Sunday, March 17, 2013

Is it that obvious?

Last week I charted my journey into the digital age and wrote of my years with cumbersome large format cameras.  This nugget was taken forty two years ago in Minneapolis.  The camera was a wooden Kodak Model 2D 8"x10" View Camera made by the Folmer Graflex Company of Rochester, NY around 1941.  It was and still is a thing of beauty, an artifact unto itself.  For years it stood near a window in our dining room in Massachusetts, an angular sculpture of cherry and brass, an icon of the midcentury photographic process.  Today it’s folded into its weathered leatherette case in the garage.  It’s one of the last vestiges of hours beneath a black hood composing upside down images in ground glass.  I doubt that I’ll ever part with it.

I bought the camera, three vintage lenses, a Simmon Omega D2V enlarger and a complete darkroom set-up for $250 in 1971.  Shortly thereafter the photograph above emerged from the Dektol, Fixer and Hypo Clearing Agent.  The lenses reside on a shelf in our loggia here in Taos.   Old lenses are among the perfect forms along with guitars and the female turn of hip.  Like the camera, lenses are elegant reminders of the big camera era and of storied practitioners lugging behemoth rigs into places like Yosemite, Point Lobos and Oceano. 

Looking back, my large format images were made in the style of those masters, perhaps too much so. They were too studied and too obvious in their reverence for their forebears.  Still those were exercises that helped develop a skill set; a foundation in the basics of composition, exposure, depth of field and the darkroom alchemy that applies to the digital darkroom just as it did in the wet one for nearly forty years. 
Images of the 2D and assorted lenses may follow.


Daryl A. Black said...

It is a treat to see your work from forty or so years ago and read about your equipment and process. Thanks for doing that, Steve. I look forward to learning more about your photographic past, and equipment used, and how it brought you to 2013

Thea said...

What a delicious post. The photograph kept my attention for so long that I could not resist reading about it. Glad I did, even though this dang desk is piled with work that is begging me to complete.

Steve Immel said...

Thanks to you both. I'm glad you liked the pic and commentary. As much as I believe that we grow and improve I also believe that some of what we are able to do artistically must be imprinted in us early on. The way that photograph was composed and shot is very much as I would do now.