California Photography in Classic Black and White.
By its very nature, photography involves using tools and technology. But, a slavish preoccupation with the technique of photography can detract from the end product and enjoyment of the craft. I prefer to avoid complexity by using simple cameras and limiting my choices of film, chemistry and paper to those that have proved useful for me over the years.
For most images on this site, I use a Canham DLC view camera. It is totally manual; it has no automatic features but does have many characteristics which give it great flexibility. Unlike the typical camera, i can change the alignment between the lens and the film plane of the view camera with its bellows body. This allows control of perspective and depth of field to a degree not possible with more standard equipment. The view camera uses a separate sheet of 4" by 5" film for each image. This allows me to develop each image separately and to vary the development of each sheet so that I can decrease or increase the contrast range of each negative. The large size of the sheet film negative means I can make rather large prints without degrading the quality of the image.
Recently, I've begun to work with a 50-year-old antique 35mm Leica, the classic tool of photojournalists. The Leica excels as a tool for candid photography and projects involving low-light subjects.
The chemistry I use for processing negatives is called Pyrocat-HD, a modern version of the classic formula "pyro," known to photography since the mid-nineteenth century. Many of the giants among California photographers used pyro extensively.
For printing, I use double-weight, fiber based paper. I like the results I get with the combination of variable contrast paper with pyro processed negatives.
All the images shown on this web site are scans of 8x10 prints made without digital enhancement