Setting Up My Own Mastodon Instance

I haven’t been on Twitter in a few years, and was even surprised to find that I’d made 298 tweets over the years. That’s about 200 more than I’d expected. Anyway, with Twitter imploding it seems everyone’s migrating to Mastodon and I thought I’d give it a go.

Mastodon is decentralised, or federated, meaning the servers are not owned and data not served from any one location or company. It’s made up by thousands of servers, or ‘instances’ around the globe being run independently.

For me, choosing the right server was the biggest hurdle because you can choose from those that cater to your interests. I went for because that’s where I was born, but you could just as easily choose or; it really doesn’t matter and you can easily change servers at a later time.

Fast forward a week or two later and I found myself wanting to have my own server, partly because I wanted control over things and partly mainly because I wanted to see if I could. Very me. I eventually decided to use a managed instance and went with which has proved to be excellent in all ways; price, speed and support. There were a few hiccups to begin with but not through any fault of but the domain name registrar.

Now that I have it up and running I’m truly discovering how federation works, and have to admit it’s a little lonely to start with! Finding others with similar interests is harder and takes a little more work, and also there aren’t that many photographers, artists and people I’m interested in following on Mastodon yet. I’m hoping things will become better but in the meantime, if you’re interested, I can be found at It’s open to other photographers and artists, especially those working with (but not limited to) film and/or the alternative processes. Feel free to email me with questions.

North House Folk School Workshop

North House Folk School © Bryan Hansel

Learn How To Make a Clamshell Box

It’s a ways away yet, but I’ll be teaching my first class at North House Folk School in beautiful Grand Marais, Minnesota, right on the shore of Lake Superior, next year in May. It’s an introductory class in making clamshell boxes, whether for a portfolio of photographs, drawings, etchings, books, or anything you may want to keep safe.

You’ll learn how to accurately measure, cut materials, and build your own clamshell case to take home. All materials will be supplied and pre-cut to size prior to the start of class but we’ll discuss recommended equipment, choice of book cloths, papers, and the different adhesives and their uses for those who wish to continue constructing cases on their own time. No previous experience is necessary and all tools will be provided.

I’ll be there with Beth, who will be teaching a 3-day hand-sewn leather tool bag class. Visit Fieldwork Goods to see the beautiful leather bags, wallets and other items she makes, all hand-sewn (no machines) the traditional way, with two needles and linen thread.

Memorial Day Weekend

This class falls on the Memorial Day Weekend, which means the area hotels and B&Bs will be busy, so if you’re thinking of signing up for the class, plan ahead and book early!

Dates and Registration

Saturday May 27th and Sunday May 28th, 2023
9am – 5pm
Class information and registration.


More information about the school, how to get there, what to expect, where to stay, and much more can be found on the North House website.

The Tactility of Prints

Otherworld 007 – scan from silver print

Otherworld was also a finalist for the Photolucida/Critical Mass award, for which I am once again so grateful. These last several weeks have been very rewarding, thanks to Klompching Gallery and Rfotofolio too. The entire project is one that I’ve been really happy with right from the start, but unfortunately, as soon as I felt ready to exhibit some of the images we hit the start of the pandemic, so any ideas for further exhibitions were put on hold.

They’re printed in silver-gelatin, which gives rise to questions about the images and how they’re printed exactly, because they are neither glossy nor matte prints, and they are not toned. The tactile quality of a print is so important to me. This all adds to the mystery of the images, but uploading and submitting digital files of them for grant proposals and exhibition call for entries is frustrating, knowing, just as with platinum prints or polymer photogravures, that on an uncalibrated monitor or screen they’ll likely lose detail and much of those qualities that I feel make them special. A lot of work goes into scanning and making the image files look as close to the original prints as possible, so for this work to have been received as well as it has, without seeing the original silver prints, is really rewarding.

Yesterday I received an email that included many of the comments made by the jurors, but this one jumped out at me. They compare my prints to etchings, which is what it’s all about, and this comment alone made all the hard work of scanning and editing the files worth while! Thank you!

“Interesting work. Related to the rare work of French engraver (etchings) of Georges Rubel…hard to find material, even online. A world either pre-humanity or post-apocalyptic.” 

— Critical Mass juror

Rfotofolio Award

Otherworld 008

I am so grateful to both Christopher James and Rfotofolio for choosing my project, Otherworld, for the Rfotofolio Award, in the 2022 Denis Roussel Award. Thank you!

Otherworld uses photographs taken in the upper Midwest to render possible models of the Earth-like planets currently being sought by NASA’s Kepler mission, and it also references the mythologies of many cultures that establish a land that is home to spiritual beings or the dead. These mythical other worlds of hope or doom often share characteristics with our familiar earthly landscapes, and I am using photographs of real places to suggest realms that may or may not exist. The images use barren terrains to suggest the earth-like landscapes photographed by rovers and other missions in space.

More images and information about the project can be found here.

“Plains” at Minnesota History Center

Back in 2017 I worked on this project with the photographer, Peter Latner. It consists of 58 mounted gelatin-silver prints, printed by Peter, with colophon, image index, and title page, in a custom, handmade clamshell case. I made the case, debossed the 4-ply museum board, mounted the prints, and printed the text pages.

The project was funded by Peter’s Minnesota State Arts Board grant that year, and is now in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society. The image was taken at the Minnesota History Center’s exhibition, “Art Speaks.”