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Thread: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

  1. #11

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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    With several years of 35mm experience and acceptable darkroom results, I decided to find out what I was doing. In 1966 I began with an AA Yosemite workshop for two weeks (every 3rd day off to do as you please); I didn’t know enough to ask an intelligent question at that point, but befriended and learned from several of his assistants. I came home with a stack of his books (autographed) to learn on my own. The seed of LF was planted. For the next five years and three more of his workshops (each one specializing in different aspects of b/w) I gradually assembled my kit of Sinar Normas (4x5, 5x7 and 8x10) and added to my apartment darkroom a 5x7 Omega E6 enlarger, Kodak densitometer, and simple setup for 8x10 contacts. The densitometer died in storage during a move into my first house and was happily replaced by a much better modern unit. The house was bought specifically with a new darkroom envisioned and has been functioning for years now. In the meantime, all 35mm and MF (Hassy) equipment has been liquidated. Yet the unending learning has continued to this day as materials/processes change. I was amazed once when encountering a frustrating problem and picked up the phone to call Ansel and ask for his help (workshop participants were encouraged to do so); he answered the call and gave an immediate solution to the problem – still hard to believe being as busy as he was that he was so accessible. I think I was just lucky.

  2. #12
    Silver Fox
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    Sep 2003
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    Ann Arbor, MI
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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    After developing and printing 35mm film exposed in a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SP1000, I took a course in the Zone System taught by Howard Bond of Ann Arbor, MI. The text was The New Zone System Manual. I acquired an Arca Swiss basic 4x5 (shoulda never parted with it), and took part in a workshop with Howard in Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario. The workshop was in 1974. Then, I was off on my own, more or less. Maybe a lot "less" because I have learned so much from other members of this Forum.

    My oh-my-gosh experience was seeing Ansel Adams' work at the 831 Halstead Gallery in Birmingham, MI. Blown away. Riveted. Prices were $400 - $800. I think this was 1970 - 71. I was a poor graduate student living off my wife's full-time job. No prints.
    Last edited by Peter Collins; 9-Sep-2017 at 14:17. Reason: proper English grammar
    Peter Collins

    "Growing older is not for sissies." --anon.

  3. #13

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    Feb 2007
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    Canyon Country, California
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    75

    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    My career has been in accounting. In the 80's, I started playing around with photography. I lived 2 blocks from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, so I took some photo classes. I was in their photo program, full time for 1 semester, otherwise part-time for about 6 years. OCC had an outstanding photo department, led by Rick Steadry, who I took a very intense commercial photography class from. He was an outstanding professor, as was Ken Slosberg, Ken Steuck, Walter Urie (advertising photography), Jack Boyd (architectural photography), and at least one lady, and one other guy, whose names I can't recall. Irini Rickerson was great teaching art history, as was John Upton (history of photography.) My beginning art professor (can't recall his name) had sold his advertising agency and decided to go into teaching. He was very good teaching us contrasts, and how the mind looks at things.

    The OCC photo program was superb.

    I do landscape photography, and, mostly, what I do with it is to publish an annual calendar for my clients with my pix. I don't have the skills that some of you do, but I wouldn't have the skills that I have without all the men & women at OCC that taught me. Thank you!

    Apologies for the names that I'm certain I've mis-spelled, and for those that I've omitted.
    Last edited by MikeH; 10-Sep-2017 at 06:48.

  4. #14

    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    I remember seeing a nice large 16x20 or 20x24 inch framed AA print in a gallery in New Mexico back in approximately 1983-86. It was marked $16,000US which, of course, I didn't have. What struck me odd was the print had drips from being sprayed with a clear coating of some kind.

  5. #15

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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    I can expand a bit on my post in the other thread Ken refers to. While, like most of us, I learned most of my photography from books, I have had the good fortune to take a number of workshops.

    The first was with Fred Picker in Vermont, during the period when Fred was probably "the" LF guru, publisher of the monthly ZoneVI Newsletter, and manufacturer of quite a few LF products, many of which I still use in my darkroom. While his week long class covered developing, printing, and view camera use, what sticks in my memory was Fred's collection of prints. Among his favorites were Paul Strand, Paul Caponigro, and Oliver Gagliani; I still remember those prints well. This would have been, IIRC, in the 1970s.

    Morristown NJ had one photography gallery in the 1980s, and the Woodman Gallery ran workshops. Bill Abranowicz was George Tire's assistant at the time, and gave a course on printing. I think we met once a week for a month or two. Bill taught us both technique, as well as a love for lower-contrast printing. By that I mean he taught that while higher contrast may be the easiest way to make a dramatic print, his approach, which I follow to this day, was to make the lowest contrast print that still conveyed whatever message or feeling we were trying to convey. So the final print may not be low contrast in absolute terms, but it still defines an approach to printing.

    And later in the 1980s I had the good fortune to take a course at the Maine Photography Workshops with a then less-famous Sally Mann. At the time I knew only a little about Sally, having one of her family monographs, but I wanted to learn from someone who was clearly comfortable with using a view camera to make pictures of living people, rather than "rocks and trees," the static images I was most comfortable with. Sally was a wonderful teacher, and possibly the least inhibited person I have ever met. Her favorite word was "quotidian," meaning the things that happen in everyday life. As those of you who know her work are aware, her children spent a lot of their time running around the family farm with little to no clothing. Towards the end of the week our entire class, without Sally's knowledge, made a nude group portrait of ourselves, and one of the other workshop teachers made a platinum print from the LF negative, which was our gift to Sally. Unfortunately I still tend to make static images (old buildings, architecture, etc.) but many of Sally's comments still echo; of course there are many of "us," and only a few of "her," so I don't feel too bad about it.

    My closing comment is triggered by a couple of earlier posts about people having had a chance to buy Ansel Adams prints at, by today's standards, bargain prices. When I started working for Exxon Corp. around 1970, there was only one photography gallery in Manhattan (I just can't remember the name now) and I would occasionally walk over during my lunch period or after work. I remember that when I got my first raise, they were selling AA prints for something like $300-$400. But with the egocentricity of an early 20-something, my logic was that I could spend that amount either for a print by one of my heroes at the time, or go to Olden Camera and buy a view camera, and if I had the camera, I could make the equivalent prints! So I made the poor decision from an investment standpoint, but bought a Sinar F, and gained a half-century of enjoyment (I just turned 70). And thanks to the workshops and a lot of experience, have finally learned that no, I still cannot make the "equivalent print." But just as I have come to realize that I will never be Sally Mann, I can accept that I also will never be Ansel Adams.

  6. #16

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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    When I was a senior in high school (September 1962 to June 1963) I wanted to be the photographer for the school newspaper. The school had a 4x5" Speed Graphic, flash bulbs and Tri-X pack film. I kinda sorta figured out on my own how to use the equipment to create editorial and sports photographs. Yes, I covered Ohio school sports with a Speed Graphic and flashbulbs!

    Then in January an opportunity came up where students from the two public high schools and one Catholic high school would meet at the city newspaper, The Lorain Journal, to lay out a full "op-ed" page devoted to school news and sans advertising. We students would write and illustrate all of the articles with patient guidance from the newspaper's editorial staff.

    The newspaper's photographers Norm Bergsma and John Fazio taught me how to refine my Speed Graphic techniques and also how to process the Tri-X myself then make enlargements.

    After serving in the United States Air Force from 1963 to 1968 as an air traffic control specialist (and voluntary freelance photographer for command newspapers), I returned to The Lorain Journal to work as a photojounalist. But I never used anything large format in the Air Force or at the newspaper, just 35mm and medium format.

    In 1965 I opened a commercial and portrait studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and during that time I bought a 4x5" Crown Graphic and 4x5" Toyo View monorail along with lenses, a bunch of Kodak #4A stainless steel sheet film holders and deep tanks for processing. I've been using 4x5" equipment on and off ever since then.

    So, thanks to Norm and John (both of whom have gone to the darkroom in the sky), I received a good foundation in large format photography. Thanks guys!

  7. #17

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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    By a stroke of immense good fortune, Fred Picker lived a few miles away in White Plains New York when I was a high school student in 1970. I studied with him for several years.

    He generously shared all his tools and techniques, as well as his approach to giving critiques, how to approach and photograph the subject, how to develop oneself artistically. We went shooting together, I worked with him in his darkroom, he advised me on equipment: he simply opened the door to everything.

    Some of the technical details have changed over the years, but the rest, the core is unchanged and invaluable.

  8. #18

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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Lee View Post
    By a stroke of immense good fortune, Fred Picker lived a few miles away in White Plains New York when I was a high school student in 1970. I studied with him for several years.

    He generously shared all his tools and techniques, as well as his approach to giving critiques, how to approach and photograph the subject, how to develop oneself artistically. We went shooting together, I worked with him in his darkroom, he advised me on equipment: he simply opened the door to everything.

    Some of the technical details have changed over the years, but the rest, the core is unchanged and invaluable.
    This is a wonderful story of a fortunate teenager, but only a beginning. Those early lessons would be lost without your initiative and perseverance to put them in play. We have the results in your excellent portfolios.

    In my experience, successful photographs involve hard work; there are no shortcuts.

  9. #19

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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    The other "teacher" here is experience, where you (technically) don't control "it", but "it" controls you...

    What does one learn from mistakes, or the times one wasn't sure what to do but tried something that yielded a great result???

    One needs to develop a sense of intutition, and knowing what has worked in the past, and hopefully we don't get too thick-in-the-head to be able make that call (not in hindsight)...

    Steve K

  10. #20

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    Re: How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

    Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

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