These photographs were taken during the fall of 1981 as the major component of my Master of Arts program in Black and White Photography at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. I spent one month there, photographing each building, house, business, and other subjects that were a part of my home town. I believe I took about 100 rolls of film, more or less, all Kodak Tri-X black and white 400 ASA ( now ISO) film speed. I had one camera body, a Canon FTb SLR, with two lenses - a Canon 28mm wide angle and a Vivitar Series 1 45-150 zoom, I think. It's been a while.
I am in the process of scanning the negatives in the hopes of donating a complete set to the Montgomery County Historical Society in the near future. I have no idea when the completion date might be, nor do I know when I will have more images to post here. Keep an eye to this space, in case I get these done sooner rather than later!
I began shooting infrared film in 1999, and used it quite extensively for about 6 or 7 years, until Kodak discontinued their HIE film. At that point I had a Nikon D100 digital camera converted to digital infrared, knowing my refrigerated supply of HIE would only last another 6 months to a year. I have become accustomed to the digital variety and still enjoy wandering the countryside looking for subjects suitable for that ethereal look that only IR can impart.
Digital infrared is now almost the only method I use for all my IR work. I still have IR film, but seldom retrieve any from the fridge! Although the Nikon D100 is still a terrific tool for me, I also had a Nikon D200 converted, believing the increase in megapixels would allow me to make larger prints. I still use the D100 as backup equipment, but have not had to bring it into play since the D200 has proven to be a workhorse!
In 1999 I was given an opportunity to have a one person exhibit at The Sheldon Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri. During the interview with then-gallery director Suzanne Pace, she asked what body of work I would want to display.
Having been absent from fine art photography for more than a decade, I didn't have any current work of sufficient quality or quantity to provide a reasonable answer. Ms. Pace asked me to go home, make a list of potential subjects I would want to explore, and come back the following week. When I returned, I had a list of 30 potential subject areas from which I asked her to select one she felt comfortable displaying. She chose Route 66.
All of these photographs were done with Kodak HIE infrared film (now discontinued), archivally printed on fiber base paper and hand colored using Prismacolor pencils and Pebeo Photo Oils.
Holga cameras are a joy to work with. They are inexpensive - about $30 or so - made of plastic, including the lens, shoot medium format film (120 size is what I use), frequently come apart while you are using them, and have only one f/stop and one shutter speed. What could possibly go wrong? Each one is unique, like a Faberge egg, each one has its own way of looking at the world, and if you are receptive to their quirks and foibles a whole new visual world will open to you. All the photos in this portfolio were taken with either the Model 120S or the 120N, but I also have a Holga Pinhole, a 35mm, a panoramic pinhole, a stereo Holga, and the list just goes on and on! I do love my plastic playmates!
Turn Left at the Blinking Light
A variety of photographs taken in small towns in Missouri and Illinois.
Carnival Chalk figurines became popular in the early 1900's and continued as tokens to be won at County Fairs, Arcades, and Carnivals through the late 1950's and early 1960's. They were the precursors to today's stuffed animals. I love their garish colors and oddly perverse character. My brother in law calls them my "Scary Babies".
14 to Buffalo, Almost
There used to be a wonderful web site - Light Leaks - dedicated to analog photography as practiced by those of us who truly enjoy experimenting with toy cameras, plastic cameras, pinholes, as well cameras from the Lomography group, Goodwill, junk stores, and homemade creations from our garages and basements. I had the good fortune to correspond with one of those creative minded individuals, and we struck on the idea of taking the concepts practiced by photographer/painter Ed Ruscha, dubbing the project "14 Somethings".
We wanted to choose a finite number - in this case 14 (taken from the f/stop of 1.4 on a traditional lens barrel and moving the decimal one step to the right - 1.4 to 14, get it? Clever? We thought so at the time!) and then seeing if we could come up with 14 "Somethings" a la Ruscha.
In my mind we would each have an exhibit in the other person's home town. She lived in Buffalo, hence my working title of "14 to Buffalo, Almost". The "Almost" came about because we never quite got around to getting those exhibits hung. My Holga took me lots of places, but never to Buffalo.
This project continues as time allows, and has grown like a spider web to 12 different and distinct collections. As time allows I will add more of the Holga work to this portfolio, but for now, just enjoy "11 Killed Nex 1/2 Mile", part of the series using found numbers from 1 through 14.
The remaining 13 numbers are in the files, just needing proper sizing to join #11 here. I'll get to them very soon, I hope.
Alan Weisman wrote a brilliant book titled "The World Without Us". The book's premise - as I interpreted it - is, what would happen to all of the human, man made artifacts if we humans just weren't here any more? If we just vanished tomorrow, as a species, as the major polluters, builders, environmental thugs, how long would it take for our buildings, roads, cars, cameras, computers, iPhones, shoes, wedding bands, window panes, and all the rest - to break down, dissolve, erode, decay, collapse, vaporize, evaporate, be reclaimed by the earth?
This is an ongoing series of black and white film photographs which present the viewer with a scene that is in the process of being transformed to eventual reclamation. I have no idea how long such scenes will take to vanish, but I do realize that, unless we rein in our profligate natures, our legacy to the universe will be husks of gas stations, car dealerships, and dentures, along with all the rest of our detritus.
Pinhole photography? No lenses. None. Just a teeny tiny hole in some sort of box or other container where you've placed a light sensitive material such as film or sensitized paper, or a digital sensor. Then you just open that teeny tiny hole for a few seconds, or minutes, or hours, and voila! You have an image! Or maybe not. Pinhole is some of the toughest, most fun photography you will ever do! I love it! The elephant was done with a small matchbox, a piece from a Snapple can, some electrical tape, and some other odds & ends. It took about 9 seconds to expose on some expired color film. I'll post more pinhole stuff as I have the time.
After reading William Least Heat-Moon's superb book "PrairyErth" I knew I had to go to Kansas, to Chase County, to the Flint Hills, to the Tall Grass Prairie, to see for myself what Heat-Moon had presented to me, to discover the primeval lands he had captured in his words.
I have traveled there several times in the past 2 years or so, initially using a 4x5 wooden pinhole camera and black and white film. I would like to have continued in that vein, but soon realized that workflow was a slower process to use for the large body of work I had initially wanted to create. I needed a less time-consuming approach, but one that would still provide the primitive interpretation I sought for this most primitive of landscapes. This collection is the result. While not yet complete, I have sufficient pieces now to begin feeling comfortable with the process, the workflow, the body of work as it is unfolding.
All of these photographs were made with a Nikon D200 digital camera, converted with an Infrared sensor. After I took the photos, I then created digital negatives to be used for Van Dyke Brown prints. The prints themselves were done on Stonehenge watercolor paper on which I had applied Van Dyke Brown, using a brush. After the paper dried, I sandwiched the negative and paper under glass, exposed it to UV light, then developed the print and hung it to dry.
I love VDB prints, as well as Salt, and Albumen, and many other "alternative" processes. VDB printing harkens back to the earliest days of photography - about 1839 or so - and is not practiced by many today. Its one-off, painterly characteristics, coupled with its primitive nature, lends well to creating these primitive images of a primitive land.
To this point I have made about 70 VDB prints of this subject matter, and am nowhere near complete with this portfolio. As with all of my ongoing projects, the key word is "ongoing". I will find some point where I know I've taken this as far as I can take it.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying that wonderful open expanse of limitless sky and horizon, and look forward to finding more "Prairie Songs".