11x14, 16x20, 20x24, 24x30, 30x40, 40x50, 48x60
Camera: Canham 4x5 Inch Metal Field Camera
Film: Kodak T-Max 100 4x5 Inch Black and White Negative Film
Saguaro VII Black & White, Arizona
I recently visited Arizona in my role as a coach with my 15 year old sons ice hockey team. I lucked out, as my family lives there as well…So, the whole family went and we had a mini "vacation". Needless to say, I knew my potential for photographic time was limited. While thinking about the trip, watching the expected weather conditions and condition of the desert at this time of year, I made a plan. I brought a scaled down kit which would enable me to create one type of image. My vision, black and white "portraits" of Saguaro Cacti. A series. I would make one exposure of each Cactus and have a series of eight complimentary images.
In a shoulder bag I brought: my "little camera" (4x5 metal field), one lens (Rodenstock 150mm), 10 film holder (8 sheets black & white, 2 sheets color), contrast filters for black & white and my tripod (which traveled in the hockey bag). On our first morning in Arizona, my eight year old, Toby, and I walked out into the desert to explore. I also observed the Saguaros, the angle of light in the morning, the backgrounds, the feeling, etc. Toby and I had a blast exploring the desert and I had a solid plan.
Two mornings later, shoulder bag & tripod in tow, I headed into the desert alone. I found my happy place and got to work. I was looking for simple, clean compositions to set off the grandeur of these giants of the desert. After I toiled with the first composition, I was able to move along with great confidence and anticipation. I hustled from one Saguaro to another making my selections carefully and thoughtfully. Each composition received only one exposure. Not until I arrived home and hand processed the film did I know each exposure was correct. I am fine tuning the prints to bring out the mood and feeling I wanted to convey. Personally, I feel that the art of shooting larger format film keeps me grounded in the craft of landscape photography, as opposed to turning me into an engineer in the land of software and computers. I like the responsibility of consciously composing each image and setting the exposure relative to the mood I want the image to convey. The art happens when I am in the field feeling the experience, not at my computer weeding through hundreds of images to see if there is something "good" that I can make even better. Simple and traditional is how I prefer my art at this point.
This is part of a series of 8 saguaro portraits that hang beautifully together.