Trinidad Coastline galleries II and III online

Posted on April 18, 2017 by Admin under Announcements

Columbus Bay, 2007. Arca-Swiss 8×10 large format camera, Kodak Ektachrome film.

We are pleased to present our Trinidad Coastlines II and III galleries. Captions will follow in due course. Almost all of the images would have been shot on film. These very large galleries represent the bulk of our coastal pictures originally captured for the Trinidad Dreamscape website over a twenty-year timespan.

Sharing everything

Posted on April 17, 2017 by Admin under Philosophy of Photography

Degraded latent image, Ilford Pan F Plus film.

Some years ago we were invited to join a Trinidad photography forum. Against our better judgement, we did. Needless to say, we should have trusted our better judgement. At one point we were criticised by someone who passed himself off as an expert film photographer that we – essentially – posted all of our pictures immediately without very much in the way of controlled editing. The consensus opinion arrived at was that one should post images only after they were edited following a period of having the images filed away for months when they then could be viewed more objectively at that point in time.

While this may be fine for the selection of images for an upcoming exhibition; posting images to the web, for us, has always been about sharing and learning. Both viewers and photographers learn as much from the pictures we get wrong as they do from the pictures we get right.

In the picture above, for example, we developed the film one year after taking the picture – not realising that Ilford Pan F Plus film has a very short latent image life. The image formed on film began to degrade weeks after exposure: this film has to be developed immediately. Our botched picture allowed us to learn something and our illustrated mistake now allows us to pass this information along to other photographers.

Today’s society promulgates a propensity to condone only infallibility. Fallibility and failure are cause for a public shaming. This was par for the course in our school, Naparima College, and later, The University of the West Indies. Indeed, in Naparima College it was a daily practise to highlight students’ failings, or lack of quick uptake, or poor marks, by having the class laugh at the student. Teachers were apt to make condescending comments with respect to the student, eliciting the expected laughter. The grooming of an intolerant society fomented in the classroom.

This culture of ‘intolerance of fallibility’ pervades even seemingly innocuous activities like picture-taking. Every act by an individual, every view expressed, every picture taken, is an exercise in proving, or an affirmation of – again and again- “I am not a failure”. Individuals in Trinidad society spend their lives in perpetual Ego defense activities so as to be perceived as acceptable to their respective chosen social class.

This is a tiresome burden, is it not? We thought so too, so we rejected this impossible cultural expectation early. We screw up a lot, and we share it with everybody. People out there continue with the scorn and the public shaming, but it doesn’t alter our journey nor our respective lives. We mess up, we learn from it, we do better next time. In the end, through failure, we end up knowing more than all of the infallibles combined – and as we learn, so do you.

What the tide left behind

Posted on April 15, 2017 by Admin under Large format film

4×5 Rollei IR film.

We forgot we had this one hanging around waiting to be uploaded. The mineralized wood is almost like a piece of bone at this point. We used our ultra-wide angle lens for this shot which was probably not a good idea as it is an absolute bear to focus in the corners.

Fidelity is an irrelevance

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Admin under Philosophy of Photography


Pre-WWI Leica, 50mm Russian Elmar lens, Kodak Tri-X film.

In photography, if you’ve been around long enough, you start to realise that much of the world’s most cherished and iconic photographs were photographed with equipment and processes that were technically quite poor by today’s standards. But yet, those photographs eclipse all photographs that were to follow, irrespective of technical advancements in photography.


The quintessential example of this is Edward Steichen’s ‘Moonrise in a forest”, 1904:

Edward Steichen, 1904. Platinum and ferroprussiate print.

One of the world’s great landscape photographs, transcending its humble technical origins with its artistry, subtlety, mystery and evocation of emotion.

Today, photographers are obsessed with lens sharpness, camera sensor performance, rigidised technical parameters. Certainly, photographers of yore were concerned about camera and material quality as well but, somewhere along the way, we forgot about why we take pictures.

Lake Placid

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Admin under Large format film

8×10 large format camera, Ilford FP4 Plus film.

Wisp in the grass

Posted on April 11, 2017 by Admin under Medium format film

Wisp, 2008. Fuji Reala film.

Ultimately, it’s these pictures that matter the most. The creative and ‘high art’ pictures, not so much.

Richard Charran article

Posted on April 9, 2017 by Admin under Announcements, Large format film

Knollys tunnel. Linhof 8×10 Kardan Master camera, Kodak Tri-X Pan film.

Richard Charran has a very nice article up “Defending the Bridges” in today’s Trinidad Express, with pictures and even video! Check it out.

We ventured into Knollys tunnel in central Trinidad fairly recently and the picture above was the result. People drove through the picture multiple times. Many even paused in the tunnel with high-beam headlights pointed right at us (blinding us) while we tried to focus the 62lbs giant camera. Geez, come on here, someone taking all that effort to capture a picture can at least be afforded thirty seconds, no? In a developed country everyone would have waited until we were finished. We do, of course, try our utmost not to inconvenience people while photographing. Anyway, we guess the good news is that we didn’t get knocked down, due in no small part to us wedging ourselves into a crevice in the tunnel wall and then using lens shifts to make it seem we were out in the roadway.

Getting back to Charran’s article, we feel kind of sorry and enthusiastic for him at the same time. He reminds us of how we used to be decades ago: full of enthusiasm and hope for what we were doing for Trinidad. Now, we feel sad. Sad that all the work will be for naught.

Needin’ some colour

Posted on by Admin under Medium format film

Kodak Portra film.

Film colour which, unlike what the digital folks would have you believe, is really hard to emulate digitally. That’s why we don’t bother. We feel very free to roam around Scotland with our Linhof film camera, but we feel very threatened whenever we try to do that when we return home to Trinidad. So, no cool film pictures of alleyways taken in Trinidad.

IR beach

Posted on by Admin under Large format film

Rollei IR film. Mayaro beach.

At this point we’re convinced that Rollei infrared film is a pretty good emulsion. We can even tone down the infrared effects if we need to. It lacks the old Kodak infrared highlight ‘bloom’, which is fine by us.

Milky Way spiral arm over Waterloo

Posted on April 8, 2017 by Admin under Large format film

Milky Way and Sahara dust in the atmosphere, Trinidad, 2017. Linhof 8×10 Kardan Master GTL-AMS camera, Kodak Tri-X Pan film.

Well, it’s been a long, long time since we did one of these. At first, we couldn’t figure out what all that white fluff was on the negative and then we realised that the dreaded Sahara dust showed up to foil us. There were some clouds as well. Anyway, it turned out okay, and we didn’t die during the attempt. We hid out in an abandoned fishing shack along the coast hoping no one would show up to mug us. Aside from the mosquitoes and a few stray dogs (whom we fed during the 6 hour exposure), we didn’t see a soul.

8×10 sheet film is so big it has a tendency to shift and buckle during a long exposure like this, especially as the air temperature changes during the course of the night. We use a DIY vacuum film holder. We maintain the vacuum with a battery-operated fish tank pump.


All images and text © Copyright protected Dr. Rory Roopnarine / Jo-Ann Sookar 1990 - 2017. All rights reserved.