable evenly) shocking Gaza pictures showing the results of a war-torn country by Kai Wiedenhöfer: mutilated people, destroyed buildings,… quite confronting to watch (not my favourite of the day to be honest, I still like to think we are living in an ideal world – clearly not). Whilst the rest of the group opted to take lunch, a fellow student and me decided to make use of this idle (hehe) time to quickly visit the exhibition of André Kertész, which became quickly my overall favourite of the Paris exhibitions: his very graphical black and whites (“Dancer”, “Distortions”, “The Fork”, “Underwater”, “Chimneys” but even his color SX-70 polaroids) are for me the result of sheer photography genius. Happy not to have missed this one (rest of the group seemed not to have enjoyed themselves: so-so soup, arrogant waiter and expensive – while we had a massive pita for 5Euros only hahaha – sorry guys). After having joined up again together we found the “Maison Européenne de la Photographie”, another highlight for me with pictures from Raymond Depardon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bettina Reims, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon – so many great names, and what a collection of fantastic photographs – below one of my favorites (i forgot to note the photographer’s name, though – sorry):

Maison Europeene de la Photographie, Paris

There was as well a fantastic print by black and white master Ansel Adams, “Moonrise” – I stood in awe, not only for the photography technique, but as well for the printing quality:

Moonrise by Ansel Adams

In conclusion of this visit we had a stop-over for drinks in (another friendly hmm hmm) Paris bar, before embarking on a visit to the “Institut Suédois” – also here magnificent black and white pictures, I let them speak for themselves:

Institut Suedois


Institut Suedois


And finally, we concluded our visit to “Mois de la Photo Paris 2010” by entering the “Photos femmes féminisme” in the “Bibliothèque Marguerite-Durand”, an exhibition concentrating on the women who have been on the forefront of the feminism. Nice “classic” pics here, e.g. the Mata Hari one here below:

Mata Hari at the “Photos Femmes Feminisme”

We left this final exhibition tired, with sore feet, but contented having been submerged in such incredibly talented photography – in 2 years time we will be back!

Paris – Mois de la Photo (Day 1)

After a long silence finally some news: Art Academy school commenced again (we are now in our 2nd year) and this year a weekend was planned in Paris to visit “Mois de la Photo”, featuring 100 photography exhibitions… This event goes through every 2 years in Paris. In total 10 students (from year 1 upto 7) joined in together with our teacher Frank Michta. Below you can find the flyer for the event (organised for 1 month from 27.10.10 until 30.11.10 – in case you missed it you will have to wait another 2 years, sorry!):

Flyer from “Mois de la Photo 2010”

 We left on Saturday morning 06:30am (was a bit hurting on Saturday) and drove together with a minivan to Paris – where we arrived only 1 (immense) traffic jam and 4.5 hrs later. Quickly checked into hotel and went off straigth away to visit our first exhibition of the day: “La France de Raymond Depardon” – immense prints from a 8×10 camera – what i loved here whas the immense detail in the prints, and the color combinations – nice job done documenting France! After a taking a quick grab-shot from the surrounding “Bibliotheque Nationale de France”

Patterns of bibliotheque Nationale de France

 and taking a quick (but delicious!) sandwich bite we went onwards to the “Espace Photographique de l’Hotel de Sauroy” where photographs from Jacques Borgetto, Francoise Nunez, Bernard Plossu and Sophie Zenon were shown. Entrance to the exhibition can be seen below:

Entrance to the “Espace photographique de l’Hotel de Sauroy”

 Beautiful black and white photographs! After this – time for a drink (ah ja – we are Belgians after all) in a cosy Paris bar:

Wall painting in a Paris bar

 As can be seen Paris is not too far from Belgium (for the un-educated: Grimbergen is a Flemish abbey beer). After this intermezzo we went to the exhibition from Sally Mann in the Galerie Karsten Greve – a famous American photographer known for her large format, black and white photographs of her kids (posing as if they were adults) and for her landscapes suggesting decay and death. While I really liked all her photographs, i was drawn to the “imperfect” ones, the toned and texturized ones… After this one we had a quick visit to Galerie Pierre Alain Challier (“Peinture ou Photographie?”) followed by the Cultural Institute of Mexico showcasing pictures from Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Agustin Jimenez and Luis Marquez. Again mostly black and white photographs, liked in particular the frame with the fisherman shown below:

Fisherman from Luiz Marquez

Finally we went to Galerie David Guiraud showcasing works from Elliott Erwitt and that was it, the day had flown by! All the galeries were closed, finally we found some time for a nice dinner in a Japanese restaurant, not without first entering a galerie showcasing some “Light” art – especially the below optical effect was a nice sight (the colors are actually painted on the wall/staircase!):

Optical effect on staircase

 After this back to the hotel for some well-deserved night rest (or so we thought – a room was quickly changed in an after-bar were we could sip on some wine (ah ja we are in France after all!) and talk some more about the things we saw…
This was a long post, but seen the long silence… Anyways part 2 of the visit (exhibitions visited on Sunday 21st November) will be the subject of the next posting!

Peter Bialobrzeski

We continue our visits to (mostly photo) museums – yesterday evening went to a talk by Peter Bialobrzeski, a photographer which came onto my radar through one of my Flickr contacts Thomas Birke (a fantastic large format photographer in his own right). The images i had seen from Peter reminded me a bit to this other magnificent (large format) photographer Andreas Gursky (i still remember looking in awe to the details in his huge prints).

Peter explained how he evolved from a newspaper and magazine photographer to fine art, almost by accident. It all started by combining commercial projects abroad with personal ones, thus at least saving on the financing of his personal projects. Peter walked through the different books he has published (i didn’t know he did so many!) from “XXX Holy Journeys into the Spiritual Heart of India”, his first personal project (loved how he talked about Karma here, and how he tried to portray that), “Neontigers” where he tries to give us a glimpse of the future, “Heimat” where he concentrated on his homeland and is creating some painterly photos influenced by his admiration of some master painters, “Lost In Transition” where he returns to Asian megacities trying to portray how old city blocks are pushed away by modern skyscarpers at an astonishing speed, “Paradise Now” still at these Asian megacities showing how nature is being affected by our modern lifestyle, and finally his last book “Case Study Homes”, a smaller book where digital pictures of Manila’s slum houses are collected. And how did he manage to publish all these books? – like said almost by accident: the personal projects where first noticed by World Press Photo where he won the 1st prize in Arts and Entertainment stories (2002), marking the beginning of his Fine Arts “career”. Of course, the fact that he is incredibly talented helped as well.

What i liked about the talk was that i have been in all the cities he was talking about (Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Manila), thus basically was seeing (and was wondering about) the same things that he saw, but never had the idea to photograph it the way he did… basically i learned i should keep my eyes (and my mind) open! As a downside i think i can say that my drooling over large format cameras has not lessened, on the contrary… these things are however quite expensive (not yet talking about the film), but if you see the results it seems to be worth it. In these ages of digitalisation it seems however silly to spend a lot of money on analog cameras? (as you can see i am having quite a dilemma here hahaha).

Anyways appreciated the efforts of the Antwerp photomuseum, in bringing another fantastic photographer to talk about his way of thinking.

Fotofestival Knokke-Heist 28.03 – 13.06.10

Took again some time-off from my “web re-designing”, this time for a visit to Knokke’s fotofestival: some renowned photographers exhibited their work, while in the surrounding galeries some more nice photographs could be seen. Started off with Tim Walker’s fantastic works – his majestic set-ups and brilliant ideas really impressed me, also it was quite interesting to see his diaries/scrap books with sketches of the ideas brewing in his head: exactly what we are required to do in the Academy (i start to understand why) although i have to admit mine is at present merely a collection of cut-outs of nice magazine pictures and here and there a newspaper clipping with some personal remarks…
Anyway then onwards to Cecil Beaton’s classics, fantastic black and white portraits – here i was especially impressed by the immaculate lighting. Having completed these 2 exhibitions i proceeded to the galeries which i had marked in the programme overview: “Geukens & De Vil” showing Peter Lindbergh’s work (“Stars and Models” – fantastic image of Kate Moss in the display window), “Arstudio” showing work from a Belgian photographer Peter Berghman (“Onderweg”) and finally “Absolute Art Gallery” where i have been drooling over the majestic images of my favorite (and euh Belgian (!)) photographer Marc Lagrange: i had seen his work already a few years back in the fotomuseum of Antwerp where his photographs had left a lasting impression to me, now again his newer work absolutely impressed me… would he be in need of assistants?
The fotofestival in Knokke is still running until 13/06/10, definitely a must for the photo enthusiast!

Hard work – Carl De Keyzer

Just completed wading through about 2500 digital images and about 150 film images (Panoramics 6X17 plus Black&White 6×6 medium format) taken during the course of last year – wading meaning for the digital images developing (i shoot everything in Raw) in LightRoom and for the film images developing (in a conventional darkroom) and scanning plus dusting… then resizing everything for a first edit by the stock image libraries. Phew… happy that this massive work is over… the backlog was mainly due to the frequent moving last year. Let’s hope we now arrive in a more stable period of our lives. Outstanding works are updating my website, and upgrading my WordPress blog to the latest version (this looks a bit more complicated then expected) so that i can include tags.

The hard work was interrupted last week for a visit to the photography museum in Antwerp where there was an exhibition/talk by Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer about his images in Congo. Well, if you talk about perseverance… Carl De Keyzer had to do a tremendous effort to shoot all of the beautiful images on display. Teaming up with NGO’s (shooting for them for free in return for use of their logistics (ie. airplanes, cars, etc…)) to be able to visit the places he marked in an old (colonial) travel guide, he encountered some other-worldly scenes (and people). The project took 10 months of work, plus 2 months of scanning, dusting, and retouching some colonial-time photographs. Really enjoyed the talk, and noted the main lesson that to produce something worthwhile quite some effort is required… in other words, nothing comes for free.

Definitely worth a visit! (the exhibition is running until 16/05/2010).

Door het oog van de Lens

Reading right now “Door het oog van de Lens – Hoe fotografie ons leven heeft veranderd” by Gerry Badger, a New Years gift from my sister (thanks ;-)). Quite interesting book about the evolution of photography in its social context, based on a detailed description and thoughts on roughly 20 iconic images (from Daguerre’s : “View on Boulevard du Temple, Paris”, over Dorothea Lange : “Migrant Mother” to Ansel Adams : “Clearing Winter Storm” and more recent images like “Times Square” from Andreas Gursky (an image that we saw a while ago at a fantastic exhibition in Sharjah’s museum)). Completely in my element, yummy!

Assignments – continued

Another assignment for the Academy: “Viewpoint of a dog”. Below my interpretation of this theme, taken quite literally…

Picture data : Rolleiflex 3.5F, Ilford Pan F Plus 50, exposure unrecorded

The twin-lens reflex camera with its top viewfinder makes these kind of pictures of course quite easy, one does not necessarily have to go lying on the floor (in this case sand) to get these viewpoints. Working with medium format as well allows for a very shallow depth of field as can be seen from the above example.