Paintings from Sunset Series by Spence Munsinger, Color Field + Blank White Canvas + Realism + Contemporary Abstract Art, original paintings for sale

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for."
― Georgia O'Keeffe

street photography in louisville


louisville image

I took a Canon EOS3 film SLR camera and a Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L lens to Louisville, Kentucky. I brought a digital SLR as well. I didn’t end up using the digital much at all.

I brought both a 35mm Black and White film, and a very good 35mm color film. I shot none of the color. I shot five 36 exposure rolls of the B&W.

The Black & White film was Arista EDU 200, an inexpensive house brand sold by Freestyle Photo, in Hollywood, CA. I’ve shot a couple of rolls of this film in medium format, and I found it interesting. For street photography in a town with an older architecture, a mixture of French and American-Southern building styles, it rocks.

It rocks because it has the look of 1940’s Kodak black and white film. The film emulsion, the plastic stuff holding the chemistry, is a clear blue. The chemistry isn’t modern, and the developed negatives show an uneven imperfect distribution of grain. The film is sourced as from the Czech Republic, which would likely make it Fomapan Creative 200 film. I like the look. Alot.

louisville image

My favorite modern B & W film is Kodak TMax TMY400 – this stuff is extremely sharp, perfect contrast, greys that cascade through the image. It has a modern look though. T-Grain films came out in the 1980’s, and are dramatically sharper than Arista EDU.

Arista EDU 200 is high contrast and high grain. I developed these rolls in Kodak D76 1:1 (diluted 1 to 1 with water) at 9 munites and 30 seconds – the D76 takes the edge off the contrast. The grain becomes a part of the art of the image. The look complements the subject matter.

louisville image


— spence

photograph: chicago roof landscapes


I stayed at the Palmer House hotel in downtown Chicago for several weeks.   The first night, my room was a 10′ x 12′ closet with a view of the ventilation shaft through the center of the building. I put up with that until, at 4:30 AM, the pipes in the wall started rattling and banging. The person next door or upstairs turned on the water, and I awoke after 5 hours of sleep.

I complained bitterly. I was moved to a suite at the front of the building, with a view across the rooftops.

Edward Hopper painted views like this, industrial cityscapes. Geometric forms and patterns, staircases and fire escapes, vents and windows, turrets and columns.

Photography is for me a way to capture ideas and forms and shapes. These aren’t crystal clear perfect photographs, but they are the forms and ideas for a (possible) painting or series. They were shot with a Canon 300D with an 18-55mm zoom, through a very dirty window, which I’ve compensated for.  The reflection of the glass is not entirely gone.


I also shot another photograph looking out and down the side of the building…


At the corner below is the Dick Blick Art Supplies brick-and-mortar store, from which I had ordered for years over the internet.

The Palmer House hotel is right up the street from the Art Institute of Chicago.  The Art Institute has Edward Hopper’s oil painting Nighthawks.  The painting was displayed behind glass, in a room where there were reflections in the glass that made it difficult to see.  Still there was something connecting about seeing the original, seeing the canvas, the brush strokes in detail, feeling Hopper’s presence in front of the painting as he worked on it.   A print doesn’t capture it.  

Hopper's Nighthawks



… of cameras and lenses

Photography instructors want you to develop as a photographer without falling into the trap of believing it’s the camera. True to a point.

For a rough-shod flared and grainy, unpredictably out-of-focus genre, Holga’s are the bomb.

Good equipment makes it more possible to get a consistently good result.

I have two cameras that would be favorites. Both make photographs effortless, the tools disappear and I find I’m looking for the result and not having to pay attention to limitations in the equipment.

Digital is a Canon 30D with a 24-70mm f2.8 L series, a particularly good copy of the lens. The 24-70 is just an outstanding lens, even accounting for the digital screen size moving it to 38mm-112mm. The contrast and color are extraordinary. Just a great all around shooting camera, if a bit on the heavy side. Auto focus and great controls that allow you to take as much control of the exposure as you would want to.

Medium format 6×7 is a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with a left hand grip, 110mm f2.8 lens. In medium format that’s a normal lens. The viewfinder is a hooded plate on the top, to switch from portrait to landscape you rotate the back 90 degrees. You look down at the viewfinder. A spare back for a second roll of film, preloaded. The camera is completely manual, so on the left-hand grip goes a Sekonic 208 light meter. An OpTech strap to carry the weight and allow the camera to be hand-held comfortably. This is also heavy. And the work flow is very different. Focusing is manual. Film advance is manual. Exposure is manual. Once you get used to that it is an extraordinary tool. The results are just stunning.

Great black and white camera. And you have to see 6×7 slide film to believe it, no grain at all and the scanned files are excellent.

I use photography as a tool in workflow. The first result I’m looking for is capturing images to use in creating a painting. Texture. Combinations of colors. Forms and shapes. Things noticed quickly and captured and worked with quickly. that’s the 30D, that’s digital.

And then there is documenting paintings and producing scanned images suitable for producing prints. That’s both digital and the RZ67 6×7 slide film photographs.

Along the way I started working in black and white just for the joy of it. I needed to develop color and slide film, and the best way to start to learn to develop with consistent results is black and white. I started with Fuji Neopan, then tried Kodak TMY B&W film. Just a blast to work with, the blacks are deep, the gradation of grey very, well, gradual. There’s something about the abstraction black and white creates – you lose color, you are back to forms and shades and contrasts. The better I get at capturing images in black and white the more aware I’ve become of light and shadow and contrast – and that translates directly to more awareness and better results in color as well. Composition gets better.

I also like the character of film. The edges of the scan, which occasionally capture the “kodak” label and codes. One camera leaves a tail on the negative frame, just a slight imperfection that I think adds to the character of the final scan. Where possible I’ll leave those edges, and print them.

— spence