Bringing Darkroom Awareness to the Digital Age

May 20, 1956 one month before my 16th birthday

One month from my 16th birthday, I created this 1956 version of a “selfie.” Easy to do when you’re photographing into a mirror.  The alternative was to use a self-timer. In either case, it was difficult to line up with a rangefinder camera that resisted getting two edges of the mirror’s frame straight. So what to do? Easy enough – just wait! In our era of Photoshop. I simply lined it up.

My point? Even then, the darkroom translated handily to the digital age.  I had long ago appreciated what you’ll see on a histogram: the range of tones from whitest white to blackest black.  Arranged properly, this gives you not only a range of tones but a happy medium, so you have readable mid-tones and a pleasing contrast as well. The effect then is snappy, what we used to try to achieve in creating a print. So now I have both vintage prints, the ones I created close to the time I developed my negatives, as well as pigmented ink jet contemporary prints.

These are just as archival but with today’s technology. It lets me tweak my images into a pinpointed perfection not possible in the early days.

Ah, it’s a great time to be digitizing my archives!


You can see this image and more, in my See-Saw book, previewing on Amazon

Delightful Instants

Capturing a Moment in Time

Delightful Instants

In an era of flashbulbs and press cameras, I was exploring what available light had to offer. It presented the world as we saw it, without the harsh effect of a single flash. Both techniques froze a moment that goes by in a blur.

Photographing peak action stopped the movement at its height.  It allowed slow shutter speeds in an era of slow films. And it preserved a feeling forever.


Join the Conversation


Moving On

I learned more about the process, more about the marketing, more about the human condition. I gravitated to photojournalism, happy with candid photography…

B42-10 Father&Family&Liberty Bell5X8


…and grateful to people willing to share their lives for my magazine assignments:

College Educated Cops in April 1971 Pageant Magazine

College-educated police, from the April 1971 issue of Pageant magazine.

Photojournalism sharpened skills that applied as I tried out other phases of photography, following the twists and turns of a rapidly changing profession.  Reacting to my own decisive moments, I sought emotional content whenever it might appear, meaningful composition as a frame, and the feel and shape of the situation.


I remember wishing that I had had a mentor back then, someone experienced, with an overview to help guide me.  Instead I created a composite, picking up bits and pieces from so many people I met.

Now I have become one of those who nurture.  I have stories to tell, I have realized, after participating in panel discussions, lectures, gallery talks, any events where people gather around.  I’ve come to recognize that, wow! I’ve learned something. And I learn even more as I explain to, and consult with, others.

I hope that collectors and curators might want to join in, to share insights with anyone wanting to improve their photography.


Join the Conversation

The Circus Comes to Town

The circus would roll into Alliance, Ohio every spring.

___Entrance to Old-Time Circus---Use this 5x8__prime w white ©
In 1957, it was the traditional circus.
Elephants provided pulling power
for trucks stuck in the mud,
 31A-3 Circus Elephants Pull Truck_Prime w © white 5x8
and townsfolk were eager for entertainment once all was in place.
I was a witness, a budding photojournalist knowing none of my subjects,
eager to hone my skills.
I was using a Leica IIIF, with distance and exposure pre-set, so that my reflexes could take over. No time to think, only to spontaneously react.
 This was the practice I needed.
Have you ever sought out events where you could photograph this way?