For years I've had a vision of what I would describe as "elegant landscapes". This vision includes characteristics such as fine, subtle detail, subdued colors or tones of black and white, calm compositions and unrivaled archival quality. This vision is based on a feeling that I experience in nature and want to convey through my work. EarIy in my career I moved to large format film photography for its ability to enforce this style in my work. The care required to compose the art, and the fine, subtle detail that came through in my large scale prints brought this vision to life.
However, I found that I was still enabling the sensationalized imagery we are all bombarded with to hold me back from truly pursuing the elegant landscape I was conceptualizing. Honestly, I allowed external forces, at least in part, to influence a segment of my color work. I was afraid to take the risk and stray from todays norm. While I was shooting large format film instead of digital, and primarily capturing subdued natural tones, I knew there was an additional path I could follow to fully immerse myself in the pursuit of this vision. For the last several months I have been doing just that.
For almost a year I have been studying, pursuing and practicing a very traditional photographic printing method called Platinum / Palladium printing. Along with being the most archival printing method available, this black & white printing process is a craft that I control from start to finish. I expose the individual sheets of black & white film, I hand process each sheet of film, I can then choose to scan the film and print larger digital negatives, I mix my own Pt/Pd sensitizer and hand coat cotton rag paper (Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag) making my own photographic paper. I then place the film and paper in direct contact in a printing frame (contact printing) and expose the photograph under UV light within a light box I built by hand. Finally, I develop, wash and rinse the print by hand in my darkroom. I am able to control whether the print is cool in tone (black and white) or warm in tone (light to chocolate brown) by adjusting the temperature of the developer. As an end result, I am beginning to produce the elegant landscapes I have envisioned by taking control of an entirely new manual process that has an authenticity unlike anything I have previously experienced.
Not only am I excited about bringing this new process, and extension of my vision, to life as part of my fine art gallery offerings, but I am growing through the process. That is the beauty of art. Through the pain of pursuing a passion, we learn about ourselves and have our entire lives enhanced. Artists, as do most people, have ups and downs. I have allowed myself to focus on learning this process for months. I have also made the investment and taken the financial risk necessary to pursue this vision by investing in the hardware and materials required to produce tests, test prints, failed prints and finally, successful prints. I feel a sense of both pride and fulfillment in having pursued this vision, regardless of the outcome. That said, I am extremely proud of, and excited about, the amazing quality of the prints I am now able to produce.
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