Printing Black and White with a Dual Dichro Color Head in the Darkroom

2014-10-11 15.16.58As part of the preparations for my trip to the Pacific Northwest, I need to slim down and bring as few things as possible.  My goal is to be able to print while on my trip, so I knew I couldn’t bring my large format cold light enlarger.  I also plan on using color negative film on the trip and print RA-4 color darkroom prints as well.  My Beseler 23CII XL with the dual dichro color head started to look very appealing to me.

I’ve always printed with my cold light head for black and white, and color prints with a traditional color head.  I really never had any reason to try and print both black and white as well as color on the same enlarger (until now).  In addition to preparing for the trip, I was mentoring my friend Frank on all things analog photography and darkroom printing.  It was a lot of fun because I really had no idea of what to expect and I think Frank enjoyed that I didn’t know too!

I use Ilford darkroom papers and also use Ilford variable contrast filters on my normal enlarger, so I began my search with them.  I quickly found a technical paper “Contrast Control” dated 2001.  I found my enlarger in the paper and located the recommended filter settings for dual color settings.

As a test before I hit the open road, I needed to put the recommend equivalent filters settings to test.  I loaded my black and white negative into the enlarger and dialed in the color filters for yellow and magenta.  I should note that I purposely selected a 35mm negative that was developed with Diafine.  In alignment with keeping my trip simple and easy, I plan on using Diafine to develop my Tri-X and T-Max while on the road.

Beseler 23CII-XLOne of the downsides to wet printing a Tri-X negative developed with Diafine is they are typically very thin. As you will see by my results below, the ISO 1250 Diafine Tri-X negative was indeed thin.  I needed to validate this with the dual dichro color head so I knew what to expect on the road.  For those interested, I plan on making thicker negatives with Diafine which are more suited to darkroom printing versus scanning (thin negatives). To accomplish this, an effective ISO of 600 and the use of a yellow or orange filter to bump the contrast usually does the trick.  I also do minimal agitation, with an initial inversion of only two cycles and again at 1 1/2 minutes. Diafine is a two-part developer, so I follow this technique for both A and B parts. I want to be able to print my small format Diafine negatives with my standard #2 contrast filter and have the proper proofs be spot on.  My goal is to produce the highest quality negative that I am capable of which results in an easier and more creative experience during the printing process.

Darkroom Print by Tim LaytonI started with a #2 filter setting as I normally do with my negatives.  After making a test print at 3 second increments at F5.6 I found my highlights to look best at about 10 seconds.  I wanted to extend the time, so I changed the aperture to F8 for a time of 20 seconds.  I typically target for a base time somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds.  I like the longer time to make finer adjustments for dodging and burning.  I made a full test print at F8 for 20 seconds and evaluated my highlights.  I decided to reduce my exposure time by about 10%, so reduced the time to 18 seconds.  Now it was time to move on and pay attention to the shadows.  My shadows were too dark, so I knew I needed a lower filter (indicating my thin negative).  Normally I would have went down a half step, but since I had never used this setup before, I was looking for bigger adjustments to hopefully identify that I was going in the right direction.  So, I made a test print at 18 seconds at F8 with a modification of the yellow and magenta filters equivalent to a #1 variable contrast filter.  The shadows were definitely much more open, and to my eye, weak and washed out.  I adjusted the yellow and magenta filters equivalent to a #1 1/2 variable contrast filter and made the print.  It was almost perfect.  I dodged the barn for 5 seconds and the print was done!  This was Frank’s first time in the darkroom making a print from scratch, so I sent him home with all of the prints to enjoy.  Frank (a.k.a. grasshopper is a very fast learner and will be making his own prints very soon).

Conclusion

I found the Ilford contrast filter recommendations to be literally spot on with my tests. This solves a big concern for me and now I can move onto thinking through the rest of my open issues before the trip.  I plan on using Tri-X in my Nikon F camera while doing hand-held photography and printing my best images as described above.  I will be using both Tri-X and T-Max in my Mamiya 7 and Fuji 690GSWIII when I want to create black and white prints of the epic Pacific Northwest landscapes.  Two of the places I plan on visiting first are Mt. Rainer and the Olympic National Forest.  I suspect I will also consume a lot of Fuji Provia and Velvia in my Fuji 690 in those lush green landscapes.  I will continue to share my experiences during this journey in hopes the information helps other analog darkroom photographers.

Tim Layton

If you would like to support my continue efforts in analog photography, please consider making a one time donation or a regular subscription option is also available.

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Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog
www.blackandwhitefineart.net

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

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Testing Fuji Provia and Velvia Slide Films for the Cloudy Pacific Northwest

Fuji-690One of the things I like about film the most is the effort you have to put into it in order to get quality results.  I have had a darkroom since the late 70′s, but I am still learning and growing, both technically and creatively. I am getting ready to travel to the Pacific Northwest and the weather, light, and environment there is a lot different than the Midwest.

I am going to a lot of effort and expense to travel to some of America’s most epic landscapes (Mt. Rainer, Olymic National Forest, etc.) and I want to maximize the opportunity and create the best possible slides and negatives I can.  Based on the differences in lighting, I need to test and be as prepared as possible before I am on site.  I will be using my Fuji 690GSWIII medium format film camera for my landscapes and slide film.  I use Provia and Velvia in my local environment, so I wanted to find out which film will give me the results I am looking for in this new environment based on my own experience, and not the opinion of someone via a newsgroup.

The Fuji 690GSWIII

First, I should provide a little background on why I elected to take the Fuji 690GSWIII as my landscape camera on this trip.  At my very core I am a large format film guy, through and through.  In a perfect world where time was a commodity, I would take my 8×10 view camera and use Fuji Velvia 50.  I don’t have the time to invest to take my 8×10, or even my 4×5 systems.  I want to be nimble and part of my environment, and not be worried about gear.  The Fuji 690 is a good trade-off for me.  It creates nice big 6×9 frames and so it is plenty big enough to enjoy with or without a loupe.  The convenience and cost benefit of 120 medium format roll film over sheet film is also a bonus.

I have no intention of “digitizing” any of my exposures, so my final output is the slide film. The pure simplicity of the Fuji 690 is a benefit for me.  It only has one fixed lens (65mm), manual controls for aperture and shutter and that is about it.  No batteries to worry about running out.  Just a mechanical Rangefinder that just works and creates incredibly beautiful exposures.  I will be nimble, able to hike and climb at will and experience some of America’s most beautiful landscapes–all the while leveraging 6×9 medium format film.

Testing Fuji Films for Cloudy/Overcast Light

Velvia100-TestingMany things have been written over the years about Velvia slide films, so there is no shortage of commentaries online.  Provia is a newer film, so it has less history.  I was very clear about my objectives before starting the testing process.  I wanted to be able to control the emotional aspect of my scene ranging from light and happy to a darker more moody feel.  Under cloudy, overcast, and raining conditions the rules change when it comes to slide films.

I tested Provia 100F and Velvia 100 for this first round.  I created exposures with no filters, polarizer only, polarizer with 81A, polarizer with 81B, 81A only, and 81B only.

My observations were a little surprising to me, so I was very glad that I invested the time to do the testing ahead of time.  I will summarize my personal findings below for review and comment.  I developed the films in my Jobo CPP-2 processor using Tetenal chemicals.

Provia 100F Observations

I really like the look of Provia 100F. It looks very clean, natural and bright. With the simple addition of the polarizer, it made the film really sing. The warming filters on Provia 100F introduced a slight yellow effect which was noticeable in the greens immediately. This was very surprising to me.  This is not desirable for a predominately green forest scene, but could be very useful for yellow fall colors such as Maples trees.  By adding the warming filters with the polarizer I didn’t expect the slightly washed out look that I was getting.  Even on the frames that were intentionally under exposed, they simply were not appealing to my eye.

If I were leaving today and wanted a very natural look that could get a little extra punch by use of a polarizer, Provia 100F would be an easy choice to make.

Velvia 100F Observations

Veliva is much more complex than Provia to work with.  Exposures and filters have a much larger effect on the final output, but with that creative freedom comes the price of complexity.  I found that the warming filters had much more of an impact on Velvia 100 then they did on the Provia.  I found them to render very appealing results when used alone or in combination with a polarizer.  The “look” of Velvia 100 is definitely different than Provia.  One is not better than the other–simply different.  The reds and browns were much richer and deeper and the greens as you may expect were as well.  It isn’t as “clean” as Provia, but for the right scene, could be a wonderful tool to leverage.

Summary

My intention is to be as nimble and carefree as possible during my travels so I can absorb the beauty of the landscape and nature.  I don’t want to think or be fiddling around with gear or technology.  My final output is the slide film, so I must do everything I can to “get it right” in the camera.  This is no Photoshop for slides!

I will be carrying both films with me, and with an improved understanding of their characteristics in cloudy and overcast conditions, I will be able to make an informed decision about my choice of film for each scene.  If I had to pick only one slide film based on what I know right now before the trip, I would use Provia with a polarizer.  I also plan on creating some black and white prints by hand in the darkroom and I will be using T-Max black and white film for this.

I look forward to your input and feedback.

Tim Layton

If you would like to support my continue efforts in analog photography, please consider making a one time donation or a regular subscription option is also available.

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You can also make a one time donation of any value to help support me in this journey and commitment to photography and nature.

 

Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog
www.blackandwhitefineart.net

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

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In a World that Knows Everything – We Know Very Little

Robert DemachyThis is a reflective and emotional time for me.  I recently went to visit my dad’s gravesite because it is his birthday.  It stirs a lot of emotion in me, some which is painful, and some that is joyful.  I also think of my brother and sister that I have lost as well.  These life experiences directly impact my work as a fine art photographer and also how I navigate throughout my remaining days.  I also believe my lost family members inspire me to enjoy the gift of today and also value the things in humanity that are truly valuable.

My work has always been rooted in nature.  I am more amazed today when I experience wildflowers or an old tree that seems to be timeless.  These are the things that bring me joy and peace – the simple treasures.  I can’t imagine life or fine art work without including nature.

On the drive home, I was thinking about how advanced the world is and how much we seem to know today.  I then thought “many of us are lost and don’t know as much as we should”.  When I grew up, there wasn’t the “world wide web”.  I read books and sought the knowledge of those that I admired and respected.  I still read real books and enjoy many of the classics that I have owned for decades.  My Mamiya RZ67 and Pentax 645N that I bought new in the 1990′s continue to produce the highest quality images anyone could ask for. My 8×10 Kodak large format camera that I bought from the original owner was made in 1929.  It works as good as the day it was made.  If fact, one of my most popular fine art prints was created with this setup.  Technically I could use it for the rest of my life and pass it on to the next person for a lifetime of work for them.

Fast forward 25 years and a grade school child has the knowledge of the world at their fingertips, and knows how to access the information.  But, is this really an improvement? When I go to my local mall and literally watch adults and children appear to be zombies while staring down at their smartphones while trying to walk to their cars in the parking lot or walk inside the mall, I realize how little we really know.  I think “why are they here?”. Surely someone has to realize this is ridiculous?  People rarely “talk” any more, is this improvement?.  Not to mention the invasive nature of having an electronic noose (mobile phone) is having on every aspect of our lives.  Is this really advancement?  It certainly isn’t in my mind.  Google, the NSA, and just about anyone that has the skills, track our every move now, be it for marketing data or for other reasons.  Is this improvement?

My thoughts continued and I started asking myself questions.  Are we really better off with all this knowledge?  What do I really value?  What will be most valuable to me if I am lucky enough to be old?  As I have thought many times before, the advances and materially-focused world that many of us navigate on a daily basis, won’t likely have much meaning to anyone when they come to the end of their life.  Things are just things.  People and relationships matter.

I think deeply about my fine art work and what I am trying to communicate and share with my viewers.  To view my fine art darkroom prints on a mobile phone screen is actually a pitiful experience.  The unique qualities that only film and printing by hand in the darkroom offers is lost in the digital translation.  It never was intended, nor does it need to be digitized.  I have no idea how art galleries are still surviving in this mass gluttony of the “tech area”, but I hope they fine their way because we need them.  My fine art prints are created to be viewed and experienced in person.  Anything less is worthless in my opinion.

I suspect my disposition to analog darkroom photography is deeply rooted in the way I see the world.  I often say “some things in life just don’t need to be further improved because perfect is good enough”.  For me, I see film and analog photography through this lens. Working with large format is an advantage in my opinion.  Even with medium format roll film, I still have to wait to get back to the darkroom and develop the films before making contact prints to see if I have a baseline on which to build a fine print.  I see this as a distinct advantage over the fast paced digital “shooting”.  Yes, I do exactly mean shooting. Ever hear a typical digital photographer describe their day of photography?  ”I went to the nature reserve today and “shot” wildflowers”.  ”I went to the botanical garden and “shot” people as they enjoyed nature”.  Do they have any idea how stupendously ridiculous this is? After being on this soapbox for years, I no longer offer the advice of suggesting they “create” vs. “shooting”, because I think they have it right – they are in fact “shooting” things.

The creation of fine art prints begins with my experience and ultimately I am telling a story.  I first visit the place that I want to enjoy and experience.  I find a subject that resonates with me and uplifts my spirits.  Then I select a format (medium format roll film, large format sheet film) and select a film that helps me create a fine print based on my experience.  I print in both color and black and white in the darkroom, so I first decide if the subject is suited for color or best in black and white.  Then I develop the film based off of years of experience and with creative intent.  I then create contact proofs and ultimately begin the process of printing.  All of my fine art prints are created on archival fiber paper and processed to the highest standards required my galleries and museums.  At some point, a day or two, or maybe a couple weeks, I end up with a fine art print that meets my expectation and I feel is worth of being shared.

The use of analog film and printing by hand in the darkroom keeps me deeply connected to my subject, thinking deeply about my experience, and the messages I am trying to communicate.  These seemingly negative side effects as thought of from a digital photographer are the very things that allow me to breath and create art.

Even though I leverage the advances of many modern advancements in photography, my heart always remains connected to the soulful and deeply meaningful process of creating images and art with my hands using film, chemicals, and paper.  Some things just don’t need further improvement.  Have you recently experienced a large darkroom gallery print in person? Race to your local museum and ask if they have a program to allow for private showings.

Every time I walk away from a private viewing of any of the greats (Ansel Adams, Irving Penn, Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Elliot Erwitt, Edward Steichen,  Wynn Bullock, Minor White, and many others) I am never the same.  Even when I view the same prints over and over, I leave the viewing inspired and in awe of their masterful talent and their ability to impact people.  They were able to communicate emotion and a connection to humanity with simple tools and by today’s standards, a flawed medium.  If you are not familiar with these people, then you should be.  Don’t google them, go view their work in person.  Edward Weston printed with a lightbulb hanging from a wire by making 8×10 contact prints of his large format negatives.  I think we know how his story and contribution to photography and the visual arts turned out.  We can learn from him.  The simplicity of his process allowed him to free himself from all the jargon and create some of the most impactful and meaningful art of the 20th century.

What do you know for sure?  What do you truly value?  How are your responses to these questions driving and impacting your work as a photographer?  Are you a creator or a “shooter”?

Tim Layton

If you would like to support my continue efforts in analog photography, please consider making a one time donation or a regular subscription option is also available.

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You can also make a one time donation of any value to help support me in this journey and commitment to photography and nature.

 

Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog
www.blackandwhitefineart.net

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

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Missouri Tallgrass Prairie Fine Art for 2015

Missouri Tallgrass Prairie Sunset by Tiim LaytonI spend a lot of my professional and personal time experiencing and learning about the prairie.  My work at Missouri Naturalist is primarily focused on publication and documenting the prairie ecosystem with the use of modern DSLR equipment.  I needed a way to slow down and convey my love, appreciation, and experiences while on the prairie.  My way of slowing down is with the use of large format camera systems and sheet film.  Choosing large format was a conscience choice because it is a very slow and methodical way to photograph any subject and this is exactly the contemplative approach that I need to express my experiences of Missouri’s fleeting tallgrass prairie.  You will be able to follow my journey by searching for the hashtag #PrairieFineArt on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Tim Layton with Large Format CamerasWith total control over the focal plane, distribution of light, and all creative aspects of my traditional analog process, I am able to express and share my experiences on the prairie with others in a way that comes close to what I see and feel while I am there.  I will be creating one of a kind large black and white and color hand made gallery prints suitable for collectors and those that appreciate fine art.  The gallery prints are ideal to display in public buildings and corporate venues to help promote awareness of Missouri’s natural resource challenges.  At this point, I expect to be using my 4×5, 8×10, and 11×14 large format systems to create the gallery prints.  I will know more and keep everyone updated as I make progress in the field.

Once I formalize the opening gallery event, I will post an update on this website with the information.   You can view the print as they are made along with my other fine art prints on my website at www.timlaytonfineart.com.  I will be working with Frank Dries, my assistant and large format photographer in training to create these images of Missouri’s tallgrass prairie before they are lost forever.  We will keep everyone informed as we are in the field and working in the darkroom.

Although the fragments that we see today of Missouri’s once lush and engulfing prairie ecosystem is very small, the beauty and significance of them remain unparalleled.  The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem is native to central North America, and in particular to Missouri.  The tallgrass prairie is part of Missouri’s natural history and has been an important part of the last 10,000 years.

Prior to widespread utilization of the steel plow, which enabled conversion to agricultural land use, tallgrass prairies expanded throughout Missouri from the transitional ecotones out of eastern North American forests, west to a climatic threshold based on precipitation and soils, to the southern reaches of the Flint Hills in Oklahoma, to a transition into forest in Manitoba.

Retreating glaciers deposited the parent material for soil in the form of till, i.e. unsorted sediment about 10,000 years ago. Wind dropped loess and organic matter accumulated resulting in the deepest level of topsoil recorded anywhere. Animals like buffalo,elk, deer and rabbits added nitrogen to the soil through urine and feces. Prairie dogs, a ground squirrel-like rodent considered a keystone species, dug tunnels that “aerated the soil and channeled water several feet below the surface”.

During 5000 to 8000 years, more than 240 million acres of prairie grasslands were a major feature of the landscape. Between 1800 and 1930 the vast majority were destroyed. Settlers transformed what they named “The Great American Desert”, or “The Inland Sea” into farmland. Major reasons for the prairie’s demise were the confined grazing pattern of European cattle versus bison, the near extermination of prairie dogs, and finally the plowing and cultivation of the land, which breached the root systems and interrupted the reproduction of the tall grasses. Furthermore, extensive tile drainage has changed the soil’s water content and hydrodynamics, and ongoing soil erosion results in its increasing loss.

If you would like to support me in this project, please consider making a one time donation or a regular subscription option is also available.

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Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog
www.blackandwhitefineart.net

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

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Find Your Passion – Find Your Purpose – Improve Your Life

Missouri Prairies by Tim LaytonI was sharing some of my personal thoughts with a friend about where I am in my journey with photography and realized it may be helpful to share some of the highlights with my readers.

My Humble Beginnings

My journey with photography started when I was 12 years old.  By the time I was 14, I had built my own darkroom in the basement of my parents home.  With my dad watching over me and doing the electrical wiring, I started developing and printing my own work. I learned everything I needed to know from checking out books at my local library.  My kids have no idea that local libraries even exist.  The darkroom is still there and when I go to visit, a rush of emotions come over me.  I think about how far I have come, and also, how much farther I want to go.

When I was a child we had a small farm, about 50 acres, so as you may be able to guess, my subjects were flowers, trees, insects, wildlife, etc.  Over three and a half decades later, I am more passionate about nature and wildlife then I was as a young boy.  I realized after mastering the technical aspects, that I had a long way to go in order to create more compelling images.  I share this realization because I wish someone had helped me get to the creative side faster, as opposed to mastering the technical aspects so thoroughly. There is a delicate balance a photographer must strike between being technically proficient and exploring the creative.

A Higher Level

The next phase in my evolution was to use my photographic skills for a higher purpose.  I started as a young boy reading everything Ansel Adams had written about photography and built my own darkroom as noted above. His classic trilogy: The Camera, The Negative, The Print, are the defacto set of books that every photographer should read and understand.  I didn’t realize for many years the impact that Ansel had on wildlife conservation and our national park system.  I was too young to probably even appreciate his monumental efforts, and I was so focused on the technical aspects of photography, I would have likely overlooked it anyway.  I share this because I am hopeful other photographers can find and utilize their photography for a higher purpose, whatever that may be for them.  Get through the technical phase and move on to higher grounds is my advice.

My Higher Purpose

I wish I could tell a “made for movie” story about my journey to a higher purpose, but it is very normal and took a lot longer than it needed to.  Hopefully by me sharing my path, this can help someone else arrive a little faster than I did!  I have always been drawn to photographing flowers for as long as I can remember.  I can’t really express why via words, it is simply a deep appreciation that I have always had since childhood.  I have likely created thousands of photographs of flowers over the last 35 years, but I could probably distill my best work down to 10 to 20 images at most.  This background is important because I didn’t fully realize and embrace my higher purpose until about 5 years ago.  I started down a path of really focusing on creating floral photographs that were “beautiful” and created an emotional response within me.  My purpose, so I thought, was to create beautiful images.  I was beginning to operate at a higher level by the time I was 40 years old, and I think my work had significantly improved on a technical level.  However–there was still something amiss.

Higher Level Phase II 

I had many sleepless nights as I struggled and tried to figure out how to market my photographs.  The first problem that I now realize–I was “thinking” way too much.  I wasn’t far enough along in my journey and enlightenment to realize that I was aspiring to do things for myself, and not a higher purpose.  I created beautiful images, so I am told, but something felt wrong to me and I didn’t know what it was.  How could this be? I spent many years mastering the technical aspects of analog photography and explored many creative methods to express my feelings and emotions in my work.  I still had a ways to go and many more sleepless nights, little did I know.

A New Awakening – Phase III

I came full circle one evening in a flash.  I woke up from sleeping and realized what I needed to do.  I awakened in that moment, knowing the best gift I could ever offer is my time and my focus without trying to quantify the return on investment for me.  Giving yourself away takes a lot of courage and apparently a couple decades of thought.  I must be a slow learner apparently!  My current story has circled back to the same place where I started over three decades ago.  Ansel Adams, who I respected so deeply for his technical mastery of photography, had the answer all along.  I wasn’t ready to understand the full scope of what he had to offer.  He of course was a master photographer, but more importantly, he gave his time and life to helping protect nature and wildlife.  His impact on our national park system will forever be important.  When I think of Ansel today, I see a man that made a huge difference in life by raising people’s awareness and conservation of America’s natural resources.  Ansel was a very talented photographer that had a grip on his purpose in life from the time he was a young man.  This is more important than his mastery of photography.

Current Operating Model

In my new enlightened state, I focus all of my time on raising awareness of Missouri’s most pressing natural challenges.  I created a company “Missouri Naturalist” where I publish nature-related books and informational booklets, lead interpretive hikes and photo workshops to help encourage people to explore and enjoy Missouri’s natural resources.  I do this because I fundamentally believe that people protect what they care about.  By starting with my peers in photography, I believe I can serve as a positive role model and possibly inspire others to invest their time in the protection and conservation of natural resources in their respective communities.

I am focused on the protection of Missouri’s vanishing native prairies and grasslands because the problem is so big and the conditions are changing so rapidly, that every minute and small win counts.  Prairies are often intertwined with and close to other natural communities such as savanna’s and woodlands.  Little did I know that my love and appreciation of flowers as a young photographer would lead me to photographing native wildflowers and plants on Missouri’s prairies for a higher purpose.  The biodiversity on the prairie and the relationship between the natural world and humanity is a fascinating story that is at risk of vanishing right before our eyes.

I believe Missouri’s vanishing prairies is a huge alarm going off that is letting everyone know our world is out of balance.  Other alarms being sounded by the Monarch’s are very strong indicators of this too.  Using my skills and knowledge of photography in tandem with being a naturalist is the reason I was born and my purpose in life.  Working for others and being connected to causes greater than myself is the ultimate life experience.

In this 7 minute video, you learn about the benefits of prairies and the challenges facing Missourian’s to protect its remaining vanishing fragments.  If you want to get involved and learn more, visit the Missouri Prairie Foundation website as a first step.  By preserving the remaining fragmented prairies and grasslands, we are ensuring our future existence.

If you find the information I produce useful or helpful, consider making a one time donation or regular subscription.

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You can also make a one time donation of any value to help support me in this journey and commitment to photography and nature.

 

Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog
www.blackandwhitefineart.net

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

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Why Large Format Photography in 2014?

Tim Layton 8x10 Large Format in the FieldWhy not use large format photography in 2014?  I am often asked about why I would go to all the trouble of lugging around “that huge camera” when digital has taken over the world?  My response: really?  I wasn’t aware of that takeover…

All games aside, large format photography is as relevant today as it was at the turn of the 20th century.  There are a host of reasons that I can think of off the top of my head of why I still use a large format process.

I will create a list below, in no particular order of why I still prefer large format photography in contemporary times.

12 Reasons Why I Use Large Format Photography in 2014

  • The slower and contemplative workflow is perfect for my style and approach to photography.
  • I prefer an approach that culminates with an exposure vs. starting and ending with pressing the shutter.
  • Film produces an image that simply looks different than one created on a digital sensor.  It fits my style and vision for a lot of my photographs.
  • A lot of what I like to photograph involves high contrast scenes (sunrises, sunsets, etc.).  Color negative and black and white film handles these types of scenes with ease and in my opinion produces superior results.
  • Looking at your scene/subject on the ground glass of a large format camera is a wonderful way to create a photograph.
  • The movements available on large format cameras make the creation of images very easy and with high quality results not possible on small format systems.
  • I like the mystery of waiting to develop my films.  I am not distracted with looking at an LCD screen after each exposure.
  • I enjoy the technical knowledge and skill required to work with large format systems and processes.  After one has mastered the technical aspects, a lifetime of pursuing the artistic aspects is a wonderful journey.
  • I believe my ability to communicate the special nature and aspects of a scene and/or subject is best accomplished with large format photography.
  • I deeply enjoy working in my custom designed and built darkroom creating prints that are made with the raw materials of photography (paper, chemicals, and light).
  • Once you acquire the bits and pieces needed for large format photography, they last a lifetime, and no upgrades are required.
  • The ability to work with one sheet of film at a time is a huge benefit to me technically and also mentally.  It allows me to focus all of my energy into each exposure.

Film, large format, and the darkroom will forever hold a special place in my heart.  It is deeply in my soul.  I am not sure how it got there, it just is.  While I do have to use modern digital equipment and workflows for professional projects, I always long to get back to my large format endeavors.

If you find the information I produce useful or helpful, consider making a one time donation or regular subscription.

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You can also make a one time donation of any value to help support me in this journey and commitment to photography and nature.

 

Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog
www.blackandwhitefineart.net

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

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Scouting for Missouri Landscapes – Diary of an Analog Large Format Photographer – Session 2 08/18/14

In my second outing, I visited the lone Missouri Cottonwood tree and continued in the journey of learning more about this tree and location.  It was the middle of the day, horrible lighting from a photographers perspective, but a perfect time to continue building my knowledge of the tree and surrounding landscape.

My goal today was simple: continue to invest time at the location and simply see if anything really stood out to me today.  Notice I purposely use the word “invest”.  How can I expect to get a return on my investment (meaningful photograph) without having made the proper investment?

I focused on the form of the tree today and I found two perspectives that jumped out at me.  Both were anthropomorphic, meaning they took on human form.  The first looked like a tall and strong man flexing his biceps (left photo) and the second looked like a man standing tall with an erection (right photo).  Sorry if that is offensive, I just call it like I see it.  Below are two snapshots from my phone that I took on site today.

Cottonwood-1 Cottonwood-2

I also took some wider photos of the tree with my phone to study the form and shape in relationship to its environment.  I am purposely not drawing any conclusions or trying to “solve” anything today.  Just experiencing the tree and environment and remaining open and aware.  I plan on returning very soon at sunrise and sunset to get more of a feel for how the light impacts the tree, the landscape, and my experience.  I started to scout for obvious foreground and layers today and nothing revealed itself to me at this time.

You can view my brief video journal entry from my visit today and be sure and return as this story and my experience unfolds.

If you find the information I produce useful or helpful, consider making a one time donation or regular subscription.

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You can also make a one time donation of any value to help support me in this journey and commitment to photography and nature.

 

Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog
www.blackandwhitefineart.net

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

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