Friday, December 16, 2011

Beautiful fall.

It's passing quickly as the rain takes the leaves off the trees. Keeping the Deardorff filmed up and ready. Shooting in really edgy light- on the edge of not enough.

Hope I'm guessing right. Shooting with black and white HP5 Ilford sheet film so I'm thinking past the color.

Monday, December 5, 2011

W. Eugene Smith Photo

The Good Doctor Sneed and I bought a photo off Ebay. Nice little find of mine, a 1944 press photo by Smith of a soldier in a foxhole with a dog. Pure schlock, but a cute image.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Blackfork Guide available as ebook on Blurb!

1.99 and you can download and read it at a really great price. It's quite worth it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rain, overcast, winter light.

Many hours outside in the fall hunting deer. Too bad I can't photograph and hunt at the same time. There are some wonderful scenes and striking light under the grey skies of this time of year. Several times, sneaking down a track in the creek bottom I've had to back up and frame a scene that would was a photograph.
The drought has either broken or been interrupted by fall weather. We'll never catch up on this years rain but the creeks are running again. I couldn't cross Butler Creek the other afternoon.

Tap water temps in a great range. Need to be working in the darkroom.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Photographer's Equinox, 2011.

Photographer's Equinox today: tap water at 68 degrees out of the cold side. Time to get in the lab. Just for the hell of it I put a pretty good print up on ebay at a dirt cheap price.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Photographers Equinox.

Been taking the late class out to look at the late light every afternoon. The moon has been cranking over and seems like the light is very dramatic. Just checked the cold side of the tap water at the lab: 82 degrees. When it gets under 80F I can print. That will be fun!

Today was the first day that has had any kind of interesting clouds in the sky. Overcast all day with a front rolling up. Rain turned the dog and I around on a trip to the lake to check deercams but it hasn't shown up in town yet. Usually this time of year is marked by great foliage displays. Not going to be one of those years.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Weather and Temperature Changes.

Every season is different but seems like the light and the temperature have really taken a turn for the better the last month. The Photographers Equinox- when tap water runs 68 degrees, must be getting close.

Ordered a big old view camera box. Hard sided. Of Ebay today for next to nothing. Even cashed in some Ebay bucks to make it cheaper. I'm using a box older than I am for my 5X7 Deardorff now. This one older than that. Probably use it for 8X10 lenses and film holders.

Spent three days shooting the Texas State Rifle Association Service rifle Championship with digital and video....and an AR15. (Came out second by three points in an 800 point match with 100+ competitors). OK shooting. Now much work to be done on digital files.

Running deercams more frequently as the season gets closer. Those images over at Blackfork.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Film using spy satelite from the cold war.

Quite a story. No idea how they got the images down but the thing evidently used film. Might have been jettisoning packets that were then recovered. For a long time the Air Force had a system of snatching parachuting items out of the air.

Now everything is digital. Much easier to get data back.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tap Water 99 degrees.

Out of the COLD side. Having to use every old indian trick in the book, like using the hot water side but leaving the water heater off, (so you have a tank of 76 degree water), frozen ice gallons in milk cartons, et.
Be happy when the air conditioners fall silent in October.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Three photos.

What is the subject of this photo? John's smile. Notice how it sits on an X drawn from corner to corner. The photographer saw something and lazered in on it but disregarded everything else. John is chopped at the elbows, (framing), the background is floating, the viewpoint useless, only the lighting and the moment called forth are helping the image.

What's the subject of this photo? The trees across the street have as much importance as the men at the table though they are in the background. Cropping closer would help a mediocre image. It almost begins to work with the foreground/middle ground/background set-up.

All background, no subject. What was it the photographer thought he saw that made him reach for his camera?

Three visually illiterate photos. Sent by a friend who shot them on the Camp Perry trip. I'll come back and talk about why these photos don't work after a bit.

Go straight to Blurb and buy my book: The Blackfork Guide. It will steer you out of all the above problems.

Photography is like anything else- fixable and subject to education!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lake Erie and the National Matches.

Since we were driving I included my 5X7. Just got it out three times, Once a a huge wreck of a barn full of barn swallows and Poison Ivy, once for a white arc of a barn where there was no photo, (due to uninteresting light), and once for a miraculous piece of last-gasp sunlight on a Big Cottonwood alongside Lake Erie.

My real job at the National Matches was to shoot for the Texas Team. Just had a couple of afternoons off. Great to have my 5X7 along, but very different experience. In the meantime I burned about 1000 files on the Nikon, all of rifle team stuff.

Made the President's 100 (21st out of 1900 shooters), and won the National Vintage Rifle Trophy.

Nice barn but the light was just illumination.

Just like the 60s: Hard to get high enough.

Great light and background for a nice Cottonwood on the bluff over the beach near Marblehead. Katie's image making is getting much better.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thinning the brush at Yosemite.

A VERY good idea. The indians used to burn the whole valley floor off every few years. You can hardly see a thing as the valley floor has sealed up with trees just in my life time. Get out the saws!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flattening and spotting prints.

Delivering the Greenbriar Lake portfolio today. All 20X24s. I forget how large that is for some folks. 20X24 is a small piece of art but a large photograph. (I've got a roomy sink and plenty of big trays.) Takes several bites of my dry mount press and then some spotting. Not much dust but there are always some trees to paint shut and little white leaves to make disappear. Painting trees shut means making treelines and tops appear even and smooth by taking out the white spots where the sky shows through. Then I look for any white spot that catches my eye. By the time you get finished the whole thing looks even and settles down quite a bit.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ansel Adams Special Edition Print.

Always wanted a copy of this image and saw one floating by on Ebay. Sneed and I bought it for about 1/3 off the framed price at the Ansel Adams Gallery at Yosemite. Pretty good deal. It's made by Alan Ross from Ansel's Negative. He does a good job- better than Adams used to do. His assistants have printed these for years. Glad to get it. Gives you the urge to go to Yosemite though....

Print has been on the wall a few days. Gets better and better.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I ordered a copy. Ought to be here by the time I get back from Camp Perry two weeks from now. We'll see. As I would caution my students: anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

This has been an idea of mine for a long time. Glad to actually get through the process. I have several other ideas, but want the lessons from this one to sink in first.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yosemite dangers.

The Mist Trail up Little Yosemite past Vernal Fall, Liberty Cap, Mt Broderick and Nevada Falls. Gotta be careful especially in the spring when snowmelt swells the falls and creeks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deardorff back from the dead.

Holy large format. Good to have these cameras back on the market. I've used mine for years with a new 8X10 being worked into the rotation now.

Ebay miracles.

I found a Ebay store full of old press photos. All original prints from as far back as the 1930s. The photographers made the prints, the artists retouched them, the printers burned plates and put them on the presses and the photos were tossed in a pile. This is a little Kingfisher, heavily retouched. The foreground is painted out and some highlights and feathers outlined. It was a ferrotyped print. Still has the crop marks on the front and the date of publication on the back. May 11, 1939. Twelve bucks, delivered to my door. Quite an amazing artifact. I cornered it on a piece of foamcore and Katie has it presently in her Pilates studio.

Marchioni Tiltall Tripod.

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away when I was a student at Sam Houston, eating at Damien's and hanging out in the photo lab all the time I had an aluminum tiltall tripod. We put everything on them, from Nikons to Calumet View cameras. Mine went to Yosemite at least twice and all over the West. I sold it to Doug Caldarera and bought a Gitzo, a Bogen, a Zone VI, another carbon-fiber Gitzo but I have always missed it. I've somehow still got the ring from the bottom of the shaft but I can't locate Doug to send it to him. If he still has it. They last forever.

I bought myself a nice replacement off Ebay. Probably won't use it much but it's nice to park an old view camera on. I should break it down and clean the threads. That's about all you can do to them. Seems to be in perfect working order.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer's chair.

A flood took one and a thief took the other out of the side yard. Mostly they were used as perches for hunting Mockingbirds so birdlime was included with the booty for the thieves.
Katie replaced the chair with a plastic Chinese import off the stack at Brookshires grocery. 9.00. Not much, but you do have to go out and make that nine dollars.
It's been a visual feast on the green lawn of the side yard. In any light and any weather it seems to maintain it's presence. Even the eye flickering past will get a little visual candy-hit from the image. There are branches hanging off the big Pecan tree that I refuse to cut because of their visual interplay with the chair. Even walking in after dark you can sense it glowing. Quite a treat for the summer.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Too hot to process film or paper. Tap water 85F. Started off with clear overhead hot skies. Uncomfortable conditions and bad light. It's gotten better in the evenings with the prime time coming at about 8:00 PM. Lots of digital going on, as always and working on book manuscript for a Blurb project.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rick Crawford, 1953-2011.

Devoted family man. Leader of the Texas Highpower Rifle Community. Teacher, gunsmith and guru to everyone he came in contact with. Services pending.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Picture hanging at Brady's Coffee.

Asked Brady for a space in the art-cluttered walls at the coffee shop. He managed to work one of mine in. I'm going to change it every week. Plenty of framed pieces around, I just hate hanging in cheap places and most of the 30 or so paintings on display in there are pure schlock.

Update: I change the photo weekly.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Light Impressions.

Overpriced and most of it ends up backordered. I have some boxes that have been on the truck from the supplier....since Feb 2010. Today they told me they were STILL on the truck. Must be a talking point. Great stuff: insane prices. Ordered some negative boxes I love when they put out an email 15% off offer. We'll see. 250 bucks worth of cardboard and plastic.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another Darkroom Day.

Rock forms up on the big ledge near the climbers cave on the West face. This is a great place to spend the night or be on very early in the morning to get the shadow as the sun rises. I've been trapped in the cave when it turned into a waterfall in a big storm once. In the morning you have smooth shadowed light to work details around this area after the peak-on-the-plains display is over.

East Dike. Just above one of the most-used drinking and hang-out spots. Gotta watch your car when you are not in it. Indians stole my stuff while I was in sight once here. They saw me, and I watched them, just couldn't do anything about it and refused to shoot. I got their plate number but the Navajo police don't care about tourist crime.

Afternoon view over the East dike with a storm moving past.

Another day in the darkroom printing out photo paper before the water gets too hot. It's running 82. Feels warm in the air conditioned lab. Ran the hot side with the water heater off to take advantage of the tank of cool water.

Usually go: developer, stop, fix and hold in running water until I re-fix everything, tone and THEN wash. With these baby 11X14 prints I was able to set up the whole line: dev/stop/fix/fix/hypoclear/tone/wash. Made it a little shorter process time. Plenty of sink room.

Opened a 10 pack of Agfa Insignia #4 left over from last year. It was too fogged to use. Good plan to finish off the paper.

Picked and chose from old negatives. These are all Shiprock images that didn't make the cut for a nice show. Easy to print. Dramatic. Enough never-printed negs to make a whole extra show. Found a moonrise over Shiprock I didn't remember. Wish I had another 20 sheets of 20X24. Tempted to order from B&H but I'm right up against the end.

Setting up lights and copying wet prints on the drying screens using an old Nikon 105mm and my D300. Easy. I have been copying proofs. Using medium-high ISO and small file size. In person, they are very sharp.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Printing out the end of the seasons paper.

Bristlecone Pine detail. 1999. 16X20.

Stone melting snowpack, Tenaya Lake, 1999. 16X20.

Hand and Bristilecone Pine, 1999. 16X20.

Halfdome, 2005. 11X14.

Chris Johnson in the White Mountains, California. This prints really well even though Chris was in a shadow. Holds up to dodging low tones. 11X14. Chris is going to be surprised to see this show up on his facebook page.

Snow, briar, owl feathers, 2011. Going to have another shot at this one tomorrow on some 16X20 Agfa Insignia F4. It's a thin negative. Normally I wouldn't bother with a thin neg, (old Xtol got me), but this was part the Greenbriar Lake work and I needed some snow photos. 11X14

At the Bristlecone Pines. 1999, White Mountains, California. 11X14.

20X24 gone, 16X20 gone, down to making post-card-feeling prints on 11X14. Finished the Greenbriar Lake work. Now just trying this negative and that and different filter combinations. Getting negs back in the right boxes and labeled as well. All images off 5X7 negatives. Allways fun in the darkroom. Using Ilford Multigrade and filters. Copying these right off the drying screens onto digital with a couple of lights set up. Easy.

Slowly working the 8X10 Deardorff.

Just a sheet at a time. I've got the sneaking suspicion that my tripod head upgrade on the Gitzo isn't going to be enough. Just not enough contact between the quick release plate and the camera. I'm having to be a little too careful with the camera when it is up there.

Fun working with it. I'm currently lens-rich. Noticing that the more lenses you have means you usually have the wrong ones along for any particular photo.

Using a 190 Commercial Ektar mostly, though a 250 Commercial Ektar that came with it is perfect for moonrises on the 5X7.

Morning take all downtown: 5X7 on courthouse with a 120 Super-Angulon. 5X7 of a building back. Courthouse from another angle with 8X10. 5X7 of a white wall with the light barely grazing it. 8X10 of downtown from a railway crossing. We had overcast skies being torn away little by little. OK light.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Out in the world, Maine.

Cairn building. Never a bad time to pull this out.

End of the 20X24 Ilford Warmtone Multigrade for the year.

16X20s look like snapshots. This is a negative from 1998 that I have never pulled out before. I remember praying up the clouds. The shadow of North Dome is beginning to edge up on the face of Half Dome. Clouds to the West behind me took the light just after.

Nothing to this negative. I shot from on top of my 4-runner though it doesn't look high at all. Gorgeous late light and fast-moving clouds. Just burn the cloud hotspot and you are there. Next three negs...(two holders, both sides), aren't as dramatic. Close to my Pear tree.

Yosemite Valley after a light snow. Had to wait all day for them to open the road to the overlook. It was loaded with photographers. One guy even had a scanner for the back of his 4X5 view camera. Katie got to see a bunch of photographers working frantically. Shot this after sundown so the light would be smooth enough. Dodging down low and a little burning across the sky.

Pear Tree I have photographed since about 1992. This year a limb broke and fell just as it was blooming out. Touchy negative in an odd way. I waited on the light and shot just before the sun went off the blossoms. It was off the grass. Copy of a slightly different negative in a post below.

The famous Transcept from the North Rim. Every morning before dawn and evening at dusk I was on Bright Angel Point. Ferocious just had to move back a few feet out of it. This is evening. View metered perfect for normal film development with my Pentax spot meter, I just had to decide about filtration. Easy negative. Dodged the lower shadows and slightly burned the sky tilting to the right.

Long darkroom run today as the tapwater tops 80. My darkroom is going to be in perfect order just as printing ends for the year. Everything done. Just a pack of 16X20 and some 11X14 to go through. The 11X14 could make the summer in the refrigerator. Hope to be back in Monday.

Copied all the prints while they were on drying screens with Nikon 300 but used Nikkor 105 tele from my film camera.

All images for sale. Email.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the darkroom.

Omega E

Framed Crow in Hand.

Lake road at GreenBriar Lake, just out of the fixer.

Sorting stuff to ebay and organizing.

Giving up on my little processor and chem I used to use for commercial jobs- a little Royalprint set-up.

Looking to hook up the big Zone VI 20X24 washer next to the bathroom in the back. Might make washing a little easier. Has to be waist high but on a king/hell stand. That thing weighs a ton when you get it full of water.

Just noticed that I have one big picture window up front that faces North. I never display anything in the windows because of the late Western Sun, but I could put a little something up on the North if I set it up right.

Sorting and stacking. Paper doesn't survive a year's worth of summer heat so I am trying to wrap up printing in the next couple of weeks. Can't print with tap water over 80 anyway.

Making some gorgeous prints. I love digital and you can certainly FIX things with electronic retouching, but there is nothing like the crystaline depths of a well-made silver print. I've made a serious effort to only photograph in light that totally supports the subject. Negs are generally easy to print and very dramatic.

While finishing up the Greenbriar stuff I am hitting a few other negs. Lower Yosemite Falls in a snowstorm. Yosemite Valley in the rain. More tomorrow. I made an extra print of the moonrise over some folks house out at Greenbriar. They know me. Going to offer them a print. They would be fools not to take it.

Got someone agonizing over a Crow/hand print right now via email. That print cures 137 different physical and mental aliments common to humans. They should jump but you never know.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Photographers Equinox.

Tap water running 68 degrees out of the cold side this morning in the darkroom. Actually processed a roll of HP5 that I shot in the Hasselblad yesterday. And made a few prints in the afternoon. Always nice to be in the darkroom.

Was printing some contact prints of Cat Woman on Ilford Warmtone Multigrade. I use my Aristo Grid-headed Omega. I wonder if the light color is influencing the filter color? I think I remember a discussion about this. Just started using graded papers and have the Kodak filters, the Ilford filters and the Bestler filter sets. The negative is too contrasty for anything but Palladium so I doubled the dilution of the developer, Zonal Pro, from 1:9 to 1:18, lengthened the development time to about 4 minutes and used a 1/2 Iford filter. It made a difference and looked good but the proof will be in the prints after I look at them for a bit.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Greenbriar Lake and White Trees work.

Dogwood, Greenbriar Lake. Very late in the evening, about a 12 second exposure.

Moonrise across Greenbrair Lake.

Wild Pear I have been photographing for 20 years.

This month. All with 5X7 Deardorff. Not as happy with Xtol as I thought I might be. Might be going back to HC110. Xtol can really build density along the film edge. Proofing in the real darkroom and digitally copying the proofs. I am getting a pretty good idea about what I'm going to run into in the darkroom

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hawk and Owl Feather.

From about 1980. My Deardorff with a 4X5 back on it. Window light. 210 lens and a camera darkcloth for a background.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Knives in an old beaker from Tom Swinney's darkroom. Digital file.

Water temp very good. Nice time to be working.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Xtol and HP5.

One of the signs that the end times have come and gone is the conversion of normal American products into metric measurements. A gallon has been a gallon forever but now in the end of darkroom processes, (since Kodak ruined Tri-X), I decided to try Xtol, the last Kodak black and white film developer that their will ever be.

Mixing it is a pain though...because it's in LITERS. And not just four liters that more or less equal a gallon....FIVE liters. A gallon and about a quart more. What do you do with the extra quart? Put it in a spare bottle? Use it one the spot? Dump it? Find some container that holds, (as none do) five liters? And the mixing can't be done in two 64 oz stainless steel pitchers that have been mixing chemicals for 40 have to get a big plastic bucket.

So. Gallon bottles abound. What the heck holds five liters? God IS dead.

Mixed Xtol, stored a gallon, processes 24 ozs worth- two sheet film runs and dumped the extra.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tap water and white trees.

Big limb seen overhead here broke and is angled out of the tree on the grass, all bloomed out. Like a huge garland. This same thing happened about ten years ago when a whole white tree fell out of the woodline and then bloomed. I print that image but it's difficult because I was using new Tri-x just after they changed it without telling anyone. They ruined the high values with the new emulsion and it prints with an odd flatness I didn't expect. Now using Ilford HP5 and Xtol. I'd used Tri-x and Hc110 for 30 years, with happiness.

Out with film to get a couple images that matter of white trees. Windy yesterday at my favorite tree out on Hiighway 64. Give it another shake today. Going into the darkroom to run film now and reload my holders. Beautiful time of the year.

Making a real effort to shoot in the most dramatic light of the day.

Tap water running at 50 degrees. Have to turn on the hot water heater to get a little help. Usually I just walk down to Brady's coffee with a 64 oz pitcher.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow Days

At her first look out the front door, she headed back up the stairs to hide. Later, Lucie was ready to rumble.

Greenbriar Lake next to an old favorite tree.

Lakeside with 5X7.

Scattered owl feathers in the brambles and cat briar.

I had on some snow boots we bought on the way into Yosemite during a Winter trip. Ski pants. Stayed comfortable enough.

We only get a few snow days a year here in Tyler. Usually we wake up to a trackless fairyland, by noon it has taken a beating and the roads are open and in the afternoon it sags into slush. I got up early and got out into it.