I am forever looking for wonderful photographs and photographers. There are a lot of both out there. It’s just a matter of sorting through all the noise. As I’ve indicated before, there are only two photography publications that I read religiously, “LensWork” and “View Camera.” Both of these periodicals take photography seriously. The focus is art, not equipment or the latest manipulations to be made using Adobe Photoshop. So they are both great places to be introduced to great photographers.
Recently, as a result of my reading “View Camera,” I decided to subscribe to the Facebook Special Interest Group (SIG) called “Large Format Photography.” For those of you who are Facebook members I highly recommend this group. Everyday now I am seeing great pictures. And the reason is that large format photographers tend to be obsessed with the art of photography and the creation of fine images. So while I am not a practitioner of large format, I highly admire those who are willing to put in the time and effort to do this type of photography. It’s a laborious process but the results can be quite amazing.
This past weekend I discovered the work of large format artist Susan Harlin. Of course, I immediately visited her website, where I discovered some very extraordinary photographs. What Susan creates defines the best of large format, studied composition, tremendous sharpness, equally tremendous dynamic range that pulls out both subtle tones of black and of white, and just a wonderful velvety sense of tone.
I would start with “Grandad’s Barn, 2012.” I have to say that this image is simply stunning. the tonal range is just perfect, the gestalt creates a perfect mellow mood of serenity and mystery. There’s something about the composition, right? The subject is the barn; but the lead-in fence takes up most of the picture, creating a kind of background/foreground flip. Other than genius, the reason is that Susan is using an 8″ x 20″ Korona Banquet panoramic camera. The dramatic power of such a camera is spectacularly illustrated by her 2007 photograph, “John Ford Country.” In many of her photographs Susan takes the novel and unusual step of turning this camera on its side to create spectacular long and narrow images such as “Icicles, 2010.”
I highly recommend that you visit Susan Harlins website when you have time to study her work. You can learn a lot from her about creating great images.