Monday, March 19, 2007

A few old Black and White film-based prints

I was once much more serious about photography than I am now.
I started doing my own black and white work in the early 1980's,
self-taught. By the mid 80s I was very much into Ansel Adams
and the Zone System, with a darkroom capable of printing up
to 16 x 20 and handling negatives up to 5 x 7. I was mostly shooting
4x5 Plus-X at the time, printing on warm Bromide papers with
Selenium toner to cool them down a touch.

In all, I made over 3000 negatives during that time (while shooting
weddings, from 1987 until the early 1990s). I have files upon files of
them. But I no longer have the means or desire to print the
negatives,and (sigh) a GOOD scanner is just too rich for my
blood ($4500 for something up to par to work from 4x5 negs).
So these are lower res scans of some of the old prints I could put
my hands on. Not at all a good sampling, just what I had. All are
from 4x5 Plus-X shot on an Omega 45-D view camera, most likely
with a 210-mm lens. Hand processed (tray), printed on Brovira
and lightly selenium toned. The hues represented here are fairly
close to how the prints actually look. But of course, the original
prints are luscious compared to these representations.

Sadly, I don't do stuff like this much anymore. Captions follow.

Note: These are scans - the dust you'll see if you click on them
is from the scanner, not the print! The blocked highlights you'll
see (and lost shadows) are also products of the computer processes
involved. The original prints follow Zone System principles, and
are generally zone 9 - 2 perfect, with no blocked highlights or
black shadows, with a perfect black and perfect white somewhere
where there is no detail. Again, the actual prints are MUCH better
than these low-grade scans will illustrate.

Apartment 12 - old boarded up apartment building in
downtown Tacoma, Washington. Directly across from
the Pantages Theater on 9th Street - the building
was remodeled, and at last check, this tiny apartment
rents now for $1500 a month. Originally, it was
a cheap hotel, and until the 1970's was a low income
housing building.

Log and Stream - Carbon River - Mt. Ranier Washington
Taken on a freezing winter morning

Catholic Church - Wilkinson, Washington

Me - age 26 (a LONG time ago!!) - Mt. Rainier National
Park (photo by Brian McKenna - my good friend and
wedding photography assistant at the time)
Where the hell did all that hair go???

Old Car - Garibaldi, Oregon
Week of May 16, 1987
I remember this week very well, as it was
my first honeymoon - and a week from hell.
Miserable honeymoon, miserable marriage.
But a decent photo, so I guess it all worked out ok.

Bride and Doll - I once did a series of
creepy shots using this ratty old doll I found at the
dump. This bride was one of many who allowed
me to pose her with it. She was really quite
bubbly, but I asked her to be somber for this
shot, and hold the doll upside down.
In retrospect, I should have moved her to her
left about 12 inches - but we were rushed. Oh well.

Wilkinson Church again - this time with infrared 4x5 film,
printed onto hand-made paper with liquid emulsion
just for kicks. See? I used to do fun stuff in the
darkroom. Now it's all on the computer. Yawn.


Biby Cletus said...

hey there wonderful photography. good work man keep up teh good work going the apartment 12 is very nice picture ray of light into the room. kewl blog like to be in touch

regards Biby - Blog

Jack said...

wonderful shots, I love your line about the tough week, though marriage, but good photo, haha

Chris said...

I just recently "rediscovered" black and white film, after using mostly point and shoot and digital cameras. Black and white film has a completely different, almost otherworldly look to it. It's even different than digital grayscale. Digital just doesn't compare. I just learned how to develop my own film and prints, and I made an improvised darkroom in the garage. It's awesome. I'm having a blast.