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Sunday, 29 March 2009


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So well put - and hopefully the quiet that has been evident across the podcast/blogosphere has increased, it means many are realizing this and have taken to the light of day (or mornings/evenings to catch the best of the good light) to capture the beauty that surrounds us. Thanks as always for such insightful and valuable commentary Mike!

While agreeing about the attractions of spring, I have to give poor old winter a hand here. Admittedly, the UK's depths thereof don't come close to those of the American mid-west, but the season's low horizon, subtle light - particularly for those of us who spend serious time photographing old church interiors - is magical.

There's a moment in September or October when Minnesota's light turns golden, almost like Italian light, but it only lasts for a month, or even less. I often wondered what caused it, if it could possibly related to harvest, an extra little bit of dust in the air...it's peculiar, but beautiful...

Went to the Ventana editions site but the book is out of stock. I think you did it again.


Apropos the availability of suitable light, Ralph Gibson once said: "...lighting is always perfect - it's the photographer's interpretation of it that is sometimes lacking."

I must give a word of support for winter. Although this one was really dark in the beginning (before snow), I didn't stop taking photographs. In the end I started to enjoy it very much. Although the images weren't so good, at least I was able to see better what the winter is all about.

McSavaney's book is still available at Freestyle Photo. Along with Sexton & Barnbaum, Ray represents the best of West Coast traditional photography.
Here, in North Florida, the late Winter light has been beautiful as it reflects off new leaves of the understory. A valuable time to photograph.

Sydney has nice light most of the year. Because we are on the coast there is often wind to blow the clouds about. It never snows and in winter the sun heads north so we get longer shadows. However the light can be very hard & contrasty. Photographers from Europe freak out when they come to Australia as they are so used to soft light & low skies.

Mike, given your experience and stated preferences, I would have expected you to still be doing some darkroom work. Do you? And if not, may I ask why?

I don't, because I don't have a darkroom. I was midway through building the "dream" darkroom I'd never had when I lost my last corporate job. As an addition to a house, a darkroom not only adds nothing to the house's value, it actually subtracts a little (because prospective buyers think they're paying for something they don't want or need). So, having to face hard choices, I stopped construction. I have never quite been able to resume. The darkroom is still studwalls in the basement.


It is hard sometimes as beginner of 8x10 black and white process to find reference. Of course there are a lot but which one. Per your recommendation, I just go ahead to order Ray McSavaney's book Explorations (which is back order). Still, I really think that you shall disclose the others. May be some of us can at least get to see them in some Arts Library or just wait for the chance.


I agree with everything you said. Explorations is without a doubt my favorite photo book - period. And McSavaney is a heck of a nice guy.

John's workshop is fantastic. It was one of the high points of my photo experience. Imagine a group of photographers as crazy an committed as you are, learning from a master. I came away from that workshop so charged up that I could hardly contain myself. My darkroom printing immediately improved (and I had been doing it since I was in elementary school - I attended the workshop in my late 30's). The first print after the workshop was a dramatic improvement. There is lots of fun. John has a great sense of humor. Anne, his wife, is great (and an outstanding photographer), and you will learn almost more than your brain can handle!

Mike, well that's a shame, but understandable. I ask because I might like to have a darkroom myself someday, although completely impractical in present circumstances.

Doesn't it seem that most "art" photographers' income is derived from workshops or other teaching methods?

As opposed to selling photographs, that is.

It's true about light, but it's a strange thing. I bought that big Koudelka book you linked to recently, and two of my favorite pictures in it (black hound and tree in landscape) have the dullest winter light possible, but somehow it's still photographic light. So what *is* good light?

As merely an amateur may I question some of your comments?
Isn't it just as much about the subject and interpretation as about the light? The light is one of the tools and the skill/art is about how you use it. That is in an active way. Passively you seek the light and accept what it does to your subject and Bob's your uncle.
Just going a bit further I find that nowadays, with the tools available, I am able to take my images and develop other interpretations. there are many who do this far nbetter than me and tehir work becomes art and it certainly does not depend on the light. Note that I used the word images rather than photographs but that is the point. Once we have our images we can choose to make traditional photos (which is my choice in 95% of cases) or, experiment in my case.
Yes, I enjoyed the creative process of the darkrrom but moreso I enjoy the new horizons of the digital world.
Best wishes, Robert in Luxembourg

More words of support for winter:

"It is a pleasure to the real lover of Nature to give winter all the glory he can, for summer will make its own way, and speak its own praises."

Dorothy Wordsworth, quoted in Rutstrum, Paradise below Zero.

I must admit I'm looking forward to winter, down here south of the equator. I won't have to get out of bed so early to catch the nice morning light!

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