Saturday, March 17, 2018


I was reading the old issue of B&W magazine and came across a photographer named Lisa Elmaleh whose work had immediate appeal.  Maybe it is her subject matter - remote and fragile places.  Maybe it is her technique - she does 8x10 wet plate photographs using a darkroom on the back of her truck.  Both are sources for a connection.

In the article written by George Slade, I found two phrases I so often used to describe my own work: "slow" and "deliberate."  It is something people just don't seem to understand, how the tools and techniques you use are so integral to how you relate, understand, and interpret your subject.

Lisa understands.  When you must invest real effort to make a photograph, you go slower and become more intimate with your surroundings.  And with that comes a connection and an understanding.

Visit her website: 

Lisa Elmaleh and her 1996 Toyota Tacoma "Harriet."
Note the darkroom in the back of the truck.
(LE, Hope you don't mind me using your photograph - thanks!)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Happy Birthday, Margrethe

Florence Deshon (1921) by Margrethe Mather
from Wikimedia Commons

Today would have been Margrethe Mather's 132nd birthday.  She died in obscurity on Christmas Day, 1952.  Her contributions to photography, however, should not be obscured by the passage of time.  Not only was she a truly creative, free thinking photographer, her influence on Edward Weston (arguably one of the most important photographers of the 20th century) was profound.  Weston called her "the first important person in my life."

If you have never heard of Margrethe Mather, I highly recommend reading Beth Warren's Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration.

Even if we do not realize it, Margrethe and Edward's influence is in our photography today!

Take Care!

Monday, February 26, 2018

First Date

Working with a negative in my darkroom.

The three images on the left have subtle changes for
comparison.  The two images on the right are step tables
for comparing darkroom conditions on different days -
think of it as "quality control" for the darkroom. Very
useful when it can take several days (or weeks) to
complete a final print.
When you take a negative into the darkroom to print it for the first time, it is very much like going on a first date with someone you think you already know.

I know what I pre-visualized when I created the negative and so it is not a total stranger to me.  But printing a negative is not a simple, prescribed exercise.  Rather, it is the next step in the creative process - the bringing to life the image in your mind and in the negative.

The first steps are tentative.  A test strip to start understanding how the developer, paper, and other variable are going to manifest themselves in the print.  Overall exposure and contrast must be determined first.  And because the dynamic range of the negative is larger than the silver paper, there will be areas (sometime quite small) that must be dodged (lightened) and burned (darkened). 

The initial steps are broad strokes of the brush and can go quickly.  It is the interpretation of the subtle parts of the image that take time, care, and craft.  Little things matter (a lot!) and it can take many hours to make all the parts come together in perfect harmony.

I like to work on a negative for a little while, then stop, let it dry, and examine it in different light the following day.  Carefully working on the relationship until I am satisfied I have achieved the interpretation and emotional impact that I want.  The process can take days or even weeks.  It is part of what makes hand crafted images in the darkroom special.

Take Care,

Monday, February 19, 2018


Yes, I know it is almost March, and it seems a little late to talk about looking forward to 2018 when a sixth of the year already gone.  But it has been a very busy year so far.

The big project was updating the website to be platform responsive.  In the other words, so you can view it on a desktop, iPhone, iPad or whatever with equal ease.  (The old website gave some pretty strange results on a smartphone.)  That is finally done.  And with it a new look to the website AND (most important) new images!  I hope you like it.

Oh, BTW, the picture is from a trip to the Eastern Sierra this past October.  It was a strange Fall in 2017 and I arrived late in the Fall Color season - but that is actually a good time for a B&W photographer.  Just now started printing the negatives in the darkroom.

Take Care!