Heading into this new year,
may we be creative in our wayfinding,
stay light on our feet, and carry a song in our hearts.
Photographing a Beautiful World
|photo of orca: swimmingfree.wordpress.com|
I started out with a particular fascination for the storytelling, illustration-like qualities of black and white imagery. I was drawn to the work of Imogen Cunningham, Minor White, and Julia Margeret Cameron, among others.
My favorite camera during the “darkroom days” was a Mamiya C330. I also used 35mm and a few other 120mm film cameras. Now, instead of enlarger and tray developing, I scan those negatives and transparencies. In recent years, I finally gave up film in favor of digital methods. Although I have a sentimental nostalgia for the film and darkroom techniques, the workflow of digital is a major improvement in many ways.
Early on, I began to photograph with color transparency film in addition to black and white. Then, in an effort to breath more life into some images, I began to hand-tint black and white prints with oils. In the early 90’s I took a workshop in Polaroid transfer process with Kathleen Thormod Carr at Point Reyes, loved it, and explored that technique intensively for 10 years, working with small, medium, and large Polaroid negatives.
To create my images, I think of it in three parts: Photography (the original experience), digital “darkroom” work, and finishing- which usually means hand painting and/or mounting techniques.
Because I consider each step to be an integral part of the statement and artwork, I do all of my own processes.
I use Nikon cameras, a Mac computer with Photoshop, and Epson Stylus Pro printers.
For the hand painting, I use dry pastels, pencils, acrylics, or oils.
I avoid the overly technical aspects of photography, in favor of a more hands on and intuitive approach. I use almost entirely for natural light.
I was very reluctant to switch to digital cameras and replace the darkroom with the computer.
But as technology increasingly becomes the way of the world, the results get better and better, and the systems more user friendly, I have adopted and learned some of the tools, one by one, on an as- needed basis with a do-what-works philosophy. It helps me to think of the computer as just one of the tools in the toolbox. I like to imagine the digital darkroom as a sort of CS Lewis wardrobe that I enter like a fascinated tourist in a foreign land, my own spirit to guide me, and always staying open to the elements of surprise and serendipity.
In the end, my goal is for the work I do to create a space where, as subject, artist, and viewer, we may encounter one another in spirit.