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Take the picture . . .

The images on this website were taken with one of three cameras: a Wisner 4x5 field camera, a Nikon FM2 35-mm camera, or, most recently, a Canon 5D digital camera.  Before moving to digital, I had been using the Nikon exclusively.  Three lenses were used: the Nikkor 24-120 mm, 17-35 mm, and the 50-135 mm.  My only filters were an 81A warming filter and a polarizing filter.  In 2006 I acquired my first digital camera, the Canon 5D, believing the quality was sufficient to match what I produced with the Nikon equipment.  The lens I chose was the Tamron 24-135 as it encompassed my favorite focal lengths.  Testing this lens showed it is quite good, capable of resolving detail as fine as the width between photosites on the digital sensor.  The initial results with the digital camera confirm that this camera is at least as good as the Nikon setup in the quality of the prints.  Since switching to a digital camera I no longer need to scan film in order to work on the image in the computer.

Rescue the light . . .

While somewhat controversial, the computer darkroom is a necessary part of my work.  It provides the best method for restoring the original vision of a scene after it has passed through the film and scanning processes, or in the case of digital, after RAW capture by the camera.  Film and digital sensors, good as they are, are still rather limited.  They do not see as the human eye sees and do not possess the quality of perception.  Their fixed chemical and mechanical natures record light in a predictable but emotionless manner.  As a result, the first time I see the digital file on my computer monitor it appears perfunctory, almost totally devoid of the aesthetic potential that prompted me to take the picture in the first place.  A fortunate prerequisite for an image's existence, however, is my presence at the time that the shutter was released.  My eyes saw the scene and my heart felt the emotion.  Camera or chemistry notwithstanding, I will find my way back to that original vision.  Every photographer needs to understand the technical aspects of his medium and then find ways to overcome its limitations.  That is why I use the computer.  Photoshop software, made by Adobe, provides the means by which I am able to recapture the light and feeling that existed when the exposure occurred.  The technical problems with the digital file aren't always straightforward and the solutions are rarely obvious.  The process of recreating the visualization often requires a great deal of creativity.  But it is an enjoyable process.  As I revive the image I frequently find myself reliving the joy of being present with the light when the image was taken.  Far from being a mechanical process, print-making is every bit as creative as actually being in the field taking pictures.  It's a different situation, but it requires the same level of focus and attention.  Recently, I added some detailed tutorials to this site that describe the techniques I employ.

Print the image . . .

The options for printing images continue to multiply.  Until recently I was using the Light Jet process that exposes photographic paper using light generated by lasers.  While capable of producing exceptional results, a service bureau is the only way to obtain prints and the logistics are slow and expensive.  I now own an Epson Ultrachrome printer.  It allows me to produce photographic images in my home studio using the latest inkjet technology.  The quality of the images is visibly superior to traditional photographs.  The colors are better, the sharpness unsurpassed, and the longevity of prints on the newest papers is excellent.  What I really like, however, is the level of control that an in-house printer provides.  I can now proof images nearly as fast as I can adjust the data in Photoshop.  It's exciting to watch the image progress not only on my computer monitor, but also as a hard copy that I can share with my friends and customers.

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