The places I like to explore are rarely spectacular. Their names aren't mentioned on tourist guides. They are ordinary places like there is everywhere in the world. Most people would drive through without 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 paths when hikers are already on their way down. 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 last bit of the trail is often lit with a flashlight, but with the mind filled with expectations.
Predicting small scale weather conditions is not an exact science. Therefore, to have good chances of witnessing something unusual, one needs to go out often and in various weather conditions. When eventually circumstances converge 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!
Apart from the recent digital images, the photographs presented in these portfolios were taken on Fujichrome Velvia and Astia transparency film, in medium format 6x7, 6x9, 6x12, 6x17, and also on large format film, mainly 10x12.5cm (4x5"), and 13x18cm (5X7"). Digital photography has virtually supplanted film media these days. The price for some equipment capable of delivering images rivalling with medium format film at the level of the detail, makes them very attractive. I used Canon and then Sony cameras, in conjunction with Pentax and Mamiya lenses designed for medium format, mounted on shift devices. Rhinocam adapters were great for creating large and detailed image files. More recently I used a Fuji GFX-50S and now the GFX-100S. A decentering adapter is used on some occasions to shift the body in relation to the lens, thus making it possible to take several successive slices of an image while preserving the perspectives. When stitched together invisibly in Adobe LightRoom or Photoshop, the resulting high-resolution images are as good as the large-format film of the past and even better. This approach, which requires the use of a tripod and the preliminary research of a composition, remains comparable to the meditative style of shooting images with the view camera, while being much more practical since films are rare and expensive nowadays and it is not necessary to go through chemical treatment and digitization of the positives, although the processing of images on a computer requires constant learning. Would Ansel Adams have considered going digital? I believe that as a good pragmatic technician, he would have welcomed this advance with enthusiasm. However, with the abandonment of products and the demise of those who practiced the art, the silver-based printing techniques that have developed and refined over decades may soon be a thing of the past. This constatation, no doubt normal in a world made of technological advances, is a concern in view of the loss of the know how. The few remaining Ilfochrome prints, for which I had to set up a processing method and build my own bespoke tools for making contrast masks and also for processing large panoramic prints in drums, are now relics of a bygone era. I salute those who strive to maintain or revive any of these analogue techniques, so that they are not completely lost. The photographs presented on the website are for your viewing enjoyment and are not monetized. However, copyright applies.
“Longing for wide open spaces of primeval nature in days of yore, I had wished that photography would allow me to travel the vast world. In reality, it's a nearby world, a world made up of fragments of beauty which have to be found, somehow as one catches the shine of the gems or the nuggets among the rubble of a river, a world nevertheless captivating and almost interior, that has lent itself to my lens.”