Tim Layton's Wild Horse
B&W Fine Art Technical Information
It all starts by creating exposures in the field of the wild horses.
I frequently use 35mm black and white film loaded in my Nikon F6 camera along with long telephoto lenses, like the Nikon 600mm F4 or the 300mm F2.8. I have standardized on T-Max 400 developed in XTOL because I get the cleanest and sharpest negatives with this film and developer combination, so I can make larger optical prints in the darkroom. If I have a scenario where one of the wild horses is standing still, I try and use Ilford Pan F 50 film because I can get a much cleaner and bigger enlargement using this film, but that is a rare and special treat when that happens.
I use a variety of other cameras ranging from a Linhof Master Technika 4x5 large format camera that is a rangefinder allowing me to use a 270mm lens in a more or less point and shoot type of style. I also use a Nikon D5 and D6 with the same 600 F4 and 300 2.8 lens and transform those images into an 8x10 film negative using a proprietary process that I developed. This method allows me move beyond ISO 400 when using black and white film into unbelievable ISO ranges (ISO 6400, 12,800).
My creative vision is influenced by the wild horses and the emotions that I feel while creating the exposures in the field ant this drives the method and variations in my workflow.
I get an initial impression based on my experience with the horses in the field and I take notes in my journal about every experience. When I get back to the darkroom, I start on the second part of the journey where I make technical decisions to help form and shape my original vision.
I believe wild horses are symbols of truth and honesty and they have a unique ability to draw out emotions and feelings in human beings that are powerful, moving, and important.
I hope you enjoy this information and let me know if you have any questions.
If you want to see my workflow in action, follow along with my Free Fine Art Journal.
I select a camera system and possibly film that based on available light and the amount of speed I need to freeze the action.
As mentioned above, I most frequently use my Nikon F6 35mm SLR with the 600mm F4 lens, but there are exceptions to this from time to time based on my creative vision and special circumstances.
I also use my Nikon D5 and D6 when I need an effective film speed above ISO 400. This typically happens in pre-dawn or near sunset times when I will need an ISO value ranging between 3200 and 12,800. The D5 and D6 are the king of low-light performers and when coupled with fast F2.8 and F4 telephoto glass, it is an amazing tool for photographing the wild horses in very difficult lighting situations.
Basically, I let my creative vision determine the method and tools and focus on creating the best possible piece of artwork that tells the story of the wild horses.
This last year, I have been trying to find a way to get close enough to the horses, but not too close, that would allow me to photograph them with my Linhof 4x5 camera. This big negative would allow me to create some beautiful and large scale silver gelatin enlargements with incredible detail and emotion. I keep exploring with this camera and at some point, I will find my stride. I am also experimenting with some vintage Kodak cameras that use big negatives as well.
2 - Develop the film using a developer and development method that minimizes grain and enhances sharpness.
The slower the film, the less grain is typically apparent. Also, the type of developer that I use such as X-TOL vs. D-76 vs. Rodinal for example, all impact the amount of visible grain and perceived sharpness.
Newer T-Grain films like T-Max can appear sharper than older classic emulsions based on my experience because of the smaller/tighter grain and acutance possible via developers like X-TOL. I have also tested many developers over the years for their ability to increase acutance. My go to film and developer is T-Max 400 developed in X-TOL. I find that it produces the highest quality negatives for me that are suitable for optical enlargement, whether that be classic silver gelatin prints or the basis for making enlarged negatives.
If I use the D5 or D6, then I edit in the digital darkroom and follow my customized proprietary process for creating an 8x10 film negative.
3 - Make a Contact Proof Sheet
I create a contact proof sheet of all the negatives from the roll so I can quickly identify potential winners.
I like to make a smaller silver gelatin enlargement from the film negative as the first step into my creative process. I keep the print size smaller (8x10 to 16x20).
This is where I know if I truly like the image or not and how the negative may perform if I want to pursue enlarging it for making platinum or large scale silver prints.
I honestly don't know how I feel about an image until I go through the printing process. I have been fooled as many times as I have been surprised. The lesson here is to keep making prints and the jewels will bubble up to the top.
5 - Make Enlarged Negative
Depending on the print I want to make, I typically make an enlarged negative suitable for making Platinum or Silver Chloride contact prints or one for making big silver gelatin enlargements.
I need to make a bigger negative because it is impossible for me to create exposures in the field using my 8x10 large format camera. I have tried many times!! There are a few select types of images where I believe that is possible, and I will continue trying until I finally achieve this.
When I make platinum or silver chloride contact prints, I need more density and contrast than I do for a negative intended for making enlargements and when I create the enlarged negative, I follow different methods to create the density and contrast needed for the intended print type.
For analog enlarged negatives, I start by making a contact print of the original negative using Ortho Litho film. This is called the interpositive and the image on the film is truly a positive image.
After I get the right amount of shadow detail, density, and contrast for my intended purpose, I load the interpositive into the enlarger and make the enlarged negative using Berrger print film. I like using print film vs. panchromatic sheet film for the enlarged negative because I have much longer working times and I can continue to work under safelights vs. total darkness.
Based on the type of enlarged negative that I make, I create the new print.
I have found that I can use the same negative for platinum and silver chloride contact prints, so I will frequently make both to give art buyers and collectors two very different choices.
When making silver gelatin enlargements, I need a thinner and less contrasty negative because I dial in the contrast via my classic black and white printing process.
In both cases, I use museum quality archival standards to produce original artwork that will last for generations.
I hope this information was helpful and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at any time.