A First Exposure Student Visits Japan

Today’s article was written by 17 year old Mariana Castro: a member of  SF Camerawork’s First Exposures program. Last Fall, Mariana had the opportunity to travel to Japan for the first time and brought her trusty film camera with her.

Ever since I was little I had always dreamed – and still do – of traveling around the world. Canada, Japan, the Philippines, Norway, Ghana, you name it! I wanted to go everywhere and my constant urge to see the world never died so, after many daydreams and nighttime fantasies my first and second, BIGGEST dreams had finally come true: Canada and Japan.

 Photograph by Mariana Castro Photograph by Mariana Castro

I was probably still in elementary school at the time, but one day I had gone to my friends house and had noticed that he was moving. I had then asked “Where to?” which was followed by his surprisingly casual response “Oh, Canada.” (Tch) Obviously I was devastated at the fact that my second family was moving far away, and of course I couldn’t convince my parents to let me go with them so, from that moment I had VOWED to go out and see them again. After about 7 years of constant “I’m going’s” and working in a farmers market to scratch and save up for my ticket, my first big dream had finally come true. I was in Canada.

It was an awesome two filled weeks that I will never forget however, after two weeks had passed I was already back in school. Back to doing a ton of work, hanging out with friends, and attending Shimada club meetings every Wednesday during the short lunch period we’d have everyday. I didn’t know how I’d get to Japan until I had joined the Shimada club during my freshman year of high school.  “So we’ll all get the chance to travel to Japan if you work hard and attend every meeting” is what I remember hearing my first day there. Of course to everyone in the room I looked sane, but in my head I was all like: “Wait. Travel to Japan? You’re kidding! I… I…THIS IS THE BEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE! THIS IS CRAZY!”

 Photograph by Mariana Castro Photograph by Mariana Castro

(Cough) So, as you can tell I was having like, the biggest…I don’t know how to even put it. The biggest…oh! THE BIGGEST WHOO-HOO MOMENT IN MY LIFE! Like, the part in Napoleon Dynamite where Kip’s all like “Yes~”. (Ha ha ha) Mmm-hm, just like that. Anyways fast-forwarding a bit, I basically worked my heart out until senior year rolled by, and my second BIG dream had finally come true. I was going to Japan.

I didn’t go alone of course. I actually went with 6 other club members plus 2 old teachers that I used to have before I moved back to the city. I was so happy when we boarded that I could’ve died right on the plane! ª Good thing I didn’t though, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten to: meet my host family, make new friends, practice my Japanese, tell two old men riding their bikes that they were cool, eat awesome food, take pictures of newlyweds while I was on a fieldtrip, and the list goes on and on. Take off was fun because one of our friends had never been on a plane, so she was kind of hyperventilating in the back rows. After a few short naps, playing games, watching movies, and bathroom breaks, we finally landed in Japan.

 Photograph by Mariana Castro Photograph by Mariana Castro

The next small moments passed like running water. It was all so dreamy. That is until morning came! Breakfast was fresh and served in small portions at a time so it could be nice and hot for the guests. Everything tasted so GOOD! After breakfast my friends and I went on a small excursion around the hotel. IT WAS AWESOME! Men and women were walking in their business suits, the youth and the elderly were riding bikes, school kids were in their super stylish school uniforms, vending machines and convenience stores were a ton of fun, AND HERE I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET DUMBSTRUCK AND HAPPY AS A MOUSE WITH CHEESE! We even walked in the station just to look at people. It was great.

After a while of walking around it was time to head over to Shimada, the place where we would be staying for the remainder of our time eating and having fun with the coolest people in the world. We had a few more small tours and stopped at a few rest stops – where I had my first experience with their high tech toilets – before we finally arrived at the school. It was like we were super star players walking into the stadium being welcomed by an awesome band and clapping from the crowd. The welcome we received from the kids and teachers was the best I had ever experienced in my whole life. I felt so loved, and knew that I was at home.

 Photograph by Mariana Castro Photograph by Mariana Castro

The next few days were filled with engaging conversations, icebreakers, happy kids, awesome food, fieldtrips, and much, much more. It was truly an experience I could never forget. Days would mainly consist of me waking at the crack of dawn, my mom making me and my host sister breakfast and lunch, a ride on the train to meet our friends to walk to school, going to class rooms, meeting more people, laughing and learning new things, and falling more in love with the country I was continuously getting to know. Everyday seemed so natural. Maybe it was because I was, surrounded by tea bushes, a ton of nature, mt. Fuji and small local farms all day. One morning I even walked around my neighborhood to take pictures before breakfast.

I didn’t want to leave, but then reality had SLAPPED ME THREE TIMES and told me that I had to. It was at the farewell party two days before we had to actually leave. I felt like a train wreck, and time seemed to slow down all of a sudden. It was an excruciating time for everyone. I didn’t want to leave, but we had to go. The last day was very hard, and when I got on the bus…more crying. We went on a couple of small tours around Tokyo and at first we just wanted to go home already, but eventually we got better. We saw the Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, the Edo prefecture where a ton of people went to get steam on their heads, and a lot more.

After all that we finally arrived at the airport where we said our final good byes to our driver and tour guide. The last two people we’d have to part with. We then boarded the plane and were off on our way, back to California. It was a painful ride back because I got sick, but when I looked out the window the clouds were amazing. It took my mind off of the pain and my new friends for a while. It gave me relief. Then we finally landed at SFO. I was home again.

Since opening our C-41 color negative processing department, Dickerman Prints has been developing and scanning film forSF Camerawork’s First Exposures program. The weekly photography class for underserved youth aged 11-18 has been a staple of the San Francisco photographic community for years and we’re proud to be part of the team.

Photograph by Jim Marshall

The Irreplaceable Magic of Contact Sheets

Any photographer who has worked with film can attest to what I mean by “magic”. Though the technology of digital photography has grown incredibly since its inception, one woefully missing piece of the process is the role of contact sheets.

In the time of film, the process of photographing was markedly different. After every shoot was the unavoidable wait for processed negatives and the accompanying joy of hunting through your contact sheets. I’d liken it to the ritual of your morning coffee with the paper, or any ritual you adhere to with care. Looking at a freshly developed contact sheet, with a red pen and an eye for editing, was a revered and enticing step in defining one’s vision.

For gallery-goers and museum folk, viewing artist’s finished photographs kept those initial steps a mystery. We formed our own opinions about the artist’s intent.

There are those rare moments to catch glimpses of that magic; the process and ideas of the man behind the curtain. Anyone who may have seen Robert Frank’s “The Americans” at SFMOMA in 2009 was invited to do just that.

Alongside Frank’s prints, the museum shared Frank’s contact sheets as well. Visitors could see multiples of each shot, understanding more about what Frank would include or exclude; understanding the parameters of his vision.

Check out this interesting NPR article on the 2009 show in San Francisco. Through the exhibition of Frank’s work, one of his subject’s recognized herself more than 54 years after Frank took her picture!

If contact sheets are still a mainstay in your film to digital workflow, you can always include them with your film processingin the lab.

Opening Night Photos – HULLS: The Art of Decay in San Francisco Bay

On the evening of November 2, 2011, Dickerman Prints Gallery hosted the opening reception of Jan Tiura’s HULLS.

Photographed from the unique and dynamic vantage point of a tugboat’s deck – Jan Tiura’s HULLS is an up-close character study of working vessels from around the world by the first female tugboat captain in San Francisco Bay history.

Why Do Old Time Photos Have Jagged Edges?

At Dickerman Prints, we do a lot of scanning and repairing of old photos: many of which have edges that look like as jagged a postage stamp. Referred to as a deckled edge, there were a few theories floating around the photo lab as to why it was done. My favorite was that it was a marketing gimmick and the photos were cut that way using a special machine.

The “real” answer proved considerably harder to find, as most searches turned up tutorials on creating decked edges in Photoshop. A cool trick, but not a history lesson. So, after extensive looking, the best answers I have found are:

Commercially made “deckle edge” photographs didn’t have a true deckle edge, but a simulated deckle edge cut with a die. The paper was available from manufacturers pre-trimmed (Kodak made it until the later ’60s or early 70′s) and paper cutters were sold that produced the effect. The commercial deckle edge was a simulation of the true deckle edge often seen on fine art paper and thus on hand coated photographic prints.

~Source: The Photo Forum


When paper is produced, it naturally has a deckeled edge. Paper produced on a paper machine (in rolls) has two deckeled edges, while paper produced in sheets (ie, artist’s paper) usually has four.

I suspect that having deckeled edges on photographs was an outgrowth of pictorialism. The pictorial school of photography believed that the best photography emulated traditional painting. Having four deckeled edges on a photograph looked something like a painting on a sheet of artist’s paper.

~Source: Answers.Yahoo.com

What is YOUR theory on why folks used to use deckled edges?

And, check out a great tutorial on creating deckled edges in Photoshop!

Google+ is Like the Wild West For Photographers

We’re not exactly sure what to do, but we’re pretty sure we’re supposed to be there.

Trying to create a photographer’s presence on Facebook or Twitter is like shouting into the wind. Now along comes Google+, which many of my friends say is nothing more than a glorified Facebook and that there’s nothing to do there. Well, if you like photography and following the work of some amazing artists, then there’s plenty going on.

Currently, my stream is filled with constant photographic updates from Colby BrownJim GoldsteinThomas HawkGary CrabbeHelen SotiriadisTrey RatcliffTarah GaaRichard Wong,Brian Matiash and more. Every day I find more inspirational people to follow and have been having a blast putting my own work up there.

So what’s so cool about Google+ for photographers? First off, the gallery section is fantastic! It features rollover to slightly enlarge your image and a unique grid system of different sized images that resizes when you change your browser dimensions. Very cool!

Additionally, even with 20 million users, Google+ is still new enough that the photographer community is relatively small with a population in the thousands as opposed to the multi-millions on Facebook and Twitter. This means if you do it right, there’s a much higher chance for success.

Along those same lines, the Google+ directory sitesare still relatively empty. Assuming you have taken the time to register yourself around them, they are another great way to be discovered. Random fun fact: the #1 followed user is currently none-other than Facebook’s founder: Mark Zuckerberg.

As for finding Dickerman Prints on Google+…give it a little time. Right now the site is not for businesses, but you can be sure that as soon as it is, we’ll be on there. In the mean time, check out our Facebookand Twitter feeds, which are frequently updated with great photography, articles and resources.

Still not on Google+? Just send a message and an invite will be on its way.

On Google+ already? Then be sure to +Greg Goodman (author of this article, proud Dickerman Prints employee and author of Adventures of a GoodMan: Photography, Storytelling & World Travel) into your circles.

200 Yards @ Dickerman Prints Gallery

Part of the fun of running a gallery is finding great people and organizations to partner with, which is why we were thrilled to join the 200 Yards Photography Project for our first juried photography exhibition.

Using Dickerman Prints Gallery as the epicenter, participants were tasked with capturing images within a 200 yard radius of our photo lab in the Mission. Seth Dickerman, along with Genevieve and Shelly – the founders of 200 Yards and Lightbox SF– then selected 22 images by 15 talented photographers to hang on the walls of our gallery.

The opening reception was held in our space on Friday, June 24, 2011, and we were thrilled to get to know the steady flow of guests while enjoying the photographs on the wall as well as the food trucks outside. Special thanks to Bi Bim Bop for cheffing up Korean rice bowls all night and Cabbit Kitchen for bringing her tasty desert treats.

200 Yards at Dickerman Prints Gallery will be up through July and we are open Monday – Friday from 10am – 6pm. And of course, please let us know if you need any photographic C-printingscanningmountingfilm processingretouching orarchival pigment printing.

Masks and Layers in Photoshop: A Tutorial

One of the most common questions we get here at Dickerman Prints is how to just change one part of an image without having it affect the whole shot. The answer, in Photoshop, is to use masks and layers. But just what does that mean? Take a look at these helpful videos to find out!

 Some dramatic changes using layers and masks in Photoshop Some dramatic changes using layers and masks in Photoshop  The layers and masks used to create the above image The layers and masks used to create the above image

Roosevelt Island Photograph by Greg Goodman

Fun With Film: Highlights From SF Camerawork’s First Exposures Program

The latest edition of our collaboration with SF Camerawork and their First Exposures program features the photographic work of Marcus Wong and Llara Eslava. Marcus, 18, recently graduated from School of the Arts and is heading to San Francisco State University this fall. We wish him the best of luck in life and photography!

The below photographs were captured by 14 year old Llara Eslava, who joined First Exposures two years ago after attending the Tenderloin Afterschool Program. This year a double exposure image by her and Mariana Castro was selected as a collector print for Camerawork’s fine print program.

City Streets Serve as Muse For 200 Yards Photography Project

 Dayman Cash - The Fence. One of the works on display at the 200 Yards exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery Dayman Cash - The Fence. One of the works on display at the 200 Yards exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery

You are invited to join us for the opening reception of the 200 Yards photography project on June 24th from 6-9pm at Dickerman Prints Gallery. On display until August, the show features 22 images taken by 15 different photographers within the 200 yards circling our lab on the corner of 17th St. and South Van Ness.

(San Francisco, CA; May 24, 2011) – 200 Yards, the photography project that focuses on San Francisco neighborhoods 200 yards at a time, has put together its 4th show set to open on June 24, 2011 and launched a call to photographers for its 5th show to take place in the Tenderloin.


The 4th show, exhibiting at Dickerman Prints Photo Lab, showcases 22 images taken by 15 different photographers within the 200 yards circling the corner of 17th St. and South Van Ness. It’s an area that brings together vibrant art studios and ODC with car repair shops and industrial buildings. This collection is one of the most abstract and richly textured exhibitions 200 Yards has put together.

This August the photography exhibit will turn to the Tenderloin as a muse. The 5th show, to be held at Café Royal, is currently accepting submission of photographs taken within the 200-yard radius around the corner of Post and Leavenworth. Genevieve Robertson and Shelly Kerry, creators of the 200 Yards project, are extremely excited about this upcoming show.

“Not only have we been wanting to do a show in the Tenderloin since we started, it will mark the one-year anniversary of our first exhibit,” says Robertson. “We hoped the project would continue, but we really had no idea it would catch on the way it has. People are constantly coming out of the woodwork to tell us how much they love the idea.” One of those supporters is The Tender, a blog that is all things Tenderloin. They’ve joined forces with 200 Yards to help spread the word about the August show and the opening reception on Thursday, August 4, 2011 will also be a TenderNights neighborhood party.

 Erika Pino's selected entry for the 200 Yards photo exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery Erika Pino's selected entry for the 200 Yards photo exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery

With plans to continue doing at least 4 shows a year, the project will continue to explore new neighborhoods and will hopefully venture across the bay to Oakland next year. Kerry and Robertson are also putting more effort into building a community around the project.

The guidance, inspiration and support they’ve provided emerging photographers has been extremely well received. In an attempt to provide more resources and structure they will be looking toward collaborations and organizing group events that get photographers together and capturing images.

200 Yards @ Dickerman Prints Photo Lab, 3180 17th Street @ South Van Ness, opens Friday, June 24th with a reception from 6-9pm. To be a part of the 5th show at Café Royal, read the rules and download the map.

For more information contact Genevieve Robertson at [email protected] or 415.846.2138.

To see all images in the upcoming exhibition click here.

These Kids Take Great Photographs!

Since opening our C-41 color negative processing department last summer, Dickerman Prints has been developing and scanning film for SF Camerawork’s First Exposures program. The weekly photography class for underserved youth aged 11-18 has been a staple of the San Francisco photographic community for years and we’re proud to be part of the team.

The above sun flare photographs featured on this page were shot by 17 year old Mariana Castro in the East Bay. A member of the First Exposures program for four years, Mariana enjoys expressing her creative side through photography. “The camera I shot these with was my small pink 35mm camera that is able to take dynamic wide angle shots. I absolutely adore it and have been using it ever since I first got it,” according to Mariana.

Below, 15 year old Blanca Reyes uses a point and shoot camera to capture a an alley in downtown San Francisco as well as some beautiful flowers during a First Exposures field trip to Pie Ranch on April 23, 2011. Blanca is one of the program’s newest members, having just  moved to the City from Honduras. Bienvenidos!