Posts Tagged ‘BW’

Notable: New 55 Film Kickstarter Campaign, Bob Crowley

In Black and White Photography, Hardware on April 7, 2014 at 2:14 pm


Due to the ubiquity of the internet and digital age, many people have departed the realm of analogue photography for its more modern counterpart. But the tangible and nostalgic feel of an instant film camera, not to mention its aesthetic and technical qualities, is still yearned for by many at one time or another. Bob Crowley of New55 Film has endeavored to bring something new to the 4×5 film format, but he needs help to bring it to market. Consequently, he has turned to every ambitious, shallow-pocketed entrepreneur’s friend Kickstarter for help. 

New55 FILM is a new instant 4×5 film that produces a superb negative, and a positive print too….Although New55 FILM is based on a similar single-shot architecture as old Polaroid type 55, New55 FILM will trade upon its own unique tonal character and evince different features in performance.

As a New55 FILM backer you will be making history.  But you will also be constructing the future of Post-Digital professional darkroomless analog photography.  Here, we — a group of artists (from every continent) — will take up the means of production.  Where large-scale industrial capacity has failed to adapt to the major technological and behavioral shifts from the rise of digital photography, a small-scale factory that is modular, scalable, and humane in its flexibility will begin manufacturing an important and necessary photographic material — New55 FILM.  We now have the opportunity and the responsibility to make it happen.


 Crowley’s highly ambitious undertaking has a great deal of moving parts to fund, so he’s asking for a $400,000 investment.   At the time of this posting, he has currently found support to the tune of approximately $50,000; the Kickstarter campaign ends May 5th. Investing hard-earned money aside, it’s well worth the time to at least delve further into New55’s project. 
For More Information on New 55 and it’s fundraiser: New55 Blog and New55 Kickstarter



Artist Spotlight: Robert Hecht

In Black and White Photography, Photographer on February 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

Tape & Shadows, San Rafael, 2009

“Tape and Shadow”

We came upon Robert’s portfolio by way of Lenswork where he has supplied striking images as well as interesting essay thoughts on photography. Originally from the  East Coast, but now of the West, he still carries that East Coast sensibility in his pictures. With decades of experience, he has been able to masterfully distill essentials of his subjects, often in abstract forms.

For a sample of his work: Robert Hecht

1. What do you want a viewer of your images to focus on while looking at your photographs?

I hope that some of my own pure visual delight in the subject comes through, and that the image arrests the viewer’s attention and actively draws him or her into the moment. I think of my photographs as objects for contemplation, so my main intent is to focus the viewer, to shift his or her perception from the randomized chaos with which we are all surrounded and bombarded constantly, to enter a still, clear moment of reflection.

2. Your photos have a strong abstract element to them. How did you arrive at "seeing" the subject matter in this way?

The best photographs to me always have a strong abstract foundation.  This first came to me in studying the paintings of Paul Cezanne; in his work one can always sense the abstract “bones” of the image beneath the surface. (Same with Edward Weston’s work.) Without this dimension, an image may be lovely but lack an inner strength. I’ve always been thrilled, too, by the particular ability of the photographic medium to simultaneously convey both “reality” in the sense that the subject matter did indeed exist, and “abstraction” in the sense that it has been excerpted and isolated from the real world.

3. Light and shadow play a dominant role in many of your pieces … why?

The dances of light and shadow are endlessly fascinating. Shadows add, both literally and figuratively, another dimension to a subject; they may echo the basic form and offer another compositional element. They also contribute to a sense of mystery, a very important element, I believe, in any photograph. Shadows, along with reflections, can bring a feeling of the surreal to an otherwise pedestrian subject.

4. What technical steps in your work typically contribute to a successful image?

Coming originally from large and medium-format film work, there is  ingrained in me the approach of pre-visualization at the time of shooting. I try to use the whole frame if possible, while staying open to discoveries during editing. I usually work for a full dynamic range, but I do not consider this to be an end in itself. The particular technical steps vary according to the needs of an image, and are of much less interest to me than my primary goal of whether the picture is conveying what I was seeing and feeling when shooting. Technically, I will do whatever I need to or can possibly think of to help an image come to life.

5. You work in video as well … what cross over elements influence your photography?

The cross-over actually goes the other way for me. My photography work informs some of my video work, especially in the compositional sense. I am blessed to have a profession that has some significant creative aspects; as a writer-producer-director of educational video programs, I can become quite engaged in what I’m doing at a creative level.  This, by the way, has only gotten more efficient in the digital world: those full-day darkroom opportunities were always challenging to arrange.

Noteworthy: Don Kirby and the Zone System

In Article, Black and White Photography, Photographer on February 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm


From Don Kirby’s “Grassland” series

PDN has an interesting article on Don Kirby, noted western landscape fine art photographer, and his use of Ansel Adam’s “Zone System”. While employed here in the world of film and wet processing, the Zone System also has application in the digital realm in how we should view a scene to capture the full range of tonality.

This particular article addresses Kirby’s experiment with a particular project, the “Grassland” series.

When Kirby developed his first grasslands negatives he discovered that with some images, “even with the N+2 development of the negative, the print would be very monotone/dull” in grass portions of the image. “I wanted the grass to be lively, sometimes even graphic,” Kirby recalls.

He began experimenting with 30-, 90-, and 120-minute development times using a JOBO processor and XTOL developer …

The challenges did not end with Kirby’s development method, however. Though the grass portions of his photographs looked more graphic, the high contrast development process left the sky and clouds much too bright. During printmaking, Kirby had to burn-in the clouds and other elements for several minutes, often using a low-contrast filter, in order to rebalance the image.

Kirby has continually been pushing the limits of his films in order to expand the contrast range of his images.

For more on this approach: Don Kirby PDN

For more on Kirby’s Grassland series: Grasslands

* Update *

Don sent us a note asking that you visit more of his work at:

Don Kirby

Artist Spotlight: Paul Roark

In Article, Black and White Photography, Photo Print Collector, Photographer on February 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm

The Granary, Tumacacory, AZ,

It is always of interest to see how an artist evolves in his work. Often times that includes his “day job” as well as his art. In the case of Paul Roark he was an attorney.

I decided to split my working life into
two segments—one “practical” (money-making) and one
where I could pursue photography as an art and not have
to worry about starving.

Paul is a printer as well as photographer with a sensitivity to digital technology and high tech (and sometimes low tech) inks. He focused early on Black and White prints due to an interesting turn of fate.

My first big break was a one-man show at
the Solvang Gallery in 1981 that turned into a traveling
show around Southern California. It convinced me that
black-and-white fine art landscape display prints would
be my main target, although people also responded well
to the color work I was doing. I suppose the strongest
feedback was at a show in downtown Los Angeles where
all the black-and-white prints were stolen but none of the
color ones.

Primarily working in film and digital scan techniques, he has a great touch for local contrast enhancement in Photoshop while still keeping a unique natural feel to his images. His personal insight into what makes a great image is shared in his workshops.

I go through a two-step analysis.First, the image must have impact. With color, a bright red or other color might do it. With no color to do the job, the image should have what I call a ‘macro pattern’ that catches the viewer’s attention. We don’t notice things we don’t ‘attend’ to.
Second, once drawn to the photo, the image must keep the viewer’s interest as long as possible. I sometimes call this the‘micro pattern.’ Here, using relative lightness
and lots of other tools, I try to keep the eye in the picture and flowing from one interesting part to another.

His work can be seen at: Paul Roark Photography

For his interview by Arthur H. Bleich: Rangefinder, January 2010

Preview: No Singing Allowed – Flamenco and Photography

In Article, Black and White Photography, Exhibits, Gallery on February 11, 2010 at 10:32 am


Carlos Saura “Maria Pages”

Now on view through April 1 at Aperture Gallery in NYC is a muti-decade survey of photographs with the unusual topic of flamenco dancing.

We were in San Miguel Allende, Mexico a number of years ago at a small cafe, “Magritte”,  where they presented flamenco dancing, even at lunch hour, in a small 10 table room. To watch the drama of this dancing in such a confined space was to appreciate the intricacy and power of this historic folk art form. As evidenced by these images, portraits of the dancers lend themselves easily to photography.

Whether as social phenomenon or musical expression, flamenco has been of enduring interest and inspiration to photographers from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. While some photographers from outside of Spain went in search of it or encountered it by chance, to others flamenco and its practitioners are an essential, if not innate, aspect of their cultural heritage and their photographic work. This artistic form—also considered a way of life or being—has generated fascination in cultured urban circles, remaining one of the most secret, mysterious, and seductive manifestations of twentieth-century European popular art. Marginalized and ostracized, the world of flamenco took root in an economically backward region of southern Europe, culturally peripheral and marked by a history of authoritarianism and local despotisms. This exhibition of more than one hundred and fifty years of images, frequently taken by foreigners rather than Spaniards, is an extensive survey of how photographers of different eras have approached the universe of flamenco, whether documenting the dance itself, gestures that recall it, or the culture that is developed around it.

For more information: Aperture Gallery

For a New York Times Dance section review by Alastair Macaulay: “Freeze-Frame Flamenco

Favorites: The Art of Printing On Your Epson Printer

In Black and White Photography, Books, Hardware, Photographer on February 4, 2010 at 11:21 am

We have had a great response to our recommendation of the Epson 3880 printer for Black and White printing.

If you are considering this new printer or have another Epson Pro printer, we think you will benefit from “The Art of Printing On Your Epson Printer”. We have used the book and find it very informative.

Written by Michael Freeman, the book covers printing and other printing related topics in a fine art context.

“The Art of Printing Photos on Your Epson Printer” is a comprehensive guide to the techniques of fine-art photographic printing and the first book to focus on both the technical and creative aspects together. It gives in-depth coverage of all the latest advances in printer paper and ink technology — and how to make the most of them — and even offers practical advice on producing and selling fine-art photographic prints.

For availability see: The Art of Printing Photos on Your Epson Printer

Emerging Artist Spotlight: Robert Shults

In Black and White Photography, Exhibits, Gallery, Photographer on February 2, 2010 at 11:54 am


Robert Shults  “Building and Sky”

“When Robert arrived in Austin in 2001, he was homeless, and spent several months finding his way off the street. In the summer of 2007, he learned that he would be laid-off from the teaching position he had held for several years, and he suddenly felt an old anxiety in a profoundly new way.  He then began returning to and photographing the spaces he had first used for temporary shelter several years earlier.”

This brief gallery bio speaks volumes on the artistic inspiration of Robert Schults. We interviewed him recently and found his insights as compelling as his photography. These are his responses with brief edits.

Why are you using monochrome in your images?

I seem to have an innate compulsion to work in black and white, and I’ve only really rationalized this instinct after the fact. At one point in my education, my mentor simply stopped providing me with expensive rolls of Kodachrome.

Two factors hold the primary influences over my palette. I seem to compose in a manner similar to the draftsman, first perceiving my subject’s form in terms of its edges and the negative space surrounding it, rather than being initially attracted by its color value. A secondary reason is my subject matter itself. Since I am predominantly concerned with architecture and design, my subjects are often monochrome themselves, composed largely of concrete and steel.

What is your goal with your viewers? What do you want them to experience, feel or take away  from viewing your work?

I have worked hard to fulfill the ideals of Alfred Stieglitz, that the photograph can represent a visual "equivalent" of an emotional state which is distinct from the plastic material chosen as a subject.

My most recent body of work, "The Small Corners of Existence", depicts temporary shelters I utilized during a brief period of homelessness. My intention with these images was to elicit in the viewer a sense of what occupying these spaces felt like, rather than merely documenting what these spaces look like. As such, I choose an unorthodox visual strategy for the series, creating photos which often appear dichotomous, fractured, and unbalanced. Hopefully, the viewer experiences a state similarly tense, unstable, and fragmented to that which I experienced while living on the street.

Some of your work is "abstract" … Why that as a subject area?

To my mind, photography is, primarily, an art of abstraction. The photographer’s task is to extract his or her subject from the mass of spatial and temporal context present before the lens. When the extent of that abstraction is extreme and the resulting image is not entirely representative of the "whole", what remains within the photograph is a confluence of psycho-emotional contexts: the subjective state experienced by the photographer at the time of creation blended with the personal history of the viewer. In this regard, the heavily-abstracted photograph has a unique power to function, as Minor White said, as a "mirror of some part of ourselves."

For a glimpse of Robert’s work: L. Nowlin Gallery

Favorites: Best Printer for Black and White – Epson 3880

In Black and White Photography, Hardware on February 1, 2010 at 11:02 am

Epson 3880

We often get asked for recommendations on equipment and will respond with a list of candidates. When it comes to the current state of printers in the sweet spot of 17” X 22” formats there is a current leader: The Epson 3880.

With the previously introduced Advanced Black and White  (ABW) printer driver combined with UltraChrome K3 ink and an auto switchable glossy/matte mode, this model is the best for Black and White enthusiasts.


  • Industry-leading pigment ink technology: Epson UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta Ink for intense blues and violets
  • Professional control – Advanced Black-and-White Photo Mode to easily create neutral or toned black- and white prints from color or monochrome images
  • Precision print head technology – Advanced MicroPiezo AMC, one-inch wide print head with ink-repelling coating for accurate dot placement
  • Optimal black density – auto-switching Matte and Photo Black ink for a high Dmax and superior contrast on glossy, matte and fine art papers
  • Advanced image quality architecture – smoother color transitions and outstanding highlight and shadow detail with AccuPhoto HD2 screening algorithms
  • Broad media support – create prints up to 17" x 22" on media types including semimatte paper, fiber paper, fine art media or art boards up to 1.5 mm thick

HP and Canon also have very good printers but utilize a different technology for ink application that is lagging Epson in detail capture and contrast control.

The ABW mode does not support ICC profiling but allows for a great deal of fine tuning. Photoshop soft proofing is not supported except through special workarounds.

Nonetheless, the images are excellent and relatively easy to produce with fine art level results.

For a good 3880 printing workflow developed for the earlier 3800 model see:Eric Chan

Artist Spotlight: Brooks Jensen

In Black and White Photography, Photographer on January 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm

LWF-014 Sample

Brooks Jensen – Folio Sample “Silva Lacrimosa”

Many followers of Black and White fine art photography are familiar with Brooks Jensen’s role as Creator, Publisher and Editor of Lenswork.

For years, Brooks has provided a platform for some of the best emerging photographers along side many photography masters. He publishes a beautiful quality magazine, available by subscription, as well as DVD-ROM extended editions of the magazine.

In recent editions, he has begun offering folios of his photographer friends … including his own folio presentations.

It is his impressive personal photographic work we would like to highlight in this article. From landscapes to abstracts, he has a wonderful sensibility for light, shadow, form and texture. Not a big believer in high priced art (if you have read his articles or listened to his podcasts) he keeps a focus on creating excellent value with his prints.

Take a brief tour of one of his folio offerings, “Silva Lacrimosa” (Tears of the Forest) and see what is meant by “craftsmanship”.

The fine art photography community owes Brooks a debt of gratitude for everything he has done in the past two decades. We hope he just “keeps on, keepin’ on” …

Favorites: Black and White Production Technique

In Article, Black and White Photography, Books, Photographer, Software on January 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Photo 4

Harold Davis

Over the weekend we were  sent a promotion piece from written by photographer Harold Davis. It concerns taking advantage of the relatively underused LAB color space.

If you know about LAB color, you probably think of it as an alternative scheme to RGB and CMYK color. You may know that people use LAB color for sensitive color corrections and to create special color effects. You may also know that Photoshop uses LAB color for its internal color calculations. What you may not know is that you can use LAB color to create interesting black and white effects.

The easily followed directions allow pro and amateur photographers alike to access an interesting tool for striking Black and White effects.

You can see the step by step instructions at: LAB color for Black and White

You should also check the Harold Davis blog and pick the tag “monochrome” for some very nice Black and White imagery he has created.