Thursday, May 15, 2008

Turkey Key

While I was away on a trip out west to visit family, Clyde, John Brady, Jeff Ripple and Rick Cruz all got together for a boat trip out to Turkey Key. Rick Cruz was kind enough to take a few pictures of the trip for me...he did a great job, especially considering that he was also trying to take his own photography. As Clyde said, going out on a photo shot with a bunch of large format photographers is a slow and time consuming activity...but a lot of fun!

Early morning...loading up the boat.

Inside the boat and on their way into the Ten Thousand Islands.
L-R Clyde, Rick, Jeff, John

.....and I caught a fish this big.....

Unloading the boat...a major ordeal when there are four large format photographers and all of their equipment on board the boat...with ALL of it needing to get ashore!

Clyde with a full dinghy weighed heavy that it hit bottom before it got to shore. Here Clyde is waiting for someone to come help him get it the rest of the way onto the beach.

Jeff helping pull the dinghy across the bottom and onto the beach...

setting up camera for first shot

more photography...

....a good time with good companions made for satisfying day....

Clyde Butcher -
John Brady -
Rick Cruz -
Jeff Ripple -

The History of Photography by Beaumont Newhall

Continued from previous post...

Eventually, Jacques Mande Daguerre produced a booklet of instructions for Daguerreotype that was translated all over the world. As the interest in photography grew throughout the world, many people were working on different ways to make it better and easier. However, Daguerre and Talbot's processes reigned supreme for almost two decades.

Of all the countries, America adopted the Daguerreotype with the most enthusiasm and excelled in its practice. Soon Yankee ingenuity brought mechanical improvements. At the 1848 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry in London, Americans won three out of five medals for the Daguerreotypes. By 1853 there were 86 galleries in New York City. The largest of those were Matthew Brady, Martin Lawrence land Jeremiah Gurney.

Despite the popularity of the Daguerreotype, it was doomed because it did not lend itself to easy duplication. It was fragile and had to be kept under glass or framed. And it was expensive.

For the most part, photography was only done on still objects because the exposures were long...up to ten minutes. By 1840, Peter Friedrich Voigtlander improved the lens for photography by making it 22 times brighter than it had been. In the 1850's Frederick Scott Archer created a method of sensitizing glass plates with silver salts and within a decade it completely replaced both the Daguerreotype and the Calotype processes. Around that same time John Fredrick Goddard increased the light sensitivity of glass plates. Those two things made it possible to reduce exposures from four minutes to 25 seconds. Portrait studios opened world-wide.

As the popularity of photography grew stronger, the need for duplicates of images, large images, and images that did not fade became the next technical advancement in the field. Each of these advances created more interest in the field of photography, making each new advancement the stepping stone to the next. I can't think of any other art form that is so heavily wrapped up in technical advancements...just when you think it can't get any better, another item comes onto the market to improve the process!

Most photographs of the nineteenth century were printed by contact; they were the size of the negative. Solar Cameras, as enlargers were called, were rare, but by the 1850's they were becoming popular. When the enlarging process became popular, it was noticed that the quality of the images was not as good as the smaller image and so 'touch-up' was necessary. Retouching had become controversial ever since Franz Hanfstaengl, a leading portrait photographer of German, showed at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris a retouched negative with a print made from it before and after retouching. mmmm....interesting how the controversy still goes on today...especially when using much retouching is too much? Is there such a thing as too much? Although most photographers found the practice "detestable and costly", most sitters now demanded that the often harsh, direct camera records of their features be softened, facial blemishes removed, and the wrinkles of age smoothed away. Besides the retouching of the negative, the prints were often tinted or painted over with opaque pigments; each major studio usually employed several artists as "colorist". This is the process I (Niki) use when I 'hand paint' my black and white photographs...a process used a long time before color photography was I guess I'm a 'colorist'!

As technology advanced, photographers began experimenting with the style and content of their photographs. Portrait photography was still the main economic stay for photographers, however people like Matthew Brady began using photography to record historic events...journalistic photography was born; Jackson took galss plates into the Rocky Mountains, Watkins & Muybridge photographed Yosemite...scenic photography was born. Photographers began experimenting with combing several negatives (images) on one sheet of paper; exposing enlarging paper to light before it was finished developing...photographing parts of things...all in an effort to join the abstract art movement; Muybridge was the first to stop action in 1869 with one of the first shutters for a camera...and, in general, photographers were having a lot of fun playing around with the process of photography and pushing its limits.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"After admiring the portraits caught in a burst of sunlight by Adam-Salomon, the sensitive sculptor who has given up painting, we no longer claim that photography is a trade - it is an art, it is more than an art, it is a solar phenomenon, where the artist collaborates with the sun." Alphonse de Lamartine 1866

All photographic processes were sensitive to blue light. Because of that sensitivity early photographs had white skies. In 1873 Hermann Wilhelm Vogel (mmm...I wonder if he is a relative...that is my maiden name!), professor of photography at the Berlin Technical University, discovered that adding dyes to the photographic emulsion rendered it sensitive to the colors absorbed by the dye. By the turn of the century, photographers had negative material that could record all colors, plus they were also given a new creative tool. By using a colored filter over the lens they could accentuate or eliminate colors. In other words, they could, for the first time, choose to create deeper blacks by using a red filter and so on... For the first time, the expression of tonal range in the final image was up to the individual photographic artist. By 1891 large-scale production of film was taking place. Because the film was sensitive to red it was call panchromatic. Remember Panachrome film...all you old folks out there? We do! By 1920 panchromatic film was used world-wide.

Along with the large-scale production of film, came the improvements in light sensitivitiy of enlarging papers and large-scale production of that product followed. Coinciding with the universal adoption of these new sensitized materials came other technical improvements in lenses, shutters, and camera design. The increased sensitivity required that the exposures be sliced into precise fractions of a second. Shutters of the most ingenious kind were designed in a great variety. By the end of the 1800's accurate exposures of 1/5000 of a second could be made.

The increased sensitivity required that the exposures be sliced into precise fractions of a second. Shutters of the most ingenious kind were designed in great variety. By the end of the 1800’s accurate exposures of 1/5000 of a second could be made.

Cameras were also reduced in bulk so they could be held in the hand. A bewildering array of hand-held camera appeared on the market. To choose a camera was such an ordeal that often the problem was solved by putting the names of all the different kinds of camera into a hat and picking out a name! The best remembered of these cameras is the Kodak, invented and manufactured by George Eastman, a dry plate maker in Rochester, New York. The camera was introduced in 1888 and was a 3 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches with a fixed-focus lens of 27mm focal length and an aperture of f/9, fitted with an ingenious cylindrical, or barrel, shutter. It was different than most of its competitors because it used a roll of film. Eastman's most important contribution, however, was not the design of the camera, but providing a photo-finishing service for his customers. The pictures came to be called "snapshots", a word used by hunters to describe shooting a firearm from the hip, without taking careful aim.

Eastman call the Kodak, "...a photographic notebook. Photography is thus brought within reach of every human being who desires to preserve a record of what he sees. Such a photographic notebook is an enduring record of many things seen only once in a lifetime and enables the fortunate possessor to go back by the light of his own fireside to scenes which would otherwise fade from memory and be lost."

This opened up the field of photography to the average person making the interest in photography grow by leaps and bounds.

To be continued in another post....

Friday, May 2, 2008


We joined Elam Stoltzfus of Live Oak Production Group as he filmed the Fakahatchee for his film on the Big Cypress. John Brady, Rick Cruz and a young photographic student named Victor Rollins joined us on this trip.

We met everyone at the crack of dawn and then drove into Fakachatchee where the cabin was located.

The wonderful old cabin had been in Fakahatchee for many years.

Fakahatchee is a beautiful mysterious place and we were all anxious to get out into it and photograph, but I managed to get the guys all together for a group photo before they took off into the swamp.

And then it was off into the swamp.

John making his way through the swamp.

Clyde and Rick setting up their cameras...

Elam setting up his track to film Clyde photographing...and I thought Clyde had a lot of equipment to tote around in the swamp!

Everyone gathering around Elam's camera to see the results...

And then we head deeper into the swamp...

Carrying the ladder through the swamp, along with all the other equipment that Elam needed was tough work. I was glad to see that Rick and John had enough energy to carry their equipment and also help Elam! ...ahhhh youth!

The feeling of wilderness always touches my heart making me feel truly alive. Spending the day searching for beautiful scenes...never having a negative thought...well, I can't think of anything that can be closer to heaven.

I love the mystery of the swamp...

Clyde setting up his camera for a shot.

We were having so much fun photographing we didn't realize how deep into the swamp we had gone until suddenly we were hungry! It was well past lunch time and so we began the hike out.

A moment of rest... and then a little more photography...

A photographic discussion and interview with Victor...

And then the continued hike out of the swamp.

And then the cabin and Elams perfect expression of exhaustion...

Lunch and a little relaxation

We were suppose to meet Sammy Tedder (who is composing the score to Elam's film on the Big Cypress) and Jane Atkins (who is writing the script for the film) and couldn't get hold of them. Finding the cabin isn't an easy task, and so Rick climbed up onto the roof of the car and became a cellular tower. And yes, he did get a weak signal and was able to communicate with them!

Craig Britton, owner of the cabin, stopped by to say howdy and make sure everything was going ok. Sammy and Jane finally showed's the motley crew....

Sammy decided to use his Digeridu to try and wake up some 'gators. The hope was that the B flat would stimulate the 'gators to respond with a territorial growl. They didn't talk back, but they did come toward Sammy to see what was going on!

Elam filming Sammy's effort...

Clyde, Elam, Jane and Sammy have known each other for many years and worked together on several film projects. Through the process of combining their talents to create great films, they all have won many awards for their work. But, even more importantly they have learned to care and respect each other and created a close bond of friendship.

We couldn't spend the night with everyone, so we bid all good-bye and headed back down the road.

Not wanting to stop photographing, I continued...

We stopped by the tiny town of Copeland and I photographed their cute little church.

Then onto the Lake Harmon Monolith and a flower...


Clyde Butcher -
John Brady -
Rick Cruz -
Elam Stoltzfus -
Sammy Tedder -

The History of Photography By Beaumont Newhall

Just a short note: I have enjoyed this book very much, and would suggest that if you love photography you read the REAL thing! It's a great book.

Everything that is in italics is my opinion and NOT in the book.

As the digital age is dawning with controversy as to whether the resulting photograph is art or not, it is fun to read about the beginning of photography and the excitement and wonder that it created in the world.

As an art form, photography is one of the newest and one of the most technical. Because it involves technology, it has constantly improved as mankind uses his creative mind to make it better and better. By making the technical process better, the art has become better…well, that is my opinion anyway…I do not believe that technology creates art, but it does allow the artist to be a better artist.

Photography began with a pinhole camera around 1500. It must have been an exciting moment when the first person saw an image appear through that hole! As I’m sure you know, pinhole images are ‘soft’, so it was only a matter of time before Giovanni Battista (1553) figured out that if he put a lens in place of the pinhole, he could get a sharper image. The first technical improvement!

At first the camera, called Camera Obsura, was as big as a room and was used to help painters understand perspective. The camera was pretty much useless until another creative mind made it portable. Someone put a lens into a two-foot square box with a piece of frosted glass on the back. The image fell onto the frosted glass. Painters could take the box out into the field, trace the image from the glass and get the perspective correct. The image was upside down and backward, but that was easily corrected by drawing onto thin transparent paper. Once the image was drawn, the artist could copy it and create a ‘good’ painting. Beaumont has a quote from Count Francesco Algarotti in 1764: “The best modern painters among Italians have availed themselves greatly of this contrivance; nor is it possible they should have otherwise represented things so much to life.”

Up to this point the Camera Obscura was used as a tool in the field of painting. It wasn’t until 1724 when Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered the light sensitivity of silver salts that the concept of capturing that image was considered. Thomas Wedgewood (late 1700’s) began experimenting with sensitizing paper or leather with silver nitrate. In the early 1800’s Joseph Nicephore Niepce created the first permanent image on ground glass and metal plates. He called the technique Heliographs. The image wasn’t ‘permanent’ as we think of the word today. It was only permanent in that it was captured so a person could see it. However, the issue of a ‘real permanent’ image is still with us today.

Johann Heinrich Schulze heard about a man named Jacques Mande Daguerre who was trying to achieve a permanent image. Daguerre was a painter, but found the chemistry of creating a permanent image fascinating and began experimenting. His creation was called Daguerretype.

Capturing an image was a wonder and an amazement to the world. The French government decided that the process should be made free to the public and so they took over the rights to it. Jacques Mande Daguerre was not able to make any money from the use of his process for many years. Eventually, it went to court and the French government gave a lifetime payment to Jacques Mande Daguerre for the process.

William Henry Fox Talbot, independently, invented a technique that was pretty close to the Daguerretype, however Talbot created a way in which others could utilize his technique. He created materials and apparatus for working the process. It was a kit, which he sold, that allowed the buyer to create a photograph. By 1841 Talbot had made enough individual improvements to his technique that he called it Calotype and patented the concept. His insistence on controlling his patent became a burden to photographers. He aggressively prosecuted any person making Calotypes who had not paid him a fee. When a new process producing negatives on glass coated with light-sensitive collodion was made public, Talbot went to English court claiming it was an infringement on his patent. He lost and the process of making a photograph was now free to the public.

During that time the Daguerretype had been free, and an easier process, and so it became the most popular photographic process. The Calotype never became as popular in use as the Daguerretype.

The competition between the two processes reminds me of the competition between Beta vs VHS and Blue Tooth vs High Definition…technology refining itself…

Sir John FW Herschel joined in the excitement of this new invention and created the chemical sodium thiosulfate. Today we call this “hypo”. Daguerre adopted the hypo solution into his process.

Herschel had seen the images created from Talbot’s process, but when he saw Daguerre’s images he said of Daguerre’s process, “It is hardly too much to call them miraculous. Certainly they surpass anything I could have conceived as within the bounds of reasonable expectation. I must tell you that compared to these masterpieces of Daguerre, Monsieur Talbot’s process is nothing but vague, foggy things. There is as much difference between these two products as there is between the sun and the moon.” This comment causes me to smile; because both of these processes are very soft…what would Herschel have said about photography today!?

Herschel coined the name “photography”, “negative” and “positive”.

More later…