Archive for the ‘ featured print ’ Category

Two Black & White Still Lifes

Thistle 16

Thistle 16

One thing I truly love about large format photography is doing still lifes. I It may look simple but I’ve found still lifes to be hard work. Everything has to be perfect and its always a challenge to get there.

Thistle 16 was taken on Ilford FP4+ film, 4×5 sheet. I developed the negative in Pyrocat-HD developer using the extreme minimal agitation technique. My “studio” was set up in the backyard, draping a spare dark cloth over the grill for the background. The sun was high and to the right rear.

Rose 2006

Rose 2006

Rose 2006 was done indoors on the dining room table, natural light, using Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film.

Hope you enjoy!

A Black and White Landscape from Western Kansas

Monument Rocks #2

Monument Rocks #2

Monument Rocks, Gove County, Kansas. This is what black and white photography is all about. Taking the seemingly bland and lifeless and transforming it into an abstraction of tone and texture. This was taken in full afternoon summer sun. The shadow in the lower parts is from the adjacent rock formations.

This negative is what sold me on the new Kodak Tmax 400 film. Contrast range on the subject was extreme yet the main subject is very flat. Developed in Pyrocat HD with extreme minimal agitation. The negative came out very dense requiring split grade printing.

An 11×14 print of Monument Rocks #2 will be on display at the Emporia Artist Walk along with my Kansas Flint Hill landscapes.

Making Hay

August Hay 2003  photograph by Alex Hawley

August Hay 2003 photograph by Alex Hawley

Its Hay season here in farm country. From mid-August through September, the tall prairie grass is cut, raked, then baled to provide livestock feed through the winter. In this area, it’s the sweet, tall, highly nutritious Bluestem grass of the Kansas Flint Hills that’s being harvested.

Compressing the cut grass into a large tightly wound shape serves to preserve the grass’ nutritional value. The outer layer decays a couple inches but serves to insulate the rest of the bale. Thus, the grass holds up far longer than it would if cut and left loose.

It’s only been in my adult lifetime that the large round bales came in to use. Previously, hay was bales into small square bales of about thirty-five pounds each. A lot of physical labor was used to move the bales from bailing machine to feed. Now, weighing a thousand pounds per bale, they are impossible for humans to handle so machinery is a must. In one way it’s a shame that our youth don’t have such a body developing activity anymore. But as one who has thrown a bale or two, I don’t miss the old bales a bit.

The large round baling machine itself is a Kansas invention. Mr. Lyle Yost, founder of Hesston Corp. in Hesston, Kansas was the inventor and brought them to the market in the early 1970s. Now they are the standard of the world.

“August Hay 2003” was taken early in my Large Format experience using 4×5 Kodak Tri-X film. The print was made on Forte Polywamtone fiber base paper.

On Road CR-2 – Flint Hills

I usually photograph during the midday period. That’s supposed to be the sweet period for B&W photographers. But when Mark Feiden e-mailed me and said “do you want to go out this evening”, I couldn’t resist. Especially when we were going to an area I hadn’t seen before.

We met in Madison. I brought along the trusty 8×10 Deardorff, the 7×17 Folmer & Schwing, a stock of film for both, and all the other paraphanelia that must accompany wooden, totally un-automated view cameras. Mark uses some very portable digital SLR equipment. My very non-portable ULF and LF gear filled the remainder of his pickup cab. Good thing it was a super cab. We headed west out of Madison. After a few short miles, we were in some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen anywhere. The Flint Hills at its very essence.

We were in the very northwest corner of Greenwood county, bouncing in and out of Chase county. We stopped at this spot to take our first shots of the evening. A thunderstorm was moving in from the northwest, obscuring the sun. We hoped maybe the sun would break through the clouds for a few fleeting moments of that spectacular pre-storm light, but no such luck. I found a likely spot and proceeded to set up the 7×17 while mark shot numerous frames from several angles. In the low light, my exposure was going to have to be 40 seconds. Meanwhile, Mark is racking them up. Finished the shot, disassembled and packed everything back in the truck. Off we went again, vaguely trying to get around the storm. About twenty minutes later, it caught us and we were wishing we were somewhere, not out in the open hills with rain and wind so heavy that the hood emblem is no longer visible.

“On Road CR-2, Greenwood County” is a 7×17 inch contact print made directly from a single in-camera negative. Copyright Alex Hawley 2008.

Snokomo Creek School – Flint Hills

Snokomo Creek School by Alex Hawley

Another door to learning in the Kansas Flint Hills. This one is at the Snokomo Creek School in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, near Paxico. Snokomo is easy to get to and getting there is half the joy. On I-70, take the Snokomo Rd exit, follow the road South for about 3-1/2 miles. The school will be on your left adjacent to the road. Snokomo can give you what photographers call a “U-turn Moment”.

North Wall, Snokomo Creek School by Alex Hawley
North Wall, Snokomo Creek School by Alex Hawley

“North Wall” was taken on my second outing to the Snokomo area. My friend and fellow LPA member, Rob Young, was along for this trip. His rendition of the school is done on gum bichromate. Please see Rob’s blog for complete details.

Fine Art prints of “Snokomo School” may be purchased through my APUG Portfolio. Please contact me if you desire to purchase one. This version is an 8×10 contact print printed on Azo fiber base silver chloride paper.

“North Wall, Snokomo School” may be purchased from me directly. The version shown is printed on Slavich fiber base silver gelatin paper

Lower Fox Creek School – Flint Hills

"Keystones" photo by Alex Hawley

"Keystones" photo by Alex Hawley

No doubt, the Lower Fox Creek School is one of the most photographed places in the Kansas Flint Hills. Its very easy to get to. Just go three miles north of US 50 on K-177, near Strong City. Sitting prominently atop a hill next to the highway, it can’t be missed. The National Park service has a nice virtual tour and good directions on how to get there.

I’ve photographed there several times. “Keystones” was taken in 2004 on the 8×10 view camera and is printed as an 8×10 contact print (meaning no enlargement). For me, there’s some special meaning for school house doors. Perhaps its because I see them as doors to the future no matter how humble and plain they may be.

In fact, it was an earlier version of the Lower Fox Creek School that was a key factor in spurring me to use large format cameras. So, in part, this humble school building was a key factor in my future as a photographer.

There are many of these old school houses throughout the Flint Hills. One can’t help but find one or more whenever exploring the region. Many have been preserved to some extent or another, and several still serve useful functions in their respective communities. I’m glad they are still there.

Fine Art prints of “Keystones” may be purchased through my APUG Portfolio. These are 8×10 contact prints made on Kodak Azo silver chloride contact printing paper. Please contact me if you desire to purchase one.

All photographs copyright Alex Hawley.

Old Stone Fort – Flint Hills

Old Stone FOrt, Wabaunsee County

Old Stone Fort, Wabaunsee County

No one that I’ve talked to knows much about the The Old Stone Fort. Located in southwestern Wabaunsee County, Kansas, this old building sits atop a small hill overlooking the old Trail Drover’s Road and a stream crossing. Privately owned, it serves as a convenient place to feed cattle who are grazing on the rich Flint Hills grass. Going west from Volland on Old K-10, find Trail Drovers Road on the right and follow it for a few miles. You should some to the Old Stone Fort.

My guess is that originally this was a Cavalry outpost for Fort Riley. There is also a stable, just to the left of where I was standing. Both buildings were not built for ranch or farm service; they don’t appear to have had the amenities for permanent occupancy of either humans or livestock. The location makes sense as a good place to station a detachment of Horse Soldiers. Trail Drover’s Road was the main cattle trail in the area for driving the herds to the railroad, some six miles away at Volland. The nearby stream crossing was probably important for the cattle drives too. And, the stream could supply water for the men and horses stationed there. All this is just my rank speculation of course.

The negative for Old Stone Fort was taken on 4×5 Polaroid Type 55 sheet film. I loved that film! One more sigh for its demise.

Prints of the Old Stone Fort are available for sale through my APUG Portfolio. Please contact me via e-mail or a Blog comment if you are interested.

All photographs copyright Alex Hawley