Welcome to my photography website. I specialise in film photography, particularly large format (4×5″ and 8×10″) black and white portraiture. I also dabble in alternative processes and print toning (both archival and non-archival).
I’m available for work-for-hire situations for portraiture or as a second-shooter/assistant at events. Please direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want photos that aren’t merely aged to look like old fashioned process, but actually use those processes, please be in touch.
Q Who are you?
A I’m a middle-aged Linux Systems Administrator living near Boston, Massachusetts, who doesn’t like therapists, so I take a lot of photographs instead. I worked on the yearbook and school papers in high school, many years ago, and got back into film about ten years ago at the encouragement of my then-girlfriend. My current girlfriend is also a photographer and we spend a lot of time either walking around taking pictures together or in the darkroom drinking strong tea to wash the taste of fixer out of our mouths (fixer can be absorbed through the skin if you get enough of it on you for long enough).
Q Why film?
A For my own work, I appreciate both the slower pace of working with film and the lack of immediate feedback. There’s something challenging in taking a photo and not immediately knowing if you should re-shoot that I find compelling. OTOH, I have several binders full of negatives that are pure, 100% unadulterated garbage. There’s an old adage in photography that, if you’re shooting film and you average more than two or three ‘keepers’ per roll, you’re ahead of the game.
Q You don’t shoot any digital?
A No, I shoot plenty of digital. I am dearly fond of my slightly beat-up Nikon D90, and I impulse-bought a Sony NEX-7 a few months ago that’s great for something to stick in a coat pocket and just have handy that’s faster and sharper than my phone camera. But I don’t love either of these cameras.
Q What does your camera arsenal look like?
A I hope you’re sitting comfortably. In no particular order:
- Nikon F bodies (two)
- Canon Canonet III GL17
- Kodak Medalist II
- Hasselblad 500C
- Mamiya RB67
- Speed Graphics (two, one Anniversary, one Pacemaker)
- Kodak Empire State 8×10 view camera
- A few lenses worth mentioning:
- Nikon 50mm f/1.4
- Hasselblad 150mm f/4
- Kodak Aero-Ektar 172mm f/2.5
- Bausch and Lomb aero-tessar 608mm f/6.3.
- The D90 and the NEX-7 mentioned before
- Various project cameras and pinholes and random things that don’t get as much exercise or love as they probably deserve.
Q Why so many different cameras? Wouldn’t one digital and one film be enough?
A Two reasons. First, I just love old cameras. Until quite recently they were always one of those consumer goods that was on the very cusp of modern, even futuristic, technological design that people could hold in their hands. Even the ones with bellows were, in the advertising of the day, wonders of man’s technological skill, wrought in brass and wood and leather.
Second, they’re not all the same. The Nikon Fs and the Canonet shoot 135 film (what we colloquially call 35mm, even though it’s not 35mm in any dimension). The Canonet is small and light, but has a fixed lens. The Hasselblad, Mamiya and Medalist all shoot 120 film, so-called medium-format. It’s 56mm across instead of the 24mm of 135, and each shoots a different area of film in a single exposure (6x6cm (nominally), 6×7 and 6×9, respectively). The Speed Graphics both shoot 4×5 inch cut-film negatives. The Kodak Empire State shoots 8×10 inch negatives.
Q Why do you want bigger negatives?
A Consider what happens when I’m printing in the darkroom. A 135 negative is 24x36mm, or 50mm on the diagonal. You could fill an 8×10 inch sheet with 35 of them, give or take. A 120 negative shot on the Hasselblad is 56x56mm, or 80mm on the diagonal. Twelve of them will fit on the same 8×10 sheet. You can fit four 4×5 inch negatives on the same sheet, or a single 8×10, naturally.
This becomes important if you’re interested in the fine details in the photograph. If you take a photo with 135 and one from the same perspective and distance with the 8×10, using the same kind of film in both cameras. You will have more/better fine detail on the 8×10 simply because you’ve got more grains of silver halide (think of them like pixels, they’re not that far off for this calculation) to work with for a given detail. On 135 an individual eyelash may resolve as two or three grains wide if carefully exposed, while on the 8×10 the same eyelash may end up with several times that, so you’re less likely to get clumpy bits in the fine details where things blur together faintly.
It’s the sort of thing most people don’t notice, but it drives some photographers crazy.
Q Wow, do you develop all the film yourself?
A Mostly. I develop all my own black and white, which is fine because that’s >95% of what I shoot. Colour film gets dropped off at Hunt’s as needed, as does some of the random large format stuff I can’t fit in a daylight developing tank in the kitchen sink. Things that don’t have modern commercially available developers get souped in caffenol.
Q What about printing? Do you have your own darkroom?
A I don’t have my own darkroom in home at this time, but it’s a dream. I keep signing up for an adult education workshop called Creative Darkroom under the auspices of Brookline Adult and Community Education in Brookline, MA. I know a lot of people who also rent time at the New England School of Photography in Kenmore Square, Boston. They cost a bit more, but they also have colour processing and printing facilities, which Brookline lacks.
A To oversimplify greatly, it’s a Jewish heretic.
Q Are you an actual heretic?
A Maybe. The conventional wisdom in Orthodox Judaism is that most people don’t even know enough to be heretics, they’re merely ignorant or uneducated because they grew up in the secular world and don’t know Torah. I actually aspire to be recognised as having learnt enough Torah (as well as all that the secular world has to offer) that my more outre ideas (and they are many) would qualify me as an apikores, not merely an ignoramus.
Q Do you think there are a lot of rebbeim who think you’re good enough, smart enough, or even Jewish enough to be an apikores?
A No, but that’s probably part of my heresy, too. Or my arrogance. Could go either way, honestly.