Approach

The places that I like to explore are rarely spectacular. Their names aren't mentioned on tourist guides. They are ordinary places like there is anywhere in the world, and most people would drive through them without giving a second glance at the scene, perhaps just intrigued at what in the world could make a photographer stop there. However, for those who like to saunter at various hours of the day and throughout the course of the seasons, common places conceal treasures of beauty. The shades of green of the springtime, the bright or subdued fall colours, the graphical simplicity of the winter, the mystery of a day of mist, the immaculate aspect of a snow coat or the enchanting laces of hoarfrost — can turn what would otherwise be an ordinary sight into pure beauty.

Harsh daylight does not suit this style of landscape photography. In the prospect of having the best light, I often find myself climbing the mountain trails when hikers are already on the way back. Once the thermal winds have calmed, photography can go on until dark. The gentle light coming from nowhere reveals the smallest details and the most subtle tones. The way back is often with a flashlight, but the mind filled with expectations.

Predicting small scale weather conditions is not an exact science. To have good chances of witnessing something unusual, one needs to go out often and in various weather conditions. When eventually all factors meet to produce a striking view, the photographer is overwhelmed by a sense of urgency. Fighting the inertia caused sometimes by an exhausting walk , or by the long wait, or simply by the desire to not miss anything from the scene, he rushes to the bag and pulls out a camera, puts it on the tripod, mounts a lens whilst mentally framing the picture. The reversed ground glass image needs to be focused precisely with a loupe, and then a sheet of film can be loaded. After metering the fleeting light, one or two slides can be exposed. I can't tell how many shots were missed for not being able to complete the whole process while the magic lasted, for waiting endlessly for the wind to calm, and also sometimes because of some technical failure that reveals when the sheets come back from the lab. But the large format photographer is pugnacious by definition. Chance always rewards perseverance, even if there more to it than mere chance. When eventually a fine image displays on the light box, previous failures and frustrations vanish almost instantaneously and you have but one thought : go out and strive to pick more of that delicate light!

All the photographs presented in these portfolios were made on Fujichrome Velvia and Astia transparency film, in medium format 6x7, 6x9, 6x12, 6x17, and in large format, mainly 10x12,5cm (4x5 "), and 13x18cm (5x7"). Digital has now virtually supplanted film. The price of some equipment capable of producing images competing with the medium format at the level of detail, make them very attractive. I now use Sony cameras, in combination with Pentax and Mamiya optics designed for the medium format, mounted on a sliding adapter that allows body shifting in order to take multiple slices of an image. After being seamlessly assembled in Adobe LightRoom or in Photoshop, the very high resolution images have nothing to want from the silver process. This approach which requires the use of a tripod and pre-visualisation technique, is comparable to the meditative shooting style of the past, whilst it is no longer necessary to buy and process films that are becoming increasingly rare and expensive and to go through the digitization process. Would Ansel Adams have considered the transition to digital? I believe that in good pragmatic technician, he would have welcomed this advance with enthusiasm.