“At our best and most fortunate we make pictures because of what stands in front of the camera, to honour what is greater and more interesting than we are. We never accomplish this perfectly, though in return we are given something perfect – a sense of inclusion. Our subject thus redefines us, and is part of the biography by which we want to be known.”
Robert Adams, Why People Photograph (1994)
Previously the image making process used was traditional black-and-white negative film stock and fiber-based gelatin-silver printing. Images are now created using contemporary digital capture and the giclée printing process.
For those interested in photographic technique the following information will be of interest.
Film stock has ranged between Ilford Pan-F, FP4 and HP5, normally employing the use of 6x6cm medium-format cameras or large-format 4×5″ mono-rail view cameras mounted on a heavy-duty tripod. In most situations a tripod was also used for medium-format photography. Lenses for medium-format work are a wide-angle 55mm, ‘standard’ 80mm and telephoto 180mm, with large-format lenses being a 90mm wide-angle, 150mm ‘standard’ and 210mm telephoto.
Filters were used sparingly for most images, with a yellow (Wratten no.8) and orange (Wratten no.21) utilised for contrast effects, plus occasional use of a deep-red (Wratten no.25) filter. Exposure was normally determined using a hand-held optical spot meter and the Zone System approach to tone control. Black-and-white films were developed in Kodak HC110, often with modified development times and dilutions to further aid tone control.
During nearly 20 years of darkroom printing many brands of paper have been used, such as Agfa, Ilford, Kodak and Oriental. Variable-contrast (VC) fiber-base baryta papers with a semi-gloss surface were normally the first choice for printing, in particular Ilford Multigrade FB developed in Ilford Bromophen. Print processing technique was designed to produce archival quality prints, with selenium chemical toning given to enhance image permanence.
Negatives and transparencies are scanned using reproduction quality CCD scanners designed for film. Black-and-white negatives are digitized to produce 16-bit grayscale TIFF files (48-bit RGB TIFF files for colour) then converted to the DNG file format for archiving. Scanner software controls are set to neutral/zero, with tonal corrections and sharpening done in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom.
Images are captured as 14-bit or 12-bit RAW files using CMOS sensors. Prefered lens focal-lengths range between, wide-angle 24mm and 35mm; ‘standard’ 50mm; telephoto 80mm, 135mm and 300mm; 80mm macro lens.
Filter use is kept to a minimum. Skylight (1A) or UV haze filters are sometimes used to protect the front lens elements from excessive dust and moisture, especially when working in camera unfriendly conditions such as beaches with corrosive sea-spray. A Circular Polarizer (CPL) is employed when controlling the reflections within a scene or subject. Exposure for RAW images (digital negatives) is determined using either the camera’s multi-zone metering system or hand-held optical spot meter.
Image archive maintenance, cataloging, editing and processing is done via Adobe Lightroom. Camera generated image files are converted to the DNG format for processing and archiving. Three back-up copies of the archive and catalog are kept on three separate hard-drives.
Photographic prints intended for gallery exhibitions, archiving and sale are made using inkjet technology designed for extended image longevity. This type of printing is often refered to as giclée (pronounced “zhee-clay”) and requires the use of fade-resistant pigment based inks and archival substrates. Prefered choice in papers are those made from 100% rag-cotton, have a baryta layer, bright white base and semi-gloss surface with minimal texture.
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