My first foray into the world of big negatives involved the purchase of a Zone VI 4x5 view camera during the 80's. Fred Picker, the owner of Zone VI Studios, was an inspiration through his newsletters, videos, and books. I later worked with an 8x10 Kodak Master View, 4x5 Ebony RW, and more recently a 5x7 Chamonix. My current camera is a beautiful hand crafted Svedosky 8x10 (with additional 4x5 reducing back) from Poland. It is as gorgeous as a fine piece of Amish furniture.
“It is a pity indeed to travel and not get this essential sense of landscape values. You do not need a sixth sense for it. It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly through your nose; you will hear the whispered message, for all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. 'I am watching you -- are you watching yourself in me?' Most travelers hurry too much...the great thing is to try and travel with the eyes of the spirit wide open, and not to much factual information. To tune in, without reverence, idly -- but with real inward attention. It is to be had for the feeling...you can extract the essence of a place once you know how. If you just get as still as a needle, you'll be there.”
― Lawrence Durrell, Spirit Of Place: Letters And Essays On Travel
We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it.
They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar.
Henry David Thoreau
The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.
Frank Lloyd Wright
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
I initially ventured into making art with Polaroid materials in the 80's with my Zone VI 4x5 view camera and a Polaroid back. Later with an Ebony 4x5 and the same back, I began to produce Polaroid Type 59 Image transfers on watercolor paper. In the late 90's, I discovered the unique world of the Polaroid SX-70 SLR camera, but In 2008, Polaroid discontinued making film, which put an end to my instant photo work until this year, when I discovered that The Impossible Project Company was producing film for Polaroid cameras in an old Polaroid Factory in the Netherlands. Have since purchased another SX-70 and am happily working again with this unique camera and new film. The SX-70 Polaroid Emulsion Lift process is used to make my diptych and triptych work in this format. It involves cutting and separating the print from the backing, then soaking the print in hot water to remove the clear mylar cover. The remaining emulsion is very fragile and is put on wet hot press watercolor paper, using fine paintbrushes with very soft bristles-a process akin to trying to capture an undulating jellyfish that is not particularly cooperative.
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
These images, now no longer able to be made following the demise of film manufacturing by Polaroid, were made with a 4x5 Ebony view camera with a Polaroid back. Once the exposure was made, it was pulled from the back, which started the development process. After careful timing, the positive and negative parts of the print were separated, with the negative being rolled with a brayer onto 300 lb. Arches Hot Press watercolor paper. A hit and miss prospect, but when things worked, the images were magical.
The Holga plastic camera was manufactured in China and sported a plastic lens, two aperatures, and a single shutter speed, all for under fifty bucks. Shooting 120 film (400 asa) allowed one to produce unpredictable and often ethereal images (with patience).