Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quintessences Book

Cousin Elinor is quite talented. She made this "artist book" using her own handmade paper. It includes the gallery notes and prints of all the photographs that were in my exhibit in Ossining, NY. She used natural-color raffia to bind it with a Japanese stab binding technique.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wintry Pursuit

When I saw this scene in front of my house, I was intrigued by the strange shapes and by the holes leading up to them. They looked sort of like footprints, but they were only going in one direction. Did the person jump back to where he started? And who or what made those shapes? Whatever their origins, they begged to be photographed. The composition fell into place. The footprints, if they are footprints, lead your eye to the conical shape as does the posture of the shape that looks like a mouse. I think the burned-out highlights help make the photograph more mysterious.
One reviewer of the show had an interesting interpretation of the image. She wrote, "Seeking, yet pausing, the static yet mobile forms cause us to observe the creation of a mood of desire and of desire thwarted." What do you think?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Review of "Flaming Autumn"

I neglected to tell you about one reviewer’s interpretation of the "Flaming Autumn" photograph. I like the picture mainly because of the striking colors, but the reviewer found it was more than that. She wrote: "The photograph of the fiery radiance, which obscures that which should be seen, expresses the raw spirit and underlying energies that exist in imagery that is purely phenomenological."
Pretty impressive.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Happy Accident

I love the unexpected bursts of color in this photograph that I titled "Flaming Autumn." They seem to electrify the composition. The color happened because I accidentally opened the back of the camera before the film was completely wound back into the cartridge. I know that couldn’t happen with a digital camera, which, in my mind, is a good reason for me to stay with film. I decided to use this picture as my signature photograph for the exhibit in Ossining. We had it printed on the invitations to the show and on posters. Sometimes you have to think of mistakes as opportunities.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My camera

I haven't switched to digital photography yet, and I may never do so, I love my first 35mm camera, a Mercury II. It was given to me by an uncle who went to America to realize a better life. This is a completely manual film camera. It has no internal metering system, and I have to manually set all distance, aperture, and shutter-speed controls. I think that gives me better control over what I want to record. I do not write down any shooting data because I would rather rely on my instincts when making each new photograph, rather than refer to settings I used in the past.

Elinor thought photography enthusiasts would like to know some technical details about the Mercury II. It was made in the United States from 1945 to 1952. It was billed as a half-frame camera, but it really was more like a three-quarter-frame camera. Conventional half-frame cameras take 48 exposures on a 24-exposure roll of film, but the Mercury takes 32 pictures on a 24-exposure roll and 65 on a 36-exposure roll. That still makes it very economical to use.

That odd half-moon shape on the top has a convenient depth-of-field chart, but you can see in this close-up that it’s labeled depth of focus. It also houses the shutter. The shutter is a large focal-plane disc that rotates for one-tenth of a second during the exposure. There is a slit in this disc, and the size of this opening varies to change the shutter speed. People tell me that's very ingenious. The mechanism is extremely accurate and reliable and permits shutter speeds as short as 1/1,000 second-- one of the earliest cameras to be that fast. It can also make both Bulb and Time exposures.

On the upper right is the dial for setting the shutter speed. The dial on the left dial is the exposure counter. The lens has a focal length of 35mm, has apertures from f/3.5 to f/22, and can be focused from one-and-a-half feet to infinity. This gives me good control over depth of field.

On the lower left of the back of the camera is the film-speed dial. This is where I set the number of exposures as well as whether the film is fast, medium, slow– or color. There’s no mention of ASAs. In the middle is a unique and comprehensive exposure guide, with suggested settings for various lighting conditions as well as for different times of day and for summer and winter.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Visit to America

My distant cousin Elinor Stecker-Orel, who lives in a suburb of New York City, persuaded me to come to America. She was able to arrange for an exhibit of my photographs in Ossining, New York, a city close to where she lives. She curated the show, which opened in April, 2002 and ran for the entire month. There were 25 photographs in the exhibit. I will post photographs after Elinor scans them.

We had an elaborate reception, with wonderful food, beautiful flowers, and even a pianist providing background music. The photographs were enthusiastically received, and I was very pleased with the event.

About Me

My real name is Margryth Lea Rosza, but I am known professionally as "Ronile," pronounced ron-uh-lee.

I was born in 1941 in Apatfalva, Hungary, a small town in the southeastern part of the country, near the Jugoslavian border. My mother was an artist– a painter, and my father owned a shoe store, but he was also a very talented amateur sculptor. I inherited my artistic talent from both sides of my family. Mother told me that from the time I was first able to hold a crayon, I knew I wanted to be an artist.

My mother was my first art teacher. Later I was able to study with various local teachers. As I grew to adulthood, I received many accolades for my realistic landscapes and still lifes.

This is one of my very early paintings. My mother thought it showed I had real talent, and she framed it and hung it in the kitchen.

I frequently used a camera as sort of a sketchbook to record ideas for my paintings. I enjoyed using the camera so much that by around 1965, I became more interested in photography than painting as a means of self expression.

I never had any formal training in photography because I felt it might impede my growing desire to record images in an unconventional manner. So as a photographer, I am essentially self-taught.

I did have to master the technicalities of the camera, but after I understood the realationship of shutter speed and aperture, and how to focus, I went on to exploit the possibilities of deliberately violating the basic principles of what most people would regard as "good" photography. My photographs are characterized by indefinite focusing, over- and underexposure, and an unsteady camera.

I've received many awards and prizes for my cutting-edge photographs. This is what one reviewer of my work wrote, "Ronile’s iconoclastic art is profound and humorless, persuading us to look within ourselves to discover the internal meaning of her external images."

My photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout Hungary and western Europe, and I am pleased to say they are sought after by many collectors. My first recognition in the United States was a feature article about me in the April 2002 issue of Popular Photography. I was also written up on the website of the New York Institute of Photography.