View Full Version : Back to the Beast!!!

19-May-2015, 02:50

My name is Steve, and I'm returning to LF after a long hiatus...

I was a working Studio and Location photographer, working with most formats during the film daze, and spent nights and weekends shooting fine art stuff and experimenting with photochemistry, lighting, camera building/repair/restoration, processing/printing, designing gear, lab design, etc... And did custom wet printing for the museum, fine art, archive, and publishing crowds...

I paused from shooting LF on the streets after such events such as the LA Riots and 9/11, because of the weird looks and sometime hassle I could get when the rig would be set-up somewhere in the city... (Big ass tripod + bellows camera = $$$, spy, crazy magnet, or ??? Who knows what goes on in people's minds!?!!! Not I!!!)

Just before those events, I had been planning to start shooting 11X14, but at the same time, I had started experimenting with making my own B/W developers, and was using 35mm film as test strips, and when I hit upon different film/developer combinations that were so good with the 35mm strips, that I had to admit to myself, that I could go to a smaller, not larger format, and get GREAT, easy to make prints at my print sizes of 11X14/16X20... And carry a MUCH smaller rig on the streets!!!

So I had gotten into that comfort zone with SF for a long time... I didn't plunge into digital, because (a) I liked what I was getting, (b) couldn't afford all the stuff needed, (c) and Lord knows, I had a ton of great film based gear and experience!!!

But I started noticing that with a digital P&S, it was possible to shoot a staggering # of shots in a very short time (and edit later), and not really "get-in-the-groove" of where I was, because I was done so quickly (too much "grab-and-go")... 35mm got me a little more involved on the scene, but still easy to come home with 100's of images... I really wanted to slow down on site, plant myself and the rig to the Earth, and narrow down the essences of the place and scene to singular images (and pieces of film!!!)

I've been noticing that the upside to the "cameraphone revolution" is that with people taking pictures of everything and their navels, that shooting outdoors now is not viewed with the suspicion of the last decades... (So roll out the big camera, here comes the medicine show!!!!) And I figure if anything else of national security happens, this little golden age of shooting in public will again end...

My next challenge will be about "crossing the great (digital) divide" and learning scanning, and filing images digitally... (W.H. Jackson never made that trip!!!) There will be questions and questions...

I've been "under the cloth" for awhile, but have a " The more I know, the less I know attitude"... (With everything I learn, the world gets bigger and bigger...) One thing I've learned in photo is that there's SOOOO many ways to skin a cat, so there are so many roads to get one where one is going... So, everything is true... (Or not... This is the internet, right???)

So, please don't flame me too bad, because my asbestos suit has more holes than a shot bellows...

Peace, and good light to all!!!

Steve K

Tim Meisburger
19-May-2015, 05:30
Welcome to the forum Steve. If you like to print, the easiest way to get good images online is wet print them then scan the print.

John Kasaian
19-May-2015, 05:34
Welcome aboard!

Peter De Smidt
19-May-2015, 06:36

Mark Sawyer
19-May-2015, 10:09
So I had gotten into that comfort zone with SF...

But I started noticing that with a digital P&S...

Welcome, Steve! Just to get you back up to speed, around these parts, SF means "soft focus", and P&S means "Pinkham and Smith". :rolleyes:

19-May-2015, 11:38
Welcome, Steve! I am in the opposite end of the State where the tall trees grow. I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay. I sleep all night and I work all day...actually I am from LA, but left there for here 40+ years ago.

Have you worked with alt processes?

20-May-2015, 00:46
Thanks, Y'all!!!

Thanks for your warm greetings!!! Maybe what people groan about photographers isn't true... (Well, not entirely true, at least here...)

Yea Vaughn, a BIG HELLO to the land of woodwackers, err I mean woodworkers... (Heck, I'd probably would have more job security there as a night guard protecting some pot patch with a rusty shotgun (in the rain), than ruining my life as a photog!!!)

Alt processes??? Yes and no... Yes, I had tested/tried many processes, and had interesting results with many...

Pt/Pd was great looking, loved the depth of the image, but no way I could afford to support production past 1 or 2 off prints...

Gum was fun, but hard to match subjects to that weak Dmax...

I almost took a job in dye transfer (in the early 90's)... But even then, the writing was on the wall for it's demise... One firm who talked to me, (they were working for the mAD Men doing stuff like changing the paint colors of new car shots for those catalogs and matching them exactly!!!) said that the Yellow god had been changing the materials without notice, often to a more diffuse, softer look that would blend better, but would throw off calibration and look mushy, and no one to complain to because the older reps were heading to Florida or somewhere for a one way vacation... Then, the next revolution sealed the deal... JPL was still doing them at that time... Maybe good I didn't push it for work!!!!

Carbon has always been on my "bucket list"... Tried to get started in the 90's, but production of tissue ceased for the most part... I thought that there might be a way to produce my own, but back then with no internet, not enough information around... My girlfriend was pushing me to do 3 color carbro (because she loved the subtle shadings and colors) but I think she saw me turn red, (with carbro colors) a vein popping out of my forehead, and me barking "it's a touchy process, you trying to make me crazy!?!!!"

Wet plate looks like fun!!! I gotta try it!!! (Hey Mark, GREAT coating on those plates!!! Could you spare some pixie dust in a salt shaker??? I just want no pixies around here, NO WAY!!!!!)

I had discovered for myself soft focus and Petzval lenses in the beginning of the 90's... I had quickly learned that it was hard enough to make the effect work by nailing the the lighting ratios, subjects with a strong enough form that could spare the loss of detail and texture, dealing with low contrast lenses, would the "depth" effect change with a enlarged image, (my first petzval was mounted to a 6X6 Korelle Reflex), and what do you print this on???

So I decided to "fake" alt process looks, and hit the old books for old bleach and redeveloper and metallic toner formulas for DWFB... Tried quite a few, and found some that produced nice duotone effects... (that is, when the stars were aligned correctly!!!!) Printing session to session consistency was often very different... All this pretty much came to an end for me when graded papers were mostly gone... (Variable contrast paper with it's 2 emulsions don't respond well to this type of toning... 1 layer will often vanish during bleaching...) And some types of paper bases will stain and blotch, where others will stay OK... Luck of the draw, I guess...

So I went back to straight printing, because I found different developers with warm tone DWFB could produce different "looks" and "feels" for a print, where cold tone always seems to want that look... The (normally silenced) reasonable voice in my head broke through and told me that while DWFB was around, I should try to nail it... Different papers (+ film) would come and go, and about the time I nailed something, going back to the store for another box was usually greeted with the announcement; "That's been discontinued, we ran out 3 weeks ago"... Sometimes it would reappear for a short time, then gone again... Most irksome was the loss of Portriga... I had found out (late) that the paper could produce a golden highlight that would follow the highlight image, so that something shot in SF (Thanks, Mark!!!) would have a "spherical" golden glow/halation around a highlight!!! Like a sunlight glow!!! All gone..

Sorry for the long diatribe... Better to inflict this on everyone here than the waitress at Denny's... Great being around like-minded people...

Thanks again, and don't let your bellows sag!!!!

Steve K

20-May-2015, 01:00
Welcome, good luck!

20-May-2015, 11:41
Carbon has always been on my "bucket list"... Tried to get started in the 90's, but production of tissue ceased for the most part... I thought that there might be a way to produce my own, but back then with no internet, not enough information around.

I taught myself carbon printing from a View Camera magazine article in 1992 -- started off making my own tissue (black only). Still making them. More time consuming that difficult (well, after 20 years, it does not seem difficult for me...)

Ahhhh...Portriga Rapid III. My favorite paper of old!