Halloween Dawn, 2001
I have been making photographs since I was 16 years old. My early work was all done in black and white using Kodak Tri-X film and a Yashica 35mm camera. I had a darkroom in the basement and did my own developing and printing.
After getting my BS in Mathematics at Indiana University, photography fell into the background as I worked as an aerospace design engineer on projects including executive jet interiors, aircraft structures, rocket engines, and satellites. When I began working on a contract basis, jobs were short term usually a year or two. In the time between jobs I began doing photography on a more serious basis.
In 2001 I purchased a Mamiya 7II medium format film camera with a single 65mm lens and took it on a trip to Curaçao. I was totally blown away when I looked at the big 6x7cm transparencies. 35mm never looked this good. I was soon scanning images on an Imacon Photo scanner and getting huge files with exceptional detail.
On Halloween in 2001 I went out scouting in the predawn hours. I found a compelling scene along Kanan Dume Road between Malibu and Agoura, California between two of the tunnels. The valley to the south was filled with clouds with the sun breaking over the mountains, I quicky set up the camera on my Gitzo tripod and shot a whole roll of Fujichrome Velvia 50. I have to say that this was my first image that I considered portfolio worthy. And this single image, shown at the top of this page, inspired me to continue making Images of the American West.
Since 2001 I have used several cameras and formats. I began using 4x5 inch film in an Arca Swiss Field 4x5 in 2003. Many of the images on this site were made with this camera generally using Fujichrome Provia 100F transparency film. If you enter 4x5 in the search box you'll find them. Many were scanned on the Heidelberg Tango drum scanner by West Coast Imaging. Others were scanned on the Imacon 949 by AgX Imaging.
In 2008 I moved to medium format digital, acquiring a Leaf Aptus 75S 33 megapixel digital back. I also acquired a Contax 645 camera with its fabulous Zeiss lenses to mount the back on. This has been a real revelation. The resolution of the Aptus is nearly as fine as drum scanned 4x5 film but the advantages greatly outweight the slightly lower resolution.
For one the Aptus has a 12 stop dynamic range compared to 5 stops with transparency film. This fact alone greatly expands the range of light it's possible to shoot in. And the ease of making bracketed exposures allows even greater dynamic range by blending several exposures, some exposed for the highlights and others for the shadows. Color is more accurate as well.
I made a brief foray back to film last year to see if it would still work for me. I bought a Mamiya RZ67 with a couple lenses and took it on a trip to Utah and Arizona. Well to make a long story short, while I did get good images, I just didn't think they were as good as what medium format digital produces. Add the hassle of buying film, getting it developed, then scanned and it's clear that film is no longer a viable medium for me.
This year I decided to make the move to a Cambo WRS technical camera with a 60 megapixel digital back which lets me make amazingly sharp 40x50 prints.