Getting back to blogging (warning: this is mainly about photography)

It has been a while since I’ve written more than a single line of text. No one’s said anything – which may be an indication of larger problems – but I suppose there’s a lot to catch up on.

Ten days after the election, most Albanians are still cheering Obama’s victory. He’s clearly a powerful symbol here, and it’s interesting to see that even though Albania joined the Coalition of the Willing, the Albanians I’ve spoken to think the Iraq war was a bad idea. Today I had coffee with three guys who were selling live turkeys door-to-door (no joke); they offered to let me take their pictures if I paid them, and when I refused on principle, they said they’d do it for a coffee, which was more agreeably adventurous to me. The communication was a little clumsy – their Albanian is pretty rustic – but we agreed that the Obama win was a good thing since he, like many Albanians, knows what it’s like to grow up poor.

I’ve given up on trying to find worthwhile employment and am focusing wholly on photography. I’ve completed my darkroom course and am now developing my own film, with all the pitfalls that involves. For example, I essentially “erased” a roll of film by washing it in developer that had gone bad, and I’ve underdeveloped a few other rolls; and going 100% manual from the outset by using a rangefinder camera has resulted in some pretty poor photos.* However, I’m starting to get the type of photos that I’ve wanted with my Nikon F4. Granted, I had them professionally developed, but I think they came out well. At some point, I’d like to do an exhibition/exposé on the Tirana Zoo, it is so depressing.

Photos from Tirana’s Zoological Park.

Even digitized, these film photos are superior to what I’m getting out of my Nikon D300. However, for my unpaid work with Mapo magazine (I’ve now been published twice, with two more stories on the way) or for my friend’s play (I’ve been photographing the rehearsals for a young Albanian film director who’s putting on his first stage work), there’s no substitute for being able to take 400 photos in a day with a DSLR, look at them immediately, and then erase 350 of them. Here are some shots I took of a miners’ strike. I gave these to Mapo as well, but I probably should have tried to sell them directly to Reuters. Oh well, next time.

*Also, with the closer involvement of printing my own photos I’ve also realized that my eyes are failing; I cannot get a sharp 4 x 6 print on the enlarger because, with or without my glasses, my eyes just can’t focus well enough for fine detail.