In the July edition of Darkroom Underground, we have an amazing group of talented photographers that share inspiring prints from their portfolios and interesting articles on creative and technical subjects.
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Article - Why I Continue Employing Traditional Photographic Methods
"In the mid-1960s I started doing photography to record what I saw on backpack trips in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was a hobby that turned into a profession in late 1970, but it’s still a hobby for me because I derive so much pleasure from it, and I do it for the love of it."
Portfolio - 6 B&W Silver Gelatin Prints: Sierra Wave Cloud; Fallen Sequoias; Circular Chimney, Antelope Canyon; Lay Brothers' Refectory, Fountains Abbey; Les Baux Quarry; Arni Marble Quarry
Article - Defining Personal Vision In Photography: Using Concept and Craft
"How do you define yourself in the photographic world? Are you a process photographer? A conceptual artist? Or an artist that blends both craft and concept?
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about personal vision as it applies to photography. There is a major shift afoot within the discipline. In many ways, it’s being redefined. It’s changing radically, regardless of what people say."
Portfolio - 6 Plates from "Portraits from Madison Avenue"
Portfolio - Iceland, An Uneasy Calm with a Q&A section
Iceland, 'The Land of Fire and Ice’, has a strong and omnipresent ‘Middle Earth’ feel to it. Evidence of its volcanic origin is everywhere. Geysers spurt, mud pools boil and steam billows from the ground. The central highlands are unpopulated and barren. Glistening glacial caps crown the mountains and extend long white fingers down to light-sucking lava deserts, whilst bible-black beaches lie fringed with white surf. Thundering waterfalls abound, whilst craggy caves and peaks, often shrouded in mist and low cloud, provide a home to some of Iceland’s trolls and ‘hidden people'. In summer the days extend through the nights. In winter the nights eat up the days. Changes in the weather are frequent and storms can be spectacular. Brooding skies accentuate the already dramatic and sometimes eerie landscape where trolls lurk at night and get turned to stone by daylight. It is a land of myth and magic, of fearsome subterranean power and spectacular scenery.
Interview: I asked Tim to share his thoughts about the following questions. What was your inspiration for this project? Can you tell us about the film and developer you used for this project and why you selected it? Your prints for this portfolio are all printed on fiber paper. Can you share which paper you printed on and why you selected this paper for your project? The tonality of your prints is beautiful. Can you tell us more detail about the two toning stages you used for these prints? What was your process for selecting the final images for the book?
Article - My Large Format Choice
"I am somewhat unusual for a large format film photographer. I didn’t grow up immersed in photography, or art in general for that matter. I was an outdoorsman and athlete with a degree in Biology that had a true appreciation for the natural world I immersed myself in. For several years I found myself wanting to capture the beauty I was experiencing while climbing, running, riding, fishing, etc. Eventually, I purchased a used 35mm film camera and began composing images. I was immediately taken with the art of photography. In quick order, I realized I wanted to produce fine art prints in larger sizes, and the 35mm film format was failing me. I didn’t want to move to medium format, as others were using that and I wasn’t excited about their prints. I jumped straight to 4x5 inch film via a used (by 35 years) Super Speed Graphic press camera. I acquired two used lenses (90mm and 210mm) and began my quest to produce the highest quality fine art prints possible for gallery walls."
Article - The Mystery of The Creative Process
"My photography background...average intelligence...uncommon drive! What lead me to write this article...out of my comfort zone equals Growth Passion knows no boundaries I am a big believer in Quotes and Metaphors Evaluation of other creative giants Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon, each tied to my quest to understand the Creative Process. Techniques on how I break ideas into projects and ultimately a body of work. My personal tricks to turn a 3-dimensional subject into a creative two-dimensional photograph. My current favorite Quote, you won’t believe who said it and where I learned of it!"
Article - Photographing the Intangible
“Mark, people can look at my photographs and think “I could do that”, but they never say that about yours.” That was the nicest thing a gallery owner ever said to me, especially since he was a photographer as well. I don’t think that my photos were necessarily “better” than his, but what he meant was that they were unique to me. If I look at Flickr or 500px, I see thousands upon thousands of the exact same photograph, taken by different photographers. I look at long-exposure beachscapes and, while beautiful, they almost always show a total lack of creativity. They’re merely copying a technique that they saw elsewhere and wanted to replicate it to produce a pretty picture."
Article - Processing for Permanence
K.B. Hendriks, the Director of the Picture Conservation Division for the Public Archives of Canada, wrote that “Recent studies have shown that toner treatments should be considered mandatory for contemporary films and paper if permanent photographic images that are resistant to chemical changes are to be obtained.” The available evidence shows Hendriks has been proved right. There can be no doubt that increased environmental pollutants are posing new challenges in photographic preservation and after-processing toner treatments are the only means of preventing image degradation. Even so, there are indications that if film and paper is processed correctly in the conventional manner, the limiting factor in its longevity is the film or paper base, not the silver image. The real culprits may be environmental pollutants, including contaminants in the water supply (including chemicals added by the water district and naturally occurring minerals), and airborne pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide."
Article - A Visual Approach to Film Speed & Development Time Testing (Part 1 of 3)
Paul's method is based on tonal values in your negatives and prints that you establish visually, versus having to use a densitometer. I have personally tested Paul's method and I can attest that it will help any film photographer produce high-quality negatives and prints rendering the maximum tonal scale possible for the negative, developer, and paper of choice.
"My proper proof contact prints are done at a lower-than-normal contrast (about what we old-timers used to call Grade 1), so my visible zones for a properly exposed and normally developed negative (non-black to non-white) are Zone 1.5 to Zone 8.5. Please be aware that there is LOTS of detail that could be registered on your film above Zone VIII, it's just a pain in the butt to get it to show up in your print (i.e., an opportunity for dodging and burning)."
Article - The Cuba Effect With Portfolio Images
"When I became serious about photography, I began to search for a topic and a style that would be “mine,” a subject that I would revisit time and again, my touchstone. After much exploration, I began a body of work that I call “Entropy,” a study of what happens when man stops expending the energy required to maintain his creations and nature begins to reclaim them back into the elements from which they were made. Cuba should be a great place to find examples of entropy to photograph. An inefficient form of government, the economic embargo imposed by the US in 1962, and the loss of support when the USSR dissolved in 1991 combined to deprive the country of the financial and material resources it needs to maintain its buildings. But as I would learn, Cuba is a far more nuanced and complex place than can be depicted simply with pictures of the disintegration of a once beautiful built environment. And that Cubans have learned to adapt to, improvise, and overcome their challenges in ways so unique that they have a special word for it: resolver...to solve."
Article - From Film to Digital to Glass
"Millions of people own cameras and take pictures throughout their lives but they wouldn't necessarily call themselves photographers. Really it's just a means to an end to record the events of their lives and sadly many of them will never see the light of day or be printed and put into albums for future generations to look at. I too grew up taking pictures from an early age but it was in my early 20's that there were two events that I feel propelled me into a lifelong love of photography and a journey that is still going on today.
Article - Daguerreotype in the 21st Century
Portfolio - Brandon shares seven photographs taken with a Hasselblad xPan camera using Ilford FP4f film that was developed in Rodinal. While starting with the standard recommended development times and agitation for Rodinal with FP4, I gradually simplified my process and reduced agitation until I came upon a sort of semi-stand development that suits my preference. How I approached composition in street photography followed suit. Progressively, I simplified my composition focusing not on the people around me but rather the surrounding space.