Posts Tagged ‘ view camera ’

New Showing and New Video

Once again, its been a while since I made a blog entry. Its not that I’m lazy, which is always debatable. It more that I’ve been busy with a great many things.

However, today, I hung a small showing of my prints at the Lawrence Bank, located at 9th and New Hampshire in Lawrence, Ks.  Included in the show is the 20×40 inch Flint Hills triptych, “Road CR-2, Greenwood County”. Please stop by and view if you can.

Back in December, we purchased a Canon HV30 high definition video camera. I had been having yearnings to get a film movie camera, but the production costs really rack up fast, and they wind up being digital videos anyway.  The HV30 is a wonderful little camera, with capability far in excess of its diminuative size. Thus, with a few video skills under my belt, and with the aid of the editing software, I’ve created a small self-promotion video (which includes authentic Flint Hills wind in the sound track). Here it is:

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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.

A Different Look at the Flint Hills

On Road CR-2 Greenwood County

Near Texaco Hill, Greenwood County

Tully Hill Road, Geary County

Tully Hill Road, Geary County

Hard to believe that I haven’t updated this Blog since October. It’s been a busy year for everything except photography it seems. But, I haven’t been completely lazy.

My latest project on the Flint Hills makes use of multiple prints to form a panoramic display. Using two prints is called diptych (pronounced dip-tick). Using three prints is called a triptych (with similar pronunciation). (People with ArtSpeak  inherently know these pronunciations and meanings, but I was a farm boy and had to look them up.) Using this approach for panoramic landscape departs from the classic construction of a -tych. In the classic construction, each print may be entirely different yet the sum tells a story. I guess one could stretch that classic definition and say that the panorama tells a story about the landscape more adequately than single photographs.

For this technique, I use individual 4×5 negatives and make individual prints. After processing and drying, the prints are trimmed to match, then dry mounted on mat board.

Its really exciting to use multiple 11×14 prints. That brings the image up to a size that’s more in keeping with the feel of the Flint Hills. Using 8×10 prints for an 8×20 diptych or 10x 24 triptych is also nice. The 8×20 format is a standard banquet-camera size, the next step up from the 7×17 format that I use.

I’m participating in the Emporia Art Walk this year on Saturday April 18th. My goal is to have several of these panoramas on display and for sale. Hope to see you there.

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.

A Slice of New York City

"The Apartments" Polaroid Type 809 print by David A. Goldfarb

My APUG friend, David A. Goldfarb, sent me this wonderful 8×10 Polaroid print. David is an accomplished photographer, University Professor, and prolific writer. I think David is one of the most knowledgeable persons on photography that I have known. He’s always trying something new, both visually and technically.

Sharing a love of working with Polaroid film, and celebrating its demise, we engaged in a Polaroid print exchange. I had sent him my 4×5 Type 52 print, “A Slice of Western Kansas” and now I have “The Apartments”, a slice of NYC, in return. David explains the photograph’s meaning in a note enclosed with the print. with the print.

“This print is one in a series of nine of four highrise apartment buildings known simply as “The Apartments” on traffic reports for drivers headed in and out of Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge. It was also the view from my window in Washington Heights, where we lived for about a year until the day this series was made. These are my last 8×10″ Polaroids.”

“Ted Harris offered this box of Polaroid Type 809 to anyone who offered a proposal to make good educational use of the film and I said that I would make images to be exchanged in the APUG Polaroid exchange and Traveling Portfolio, so that as many people as possible would have a chance to see or own an 8×10″ Polaroid print. I hope this fulfills his intention. After the Traveling Portfolio makes its full circuit, I plan to send the print to Ted’s widow, Amy Rafferty, as yet another reminder of Ted’s generous spirit.”

Ted Harris was a prominent US photographer who passed away, most untimely, earlier this year. I too had sent Ted a proposal for using the box of 809; David had a much better idea than I. I’m glad he got it and commend how he has used it.

Kansas goes to NYC; NYC goes to Kansas, all via Polaroid photography. Most gracious thanks David.

Tall Grass & Sky – Greenwood County

Tall Grass & Sky – Greenwood County   photo by Alex Hawley

Hard to believe that its been a month since I last posted. Its been busy. On Labor Day weekend, I loaded all the photo gear into the pickup and headed back to the Texico Hill area in the Kansas Flint Hills.  Went back on Road CR2 to view the area in the afternoon sun. The sky was mostly hazy but the haze cleared long enough to get this one on the 7×17 Folmer and Schwing. This one is the first in the series from that afternoon.

The more I use the 7×17, the more I like it. For what looks like a simple camera, simpler to use that the 8×10 Deardorff it would seem, the learning curve has been steep. You think after using 8×10 for several years that going to an Ultra Large Format (ULF) camera would be a breeze. Wrongo! Or, at least for me it wasn’t easy.

First, the F&S camera itself is quite literally, a hundred years old. F&S started as an independent camera maker in Rochester, NY. At the time mine was built, early 1900’s, they were owned by Eastman Kodak. Then, the Folmer Brothers patented a focal plane shutter for a 4×5 camera. Soon, the legendary Speed Graphic was born and F&S became known as the Folmer Graflex Company. The legacy of this company is still with us today, quite strongly, even though it ceased to exist nearly forty years ago. But that’s digressing from the point. A century old camera means a bellows of similar age which means never ending light leaks. Finally got that problem solved. Even though I have recoated the bellows, I still take special care to drape it with the darkcloth until I complete the exposure.

Developing the large negatives was another challenge. I thought I was smart and could use the brush development technique by inspection.  I had always developed my 810 film by inspection and didn’t think the 717 would be any different. Bought some relatively expensive hake brushes and proved to myself I could do it. Well, sort of.  Even though the negatives developed quite evenly, I was continually misreading them and underdeveloping. This sucks! Fate intervened and an old set of Beseler Unicolor drums and motor base came my way, which included a 16×20 drum.  Now I develop by time, in the daylight, and the negs come out probably better than I have ever gotten them before. Can’t say enough good things about rotary development. Uses a lot less chemicals too.

Then there was the problem of getting a contact printing frame. I quickly learned that 7×17 frames are custom built for several hundred dollars. On the other hand, 16×20 frames are plentiful and cost substantially less.  So I got a 16×20, which is four times larger and ten times heavier that the 8×10 frame I was used to. The 8×10 frame now feels like it’s for gurly-men.

So, essentially, photographing in ULF magnifies all the little gotcha problems by at least two orders of magnitude, and I haven’t even talked about having to cut down paper, loading/unloading film holders, or even purchasing film (which, let’s just call it “seasonal”). But, all those challenges withstanding, its still highly worth it.