UMS Falling Up and Getting Down

I was recently named a University Musical Society Artist in Residence for the 2016-2017 season. I’ll have more to say about this exciting news later, but right now I want to share some images from the first Renegade performance of the season: Falling Up and Getting Down which was a improvisation between live jazz and pro skateboarders.

On the beautiful September afternoon, I took along Stubbie (my Holga1) to make some images.

Sign on a chainlink fence, photographed at an angle, reads 'Falling Up and Getting Down'


Kids on skateboards in a concrete bowl

Public skate

A woman with braided hair is alone in the bowl, her skateboard visible over the edge. A band plays under a canopy.

Natalie Krishna Das

Overview of the show area, dozens of people watching the scene (their backs to the camera). A skater is riding the wall of the bowl.


A woman with helmet and pads is at a 45 degree angle in the bowl. Her hands are up. The end of her skateboard is above the edge of the bowl.

Jordyn Barratt

A young man gets some air in a bowl that is behind the band tent

Behind the Bandstand

I don’t normally photograph people, nor do I photograph action.2 I used Stubbie because of the feeling of “letting go” that I get from using it. If I’d taken a digital camera, or a film camera with standard controls, I would have spent much of my time trying to figure out the right settings to get perfect images. With Stubbie I was able to enjoy the performances of the musicians and the skaters, as well as make a few images that I’m happy with.

One more thing: these images show lots of processing “flaws” but really, that’s just a thing that happens when you’re using 15-year-old film. I’m learning in my art-making journey that the pursuit of perfection is sometimes an excuse for not even trying something. In the end, this is the lesson behind Falling Up and Getting Down — improvisation means working with what you have available to you in the moment, and even if it’s unexpected, it can still be pretty darned cool.

Technical notes

  • Weather: partly cloudy and mid-70s.
  • Holga settings: bright sun (about f/11)
  • Ilford Delta 400 (B&W, expired about 2003) processed for 7½ minutes in HC110 dilution B (first 3 images)
  • Kodak Portra VC 400 (color, expired about 1999) processed as B&W for 12 minutes in HC110 dilution H (last 3 images)
  • Film scanned with Epson V600
  • Contrast adjustments and spotting in Lightroom
  1. Holga is a “toy” camera — plastic lens, limited controls, medium format. 

  2. Still lifes don’t move very much, and you don’t have to worry if they’re tired or hungry, and if something doesn’t quite work out you can always make another exposure.