The One Percent Doctrine 
Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 13:13 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

It’s true, I hate editing.

Now you might wonder why, after all, this is the real first chance that I get to sit and look at my new images. Editing also takes a lot less time than scanning and is at least more interesting. So why do I hate it so much?

I blame the one percent rule.

More on that in a moment. The first reason is that when you look at a rough scan, or a rough print for that matter, you are basically looking at a naked photograph. No adjustments, contrast all out of whack and it doesn’t help that the editing program I use tends to make all my black and white images look super grainy. So even if I am looking at a good image they all too often look like some of our better known celebrities when they go to the store for some milk without makeup: ugly.

Of course I know all this but the one percent rule makes it damn hard to remember. The one percent rule is basically my own rough editing guide that I have developed over the years. It states that only about one percent of all the images that I shoot end up being really good and what I would consider usable. What does this mean? Well let’s do some simple math.

Say I go out on a shoot and take about 12 rolls of film, not uncommon for a day or two of shooting. Now each roll of film has 36 images so multiply that times 12.

12 rolls x 36 exposures = 432 images

Now when I process my film and then look at it on the light table I usually end up selecting roughly ten to fifteen percent of these images to scan, or if I have a darkroom to make test prints from to see how they look when they are enlarged. That equals about 45 images.

Now once I get them into the computer or for that matter have the test prints made, only about 10% of these images will have any interest for me. Often when an image is enlarged you see some small flaw or it turns out the photo just wasn’t as interesting as I thought it was.

So from the initial 432 images I would select 4-6 as being up to my own standards, roughly one percent.


This is the good photo. Berlin summer 2007. © Damaso Reyes

Let’s have a rare glimpse into my editing process! Here you can see that I scanned four frames of the same scene before deciding on this fifth frame as the one I liked the best. Of course there are several other images of this scene that I didn’t scan but this example gives you an idea of what I go through to deliver what you see on the screen.


Nope, not this one. © Damaso Reyes


Not this one either. © Damaso Reyes


Are you kidding me? © Damaso Reyes


Close but no cigar! © Damaso Reyes

Of course our friend Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that you need a lot of milk to make a little cream. Truer words have never been spoken!

Now I just got through editing nearly 700 “selects” from over sixty rolls of film. The vast majority of these images are crap and when you look at one bad image after another it does something to your pride. I am constantly seeing my mistakes, which of course is a very good thing since I can apply it to the next shoot but unlike shooting digital where you can instantly see if there is a problem, there are no “do overs” in film. Which makes it more challenging and more frustrating.

So this is what I did yesterday and today: wade through the crap to find the pearls. Now of course I have to tidy them up in Photoshop and put them online, which will take another few days.

And people ask me why I dislike post-production…

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HCB Quote of the Week #11 
Saturday, November 17, 2007, 14:02 - Commentary
Stuttgart

Another week, another quote by HCB. Only 14 days until I land back in New York. Too much to do, too little time…


© Damaso Reyes

Thinking should be done before and after, not during photographing. Success depends on the extent of one's general culture, one's set of values, one's clarity of mind one's vivacity. The thing to be feared most is the artificially contrived, the contrary to life.
-Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Scanning in the snow 
Thursday, November 15, 2007, 12:45 - Project News
Stuttgart

Almost done scanning, the end is in sight! By tonight I should be done, thank goodness. Tomorrow and over the weekend I will edit and start the process of putting some new images on my website, can you believe it?


Lovely, dark and deep... © Damaso Reyes

The snow has continued off and on, here is the view from my window…

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Scanning 
Tuesday, November 13, 2007, 15:17 - Project News
Stuttgart

So after a nice relaxing day at the sauna, it is finally time to get down to work! I have started to scan my negatives, ten down, a whole bunch to go! Just so you know how exciting my upcoming days will be, here is a blow by blow of my day.


© Damaso Reyes

9:30 I woke up and decided that I needed to think a little more about my life.

10:10 I finally get myself up and down into the studio.

10:40 After emailing and chatting with some folks I start setting up the scanner.

11:15 First scans look good!

12:30
Start writing this blog entry!

13:00
Break for lunch, after all, man cannot live on scanning alone…

14:05 Back from lunch, back to scanning.

14:45 While scanning watched clips of Barack Obama’s speech last weekend on YouTube.

16:02 75th scan completed, God only knows how many left…

17:00 Scan number 100! Woohoo!

17:03 One of the other fellows has a birthday today so time to take a break for cake. Mmmm…cake….

18:37 Got sucked into a massive ping-pong game, of course I was victorious… back to scanning ;(

20:42 Time for a dinner break. On the menu tonight rice and Asian stir fry.

21:48 Ate dinner. It started snowing heavily and I had a snowball fight with some of the fellows. It was a draw. Going to do a little more scanning…

23:35 Calling it a day. I scanned 193 images. Sounds good but I have around 240 left to go. Pray for me…
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HCB Quote of the Week #10 
Saturday, November 10, 2007, 16:07 - Commentary
Stuttgart

I know it seems like forever but here is your HCB Quote of the Week. Take it in…


Summer in Amsterdam. © Damaso Reyes

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. -Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Distractions... 
Friday, November 9, 2007, 11:52 - Shooting, Commentary
Stuttgart

One of the issues I struggle with the most is post production. It is so much fun to be out in the field, shooting roll after roll, enjoying the world around me that I rarely spend as much time as I should in the darkroom processing that same film or in front of the computer scanning and editing. So this week as supposed to be all about catching up on some much needed post production but alas, I have failed. I did manage to process the film from my trip to Hameln as well as some rolls from Paris. I even went through all 48 rolls of my processed film and edited them down to what I would like to scan, but after that things kind of stalled.

Sure the late night drinking and discussions with the other fellows in the house didn’t help, but I just have a hard time motivating myself to do repetitive work like scanning. Once I start I am okay with it but getting the motivation to begin in the first place is very difficult for me. So next week, I promise I will start scanning, editing and posting new work online!


Missed Connection. © Damaso Reyes

It didn’t help that I had a bit of a distraction the past two days: the sheep have returned! As you might remember this spring I met a local shepherd who was grazing his flock on the grounds of Solitude. Well I shot a roll or so and was all set to spend a day with him when our plans fell through. I did get at least one memorable image but I longed for more.


Traffic Jam. © Damaso Reyes

Two days ago I passed one of the other fellows in the hall who asked me “Have you seen the sheep?” I looked outside and lo and behold the sheep, and shepherd were back! I vowed not to miss my chance again and went out to do some more shooting and I ended up talking with Reinhold, who is a very nice guy by the way. Yesterday on my way back from the supermarket he was here again and motioned me to come over. In German he asked if I had some time today. Thinking about how little I actually wanted to sit in front of the computer I said yes. He told me that he would be taking his flock home in a little while and if I wanted to walk with him I was welcome. I had mentioned to him that I was interested in buying a sheepskin so I was eager to get the goods. Half an hour later we were walking down the road, blocking traffic with me as assistant shepherd bringing up the rear and making sure none of the baby lambs, one of which was just two days old, got lost.



Into the Woods. © Damaso Reyes

It was a lot of fun, playing shepherd and getting to see a little more of the countryside. We wound our way through the woods and a small town, everyone amazed to see so many sheep walking by. One of the things I have enjoyed about my time here is the chance to take a more in-depth approach and for me the shepherd is just one example. After spending most of the year here I have come to realize that this is the way that I want to work: at my own pace and on the topics that interest me. Now of course I have to figure out a way to pay for it all!


Our Friend Reinhold. © Damaso Reyes
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DKFZ 
Monday, November 5, 2007, 11:36 - Shooting
Stuttgart

So last week I returned to the German Cancer Research Center to photograph in the lab of Dr. Frank Rösl. It was a very interesting visit and all of the researchers and students welcomed me, even if they thought it was strange that I would come to photograph them doing what they think of as mundane tasks. Over and over again I was asked why I had come and I suppose you want to know that as well.


Hard Science. © Damaso Reyes

Well much like a scientist I suppose I am collecting data for a long term study of How Europe is changing. Still, you ask, how does this trip exemplify these so-called changes? Well first I would like to point out that change is often very subtle and not every shoot, let alone every photograph, is going to explicitly talk about this grand theme. Part of the goal of the project is also to photograph things as they are now so that when change does occur we have a reference point.


Looking for Gold. © Damaso Reyes


Results. © Damaso Reyes

But the Cancer Center is a great example of change itself, having grown more than tenfold in the last twenty years. More importantly is how international the researchers are coming not just from different parts of Germany, including the former East, but throughout Europe and the world. I had lunch with two Columbians and in the lab I visited there were a multitude of nationalities. Europe is becoming increasingly diverse and science is at the forefront of this trend.


The Queen. © Damaso Reyes


Knowledge=Freedom.© Damaso Reyes

What do you think of when you imagine what a German research lab must be like? Bearded men in long white coats nodding seriously perhaps? Well the long white coats are still there but the lab was filled with young people, the average age must have been well under thirty. As well there were many more young women than I expected.


Face of the Future. © Damaso Reyes

Given how much energy has been spent trying to get young girls interested in the natural sciences it seems like the work has begun to pay off. There were lots of smiles and joking around even as they conducted their experiments. Pop music played in the background as results were studied. The atmosphere was focused but relaxed and the communications between colleagues was cordial and open. While serious science was being conducted people were having, of all things, fun. Scientists even have a sense of humor.


© Damaso Reyes


E.coli, our servant. © Damaso Reyes

Can you believe it?


A Little Note. © Damaso Reyes


Daydreaming. © Damaso Reyes


Cleanliness is next to... © Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #9 
Saturday, November 3, 2007, 14:06 - Commentary
Stuttgart

My last month at Solitude has arrived, can you believe it? As I sit back and contemplate things, here is your HCB Quote of the Week…


© Damaso Reyes

I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us.
-Henri Cartier-Bresson

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EU Constitution 
Wednesday, October 31, 2007, 13:50 - Commentary
Stuttgart

Happy Halloween! I am sure that some of you reading from the States will be dressing up and have fun tonight. I was never much of a fan of Halloween myself but I always enjoyed seeing what costumes other people decided to wear.

We have been having a bit of trick or treating here in Europe as well. If you hadn’t noticed (don’t worry I didn’t either) apparently the European Union has a new constitution, or treaty, or something. As you might recall in 2005 Dutch and French voters rejected the 500 odd page constitution. EU heads of state decided not to risk a repeat of the fiasco two years ago and instead submitted a “treaty” for the approval of their parliaments.


The Hidden Hand. © Damaso Reyes


As The Economist notes in two good articles this so called treaty is in fact a constitution in sheep’s clothing! This is more or less a slap in the face to the various citizens of EU member states who have been insisting on a vote. Knowing they faced an uphill battle it seems that the leaders of Europe simply decided to skip the part where they consulted their populations.

As I have said many times the project of creating a more integrated Europe has for decades happened on the highest levels and in smoke filled back rooms. Treaties were hammered out and unpopular but necessary policies were put into place. The time for back room is over; if the EU is to become more than the sum of its parts then the people of Europe not only need to be consulted, they need to vote in its favor. More importantly, the leaders of Europe need to present their case to the people of Europe and encourage and participate in an open and frank discussion about the future of Europe. The reason why so many Europeans feel alienated and resentful of the EU is because they believe that they don’t have a real role in shaping it or its decisions.

This latest stunt will do little to reassure the Euroskeptics

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HCB Quote of the Week #8 
Saturday, October 27, 2007, 20:22 - Commentary
Stuttgart

Hello from the forest! Here is your HCB Quote of the week and it is a good one!


© Damaso Reyes

I'm not responsible for my photographs. Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience. It's drowning yourself, dissolving yourself, and then sniff, sniff, sniff – being sensitive to coincidence. You can't go looking for it; you can't want it, or you want get it. First you must lose your self. Then it happens. -Henri Cartier-Bresson, September/October 1997, "American Photo" , page: 96

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Heidelberg 
Friday, October 26, 2007, 00:07 - Shooting
Heidelberg

So today, as promised, I went to the German Center Research Center. Today was more of an informal get to know you session. I only shot a few images but I got to take a bit of a tour of the place and I sat down and talked about my project with Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Frank Rösl, whose lab I will be photographing in next week. If you are familiar with my previous work you know that I did a whole series of articles on cancer survivors back in New York.


In the lab. © Damaso Reyes

His research is dealing with viral transformation mechanisms. From his webpage: “One major aim of our research is the identification of intracellular surveillance mechanisms, which control the expression of human pathogenic papillomaviruses (e. g. HPV16/18) in immortalized cells.”


Flags of many colors. © Damaso Reyes

My high school biology teacher would be very proud. So what does this have to do with how Europe is changing? Well do I really have to spell it out? Of course I do! For one thing the center is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, for another it is very international, hosting scientists and students not just from all over Europe but all over the world. Increasingly Germany, as well as Western Europe is becoming more diverse and international. With programs like Erasmus there is a tremendous amount of cross pollination going on, changing the culture of the continent.

So there!

I hope to have a few chances to visit the lab, but of course my time is growing short and the number of things that I want to photograph seems to be piling up. My goal is to have all of my post production work for the year done before I head back to New York for December but this may just be a dream.

But oh how I love to dream!

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Dollar Decline... 
Thursday, October 25, 2007, 02:11 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

In case you were still wondering, the American dollar is still heading downward. Even the Indian Rupee is kicking our butt. Everyone is bailing on the Greenback. Not so bad if you are earning Euros and buying in dollars. Not so much fun if you make dollars and have to spend Euros. That’s why I have to change things from dollars to Euros on my contributions page, but don’t worry, you can still get the cheap dollar advantage at The Wish List.


Down, Down, Down...

Tomorrow I head off to the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center) to photograph. I certainly do love my science labs, don’t I? It should be an interesting experience to check out a little more of the pure research side of science, I look forward to sharing photos with you soon!

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The Congregation of Hameln 
Sunday, October 21, 2007, 14:44 - Shooting
Stuttgart

Well it certainly has been a long week! From Paris to Hameln in just five days, funny huh? As exciting as the life of an international photojournalist can be it can also get a little tiring, next week should be a bit quieter with only one shoot scheduled, but of course there is no shortage of editing, processing and research to do, I wonder how much of it I will actually get to?


My Israel is... © Damaso Reyes

So I arrived in Hameln, which is about 30 kilometers from Hannover, in the mid afternoon and made my way to the synagogue, which is housed in a non-descript building near the main train station. There I found Adrian, who was already hard at work tutoring a young boy who was preparing for his bar mitzvah. I quickly got down to work, photographing them as they worked together on reading and writing in Hebrew. Before too long members of the congregation began to trickle in, each one with a warm Shabbat Shalom on his or her lips.


Adrian. © Damaso Reyes


Teaching. © Damaso Reyes

When I returned to Solitude yesterday I was asked at least half a dozen times why I went all the way to Hameln to photograph. Well if there is anything which exemplifies the changes that Europe is experience perhaps it is the congregation here. Made up primarily of Russian Jews who came to Germany in the past decade after the country opened its doors the congregation embodies the issues of immigration and identity perfectly. Adrian, a convert to Judaism himself, is another great example of the changing face of Europe.


Candles. © Damaso Reyes


Father and Daughter. © Damaso Reyes

The service was filled with German, Hebrew and Russian, songs and fellowship. Afterwards the congregation came together and shared a meal. Yesterday morning found me there once again and I continued my work, some of which you see here. I also managed to record some of Friday night’s service, at some point I think I will experiment with creating an audio slideshow since song and music is such an important part of Shabbat.


Torah reading. © Damaso Reyes

I hope to have the chance to return next month and continue my work, the more time I spend with Adrian the more interesting I find his journey.


© Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #7 
Saturday, October 20, 2007, 13:52 - Commentary
Hameln

Greetings from Hameln, here is your HCB Quote of the week!

To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis. -Henri Cartier-Bresson



Holy hand© Damaso Reyes
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EPA Meeting 
Thursday, October 18, 2007, 14:50 - Project News
Frankfurt

Sorry I haven’t been around much, after recovering from my trip to Paris and hitting the sauna I had to prepare for a meeting I had today at the European Pressphoto Agency. I went there with Philippe, a former fellow here at solitude and expert in copyright issues who is an adviser to EPA. He mentioned my project once or twice and managed to set up a meeting. So we drove from Stuttgart to Frankfurt today for what could be a life changing meeting.


© Damaso Reyes

I met with the editor in chief and the managing editor for over an hour. I talked about the background of the project, what I was trying to accomplish and the potential for collaboration with the EPA. It was a very good meeting and they were both very receptive to the project. It went as well as I could have hoped, now of course the devil is and in the details and the next few months we will see if something can be worked out. But I am very positive; it is always refreshing to meet people in the industry who are actually forward thinking and who believe in the power of images to change the world.

Tomorrow I head to Hameln where I will photograph a small Jewish congregation there. The fun never stops!

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