I have been asked, many times, about both the equipment used in the creation of my photographs, and the exposure data.
To a large degree I believe that this conversation is irrelevant to the task producing fine images. Great photographs can be produced using nearly any photographic equipment. Modern materials and tools are so good that, realistically,
there is almost no difference from lens to lens and camera to camera, and certainly none that can be discerned by looking at films exposed using various lens and camera combinations. The same can be said of film, for the most part. The
film you use is largely based on personal choice and finding a film that you are comfortable with and that does what you want it to do. Some films (color transparency films) have noticeably more contrast than my taste allows for but with
which I have seen magnificent images created by other photographers. It really is just a matter of personal taste and choice. It isnít the equipment you hold in your hands, itís the equipment you have between your ears, your personal
vision and your willingness to follow your vision with passion and enthusiasm! Better equipment only makes the creation of images more convenient, it will not improve your photographs.
Ansel Adams, widely recognized as one of the very finest photographic artists of all time used the most elemental cameras. There is some debate as to whether he would embrace the latest in digital cameras etc. These arguments are strictly
conjecture and completely beside the point. The point is his photographs were revolutionary and ground breaking in his day, and are still considered by many to be the bench mark for artistic interpretation and technical excellence. Some
of the most important photographs ever created were created with, what are by todayís standards, very crude cameras and lenses, yet, who could argue with his results. Itís the image stupid! At one time I met Morley Baer and spent some time
with him in his darkroom. His enlarger was older than he was; it was an antique. Yet, it is hardly arguable that he was one of the greatest masters of all time. Clearly it is your skill, perception, and dedication to the art form that
makes the difference, not the amount of equipment you can charge to your MasterCard! With that in mind, here we go.
For the last fifteen years I have used a Toyo 45A with great success. I have found it to be an extremely reliable and serviceable camera, prior to that I used a 50 year old Crown Graphic. Some of my favorite images were made using that
camera body. A small portion of my photographs are made using a Hasselblad 500Elm or a Hasselblad 500Cm. That particular camera is used for 99% of my studio work, especially for portraits. All of my lenses are Rodenstock-Sinarons in focal
lengths from 65mm to 300mm. The lone exception is a Schneider 47XL, all are in Copal shutters. Filters are generally Tiffen and Hoya. For black and white I use a yellow, dark yellow, orange, dark orange, red, green and polarizer. For color
work I use a UV-15 on almost every photograph.
My personal choice of black and white film is Kodak 100T-Max, selected because of the Kodak Readyload system. It greatly reduces weight in my backpack and reduces greatly the perennial problem caused by dust falling on the film prior to exposure. Occasionally
I also use Kodak 400T-Max film as well as Kodak Tri-X. When using color film my strong preference in Kodak E100G. On occasion I have used Kodak Ektachrome 100 Professional Plus as well as Kodak 100VS. For the most part I have avoided Fuji Velvia
because I donít care for its rendering of color or its contrast characteristics. Although I have seen some magnificent photographs produced from Velvia but it doesnít suit my taste.
I assiduously avoid the discussion of F-stops and exposure times of particular photographs because the exposure of any individual photograph is based on lighting conditions exclusive to that situation. It is sufficient to say that I usually rate black
and white films at Ĺ their rated film speed and base the exposure on the deepest, significant shadow in the scene, placing it on Zone IV (for those of you that are Zone System aficionados) . Film development time is determined by the amount of contrast
I want the finished image to have versus the amount of contrast presented in the original scene. All of my T-Max films are processed using Kodak T-MaxRS developer; Tri-X is processed in HC-110. For the last ten years I have been using a JOBO processor
in processing 99% of my black and white films. It offers excellent reliability, consistency and eliminates film damage caused by tray processing. Color film exposure is determined based on highlight value and where I want them to fall on the filmís tonal range.
The great majority of my photographs, up to 20x24, are hand printed using a variety of masking techniques (most larger images are hand printed by a commercial lab to my specifications). They are printed using a Super Chromega D-II for black and white
and a ZBE Starlite color head on an Omega chassis for color. I selected the Super Chromega DII based on its rugged reputation. The ZBE Starlite colorhead was selected for color printing because it is computer controlled, for repeatability, and has an output
of nearly 1000watts. It is the most powerful vertical enlarger I am aware of and is well suited for color printing, especially when using strong masks to control contrast and color balance with Ilfochrome material. Each enlarger is equipped with a Condit
pin register negative carrier and a matching film punch. Regrettably, the ZBE enlarger is no longer manufactured nor is the Condit pin register system. I have, however, seen both these items for sale on E-Bay as well as from various brokers of used photographic equipment.
At the present time all of my black and white photographs are printed on Ilford Multi-grade IV fiber paper. The more I use the paper the more I like it. Although I was dragged kicking and screaming to it (my previous favorite was unceremoniously discontinued
in the dead of night!), and while I was very unhappy with it initially, it is proving to be an excellent paper. Color photographs are printed on Ilfochrome high gloss print material. I typically use a variety of masking techniques, both in black and white
and color, to control overall contrast, local contrast, and color balance. Occasionally I have an image that cannot be printed by hand for a variety of reasons including damage to the film original. These images are produced from digital files but are
identified as being digital photographs.