When I graduated from the Milwaukee Center for Photography I thought I could be good in many types of photography: landscapes, editorial, reportage, portrait, architecture, street, food, large format, travel, urban. So I did anything I wanted, never settling down on one style. I still shoot like that. I find switching from one style to another very easy. That said I do tend to use certain format cameras for certain styles but even within those constraints there will be some crossover. Most photographers settle on one style and eventually they acquire their "look" but life is short and I dislike the constraints of one style just like I don't have regard for any one food. It will always be the smorgasbord for me.
Some more info....
I have slowed down shooting with the large format camera. The size and weight and the lack of spontaneity being a few of the reasons. I mostly shoot digital now. The digital cameras are set for monochrome, and some are converted to capture infrared. Shooting Black and White only is a limitation I find exciting. I often use this analogy: When you photograph a banana in color you see yellow. But a banana shot in black and white is about the line and the tone, the spots and the curve. You know it's a banana but now the subject is not color. A beautiful black and white print will let the viewer explore the image without a color overpowering the whole.
Back in the film era I shot a lot of infrared. Infrared is a spectrum of light that we can not see. I, for some reason, enjoyed the idea of shooting in a world invisible. I found that mystique so appealing I started photographing with infrared roll film, followed soon after with 4x5. Those films were grainy and coarse and had a very limited range. I always looked at those limitations like flaws in fine leather. To understand how infrared could light a scene I shot under many different conditions. Since light meters are not sensitive to infrared I had to learned to trust my instincts for exposure. It took many rolls and many exposures before I could pre-visual a shot and understand how the film would respond in different lighting, environments, and to accuractly expose it. Now with a converted digital camera the range and exposure are easier to capture. There is a difference in the look of that digital image: First, Infrared film lacked an anti-halation backing, which made the hi-lights on a shot glow. Digital will not mimic this without some computer effort. I am somewhat of a purist so I will not mangle a captured image to make it look like what it is not. Second is the overall dynamic range which I find to be much greater than of the limited film.
How I now print.
I started off making darkroom prints on silver gelatin paper; a chemically process. There are still many photographers who print that way but I have moved on. Pigment printers are what I currently use. We are in the golden age for digital print media. Interestingly the media I find works well with my images is made by an old silver gelatin paper company. It is a Baryta media that even smells like the darkroom papers of old. Getting an image to where I want it is hours of exertion. I often will work an image to a point and then live with a proof print for a while. Sometimes it will pass, sometimes it's back to the computer for some change. I am not talking about drastic adjustments: they are mostly very small "tweeks" that help get my final vision into a hard copy. I have put many hours into an image, and for that reason there are times when I can't help but miss the old simpler darkroom. There was a magic to the image appearing/developing up in a tray along with those smells and the cathartic sound of running water. It is a romanticised memory. Then I remember that I don't really miss those chemicals, the high water use and standing for hours. Having made tens of thousands of chemical prints, that magic, those smells and sounds, now seem very antiquated.
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